Biosphere

  • A Volcanic Dinosaur Debate
    Scientists can recite a long list of the devastating environmental consequences of a large meteorite impact, but they cannot prove these effects have led to the simultaneous loss of life around the globe.
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  • Adapting to Near-Extinctions
    Why were rates of extinction so low for many of the major groups of marine life during one of the greatest ice ages of them all, which occurred from about 330 million to 290 million years ago, late in the Paleozoic Era.
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  • World in a Water Drop
    Ecologists know that when it comes to habitats, size matters, and now a new study finds that contrary to earlier beliefs, that maxim holds true right down to the tiny plants at the bottom of many oceanic and freshwater food chains.
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  • Hyperventilating Grasshoppers
    How the Earth adapted to life has much to do with the generation of a stable oxygen atmosphere. But how life adapted to Earth often hinges on whether oxygen is a poison. New research on insect oxygen use highlights the novel ways that life has
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  • Pulling the Trigger on the Great Dying
    A catastrophe 250 million years ago nearly extinguished life on Earth. Did the death blow come from space, or did the Earth turn from hospitable to poisonous on its own accord?
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  • Space to Move
    One of the great unknowns in the climate change debate is the effect of regional alterations on individual species. Connie Millar, a geneticist from the Pacific Southwest Research Station, discusses the importance of allowing a species to move, even as space becomes more precious and
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  • Putting Earth in Rehab
    How the earth might recover from a mass extinction is as important as what might have caused the catastrophe in the first place. Penn State astrobiologists are looking at species immigration as one way for the Earth to recover its biodiversity.
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  • Dinosaur Variety Couldn’t Save Them
    Mass extinctions and climate change have shaped the direction of evolution, but are variety and diversity enough of a hedge against sudden change.
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  • Counting Nemo
    Among big numbers few can outclass counting all the fish in the sea. A large international census looks to take a census of biodiversity starting with any changes in the Arctic Ocean.
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  • SkyNet Autonomy
    Detecting changes in the biosphere from orbiting satellites can involve tedious sifting through stacks of digital images. Letting a satellite screen the incoming pictures may hold promise for detecting autonomously how the Earth is changing.
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  • Dinosaur Era Ended Instantly
    The latest research findings corroborate evidence that the dinosaurs died almost instantaneously, and not, as some claim, survived the global impact disaster for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years.
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  • Surviving With – and Without – Oxygen
    Without oxygen, animal life on Earth would not be possible. But Earth's atmosphere wasn't always rich in oxygen. In fact, to early life, oxygen was a deadly poison. So where did the oxygen come from? And how did life survive the crisis that its arrival
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  • Biosphere Under the Glass
    In Oracle, Arizona, the Biosphere 2 project became the world's largest closed ecosystem. Project managers have now opened its interior to visitors. Among the diverse land, water and air environments enclosed under glass, most of the planet's major biomes are represented to view.
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  • Life in the Clouds
    The 1997 hurricane Nora swept over Western United States delivered surprising evidence of sea salt and microscopic marine life as far inland as Oklahoma. Research aircraft have discovered plankton in high cirrus clouds, which while helping understand space observations, also suggests microbial transport paths.
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  • Earthly Endgames
    If Earth's place and position have no better observer than an astronomer, then its future has no better forecasters than a paleontologist and astronomer familiar with how we got here. Paleontologist Peter Ward and astronomer Donald Brownlee's new book shows how astrobiology will change
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