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Is Antarctica Gaining or Losing Ice? Nature May Have Just Settled The Debate
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For years, scientists have debated whether heavy inland snowfall on the vast East Antarctic Ice Sheet — Earth’s largest — balances out the rapid melting in West Antarctica.
Given enough snowfall, the continent might not yet be contributing to sea level rise.
Most research shows the melt rate is so high that the continent is indeed losing ice. But in 2015, a group of NASA scientists published a controversial study that found Antarctica was instead gaining ice. The NASA team combined spa blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
The Coral Microbiome May Offer Protection in Warming Seas
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Ofu Island – a speck of land emerging from the southwest Pacific Ocean – is a textbook paradise. Jagged, forest-covered peaks rise steeply from palm-fringed white sand beaches, as colorful birds sound off in the distance.
But beneath the waves, it’s a different story: Ofu Island’s coral reefs are suffering. As temperatures in some lagoons eclipse 35 °C on a daily basis, extensive coral bleaching is leaving a graveyard of rocky, spindly skeletons reaching into the warming water.
Corals blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
Scientists Race to Understand Why Ice Shelves Collapse
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An 80-mile crack is spreading across the Antarctic Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf. And once that crack reaches the ocean, it will calve an iceberg the size of Delaware. The chunk looked like it could break off a few months ago, but it’s still clinging on by a roughly 10-mile thread. Earlier this week, scientists from the MIDAS project, which monitors Larsen C, reported a new branch on that crack.
Icebergs naturally calve from ice shelves all the time. But scientists are concerned that the blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
Meltdown: On the Front Lines of Climate Change
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After watching over Earth’s poles for decades, NASA aviators see new warnings of the chaos to come. discovermagazine.com/2017/j...
After Mosquitos, Moths Are the Next Target For Genetic Engineering
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Though genetically modified crops may steal the spotlight, similarly reprogrammed insects may have just as big an effect on the agricultural industry.
Biotechnology company Oxitec is moving forward with plans to develop genetically engineered diamondback moths in an attempt to reduce populations of the invasive crop pest. Their plan is to release males that will pass on a gene preventing female offspring from reaching maturity and reproducing, eventually eradicating the moths in North Ame blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
There's no place like home
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A visual celebration of the home planet, starting with a view from Earth as seen from Saturn — 870 million miles away — and zooming in close
On the morning of the first Earth Day, on April 20th, 1970, a friend and I boarded the IRT subway line in Brooklyn and headed for Manhattan. Our destination: Fifth Avenue, where New York City's festivities were to take place.
I don't recall ever having heard the term "home planet" back then. Yet the basic idea already had great currency, thanks blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
River Keeping in New Mexico
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River Keeper. Watershed Keeper. There’s something poetic—maybe a bit Celtic—about these terms, which in the world of citizen science refer to someone monitoring a waterway for soil erosion, contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Across the United States, with sonorous names like Willamette River Keepers and Chattahoochee River Keepers, citizen scientists are keeping watch over the environmental health of our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.
Where I live in southwestern New Mexico, the Silve blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
Listen to Baby Humpback Whales Whisper to Their Mothers
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Humpback whale babies don't scream for their mothers' attention — they whisper.
Researchers who listened in on communications between humpback whale mothers and their calves believe they recorded what amounts to a whale whisper. Using detachable acoustic tags, the researchers followed eight calves and two mothers for 48 hours each as they swam near their breeding grounds off Australia's coast, and say that this is the first time such vocalizations have been recorded in this manner.
The blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
"The First Green": Ancient Life Inspires Modern Art
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Every morning at Hamelin Pool, in Western Australia, the first rays of sunshine illuminate knobby reef-like structures, submerged or peeking just above the gentle waves, depending on the tide. On the crudely rounded surfaces of these rocks, microorganisms stir and begin the daily task of photosynthesizing, fighting against occluding sand grains to harvest the sunlight.
This scene, or something like it, has likely been occurring every morning, somewhere on Earth, for the last 3.7 billion y blogs.discovermagazine.com/...
Giant Virus Found in Sewage Blurs the Line Between Life and Non-Life
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In most biology textbooks, there’s a clear separation between the three domains of cellular organisms – Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes – and viruses. This fault line is also typically accepted as the divider between life and non-life: since viruses rely on host machinery to enact metabolic transformations and to replicate, they are not self-sufficient, and generally not considered living entities.
But several discoveries of giant viruses over the last decade have blurred this distincti blogs.discovermagazine.com/...