Earth

29 October 2008

Boulder, CO, USA - The latest issue of GSA BULLETIN spans the globe, examining ancient soils in Big Bend National Park, Texas; loess soils in Nebraska, including the greatest known thickness of the Peoria Loess in the world; folding, faulting, and metamorphism as seen in detailed geologic mapping across Pakistan; tectonic fractures in Southeast Viti Levu, Fiji; subsidence in Mexico City; groundwater arsenic in Araihazar, Bangladesh; the formation of the Andes; and earthquakes in the Seattle fault zone.

Highlights are provided below.

After eight years of near-zero growth in atmospheric methane concentrations, levels have again started to rise.

"This is not good news for future global warming," says CSIRO's Dr Paul Fraser, who co-authored a paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

A quarter-million people were killed when a tsunami inundated Indian Ocean coastlines the day after Christmas in 2004. Now scientists have found evidence that the event was not a first-time occurrence.

A giant Atlantic bluefin tuna weighing more than half a ton had the honor of being fitted with the 1000th electronic tracking tag placed on this threatened species when it was caught and released on Monday (October 20) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off Port Hood, Nova Scotia.

(Washington, DC – October 29, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is collaborating with the National Geographic Society and the World Resources Institute to develop tools that will help to fully account for the value of ecosystem services.

Ecosystem services are the goods and services people obtain from natural systems. These benefits include clean air and water, erosion and flood control, soil enrichment, food, and fiber.

This release is also available in French and German.

EPFL researchers have developed a numerical model that can re-create the state of Switzerland's Rhône Glacier as it was in 1874 and predict its evolution until the year 2100. This is the longest period of time ever modeled in the life of a glacier, involving complex data analysis and mathematical techniques.The work will serve as a benchmark study for those interested in the state of glaciers and their relation to climate change.

The thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic declined by as much as 19% last winter compared to the previous five winters, according to data from ESA's Envisat satellite.

Athens, Ga. – Current models of global climate change predict warmer temperatures will increase the rate that bacteria and other microbes decompose soil organic matter, a scenario that pumps even more heat-trapping carbon into the atmosphere. But a new study led by a University of Georgia researcher shows that while the rate of decomposition increases for a brief period in response to warmer temperatures, elevated levels of decomposition don't persist.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by researchers in Oregon and British Columbia has found that survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead during their migration to the sea through two large Northwest rivers – the Columbia and the Fraser – is remarkably similar despite one major difference.

A novel cell division mechanism has been discovered in a microorganism that thrives in hot acid. The finding may also result in insights into key processes in human cells, and in a better understanding of the main evolutionary lineages of life on Earth. The study is published today in PNAS.