Earth Sciences

 If you want to blame something for an overcast day, it's safe to go with the tropics. Water vapor originating from the Earth's tropics is transported to mid-latitudes on long filaments of flowing air that intermittently travel across the world's oceans.

When these airy tendrils make landfall, they can cause severe floods and other extreme weather events. Yet despite the importance of these "atmospheric rivers" for the global water and heat cycles, the mechanism behind their formation is still a mystery.


As the founder of Fitness Reloaded, a health and fitness company the most common questions I’ve received through the years is about food. Should we eat this or that? Vegetarian or Paleo? GMOs safe or not? And what about superfoods?

I always dodged the eating questions and preferred to talk about fitness instead. The reason was that I felt that since the “experts”, doctors, dieticians, etc, couldn’t agree on what we should really be eating, then how would I expect that I would give a good answer?

Though ocean acidification and corals have been a concern, not all coral reefs are at risk. Instead, some thrive as they have absorbed atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) released by the burning of fossil fuels.

In ocean acidification, the CO2 reacts with water molecules, lowering ocean pH (making it more acidic), and that process also removes carbonate, an essential ingredient needed by corals and other organisms to build their skeletons and shells.

World Oceans Day today has meant new questions about ocean acidification, which threatens coral reef ecosystems worldwide - but not all reefs. 

In the fickle, unpredictable system that is our climate, it looks like El Niño, which was already said to have came and gone with a whimper months ago by climate scientists, may finally be arriving.

When it happens, we may know by bunny breeding.

At times during the past 10,000 years, cottontails and hares surged when the El Niño weather pattern drenched the Pacific Coast with rain, according to an analysis of 3,463 bunny bones. The number of El Niños per century "correlates very strongly with the total rabbit population in Baja California, as well as relative abundance of the moisture-loving species of rabbits," says University of Utah anthropology doctoral student Isaac Hart.


Currently different data formats between research centers pose a challenge to oceanographic researchers, but a new project is going to make marine data sets more easily accessible to researchers worldwide. 

The ODIP II project will use NERC’s vocabulary server to ‘translate’ between these different data semantics. ODIP II is a collaboration between the USA, Australia and the EU. By the time it is complete, in May 2018, it aims to have developed a means of seamlessly sharing and managing marine data and coordinating the existing regional marine e-infrastructures.

I dissected a Tyrannosaurus rex in front of television cameras.

That may be the most surreal sentence I’ve ever written. So let me explain. I’m part of a team that built a life-sized model of Tyrannosaurus rex and then cut it up. The spectacle is a bloody, gory two-hour television special called T. rex Autopsy. The premise may seem absurd. But this is a whole new way of communicating science to the public, and it has been one of the highlights of my career.

Electric vehicles are all the rage for wealthy elites but they have a more practical future benefit - mass transit, assuming the electricity source is low-emission like nuclear or solar. 

Right now, things like electric buses require more cost because of the maintenance and downtime. They take huge batteries, which means when those die off and they are placed into landfills we will replace global warming with acid rain. And to match gasoline's energy density would take a battery larger than could fit on a bus. 

The solution instead has to be much faster charging times. 
The UK’s onshore wind power industry may have been dealt a huge blow by new government policies announced last week, but this apparent setback should instead be seen as an opportunity. Elsewhere in Europe local, cooperative wind power is flourishing – could your town be next?

The "wheat belt" and "gold fields" of southern Western Australia are associated with a regional acid saline groundwater system. Groundwaters hosted in the Yilgarn Craton there have pH levels as low as 2.4 and salinities as high as 28%, which have greatly affected bedrock and subsurface sediments. This is manifested above ground as hundreds of shallow, ephemeral acid saline lakes.

In the June issue of GSA Today, Kathleen Benison of West Virginia University and Brenda Bowen of the University of Utah write that the limited volume of groundwater, in combination with its acidity, salinity, and high concentrations of some metals, make southern Western Australia a difficult place for human habitation.

Tropical rainforests have long been considered the Earth's lungs, sequestering large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thereby slowing down the increasing greenhouse effect and associated human-made climate change. Scientists in a global research project now show that the vast extensions of semi-arid landscapes occupying the transition zone between rainforest and desert dominate the ongoing increase in carbon sequestration by ecosystems globally, as well as large fluctuations between wet and dry years. This is a major rearrangement of planetary functions.

A new study shows that semi-arid ecosystems, savannahs and shrublands, play an extremely important role in controlling carbon sinks and the climate-mitigating ecosystem service they represent.