• Satellite Study Calculates Earth's Tree Count

    A new satellite study has calculated that there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth, around 422 trees for every person, although the number is believed to have dropped by 46 percent since the start of human civilisation. The Yale-led international research found the result of the tree count is around seven and a half times more than some previous estimates. 

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  • Fossil of prehistoric sea scorpion discovered in Iowa!

    The fossil of a previously unknown species of 'sea scorpion', measuring over 1.5 meters long, has been discovered in Iowa, USA, and described in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology

    Dating back 460 million years, it is the oldest known species of eurypterid (sea scorpion) - extinct monster-like predators that swam the seas in ancient times and are related to modern arachnids.

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  • Looking into a Chameleon's Eye

    Well known among nature’s best tricksters for their ability to change color to fit their background, chameleons have yet another talent up their lizardly sleeves – eyes that swivel around and appear to be looking in two directions at once.

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  • Can rain clean the atmosphere?

    As a raindrop falls through the atmosphere, it can attract tens to hundreds of tiny aerosol particles to its surface before hitting the ground. The process by which droplets and aerosols attract is coagulation, a natural phenomenon that can act to clear the air of pollutants like soot, sulfates, and organic particles. Atmospheric chemists at MIT have now determined just how effective rain is in cleaning the atmosphere. 

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  • NASA's latest satellite data reveals global sea level rise

    Global sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches in less than 25 years, with some locations around the world rising more than 9 inches, according to NASA’s latest satellite data. An intensive research effort now underway, aided by NASA observations and analysis, points to an unavoidable rise of several feet in the future.

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  • Cellphone location data shown to help track infectious disease

    Tracking mobile phone data is often associated with privacy issues, but these vast datasets could be the key to understanding how infectious diseases are spread seasonally, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

    Princeton University and Harvard University researchers used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show for the first time that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. 

    Harnessing mobile phone data in this way could help policymakers guide and evaluate health interventions like the timing of vaccinations and school closings, the researchers said. The researchers' methodology also could apply to a number of seasonally transmitted diseases such as the flu and measles.

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  • Is the California Drought Causing Land to Sink?

    As Californians continue pumping groundwater in response to the historic drought, the California Department of Water Resources today released a new NASA report showing land in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking faster than ever before, nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) per month in some locations.

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  • MIT analysis improves estimates of global mercury pollution

    Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

    Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world.

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  • Unraveling the Secrets of a Whale Song

    Whale songs are some of the most hauntingly beautiful and bizarre noises in the world. But if it hadn’t been for acoustic biologist Katy Payne, we’d probably still be dismissing them as mere sounds — like the noises our own cats and dogs make when they’re hungry, frightened, interested, or affectionate. Payne, however, realized that whales are actually composing songs, not just making noise under the sea, and moreover, she found that over time, whales change their tune. These majestic marine mammals interact with each other to create songs of escalating length and complexity over the years, in what one might compare to jazz riffing or Indigenous Australian songlines, the cultural, social, and physical maps passed down through generations.

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  • Sunspot variation not causing climate change

    The Maunder Minimum, between 1645 and 1715, when sunspots were scarce and the winters harsh, strongly suggests a link between solar activity and climate change. Until now there was a general consensus that solar activity has been trending upwards over the past 300 years (since the end of the Maunder Minimum), peaking in the late 20th century -- called the Modern Grand Maximum by some [1].

    This trend has led some to conclude that the Sun has played a significant role in modern climate change. However, a discrepancy between two parallel series of sunspot number counts has been a contentious issue among scientists for some time.

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