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Earth Science / Environmental News Center
Study shows restored wetlands rarely equal condition of original wetlands
NEW
Jan. 25, 2012
Wetland restoration is a billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States that aims to create ecosystems similar to those that disappeared over the past century. But a new analysis of restoration projects shows that restored wetlands seldom reach the quality of a natural wetland.
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Predators Pick Prey that Balances Their Diet

Jan. 12, 2012
University researchers have debunked the dogma that predators aren't picky eaters, with a new study finding predator animals that are given a choice of foods will select a diet that maximizes their chances of reproducing.
The Smell of Salt Air, a Mile High and 900 Miles Inland

Mar. 10, 2010
The smell of sea salt in the air is a romanticized feature of life along a seacoast. Wind and waves kick up spray, and bits of sodium chloride – common table salt – can permeate the air. It is believed that as much as 10 billion metric tons of chloride enters the air mass through this process each year, but just a tiny fraction – perhaps one-third of 1 percent – does anything but fall back to the surface.
Rich Ore Deposits Linked to Ancient Atmosphere

Nov. 20, 2009
Much of our planet’s mineral wealth was deposited billions of years ago when Earth’s chemical cycles were different from today’s. Using geochemical clues from rocks nearly 3 billion years old, a group of scientists including Andrey Bekker and Douglas Rumble from the Carnegie Institution have made the surprising discovery that the creation of economically important nickel ore deposits was linked to sulfur in the ancient oxygen-poor atmosphere.
Climate studies to benefit from 12 years of satellite aerosol data

Nov. 10, 2009
Aerosols, very small particles suspended in the air, play an important role in the global climate balance and in regulating climate change. They are one of the greatest sources of uncertainty in climate change models. ESA's GlobAerosol project has been making the most of European satellite capabilities to monitor them.
Arctic Warming Overtakes 2,000 Years of Natural Cooling

Sept. 03, 2009
Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. The study, which incorporates geologic records and computer simulations, provides new evidence that the Arctic would be cooling if not for greenhouse gas emissions that are overpowering natural climate patterns.
ESA investigates new methods of mapping tropical forest from space

Aug. 21, 2009
Tropical rain forests play a crucial role in Earth's carbon cycle by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in biomass. However, mapping these carbon stocks from space poses a huge technical challenge. An airborne campaign, being carried out in South America, is showing how spaceborne radar could be an answer. In order to improve our understanding of the carbon cycle, more accurate estimates of forest biomass, which represents a proxy for stored carbon, are needed.
Did a Nickel Famine Trigger the “Great Oxidation Event”?

Apr. 08, 2009
The Earth’s original atmosphere held very little oxygen. This began to change around 2.4 billion years ago when oxygen levels increased dramatically during what scientists call the “Great Oxidation Event.” The cause of this event has puzzled scientists, but researchers have found indications in ancient sedimentary rocks that it may have been linked to a drop in the level of dissolved nickel in seawater.
Poison: It's What's for Dinner

Apr. 07, 2009
As the U.S. Southwest grew warmer from 18,700 to 10,000 years ago, juniper trees vanished from what is now the Mojave Desert, robbing packrats of their favorite food. Now, University of Utah biologists have narrowed the hunt for detoxification genes that let the rodents eat toxic creosote bushes that replaced juniper.
Young Dinosaurs Roamed Together, Died Together

Mar. 16, 2009
A herd of young birdlike dinosaurs met their death on the muddy margins of a lake some 90 million years ago, according to a team of Chinese and American paleontologists that excavated the site in the Gobi Desert in western Inner Mongolia. The sudden death of the herd in a mud trap provides a rare snapshot of social behavior.
New Madrid fault system may be shutting down

Mar. 13, 2009
The New Madrid fault system does not behave as earthquake hazard models assume and may be in the process of shutting down, a new study shows. A team from Purdue and Northwestern universities analyzed the fault motion for eight years using global positioning system measurements and found that it is much less than expected given the 500- to 1,000-year repeat cycle for major earthquakes on that fault. The last large earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone were magnitude 7-7.5 events in 1811 and 1812.
Highest-Known Microbial Ecosystems on Earth Fueled by Volcanic Gases

Mar. 03, 2009
The new study shows the emission of water, carbon dioxide and methane from small volcanic vents near the summit of Socompa sustains complex microbial ecosystems new to science in the barren, sky-high landscape, said CU-Boulder Professor Steve Schmidt. He likened the physical environment of the Socompa volcano summit -- including the thin atmosphere, intense ultraviolet radiation and harsh climate -- to the physical characteristics of Mars, where the hunt for microbial life is under way by NASA.
Birds Move North with Climate Change

Feb. 26, 2009
Researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) have documented that a variety of North American bird species are extending their breeding ranges to the north, adding to concerns about climate change. Researchers state the change in the birds’ breeding ranges “provides compelling evidence that climate change is driving range shifts.”
13,000-Year-Old Stone Tool Cache in Colorado Shows Evidence of Camel, Horse Butchering

Feb. 25, 2009
A biochemical analysis of a rare Clovis-era stone tool cache recently unearthed in the city limits of Boulder, Colo., indicates some of the implements were used to butcher ice-age camels and horses that roamed North America until their extinction about 13,000 years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder study.
Locations of Strain, Slip Identified in Major Earthquake Fault

Feb. 15, 2009
Deep-sea drilling into one of the most active earthquake zones on the planet is providing the first direct look at the geophysical fault properties underlying some of the world's largest earthquakes and tsunamis.
The Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE) is the first geologic study of the underwater subduction zone faults that give rise to the massive earthquakes known to seismologists as mega-thrust earthquakes.
NASA Study Predicted Outbreak of Deadly Virus

Feb. 15, 2009
An early warning system, more than a decade in development, successfully predicted the 2006-2007 outbreak of the deadly Rift Valley fever in northeast Africa, according to a new study led by NASA scientists. Rift Valley fever is unique in that its emergence is closely linked to interannual climate variability.
Research Uncovers Surprising Lion Stronghold in War-Torn Central Africa

Jan. 29, 2009
Times are tough for wildlife living at the frontier between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Armies are reportedly encamped in a national park and wildlife preserve on the Congolese side, while displaced herders and their cattle have settled in an adjoining Ugandan park. And yet, the profusion of prey in the region could potentially support more than 900 individuals of the emblematic African lion, according to new research - but only if immediate conservation steps are taken.
Billion-Year Revision of Plant Evolution Timeline

Jan. 27, 2009
Land plants’ ability to sprout upward through the air, unsupported except by their own woody tissues, has long been considered one of the characteristics separating them from aquatic plants, which rely on water to support them. Now lignin, one of the chemical underpinnings vital to the self-supporting nature of land plants – and thought unique to them – has been found in marine algae by a team of researchers including scientists at UBC and Stanford University.
Scientists Identify Bacteria That Increase Plant Growth

Jan. 26, 2009
Through work originally designed to remove contaminants from soil, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and their Belgium colleagues at Hasselt University have identified plant-associated microbes that can improve plant growth on marginal land. The findings may help scientists design strategies for sustainable biofuel production that do not use food crops or agricultural land.
Four, Three, Two, One . . . Pterosaurs Have Lift Off!

Jan. 07, 2009
Pterosaurs have long suffered an identity crisis. Pop culture heedlessly — and wrongly — lumps these extinct flying lizards in with dinosaurs. Even paleontologists assumed that because the creatures flew, they were birdlike in many ways, such as using only two legs to take flight. Now comes what is believed to be first-time evidence that launching some 500 pounds of reptilian heft into flight required pterosaurs to use four limbs
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