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  • Science Ticker

    Antarctic sea ice shrinks to record low

    Sea ice around Antarctica shrunk to its lowest monthly extent on record in January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports.

    Antarctic sea ice extent averaged just 4.04 million square kilometers, 1.19 million square kilometers below the 1981 through 2010 average. That’s 280,000 square kilometers smaller than the previous record low, set in 2006.

    The new record...

    02/17/2017 - 13:14 Climate, Oceans, Earth
  • News

    Seagrasses boost ecosystem health by fighting bad bacteria

    BOSTON — For a lawn that helps the environment — and doesn’t need to be mowed — look to the ocean. Meadows of underwater seagrass plants might lower levels of harmful bacteria in nearby ocean waters, researchers reported February 16 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That could make the whole ecosystem — from corals to...

    02/16/2017 - 14:00 Ecosystems, Oceans
  • Teaser

    Sound waves could take a tsunami down a few notches

    A tsunami’s immense wall of water may not be stoppable. But there may be a way to take the ferocious force of nature down a few notches, using a pair of counterwaves.

    If released at the right moment, a type of sound wave known as an acoustic-gravity wave could subdue a tsunami, applied mathematician Usama Kadri of Cardiff University in Wales reports January 23 in Heliyon. These acoustic-...

    02/15/2017 - 09:00 Physics, Oceans
  • Science Ticker

    Desert songbirds increasingly at risk of dehydration

    Desert songbirds, especially the little fit-in-your-hand ones, could soon face widening danger zones for lethal thirst in the southwestern United States, a new study predicts.

    Coping with heat waves can demand so much water evaporation to prevent heat stroke — from panting, for instance — that birds can die from dehydration, says Blair Wolf of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque...

    02/13/2017 - 17:11 Climate, Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Fleeting dead zones can muck with seafloor life for decades

    Short bouts of suffocating conditions can desolate swaths of seafloor for decades, new research suggests. That devastation could spread in the future, as rising temperatures and agricultural runoff enlarge oxygen-poor dead zones in the world’s oceans.

    Monitoring sections of the Black Sea, researchers discovered that even days-long periods of low oxygen drove out animals and altered...

    02/10/2017 - 15:06 Oceans, Ecosystems, Chemistry
  • Science Ticker

    Dual magma plumes fueled volcanic eruptions during final days of dinosaurs

    Not one but two rising plumes of magma from deep within the Earth fueled the titanic volcanic eruptions that marked the final days of the dinosaurs, new research suggests. The Deccan eruptions in what is now India, some scientists argue, helped wipe out most animal and plant species around 66 million years ago, including all nonbirdlike dinosaurs.

    The geologic source of that volcanism...

    02/09/2017 - 14:00 Earth
  • News

    Young penguins follow false food cues

    African penguins have used biological cues in the ocean for centuries to find their favorite fish. Now these cues are trapping juvenile penguins in areas with hardly any food, scientists report February 9 in Current Biology.

    It’s the first known ocean “ecological trap,” which occurs when a once-reliable environmental cue instead, often because of human interference, prompts an animal to...

    02/09/2017 - 12:00 Animals, Ecosystems
  • News

    Hot nests, not vanishing males, are bigger sea turtle threat

    Worries about climate change threatening sea turtles may have been misdirected.

    Warming that could lead to far more female hatchlings than males isn’t the most immediate danger from climate shifts. Lethally overheated beach nests are more important, researchers argue February 8 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

    Climate change can meddle with sex ratios of the seven species of...

    02/07/2017 - 19:05 Climate, Animals, Conservation
  • News

    Oxygen flooded Earth’s atmosphere earlier than thought

    The breath of oxygen that enabled the emergence of complex life kicked off around 100 million years earlier than previously thought, new dating suggests.

    Previous studies pegged the first appearance of relatively abundant oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, known as the Great Oxidation Event, or GOE, at a little over 2.3 billion years ago. New dating of ancient volcanic outpourings, however,...

    02/06/2017 - 15:45 Earth, Evolution, Chemistry
  • News

    DNA points to millennia of stability in East Asian hunter-fisher population

    In a remote corner of eastern Russia, where long winters bring temperatures that rarely flicker above freezing, the genetic legacy of ancient hunter-gatherers endures.

    DNA from the 7,700-year-old remains of two women is surprisingly similar to that of people living in that area today, researchers report February 1 in Science Advances. That finding suggests that at least some people in...

    02/03/2017 - 15:44 Anthropology, Genetics, Agriculture