Jay Owen Earth Systems Science


Irish chronicles reveal links between cold weather and volcanic eruptions

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 08:08 PM PDT

Medieval chronicles have given researchers a glimpse into the past to assess how historical volcanic eruptions affected the weather in Ireland up to 1500 years ago. Researchers have successfully linked the climatic aftermath of volcanic eruptions to extreme cold weather events in Ireland over a 1200-year period from 431 to 1649.

Where trash accumulates in the deep sea

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 11:43 AM PDT

Surprisingly large amounts of discarded trash end up in the ocean. Plastic bags, aluminum cans, and fishing debris not only clutter our beaches, but accumulate in open-ocean areas such as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Now, new research shows that trash is also accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon.

Life on Earth shockingly comes from out of this world

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 11:43 AM PDT

Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Researchers have found that icy comets that crashed into Earth millions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA.

First evidence that the genome can adapt to temperature changes

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 11:40 AM PDT

Researchers have been tracking the evolution of Drosophila subobscura, a small fly that is very common all over Europe, since 1976. They are focusing on a specific type of genomic variability known as chromosomal inversion polymorphism. The study has compared how the flies’ genomes change from spring to summer, summer to autumn and autumn to spring, over the years. Researchers have shown that the 2011 heatwave dramatically altered the genetic constitution of natural populations of Drosophila subobscura.

U.S. Clean Air Act increased Atlanta rainfall

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 10:37 AM PDT

The Clean Air Act of 1970 caused a rebound in rainfall for a US city. Scientists analyzed summer rainfall data from nine weather stations in the Atlanta metropolitan area from 1948 to 2009. They discovered that precipitation increased markedly in the late 1970s as pollution decreased following passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Animals and humans: A false divide?

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 10:37 AM PDT

We don’t just share our lives with animals; we are animals — a reality that we often choose to forget in modern Western culture. New research delves deeper into our relationship with other creatures, critically examining our own animal nature, and looking at how animals profoundly influence our culture — perhaps more so than we had initially thought.

Researchers announce discovery of oldest-known fossil primate skeleton

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 10:35 AM PDT

An international team of researchers has announced the discovery of the world’s oldest-known fossil primate skeleton representing a previously unknown genus and species named Archicebus achilles. In addition to being the oldest known example of an early primate skeleton, the new fossil is crucial for illuminating a pivotal event in primate and human evolution — the evolutionary divergence between the lineage leading to anthropoids and that leading to living tarsiers.

Ancient trapped water explains Earth’s first ice age

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 10:35 AM PDT

Tiny bubbles of water found in quartz grains in Australia may hold the key to understanding what caused the Earth’s first ice age, say scientists.

Detecting lead hotspots in urban gardens requires different sampling strategies

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 10:00 AM PDT

Analyzing soil lead in an urban garden plot is important and sampling approaches may involve tradeoffs between finding ‘hotspots’ versus looking at the average amount of lead when checking for safe levels.

Bees and other pollinating insects are just one factor in food production

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 08:15 AM PDT

No food for the human race without bees? It is not quite as straightforward as that. A case study by ecologists in a coffee-growing area in India reveals that pollinating insects are just one production factor among many. Farmers have several possibilities to increase their harvest.

NASA’s IceBridge mission contributes to new map of Antarctica

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 06:07 AM PDT

A new dataset called Bedmap2 gives a clearer picture of Antarctica from the ice surface down to the bedrock below. Bedmap2 is a significant improvement on the previous collection of Antarctic data — known as Bedmap — that was produced more than 10 years ago.

Personality is the result of nurture, not nature, suggests study on birds

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 06:05 AM PDT

Personality is not inherited from birth parents says new research on zebra finches. External factors are likely to play a bigger part in developing the personality of an individual than the genes it inherits from its parents, suggests the study.

‘Lizard King’ fossil shows giant reptiles coexisted with mammals during globally warm past

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 06:04 AM PDT

At nearly six feet long and weighing upwards of 60 pounds, “Morrison’s Bearded King” provides new clues on the evolution of plant-eating reptiles and their relationship to global climate and with mammals.

Discovering one reason why swarming evolved offers tantalizing clues on how intelligence developed

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 06:04 AM PDT

Many animals — from locusts to fish — live in groups and swarm, but scientists aren’t sure why or how this behavior evolved. Now scientists have used a model system to show for the first time that predator confusion can make prey evolve swarming behavior.

Human deforestation outweighs climate change for coral reefs

Posted: 05 Jun 2013 04:17 AM PDT

Better land use is the key to preventing further damage to the world’s coral reefs, according to new research. The study has important implications for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The study authors write that preventing soil erosion and sediment pollution arising from human activities such as deforestation are crucial to reef survival.