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Earth & Space

Melting of Alaskan glaciers accelerating faster than previously thought, research suggests

Melting of Alaskan glaciers accelerating faster than previously thought, research suggests

Earth & Space
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Melting of glaciers in a major Alaskan icefield has accelerated and could reach an irreversible tipping point earlier than previously thought, new research suggests. The research, led by scientists at Newcastle University, UK, found that glacier loss on Juneau Icefield, which straddles the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia, Canada, has increased dramatically since 2010. The team, which also included universities in the UK, U.S. and Europe, looked at records going back to 1770 and identified three distinct periods in how icefield volume changed. They saw that glacier volume loss remained fairly consistent from 1770—1979 at between 0.65– 1.01 km3 per year, increasing to 3.08–3.72 km3 per year between 1979–2010. B...
Radioactive isotopes trace hidden Arctic currents

Radioactive isotopes trace hidden Arctic currents

Earth & Space
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent (right) gathered samples of iodine and uranium radionuclides from the Arctic Ocean that scientists are now using to trace ocean currents. Credit: Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard, Public Domain The Arctic Ocean is warming four times faster than the rest of the world’s oceans, a trend that could potentially spill over to the rest of the world in the form of altered weather patterns and other climate consequences. Efforts such as the Synoptic Arctic Survey are studying the Arctic Ocean to better understand ocean currents, in the hope of allowing scientists to better predict future changes. One way to track ocean currents is by tracing, or tracking, radioactive isotopes that humans began generating in the 195...
Climate change to shift tropical rains northward, suggests computer modeling

Climate change to shift tropical rains northward, suggests computer modeling

Earth & Space
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain A study led by a UC Riverside atmospheric scientist predicts that unchecked carbon emissions will force tropical rains to shift northward in the coming decades, which would profoundly impact agriculture and economies near the Earth’s equator. The northward rain shift would be caused by complex changes in the atmosphere spurred by carbon emissions that influence the formation of the intertropical convergence zones. Those zones are essentially atmospheric engines that drive about a third of the world’s precipitation, Liu and his co-authors report in a paper published June 28 in the journal Nature Climate Change. The paper’s title is “Contrasting fast and slow intertropical convergence zone migrations linked to delayed South...
El Niño forecasts extended to 18 months with physics-based model

El Niño forecasts extended to 18 months with physics-based model

Earth & Space
Interactions of El Niño with other climate patterns lead to enhanced El Niño predictability. Credit: Sen Zhao, UH SOEST. Across Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Americas, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) brings variations in winds, weather, and ocean temperature that can cause droughts, floods, crop failures, and food shortages. Recently, the world has experienced a major El Niño event in 2023–2024, dramatically impacting weather, climate, ecosystems, and economies globally. By developing an innovative modeling approach, researchers from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa are now able to forecast ENSO events up to 18 months ahead of time—significantly improving conventional climate model f...
From mantle to crust: Solving a green metal mystery

From mantle to crust: Solving a green metal mystery

Earth & Space
Schematic illustrations of two compound globules with similar mineralogical assemblages but different morphologies. (A) Mineralogy and morphology of a compound globule with a clear rounded halo from the upper crustal Rudniy intrusion, Mongolia. (B) An example of an obscure volatile- and incompatible element-rich halo from the lower crustal Valmaggia pipe, Italy. Credit: Science Advances (2024). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adl3127 Researchers from The University of Western Australia have created an experiment to explain the volcanic processes needed to transport green metals from the Earth’s interior to its surface. Dr. Maria Cherdantseva and Professor Marco Fiorentini, from UWA’s School of Earth Sciences, were co-authors of the study published in Science Advances...
Jupiter's upper atmosphere surprises astronomers

Jupiter's upper atmosphere surprises astronomers

Earth & Space
New observations of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter have revealed that the planet’s atmosphere above and around the infamous storm is surprisingly interesting and active. This graphic shows the region observed by Webb—first its location on a NIRCam image of the whole planet (left), and the region itself (right), imaged by Webb’s Near-InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec). The NIRSpec image is stitched together from six NIRSpec Integral Field Unit images taken in July 2022, each around 300 square km, and shows infrared light emitted by hydrogen molecules in Jupiter’s ionosphere. These molecules lie over 300 km above the clouds of the storm, where light from the sun ionises the hydrogen and stimulates this infrared emission. In this image, redder colours display the ...
Earth's atmosphere is our best defense against nearby supernovae, study suggests

Earth's atmosphere is our best defense against nearby supernovae, study suggests

Earth & Space
Artist’s impression of a Type II supernova explosion. These supernova produce gamma rays and powerful ionizing radiation that’s hazardous to life. Credit: ESO Earth’s protective atmosphere has sheltered life for billions of years, creating a haven where evolution produced complex lifeforms like us. The ozone layer plays a critical role in shielding the biosphere from deadly UV radiation. It blocks 99% of the sun’s powerful UV output. Earth’s magnetosphere also shelters us. But the sun is relatively tame. How effective are the ozone and the magnetosphere at protecting us from powerful supernova explosions? Every million years—a small fraction of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year lifetime—a massive star explodes within 100 parsecs (326 light-years) of Earth. We know...
Astronomers find black holes created in mergers carry information about their ancestors

Astronomers find black holes created in mergers carry information about their ancestors

Earth & Space
A swirling black hole that hides within the characteristics of the black holes that merged to create it. Credit: Robert Lea Astronomers believe that at the heart of most, if not all, galaxies sits a titanic black hole with a mass that is millions or even billions of times that of our sun. These supermassive black holes cannot be directly created through the collapse of a massive star, as is the case with stellar mass black holes with masses tens of times that of the sun, as no star is large enough to birth such a huge object. This means that there must be processes that allow black holes to grow to such tremendous masses. While the consumption of gas and dust and even stars around black holes can facilitate this growth, a quicker avenue for pi...
Scientists discover massive energy imbalance on Saturn

Scientists discover massive energy imbalance on Saturn

Earth & Space
Energy imbalance of Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL A discovery by researchers at the University of Houston has revealed a massive energy imbalance on Saturn, shedding new light on planetary science and evolution and challenging existing climate models for the solar system’s gas giants. The findings appear in the publication Nature Communications. “This is the first time that a global energy imbalance on a seasonal scale has been observed on a gas giant,” said Liming Li, physics professor in the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Not only does this give us new insight into the formation and evolution of planets, but it also changes the way we should think about planetary and atmospheric science.” Using data from the Cassini probe missio...
Study confirms the rotation of Earth's inner core has slowed

Study confirms the rotation of Earth's inner core has slowed

Earth & Space
The inner core began to decrease its speed around 2010, moving slower than the Earth’s surface. Credit: University of Southern California University of Southern California scientists have proven that the Earth’s inner core is backtracking—slowing down—in relation to the planet’s surface, as shown in new research published in Nature. Movement of the inner core has been debated by the scientific community for two decades, with some research indicating that the inner core rotates faster than the planet’s surface. The new USC study provides unambiguous evidence that the inner core began to decrease its speed around 2010, moving slower than the Earth’s surface. “When I first saw the seismograms that hinted at this change, I was stumped,” said John ...