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  • News

    Deadly New Zealand quake hopscotched across faults

    A seemingly impossible earthquake that rattled New Zealand last November casts doubt on how well seismologists can forecast quakes involving multiple fault lines.

    Retracing the path of the magnitude 7.8 temblor using satellite and seismic data, researchers discovered that the earthquake involved at least 12 major faults and was far more widespread and powerful than predicted by seismic...

    03/23/2017 - 14:38 Earth
  • Science Ticker

    Arctic sea ice hits record wintertime low

    Arctic sea ice has hit a record low for the third year in a row. It’s the paltriest maximum extent seen since recordkeeping began in 1979, scientists at NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced March 22.

    Total sea ice cover on the Arctic Ocean peaked on March 7, satellite observations show, reaching a total area of 14.42 million square kilometers. That’s around 100,000...

    03/23/2017 - 12:31 Climate, Oceans
  • Reviews & Previews

    To understand rivers, let physics be your guide

    Where the River FlowsSean W. FlemingPrinceton Univ.$26.95

    Spend an hour wandering along a river and you may wonder why the water rushing by chose this particular path over any other. While many nature writers might offer philosophical musings on the subject, Where the River Flows author Sean Fleming has physics on his side.

    Physics isn’t the lens through which most people think...

    03/19/2017 - 08:00 Physics, Earth
  • News

    Remnants of Earth’s original crust preserve time before plate tectonics

    Not all of the newborn Earth’s surface has been lost to time. Transformed bits of this rocky material remain embedded in the hearts of continents, new research suggests. These lingering remnants hint that full-fledged plate tectonics, the movements of large plates of Earth’s outer shell, began relatively late in the planet’s history, researchers report in the March 17 Science.

    These...

    03/16/2017 - 14:00 Earth
  • News

    Changing climate could worsen foods’ nutrition

    A dinner plate piled high with food from plants might not deliver the same nutrition toward the end of this century as it does today. Climate change could shrink the mineral and protein content of wheat, rice and other staple crops, mounting evidence suggests.

    Selenium, a trace element essential for human health, already falls short in diets of one in seven people worldwide. Studies link...

    03/13/2017 - 15:07 Climate, Nutrition, Agriculture
  • News

    How to grow toxin-free corn

    Corn genetically engineered to make ninjalike molecules can launch an attack on invading fungi, stopping the production of carcinogenic toxins.

    These specialized RNA molecules lie in wait until they detect Aspergillus, a mold that can turn grains and beans into health hazards. Then the molecules pounce, stopping the mold from producing a key protein responsible for making aflatoxins,...

    03/10/2017 - 14:00 Genetics, Agriculture
  • News

    Warming soils may belch much more carbon

    As the planet warms, carbon stashed in Earth’s soils could escape into the atmosphere far faster than previously thought. In the worst-case scenario for climate change, carbon dioxide emissions from soil-dwelling microbes could increase by 34 to 37 percent by 2100, researchers report online March 9 in Science. Previous studies predicted a more modest 9 to 12 percent rise if no efforts are...

    03/09/2017 - 14:00 Earth, Climate
  • The Science Life

    Fleets of drones could pollinate future crops

    View the video

    Eijiro Miyako gets emotional about the decline of honeybees.

    “We need pollination,” he says. “If that system is collapsed, it’s terrible.”

    Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors (SN: 1/23/16, p. 16).

    ...

    03/07/2017 - 12:00 Agriculture, Robotics, Ecology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Invasive species, climate change threaten Great Lakes

    The Death and Life of the Great LakesDan EganW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Every summer, people flock to the Great Lakes to swim and fish in the seemingly infinite waters and hike along the idyllic shores. But an ominous undercurrent flows just out of sight. Below the water’s surface rages an environmental catastrophe 200 years in the making.

    In The Death and Life of the Great...

    03/07/2017 - 08:00 Ecosystems, Climate, Science & Society
  • News

    Earth’s mantle may be hotter than thought

    Temperatures across Earth’s mantle are about 60 degrees Celsius higher than previously thought, a new experiment suggests. Such toasty temperatures would make the mantle runnier than earlier research suggested, a development that could help explain the details of how tectonic plates glide on top of the mantle, geophysicists report in the March 3 Science.

    “Scientists have been arguing...

    03/02/2017 - 14:00 Earth