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Ancient ocean slowdown warns of future climate chaos

When it comes to the ocean’s response to global warming, we’re not in entirely uncharted waters. A UC Riverside study shows that episodes of extreme heat in Earth’s past caused the exchange of waters from the surface to the deep ocean to decline. This system has been described as the "global conveyer belt," because it...
By Jules Bernstein |

Improving air quality increases forest fires

If we want cleaner air, fewer forest fires, and less severe climate change, a new UC Riverside study shows we must reduce aerosol pollution and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide at the same time. The study found that boreal forests in the northern hemisphere are particularly vulnerable to negative effects of cleaning up aerosol pollution...
By Jules Bernstein |

International planet hunters unveil massive catalog of strange worlds

While thousands of planets have been discovered around other stars, relatively little is known about them. A NASA catalog featuring 126 exotic, newly discovered worlds includes detailed measurements that allow for comparisons with our own solar system. The catalog details a fascinating mix of planet types beyond our solar system, from rare worlds with extreme...
By Jules Bernstein |
Planet Glows with Molten Lava

Squeezed by neighbors, planet glows with molten lava

UC Riverside astrophysicist Stephen Kane had to double check his calculations. He wasn’t sure the planet he was studying could be as extreme as it seemed. Kane never expected to learn that a planet in this faraway star system is covered with so many active volcanoes that seen from a distance it would take on...
By Jules Bernstein |

Webb telescope probably didn’t find life on an exoplanet — yet

Recent reports of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope finding signs of life on a distant planet understandably sparked excitement. A new study challenges this finding, but also outlines how the telescope might verify the presence of the life-produced gas. The UC Riverside study , published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, may be a disappointment to...
By Jules Bernstein |

To find life in the universe, look to deadly Venus

Despite surface temperatures hot enough to melt lead, lava-spewing volcanoes, and puffy clouds of sulfuric acid, uninhabitable Venus offers vital lessons about the potential for life on other planets, a new paper argues. “We often assume that Earth is the model of habitability, but if you consider this planet in isolation, we don’t know where...
By Jules Bernstein |

CO2 worsens wildfires by helping plants grow

By fueling the growth of plants that become kindling, carbon dioxide is driving an increase in the severity and frequency of wildfires, according to a UC Riverside study. The worldwide surge in wildfires over the past decade is often attributed to the hotter, drier conditions of climate change. However, the study found that the effect...
By Jules Bernstein |

An earthquake in New Jersey?

This morning, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck in New Jersey, sending tremors throughout the region. People in places entirely unused to shaking, including New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, could feel it. Californians with relatives on the East Coast spent the morning scratching their heads. University of California, Riverside seismologist Abhijit Ghosh, who studies earthquake...
By Jules Bernstein |

Fledgling planets discovered around a newly formed star

With an arsenal of advanced technology, scientists have found a multi-planet star system that provides a rare insight into the way planets form and behave around a young star. TOI-1136 is a dwarf star in the Milky Way galaxy more than 270 light years from Earth, which is considered nearby, as the Milky Way is...
By Jules Bernstein |

Trilobites rise from the ashes to reveal ancient map

Ten newly discovered species of trilobites, hidden for 490 million years in a little-studied part of Thailand, could be the missing pieces in an intricate puzzle of ancient world geography. Trilobites are extinct sea creatures with half-moon-shaped heads that breathed through their legs. A 100-page monograph in the British journal offers great detail about the...
By Jules Bernstein |

Giant planets cast a deadly pall

Giant gas planets can be agents of chaos, ensuring nothing lives on their Earth-like neighbors around other stars. New studies show, in some planetary systems, the giants tend to kick smaller planets out of orbit and wreak havoc on their climates. Jupiter, by far the biggest planet in our solar system, plays an important protective...
By Jules Bernstein |

Study ties fracking to another type of shaking

New research confirms fracking causes slow, small earthquakes or tremors, whose origin was previously a mystery to scientists. The tremors are produced by the same processes that could create large, damaging earthquakes. Fracking is the high-pressure injection of fluids underground to extract oil and natural gas. Though it is typically done with wastewater, this study...
By Jules Bernstein |

The trilobites’ guide to surviving environmental change

Scientists have worked out how one unusual species of trilobite — an ancient, sea-dwelling relative of spiders and lobsters — was able to defend itself against predators and survive a bumpy ride as Earth’s oxygen levels fluctuated. The seas were filled with trilobites for nearly 300 million years starting in the Cambrian Period, some 520...
By Jules Bernstein |

Study advances understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate change

Anthropogenic aerosols — aerosols originating from human activity — and greenhouse gases, or GHGs, have helped modulate the storage and distribution of heat in oceans since the industrial age. Isolating and quantifying the effects of both forcers using coupled climate model simulations, a University of California, Riverside-led team has found that anthropogenic aerosols and GHGs...
By Iqbal Pittalwala |

Are Earth and Venus the only volcanic planets? Not anymore.

Imagine an Earth-sized planet that’s not at all Earth-like. Half this world is locked in permanent daytime, the other half in permanent night, and it’s carpeted with active volcanoes. Astronomers have discovered that planet. The planet, named LP 791-18d, orbits a small red dwarf star about 90 light years away. Volcanic activity makes the discovery...
By Jules Bernstein |

Earth’s first animals had particular taste in real estate

Even without body parts that allowed for movement, new research shows — for the first time — that some of Earth’s earliest animals managed to be picky about where they lived. These creatures from the Ediacaran Period, roughly 550 million years ago, are strangely shaped soft-bodied animals that lived in the sea. Researchers have long...
By Jules Bernstein |
Man inspecting fossils

Australian fossil goldmine opens permanently

Land where a UC Riverside paleontology professor unearthed whole communities of Earth’s oldest animals is opening today to the public as a new national park in the Australian Outback. Nilpena Ediacara National Park harbors the richest collection on Earth of preserved animal species from the Ediacaran era, around 550 million years ago. Some of the...
By Jules Bernstein | | Paleontology, Paleobiology, Paleoecology

Surprise effect: Methane cools even as it heats

Most climate models do not yet account for a new UC Riverside discovery: methane traps a great deal of heat in Earth’s atmosphere, but also creates cooling clouds that offset 30% of the heat. Read More

Hunting Venus 2.0: Scientists sharpen their sights

With the first paper compiling all known information about planets like Venus beyond our solar system, scientists are the closest they’ve ever been to finding an analog of Earth’s “twin.” Read More
By Jules Bernstein |

The planet that could end life on Earth

A terrestrial planet hovering between Mars and Jupiter would be able to push Earth out of the solar system and wipe out life on this planet, according to a UC Riverside experiment. Read More
By Jules Bernstein |
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