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Earth Sciences - 15.05.2020
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Seismic monitoring of glaciers is essential to improving our understanding of their development and to predicting risks. SNSF Professor Fabian Walter has come up with a new monitoring tool in the form of optical fibres. The fibres are capable of monitoring entire glaciers. Glaciers are constantly moving and they therefore need monitoring.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.05.2020
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the "gas sniffer"
The rock laboratory on the Grimsel Pass in the Bernese Oberland lies 400 metres deep in the mountain. There, geophysicists from the ETH Zurich have installed an experimental setup with which they agitate the rock, thereby systematically causing it to break. They want to find out how geothermal energy projects in Switzerland, for example, can be implemented safely in the future.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 11.05.2020
El Niño-linked decreases in soil moisture could trigger massive tropical-plant die offs
El Niño-linked decreases in soil moisture could trigger massive tropical-plant die offs
New insights could help farmers, water managers in tropical regions prepare for impact on crops This new study drills down to reveal how El Niño can affect the moisture content of soil, which controls the growth of plants, the food we eat, and how much water from land gets fed back into the atmosphere through evaporation.

History / Archeology - Earth Sciences - 05.05.2020
Lost silk road city located by Ghent University researcher
Lost silk road city located by Ghent University researcher
A researcher at Ghent University has identified a lost Silk Road city larger than medieval Ghent, London or Venice. Historians and archaeologists have been searching for nearly 200 years for the city of Magas, capital of the ninth to twelfth century kingdom of Alania. This Kingdom, located in the North Caucasus mountains of modern Russia, controlled a critical section of the Silk Roads: a trade route which connected East Asia and the Mediterranean centuries before the era of European expansion.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 04.05.2020
Rethinking tsunami defense
Rethinking tsunami defense
Careful engineering of low, plant-covered hills along shorelines can mitigate tsunami risks with less disruption of coastal life and lower costs compared to seawalls. In tsunami preparedness, it turns out there can be strength in beauty. Rows of green hills strategically arranged along coastlines can help to fend off destruction from tsunamis while preserving ocean views and access to the shore.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 24.04.2020
Dramatic decrease in cold-water plankton during industrial era
There has been a dramatic decrease in cold-water plankton during the 20th century, in contrast to thousands of years of stability, according to a new UCL-led study. The research, published in  Geophysical Research Letters , analysed the fossilised remains of plankton, sampled from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, south of Iceland.

Earth Sciences - 24.04.2020
Finds connection between fault roughness and the magnitude of earthquakes
A new study led by McGill University has found that tectonic plates beneath the Earth's surface can show varying degrees of roughness and could help explain why certain earthquakes are stronger than others. Earthquakes happen when the rocks beneath the Earth's surface break along geological fault lines and slide past each other.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 23.04.2020
Giant teenage shark from the Dinosaur-era
Giant teenage shark from the Dinosaur-era
Fossil vertebrae give insights into growth and extinction of an enigmatic shark group Scientists of the University of Vienna examined parts of a vertebral column, which was found in northern Spain in 1996, and assigned it to the extinct shark group Ptychodontidae. In contrast to teeth, shark vertebrae bear biological information, like body size, growth, and age and allowed the team surrounding Patrick L. Jambura to gain new insights into the biology of this mysterious shark group.

Earth Sciences - 23.04.2020
Seismic map reveals geologic clues, earthquake hazards
Seismic map reveals geologic clues, earthquake hazards
A new stress map that reveals the forces acting on the planet's crust will contribute to safer energy exploration, updated seismic hazard maps and improved knowledge about the Earth. How do mountains form? What forces are needed to carve out a basin? Why does the Earth tremble and quake? Earth scientists pursue these fundamental questions to gain a better understanding of our planet's deep past and present workings.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 22.04.2020
Rainfall helped uncork Hawaii’s powerful Kilauea volcano
But unlike most volcanoes that erupt when the pressure in an underground magma chamber increases and fractures the rock around it, allowing lava to escape, Kilauea exploded in a much different fashion, according to a pair of University of Miami researchers. Prolonged and extreme rainfall quite probably reduced the strength of the rock around the magma chamber, giving the molten material a pathway to the surface.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 20.04.2020
UCLA-led study may explain the source of nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere
Nitrogen makes up approximately 78% of the air we breathe. But scientists have never fully understood how it came to be present in the atmospheres around Earth and other planets. Along with carbon, hydrogen and sulfur — other elements that are essential for life — nitrogen is a volatile element, meaning that its molecules convert from liquid to gas at a low temperature.

Earth Sciences - 17.04.2020
Asteroid Triggered Mass Extinction at End of Cretaceous Period
Sixty-six million years ago - at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary - nearly three-quarters of all animal species died out, including the dinosaurs. The cause for this has fuelled controversy among scientists for decades. The latest research from an international research team indicates that an asteroid strike was the sole driver of the mass extinction and that volcanic activity did not play a role, even though it certainly had an impact on the climate and the biosphere.

Earth Sciences - 15.04.2020
A new tool to predict volcanic eruptions
A new tool to predict volcanic eruptions
Earth's atmosphere is made up of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, a mixture that is unique in the Solar System 1 . The oxygen was produced by some of the first living organisms. But where did the nitrogen come from? Did it escape from Earth's mantle through volcanic activity? To try to answer these questions, Jabrane Labidi, a CNRS researcher at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/IGN) 2 and his colleagues collected samples of gas from several volcanic sites on our planet.

Earth Sciences - 15.04.2020
Michigan Stadium seismometer captures eerie quiet during pandemic
Michigan Stadium seismometer captures eerie quiet during pandemic
A vibration-sensing seismometer originally installed in Michigan Stadium to measure ground shaking from fans during home football games has been repurposed to capture the quiet on campus and on surrounding city streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.04.2020
Volcanic CO2 emissions helped trigger Triassic climate change
A new study finds volcanic activity played a direct role in triggering extreme climate change at the end of the Triassic period 201 million year ago, wiping out almost half of all existing species. The amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from these volcanic eruptions is comparable to the amount of CO2 expected to be produced by all human activity in the 21st century.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.04.2020
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
The use of dirty coal as a heat source makes life tough in the Mongolian winter. ETH geophysicists are helping to develop geothermal energy as a clean alternative. Many Europeans have an idyllic view of Mongolia as a land of wide, empty spaces and pristine nature. But the truth is more complicated, especially in winter.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 08.04.2020
Origins of Earth's magnetic field remain a mystery
Origins of Earth’s magnetic field remain a mystery
Microscopic minerals excavated from an ancient outcrop of Jack Hills, in Western Australia, have been the subject of intense geological study, as they seem to bear traces of the Earth's magnetic field reaching as far back as 4.2 billion years ago. That's almost 1 billion years earlier than when the magnetic field was previously thought to originate, and nearly back to the time when the planet itself was formed.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 03.04.2020
Plant root hairs key to reducing soil erosion
Soil erosion can have a devastating impact across the globe and a serious threat for modern agriculture. The increased demand for agriculture has led to forests and natural grasslands being converted to farm fields and pastures. However, many of the plants grown, such as coffee, cotton and palm oil, can significantly increase soil erosion beyond the soil's ability to maintain and renovate.

Earth Sciences - Computer Science - 31.03.2020
Shows potential for using fiber-optic networks to assess ground motions during earthquakes
Shows potential for using fiber-optic networks to assess ground motions during earthquakes
A new study from a University of Michigan researcher and colleagues at three institutions demonstrates the potential for using existing networks of buried optical fibers as an inexpensive observatory for monitoring and studying earthquakes. The study provides new evidence that the same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 25.03.2020
Scientists get first look at cause of 'slow motion' earthquakes
Scientists get first look at cause of ’slow motion’ earthquakes
An international team of scientists has for the first time identified the conditions deep below the Earth's surface that lead to the triggering of so-called ‘slow motion' earthquakes. These events, more commonly known as slow slip events, are similar to regular sudden and catastrophic earthquakes but take place on much longer timescales, usually from days to months.

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