news 2017


Earth Sciences

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Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 20.12.2017
Mars: Not as dry as it seems
Image shows modern Mars (left) dry and barren, compared with the same scene over 3.5 billion years ago covered in water (right). The rocks of the surface were slowly reacting with the water, sequestering it into the Martian mantle leading to the dry, inhospitable scene shown on the left. Image credit: Jon Wade When searching for life, scientists first look for an element key to sustaining it: fresh water.

Earth Sciences - 20.12.2017
Suggests that alcohol consumption contributes to self-blame in rape cases
Ambulance response times in London worsen when air temperatures rise or fall beyond certain limits in summer and winter, according to a new study. Current daily estimates at the London Ambulance Service (LAS) of vehicles likely to be required in the week ahead are based on statistics for the same days of the year over the last three years.

Earth Sciences - Life Sciences - 29.11.2017
Feathered dinosaurs were even fluffier than we thought
A University of Bristol-led study has revealed new details about dinosaur feathers and enabled scientists to further refine what is potentially the most accurate depiction of any dinosaur species to date. Birds are the direct descendants of a group of feathered, carnivorous dinosaurs that, along with true birds, are referred to as paravians - examples of which include the infamous Velociraptor.

Civil Engineering - Earth Sciences - 28.11.2017
Himalayan river system influenced ancient Indus Civilisation
Scientists have found that much of the Indus thrived around an extinct river, challenging ideas about how urbanisation in ancient cultures evolved. The Indus or Harappan Civilisation was a Bronze Age society that developed mainly in the northwestern regions of South Asia from 5300 to 3300 years ago, at about the same time as urban civilisations developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 24.11.2017
Going underground: Cambridge digs into the history of geology with landmark exhibition
A box full of diamonds, volcanic rock from Mount Vesuvius, and the geology guide that Darwin packed for his epic voyage on the Beagle will go on display in Cambridge this week as part of the first major exhibition to celebrate geological map-making. We show how for the first time people were encouraged to think about the secretive world beneath their feet.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 23.11.2017
Ocean floor mud reveals secrets of past European climate
Samples of sediment taken from the ocean floor of the North Atlantic Ocean have given researchers an unprecedented insight into the reasons why Europe's climate has changed over the past 3000 years. From the warmer climates of Roman times when vineyards flourished in England and Wales to the colder conditions that led to crop failure, famine and pandemics in early medieval times, Europe's climate has varied over the past three millennia.

Astronomy / Space - Earth Sciences - 21.11.2017
Mars might be drier than previously thought
The wall of the Newton Crater on Mars. The dark thick lines spread out horizontally in the picture while the Recurring Slope Lineae run downwards. Credit C. Dundas NASA/JPL/USGS Dark features previously proposed as evidence for significant liquid water flowing on Mars have now been identified as granular flows, where sand and dust move rather than liquid water, according to a new study.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 03.11.2017
Atmospheric rivers could increase flood risk by 80 per cent
The global effect and impact of atmospheric rivers on rainfall, flooding and droughts has been estimated for the first time - revealing that in some regions the risks can be enhanced by up to 80 percent.áThe work, of which Oxford University is a key partner, also considers the number of people affected by these atmospheric phenomena across the globe.

Earth Sciences - 01.11.2017
Time to rewrite the dinosaur textbooks’ Not quite yet!
However, this is not at all the case. Recently, Matthew Baron and colleagues from the University of Cambridge proposed a radical revision to our understanding of the major branches of dinosaurs, but in a critique published today some caution is proposed before we rewrite the textbooks.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 31.10.2017
Aliens may be more like us than we think
Hollywood films and science fiction literature fuel the belief that aliens are monster-like beings, who are very different to humans. But new research suggests that we could have more in common with our extra-terrestrial neighbours, than initially thought. In a new study published in the International Journal of Astrobiology scientists from the University of Oxford show for the first time how evolutionary theory can be used to support alien predictions and better understand their behaviour.

Earth Sciences - Agronomy / Food Science - 23.10.2017
Crops evolving ten millennia before experts thought
Ancient peoples began to systematically affect evolution of crops up to 30,000 years ago - ten millennia before experts previously thought, says new University of Warwick research Rice, wheat and barley were used so much that their evolution was affected - beginning the process that eventually turned them from wild to domesticated - as long ago as the last Ice Age Einkorn found to be on the evolutionary trajectory to domestication up to 30,000 y

Earth Sciences - Life Sciences - 23.10.2017
World’s oldest and most complex trees
The first trees to have ever grown on Earth were also the most complex, new research has revealed. Fossils from a 374-million-year-old tree found in north-west China have revealed an interconnected web of woody strands within the trunk of the tree that is much more intricate than that of the trees we see around us today.

Earth Sciences - Chemistry - 18.10.2017
48-million-year-old wax discovered in a bird fossil
Researchers have analysed a well-preserved preening gland in a 48-million-year-old bird fossil and discovered original oil and wax molecules within it. The fossil is from the famous Messel locality in Germany, well known to preserve birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects and leaves with exceptional details.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 17.10.2017
Hardy corals take to the seas to build new reefs from scratch
Tough species of corals can go mobile and lay the foundations for new reefs in otherwise inhospitable areas, a study shows. Scientists have discovered that the rolling and resilient corals can act as a base upon which other corals attach and build reefs by creating their own stable habitats. The finding sheds new light on the mobile corals - called coralliths - which grow on pebbles or fragments of dead reefs, and can survive being buffeted by waves and ocean currents.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 12.10.2017
Rainfall trends in arid regions buck commonly held climate change theories
The recent intense hurricanes in the Atlantic have sharply focused attention on how climate change can exacerbate extreme weather events. Scientific research suggests that global warming causes heavier rainfall because a hotter atmosphere can hold more moisture and warmer oceans evaporate faster feeding the atmosphere with more moisture.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 10.10.2017
Little growth observed in India’s methane emissions
Methane is the second most powerful greenhouse gas and concentrations are rising in the atmosphere. Because of its potency and quick decay in the atmosphere, countries have recognised that reduction of methane emissions are a means toward mitigating global warming. In light of the new international climate agreement, the Paris Agreement, there is increasing need for countries to accurately quantify their greenhouse gas emissions and to have independent checks on this reporting.

Earth Sciences - Life Sciences - 09.10.2017
Dinosaur blood? New research urges caution regarding fossilised soft tissue
Scientists from the University of Bristol have conducted experiments to accelerate degradation in keratinous tissues such as feathers, scales and hair in order to simulate the processes that occur over deep time as something becomes a fossil. Their findings demonstrate that previous claims showing the preservation of keratin protein in dinosaur fossils are likely to be false.

Earth Sciences - 05.10.2017
Underwater rivers are more powerful and long-lasting than first thought
New research shows underwater rivers are more powerful and long-lasting than first thought (5 October 2017) A team of scientists, including experts from Durham University, has discovered that sediment avalanches occurring deep under the ocean are far more frequent and long-lasting than previously thought.

Earth Sciences - Astronomy / Space - 04.10.2017
New research uncovers 90 million years of history of Martian volcano
Analysis of Martian meteorites has uncovered 90 million years' worth of new information about one of the red planet's volcanoes - and helped pinpoint which volcano the meteorites came from. Geologists based in the UK and the USA have used advanced mass spectrometry techniques to learn more about the origins of six meteorites known as 'nakhlites' - pieces of Martian terrain which were blasted from the face of the red planet by an impact event 11 million years ago, then drifted through space before landing on Earth.

Earth Sciences - 03.10.2017
Study lays groundwork for management of human-induced earthquakes
Earthquakes brought on by human activities, such as mining, building dams and fracking, are becoming more frequent and require evidence-based management, new research suggests. In a study led by Professor Gillian Foulger of the Department of Earth Sciences , and published in the journal Earth Science Reviews , researchers compiled a comprehensive record of over 700 earthquakes claimed to have been caused by human activity over the last 150 years.
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