In 2015, massive wildfires burned through Indonesia, sending thick smoke and haze as far as Thailand.
These fires were “the worst environmental disaster in modern history,” says Thomas Smith, a wildfire expert at King’s College London. Smith estimates that the fires and smoke killed 100,000 people in Indonesia and neighboring countries and caused billions of...
Underwater grasses are growing back in the Chesapeake Bay. The plants now carpet three times as much real estate as in 1984, thanks to more than 30 years of efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution. This environmental success story shows that regulations put in place to protect the bay’s health have made a difference, researchers report the week of March 5 in Proceedings of the National Academy of...
News in Brief
Volcano-fueled holes in Earth’s ozone layer 252 million years ago may have repeatedly sterilized large swaths of forest, setting the stage for the world’s largest mass extinction event. Such holes would have allowed ultraviolet-B radiation to blast the planet. Even radiation levels below those predicted for the end of the Permian period damage trees’ abilities to make seeds, researchers report...
Human activities are driving phosphorus levels in the world’s lakes, rivers and other freshwater bodies to a critical point. The freshwater bodies on 38 percent of Earth’s land area (not including Antarctica) are overly enriched with phosphorus, leading to potentially toxic algal blooms and less available drinking water, researchers report January 24 in Water Resources Research.
News in Brief
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Coral reefs are sick of plastic.
More than 11 billion plastic objects are polluting Asia-Pacific coral reefs, a new estimate finds. This waste can harbor pathogenic bacteria known to make corals sick. Reefs littered with plastic were at least 20 times as likely to have diseased corals as unpolluted reefs, researchers say.
Corals succumbing to disease can throw...
Year in Review
In 2015, glaciologist Daniela Jansen reported that a large rift was rapidly growing across one of the Antarctic Peninsula’s ice shelves, known as Larsen C. When the shelf broke, she and colleagues predicted, it would be the largest calving event in decades.
It was. In July, a Delaware-sized iceberg split off from Larsen C (SN: 8/5/17, p. 6). And researchers knew practically the...