Eruptions on the sun trigger surprising phenomenon near Earth

New research from DTU and partners from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of New Brunswick shows that eruptions on the Sun’s surface not only send bursts of energetic particles into Earth’s atmosphere causing disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field, they can also strangely decrease the number of free electrons over large areas in…

A Strange Thing Happened in the Stratosphere

High above Earth’s tropics, a pattern of winds changed recently in a way that scientists had never seen in more than 60 years of consistent measurements. This disruption to the wind pattern – called the “quasi-biennial oscillation” – did not have any immediate impact on weather or climate as we experience it on Earth’s surface….

The Antikythera Mechanism

After 2,000 years under the sea, three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. From a distance, they look like rocks with patches of mold. Get closer, though, and the sight is stunning. Crammed inside, obscured by corrosion, are traces of technology that…

Plastic litter taints the sea surface

In a new study, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) show for the first time that marine litter can even be found at the sea surface of Arctic waters. Though it remains unclear how the litter made it so far north, it is likely to pose new…

Heavy rain doesn’t mean more trees in African savanna

In 2011, satellite images of the African savannas revealed a mystery: these rolling grasslands, with their heavy rainfalls and spells of drought, were home to significantly fewer trees than researchers had expected. Scientists supposed that the ecosystem’s high annual precipitation would result in greater tree growth. Yet a 2011 study found that the more instances…

Measuring X-rays created by lightning strikes on an aircraft

Scientists have recorded measurements of X-rays of energies up to 10 MeV caused by electrons accelerated in the intense electric fields inside a thundercloud. The researchers, based at the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), The Netherlands, and Airbus France, report their findings today, Wednesday 30th September, in the Journal…

Wildlife is thriving since the people left

The site of the world’s worst nuclear accident is now a wildlife haven. The abundance of large animals around Chernobyl, such as deer, elk and wild boar, matches that of nature reserves in the region – and wolves are seven times as common. Some 116,000 people fled the radioactive fallout from the reactor after it…

Scientists ‘see’ thunder for first time

MONTREAL, Canada — With thunder, there’s always lots to hear. Now there’s also something to see. For the first time, scientists have precisely mapped the loud clap radiating from a lightning strike. This picture of thunder’s origins could reveal the energies involved in powering some of nature’s flashiest light shows. Lightning strikes when an electric…

Feature: Saving Iran’s great salt lake

LAKE URMIA, IRAN—In a wetland dying of thirst, Hossein Akhani, a botanist at the University of Tehran, mourns a verdant past. “Fifteen years ago, the lake was here,” he says. “Every time I come back, the water is farther away.” Lake Urmia, in Iran’s northwestern corner, was once the planet’s sixth largest salt lake, covering…

Seabirds ‘blighted by plastic waste’

About 90% of seabirds have eaten plastic and are likely to retain some in their gut, a new analysis estimates.The study concludes that matters will only get worse until action is taken to stem the flow of waste to the oceans.Researcher Erik Van Sebille says the oceans are now filled with plastic and it is…

Rare nautilus spotted near Papua New Guinea

For the first time in nearly 30 years, scientists have spotted a rare type of nautilus off the coast of Ndrova Island in Papua New Guinea, The Seattle Times reports. Known as Allonautilus scrobiculatus, the creature, which has a hairy, slimy covering on its shell, was first discovered in 1984, but has rarely been seen…