WASHINGTON—Researchers are exploring extreme conditions for life in a place not known for extremes.

Flying twin-engine light aircraft the equivalent of several trips around the globe and establishing a network of seismic instruments across an area the size of Texas, a U.S.-led, international team of scientists has not only verified the existence of a mountain range that is suspected to have caused the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet to form, but also has created a detailed picture of the rugged landscape buried under more than four kilometers (2.5 miles) of ice.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI) Workforce Program has released the third chapter, entitled Geoscience Employment Sectors, of the Status of the Geoscience Workforce report. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this report are now available through the AGI website at

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University researcher has found a way to get more bang for fewer bucks when it comes to processing cellulosic material to make ethanol.

By shredding corn stover instead of chopping, as is commonly done, about 40 percent less energy is needed to gain access to more of the material stored in the plant. Dennis Buckmaster, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said that by shredding corn stover there is better access to cellulose, which is the main part of plant cell walls necessary to make ethanol.

MOSS LANDING, CA — Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently solved the half-century-old mystery of a fish with tubular eyes and a transparent head. Ever since the "barreleye" fish Macropinna microstoma was first described in 1939, marine biologists have known that it's tubular eyes are very good at collecting light. However, the eyes were believed to be fixed in place and seemed to provide only a "tunnel-vision" view of whatever was directly above the fish's head.

Climatologists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City have found that 2008 was the coolest year since 2000. The GISS analysis also showed that 2008 is the ninth warmest year since continuous instrumental records were started in 1880.

The ten warmest years on record have all occurred between 1997 and 2008.

TORONTO, ON – Severe fires in Indonesia – responsible for some of the worst air quality conditions worldwide – are linked not only to drought, but also to changes in land use and population density, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience led by Robert Field of the University of Toronto.

In late 2007, hundreds of dead and stranded seabirds washed up on the shores of Monterey Bay, their feathers saturated with water and coated with an unknown substance. After an intensive investigation, scientists determined that a massive "red tide" bloom of marine algae had produced a foamy soap-like substance that stripped the natural waterproofing from the birds' feathers.

Alexandria, VA – The American Geological Institute (AGI) Workforce Program has released the second chapter, entitled Trends in Geoscience Education at Four Year Institutions, of the Status of the Geoscience Workforce report. Chapters 1 and 2 of this report are now available through the AGI website at

Here's yet another reason to hate humidity: it expands global warming, says a Texas A&M University professor.

Andrew Dessler, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences who specializes in research on climate, says that warming due to increases in greenhouse gases will lead to higher humidity in the atmosphere. And because water vapor itself is a greenhouse gas, this will cause additional warming. This process is known as water vapor feedback and is responsible for a significant portion of the warming predicted to occur over the next century.

An international group of scientists is renewing calls for policymakers to reduce both nitrogen and phosphorus when attempting to alleviate eutrophication – or nutrient pollution problems – in fresh and coastal waters. In the February 20 edition of Science, the researchers argue that dual-nutrient reduction strategies are likely to be more successful due to complex interactions between nitrogen and phosphorus in fresh and coastal water ecosystems.

MILLBROOK ―February 19, 2009 ― Protecting drinking water and preventing harmful coastal "dead zones", as well as eutrophication in many lakes, will require reducing both nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Because streams and rivers are conduits to the sea, management strategies should be implemented along the land-to-ocean continuum. In most cases, strategies that focus only on one nutrient will fail.

Tropical forests hold more living biomass than any other terrestrial ecosystem. A new report in the journal Nature by Lewis et al. shows that not only do trees in intact African tropical forests hold a lot of carbon, they hold more carbon now than they did 40 years ago--a hopeful sign that tropical forests could help to mitigate global warming. In a companion article, Helene Muller-Landau, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, says that understanding the causes of this African forest carbon sink and projecting its future is anything but straightforward.

Coffee shrubs, both in themselves and because they are most often cultivated in the shade of large trees, can have a positive impact on plant and animal diversity in those parts of the landscape that are deforested and dominated by agriculture. What constitutes a dilemma for consumers wishing to shop ecologically is that when coffee is grown in a forest, which is also common, the impact on diversity is negative.

About half of the oil in the ocean bubbles up naturally from the seafloor, with Earth giving it up freely like it was of no value. Likewise, NASA satellites collect thousands of images and 1.5 terrabytes of data every year, but some of it gets passed over because no one thinks there is a use for it.