Environment

The most complete analysis to date measuring ice sheet changes in Antarctica reveals Earth’s southernmost continent has lost some 3 trillion tonnes of ice over the past quarter-century.   A collective effort by over 80 scientists across the world used satellite data to determine estimates of ice-sheet mass balance between 1992 and 2017, ultimately calculating
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For centuries – millennia even – they’ve towered over the savannah like giants from another world, but their long, almost immortal watch is at last beginning to fade. The African baobab, the largest and longest-living tree among all angiosperm (flowering) plants, is in the midst of a deadly crisis, with new research finding several of
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Scientists have reported finding traces of plastic and hazardous chemicals in Antarctica, which before now was the last part of the planet that remained mostly untouched by the damaging effects of human activity.   Samples of water and snow, collected over a three-month period earlier this year, paint a sorry picture of the environmental consequences
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Every Christmas, sailors from Japan go out into the Southern Ocean, taking “biological sampling” that aims to investigate “the structure and dynamics of the Antarctic marine ecosystem”.   But no, they aren’t trying to understand more about climate change, or investigating the mating songs of the ocean. They’re out killing hundreds of Antarctic minke whales, and
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Few geologic events capture the imagination like an erupting volcano. We thrill at the image: Hot, molten rock comes bursting out of the ground, destroying most everything in its path.   Volcanoes can cause massive disasters that kill tens of thousands, and they can produce amazing sights like hypnotic lava fountains. With an eruption like
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On a very bad day 66 million years ago, a mountain-sized object from space slammed into Earth, initiating a cascade of calamities that eradicated three-fourths of the species on the planet, including the non-avian dinosaurs.   The buried remnants of the 125-mile-wide (200 km wide) crater have been identified on the Yucatan Peninsula and in
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Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions threaten to make rice less nutritious, scientists said in a study released Wednesday, raising a worrying possibility about the staple food item for billions of humans.   Rice, the scientists found, contains lower levels of key vitamins when grown amid high concentrations of carbon dioxide, the most common of the greenhouse
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The Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii began causing earthquakes on Wednesday afternoon, after morning explosions of “ballistic blocks” three times larger than bowling balls. Earthquakes up to 4.4 magnitude have been measured after Kilauea’s caldera, one of its large craters, dropped 90cm causing nearby faults to move.   According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), residents
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If you thought the crisis over the gaping hole in the ozone layer was under control, prepare to be disappointed. Researchers at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have noticed an unexpected and persistent increase in ozone-destroying chemicals, called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).   The Montreal Protocol, which was finalised in 1987, was a revolutionary, international
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The ongoing surge in volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island soon could cause a massive explosion from a volcano’s summit, scientists and Hawaii officials warned Wednesday. Kilauea, the longest-erupting volcano on the planet, has displaced some 1,700 people and destroyed 36 structures since a shifting flow of underground magma last week burst through the surface
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Humanity’s toxic addiction to plastic has reached stunning depths, and we only wish we were speaking figuratively. A new study analysing over 30 years’ worth of data on human-made trash found in the deepest parts of the ocean reveals almost 3,500 pieces of plastic and other debris have been discovered littering these remote, fragile ecosystems.
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The carbon footprint of tourism is about four times larger than previously thought, according to a world-first study published today in Nature Climate Change. Researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Queensland and National Cheng Kung University – including ourselves – worked together to assess the entire supply chain of tourism.   This includes
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Less than a week ago, Leilani Estates was the picture of serenity on Hawaii’s Big Island, a subdivision in the island’s eastern Puna district filled with wooden homes nestled in tropical plant-filled lots.   The eruption of the island’s most active volcano changed everything. Shortly after Kilauea erupted Thursday, the ground split open on the east side
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At the southwestern corner of Antarctic continent, there’s a river of ice dubbed the “most dangerous glacier in the world”. On Monday, American and British scientists officially launched a venture to investigate Thwaites Glacier. Their goal: to figure out whether it’s headed for a catastrophic collapse in the near future.   We already know Thwaites
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On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Australia would be putting aside more than $500 million Australian dollars (or $379 million USD) to protect the Great Barrier Reef.   The amount is unprecedented, and is the biggest single investment that the imperilled ecosystem, or any other coral reef ecosystem, has ever seen. As part
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Every few hundred thousand years, Earth’s magnetic field flips, and considering the huge impact that would have on everything from satellite systems to electrical grids, scientists are very keen to work out when the next one might be.   Hopefully it won’t be for a while yet, according to the latest study – by analysing
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