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Saturday, April 10, 2021
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…
An upwelling of rock beneath the Atlantic may drive continents apart

An upwelling of rock beneath the Atlantic may drive continents apart

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An upsurge of hot rock from deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean may be driving the continents on either side apart. The Americas are moving away from Europe and Africa by a few centimeters each year, as the tectonic plates underlying those continents drift apart. Researchers typically think tectonic plates separate as the distant edges of…
Space station detectors found the source of weird ‘blue jet’ lightning

Space station detectors found the source of weird ‘blue jet’ lightning

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Scientists have finally gotten a clear view of the spark that sets off an exotic type of lightning called a blue jet. Blue jets zip upward from thunderclouds into the stratosphere, reaching altitudes up to about 50 kilometers in less than a second. Whereas ordinary lightning excites a medley of gases in the lower atmosphere…
How the Earth-shaking theory of plate tectonics was born

How the Earth-shaking theory of plate tectonics was born

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Some great ideas shake up the world. For centuries, the outermost layer of Earth was thought to be static, rigid, locked in place. But the theory of plate tectonics has rocked this picture of the planet to its core. Plate tectonics reveals how Earth’s surface is constantly in motion, and how its features — volcanoes,…
Earth’s oceans are storing record-breaking amounts of heat

Earth’s oceans are storing record-breaking amounts of heat

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Pandemic-related shutdowns may have spared Earth’s atmosphere some greenhouse gas emissions last year, but the world continued to warm. Water temperature measurements from around the globe indicate that the total amount of heat stored in the upper oceans in 2020 was higher than any other year on record dating back to 1955, researchers report online…
Reawakened Yellowstone geyser isn’t a sign of imminent explosion

Reawakened Yellowstone geyser isn’t a sign of imminent explosion

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A recent reawakening of the tallest geyser in the world is not a harbinger of an imminent volcanic eruption, a new study reports. And it isn’t likely to portend a dangerous hydrothermal explosion either, which can occur when superheated water turns to steam and bursts violently out of the confining rock, researchers report in the…

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