Earth Sciences

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health  graduate student Sara G. Rasmussen, from their Department of Environmental Health Sciences, says that people with asthma who live near bigger or larger numbers of active hydraulic fracturing (fracking) natural gas wells are 1.5 to four times likelier to have asthma attacks than those who live farther away.


A decade ago, ancient technology - using natural water to perform work - was the green goal. Today, dams are bad but now wind is back in fashion.


Declining Antarctic sea ice extents were a cornerstone of climate models - unless they began increasing. It may be that both are just natural fluctuation according to a new paper which shows that the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), which is characterized by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific, has created favorable conditions for additional Antarctic sea ice growth since 2000.

Obviously that could mean that sea ice may begin to shrink as the IPO switches to a positive phase. Climate models have done a poor job of accounting for nature, they have tended to take a trend and made it linear into the future. Nature is not that predictable. 



New work suggests Earth's ancient magnetic field was significantly different than the present day field, originating from several poles rather than the familiar two. 

Earth generates a strong magnetic field extending from the core out into space that shields the atmosphere and deflects harmful high-energy particles from the Sun and the cosmos. Without it, our planet would be bombarded by cosmic radiation, and life on Earth's surface might not exist. The motion of liquid iron in Earth's outer core drives a phenomenon called the geodynamo, which creates Earth's magnetic field. This motion is driven by the loss of heat from the core and the solidification of the inner core.


Greenland's glaciers are melting, but they do that every year. However, a recent computer simulation sounds the alarm about a 50 percent increase in the freshwater flux since 1990, which is too narrow a timeframe for scientific purposes, it is the target date for the original Kyoto treaty on global warming, but will be a clarion for policy makers. 


Solar energy wants to become an alternative source to fossil fuels but no one wants to incur the much higher cost required by continued subsidies. Rather than  trying to create large solar farms, which are invariably blocked by environmental lawsuits, the move is on to go small and avoid regulations - that means on buildings, clothes, consumer electronics and wearables. This necessitates ultra-thin film, low-cost and ideally flexible solar cells without compromising the environment during production, use, or disposal.


A new paper in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology reviewed all mammal species known from the end of the Cretaceous period in North America and found that over 93 percent became extinct across the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, due to the same asteroid that killed the dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago.

That's significantly more than previously thought - but mammals also recovered far more quickly than previously though.  


Giant Ice Age species including elephant-sized sloths and powerful saber-toothed cats that once roamed the windswept plains of Patagonia, southern South America, were finally felled by a perfect storm of a rapidly warming climate and humans, according to a paper in Science Advances.

The timing and cause of rapid extinctions of the megafauna has remained a mystery for centuries.

The work led by the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, says that it was only when the climate warmed, long after humans first arrived in Patagonia, did the megafauna suddenly die off around 12,300 years ago, after the last Ice Age intermission.


With generous government subsidies and a 'green' halo, wind power is enjoying a lot of financial windfalls. Meanwhile, since being gutted by the Clinton administration in 1993, nuclear energy has been blocked so that it is increasingly less viable.

For that reason, activists thought Sweden would be a good target for their efforts, because they love to tout their lack of emissions. Yet the Swedes would end up with more emissions if they added wind, according to a new paper. 

Activists believe that sustained high ($110-120 per barrel) prices will lead to  lower carbon emissions because it will make solar and wind seem viable by comparison, but a new study finds that is not true. Why abandon something where the same margin on an expensive product would lead to incredible profit?

Controlling supply leads to people paying thousands of dollars for diamonds, as an example.