Earth

The thawing of permafrost in northern latitudes, which greatly increases microbial decomposition of carbon compounds in soil, will dominate other effects of warming in the region and could become a major force promoting the release of carbon dioxide and thus further warming, according to a new assessment in the September 2008 issue of BioScience.

MADISON — If the lessons being learned by scientists about the demise of the last great North American ice sheet are correct, estimates of global sea level rise from a melting Greenland ice sheet may be seriously underestimated.

Writing this week (Aug. 31) in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers led by University of Wisconsin-Madison geologist Anders Carlson reports that sea level rise from greenhouse-induced warming of the Greenland ice sheet could be double or triple current estimates over the next century.

Researchers have yet to reach a consensus on how much and how quickly melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will contribute to sea level rise. To shed light on this question, scientists at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research analyzed the disappearance of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the last ice sheet to melt completely in the Northern Hemisphere and the closest example of what can be expected to happen to the Greenland Ice Sheet in the next century.

Demand for corn -- the world's number one feed grain and a staple food for many -- is outstripping supply, resulting in large price increases that are forecast to continue over the next several years. If corn's intolerance of low temperatures could be overcome, then the length of the growing season, and yield, could be increased at present sites of cultivation and its range extended into colder regions.

Honolulu, Hawaii– From June 17-19th 2007, Kilauea experienced a new dike intrusion, where magma rapidly moved from a storage reservoir beneath the summit into the east rift zone and extended the rift zone by as much as 1 meter. Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM), Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and the U.S.

Shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the U.S., Rice University civil and mechanical engineering professor Satish Nagarajaiah studied damage done to offshore drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. If tropical storm Gustav strengthens into a Category 3 hurricane, as forecasters are predicting, Nagarajaiah's findings could provide valuable knowledge about what to expect if Gustav hits the Gulf of Mexico oil platform regions.

(Boston) – Researchers examining images of gullies on the flanks of craters on Mars say they formed as recently as a few hundred thousand years ago and in sites once occupied by glaciers. The features are eerily reminiscent of gullies formed in Antarctica's mars-like McMurdo Dry Valleys.

The parallels between the Martian gullies and those in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys were made using the latest high-resolution images and technology from satellites orbiting Mars to observe key details of their geological setting.

Scientists have exploited crystals from lavas to unravel the records of volcanic eruptions.

The team, from Durham University and the University of Leeds, studied crystal formation from a volcano, in Santorini, in Greece, to calculate the timescale between the trigger of volcanic activity and the volcano's eruption.

They say the technique can be applied to other volcanoes – such as Vesuvius, near Naples, in Italy – and will help inform the decisions of civil defence agencies.

A solution to the world's worst case of ongoing mass poisoning, linked to rising cancer rates in Southern Asia, has been developed by researchers from Queen's University Belfast.

Currently over 70 million people in Eastern India and Bangladesh, experience involuntary arsenic exposure from consuming water and rice; the main staple food in the region. This includes farmers who have to use contaminated groundwater from minor irrigation schemes.

Following last summer's record minimum ice cover in the Arctic, current observations from ESA's Envisat satellite suggest that the extent of polar sea-ice may again shrink to a level very close to that of last year.