Earth

A five-person team sent to evaluate damage from the devastating magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 found no surface evidence of the fault that might have caused the quake, but installed four instruments to measure aftershocks and help pinpoint the epicenter.

University of Washington civil and environmental engineering professor Marc Eberhard led the team that provided engineering support to the United States Southern Command, responsible for all U.S. military activities in South and Central America.

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 22, 2010 – University of Utah scientists developed an easier way for meteorologists to predict snowfall amounts and density – fluffy powder or wet cement. The method has been adopted by the National Weather Service for use throughout Utah – and could be adjusted for use anywhere.

(San Diego, Calif.) –– Marine reserves are known to be effective conservation tools when they are placed and designed properly. This week, a special issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is dedicated to the latest science on marine reserves, with a focus on where and how reserves can most effectively help to meet both conservation and fisheries goals.

Researchers who devised the largest earthquake preparedness event ever undertaken in the United States say one of the biggest challenges was translating devastation projections from a hypothetical magnitude 7.8 San Andreas Fault temblor into timely, usable information to the more than 5 million California participants in 2008.

The impact of global warming on food prices and hunger could be large over the next 20 years, according to a new Stanford University study. Researchers say that higher temperatures could significantly reduce yields of wheat, rice and maize – dietary staples for tens of millions of poor people who subsist on less than $1 a day. The resulting crop shortages would likely cause food prices to rise and drive many into poverty.

But even as some people are hurt, others would be helped out of poverty, says Stanford agricultural scientist David Lobell.

Residents of the southern United States and the Caribbean have seen it many times during the summer months—a whitish haze in the sky that seems to hang around for days. The resulting thin film of dust on their homes and cars actually is soil from the deserts of Africa, blown across the Atlantic Ocean.

FAIRFAX, Va.—A new paper by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Otago in New Zealand shows a strong link between the diversity of organisms at the bottom of the food chain and the diversity of mammals at the top.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Whether it's never-ending heat waves or winter storms, atmospheric blocking can have a significant impact on local agriculture, business and the environment. Although these stagnant weather patterns are often difficult to predict, University of Missouri researchers are now studying whether increasing planet temperatures and carbon dioxide levels could lead to atmospheric blocking and when this blocking might occur, leading to more accurate forecasts.

Pumping nutrient-rich water up from the deep ocean to boost algal growth in sunlit surface waters and draw carbon dioxide down from the atmosphere has been touted as a way of ameliorating global warming. However, a new study led by Professor Andreas Oschlies of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) in Kiel, Germany, pours cold water on the idea.

While airplane and rocket experiments have proved that gravity makes clocks tick more slowly – a central prediction of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity – a new experiment in an atom interferometer measures this slowdown 10,000 times more accurately than before, and finds it to be exactly what Einstein predicted.

The result shows once again how well Einstein's theory describes the real world, said Holger Müller, an assistant professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley.

HOUSTON -- (Feb. 17, 2010) -- When Earth was young, it exhaled the atmosphere. During a period of intense volcanic activity, lava carried light elements from the planet's molten interior and released them into the sky. However, some light elements got trapped inside the planet. In this week's issue of Nature, a Rice University-based team of scientists is offering a new answer to a longstanding mystery: What caused Earth to hold its last breath?

Two University of Colorado at Boulder physicists are part of a collaborative team working with the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York that have created the hottest temperature matter ever measured in the universe -- 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit.

A collaboration between researchers at Northwestern University's Center for Catalysis and scientists at Oxford University has produced a new approach for understanding surfaces, particularly metal oxide surfaces, widely used in industry as supports for catalysts.

This knowledge of the surface layer of atoms is critical to understanding a material's overall properties. The findings were published online Feb. 14 by the journal Nature Materials.

Geoengineering -- deliberate manipulation of the Earth's climate to slow or reverse global warming -- has gained a foothold in the climate change discussion. But before effective action can be taken, the Earth's natural biogeochemical cycles must be better understood.

A new nanotech catalyst developed by McGill University Chemists Chao-Jun Li, Audrey Moores and their colleagues offers industry an opportunity to reduce the use of expensive and toxic heavy metals. Catalysts are substances used to facilitate and drive chemical reactions. Although chemists have long been aware of the ecological and economic impact of traditional chemical catalysts and do attempt to reuse their materials, it is generally difficult to separate the catalyzing chemicals from the finished product. The team's discovery does away with this chemical process altogether.