Earth

SANTA CRUZ, CA--Along the southern coast of Baja California, Mexico, scientists have been counting the carcasses of endangered sea turtles for a decade as part of an effort to assess and eliminate threats to loggerhead sea turtle populations. Their findings, published this week, are shocking: almost 3,000 sea turtles were found dead along a 27-mile stretch of coast during a five-year period from 2003 to 2007.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers are proposing a new "flexible" approach to producing alternative fuels, hydrogen and electricity from municipal solid wastes, agricultural wastes, forest residues and sewage sludge that could supply up to 20 percent of transportation fuels in the United States annually.

PITTSBURGH—The cool, rocky slopes of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that is Hawaii's highest mountain, will serve as a stand-in for the moon as researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, NASA and other organizations test a robot designed for lunar prospecting.

STORRS, CT – Contrary to conventional wisdom, tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on Earth may be threatened by global warming, according to an article by University of Connecticut Ecologist Robert K. Colwell and colleagues in this week's (Oct. 10) issue of Science magazine.

New research by a team of US and UK scientists into volcanoes has found that they function in a far more complex way than previously thought, making future eruptions even harder to predict.

The findings by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK and Penn State University and the University of Arkansas in the US, will be published in the journal Science on Friday October 10.

BERKELEY, CA – The first ecosystem ever found having only a single biological species has been discovered 2.8 kilometers (1.74 miles) beneath the surface of the earth in the Mponeng gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa. There the rod-shaped bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator exists in complete isolation, total darkness, a lack of oxygen, and 60-degree-Celsius heat (140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Although the Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat exhibits cycles of eruption and quiet, an international team of researchers found that magma is continuously supplied from deep in the crust but that a valve acts below a shallower magma chamber, releasing lava to the surface periodically.

Millbrook, NY — October 9th, 2008 —The United States lacks the policies needed to ensure that cellulosic biofuel production will not cause environmental harm, says a distinguished group of international scientists. The paper, published in the October 3rd issue of the journal Science, urges decision makers to adopt standards and incentives that will help ensure that future production efforts are sustainable, both energetically and environmentally.

BOULDER--Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate U.S. health standards, a new study concludes. The research, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), focused on California wildfires in 2007, finding that they repeatedly caused ground-level ozone to spike to unhealthy levels across a broad area, including much of rural California as well as neighboring Nevada.

The study was published today in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR.

The Tsangpo River is the highest major river in the world, starting at 14,500 feet elevation and plunging to the Bay of Bengal, scouring huge amounts of rock and soil along the way. Yet in its upper reaches, the powerful Tsangpo seems to have had little effect on the elevation of the Tibetan Plateau.