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  • News

    Oyster deaths linked to ‘atmospheric rivers’

    Narrow channels of moisture snaking through the atmosphere can bring storms that wreck beachfront bungalows — and leave oyster beds bare. Several of these channels, called atmospheric rivers (SN: 2/26/11, p. 20), dumped particularly heavy storms on California in early 2011. The resulting freshwater influx probably left part of the San Francisco Bay without enough salt for oysters to survive,...

    12/13/2016 - 19:05 Ecosystems, Climate
  • News

    Natural ally against global warming not as strong as thought

    A natural ally against global warming may provide far less aid than previously hoped.

    Researchers estimate that the planet’s soils will soak up about 40 percent less carbon by the end of the century than environmental simulations have predicted. That means the atmosphere in 2100 would hold an extra 4 ½ years’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning at current rates,...

    09/22/2016 - 14:09 Earth, Climate, Ecosystems
  • Feature

    Fish escapes from marine farms raise concerns about wildlife

    On the dock in Buenaventura, Colombia, the fisherman needed help identifying his catch. “I don’t have any clue what this is,” he said, holding a roughly 50-centimeter-long, grayish-brown fish. Gustavo Castellanos-Galindo, a fish ecologist, recalls the conversation from last October. “I said, ‘Well, this is a cobia, and it shouldn’t be here.’ ”

    The juvenile cobia had probably escaped from...

    09/07/2016 - 16:12 Oceans, Ecosystems, Agriculture
  • News

    Deep-sea hydrothermal vents more abundant than thought

    The deep, dark ocean bottom teems with far more oases of life than once thought.

    Searching along the sunless seafloor where tectonic plates pull apart, regions known as spreading ridges, researchers discovered that heat-spewing hydrothermal vents are at least three to six times as abundant as previously assumed. The finding also significantly boosts the likely number of marine ecosystems...

    06/20/2016 - 07:00 Oceans, Earth, Ecosystems
  • Science Ticker

    Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused months-long ‘dirty blizzard’

    A “dirty blizzard” bombarded the Gulf of Mexico seafloor with pollution from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill for months after workers sealed the leak, new research shows.

    Marine snow, an organic material that floats down from the ocean’s upper layers, carried the pollution to the seafloor, researchers report the week of May 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

    05/30/2016 - 15:00 Pollution, Oceans, Ecosystems
  • Science Ticker

    White-nose bat disease jumps the Rockies to Washington state

    A sick bat caught by hikers not far from Seattle has now been confirmed to have the first case west of the Rockies of the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome.

    First noticed in North America in the winter of 2006-2007, the disease exterminated some whole colonies of hibernating bats on the East Coast, though some species have proved less susceptible.  White-nose syndrome has now swept...

    03/31/2016 - 19:09 Animals, Conservation, Ecosystems
  • News in Brief

    Lethal bat disease moves west

    A sick bat caught by hikers not far from Seattle on March 11 has now been confirmed as the first case west of the Rockies of the deadly bat disease white-nose syndrome.

    First noticed in North America in the winter of 2006–2007, the disease exterminated some whole colonies of hibernating bats on the East Coast, though some species have proved less susceptible. White-nose syndrome has now...

    03/31/2016 - 19:09 Animals, Conservation, Ecosystems
  • News

    Australian fairy circles first to be found outside Africa

    Beyond the small mining town of Newman in Western Australia lie the first fairy circles scientists have described outside of Africa.

    These patches of bare soil dot outback grasslands in almost regular polka-dot patterns, just like the puzzling circle landscapes known from Namibia, says ecologist Stephan Getzin of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ in Leipzig, Germany. He...

    03/15/2016 - 14:44 Ecosystems, Plants
  • Science Visualized

    Swirls of plankton decorate the Arabian Sea

    Masses of plankton add swirls of green to the blue waters of the Arabian Sea in this February 3 snapshot from NASA’s Aqua satellite (Iran and Pakistan at top of the image; India, to the right). Most of the vibrant color probably comes from algae living in the single-celled bodies of the dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans.

    N. scintillans started appearing in the Arabian Sea in large...

    03/09/2016 - 12:27 Oceans, Ecosystems
  • Editor's Note

    In all sorts of circumstances, life finds a way

    Reading Chris Samoray’s deep dive into the surprising new marine habitat created by human pollution, I found myself repeating Jeff Goldblum’s famous line from Jurassic Park: “Life finds a way.” It’s one of those short memes that sticks with you, but the extended passage from Michael Crichton’s book is perhaps even more apropos: “Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories....
    02/10/2016 - 11:55 Astronomy, Oceans, Ecosystems