26 January 2015

Distinctive sounds announce iceberg births

Distinctive sounds announce iceberg births

Underwater sounds can be used to detect different ways glaciers lose ice as they flow into the ocean, giving scientists new insight into these poorly understood events, according to new research.

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15 January 2015

New studies give clues where alien life may flourish

New studies give clues where alien life may flourish

Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars, but bigger and older than our home planet, stand out as prime candidates to harbor complex life, according to new research.

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14 January 2015

Mountain monitoring system artificially inflates temperature increases at higher elevations

Mountain monitoring system artificially inflates temperature increases at higher elevations

In a recent study, University of Montana and Montana Climate Office researcher Jared Oyler found that while the western U.S. has warmed, recently observed warming in the mountains of the western U.S. likely is not as large as previously supposed.

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9 January 2015

Not just rain: thunderstorms also pour down ozone

Not just rain: thunderstorms also pour down ozone

A new study in Geophysical Research Letters offers for the first time unequivocal evidence that large storms move significant amounts of ozone from the stratosphere down to the troposphere, the lowest part of the atmosphere.

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8 January 2015

Epic survey finds regional patterns of soot and dirt on North American snow

Epic survey finds regional patterns of soot and dirt on North American snow

University of Washington scientists recently published the first large-scale survey of impurities in North American snow to see whether they might absorb enough sunlight to speed melt rates and influence climate.

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5 January 2015

Measuring the temperature of solar winds

Measuring the temperature of solar winds

The sun spews forth super-heated, charged particles, collectively called plasma, that fly out into the vacuum of space at speeds of 200 to 400 miles per second (300 to 700 kilometers per second). These waves of plasma make up the solar winds that spread across our solar system.

Traveling across freezing space should suck all the heat from the plasma by the time it nears Earth, but the solar waves detected near our planet are still hot. Scientists think something is happening within the plasma to generate heat.

Astrophysicist Anthony Case of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics calculated the temperatures of the solar winds traveling at different supersonic speeds, or speeds greater than the speed of sound.

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22 December 2014

Veteran geophysical tool preps for new horizons at Europa

Veteran geophysical tool preps for new horizons at Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa has tantalized scientists with its potential for harboring life ever since Galileo first spotted the icy satellite in 1610. If living matter is bubbling anywhere in our solar system, they suspect, it would be below the moon’s icy shell, where a presumed ocean of salty water meets a mineral-rich interior. But because scientists can’t peer beneath the ice, they must rely on data beamed back by passing spacecraft. A proposed NASA mission called Europa Clipper could be sent to the moon in the next decade—and researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NASA want their instrument to be onboard.

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All warmed up and nowhere to go: The missing El Niño of 2014

All warmed up and nowhere to go: The missing El Niño of 2014

In 1997, a record-breaking El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean brought rain to California, flooding to Peru, and drought to Africa. Earlier this year scientists said that warm currents in the Pacific Ocean presaged the biggest El Niño event since the record-breaking 1997-1998 season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the likelihood of a major Northern Hemisphere El Niño at 80 percent. But despite high expectations, the predicted El Niño of 2014 has ultimately fizzled. In a talk entitled “Who Killed the 2014 El Niño?” at the American Geophysical Union conference Thursday, NOAA oceanographer and past president of AGU Michael McPhaden laid out the leading suspects in this climatic whodunnit – including weak westerly winds, contrary trends elsewhere in the ocean, and overall climate-related ocean warming.

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Picture Perfect and Water Wise: Images May Someday Predict the Hazards of Volcanic Gas

Picture Perfect and Water Wise: Images May Someday Predict the Hazards of Volcanic Gas

Earlier this year, superheated water within Japan’s Mount Ontake triggered a hydrothermal explosion. Scientists monitoring the volcano had seen no signs of impending danger. The resulting steam-triggered eruption killed 57 people. Clusters of earthquakes often precede major eruptions of lava and ash. The same is not true for smaller steam-triggered eruptions of gas like the Ontake event. But those are the sorts of events that Társilo Girona would like to predict, and he believes that cameras may be the key.

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19 December 2014

New Zealand watersheds show the dirt on logging and grazing

New Zealand watersheds show the dirt on logging and grazing

Grazing animals and logging trees in New Zealand could affect water quality there, according to scientists working to determine how water quality problems in the country relate to land use.

The results could help guide water-friendly policy in New Zealand and other parts of the world, according to Jason Julian, a geographer at Texas State University.

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