Earth

A team of UBC researchers has re-classified an ancient line of aquatic plants previously thought to be related to grasses and rushes. The discovery clarifies what may be one of the biggest misunderstandings in botanical history.

Purdue University chemical engineers have proposed a new environmentally friendly process for producing liquid fuels from plant matter - or biomass - potentially available from agricultural and forest waste, providing all of the fuel needed for "the entire U.S. transportation sector."

Instruments known as solid-state telescopes (SSTs), built with detectors fabricated at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and carried aboard the recently launched THEMIS mission, have delivered their first data on how charged particles in the solar wind interact with Earth's magnetic field to shape the planet's magnetosphere.

An international team of American and Chinese paleontologists has discovered a new species of mammal that lived 125 million years ago during the Mesozoic Era, in what is now the Hebei Province in China.

The new mammal, documented in the March 15 issue of the journal Nature, provides first-hand evidence of early evolution of the mammalian middle ear--one of the most important features for all modern mammals. The discovery was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In the debate over alternative energy resources, geothermal technology has received scant media attention. Advocates call it one of the cleanest, sustainable energy resources available. However, steep construction, equipment and drilling costs have prevented more widespread development of geothermal technology. An Ohio University hydrothermal systems expert is working to change that.Geothermal power plants harness energy created by heat at the Earth's core. Credit: Dina Lopez/Ohio University

Researchers at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center report the results of a six-year experiment in which doubling the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in a scrub oak ecosystem caused a reduction in carbon storage in the soil.

The scientists said this response suggests a limited capacity of Earth’s ecosystems to stabilize atmospheric CO2 and slow global warming. These findings add a new perspective and a measure of caution suggesting that elevated CO2, by altering microbial communities, may turn a potential carbon sink into a carbon source.

Plant and animal diseases can play a major and poorly appreciated role in allowing the invasion of exotic species, which in turn often threatens biodiversity, ecological function and the world economy, researchers say in a new report.

Assigning dates to the events in the life of a rock—for example, a collision with a piece of continent, or a journey through the Earth’s crust—has long challenged geologists, as the events themselves can confound evidence of the past.

Severe climate changes during the last ice-age could have been caused by random chaotic variations on Earth and not governed by external periodic influences from the Sun. This has been shown in new calculations by a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University.The temperature curve through the Greenland inland ice sheet shows 26 dramatic and abrupt climate shifts during the last ice age that lasted more than 100.000 years. This curve shows the climate shifts during 40,000 years.

A new understanding of how plants manage their internal calcium levels could potentially lead to genetically engineering plants to avoid damage from acid rain, which robs soil of much of its calcium.

"Our findings should help scientists understand how plant ecosystems respond to soil calcium depletion and design appropriate strategies to protect the environment," said Zhen-Ming Pei, a Duke University assistant professor of biology who led the study, to be published in the Friday, March 9, issue of the journal Science.