Environment – New Scientist

rss from New Scientist

Popocatépetl: Predicting Mexico's most dangerous volcano

Few volcanos come with more risk than Mexico's Popocatépetl, situated near Mexico City.  To mitigate danger, volcanologist Chiara Maria Petrone is trying to predict its next eruption

Forget the Amazon – are these the most remarkable rivers in the world?

When most people are asked to name a river, they often reach for the Amazon or Nile, but these aren’t the only remarkable rivers out there. Here are 10 more from around the world – and solar system

Ice might be ubiquitous, but we are still discovering things about it

Once seen as miraculous, these days ice is no longer extraordinary. But in a winter season when Antarctic sea ice hit a historic low, it is clear we should cherish it more, says Max Leonard

Iceland volcano: Current cycle of eruptions could last for decades

Iceland is bracing for a volcanic eruption, as thousands of small earthquakes have shaken the southern part of the Reykjanes peninsula since October

Iceland volcano: 15km magma tunnel under town threatens to erupt

A 15-kilometre-long mass of lava has formed underneath the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland and could erupt at any time

Stunning image of South America's largest lake hides a dark secret

Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, the largest lake in South America, has been captured in detail by the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission

Bits of an ancient planet called Theia may be buried in Earth’s mantle

Two strange, high-density blobs buried more than a kilometre underground may have come from the ancient world Theia, which is thought to have slammed into Earth to create the moon

Sun-blocking dust from asteroid impact drove the dinosaur extinction

The Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago filled the sky with fine silicate dust, which blocked out sunlight and lingered for 15 years

Ancient river valleys discovered beneath Antarctic ice sheet

A better picture of the hidden landscape beneath the frozen surface of Antarctica could help us understand how the ice will respond to climate change

Earth’s core is oddly squishy and we may now know why

Earth’s iron-rich inner core may owe some of its surprising softness to the motion of atoms, suggest experiments with iron at high temperature and pressure coupled to AI simulations

Huge earthquake shook Seattle 1100 years ago and it could happen again

Analysis of tree rings shows that two faults near Seattle, Washington ruptured at the same time or soon after each other more than 1000 years ago – a repeat today would cause a major disaster in the region

Nearly all mammals will go extinct in 250 million years as Earth warms

If humans still exist millions of years from now, they will face inhospitably warm conditions on a supercontinent centred at the equator. Most land mammals won't be able to survive

Rare Australian pink diamonds emerged when a supercontinent broke up

Understanding how the world’s largest-known collection of pink diamonds came to the surface in Australia around 1.3 billion years ago could help us find hidden deposits elsewhere in the world

NASA’s UFO task force has released its final report – it’s not aliens

An independent task force formed by NASA to look into unidentified anomalous phenomena found no evidence of alien craft, and suggests that if we want to find proof of visitors we need better data

Tonga volcano unleashed underwater flows that reshaped the seafloor

The destruction of telecommunications cables during the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano in 2022 shows that underwater debris currents can travel at 122 kilometres per hour

Sea level may have been higher than it is now just 6000 years ago

Climate researchers thought that current global average sea levels were the highest in more than 100,000 years, but new models suggest oceans just 6000 years ago may have been higher than at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and possibly even higher than today

Earth is coated in ancient space dust that could be from the moon

A 33-million-year-old layer of Earth's crust is laced with helium-3, which is normally only found in space. Now we might have an explanation for how it got there

GPS could predict earthquakes two hours ahead, but there's a catch

An analysis of GPS data has revealed a slow and otherwise undetectable slip of tectonic plates that begins two hours before an earthquake - but detecting this in advance would require more accurate sensors

Stunning image of erupting volcano reminds us of Earth’s violent past

This photo of Tungurahua, a volcano exploding in the Ecuadorian night, comes from an illustrated book to accompany a TV series about Earth’s deep history

Canadian lake selected as site to mark the start of the Anthropocene

Geologists hoping to declare a new epoch dominated by humanity’s influence on Earth have chosen Crawford Lake in Canada as the location where the start of the Anthropocene is defined

Chris Packham: We're precipitating a mass extermination event

Chris Packham's new BBC series, Earth, looks at significant moments in Earth's history, including anthropogenic climate change and biodiversity loss, "It's not a sixth mass extinction event that we're precipitating," he says, "it's a mass extermination event"

There's a gravity 'hole' in the Indian Ocean and now we may know why

Earth appears to have less mass beneath a certain part of the Indian Ocean compared with the rest of the planet. Plumes of magma at the location could explain why

Humans have pumped so much groundwater, we’ve shifted Earth’s axis

Changes in the distribution of groundwater around the planet between 1993 and 2010 were enough to make Earth's poles drift by 80 centimetres

See some of the images up for the Earth Photo 2023 competition

From a photograph of algae choking an Indian river to a shocking depiction of the wearing away of the UK coast, these are some of the pictures in the running for the contest

Kīlauea volcano: Watch live footage of the eruption in Hawaii

The Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii has begun erupting, spewing volcanic gas and ash across the island

Dried-up lake may explain why California is 'overdue' major earthquake

Pressure on the San Andreas fault from a now-dried lake could have been sufficient to trigger past major earthquakes in California. The lake’s disappearance could explain why there have been no such quakes for nearly 300 years

Why is China drilling a hole more than 10,000 metres deep?

An oil company in China has started drilling a hole that would be the deepest in the country and among the deepest in the world

Tonga volcano eruption disrupted satellites halfway around the world

A link between volcanic activity and rising bubbles of low pressure in the ionosphere has now been proven, which may be why the colossal Tonga volcano eruption in 2022 disrupted satellite communications

Prehistoric Planet 2 review: Attenborough returns to ancient Earth

The second series of this show about Earth 66 million years ago is a joy to watch - but it inspires more than it informs. A little more science would have been nice

These bizarre lights in the sky hint at a way to predict earthquakes

Semi-mythical "earthquake lights" may be accompanied by changes to Earth's magnetic field. Now researchers say these changes could be used to forecast major tremors

World's first drilling project to seek natural hydrogen hits a snag

A well in Nebraska is the first in the world to have been drilled in search of naturally occurring geologic hydrogen, but tests to determine how much of the gas it might supply are on hold because of a broken pump

Shiveluch volcano eruption in Russia smothers nearby villages in ash

The eruption of the Shiveluch volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia on 11 April sent plumes of volcanic ash many kilometres into the air and could affect flights

Next 10,000 years of Greenland ice sheet could be decided this century

Carbon emissions within the next 50 years could lead to a tipping point where large parts of the Greenland ice sheet melt over the next 10,000 years

Oxygen on early Earth may have come from quartz crushed by earthquakes

Billions of years ago, crushed quartz reacting with water could have created the conditions needed for the evolution of the photosynthetic microbes responsible for most of the oxygen now in Earth’s atmosphere

Earliest evidence of a meteorite hitting Earth found in Australia

Tiny pieces of stone found in a rock formation in Western Australia may be the oldest evidence of a meteorite impact on Earth, dating back nearly 3.5 billion years

Gold hydrogen: Is there a huge reserve of clean fuel in Earth's crust?

Geologists think there may be vast natural stores of hidden hydrogen gas within Earth, but no one is sure how much there is or how much could be recovered for energy

Some of the stunning winners of the Sony World Photography Awards

From a sea turtle and diver swimming in harmony in Malaysia to a red-eyed tree frog in its Costa Rican rainforest home, take a peek at some of the winning entries in one of the most prestigious photography competitions

Launching a huge dust cloud from the moon could ease global warming

Launching a million tonnes of moon dust around Earth could dim sunlight across our planet by 1.8 per cent. This would reduce the global temperature, but whether it would be worth the resources, and the risks involved in such a strategy, are unclear

Magnificent photograph captures eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano

Olivier Grunewald took this image of the Icelandic volcano's central crater filled with lava, forming a fiery lake of liquid rock

Two major earthquakes cause devastation across Turkey and Syria

At least 1500 people have died in Turkey and Syria after a 7.8-magnitude quake followed by a 7.5-magnitude quake in the same region less than 10 hours later

Earth's 'geological thermostat' is too slow to prevent climate change

Rock weathering has helped keep Earth’s climate relatively stable for millions of years, but the process isn't fast enough to keep up with human carbon emissions

The mysterious underwater avalanches reshaping Earth

Turbidity currents are cascades of sediment that tumble down Earth’s 9000 submarine canyons carrying carbon, plastics and pharmaceuticals into the deep sea. We are finally learning just how often these dramatic events occur.

Earthquakes suggest Earth's core has started spinning more slowly

Measurements of seismic waves travelling through Earth’s inner core indicate that its rotation may be slowing, switching its direction relative to the rest of the planet’s spin

How a planet became a character in my new novel

My new novel The Terraformers explores what you might include - and leave out - if you were building an Earth-like planet. I spoke to some scientists to see what might work, says Annalee Newitz

Help in the hunt for neutrinos while exploring deep-sea ecosystems

The Deep Sea Explorers project is calling for volunteers to help remove noise from data collected by a neutrino telescope at the bottom of the sea, finds Layal Liverpool

In 2023, we have many opportunities to build a better future

The coming year will be a turning point for the Amazon rainforest, artificial intelligence and even our diets. Let's choose a more hopeful direction for humanity

Wintry scenes top Weather Photographer of the Year competition

Christopher Ison's photo of Storm Eunice and Zhenhuan Zhou’s shot of Niagara Falls covered in ice have taken the top prizes in the Royal Meteorological Society’s annual competition

2022: The year of rolling polycrisis, but with a few glimmers of hope

This year, there were the lows of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, soaring prices and extreme weather, and the highs of an accelerating shift to green energy and space wonders from the James Webb Space Telescope

Tonga volcano eruption was the most explosive of the 21st century

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in Tonga on 15 January 2022 created 90-metre high tsunamis and shot ash 57 kilometres into the sky

How well do you know your animal poo? Find out with this picture quiz

Can you match these pictures of poo to the animal responsible? This quiz from naturalist Chris Packham is a bit of fun - but you will learn some fascinating faeces facts along the way

Marine sciences must cast off an imperial legacy of ocean exploitation

A century and a half after HMS Challenger embarked on the first global survey of the ocean, some ideas from the era still linger. They urgently need to be left behind, says Helen Scales

The Volcano review: Heartbreaking documentary relives Whakaari tragedy

An intense and moving documentary tells the story of tourists caught on the volcanic island of Whakaari when it erupted in 2019

How did so many giant meat-eating dinosaurs co-exist in the Jurassic?

It took a lot of meat to feed even one species of large carnivorous dinosaur, so how did several survive side-by-side in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods without starving? We might finally have the answer

Yellowstone supervolcano contains twice as much melted rock as thought

There is more melted rock under Yellowstone Caldera – a volcano in Wyoming – than was previously estimated, but that doesn’t change the likelihood of an eruption

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano is erupting for the first time since 1984

For the first time in nearly 40 years, the world’s largest active volcano is erupting in Hawaii, after weeks of increased activity at the caldera

The Darkness Manifesto review: Why we need to turn out the lights

Light pollution disrupts animals and has also been linked to human ailments. Bat scientist Johan Eklöf has some useful fixes in his new book

Landslides can be triggered by small changes in atmospheric pressure

We knew earthquakes and heavy rain could initiate landslides, but now it seems alterations in atmospheric pressure can do it too if combined with certain conditions on the ground

Tonga eruption's volcanic plume reached above the stratosphere twice

The plume ejected by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano in January entered the mesosphere, the layer of atmosphere above the stratosphere, twice during the eruption

BBC Earth Podcast review: Get stuck into nature – wherever you find it

A new season of the BBC Earth Podcast kicks off with Safari, an episode that encourages us to engage with nature, whether it is in the Scottish rainforests or just the scruffy green patch outside your office

Stunning winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

From bees hunting for a mate to a giant sea star procreating, these incredible images are some of the winners in the prestigious wildlife photography competition

Dazzling photograph of pink-breasted galahs in Australian desert

This image of a flock of galahs taking off from a tree was captured by artist and photographer Christian Spencer, while out driving in Australia's Strzelecki desert

Western Arctic Ocean is acidifying four times faster than other oceans

Melting ice has increased how fast Arctic waters are absorbing carbon dioxide, making them more acidic faster. The change could disrupt entire marine ecosystems

Striking photos show scale of development in sub-Saharan Africa

These arresting images of industrial developments in Senegal, South Africa and Namibia were taken by Edward Burtynsky, who spent four years capturing African landscapes using aerial photography

Frozen Planet II review: David Attenborough's sequel dazzles

The spectre of climate change hangs over David Attenborough’s follow-up to Frozen Planet, while two new nature documentary series, Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory and Super/Natural, are no match for the veteran presenter

Earthquakes seem to come in a more predictable pattern than we thought

A machine learning algorithm can assess how likely it is that a large earthquake will hit a region over the next few years, which could one day help mitigate damage from future quakes

A second asteroid may have struck Earth when the dinosaurs died out

A possible impact crater under the sea off West Africa might have been made by a smaller piece that broke off the asteroid that wiped out most dinosaurs

The hunt for hidden impact craters that could reveal Earth’s deep past

Geologist Ludovic Ferrière travels the world in search of undiscovered impact craters left behind by asteroids and comets striking Earth. He tells us how he finds them

Reclassification of Earth's minerals reveals 4000 more than we thought

Some scientists suggest minerals should be reorganised by the methods that make them, which would increase the known number of minerals on Earth by 75 per cent

More than 950 killed in magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Afghanistan

An earthquake near the city of Khōst in south-east Afghanistan has killed nearly a thousand people and injured hundreds

How long does evolution take? It happens on two different timescales

To make sense of the fact that adaptation can happen quickly and yet true evolutionary change seems to take forever, biologists suggest that evolution runs on two very different clocks

Emissions from rocket launches could affect Earth's weather systems

Increasing numbers of space launches will put more black carbon high in the atmosphere, where it can trap heat from the sun

Dazzling photo of a pink salt lake shortlisted for major competition

Picture of a salt lake in southern Ukraine is shortlisted for Earth Photo 2022, a competition that aims to celebrate the environment and its inhabitants

Vast reservoir of water discovered under the ice in Antarctica

Ice streams in Antarctica carry ice from the continent’s centre to the ocean, and there appears to be a huge amount of water buried beneath one, which may affect its flow

What are the mysterious continent-sized lumps deep inside Earth?

For decades, planetary scientists have been trying to understand the origins of two colossal geological anomalies inside our planet. New insights suggest they could be leftovers from a cosmic collision

All four of the key DNA building blocks have been found in meteorites

We have now discovered all four building blocks of DNA in meteorite samples, suggesting that space rocks may have delivered the compounds to Earth, contributing to the origin of life

AI strips out city noise to improve earthquake monitoring systems

The sounds of cities can make it hard to discern the underground signals that indicate an earthquake is happening, but deep learning algorithms could filter out this noise

30 by 30: The conservation breakthrough we need to save biodiversity

Negotiators are hammering out a bold plan to set aside 30 per cent of global land and sea area for nature by the end of the decade. But can they succeed – and will it work?

River: New film shows Earth's waterways from stunning perspectives

River, a new film narrated by Willem Dafoe with music by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead, documents Earth's waterways from stunning new perspectives

Tiny magnetic waves have been discovered in Earth’s core

Fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field that repeat every seven years can be used to probe the inner workings of our planet

Red and purple microbes give Australia’s mysterious pink lake its hue

DNA sequencing has revealed that a bright pink lake on an island off Western Australia gets its colour from a mix of salt-loving bacteria and algae

Burst of animal evolution altered chemical make-up of Earth's mantle

The Cambrian explosion 500 million years ago saw a huge variety of animals evolve – and also led to carbon being buried in the seabed and ultimately carried into the planet’s mantle

First evidence that dinosaurs caught potentially fatal coughs

The first evidence of a respiratory infection in a dinosaur suggests that a 15-year-old diplodocid suffered from coughing, sneezing and fever before dying

Geology needs to reinvent itself as we fight against climate change

It is time for geology to embrace our sustainable future and, in turn, be accorded the respect it deserves as a discipline crucial to understanding the world and our relationship to it

Geologists to pinpoint official birthplace of the Anthropocene in 2022

Whether we are in a new geological epoch is still up for debate, but geologists have almost decided where on Earth should be the official birthplace of the Anthropocene

Volcano eruption in Tonga was a once-in-a-millennium event

The underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption has already triggered a tsunami, a sonic boom and thousands of lightning bolts, and could now lead to acid rain

Plumes of rock that feed volcanic hotspots are surprisingly cold

Geologists may need to come up with a new explanation for the sources of volcanic activity in places like Iceland and Hawaii

Tsunamis create magnetic fields that could act as early warning system

The movement of seawater in a tsunami generates a magnetic field that travels ahead of changes in sea level, which could help us predict and prepare for it

Don’t Look Up review: The funniest climate change movie so far

Netflix disaster-satire film Don’t Look Up is a cathartic and hilarious allegory of humanity's hapless efforts to deal with climate change.

Fix the Planet newsletter: The tide is turning for sea power

Once eclipsed by wind and solar, £20 million worth of UK government subsidies mean tidal power may finally begin to make waves

Is Ol Doinyo Lengai the strangest volcano in the solar system?

Tanzania's Ol Doinyo Lengai spews out bizarre black lava, which could help solve mysteries of the planet's mantle.

Why the myth of 'wilderness' harms both nature and humanity

Humans have affected every aspect of life on Earth – from hunting prehistoric beasts to changing the climate – and the illusion that pristine nature still exists undermines our efforts to make a better world, says environmental writer Emma Marris

Mysterious origin of Earth's water may be explained by solar wind

Evidence from asteroids shows that charged particles from the sun can turn dust grains into water – a process that could be useful for space exploration too

Fix the Planet newsletter: Can small nuclear power go big?

Small modular reactors are being pitched as an affordable and fast way to decarbonise power grids but questions about the technology abound

Black lava from this bizarre volcano could reveal Earth's deep secrets

Tanzania's Ol Doinyo Lengai is the only volcano known to spew out carbonatite lava, which could offer fresh clues about Earth's mysterious mantle – but getting hold of a sample is no simple matter

Over three-quarters of the world’s vital carbon stores are unprotected

Ecosystems such as forests and peatlands are vital stores for carbon, but less than a quarter of these areas worldwide have protected status

New mineral davemaoite discovered inside a diamond from Earth's mantle

Trapped inside a tiny diamond, there are tinier crystals of a never-before-seen mineral that makes up 5 per cent of the lower mantle

Satellites find close to 800 methane leaks in past four years

Earth observation satellites have detected leaks of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in the US, Algeria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

6 charts that show what climate change is doing to our planet

As the COP26 summit in Glasgow meets to discuss global action on climate change, atmospheric scientist Betsy Weatherhead explains what the science says about greenhouse gases and global warming

Watch footage from inside a Category 4 hurricane

Saildrone has captured footage from inside Hurricane Sam.

Why chemical pollution is turning into a third great planetary crisis

Thousands of synthetic substances have leaked into ecosystems everywhere, and we are only just beginning to realise the devastating consequences