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Earth might be experiencing 7th mass extinction, not 6th

Earth is currently in the midst of a mass extinction, losing thousands of species each year. New research suggests environmental changes caused the first such event in history, which occurred millions of years earlier than scientists previously realized. Read more.
By Jules Bernstein | | Paleontology, Paleobiology, Paleoecology
Ancient sea creature roaming sea floor

Tiniest Ever Ancient Seawater Pockets Revealed

Trapped for millennia, the tiniest liquid remnants of an ancient inland sea have now been revealed. The surprising discovery of seawater sealed in what is now North America for 390 million years opens up a new avenue for understanding how oceans change and adapt with changing climate. Read more.
By Jules Bernstein | | Sedimentary Geochemistry & Organic Geochemistry
The sun and planet in space

Discovery could dramatically narrow search for space creatures

An Earth-like planet orbiting an M dwarf — the most common type of star in the universe — appears to have no atmosphere at all. This discovery could cause a major shift in the search for life on other planets. Read more.
By Jules Bernstein | | Astrobiology
Broccoli in front of purple background

Broccoli gas: a better way to find life in space

"Broccoli, along with other plants and microorganisms, emit gases to help them expel toxins. Scientists believe these gases could provide compelling evidence of life on other planets. These types of gases are made when organisms add a carbon and three hydrogen atoms to an undesirable chemical element. This process, called methylation, can turn potential toxins...
By Jules Bernstein | | Astrobiology
Solar System and planets

Laughing gas in space could mean life

"Scientists at UC Riverside are suggesting something is missing from the typical roster of chemicals that astrobiologists use to search for life on planets around other stars — laughing gas. Chemical compounds in a planet’s atmosphere that could indicate life, called biosignatures, typically include gases found in abundance in Earth’s atmosphere today." Read more.
By Jules Bernstein | | Astrobiology
Crack in the earth

Massive Mexican earthquakes warn Southern Californians

"A pair of massive earthquakes in Mexico — 7.6 on Sept. 19 and 6.8 on Sept. 22 — have some in Southern California on edge, wondering whether the Golden State is next. Here, UC Riverside seismologist Abhijit Ghosh weighs in on the likelihood of more shakers, and how to prepare for them. Ghosh is an...
By Jules Bernstein | | Earthquakes & Geophysics

Could more of Earth’s surface host life?

"Of all known planets, Earth is as friendly to life as any planet could possibly be — or is it? If Jupiter’s orbit changes, a new study shows Earth could be more hospitable than it is today. When a planet has a perfectly circular orbit around its star, the distance between the star and the...
By Jules Bernstein | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science
deep sea medusa found in Alaska. Credit: Hidden Ocean 2005

Sleeping giant could end deep ocean life

"A previously overlooked factor — the position of continents — helps fill Earth’s oceans with life-supporting oxygen. Continental movement could ultimately have the opposite effect, killing most deep ocean creatures. 'Continental drift seems so slow, like nothing drastic could come from it, but when the ocean is primed, even a seemingly tiny event could trigger...
By Jules Bernstein | | Global Climate & Environmental Change

Why Jupiter doesn’t have rings like Saturn

"Because it’s bigger, Jupiter ought to have larger, more spectacular rings than Saturn has. But new UC Riverside research shows Jupiter’s massive moons prevent that vision from lighting up the night sky. “It’s long bothered me why Jupiter doesn’t have even more amazing rings that would put Saturn’s to shame,” said UCR astrophysicist Stephen Kane...
By Jules Bernstein | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Ancient microbes may help us find extraterrestrial life forms

"Using light-capturing proteins in living microbes, scientists have reconstructed what life was like for some of Earth’s earliest organisms. These efforts could help us recognize signs of life on other planets, whose atmospheres may more closely resemble our pre-oxygen planet. The earliest living things, including bacteria and single-celled organisms called archaea, inhabited a primarily oceanic...
| Astrobiology

Remembering ‘isotope queen’ Marilyn Fogel, pioneering scientist, beloved mentor

"Marilyn Fogel, endowed geoecology professor at UC Riverside, died on May 11 at her home in Mariposa, Calif. She was 69. She pioneered the use of different forms of the same chemical element, called isotopes, to understand the life history of organisms, both modern and ancient. In so doing, she helped develop biogeochemistry as a...

Lesser known ozone layer’s outsized role in planet warming

"New research has identified a lesser-known form of ozone playing a big role in heating the Southern Ocean — one of Earth’s main cooling systems. Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen atoms. Many studies have described ozone in the stratosphere, and its role in shielding people from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. Closer...

Why Venus rotates, slowly, despite sun’s powerful grip

"If not for the soupy, fast-moving atmosphere on Venus, Earth’s sister planet would likely not rotate. Instead, Venus would be locked in place, always facing the sun the way the same side of the moon always faces Earth. The gravity of a large object in space can keep a smaller object from spinning, a phenomenon...

Can the Salton Sea geothermal field prevent the coming lithium shortage?

University of California, Riverside scientists will join a first-of-its-kind effort to map out California’s so-called “Lithium Valley,” and learn whether it can meet America’s urgent demand for lithium in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. Lithium is required for making electric vehicle batteries and other devices that store and use electricity. As the world transitions away...
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Petrology, Geochemistry, Geothermics

Paleontology Professor Mary Droser wins National Academy of Sciences medal

For transforming our understanding of the earliest animals on Earth, UC Riverside Professor Mary Droser has won the National Academy of Sciences’ prestigious Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal. The medal, part of the academy’s Award in Early Earth and Life Sciences, is an honor bestowed on only one scientist in the world every eight years. It...
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Paleontology, Paleobiology, Paleoecology

Unusual team finds gigantic planet hidden in plain sight

A UC Riverside astronomer and a group of eagle-eyed citizen scientists have discovered a giant gas planet hidden from view by typical stargazing tools.
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science

How the Webb telescope could ultimately help protect Earth

The James Webb Space Telescope, the most complex and expensive space laboratory ever created, is less than two weeks away from its ultimate destination a million miles from Earth. Once it arrives, it will send information about parts of space and time never seen before. It will also send previously unattainable information about parts of...
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Exoplanets and Planetary Science

Deadliest period in Earth’s history was also the stinkiest

Tiny microbes belching toxic gas helped cause — and prolong — the biggest mass extinction in Earth’s history, a new study suggests.
By JULES BERNSTEIN | | Environmental Dynamics and GeoEcology

Extraterrestrial objects likely delayed complex life on Earth

"Bombardment of Earth’s surface by asteroids six or more miles long likely delayed the accumulation of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere."

Geology professor joins elite class of American Geophysical Union fellows

"Geology Professor Andy Ridgwell has been named a 2021 fellow of the American Geophysical Union, or AGU, one of the most significant honors a scientist in earth sciences can receive. AGU is a large international society dedicated to promoting Earth and space science. It elects fewer than 0.1% of its 60,000 members each year to...
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