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  • News in Brief

    Only a third of Earth’s longest rivers still run free

    Free-flowing rivers are an endangered species on Earth. Only about a third of the world’s longest rivers still flow freely along their entire lengths, unchained by dams or reservoirs, scientists report in the May 9 Nature.

    The study is the first global map of river “connectivity,” the ability of river water to move freely downstream, across floodplains and into and out of aquifers...

    05/10/2019 - 07:00 Earth, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Ancient South American populations dipped due to an erratic climate

    Ancient South American populations declined sharply as rainfall became increasingly unpredictable starting around 8,600 years ago, researchers say.

    But hunter-gatherer groups from the Andes and the Amazon to the continent’s southern tip bounced back quickly once rain returned to a relatively stable pattern about 6,000 years ago, report archaeologists Philip Riris and Manuel Arroyo-Kalin...

    05/09/2019 - 13:17 Archaeology, Climate
  • News

    1 million species are under threat. Here are 5 ways we speed up extinctions

    Stories about individual species on the brink of extinction may be all too familiar. But a new tally now reveals the breadth of the conservation crisis: One million of the world’s species are now poised to vanish, some as soon as within the next few decades.

    That number, which amounts to 1 in every 8 animal or plant species on Earth, comes from a sweeping new analysis of about 15,000...

    05/08/2019 - 06:00 Conservation, Climate, Pollution, Science & Society
  • Science Visualized

    Warm, dry winds may be straining Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf

    Turquoise pools of snowmelt on the Antarctic Peninsula, including on the Larsen C ice shelf, have recently been forming months after the continent’s peak summer melt. Bursts of warm, dry wind cascading over mountains that run along the peninsula are largely to blame, researchers report April 11 in Geophysical Research Letters. In this March 2016 satellite image, meltwater on part of Larsen C...

    04/18/2019 - 06:00 Earth, Climate, Oceans
  • News

    Tiny microplastics travel far on the wind

    Plastic pollution from Paris doesn’t necessarily stay in Paris.

    Tiny bits of plastic that originated in cities were carried by wind to a remote mountain location at least 95 kilometers away, a study finds. It’s the first demonstration that microplastics, tiny particles ranging from a few nanometers to 5 millimeters in size, can travel far through the atmosphere.

    Even more startling...

    04/15/2019 - 11:00 Climate, Pollution
  • Feature

    Climate change made the Arctic greener. Now parts of it are turning brown.

    The Chugach people of southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula have picked berries for generations. Tart blueberries and sweet, raspberry-like salmonberries — an Alaska favorite — are baked into pies and boiled into jams. But in the summer of 2009, the bushes stayed brown and the berries never came. 

    For three more years, harvests failed. “It hit the communities very hard,” says Nathan Lojewski...

    04/11/2019 - 07:00 Climate, Ecosystems, Plants
  • News

    Antarctica’s iceberg graveyard could reveal the ice sheet’s future

    Just beyond the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula lies an iceberg graveyard. 

    There, in the Scotia Sea, many of the icebergs escaping from Antarctica begin to melt, depositing sediment from the continent that had been trapped in the ice onto the seafloor. Now, a team of researchers has embarked on a two-month expedition to excavate the deposited debris, hoping to discover secrets from the...

    04/09/2019 - 09:00 Climate, Oceans, Earth
  • News in Brief

    One Antarctic ice shelf gets half its annual snowfall in just 10 days

    Just a few powerful storms in Antarctica can have an outsized effect on how much snow parts of the southernmost continent get. Those ephemeral storms, preserved in ice cores, might give a skewed view of how quickly the continent’s ice sheet has grown or shrunk over time.

    Relatively rare extreme precipitation events are responsible for more than 40 percent of the total annual snowfall...

    03/29/2019 - 07:00 Climate
  • News

    Students worldwide are striking to demand action on climate change

    For the past several months, growing numbers of students around the world have been cutting class — not to play but to protest.

    The topic driving them is the same: Earth’s changing climate, as evidenced by increasing wildfires and droughts, rising seas and more extreme weather. As the students see it, governments have not done enough to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases, such as...

    03/14/2019 - 08:00 Climate, Science & Society
  • Feature

    What happens when the Bering Sea’s ice disappears?

    Peggy’s data were a bit of a shock.

    From an anchored vantage point in an expanse of the southeastern Bering Sea west of Alaska, Peggy, or mooring M2, had monitored conditions in the water for 25 years. A line of sensors extended down more than 70 meters to where Peggy was tethered to the seafloor, collecting information on temperature, salinity and other properties of the water.

    ...

    03/14/2019 - 06:45 Climate, Oceans, Ecosystems