Earth Sciences

Marine biologists at Plymouth University and the activist group WorldFish conducted analyses of catches over the past 90 years and found significant evidence of the practice of 'fishing down the food web' - removal of many top predators from the sea that has left fishermen 'scraping the barrel' for increasing amounts of shellfish.

Sharks, rays, cod, haddock and many other species at the head of the food chain are at historic lows with many removed from the area completely, they say.

The report used catch statistics from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas to establish a 'mean trophic level' for catches – an average for how far up the food chain the fish are located.

It's not well known to urban environmentally conscious people but rural people know that deer are a lot like rats - they will eat everything if you don't stop them.

Because state forests are part of a political machine, various political lobbying has blocked biology and that led to an overabundance of deer and decades of damage.

But regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks helped damaged forests recover nicely. The big win, found analysis of a 17-year-long Indiana Department of Natural Resources policy of organized hunts in state parks, was for native tree seedlings, herbs and wildflowers once rendered scarce by deer. 

250 miles above Earth, in the  International Space Station, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has recently shared some incredible views - some is the usual stuff, Hurricane Arthur on the US East coast, beautiful auroras.

And then there was Super Typohoon Neoguri. This was not Superstorm Sandy, a hyped up tropical storm that benefited from dumping rain on media companies in midtown Manhattan, this was a true super typhoon, with winds of 150 miles per hour and an eye, the center of the typhoon, that was 40 miles wide. One third of Okinawa was evacuated. Nago, Okinawa had over 17 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. 

It's the strongest storm of the season so far and it hasn't even hit mainland Japan yet.

Researchers have measured the highest level of ultraviolet radiation ever recorded on the Earth's surface.

These extraordinary UV fluxes, observed in the Bolivian Andes only 1,500 miles from the equator, are far above those normally considered to be harmful to both terrestrial and aquatic life, though that has to be calibrated. A beach in Brazil also has radiation levels far above safe levels, yet people visit it for that reason. And plane flights provide even more radiation than that. 

One of the first predators on land, a 410-million-year-old arachnid, has been virtually brought back to life. Paleontologists used exceptionally preserved fossils from the Natural History Museum in London to create the video showing the most likely walking gait of the animal.

The scientists used the fossils - thin slices of rock showing the animal's cross-section - to deduce the range of motion in the limbs of this ancient, extinct early relative of the spiders. From this, and comparisons to living arachnids, the researchers used the open source computer graphic program  Blender to create a video showing the animals walking.

One way to scientifically optimize nature is to understand how soil moisture, the water contained within soil particles, behaves in Earth's water cycle.

Soil moisture is essential for plant life and influences weather and climate  and now researchers working with data from NASA's Aquarius instrument have created worldwide maps of soil moisture, showing how the wetness of the land fluctuates with the seasons and weather phenomena. 

Batteries are common in the devices we use - everything from electric cars to laptops. Unfortunately the last real breakthrough in battery technology was lithium-ion and it's been 25 years of not much since. We're no longer using a 386 PC but our devices are using that equivalent in battery power.

There are efforts to try and get the most performance out of this legacy technology and one effort is replacing the graphite traditionally used in one of the battery's electrodes  with a sponge-like silicon material. Silicon has more than 10 times the energy storage capacity of graphite. 

A new study on biological erosion of mesophotic tropical coral reefs - low energy reef environments between 30-150 meters deep - provides new insights into processes that affect the overall structure of these important ecosystems.

The purpose of the study was to better understand how bioerosion rates and distribution of bioeroding organisms, such as fish, mollusks and sponges, differ between mesophotic reefs and their shallow-water counterparts and the implications of those variations on the sustainability of the reef structure.

Changes to Antarctic winds have been implicated in southern Australia's drying climate but a new estimate says they may also have a profound impact on warming ocean temperatures under the ice shelves along the coastline of West and East Antarctic.

China's richest provinces are having a huge environmental impact on the country's water-scarce regions, according to a new estimate by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Maryland.