Earth Sciences

There hasn't been a lot of progress made on greenhouse gas emissions policies - while America and the EU have made efforts to curb emissions, three countries that account for 3X the emissions of the US are exempt from treaties under an umbrella of developing nation status.

And neither policy makers nor the public trusts climate science the way they do other fields.

What the world needs is globally consistent, independent emissions assessments - and a lot less self-reporting, errors and lack of verification. 

The first truly semi-aquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, has been announced.

New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment.

The fossils also indicate that Spinosaurus was the largest known predatory dinosaur to roam the Earth, measuring more than 9 feet longer than the world's largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen. 

The seasons are about to change and that means a new round of projections, prognostications, sooth-saying and doomsday forecasts.

If you think you know which of those are done by the civilized world and which of those are done by pagan Wildlings, you know nothing about modern climate science and culture.

In George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", a wall separates two very different people - think England and Scotland. South of The Wall, the people of Winterfell are always preparing for the worst. North of The Wall, they are just living their lives and rolling with the punches. And there is a lot more (consensual) sex. These two groups live in the same world but approach it in very different ways.

Modern genetic modification, where biologists cause a plant to express a natural protein taken from another plant that wards off pests, is protested by environmental groups and organic farmers. Organic farmers will spray Bt on their plants, while calling them organic food, yet the same food that expresses Bt naturally, like many plants do, is a Frankenfood.

It's the protein expression, they insist. There may be a compromise between the world of science - and not letting poor people die - and activism. If protein expression is the problem, don't code for proteins. Non-coding RNA (ncRNA) still sounds like scary science to environmentalists, but transcripts that do not code for proteins exclude the possibility of producing exogenous protein products.

The public has long suffered from green fatigue, where constant doomsday prophecies by environmental groups have become background noise, but there is good news too. It just has to come from the world of science instead.

After the detection of the ozone-depleting properties of  chlorofluorocarbons
(CFCs) in the 1970s, data from satellite measurements in 1985 were startling; a huge hole had been discovered over the Antarctic in the ozone layer that protects the Earth from dangerous, carcinogenic UV rays and it was unclear how much was natural and what had been caused by man.

Evolution is still the favored theory, according to fossil records. Credit: Flickr/Brent Danley, CC BY-NC-SA

By John Long, Flinders University

There are numerous methods for maintaining electricity supply when renewables are in the grid. Credit: Johan Douma/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

By Anthony Vassallo, University of Sydney

The recent review of the Australian Renewable Energy Target has once again raised the issue of the “unreliability” of some renewable power sources such as wind and solar power.

By tracking seismic shifts, researchers say they may be able to predict a major quake off the coast of Istanbul.

When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things - an inactive “seismic gap” which is the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other, or the seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake after quietly building tension for decades.

Researchers say they have found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault — one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world. The fault, similar in scale to California’s San Andreas Fault, stretches for about 745 miles across northern Turkey and into the Aegean Sea.

For decades, doctors have developed methods to diagnose how different types of cells and systems in the body are functioning. Now scientists have adapted biomedical techniques to study the vast body of the ocean.

In a Science paper, scientists demonstrate that they can identify and measure proteins in the ocean, revealing how single-celled marine organisms and ocean ecosystems operate.

ESA Satellites are showing clouds of sulfur dioxide exiting from Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano.

It may be mostly hidden underneath the Vatnajokull glacier in the center of the country but Bardarbunga isn't shy about saying hello, it has had up to 400 eruptions in the last 10,000 years, one of which produced more lava than any other volcano on Earth during that time.

23 of those were geologically recent.

Bardarbunga eruptions seem to happen even more often than colony collapse disorders in bees, so Iceland knows it's best not to get too complacent when something sitting on two volcanic rift zones starts to put on a show:  It seems to erupt twice per century on average and the last one was in...1910.

Tick tock, tick tock...