November 20, 2019

    These Southeast Asians descend from three waves of ancient immigration
    DNA analysis shows that humans arrived in three waves in Southeast Asia - ancient human history

    The first whole-genome analysis of ancient human fossils found in Southeast Asia revealed that humans arrived here in three distinct waves : hunter – gatherers about 45,000 years ago, farmers from China during the Neolithic Period around 4,500 years ago, and finally Bronze Age imigrants again from China between 1,000 and 3,000 years ago. These movements introduced ancestry types that are today associated with speakers of different languages. Descendants of these three waves can still be identified on the basis of their DNA, suggesting that immigrants from each wave have not mixed substantially with those from another wave. This is different from ancient European immigrants, where ancestral DNA patterns have faded over time as populations mingled.

    Read the full story: Harvard Medical School
    Scientific publication: Science


    This giraffe might soon loose its habitat
    An alarming one third of global-protected land is rapidly destroyed by humanity - earth science news

    One third of protected land world-wide is under immense human pressure, a new international study found. Using the most comprehensive global map of human pressure on the environment, the Human Footprint, researchers found that the scale of damage to natural reserves was biggest in heavily populated areas in Asia, Europe and Africa. Damage varied from major infrastructure to the building of complete cities. Thus, the study shows that while many areas are said to be protected land, in reality they are not, and this explains why biodiversity is still on a rapid decline all over the world. Fortunately, those areas that are well-protected fare much better, so that it pays to conserve protected land to maintain biodiversity. 

    Read the full story: University of Queensland
    Scientific publication: Science


    Fishermen might have to find new fishing grounds soon
    Fish on the move to avoid rising sea water temperature - earth science news

    Scientists have made a projection of fish migration along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the US. In fact, some of the fish are already on the move north or south to find more favorable habitats, or look for deeper, cooler waters. These shifts correlate well with carbon emissions, and might make fisheries and fish management more difficult in the near future, as fish will abandon the places of high abundance and colonize new territory that might be more difficult to reach.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: PLoS ONE


    Greenland's ice contains lead pollution from ancient European civilizations that can be read like a book
    Rise and fall of ancient European civilizations captured in ice - ancient history science news

    Lead pollution of the ice of Greenland caused by economic activities, especially mining and melting, during antiquity has given new insights into prosperity of ancient civilizations, from the Phoenicians to the Greek and the Romans. Documented periods of prosperity and piece correlated extremely well with increased lead pollution, probably because of the making of currency. On the other hand, reduced lead pollution corresponded to periods of instability, conflicts and plagues. Thus, by studying lead pollution that has been brought by the wind and accumulated for centuries, it is possible to estimate how ancient European civilization fared.

    Read the full story: Desert Research Institute
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    The text from old cuneiform tablets allowed identification of the lost city of Mardaman, in Irak. Credit: Matthias Lang/ Benjamin Glissmann, University of Tübingen eScience-Center
    Ancient royal city of Mardaman discovered by archeologists - science news in brief

    The lost royal city of Mardaman is mentioned in ancient sources, but, it was never discovered. Now, translation of 92 Assyrian clay tablets from the 2nd millennium BC offered clues that allowed researchers to identify the city. It turns out that the site where the tablets were found in 2017 is the actual royal city of Mardaman, according to the texts. It existed between 2,200 and 1,200 years BC in what is now the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq. It was at times a kingdom or a provincial capital and was conquered and destroyed several times.

    Read the full story: University of Tubingen


    Mixed forests are more biodiverse and yield higher production than monocultures
    Mixed forests are superior to monocultures - earth science news

    Mixed forests are ecologically and economically superior to monocultures. Biodiversity is bigger, wood production is higher, and they can mitigate climate change much better, as they provide a greater carbon sink. Also, they stand periods of drought better than monocultures. These findings apply to forests on all five continents, and should be taken into account for forest management.

    Read the full story: Technical University of Munich
    Scientific publication: Biology Letters


    Newly discovered tomb of a high general adds importantly to our knowledge of ancient Egypt
    Tomb uncovered of the Great Army General in the period of King Ramses II - human history science news

    The Egyptean Ministery of Antiquities reports that the tomb of the important general Iwrhya has been uncovered. While the excavation is still in progress, the Ministery reports that the tomb is richly decorated, showing military scenes and every day activities. Also, the names of his son and grandson were found on inscriptions in the tomb, who apparently also pursuid a military career, suggesting that the tomb might be a family tomb. However, further excavations to prove this are necessary.

    Read the full story: Egyptean ‎Ministry of Antiquities


    In the present, hurricanes become stronger and faster in a shorter time compared to the past decades
    Hurricanes intensify more rapidly now than 30 years ago - science news in brief

    Hurricanes gradually become more intense, a characteristic of some of the most dangerous ones. New research suggests that this phenomenon is occurring faster and stronger than it did 30 years ago. The most recent hurricanes, for example, Harvey, Irma, and Jose intensified by around 21kph (13 mph) in less than 24 hours, compared to around 7 kmh (4.3 mph) 30 years ago. One of the main reasons for this is a change in temperatures of the waters in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Geophysical Research Letters


    Tourism, especially aviation, contributes for 10% to the emission of greenhouse gases that has not been taken into account in the Paris Agreement
    The carbon footprint of tourism - earth science news

    New research has found that tourism accounts for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and with expected increase of wealth in emerging economies (China, India), this is expected to rise further in the coming years. Emissions are in the first place caused by aviation, but also by the production of souvenirs and the likes. Aviation has not been considered for the Paris Agreements that aim to keep climate change within limits. Ironically, some of the places that attract many tourists are also the ones that suffer most from climate changes, such as the Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef that suffer from rising sea water levels and temperatures.

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Nature Climate Change


    Researchers have completed the third search for the secret chamber hidden in Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb
    The secret chamber in Tutankhamun's tomb does not exist - short science news archeology

    Three years ago, the search for a secret room in Tutankhamun's tomb began. It was hypothesized that the burial place of Queen Nefertiti is hidden in such a secret place. After two previous tests, a third one using radar investigation was just completed. Unfortunately, the research didn’t find any secret chamber. The walls of the tomb do not contain any void spaces that could be considered a room. This is the most comprehensive study of the secret chamber inside the tomb and the Egyptian officials have received the results of the study.

    Read the full story: National Geographic


    Rhinoceros fell prey to early humans as long as 700.000 years ago
    Rhinoceros slaughtered 700.000 years ago discovered in the Philippines - prehistoric science news

    A spectacular find in the Philippines of a complete rhinoceros skeleton with clear marks of having been hunted radically changes our view of prehistoric human colonization of South East Asian islands. The skeleton and other artifacts (stone tools, other fossils) could be dated back to 700.000 years ago, indicating that hominins lived in the Philippines hundreds of thousands of year earlier than had been thought. Scientists believe that the Philippines were sort of a hub for spreading across South East Asia, giving rise to Homo floresiensis in Indonesia.

    Read the full story: University of Wollongong Australia
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Marine life needs oxygen to survive
    Gulf of Oman is suffocating - earth science news

    Using underwater robots, scientists have collected a wealth of data on oxygen levels and transport in the Gulf of Oman. The results are shocking: there is a “dead zone” essentially without oxygen in an area that is bigger than Scotland, with life squeezed into a water layer close to the surface. With increasing global temperatures, it is expected that the dead zone will expand further, as warm water can contain less oxygen than cold water, with negative influences on marine life and human fisheries activities, researchers say.

    Read the full story: University of East Anglia
    Scientific publication: Geophysical Research Letters


    Using ammonia as an energy source could decrease our carbon footprint
    Ammonia as a source of energy could decrease the carbon footprint - short science articles

    Ammonia is used as an alternative to gasoline and light oil in thermal power generation and industrial furnances. However, it is difficult to burn and as a by-product produces harmful nitrogen oxides during combustion. Now, researchers have successfully developed a new catalyst which burns ammonia at a low temperature. When used for combustion, researchers found that it selectively produced nitrogen and also did not change in structure even at high temperatures.
    Since the cost of production of this new catalyst is very low, it could very well pave the way for decreasing the carbon footprint.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Journal of Catalysis


    Some corals are heat-resilient and might survive increasing ocean temperatures
    Finally some good news for heat-stressed corals - earth science news

    New research has shown that some corals are more resilient to heat stress than others. Detailed analyses of field data collected at 118 locations revealed that reef locations with large temperature changes during the day were essentially without severe bleaching. The study shows that within each reef there are smaller zones with different conditions, that go unnoticed by satellite imaging that is usually used to monitor reef health. The occurrence of heat-resilient corals can now be incorporated into models to predict how the reefs will develop with increasing ocean temperatures.

    Read the full story: University of California – Irvine
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Wave-driven flooding and overwash on Roi-Namur Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Image: Peter Swarzenski, U.S. Geological Survey
    A paradise, but you have to hurry if you want to visit - earth science news

    With rising sea levels and increased sea water floodings, low-lying atolls will become inhabitable in a few decades. This is not only due to damage to infrastructure, but mainly because of fresh water sources becoming non-potable, a new study shows. The only fresh water source on atolls is rain, but rain water sunk into the soil will become contaminated with salt water from the ocean. Thus, the increased incidence of sea water floodings threatens human sustainability on atoll islands, probably already in the mid-21st century.

    Read the full story: US Geological Survey
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Ground water levels will drop by 35 mm, severly impacting agriculture
    Climate change will lead to more drought in Europe - Earth science news

    Scientists have modelled the effects of climate change on periods of droughts in Europe, that will last longer and cover a larger area as a function of temperature rise. A temperature rise of 3 °C until the year 2100 will double the area that will experience serious droughts, while a rise of 1.5 °C (as stated in the Paris Agreements) will limit the expansion of arid areas. Scientists estimate that by the end of the century, no less than 400 billion European will have to face serious drought, especially in Mediterranean countries, as a consequence of lowering of ground water levels by 35 mm.

    Read the full story: Utrecht University
    Scientific publication: Nature Climate Change


    Big mammals were the favorite prey of our hunting ancestors
    Ancient humans hunted big mammals to extinction already 125,000 years ago - earth science news

    By analysing fossil and geological records, researchers found that the largest mammals (mammoths, sloths, and saber-toothed cats) disappeared much faster than smaller species in Africa, already 125,000 years ago. By that time, the average size of African mammals had decreased by 50%, and when humans moved out of Africa, extinction of the largest mammals began in newly colonised territories. The researchers did not find evidence of climate changes as the driving force of mass extinction of large mammals, as the large and small species are equally vulnerable to temperature shifts.

    Read the full story: University of Nebraska – Lincoln
    Scientific publication: Science


    Global warming causes Antarctic ice to melt and increases sea levels
    Antarctic’s ice shelves melting from above and below - Earth science news

    Antarctica’s ice shelves are not only melting from above, but also from below, a new study reports. Glacial meltwater (following melting from above) makes the ocean’s surface less salt and more buoyant, so that water layers do not mix, and the atmospheric cold of Antarctica does not reach deep water layers. The deep water retains its heat, and causes meltdown of the ice sheets from below. This leads to more melting water entering the ocean, with increasingly more ice melting in this positive feedback mechanism. Combined with altered water currents that may brake up the ice shelves, inducing further melting, these observations indicate that the process of sea water levels rising due to global warming has already started.

    Read the full story: University of Tasmania
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Dead coral destroyed by coral bleaching as a consquence of high temperatures
    Global warming has transformed the Great Barrier Reef … for ever - Earth science news

    The two back-to-back heatwaves in 2016 and 2017 have killed close to half of the Great Barrier Reef corals in shallow water habitats, while other, more resistant, coral species have survived or may recover. Scientists mapped the geographical pattern of heat exposure from satellites, and measured coral reef survival to be able to link temperature with coral health. The coral changes are permanent, and researchers believe that the Great Barrier Reef will not return to a state in which it can sustain its ecosystem. To save the remain corals and the part of the reef that is still untouched (the southern third), drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emission are needed, researchers say.

    Read the full story: Arc Centre of Excellence – Coral Reef Studies
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Humans can adapt to changing climates by ingenuity and cooperation, then and now
    Survival in the face of climate change: past and present - earth science news

    Our ancestors have survived the climate changes as a consequence of heavy volcanic activity in Italy some 40.000 years ago by ingenuity and trading, a new archaeology study reports. Making new tools and maintaining social contacts with humans living hundreds of kilometres away have made it possible to adapt to the changed environmental conditions. Thus, volcanic activity did not bring homo sapiens in Italy to the verge of extinction, as previously thought, and cooperation between us humans today may help adapting to the ongoing climate changes, researchers argue.

    Read the full story: Université de Montréal
    Scientific publication: Journal of Quaternary Science


    Ocean circulation pretty weak right now. Credit: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001
    Ocean circulation weakest in 1500 years - might lead to rapid sea level rises - short science news and articles

    Circulation of the Atlantic ocean plays an important role in regulating global temperature. This system of motion of deep-water circulation referred to as the Global Ocean Conveyor Belt sends warm waters to North Atlantic and warms up Western Europe and the cooler water sinks and travels to the Antartica. But as the North Atlantic began to warm up, ice sheets in the Arctic began to melt leading to release of freshwater into the Atlantic ocean. Such huge influx of diluted water made it lighter to sink down which slowed down the flow of cold waters to the Antartica. This has exacerbated in the last 150 years and is at its weakest in 1500 years currently. With global warming, these could worsen leading to a rapid rise in sea levels.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Nature


    A complex of hypersaline lakes was discovered hidden under the arctic ice in Canada
    Unknown super-salty lakes discovered under ice in Canada - short science news - Earth news

    After analyzing radar data, scientists made an unexpected discovery: they found two new lakes under the ice caps of the Canadian Arctic. Located beneath 550 to 750 metres (1804 – 2460 feet) of ice, they have a high concentration of salts which allowed the water to stay liquid despite the negative temperatures. These are the first lakes of their kind to be discovered in the Canadian Arctic. Analyzing the microorganisms living in this extreme environment may help scientists understand how alien life could develop on icy extraterrestrial worlds like Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Juvenile fish swimming around a coral - could they still find it when CO2 levels become too high?
    Baby fish on the wrong track to find shelter in future acidified oceans - earth news

    Fish hatchlings orient themselves in the ocean by sound, but when researchers exposed them to acidified water, they were repelled by sounds that they are normally attracted by, and instead turned towards sounds that come from unsuitable habitats for survival, or to irrelevant sounds. Acidification of the oceans, caused by high atmospheric CO2 levels, will thus negatively impact fish behaviour and survival, and might also influence commercial and recreational fisheries.

    Read the full story: University of Adelaide
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Plastic soup killed a male sperm whale
    Sperm whale with 29 kilos of waste washed ashore in Spain - earth news

    Plastics and other debris in the oceans (the plastic soup that we reported about before) are dangerous for marine life. To illustrate this, a male sperm whale that washed up dead at the end of February in Spain contained no less than 29 kilos of waste in his stomach and intestines, including plastic bags, pieces of nets and ropes. The sperm whale has not been able to excrete the accumulated debris, causing inflammation in the abdomen, and eventually death. 

    Read the full story: Region de Murcia (in Spanish)


    The ecosystem of even the biggest High Arctic lake in the world changes completely due to global warming
    Warming up only 1 °C, and even the largest High Arctic lake is ice-free - short science news earth

    A rise of 1 °C of atmospheric temperature around Lake Hazen in Arctic Canada has changed the ecology of the lake completely, researchers found. With melting glacier water, more sediments entered the lake, affecting light penetration into the water and with that also biological activity. The lake was in the summer of 2017 iceless for the first time. Researchers are surprised to see a large lake changing so rapidly, as it was assumed that big water bodies are resistant to temperature changes for a long time.

    Read the full story: University of Alberta
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


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