Earth

MADISON, WI, February 23, 2009--The practice of no-till has increased considerably during the past 20 yr. Soils under no-till usually host a more abundant and diverse biota and are less prone to erosion, water loss, and structural breakdown than tilled soils. Their organic matter content is also often increased and consequently, no-till is proposed as a measure to mitigate the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

Using data from the satellite-based MIPAS and GOME-2 instruments, scientists have for the first time detected important bromine species in the atmosphere. These new measurements will help scientists to better understand sources of ozone-depleting species and to improve simulations of stratospheric ozone chemistry.

DURHAM, N.C. -- Ancient groundwater being tapped by Jordan, one of the 10 most water-deprived nations in the world, has been found to contain twenty times the radiation considered safe for drinking water in a new study by an international team of researchers.

"The combined activities of 228 radium and 226 radium – the two long-lived isotopes of radium – in the groundwater we tested are up to 2000 percent higher than international drinking standards," said Avner Vengosh, associate professor of earth and ocean sciences in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

WASHINGTON—Researchers are exploring extreme conditions for life in a place not known for extremes.

Flying twin-engine light aircraft the equivalent of several trips around the globe and establishing a network of seismic instruments across an area the size of Texas, a U.S.-led, international team of scientists has not only verified the existence of a mountain range that is suspected to have caused the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet to form, but also has created a detailed picture of the rugged landscape buried under more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) of ice.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI) Workforce Program has released the third chapter, entitled Geoscience Employment Sectors, of the Status of the Geoscience Workforce report. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this report are now available through the AGI website at http://www.agiweb.org/workforce/.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University researcher has found a way to get more bang for fewer bucks when it comes to processing cellulosic material to make ethanol.

By shredding corn stover instead of chopping, as is commonly done, about 40 percent less energy is needed to gain access to more of the material stored in the plant. Dennis Buckmaster, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said that by shredding corn stover there is better access to cellulose, which is the main part of plant cell walls necessary to make ethanol.

MOSS LANDING, CA — Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently solved the half-century-old mystery of a fish with tubular eyes and a transparent head. Ever since the "barreleye" fish Macropinna microstoma was first described in 1939, marine biologists have known that it's tubular eyes are very good at collecting light. However, the eyes were believed to be fixed in place and seemed to provide only a "tunnel-vision" view of whatever was directly above the fish's head.

Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2008 was the coolest year since 2000. The GISS analysis also showed that 2008 is the ninth warmest year since continuous instrumental records were started in 1880.

The ten warmest years on record have all occurred between 1997 and 2008.

TORONTO, ON – Severe fires in Indonesia – responsible for some of the worst air quality conditions worldwide – are linked not only to drought, but also to changes in land use and population density, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience led by Robert Field of the University of Toronto.