Earth Sciences

A high amount of methane, the main component of natural gas, is escaping from the Four Corners region in the U.S. Southwest, according to a new study.


Antarctic sea ice reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s.

The Antarctic sea ice extent exceeded 7.72 million square miles (20 million square kilometers) for the first time since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The ice extent stayed above this benchmark extent for several days. The average maximum extent between 1981 and 2010 was 7.23 million square miles (18.72 million square kilometers). 

Tropical Storm Simon, once a hurricane, is expected to bring heavy rain to portions of the central Plains and Midwest on today and tomorrow. Since it is not hitting New York City during presidential election season, it won't be called a SuperStorm and get much national media attention.


Tropical Cyclone Hudhud formed on Oct. 8th and began moving from east to west across the Bay of Bengal in the Northern Indian Ocean. 

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Hudhud today and took a picture of the storm that showed it was still somewhat elongated, but more organized than the previous day. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite provided the hint of a developing eye.

Warnings for winds, rain and surf are already in effect for the northern Andhra Pradesh coast and south Odisha coastline of eastern India as Hudhud approaches.


The NASA satellites, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Terra, have provided data on clouds, rainfall and the diameter of the eye of Super Typhoon Vongfong as it turned north in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.

Typhoon Vongfong formed on October 2nd, 2014 in the southeast of Guam. Typhoon Phanfone, that recently pummeled Japan, formed near the same area in the western Pacific Ocean.


Image: Genetic Literacy Project

By Tabitha M. Powledge, Genetic Literacy Project

Sauropods,  large, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs such as Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, are the largest animals to have ever walked the Earth, with the biggest weighing 80 tons.

Clearly, a single creature the size of 11 elephants would have needed vast amounts of food. How did multiple sauropod species live alongside one another in prehistoric ecosystems between 210 and 65 million years ago?

New research from the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum, London details the community of the Late Jurassic Morrison Formation, a distinctive sequence of sedimentary rock in the western United States from which over 10 species of sauropod are known.


When I look at my children at play, I am fascinated by the ways in which they learn. Learning is a brain event and there are times I imagine I can almost see my kids’ brains working and developing as they play and learn. Everything that we do, whether motor, sensory or cognitive, requires networks of neurons to generate new activity patterns in our brains. These newpatterns are how we experience learning.

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have created a new simulator to more accurately estimate the greenhouse gases likely to be released from Arctic peatlands if they warm.

Their model is based on how oxygen filters through soil and it estimates that previous models probably underestimated methane emissions and overrepresented carbon dioxide emissions from those regions. 

Peatlands, common in the Arctic, are wetlands filled with dead and decaying organic matter. They are the result of millions of years of plants dying and breaking down into rich soil, so they contain a massive amount of carbon.



Worth it for cheap cotton? Credit:so11e/flckr, CC BY-NC-ND

By Anson Mackay, University College London

The Aral Sea has reached a new low, literally and figuratively; new satellite images from NASA show that, for the first time in its recorded history, the largest basin has completely dried up.