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Earth Sciences

Phys.org provides the latest news on earth science, astronomy and space exploration.
  1. Many Germans have difficulty gauging the negative impact of weather conditions such as ground frost, heat, or UV radiation. This is one of the key results of a representative survey conducted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, published in Weather, Climate, and Society. The study's authors advocate new impact forecasts that predict not only what the weather will be, but also what it will do.
  2. The National Science Foundation should invest in new initiatives, partnerships and infrastructure to answer 12 priority research questions relevant to society in the next decade, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. A Vision for NSF Earth Sciences 2020-2030: Earth in Time says that a scientifically and demographically diverse group of researchers will be required to answer the questions.
  3. We live, work, and play at the coast.
  4. Due to the difficult accessibility and the high risk of collapse or explosion, the imaging of active volcanoes has so far been a great challenge in volcanology. Researchers around Edgar Zorn from the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ in Potsdam are now presenting the results of a series of repeated survey flights with optical and thermal imaging cameras at the Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala. Drones were used to observe the lava dome, a viscous plug of lava. The researchers were able to show that the lava dome shows movements on two different time scales: slow expansion and growth of the dome and fast extrusion of viscous lava. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
  5. University of California, San Diego researchers have confirmed that climate change helped produce the historic 43-day ocean heat wave that drew big crowds to San Diego beaches during the summer of 2018.
  6. If we took a journey from Earth's surface to the center, the midway point is roughly at 1900 km depth in the lower mantle. The lower mantle ranges from 660 to 2900 km depth and occupies 55% of our planet by volume. The chemical composition of the lower mantle is rather simple. It has long been pictured as being made up of 2 major minerals (~95%), namely bridgmanite and ferropericlase. Recently, this model was directly challenged by a set of discoveries in the lower mantle.
  7. Cold, dark, remote, Antarctica is as close to space as you can get on Earth. Humans conduct research in Antarctic bases on a wide range of topics, from climate studies and astronomy to glaciology and human physiology and psychology.
  8. Estimating the amount of seasonal snow is important for understanding the water cycle and Earth's climate system, but establishing a clear and coherent picture of change has proven difficult. New research from ESA's Climate Change Initiative has helped to produce the first reliable estimate of snow mass change and has helped to identify different continental trends.
  9. On 14 February, nine National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers hopped onboard a vessel to start a 37-day expedition to explore an understudied area nestled in the Pacific Ocean known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ). Flat and deep—reaching down between 4,000 to 6,000 metres below the surface—the CCZ is often referred to as an abyssal plain.
  10. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over part of Chile's Atacama Desert, which is bound on the west by the Pacific and on the east by the Andes. The Atacama is considered one of the driest places on Earth—there are some parts of the desert where rainfall has never been recorded.
  11. A pair of researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology has created a global map that highlights areas where there are likely dangerous levels of arsenic in groundwater. In their paper published in the journal Science, Joel Podgorski and Michael Berg describe combining data from a variety of sources to train a machine learning algorithm to highlight possible hot spots on a global map. Yan Zheng, with Southern University of Science and Technology has published a Perspective piece outlining the work by the research pair in the same journal issue.
  12. As California and the American West head into fire season amid the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are harnessing artificial intelligence and new satellite data to help predict blazes across the region.
  13. The ocean plays a major role in the global carbon cycle. The driving force comes from tiny plankton that produce organic carbon through photosynthesis, like plants on land.
  14. The motion of the ocean is often thought of in horizontal terms, for instance in the powerful currents that sweep around the planet, or the waves that ride in and out along a coastline. But there is also plenty of vertical motion, particularly in the open seas, where water from the deep can rise up, bringing nutrients to the upper ocean, while surface waters sink, sending dead organisms, along with oxygen and carbon, to the deep interior.
  15. University of Liverpool scientists are part of an ambitious research project to map conditions underneath the surface of the Earth in unprecedented detail.
  16. Why do carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere wax and wane in conjunction with the warm and cold periods of Earth's past? Scientists have been trying to answer this question for many years, and thanks to chemical clues left in sediment cores extracted from deep in the ocean floor, they are starting to put together the pieces of that puzzle.
  17. For the first time, seismologists can characterize signals as a result of some industrial human activity on a continent-wide scale using cloud computing. In two recently published papers in Seismological Research Letters, scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory demonstrate how previously characterized "noise" can now be viewed as a specific signal in a large geographical area thanks to an innovative approach to seismic data analyses.
  18. Fire is the primary form of terrestrial ecosystem disturbance on a global scale, and a major source of aerosols from the terrestrial biosphere to the atmosphere.
  19. CSIRO researcher Dr. Nathan Reid led a team of scientists analyzing samples of groundwater from the Capricorn region in Western Australia, where layers of sediment and weathering are believed to hide potential ore deposits from view.
  20. Australia has often been unfairly portrayed as an old and idle continent with little geological activity, but new research suggests that we remain geologically active and that some of our mountains are still growing.
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