Category: Earth Observation

Spiders can ‘tune’ their webs to sound out plucky potential mates


Spiders can control their web’s tension and stiffness to help them identify potential partners as well as prey, study shows. Spiders can control the tension and stiffness of their webs to optimise their sensory powers, helping them locate and identify prey as well as partners, according to researchers at Oxford University. Much in same way that notes travel along a plucked guitar string, spider silk transmits vibrations in different frequencies, sending information back to the spider. Continue reading…

Australia joins bid to outlaw large-scale commercial and ‘scientific’ whaling


The International Whaling Commission meeting in Slovenia follows Japan’s recent slaughter of more than 300 minke whales, many of them pregnant, when they resumed so-called scientific whaling after a hiatus because the International Court of Justice ruled the hunts were not scientific and should cease. Continue reading…

Satellite Eye on Earth: September 2016 – in pictures


A newly calved iceberg, an ice avalanche in Tibet and urban growth in Nairobi were among the images captured by European Space Agency and Nasa satellites last month. This striking image shows the Caspian Sea, with shallow waters surrounding the Tyuleniy archipelago revealing dark green vegetation on the sea floor. Ocean scientist Norman Kuring of Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center found a puzzling feature in the image – lines crisscrossing the sea bottom. What caused those lines? Similar lines show up in the world’s oceans because of trawling. But the scientific literature and a January satellite image suggest that a majority of the marks in the images were gouged by ice. In January, blocks of ice stand at the leading end of many lines, most notably in the north-east corner of the image. By April, ice has melted and only the scour marks persist. Continue reading…

The Secret Life of Krill


Scientists are trying to learn what melting sea ice means for the pinkish, feathery-limbed crustacean that sustains penguins, sea birds and whales.

Islands to lose fresh water as rising seas sink them from within


As sea levels rise, islands can lose ground not only on their coasts, but also inland as lakes spring up – and cause drinking water to evaporate

Trilobites: Robotic Mussels Track Rising Temperatures for Climate Research


Brian Helmuth, the marine scientist who devised them about 18 years ago, says they are an example of “biomimicry,” an relatively new field.

Greenland ice is melting 7 percent faster than previously thought


(Ohio State University) A hotspot in Earth’s mantle caused scientists to underestimate ice loss in Greenland by 20 gigatons per year.

Majority of potential UK fracking sites are rich in important wildlife


Almost two-thirds of licensed sites have above-average biodiversity, that is valuable for functions such as pollination and pest control, analysis shows. Many of the areas that have been recently licensed for fracking are rich in wildlife that perform crucial functions from pollination to decomposition, researchers have found. Scientists say that almost two-thirds of the areas that have been labelled as suitable for shale gas extraction have levels of biodiversity above the national average, according to a new analysis of records collected from across the country. Continue reading…

Q & A about the Gulf Stream System slowdown and the Atlantic ‘cold blob’


Last weekend, in Reykjavik the Arctic Circle Assembly was held, the large annual conference on all aspects of the Arctic. A topic of this year was: What’s going on in the North Atlantic? This referred to the conspicuous ‘cold blob’ in the subpolar Atlantic, on which there were lectures and a panel discussion (Reykjavik University had invited me to give one of the talks). Here I want to provide a brief overview of the issues discussed.

Earth Science Week Update: Special Alert!


In a positive display of bipartisanship, U.S. senators from across the country have come together in support of AGI’s 19th annual Earth Science Week celebration. The coalition, which consists of members of Congress from Alaska to Florida, formally introduced a Senate resolution officially designating the week of October 9-15, 2016, as “Earth Science Week.”