Earth

Every month or two, a massive pulse of clouds, rainfall and wind moves eastward around the Earth near the equator, providing the tropics their famous thunderstorms.

This band of recurring weather, first described by scientists in 1971, is called the Madden-Julian Oscillation. It has profound effects on weather in distant places, including the United States. Atmospheric scientists have long studied how the Madden-Julian Oscillation modulates extreme weather events across the globe, from hurricanes to floods to droughts.

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Humans can get by in the most basic of shelters, can scratch together a meal from the most humble of ingredients. But we can't survive without clean water. And in places where water is scarce--the world's deserts, for example--getting water to people requires feats of engineering and irrigation that can be cumbersome and expensive.

A pair of new studies from researchers at The Ohio State University offers a possible solution, inspired by nature.

DURHAM, N.C. -- A Duke University study shows that trace elements in a fish's ear bones can be used to identify and track coal ash contamination in the waters where it lived.

Two Veterans Affairs researchers have explored how memory is tied to the hippocampus, with findings that will expand scientists' understanding of how memory works.

On today's increasingly crowded globe, human migration can strain infrastructure and resources. Accurate data on migration flows could help governments plan for and respond to immigrants. Yet these figures, when available, tend to be spotty and error-ridden, even in the developed world. Researchers have developed approaches to estimate migration rates, but even the best of these rely on unrealistic assumptions about the mass movement of people and yield migration rates that can fall far below reality.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Scientists have long struggled to explain how tropical forests can maintain their staggering diversity of trees without having a handful of species take over - or having many other species die out.

The answer, researchers say, lies in the soil found near individual trees, where natural "enemies" of tree species reside. These enemies, including fungi and arthropods, attack and kill many of the seeds and seedlings near the host tree, preventing local recruitment of trees of that same species.

Adaptations to environmental change are the most important asset for the persistence of any plant or animal species. This is usually achieved through genetic mutation and selection, a slow process driven by chance. Faster and more targeted are so called epigenetic modifications. They do not alter the genetic code but promote specialisations during cell maturation. A new study carried out by scientists from the Leibniz-IZW in Germany shows for wild guinea pigs that epigenetic modifications specific to individual environmental factors are passed on to the next generation.

Tropical Cyclone Cilida appeared as a large and powerful hurricane on imagery from NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite on Dec. 21. Cilida is located north of the island of Mauritius in the Southern Indian Ocean.

A newly published study by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) has found that impacts of Tropical Cyclone Winston on the coastal communities of Fiji went beyond the immediate loss of lives and infrastructure. The cyclone also had a lingering effect on the fisheries many communities depend on, particularly on the availability of commercially important crustaceans.

ANN ARBOR--A new University of Michigan study of interbreeding between two species of howler monkeys in Mexico is yielding insights into the forces that drive the evolution of new species.

How do new species emerge in nature? One common but overly simplified version of the story goes like this: A population of animals or plants becomes geographically isolated--by a river that changes course or a mountain range that rises up, for example--and the two separated groups accumulate genetic differences over time as they adapt to their environments in isolation.