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Wednesday, June 23, 2021
A spike in Arctic lightning strikes may be linked to climate change

A spike in Arctic lightning strikes may be linked to climate...

Climate change may be sparking more lightning in the Arctic. Data from a worldwide network of lightning sensors suggest that the frequency of lightning strikes in the region has shot up over the last decade, researchers report online March 22 in Geophysical Research Letters. That may be because the Arctic, historically too cold to fuel…
Phosphorus for Earth’s earliest life may have been forged by lightning

Phosphorus for Earth’s earliest life may have been forged by lightning

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One key ingredient for life thought to be delivered to Earth by meteorites may have been homemade after all. The phosphorus that went into building the first DNA and RNA molecules is thought to have come from a mineral called schreibersite, which is typically found in meteorites (SN: 9/7/04). But a new analysis of minerals…
To understand how ‘night-shining’ clouds form, scientists made one themselves

To understand how ‘night-shining’ clouds form, scientists made one themselves

NASA’s Super Soaker mission was basically an extreme DIY project: To better understand how noctilucent, or night-shining clouds form, researchers made one from scratch. One frigid, predawn morning in January 2018, researchers launched a rocket hauling a bathtub’s worth of water from Poker Flat Research Range in Chatanika, Alaska. When this rocket was 85 kilometers…
Color-coded radar maps reveal a patchwork of California wildfire destruction

Color-coded radar maps reveal a patchwork of California wildfire destruction

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Each year in California, thousands of wildfires ravage hundreds of thousands of hectares of land. Deciphering how well large swaths of vegetation recover over time can be tough from the ground. New radar maps now reveal the patchwork of plant destruction and regrowth in the wake of more than a decade of fires in Angeles…
A magnetic field reversal 42,000 years ago may have contributed to mass extinctions

A magnetic field reversal 42,000 years ago may have contributed to...

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A flip-flop of Earth’s magnetic poles between 42,000 and 41,000 years ago briefly but dramatically shrank the magnetic field’s strength — and may have triggered a cascade of environmental crises on Earth, a new study suggests. With the help of new, precise carbon dating obtained from ancient tree fossils, the researchers correlated shifts in climate…
Fin whale songs can reveal hidden features of the ocean floor

Fin whale songs can reveal hidden features of the ocean floor

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The fin whale’s call is among the loudest in the ocean: It can even penetrate into Earth’s crust, a new study finds. Echoes in whale songs recorded by seismic instruments on the ocean floor reveal that the sound waves pass through layers of sediment and underlying rock. These songs can help probe the structure of…
A drop in CFC emissions puts the hole in the ozone layer back on track to closing

A drop in CFC emissions puts the hole in the ozone...

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Good news for the ozone layer: After a recent spike in CFC-11 pollution, emissions of this ozone-destroying chemical are on the decline. Emissions of trichlorofluoromethane, or CFC-11, were supposed to taper off after the Montreal Protocol banned CFC-11 production in 2010 (SN: 7/7/90). But 2014 to 2017 saw an unexpected bump. About half of that…
Three things to know about the disastrous flood in India

Three things to know about the disastrous flood in India

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A flash flood surged down a river in India’s Himalayan Uttarakhand state on February 7, killing at least 30 people and washing away two hydroelectric power stations. As rescue workers search for more than 100 people who are still missing, officials and scientists are trying to unravel the causes of the sudden flood. Did a…
Fossil mimics may be more common in ancient rocks than actual fossils

Fossil mimics may be more common in ancient rocks than actual...

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When it comes to finding fossils of very ancient microbial life — whether on Earth or on other worlds, such as Mars — the odds are just not in our favor. Actual microbial life-forms are much less likely to become safely fossilized in rocks compared with nonbiological structures that happen to mimic their shapes, new…
The birth of a lightning bolt was caught on video

The birth of a lightning bolt was caught on video

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A new slow-motion video offers the best view yet of the split-second collision of electric currents that creates a flash of lightning. The video captures a thread of electric current, or lightning leader, zipping down from a thundercloud to meet another leader reaching up from the ground. When the two touch, it triggers a much…

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