While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean. So, how big is it? As of 2013, it takes up 71% of the Earth’s surface, houses 99% of the biosphere, and contains some of Earth’s grandest geological features. Scott Gass reminds us of the influence humans have on the ocean and the influence it has on us.
Lesson by Scott Gass, animation by Sandro Katamashvili.
Three European satellites launched Friday on a mission to study why the magnetic field surrounding Earth appears to be weakening.
The four-year study will collect data and map the field, which protects the planet (and us) from solar radiation.
Scientists say the field’s strength has weakened by about 15 percent in the last 200 years.
The weakening could be a sign of “polarity reversal" - when the field flips end-to-end, turning north into south. The phenomenon occurs every 200,000 to 300,000 years. But the last time the field flipped was almost 800,000 years ago.
The magnetic field is believed to be generated by the Earth’s molten iron core. The field reaches thousands of miles into space and creates a bubble around the earth. It’s what makes compasses work, and aids everything from navigation systems to animal migrations…
… is a projection of a world map onto the surface of an icosahedron, which can be unfolded and flattened to two dimensions. The projection depicts the Earth’s continents as “one island,” or nearly contiguous land masses. The arrangement heavily interrupts the map in order to preserve shapes and sizes.
The map was created by Buckminster Fuller. The March 1, 1943, edition of Life magazine included a photographic essay titled “Life Presents R. Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion World”. The article included several examples of its use together with a pull-out section that could be assembled as a “three-dimensional approximation of a globe or laid out as a flat map, with which the world may be fitted together and rearranged to illuminate special aspects of its geography.”
The 1954 version published by Fuller, the Airocean World Map, used a modified but mostly regular icosahedron as the base for the projection, which is the version most commonly referred to today. The name Dymaxion was applied by Fuller to several of his inventions.
The Dymaxion projection is intended only for representations of the entire globe. It is not a gnomonic projection, whereby global data expands from the center point of a tangent facet outward to the edges. Instead, each triangle edge of the Dymaxion map matches the scale of a partial great circle on a corresponding globe, and other points within each facet shrink toward its middle, rather than enlarging to the peripheries…
A team of researchers may have finally solved a long-standing mystery surrounding the formation of the solar system—one that has puzzled scientists since 40 years ago when a meteorite exploded over Mexico. In these stony meteorites, which contain some of the oldest materials formed in the solar system, researchers found an odd mix of oxygen isotopes. Unlike terrestrial rocks from the Earth and moon, the rate at which the isotopes are incorporated into the minerals forming these meteorites was independent of mass.
Chakraborty et al. have now conducted a series of experiment to explain this oddity. They first created silicon dust by mixing oxygen with varying amounts of silicon monoxide and hydrogen—gases that formed the earliest solid materials in the solar system. Upon analyzing the dust, the researchers saw an oxygen isotopic composition that matched that of the meteorites. By recreating the conditions in the early solar system, the team showed that the anomaly may be due to a simple physical chemical principle called symmetry.
Like previous installments in series, this latest video commemorates the late, great astrophysicist by setting narration from his television show, Cosmos, to beautiful music and powerful footage of our world. It’ll give you chills.
The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 1.8 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. The most recent Ice Age occurred then, as glaciers covered huge parts of the planet Earth.
There have been at least five documented major ice ages during the 4.6 billion years since the Earth was formed — and most likely many more before humans came on the scene about 2.3 million years ago…
The polar icecaps are melting faster than we thought they would; seas are rising faster than we thought they would; extreme weather events are increasing. Have a nice day! That’s a less than scientifically rigorous summary of the findings of the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this morning in Stockholm.
Appearing exhausted after a nearly two sleepless days fine-tuning the language of the report, co-chair Thomas Stocker called climate change “the greatest challenge of our time,” adding that “each of the last three decades has been successively warmer than the past,” and that this trend is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.
Pledging further action to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This isn’t a run of the mill report to be dumped in a filing cabinet. This isn’t a political document produced by politicians… It’s science.”
And that science needs to be communicated to the public, loudly and clearly. I canvassed leading climate researchers for their take on the findings of the vastly influential IPCC report. What headline would they put on the news? What do they hope people hear about this report?
Carlson reported that new methods for dating rocks from the Moon’s crust or regolith have placed its birth between 4.4 and 4.45 billion years ago. Previously, scientists placed its origin at 4.56 billion years ago. The Moon was formed when a Mars-sized body smashed into the Earth, reducing part of our planet to liquid rock and shooting debris into orbit that slowly cooled and coalesced into the Moon…
Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet…
The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58…
A new study calculates Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn’t intervene. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system’s habitable zone and into the “hot zone,” new research indicates…
Why Earth’s Inner and Outer Cores Rotate in Opposite Directions
by Laura Poppick
The Earth’s magnetic field controls the direction and speed at which Earth’s inner and outer cores spin, even though they move in opposite directions, new research suggests.
Scientists have long suspected that Earth’s magnetic field — which protects life from harmful space radiation — drifts in a slightly westerly direction. That theory was established in the 1690s, when geophysicist Edmund Halley (the same Halley who spotted the eponymous comet) sailed aboard a research vessel through the South Atlantic Ocean and collected enough compass readings to identify this shift.
By the mid-20th century, geologists had gathered further evidence for this drift and had determined that the westerly rotation of the magnetic field exerts a force on the liquid outer core— composed of a molten mix of iron and nickel — that causes it to rotate in a westerly direction…
Shrinking Arctic Ice Will Lead to Ice-Free Summers
by Denise Chow
The Arctic is losing about 30,000 sq mi (78,000 sq km) — an area roughly equivalent to the state of Maine — of sea ice each year, NASA scientists say. And while ice cover at the North Pole has rebounded from last year’s record-setting lows, Arctic sea ice continues to retreat and thin at an alarming pace.
In 2012, the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean shrank to its lowest extent ever recorded. Measures of sea ice extent take into account the area of the Arctic Ocean on which ice covers at least 15 percent of the surface. This year’s summer melting season is unlikely to break that record, but that does not necessarily herald good news, said Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
"This is not going to be as extreme a year as last year, but we’re still seeing a strong downward trend," Meier told LiveScience. "We’re still at levels that are much lower than average."…
NOAA’s GOES-12 satellite was decommissioned on August 16th, 2013 after 3,788 days in service. From April 2003 — May 2010, GOES-12 served as GOES East, providing “eye in the sky” monitoring for such memorable events as the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and the series of blizzards during the winter of 2009-2010. After suffering thruster control issues, GOES-12 was taken out of normal service and moved to provide greater coverage of the Southern Hemisphere as the first-ever GOES South. During that time it provided enhanced severe weather monitoring for South America.
This animation shows one image from each day of the satellite’s life — a total of 3,641 full disk visible images.