16 September 2014

First results from Rosetta landing expected to be unveiled at AGU Fall Meeting

First results from Rosetta landing expected to be unveiled at AGU Fall Meeting

Scientists expect to present preliminary results from the first spacecraft to land on a comet at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in December. That’s assuming, of course, that they first succeed at dropping a lander from thousands of meters away onto a tiny comet – a feat never tried before.

The Rosetta mission is the first designed to orbit and land on a comet, according to the European Space Agency. The mission’s Philae lander will touch down at candidate site “J” at the head of comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 11 November, the ESA announced Monday morning after weeks of deliberation.

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11 September 2014

Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul

Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul

When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The “seismic gap” may simply be inactive — the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other — or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release.

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, has found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault — one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world.

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9 September 2014

Global food trade may not meet all future demand, new study indicates

Global food trade may not meet all future demand, new study indicates

As the world population continues to grow, by about 1 billion people every 12 to 14 years since the 1960s, the global food supply may not meet escalating demand – particularly for agriculturally poor countries in arid to semi-arid regions, such as Africa’s Sahel, that already depend on imports for much of their food supply.

A new study, published online in the American Geophysical Union journal, Earth’s Future, examines global food security and the patterns of food trade that – until this analysis – have been minimally studied.

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26 August 2014

Heating up the fishbowl: Climate change threatens endangered Devils Hole pupfish

Heating up the fishbowl: Climate change threatens endangered Devils Hole pupfish

Climate change is hurting reproduction of the critically endangered Devils Hole pupfish, threatening the survival of the already small population, new research shows.

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5 August 2014

Sea-level spikes can harm beaches worse than hurricane

Sea-level spikes can harm beaches worse than hurricane

Unforeseen, short-term increases in sea level caused by strong winds, pressure changes and fluctuating ocean currents can cause more damage to beaches on the East Coast over the course of a year than a powerful hurricane making landfall, according to a new study. The new research suggests that these sea-level anomalies could be more of a threat to coastal homes and businesses than previously thought, and could become higher and more frequent as a result of climate change.

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24 July 2014

Dropped cell phone calls become rain gauges in West Africa

Cell tower in Burkina Faso

A shaky cell phone connection during a rainstorm can be an annoying nuisance. But now scientists are showing that these weakened signals can be used to monitor rainfall in West Africa, a technique that could help cities in the region better prepare for floods and combat weather-related diseases.

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23 July 2014

Nature’s roadblock to hurricane prediction

Nature’s roadblock to hurricane prediction

The quiet Atlantic hurricane season of 2013 came as a surprise to many, as seasonal forecasts had consistently predicted an unusually large crop of named storms. A new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, finds that internal variability—processes that unfold without being dictated by larger-scale features—can make one season twice as active as another, even when El Niño and other large-scale hurricane-shaping elements are unchanged. The results suggest that seasonal hurricane forecasts could be improved by conveying the amount of unavoidable uncertainty in the outlook.

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22 July 2014

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

Oso landslide

The disastrous March 22 landslide that killed 43 people in the rural Washington state community of Oso involved the “remobilization” of a 2006 landslide on the same hillside, a new federally sponsored geological study concludes.

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14 July 2014

Global climate models fail to simulate key dust characteristics

Global climate models fail to simulate key dust characteristics

Climate models that simulate the airborne African dust that influences Atlantic Ocean hurricanes are not up to the task of accurately representing the characteristics of that dust.

In a new study, researchers led by Amato Evan, a climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, examined the performance of 23 state-of-the-art global climate models used in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The researchers found that none of them yielded accurate data on dust characteristics.

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8 July 2014

Livestock digestion released more methane than oil and gas industry in 2004

Livestock digestion released more methane than oil and gas industry in 2004

Livestock were the single largest source of methane gas emissions in the United States in 2004, releasing 70 percent more of the powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than the oil and gas industry, according to a new study.

The new study based on satellite data from 2004 provides the clearest picture yet of methane emissions over the entire U.S. It shows human activities released more of the gas into the atmosphere than previously thought and the sources of these emissions could be much different than government estimates.

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