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May 21, 2024
Warm ocean water is rushing beneath Antarctica's 'Doomsday Glacier,' making its collapse more likely
Antarctica's Doomsday Glacier is melting significantly faster than scientists previously thought, thanks to warm ocean water that is infiltrating miles beneath its surface, a new study has found. The Thwaites Glacier, which is nicknamed the Doomsday Glacier because of its potential to massively increase sea levels, is located in West Antarctica and is roughly the size of Florida. Previous research...
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May 21, 2024
Earth from space: Rare phenomenon transforms African thunderstorm into giant ethereal 'jellyfish'
Quick factsWhere is it? Central Mali, Africa. What's in the photo? A massive, jellyfish-shaped thunderstorm cloud. Which satellite took the photo? Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP). When was it taken? Sept. 27, 2018. This striking photo shows an extremely unusual thunderstorm cloud in the shape of a jellyfish floating above western Africa. The oddly shaped cloud, which was roughly...
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May 21, 2024
Why is there sometimes a green flash at sunset and sunrise?
As the sun dips below the horizon and the light starts to dim, lucky observers may spot a rare, brief flash of emerald. This is the green flash, which can sometimes be seen right after sunset or before sunrise. So what causes the green flash? Like many colorful spectacles in the sky, such as rainbows, the green flash is the...
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May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
Snake Island: The isle writhing with vipers where only Brazilian military and scientists are allowed
QUICK FACTSName: Snake Island Location: Atlantic Ocean off the coast of So Paulo state, Brazil Coordinates: -24.484043070527676, -46.67561478998516 Why it's incredible: The island is so dangerous, only the Brazilian navy and scientists with special permits are allowed access. Snake Island is a small, forested island off the coast of Brazil that writhes with thousands of venomous vipers. The snakes, which...
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May 21, 2024
Tree rings reveal summer 2023 was the hottest in 2 millennia
Last year's summer was the hottest in 2,000 years, ancient tree rings reveal. Researchers already knew that 2023 was one for the books, with average temperatures soaring past anything recorded since 1850. But there are no measurements stretching further back than that date, and even the available data is patchy, according to a study published Tuesday (May 14) in the...
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May 21, 2024
Earth may have had freshwater and continents just 200 million years after forming, ancient crystals reveal
Earth's first continents may have emerged from the planet's primordial oceans much earlier than we thought, just six hundred million years after the planet formed, new research suggests. The researchers found that ancient zircon crystals from the Jack Hills in Western Australia contain evidence of fresh water, which indicates that patches of land must have been present as fresh water...
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May 21, 2024
Why do earthquakes happen far away from plate boundaries?
It's commonly assumed that earthquakes occur only near the boundaries of tectonic plates, and roughly 90% of earthquakes do happen in these areas. These boundaries include, for example, the San Andreas Fault, which runs roughly along the west coast of California, where the North American and Pacific plates meet. But not all earthquakes occur along plate boundaries. For example, an...
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May 21, 2024
'The most critically harmful fungi to humans': How the rise of C. auris was inevitable
Fifteen years ago, scientists discovered a new species of deadly, drug-resistant fungus: Candida auris. It is now considered one of the most dangerous fungal pathogens on Earth. In this excerpt from What if Fungi Win? (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2024), author Arturo Casadevall looks at the rise of this deadly fungus, which could be the first to have emerged as...
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May 21, 2024
Odd earthquake swarm in Central Europe hints at magma bubbling below the surface
An odd earthquake swarm on the border of Germany and the Czech Republic may hint at magma moving deep below the surface. The quakes are in Vogtland, a region known for regular, low-level earthquake swarms. These swarms tend to last several weeks and lead to mostly mild shaking. The largest known quakes from the area are around magnitude 4.5, said...
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May 21, 2024
Fairy Chimneys: The stone spires in Turkey that form 'the world's most unusual high-rise neighborhood'
QUICK FACTSName: Fairy Chimneys Location: Cappadocia, Central Anatolia, Turkey Coordinates: 38.660576078243686, 34.81971335767199 Why it's incredible: Both the place and its name are straight out of a fairy tale Turkey's fairy chimneys are natural yet surreal-looking spires up to 130 feet (40 meters) tall that were carved out of soft volcanic rock by the elements over millions of years. Thousands of...
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May 21, 2024
Weird blobs lurking near Earth's core may have been dragged from the surface
Strange blobs deep in Earth's middle layer may be chunks of ancient continental crust that have been dragged down by tectonic forces, new research suggests. These blobs, known as ultra-low velocity zones (ULVZs), have long puzzled scientists. They're deep in the mantle, near the boundary with Earth's core, so researchers can only glimpse them by studying earthquake waves as they...
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May 21, 2024
Collapse of Earth's magnetic field may have fueled evolution of life 600 million years ago
A near collapse of Earth's magnetic field may have paved the way for life to evolve past the microscopic stage. New research on ancient rocks from South Africa and Brazil suggests that Earth's magnetic field underwent a major weakening about 591 million years ago. This corresponds to a time period called the Ediacaran (about 635 million to 541 million years...
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May 21, 2024
The Gulf Stream stopped pumping nutrients during the last ice age — and the same could be happening now
The Gulf Stream slowed dramatically at the end of the last ice age with dire effects on organisms in the Atlantic, scientists have found. This discovery could help researchers forecast how Atlantic currents will change in response to climate change today. The Gulf Stream is a warm ocean current that originates in the Florida Straits between Florida and Cuba, before...
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May 21, 2024
Record-shattering Tonga volcanic eruption wasn't triggered by what we thought, new study suggests
Scientists have proposed an alternative explanation for why the record-shattering Tonga volcanic eruption of 2022 was so violent: The explosion may have been triggered by gas, rather than by a reaction between magma and water as previously suggested. Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, an underwater volcano in the South Pacific Ocean, erupted on Jan. 15, 2022, unleashing the most intense lightning storm...
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May 21, 2024
Siberia's 'gateway to the underworld' is growing a staggering amount each year
The gateway to the underworld, a huge crater in Siberia's permafrost, is growing by 35 million cubic feet (1 million cubic meters) every year as the frozen ground melts, according to a new study. The crater, officially known as the Batagay (also spelled Batagaika) crater or megaslump, features a rounded cliff face that was first spotted on satellite images in...
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May 21, 2024
Earth from space: Mysterious wave ripples across 'galaxy' of icebergs in Arctic fjord
Quick factsWhere is it? Itilliarsuup Kangerlua fjord, Greenland [70.72910805, -50.71839266]. What's in the photo? A mysterious wave, or arc, rippling across the fjord's surface. Which satellite took the photo? Landsat 9. When was it taken? August 3, 2023. This striking satellite photo captured a mysterious arc in an ethereal, iceberg-covered fjord deep within the Arctic Circle. Researchers proposed several possible...
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May 21, 2024
Antarctic ice hole the size of Switzerland keeps cracking open. Now scientists finally know why.
Scientists have finally discovered what's causing a Switzerland-size hole to repeatedly open up in Antarctica's sea ice. Researchers first spotted the hole, called the Maud Rise polynya, in 1974 and 1976 in Antarctica's Weddell Sea, and since then it has reappeared fleetingly and sporadically opening up in different sizes but in the same place, then sometimes not at all for...
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May 21, 2024
Cave of Crystals: The deadly cavern in Mexico dubbed 'the Sistine Chapel of crystals'
QUICK FACTSName: Cave of Crystals Location: Chihuahua, Mexico Coordinates: 27.850823490019174, -105.4963675458159 The Cave of Crystals is an underground cavern filled with tree-size gypsum crystals, including some of the largest natural crystals ever found. The cave is located around 980 feet (300 meters) deep and is connected to a lead, zinc and silver mine in Naica, 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast...
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May 21, 2024
'You certainly don't see this every day': Ultra-rare backward-spinning tornado formed over Oklahoma
An ultra-rare backward-spinning tornado was spawned Tuesday (April 30) from a powerful supercell thunderstorm that formed over the Oklahoma-Texas border. This backward tornado burst to life in the wake of another odd twister, which was unusual in that it looped back over its own path, CNN reported. Tornadoes tend to travel from west to east, because the prevailing winds in...
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