Earth

In the search for life beyond Earth, scientists 'follow the water' to find places that might be hospitable. However, every home gardener knows that plants need more than water, or even sunshine. They also need fertilizer – a mixture of chemical elements that are the building blocks of the molecules of life. Scientists at Arizona State University are studying how the distribution of these elements on Earth – or beyond – shapes the distribution of life, the state of the environment and the course of evolution.

Intensifying winds in the Southern Ocean have had little influence on the strength of the Southern Ocean circulation and therefore its ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to a study published in Nature Geoscience.

The Southern Ocean slows the rate of greenhouse warming by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in the ocean. But previous studies raised the alarm by suggesting the Southern Ocean carbon sink is now 'saturated' and no longer able to keep pace with increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Physicists have taken a significant step toward creation of quantum networks by establishing a new record for the length of time that quantum information can be stored in and retrieved from an ensemble of very cold atoms. Though the information remains usable for just milliseconds, even that short lifetime should be enough to allow transmission of data from one quantum repeater to another on an optical network.

MADISON — The decline of the Roman and Byzantine Empires in the Eastern Mediterranean more than 1,400 years ago may have been driven by unfavorable climate changes.

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has been hunting for tropical cyclones as part of a multi-national study to understand, observe, and predict the potential impacts of Pacific tropical cyclones. This project, called Tropical Cyclone Struture-2008, is part of a nine-nation project being carried out with the endorsement of the World Meteorological Organization, a part of the United Nations. The main goal of Tropical Cyclone Structure-2008 is to increase the predictability of tropical cyclones in the western North Pacific region.

PASADENA, Calif.-- Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues have found evidence of ancient climate change on Mars caused by regular variation in the planet's tilt, or obliquity. On Earth, similar "astronomical forcing" of climate drives ice-age cycles.

How a bacterium overcomes a tomato plant's defences and causes disease,by sneakily disabling the plant's intruder detection systems, isrevealed in new research out today (4 December) in Current Biology.

MADISON — Looking at the site today, it's easy to forget that a dam and pond stood for 43 years on the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Franbrook Farm Research Station in southwestern Wisconsin. All traces of the structure are gone, and acres of plants, both native and weedy, now carpet the floor of the former basin.

PORTLAND, Ore. December 3, 2008. The first 5-year forest inventory report for California's private and public lands is now available to the public: California's Forest Resources, 2001-2005: Five-Year Forest Inventory and Analysis Report.

Here are some key findings from the report:

PASADENA, Calif.--The subduction zone that brought us the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami is ripe for yet another large event, despite a sequence of quakes that occurred in the Mentawai Islands area in 2007, according to a group of earthquake researchers led by scientists from the Tectonics Observatory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).