Earth & Environment

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computer simulation of Earth's magnetic field

FLIP FLOP  In a computer simulation, magnetic field lines (top row) twist and curl around the Earth’s liquid outer core. This magnetism results from swirling, or convecting, liquid iron (bottom row). The simulation mimics the process of a polarity reversal in which Earth’s north and south magnetic poles swap. Such reversals, a sign of a strong magnetic field generator, are seen going back hundreds of millions of years in planetary history.

computer simulated tornado

CYBER STORM  The 60-kilometer-wide swirling thunderstorm in this simulation spawned the first digitally created long-lived EF5 tornado (bottom, right-center). The 700-meter-wide virtual twister may reveal why some real-life tornadoes linger.

ancient lava

MURDEROUS MAGMA  Gases coughed up by the Siberian Traps volcanic eruptions could have triggered the Permian extinction around 252 million years ago, new research demonstrates. Researchers measured the age of the eruptions by analyzing crystals embedded in ancient lavas (shown).

Earth & Environment

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