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Earth Sciences - Chemistry - 18.04.2012
Evidence for a geologic trigger of the Cambrian explosion
The oceans teemed with life 600 million years ago, but the simple, soft-bodied creatures would have been hardly recognizable as the ancestors of nearly all animals on Earth today. Then something happened. Over several tens of millions of years — a relative blink of an eye in geologic terms — a burst of evolution led to a flurry of diversification and increasing complexity, including the expansion of multicellular organisms and the appearance of the first shells and skeletons.

Earth Sciences - 30.03.2012
Volcanic plumbing exposed
Two new studies into the "plumbing systems" that lie under volcanoes could bring scientists closer to predicting large eruptions. International teams of researchers, led by the University of Leeds, studied the location and behaviour of magma chambers on the Earth's mid-ocean ridge system - a vast chain of volcanoes along which the Earth forms new crust.

Chemistry - Earth Sciences - 29.03.2012
Discovery shakes beliefs of Earth to the core
Discovery shakes beliefs of Earth to the core
For a century, scientists have assumed that the Earth has same chemical make-up as the sun. But this belief has been challenged by scientists at The Australian National University. Professors Ian Campbell and Hugh O'Neill from the Research School of Earth Sciences at ANU said their research shakes up our understanding of the Earth's chemistry - right to the core.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 28.03.2012
Keeping an eye - from the sky - on volcanoes
Keeping an eye - from the sky - on volcanoes
Keeping an eye - from the sky - on volcanoes The importance of global and frequent data coverage of volcanoes was highlighted in a recent article published in Science . Satellites are finding that volcanoes previously thought to be dormant are showing signs of unrest. As the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland demonstrated, volcanic eruptions can have consequences over large regions, so the global perspective offered by satellite systems is vital for monitoring volcanoes in remote and inaccessible terrain.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 27.03.2012
Country Tamworth built on rock 'n' roll
Country Tamworth built on rock ‘n’ roll
Tamworth is famous as the home of Australian country music. But 350 million years ago, some hardcore rock 'n' roll was also happening. Scientists at The Australian National University have discovered that granites in the New England area near Tamworth were produced by a remarkable process, whereby the magmas erupted from volcanoes turned to mud, then back to magma again, in a very rapid cycle.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 26.03.2012
Deep-ocean impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Compelling evidence of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals will be published online in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week beginning March 26. The diverse team of researchers, led by Penn State Professor of Biology Charles Fisher, used a wide range of underwater vehicles, including the research submarine Alvin, to investigate the corals.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 22.03.2012
Plants may absorb more carbon dioxide than previously thought
By Simon Levey Thursday 22 March 2012 The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide emissions from human activity may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change , which looks at how plants react to environmental change. The authors say these results improve our ability to look into the planet's future and predict the magnitude of climate change before it happens.

Earth Sciences - Life Sciences - 08.03.2012
Iridescent, Feathered Dinosaur Offers Fresh Evidence That Feathers Evolved to Attract Mates
Iridescent, Feathered Dinosaur Offers Fresh Evidence That Feathers Evolved to Attract Mates
AUSTIN, Texas — A team of American and Chinese researchers has revealed the detailed feather pattern and color of Microraptor , a pigeon-sized, four-winged dinosaur that lived about 120 million years ago. A new specimen shows the dinosaur had a glossy iridescent sheen and that its tail was narrow and adorned with a pair of streamer feathers, suggesting the importance of display in the early evolution of feathers, as presented in the March 9 edition of the journal Science .

Environment - Earth Sciences - 06.03.2012
Running Hot and Cold in the Deep Sea: Scientists Explore Rare Environment
Among the many intriguing aspects of the deep sea, Earth's largest ecosystem, exist environments known as hydrothermal vent systems where hot water surges out from the seafloor. On the flipside the deep sea also features cold areas where methane rises from "seeps" on the ocean bottom. It's extremely rare to find both habitat types intersecting in one place, but that's what researchers found and explored during an expedition in 2010 off Costa Rica.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 05.03.2012
Study Links Dust to Increased Glacial Melting
Study Links Dust to Increased Glacial Melting
— Coral Gables — A University of Miami-led study has established a link between large dust storms on Iceland and glacial melting. The dust is both accelerating glacial melting and contributing important nutrients to the surrounding North Atlantic Ocean. The results provide new insights on the role of dust in climate change and high-latitude ocean ecosystems.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 05.03.2012
Natural levels of nitrogen in tropical forests may increase vulnerability to pollution
Waterways in remote, pristine tropical forests located in the Caribbean and Central America contain levels of nitrogen comparable to amounts found in streams and rivers flowing through polluted forests in the United States and Europe. This discovery by a Princeton University-led research team raises questions about how tropical forests might respond if they were to become exposed to additional nitrogen through water and air pollution.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 02.03.2012
Oceans May Be Growing More Acidic at Unprecedented Rate
James Zachos, a paleoceanographer at University of California, Santa Cruz, with a core of sediment from some 56 million years ago, when the oceans underwent acidification that could be an analog to ocean changes today. (Ira Block/National Geographic) The world's oceans may be turning acidic faster today from human carbon emissions than they did during four major extinctions in the last 300 million years, when natural pulses of carbon sent global temperatures soaring, says a new study in Science.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 29.02.2012
T. Rex has most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal
T. Rex has most powerful bite of any terrestrial animal
Research at the University of Liverpool, using computer models to reconstruct the jaw muscle of Tyrannosaurus rex, has suggested that the dinosaur had the most powerful bite of any living or extinct terrestrial animal. The team artificially scaled up the skulls of a human, alligator, a juvenile T. rex, and Allosaurus to the size of an adult T. rex.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 28.02.2012
Oldest fossilised forest revealed
Oldest fossilised forest revealed
An international team, including a Cardiff University researcher, who previously found evidence of the Earth's earliest tree, has gone one step further. The research team has now unearthed and investigated an entire fossil forest dating back 385 million years. The Gilboa fossil forest, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, is generally referred to as 'the oldest fossil forest'.

Physics - Earth Sciences - 21.02.2012
Hubble Reveals a New Type of Planet
Hubble Reveals a New Type of Planet
Cambridge, MA - Our solar system contains three types of planets: rocky, terrestrial worlds (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), gas giants (Jupiter and Saturn), and ice giants (Uranus and Neptune). Planets orbiting distant stars come in an even wider variety, including lava worlds and "hot Jupiters." Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have added a new type of planet to the mix.

Earth Sciences - 20.02.2012
Science of the stick-slip
Science of the stick-slip
Scientists have succeeded in modelling what happens when two bodies slide against each other and thereby release the pressure; a discovery that has implications for the understanding of the magnitude of earthquakes. David Kammer from EPFL has developed a digital model that explains what happens at the interface between two materials when they slide against each other; like a book on a table, rubber soles on linoleum, or - more to the point - tectonic plates.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 06.02.2012
Researchers Uncover a Mechanism to Explain Dune Field Patterns
Researchers Uncover a Mechanism to Explain Dune Field Patterns
In a study of the harsh but beautiful White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, University of Pennsylvania researchers have uncovered a unifying mechanism to explain dune patterns. The new work represents a contribution to basic science, but the findings may also hold implications for identifying when dune landscapes like those in Nebraska's Sand Hills may reach a "tipping point" under climate change, going from valuable grazing land to barren desert.

Physics - Earth Sciences - 06.02.2012
ESA's Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean
ESA’s Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean
ESA's Mars Express radar gives strong evidence for former Mars ocean ESA's Mars Express has returned strong evidence for an ocean once covering part of Mars. Using radar, it has detected sediments reminiscent of an ocean floor within the boundaries of previously identified, ancient shorelines on Mars.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 01.02.2012
Mouse to elephant? Just wait 24 million generations
Mouse to elephant? Just wait 24 million generations
Scientists have for the first time measured how fast large-scale evolution can occur in mammals, showing it takes 24 million generations for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant. Research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS) describes increases and decreases in mammal body size following the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 01.02.2012
Plant invasion triggered ice ages
Plant invasion triggered ice ages
They may have looked more like a green carpet than a forest but the first land plants really did change the world. New research led by scientists from Oxford University and Exeter University has shown that the invasion of the land by plants in the Ordovician Period (488-443 million years ago) cooled the climate and triggered a series of ice ages.