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12 December 2013
When whorls of plasma clouds erupt away from the sun in events known as coronal mass ejections, the portions that reach Earth can create terrestrial spectacles. These sun storms fuel stunning auroras in the night sky, but they can also foul up communication networks and Global Positioning Systems. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a method to better forecast these storms before they hit Earth.
From hydrothermal vents to the soft mud of riverbeds, geophysical hideouts where viruses thrive are windows into how life evolved, and could be crucial to protecting human health. Here are two examples from Tuesday’s American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco:
NASA’s Land Vegetation and Ice Sensor has yet to leave the atmosphere, but that’s the long-term plan for this high-flying mapping technology. In the nearer future, LVIS will produce high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of Earth’s unexplored polar regions, allowing scientists to follow changes in ice cover more accurately than ever before. Since 1998, LVIS has mapped rainforest canopies in Costa Rica, surveyed Gulf Coast ocean topography, and even tracked ivory-billed woodpeckers …
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
Since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) opened for signatures in 1996, there has been a growing interest in monitoring for underground nuclear test explosions. When a nuclear bomb goes off underground, it produces enough force for seismographs to detect it.
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
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 …