Earth Sciences

Countries are looking for fossil fuel alternatives that can get somewhere near the density of gasoline but with less impact on the global ecosystem. Among the most promising contenders for mainstream alternative energy production, especially on alternative science media sites like Science 2.0, is hydrogen – but that increasingly appears to be an unlikely candidate.

Low energy conversion efficiency weakens the case for hydrogen as a commercial fuel. Hydrogen requires one-too-many conversions to be as efficient as electricity (water to hydrogen to electricity), as opposed to a simple fuel to electricity conversion.
As long as mandates and subsidies continue, wind turbines will continue to be part of the alternative energy mix. 

That means going beyond hype and potential and focusing on physical design, such as spacing and orienting individual turbines to maximize their efficiency and minimize any "wake effects," where the swooping blades of one reduces the energy in the wind available for the following turbine. 
Five environmental groups are alleging that NASA could be about to break the commitments it made in a 2010 agreement to clean up all the detectable contamination at its former Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) rocket testing site in the Simi Hills of California.

They claim that NASA may be laying the groundwork for a breach by falsely claiming that commenters on its draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on the cleanup were evenly divided on whether NASA should live up to its obligations in the cleanup agreements. When pressed by environmental groups to provide actual data to backup such a claim, they say NASA refused, and one of the groups, Consumer Watchdog, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request, obtaining all submitted comments.

The extreme cold weather observed across Europe and the east coast of the US in recent winters is due to to natural, long-term variations in sea surface temperatures, according to a new study published in Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers from University of California Irvine show that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) phenomenon — a natural pattern of variation in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures that switches between a positive and negative phase every 60-70 years — can affect an atmospheric circulation pattern, known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), that influences the temperature and precipitation over the Northern Hemisphere in winter.

When Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" was taking the country by storm 50 years ago, it was a puzzle to scientists and farmers who did not see the cultural future looming in front of them. Scientists dismissed it as anecdotal evidence while farmers recognized that if you don't use a pesticide according to instructions, bad things happen. Both knew that without pesticides, yields would be devastated.

The deepest areas of the Baltic Sea have always had a low oxygen content. The inflow of fresh water is actually limited by low thresholds at the entrance to the Baltic Sea.

At the same time, there is a relatively fresh layer above the denser and saltier water in the deep layer of the sea.

This results in an effective stratification of the water column, which prevents the mixing of water masses necessary to transfer oxygen to the water at the bottom.


Increasing heat is estimated to extend dry conditions to far more farmland and cities by the end of the century, according to a new paper.

Much of the concern about future drought under a global warming scenario has focused on rainfall projections but higher evaporation rates may also play an important role as warmer temperatures wring more moisture from the soil, even in some places where rainfall is forecasted to increase, say the authors, who use the latest computer simulations to model the effects of both changing rainfall and evaporation rates on future drought in the journal Climate Dynamics.


Consuming foods grown in urban gardens has become a big fad, and those foods might even offer health benefits, unless a lack of knowledge about the soil used for planting poses a health threat to both consumers and gardeners. 

A new paper the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), researchers identifies a range of factors and challenges related to the perceived risk of soil contamination among urban community gardeners and found a need for clear and concise information on how best to prevent and manage soil contamination. 



Greenhouse gas emissions from food production may threaten the UN climate target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to a paper from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. What is the data? No data needed.