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Earth Sciences

Phys.org provides the latest news on earth science, astronomy and space exploration.
  1. The ice shelves surrounding the Antarctic coastline retreated at speeds of up to 50 metres per day at the end of the last Ice Age, far more rapid than the satellite-derived retreat rates observed today, new research has found.
  2. Spatial and temporal differentiations are important features in the study of phenology of ecosystems. Plant phenology studies the lifecycle phases in plants driven by environmental factors, and the study of its long-term patterns and dynamics is important to reveal the responses of vegetation in different regions of China to global changes.
  3. Back in the 1970s, scientists came up with a revolutionary idea about how Earth's deep interior works. They proposed it is slowly churning like a lava lamp, with buoyant blobs rising as plumes of hot mantle rock from near Earth's core, where rocks are so hot they move like a fluid.
  4. A new understanding of our planet's deepest earthquakes could help unravel one of the most mysterious geophysical processes on Earth.
  5. Researchers at the University of Southampton have shown that an extinction event 360 million years ago, that killed much of the Earth's plant and freshwater aquatic life, was caused by a brief breakdown of the ozone layer that shields the Earth from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is a newly discovered extinction mechanism with profound implications for our warming world today.
  6. Subduction of hydrous materials imposes great influence on the structure, dynamics, and evolution of our planet. However, it is largely unclear how subducting slabs chemically interact with the middle mantle. Recently, an oxygen-excess phase (Mg,Fe)2O3+δ was discovered under conditions similar to the Earth's middle mantle (~1000-2000 km) by a team of scientists from the Center of High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research (HPSTAR) and Stanford University.
  7. Yale geophysicists reported that Earth's ever-shifting, underground network of tectonic plates was firmly in place more than 4 billion years ago—at least a billion years earlier than scientists generally thought.
  8. A team of University of Rhode Island scientists and statisticians conducted a sophisticated quantitative analysis of a mass extinction that occurred 215 million years ago and found that the cause of the extinction was not an asteroid or climate change, as had previously been believed. Instead, the scientists concluded that the extinction did not occur suddenly or simultaneously, suggesting that the disappearance of a wide variety of species was not linked to any single catastrophic event.
  9. Ice shelves, massive floating bodies of ice, are well-known for their buffering effect on land-based ice sheets as they slow their flow towards the sea. This buffering effect plays an important role in moderating global sea level rise.
  10. Climate change is occurring all over the globe as a 1°C increase in Earth's temperature has led to the rise in the sea level, melting of the Arctic ice, and unseasonable heat waves and heavy snow. To accurately predict the artificial climate changes set off by the increase in greenhouse gases, it is important to understand the effects of natural factors such as solar and volcanic activities. A recent study has shown how global precipitation decreases when volcanoes erupt in the tropics.
  11. Hundreds of people die at sea every year due to vessel and airplane accidents. Emergency teams have little time to rescue those in the water because the probability of finding a person alive plummets after six hours. Beyond tides and challenging weather conditions, unsteady coastal currents often make search and rescue operations exceedingly difficult.
  12. The researchers at Anhui Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, conducted high-resolution vertical profile measurements of HONO and NO2 to investigate the nocturnal sources of HONO at different pollution levels. And their work was published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
  13. New simulations from Imperial College London have revealed the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs struck Earth at the 'deadliest possible' angle.
  14. Melting of ice in permafrost ground leads to processes of change in the landscape—thermokarst. This may cause faster thawing of the permafrost.
  15. A new study led by Northern Illinois University scientists suggests American winters late this century could experience significant decreases in the frequency, intensity and size of snowstorms.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. We live, work, and play at the coast.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
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