24 October 2014

Hurricane Sandy restoration saves shorebirds, ‘living fossils’ they rely on

Hurricane Sandy restoration saves shorebirds, ‘living fossils’ they rely on

When Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. East Coast two years ago, it threatened the survival of a 400-million-year-old crab species and about a million shorebirds that rely on the crabs’ eggs for nourishment during long migrations. Retreating storm waters took with them 60 to 90 centimeters (two to three feet) of sand from the Delaware Bay beaches where horseshoe crabs lay eggs and left behind piles of debris, destroying 70 percent of the crab’s prime nesting zones in the area.

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13 October 2014

Health check reveals how glacier is declining due to warming climate

Health check reveals how glacier is declining due to warming climate

Researchers from the British Geological Survey have taken the very first comprehensive health check of a rapidly melting glacier. Their latest study reveals that their icy patient, the Falljökull glacier in southeast Iceland, has been dramatically declining as it tries to adjust to recent changes in the climate.

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8 October 2014

How rain falls – not just how much – may alter landslide risk

How rain falls – not just how much – may alter landslide risk

New research finds that it’s not just the amount of rain that falls on a hillside, but the pattern of rainfall that matters when trying to determine how likely a slope is to give way. This new information could improve forecasts of landslides, which are typically hard to predict, said the scientists conducting the research.
Different rainfall patterns—a short, heavy deluge, a light, steady downpour, or sporadic showers—will trigger different numbers of landslides with varying amounts of debris, according to the new study published today in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

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7 October 2014

Detecting avalanches from sounds we can’t hear

Detecting avalanches from sounds we can’t hear

Researchers have developed a new avalanche monitoring method that uses sound below the range of human hearing to detect and track these deadly and destructive snow slides. The technique can detect an avalanche from the moment it starts, picking up the unheard thump of a rupture in the snowpack that can precede the snow cascade. It can then track the avalanche’s path second by second down the mountain.

In a new study published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, scientists report using an array of infrasound detectors on a mountainside to pick up low-frequency sound waves emitted from one of a series of January, 2012, avalanches in Idaho’s Canyon Creek corridor.

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6 October 2014

Scientists turn Hurricane Sandy destruction into future readiness

Scientists turn Hurricane Sandy destruction into future readiness

This December, USGS will release a beta version of interactive computer models created from data collected by that laser-equipped plane—known as the second generation Experimental Advanced Airborne Research Lidar (EAARL-B)—and other equipment that mapped and monitored the New Jersey coast. The online portal will allow anyone to look at storm intensities and directions, evaluate wave attack scenarios and coastal vulnerabilities, and anticipate the impacts to landscapes ahead of time, said Neil Ganju, a USGS research oceanographer, at a 19 September congressional briefing on the Department of the Interior’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

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30 September 2014

Scientists use fiber-optic cables to measure ice loss in Antarctic

Scientists use fiber-optic cables to measure ice loss in Antarctic

Fiber-optic cables like the ones that bring television and Internet into millions of homes are now being used to measure how fast ice shelves in Antarctica are melting, according to new research. Researchers installed moorings containing fiber-optic cables hundreds of meters down into the McMurdo Ice Shelf in West Antarctica to collect temperature information about the base of the ice shelf, where the thick platform of floating ice meets the ocean. The sensors were able to measure mere millimeters of ice loss at the interface, demonstrating that the new fiber-optic method could be used to remotely monitor the ice shelves in real-time.

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Up close and personal with a volcanic eruption

Up close and personal with a volcanic eruption

Thorbjorg Agustsdottir, a Ph.D. student studying seismology at the University of Cambridge, had the rare opportunity to witness a volcanic eruption up close when Iceland’s Bardarbunda volcano erupted while she and fellow researchers were servicing seismometer stations around the volcano.

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29 September 2014

As expedition ends, scientists feel the pressure

As expedition ends, scientists feel the pressure

Amy West is the science writer and outreach and education officer for the JOIDES Resolution, a drill ship operated by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) that is on a two-month expedition studying the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc in the region where the Pacific Plate is descending under the Philippine Plate to form the Mariana Trench and the deepest point in the ocean–the Challenger Deep.

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19 September 2014

Pulling secrets from deep-sea, drillbit-eating rocks

Pulling secrets from deep-sea, drillbit-eating rocks

Amy West is the science writer and outreach and education officer for the JOIDES Resolution, a drill ship operated by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) that is on a two-month expedition studying the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc in the region where the Pacific Plate is descending under the Philippine Plate to form the Mariana Trench and the deepest point in the ocean–the Challenger Deep.

This is her latest blog post about the expedition.

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Going on a rock cruise

Going on a rock cruise

A trio of two-month expeditions in 2014 will be in the region where the Pacific Plate is descending under the Philippine Plate to form the Mariana Trench and the deepest point in the ocean–the Challenger Deep. Scientists will get under the skin of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc, which stretches nearly the distance from Los Angeles to Chicago

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