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  • News

    Viruses may help phytoplankton make clouds — by tearing the algae apart

    When tiny sea algae get sick, they may sneeze the seeds of clouds.

    Phytoplankton (Emiliania huxleyi) infected with a virus shed the small calcium carbonate plates that make up their shells much more quickly than healthy phytoplankton. Kicked up by thrashing waves into sea spray, those calcium bits may ultimately become part of the complex dance of cloud formation, researchers report...

    08/15/2018 - 11:12 Oceans, Climate
  • Feature

    Why sea level rise varies from place to place

    In the 20th century, ocean levels rose by a global average of about 14 centimeters, mainly due to melting ice and warming waters. Some coastal areas saw more sea level rise than others. Here’s why:  

    Expanding seawater

    As water heats up, its molecules take up more space, contributing to global sea level rise. Local weather systems can influence that effect. In 2017 scientists reported in...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Earth, Oceans, Climate
  • Feature

    As waters rise, coastal megacities like Mumbai face catastrophe

    Each year when the monsoon rain sheets down and the tides swell over coastal Mumbai, Saif shutters his soda shop on Juhu Beach and takes shelter up in the rafters. Still, the water invades through the roof and over the concrete floors, sometimes reaching as high as the freezers full of ice cream.

    For 36-year-old Saif, the coastal megacity’s chronic flooding is stressful. “What would...

    08/15/2018 - 09:30 Climate, Oceans, Sustainability
  • Editor's Note

    The trouble with water, be it too much or too little

    A year ago, while news reports focused on the inundation of Houston by Hurricane Harvey, much of the Indian city of Mumbai was also underwater. Both coastal cities, more than 14,000 kilometers apart, had been swamped by extreme rainfall. Deputy news editor Katy Daigle, who had reported from India for seven years for the Associated Press before joining Science News, knew that flooding...
    08/09/2018 - 07:15 Science & Society, Climate, Earth
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question dark fusion, Antarctic ice melting and more

    Melt away

    In the last five years, Antarctica has lost ice nearly three times faster on average than it did over the previous 20 years — largely due to climate change, Laurel Hamers reported in “Antarctica has lost about 3 trillion metric tons of ice since 1992” (SN: 7/7/18, p. 6).

    “Isn’t there a volcano or multiple volcanoes recently found under Antarctica that might also be...

    08/09/2018 - 07:00 Climate, Particle Physics, Microbiology
  • News

    Global dimming may mitigate warming, but could hurt crop yields

    Shading Earth by adding a veil of particles to the upper atmosphere may help to offset global warming — but at a cost.

    Crop yields could decline, as they did following two colossal volcanic eruptions that shot sunlight-blocking sulfur particles high above the cloud layer and into the planet’s stratosphere, researchers report online August 8 in Nature. The study is the first to use real-...

    08/08/2018 - 13:32 Earth, Climate
  • Say What?

    You’re living in a new geologic age. It’s called the Meghalayan

    Meghalayan\mehg-a-LAY-an \ n.

    The newly named current geologic age that started 4,200 years ago.

    Welcome to the Meghalayan, our geologic here and now. It’s one of three newly designated ages divvying up the Holocene Epoch, a geologic time period kicked off 11,700 years ago by the end of the Ice Age.

    First came a warming period, now dubbed the Greenlandian Age. Then, about 8,300...

    07/20/2018 - 07:00 Earth, Climate, Anthropology
  • News

    Shallow reef species may not find refuge in deeper water habitats

    Deep water reefs are unlikely to be safe harbors for many fish and coral species from shallow reefs threatened by climate change and human activity. Shallow water creatures may have trouble adapting to conditions in the deep, scientists report in the July 20 Science. Plus, deep reefs are facing the same threats that are putting shallower ones at risk.

    The study deals a blow to the “deep...

    07/19/2018 - 15:21 Oceans, Ecosystems, Climate
  • News

    Wildfires are making extreme air pollution even worse in the northwest U.S.

    The northwestern United States has become an air pollution hot spot — literally.

    Air quality in states from Nevada to Montana is worse than it was 30 years ago on the days with the most extreme air pollution. Bigger and more frequent wildfires that spew plumes of fine particulate matter into the sky are largely to blame, researchers report July 16 in Proceedings of the National Academy...

    07/16/2018 - 15:19 Pollution, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Bloodflowers’ risk to monarchs could multiply as climate changes

    Climate change could make a showy invasive milkweed called a bloodflower even more of a menace for monarch butterflies than it already is.

    Monarch caterpillars, which feed on plants in the milkweed family, readily feast on Asclepias curassavica. Gardeners in the southern United States plant it for its showy orange blooms, yet the species “is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare,” says...

    07/10/2018 - 18:58 Climate, Ecology, Animals