Earth

The adage that your enemies know your weaknesses best is especially true in the case of plants and predators that have co-evolved: As the predators evolve new strategies for attack, plants counter with their own unique defenses.

AUSTIN, Texas—A chemical engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin is part of a team that has developed a chlorine-tolerant membrane that should simplify the water desalination process, increasing access to fresh water and possibly reducing greenhouse gases.

"If we make the desalination process more efficient with better membranes, it will be less expensive to desalinate a gallon of water, which will expand the availability of clean water around the world," Professor Benny Freeman says.

Nutrients from the Amazon River's outflow spread well beyond the continental shelf and drive carbon cycling in the tropical ocean, say scientists who conducted a multi-year study. They will publish their results this week online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Nutrients from the Amazon River spread well beyond the continental shelf and drive carbon capture in the deep ocean, according to the authors of a multi-year study.

The finding does not change estimates of the oceans' total carbon uptake, but it reveals the surprisingly large role of tropical oceans and major rivers.

The tropical North Atlantic had been considered a net emitter of carbon from the respiration of ocean life. A 2007 study estimated that ocean's contribution to the atmosphere at 30 million tons of carbon annually.

The ecological value of coastal mangrove forests in Mexico has been apparent to marine scientists for years. Now, for the first time, researchers have used a wide-ranging compilation of fisheries landings, the official record of fish catches, to place an economic price tag on that value.

If you are living in the eastern United States, the environment around you is being harmed by air pollution. From Adirondack forests and Shenandoah streams to Appalachian wetlands and the Chesapeake Bay, a new report by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and The Nature Conservancy has found that air pollution is degrading every major ecosystem type in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States.

PASADENA, Calif.--Geoscientists at the California Institute of Technology have come up with a new explanation for the formation of monsoons, proposing an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years.

Biogeoscientists show evidence of 90 billion tons of microbial organisms—expressed in terms of carbon mass—living in the deep biosphere, in a research article published online by Nature, July 20, 2008. This tonnage corresponds to about one-tenth of the amount of carbon stored globally in tropical rainforests.

Biogeoscientists show evidence of 90 billion tons of microbial organisms—expressed in terms of carbon mass—living in the deep biosphere, in a research article published online by Nature. This tonnage corresponds to about one-tenth of the amount of carbon stored globally in tropical rainforests.

Research at the University of Liverpool has found how Saharan dust storms help sustain life over extensive regions of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Working aboard research vessels in the Atlantic, scientists mapped the distribution of nutrients including phosphorous and nitrogen and investigated how organisms such as phytoplankton are sustained in areas with low nutrient levels.

As part of the Agency's user-driven approach to preparing new Earth Explorer missions to advance our understanding of the Earth system, six candidate missions will be presented to the science community at a User Consultation Meeting in January 2009.