Earth Sciences

The country of France recently sided with environmental donors and mandated that new buildings must have solar panels or plants on the roof. Though the science is unclear, the belief is that this will naturally cool buildings or, in the case of planets, retain rainwater, reduce problems with runoffs and favor biodiversity.

Since environmentalists also once insisted that coral reefs should be built from tires, and that ending up costing 100X as much as it saved, politicians only agreed to partial coverings and only on new buildings in commercial zones. Time will tell if the plan is helping or if it is just a political placebo, like biofuels and wind energy.
One canyon on Earth has two mouths - but that is not the only mystery.

First formally documented by western explorers mapping the Colorado Territory in the 1800s, Unaweep Canyon is a puzzling landscape and so it has inspired numerous scientific hypotheses for its origin. A new paper published in Geosphere by Gerilyn S. Soreghan and colleagues brings together old and new geologic data of this region to further the hypothesis that Unaweep Canyon was formed in multiple stages.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service  of the United States Department of Agriculture has released its honey report for 2014 and found it's boom times for bees.

Hives increased again, another 4 percent, up to a whopping 2.74 million colonies, and honey production is up 19 percent. Yield per colony averaged 65.1 pounds, which is up 15 percent.

If there is a Beepocalypse, the bees have not gotten the memo.
A new paper notes that the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption in Italy 40,000 years ago, one of the largest volcanic cataclysms in Europe and responsible for injecting a significant amount of sulfur-dioxide (SO2) into the stratosphere, coincided with the final decline of Neanderthals as well as with dramatic territorial and cultural advances among modern humans.  

Scientists have long debated if this eruption and the resulting volcanic sulfur cooling and acid deposition could have contributed to the final extinction of the Neanderthals more than climate change or hominin competition. 

A new paper tests this hypothesis using a climate model. 
The leading theory of what causes ice ages around the world -- changes in the way the Earth orbits the sun- has been cast into doubt by a new study.

The study raises questions about the Milankovitch theory of climate, which says the expansion and contraction of Northern Hemisphere continental ice sheets are influenced by cyclic fluctuations in solar radiation intensity due to wobbles in the Earth's orbit; those orbital fluctuations should have an opposite effect on Southern Hemisphere glaciers.


The solar eclipse due to cover much of Europe on March 20 will be the continent’s first for 16 years.

Back in 1999, as people stopped staring at the sun and got back on with their day they caused a power surge which still stands as a UK record – greater than anything after a football match or royal wedding.

A few years ago, bees suddenly had a sharp decline in numbers. This "Colony Collapse Disorder" as it is called, is a disorder in the sense that it is a recurring phenomenon, detailed for the last 1,000 years even when record-keeping just consisted of sporadic anecdotes. It was noted more frequently as record-keeping became more thorough. so it appeared far more often by the 1800s. By the 1900s, record-keeping had improved enough that there were seven recorded instances of this CCD phenomenon just in the United States.

A National Academy of Sciences panel said that, with proper governance and other safeguards, we should commence more research on geoengineering — technologies that might let humanity deliberately intervene in nature to counter climate change.  With the planet facing potentially severe impacts from global warming in coming decades, drastically reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases was by far the best way to mitigate the effects of a wa

Microbial communities in different regions of the Pacific Ocean displayed strikingly similar daily rhythms in their metabolism despite inhabiting extremely different habitats, according to a new study.  

From the nutrient-rich waters off California to the nutrient-poor waters north of Hawai'i, dominant photoautotrophs - light-loving bacteria that need solar energy to help them photosynthesize food from inorganic substances - appear to initiate a cascade effect wherein the other major groups of microbes perform their metabolic activities in a coordinated and predictable way. As expected, different photoautotrophs dominated the coastal versus open ocean but many other heterotrophic bacterial groups were common to both habitats.