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11 January 2019

Barrier island sand dunes recover at different rates after hurricanes

Sand dunes on coastal barrier islands buffer the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts from oncoming hurricanes. Every year, millions of public and private dollars fund the restoration of these barrier islands, but managers often focus on the recovery of smaller sand dunes and aim at making them bigger, for better storm protection. But new research presented at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting last month finds sand dunes on these barrier islands don’t all recover at the same rate. Small dunes go back to becoming small dunes; large dunes recover to be large dunes; and they don’t typically grow larger than they were before the storm struck.


9 January 2019

Scientists breathalyze cows to measure methane emissions

Cattle burps are the number two source of methane in the U.S., but it’s tricky to measure exactly how much methane one cow produces in a day. That’s why researchers at the USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas set out to use a number of different methane assessment methods — including a “breathalyzer for cows” — to determine the methane emissions of free-range cattle on Oklahoma grasslands.


3 January 2019

Climate warming experiment finds unexpected results

Climate models predict plant decomposition in the tropics will increase in a warmer world, but a new study shows the opposite


2 January 2019

Dangerous sneaker waves puzzle scientists

On January 16, 2016, a sudden swath of large and powerful waves swept through seaside communities along 450 kilometers (280 miles) of Pacific Northwest coastline. From Washington to northern California, water rushed past normal tide lines and filled beaches and streets, stretching hundreds of meters inland. These “sneaker waves” are aptly named given their unannounced arrival, which occurs when massive waves push extra water onshore—a higher-than-usual water level that scientists refer to as runup. At best, these events take beachgoers by surprise. At worst, they are disastrous and fatal.


28 December 2018

Who is vulnerable to the impacts of tropical cyclones and why?

Tropical cyclones, and the torrential rains and strong winds these storms bring along with them, threaten coastal communities around the world and are expected to increase in intensity due to climate change. Whether or not a natural hazard, such as a tropical cyclone, becomes a natural disaster depends on whether the hazard overwhelms existing human infrastructure in a particular country or region. But when does a natural disaster result in fatalities?


27 December 2018

Rings make Saturn shadier, bluer and less hazy in winter

Saturn’s rings act like Venetian blinds that block sunlight for the hemisphere that’s tilted farther away from the Sun, limiting winter sunlight. This cuts down on the planet’s haze and golden glow.


26 December 2018

Consumer purchasing data shows locals’ response to water contamination

Supermarket purchases show scientists how communities respond to health-related water quality violations, which could provide them with a new tool for monitoring public health concerns, according to new research. In a new study, researchers saw increased purchases of bottled water and over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine in areas where health-related violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act were reported.


21 December 2018

Landslide probability may depend more on riverside steepness than on hillsides above

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake stuck the Gorkha region of Nepal near the capital city of Kathmandu. Approximately 9,000 people died and more than 22,000 suffered injuries. The quake also triggered more than 20,000 landslides in the surrounding area. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California is studying how the topography of the Melamchi Valley in Gorkha affected the incidence of landslides after the 2015 earthquake.


20 December 2018

Northern Hemisphere heat waves covering more area than before

Heat waves in the Northern Hemisphere have gotten more expansive in recent decades, covering 25 percent more area now than they did in the 1970s, according to new research. A team of researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, the University of Delaware and Stanford University analyzed 38 years of NASA climate and weather data and found the average size of a heat wave has grown by 50 percent over the entire Northern Hemisphere, including the ocean, and 25 percent over the Northern Hemisphere’s land. It’s the first study to examine how heat wave extent has increased over time on a global scale.


19 December 2018

Researcher finds a cheap way to identify invasive coconuts from space

Conservation scientists can use free satellite imagery to track invasive plant species on remote Pacific islands, according to new research. Mary Engels, a PhD student at the University of Idaho, has found a way to use freely available imagery from NASA’s Landsat satellites to identify coconut trees in Pacific Islands, rather than using costly images from private satellite companies.


18 December 2018

New satellite tech offers a more detailed map of moving Antarctic glaciers

Scientists can now measure ice flow in Antarctica in far more detail, thanks to the help of a new satellite technology. Using a novel satellite technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar, or InSAR, scientists can measure the direction of slow ice movement with extreme levels of precision. Slow ice movement is defined as a shift of 1 to 30 meters (3 to 98 feet) per year.


13 December 2018

Cartoon: New Insights into the Formation of Tornadoes

Today at 4 pm EST, AGU is holding a press conference titled “New Insights into the Formation of Tornadoes” at Fall Meeting 2018. To help you get a picture of the tornado research, check out this beautiful cartoon created by JoAnna Wendel.