Earth

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When Ohio State glaciologists failed to find the expected radioactive signals in the latest core they drilled from a Himalayan ice field, they knew it meant trouble for their research.

But those missing markers of radiation, remnants from atomic bomb tests a half-century ago, foretell much greater threat to the half-billion or more people living downstream of that vast mountain range.

It may mean that future water supplies could fall far short of what's needed to keep that population alive.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Materials engineers have created a new type of membrane that separates oil from water and, if perfected, might be used for environmental cleanup, water purification and industrial applications.

The new technology would last longer than conventional filters for separating oil from water and works by attracting water while beading oil, traits that are usually mutually exclusive. Researchers attached the material to a glass filter commonly used in laboratory research.

Marginal plants, particularly trees, play a crucial role in sustaining the biodiversity of Europe's big river systems, according to a recently held workshop organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF). This finding provides important clues for protecting Europe's rivers against a combined onslaught from human development and climate change, which are tampering with existing ecosystems and changing both the physical and biological forces acting upon them.

DURHAM, N.H. -- In a study to be published next week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists led by a team at the University of New Hampshire show that forests may influence the Earth's climate in important ways that have not previously been recognized.

Take a gold sample the size of the head of a push pin, shoot a laser through it, and suddenly more than 100 billion particles of anti-matter appear.

The anti-matter, also known as positrons, shoots out of the target in a cone-shaped plasma "jet."

This new ability to create a large number of positrons in a small laboratory opens the door to several fresh avenues of anti-matter research, including an understanding of the physics underlying various astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and gamma ray bursts.

Water vapor is known to be Earth's most abundant greenhouse gas, but the extent of its contribution to global warming has been debated. Using recent NASA satellite data, researchers have estimated more precisely than ever the heat-trapping effect of water in the air, validating the role of the gas as a critical component of climate change.

Increasing levels of nitrogen deposition associated with industry and agriculture can drive soils toward a toxic level of acidification, reducing plant growth and polluting surface waters, according to a new study published online in Nature Geoscience.

Blacksburg, Va. -- Intense glacial erosion has not only carved the surface of the highest coastal mountain range on earth, the spectacular St. Elias range in Alaska, but has elicited a structural response from deep within the mountain.

This interpretation of structural response is based on real-world data now being reported, which supports decades of model simulations of mountain formation and evolution regarding the impact of climate on the distribution of deformation associated with plate tectonics.

A team of researchers led by North Carolina State University has made an enormous advance in the understanding of some of Puerto Rico's most remarkable ecosystems by conducting the first comprehensive study of the island's freshwater fish species. NC State's Dr. Thomas Kwak, who led the study, says many of these species "are hidden gems that have been largely ignored," and calls the research "a huge first step in conserving and protecting these fish and their habitat."

Scientists have long known that life can exist in some very extreme environments. But Earth continues to surprise us.