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12 December 2013
Amid flashing lightning and booming thunder, storms emit a very powerful but little understood form of energy — gamma radiation. These terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) produce short-lived but immensely powerful bursts of energy that could zap airplane passengers with unhealthy doses of radiation. Now, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz think they might be able to use a smartphone app to learn more about these mysterious bursts.
Researchers have designed a new model to predict the riskiest areas of Al-Madinah, the second holy city of Islam that sits at the northern tip of a dangerous volcanic field. The model could improve evacuation and building planning for the city.
11 December 2013
The shell of a tiny marine mollusk carries evidence of the ocean conditions that formed it, researchers have found. These “butterflies of the sea” could be used to determine the temperature and carbon dioxide levels of ancient oceans, they said this week at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting
Another busy day in the works! Today I’ll be checking out a new form of talks, the “Water Sciences Pop-Ups” (ED31F, 8-10AM in Moscone South 301). They’re five-minute student discussions about the future of water sciences, without the formality of a powerpoint, and I’m hoping they’ll be exciting and fast-paced.
Researchers have developed a rover that floats beneath the surface of the ice and photographs it from underneath. The upside down images could help scientists understand the source of methane bubbles trapped in Arctic ice, and how much of this powerful global warming gas is seeping from the permafrost.
Continents have re-shaped and seas have parted, but one fragment of the ocean floor has remained locked in place for more than 200 million years. The Ionian basin – a patch of seafloor under the Mediterranean – is the oldest-known section of the seabed to have remained static, held by irregular-shaped continental joints that prevent its motion. The Ionian Sea carries its years well – scientists have debated its true …
In ancient Greek portrayals of Hades, the underworld is a shadowy, unforgiving subterranean expanse, whose five rivers include Phlegethon, a river of fire. At Yanartas in modern-day Turkey, that mythological river of fire flows up into the living world. Methane gas from Earth’s mantle seeps to the surface, fueling flames in the side of Mount Chimera, once believed to be the home of a fire-breathing monster. While scientists are unlikely …
So much to do today! This morning I went to my last student breakfast, and got to tell everyone about the Thriving Earth Exchange, which is a bit like Kickstarter for science (and focuses on bottom-up, community-driven research applications. The breakfast is also a great chance to network with section leaders (and even the President of AGU!) and get yourself noticed, and the food is free, so you really should drag yourself out of bed to go.
10 December 2013
While GPS is normally deployed to home in on lost cell phones or navigate tricky driving routes, satellite tracking may help ocean researchers better understand how fishermen’s trawls scrape away the sediment compositions of the continental shelf.
Researchers think they might know one of the reasons why microscopic ocean-dwelling creatures get sick and die: they sneeze, spraying droplets containing a virus into the air. Algal blooms cover massive swathes of the ocean, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, and playing an important role in nutrient regulation. Scientists know that a virus is often responsible for the die-off of a common algal species, a single-celled coccolithophore known as Emiliania …
Months before the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, warning signs could be detected hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, according to new data presented Monday at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. There were strange disturbances in a layer of the atmosphere called the ionosphere up to one month before the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, according to Pierre-Richard Cornely, an atmospheric …
NASA’s fastest spacecraft collects dust like no other scientific instrument. Hurtling through space on its one-way trip toward Pluto, New Horizons is measuring space dust — a technique that could help astronomers find planets in other solar systems.
9 December 2013
I’m going to try out a new approach this year, and see if I can do some ‘liveblogging’ as I attend events rather than waiting until the end of the day to do a summary. I expect, in the nature of all confererncee blogging, thatI will end up getting worse and worse at updating as the day goes on, but it’s worth an attempt!
After braving excruciating cold, ice-bound airports, and snow-covered mountain passes to get here, some 21,000 Earth Scientists have descended on San Francisco for the annual AGU Fall Meeting. They’ll all be happy to know that the National Weather Service calls for freezing temperatures in all areas except San Francisco tonight. So everyone from Back East can still pretend they’re having a balmy California vacation while we locals wrap our heads …
I’ve been on a short holiday to New York, and ran into a little scientific art at the MOMA on 53rd street. It’s funny, because I was just wondering about why NASA (or someone else) has not put on display some of the amazing photographs from space, when I ran right into this: Some folks were standing by it and trying to interpret it, so I explained that it was …
6 December 2013
The Friday fold can be found this week at Turtle Mountain, Alberta, where it triggered a massive landslide.
5 December 2013
News reports show a large landslide at Montescaglioso in Southern Italy. This appears to be a reactivation by heavy rainfall of the Madonna La Nova landslide system
3 December 2013
So you are having a great time at the AGU Fall Meeting. You are meeting science colleagues from around the world, you are seeing cutting edge research presented in the scientific program, and you are enjoying the sights and sounds of beautiful San Francisco. Then you check your email and the blood drains from your face. Your institution’s legal counsel explains that a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request has …
2 December 2013
It’s that time again! Less than a week until AGU’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco and my schedule is already full with a whole slew of great sessions, events and activities. As is my annual tradition, I’ve collected a list of various social-media-related items for you to peruse.