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1 February 2019

Climate change may push Santa Ana fire season into winter months

Santa Ana winds blew smoke from the fast-moving Thomas, Creek and Rye fires over the Pacific on 5 December 2017. Wind gusts topped 112 kilometers (70 miles) per hour that week. An extended span of dry weather left the ground parched well into Southern California’s “wet” season, which starts in October. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Climate models predict a narrowing of the Santa Ana season in tandem with the wet season in Southern California over the next century, which could leave vegetation dry and fire-prone as winds peak in December and January, according to a new study.

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31 January 2019

Climate change could make corals go it alone

Climate change is bad news for coral reefs around the world, with high ocean temperatures causing widespread bleaching events that weaken and kill corals. However, new research finds corals with a solitary streak – preferring to live alone instead of in reef communities – could fare better than their group-dwelling relatives.

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Beach building is keeping the Atlantic Coast from going under

The artificial build-up of beaches is buffering the U.S. Atlantic coastline against the effects of sea level rise, but that benefit may not last as sand gets harder to come by in the coming decades.

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30 January 2019

New study estimates amount of water in near-Earth space rocks

The study’s authors estimate there are between 400 and 1200 billion kilograms (440 to 1.3 billion U.S. tons) of water that could be extracted from the minerals in these asteroids. In liquid terms, that’s between 400 billion and 1,200 billion liters (100 billion and 400 billion U.S. gallons) of water. That’s enough to fill between 160,000 and 480,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

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22 January 2019

Two- to three- fold increase in heatwave occurrence and severity seen directly in UK temperature records

A two- to three-fold increase in heatwave activity in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century has been identified in a new analysis of historical daily temperature data.

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16 January 2019

New study quantifies deep reaction behind “superdeep” diamonds

By Joshua Rapp Learn Whether they are found in an engagement ring or an antique necklace, diamonds usually generate quick reactions from their recipients. Now, new research shows deep inside the Earth, fast reactions between subducted tectonic plates and the mantle at specific depths may be responsible for generating the most valuable diamonds. The diamonds mined most often around the world are formed in the Earth’s mantle at depths of …

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15 January 2019

New research shows significant decline of glaciers in Western North America

The first comprehensive assessment of glacier mass loss for all regions in western North America (excluding Alaskan glaciers) suggests that ice masses throughout western North America are in significant decline: glaciers have been losing mass during the first two decades of the 21st century.

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14 January 2019

Fort McMurray homes have normal levels of indoor toxic substances following wildfire, new study reveals

Researchers have examined dust from homes in Fort McMurray in Canada for evidence of harmful toxins left in the aftermath of the devastating 2016 wildfire. Their study reveals normal levels of contaminants that are comparable to homes across Canada, and so far, no evidence of long-term health risks from fire-ash exposure in residents’ homes

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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.

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9 January 2019

Scientists breathalyze cows to measure methane emissions

USDA researchers use some unconventional methods to analyze methane emitted by Oklahoma cows. Credit: Richard Todd.

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.

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