Tag Archives: sediments

Study Supplies Insight into Behavior of African Monsoon

Think of the Sahara and you will conjure images of a vast desert landscape, with nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.  But for a period of about 10,000 years, the Sahara was characterized by lush, green vegetation and a network of lakes, rivers and deltas. (more…)

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Scientists Cast Doubt on Theory of What Triggered Antarctic Glaciation

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of U.S. and U.K. scientists has found geologic evidence that casts doubt on one of the conventional explanations for how Antarctica’s ice sheet began forming. Ian Dalziel, research professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics and professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences, and his colleagues report the findings today in an online edition of the journal Geology.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), an ocean current flowing clockwise around the entire continent, insulates Antarctica from warmer ocean water to the north, helping maintain the ice sheet. For several decades, scientists have surmised that the onset of a complete ACC played a critical role in the initial glaciation of the continent about 34 million years ago. (more…)

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Glaciers Contribute Significant Iron to North Atlantic Ocean

All living organisms rely on iron as an essential nutrient. In the ocean, iron’s abundance or scarcity means all the difference as it fuels the growth of plankton, the base of the ocean’s food web.

A new study by biogeochemists and glaciologists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) identifies a unexpectedly large source of iron to the North Atlantic – meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets, which may stimulate plankton growth during spring and summer. This source is likely to increase as melting of the Greenland ice sheet escalates under a warming climate. (more…)

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Isotope Fingerprints

Jaisi laboratory tracks chemicals in water, farmland throughout Mid-Atlantic

University of Delaware researcher Deb Jaisi is using his newly established stable isotope facility in the Environmental Biogeochemistry Laboratory (EBL) to find the fingerprints of isotopes in chemical elements — specifically phosphorus — in order to track sources of nutrients in the environmentally-sensitive Chesapeake Bay, other bodies of water and farmland throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Jaisi, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, explained that he and his research team are currently working on many projects in the EBL, including two that are funded through seed grants, one focusing on terrestrial phosphorus sources and the other on marine phosphorus sources in the Chesapeake. One of those grants is from the UD Research Foundation (UDRF) and is titled “Role of Non-terrestrial Phosphorus Sources in Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay.” (more…)

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The Making of Antarctica’s Hidden Fjords

Antarctica’s topography began changing from flat to fjord-filled starting about 34 million years ago, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led team of geoscientists.

Knowing when Antarctica’s topography started shifting from a flat landscape to one with glaciers, fjords and mountains is important for modeling how the Antarctic ice sheet affects global climate and sea-level rise. (more…)

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Public Acceptance of Climate Change Affected by Word Usage, Says MU Anthropologist

Better science communication could lead to a more informed American public.

Public acceptance of climate change’s reality may have been influenced by the rate at which words moved from scientific journals into the mainstream, according to anthropologist Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri. A recent study of word usage in popular literature by O’Brien and his colleagues documented how the usage of certain words related to climate change has risen and fallen over the past two centuries. Understanding how word usage affects public acceptance of science could lead to better science communication and a more informed public.

“Scientists can learn from this study that the general public shouldn’t be expected to understand technical terms or be convinced by journal papers written in technical jargon,” O’Brien said. “Journalists must explain scientific terms in ways people can understand and thereby ease the movement of those terms into general speech. That can be a slow process. Several words related to climate change diffused into the popular vocabulary over a 30-50 year timeline.” (more…)

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Climate Change Led to Collapse of Ancient Indus Civilization, Study Finds

A new study combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago. The study also resolves a long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Sarasvati, the sacred river of Hindu mythology.

Once extending more than 1 million square kilometers across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, over what is now Pakistan, northwest India and eastern Afghanistan, the Indus civilization was the largest—but least known—of the first great urban cultures that also included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Like their contemporaries, the Harappans, named for one of their largest cities, lived next to rivers owing their livelihoods to the fertility of annually watered lands. (more…)

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Worms Among First Animals To Surface After K-T Boundary Extinction Event, CU-Led Study Finds

A new study of sediments laid down shortly after an asteroid plowed into the Gulf of Mexico 65.5 million years ago, an event that is linked to widespread global extinctions including the demise of big dinosaurs, suggests that lowly worms may have been the first fauna to show themselves following the global catastrophe.

While the focus on the so-called K-T boundary extinction is often on the survival and proliferation of mammals, paleo-botanical studies show some of the earliest terrestrial ecosystems to emerge were dominated by low-diversity and opportunistic aquatic plants, said University of Colorado Boulder geological sciences Associate Professor Karen Chin. And while sediments laid down immediately following the impact event generally have relatively few animal fossils, new evidence from North Dakota shows networks of crisscrossing burrows less than three inches above the K-T boundary layer. (more…)

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