Earth

Europe's shape is in a constant change: The Mediterranean basin is shrinking, the Alps are rising and pushing North, and Scandinavia is still rebounding after having been crushed by the weight of a thick and huge ice sheet in the ice ages. But what did Europe look like in the past, what are the processes controlling all these changes and what has the future in store for us? And how does the topography influence the climate of Europe on geological time scales?

While global-warming-induced coastal flooding moves populations inland, the changes in sea level will affect the salinity of estuaries, which influences aquatic life, fishing and recreation.

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are studying the Chesapeake Bay to see how changes in sea level may have affected the salinity of various parts of the estuary.

Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable.

Scientists have developed a material made out of a mixture of silica and water which can soak up large quantities of methane molecules. The material looks and acts like a fine white powder which, if developed for industrial use, might be easily transported or used as a vehicle fuel.

The health threat to city dwellers posed by Southern California wildfires like those of November 2008 may have been underestimated by officials.

Detailed particulate analysis of the smoke produced by previous California wild fires indicates that the composition posed more serious potential threats to health than is generally realized, according to a new paper analyzing particulate matter (PM) from wildfires in Southern California.

MADISON, WI, NOVEMBER 17, 2008– Global land use patterns and increasing pressures on water resources demand creative urban stormwater management. Traditional stormwater management focuses on regulating the flow of runoff to waterways, but generally does little to restore the hydrologic cycle disrupted by extensive pavement and compacted urban soils with low permeability. The lack of infiltration opportunities affects groundwater recharge and has negative repercussions on water quality downstream.

A detailed analysis of black carbon -- the residue of burned organic matter -- in computer climate models suggests that those models may be overestimating global warming predictions.

A new Cornell study, published online in Nature Geosciences, quantified the amount of black carbon in Australian soils and found that there was far more than expected, said Johannes Lehmann, the paper's lead author and a Cornell professor of biogeochemistry. The survey was the largest of black carbon ever published.

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.