Earth

Residents along the Gulf Coast are bracing for Hurricane Ike as it travels over the Gulf of Mexico after ripping through Cuba and Haiti. ESA's Envisat satellite is tracking the storm, which is forecast to make landfall on the Texas coast by 13 September.

Knowing the strength and path of hurricanes is critical for issuing timely warnings. Earth observation (EO) satellites are key means of providing synoptic data on the forces that power the storm, such as cloud structure, wind and wave fields, sea surface temperature and sea surface height.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI), in conjunction with its Member Societies, is announcing the release of "Critical Needs for the Twenty First Century: The Role of the Geosciences." This concise document suggests policy directions for the next President, his administration, federal agencies and the United States Congress. The document identifies seven national issues and the role geosciences can play in addressing them: energy and climate, water, waste disposal, natural hazards, infrastructure, raw materials, and workforce and education needs.

The burning of fossil fuels -- notably coal, oil and gas -- has accounted for about 80 percent of the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the pre-industrial era. Now, NASA researchers have identified feasible emission scenarios that could keep carbon dioxide below levels that some scientists have called dangerous for climate.

Researchers analyzing the May 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China's Sichuan province have found that geological stress has significantly increased on three major fault systems in the region. The magnitude 7.9 quake on May 12 has brought several nearby faults closer to failure and could trigger another major earthquake in the region.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Contrary to 40 years of conventional wisdom, a new analysis to be published Friday in the journal Nature suggests that old growth forests are usually "carbon sinks" - they continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change for centuries.

VIRGINIA KEY, Fla. -- The precise timing of the origin of life on Earth and the changes in life during the past 4.5 billion years has been a subject of great controversy for the past century. The principal indicator of the amount of organic carbon produced by biological activity traditionally used is the ratio of the less abundant isotope of carbon, 13C, to the more abundant isotope, 12C. As plants preferentially incorporate 12C, during periods of high production of organic material the 13C/12C ratio of carbonate material becomes elevated.

The effectiveness of the media to inform the public during evacuations and wildland fire effects on recreation are some topics addressed in a U.S. Forest Service report published this month that is a compilation of 17 studies on the social science aspects of fires.

More than 20 scientists present their work in the 260-page report, entitled "Fire Social Science Research From the Pacific Southwest Research Station: Studies Supported by National Fire Plan Funds."

Putting brass where your money is could be a guarantee of safety according to researchers looking at the dangers of eating raw fish and shellfish in seafood restaurants, scientists heard today (Wednesday 10 September 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

Tiny amounts of food soil stuck to surfaces can act as a reservoir for potentially pathogenic bacteria. This food may help bacteria to survive industrial cleaning regimes in food processing factories, scientists heard today (Wednesday 10 September 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.

Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years.

The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct.