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Environment - New Scientist

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Fear and trembling, from The Great Quake to Quakeland

Detail or range? Two new books offer very different approaches to the fascinating and violent world of earthquake science

A rushed response to Hurricane Irma could cause bigger disasters

We must prepare for the bigger storms to come,  but if planners get it wrong, their efforts to protect people could make future mega-disasters even worse

Christmas Island’s only echolocating bat has gone extinct

The Christmas Island pipistrelle is no more, and the world's largest antelope is at risk, according to the latest update to the Red List of Threatened Species

Mysterious lights in the sky seen after Mexico’s huge earthquake

Magnitude isn’t the only demonstration of an earthquake’s power. For centuries, mysterious lights have popped up in the wake of strong quakes

The hottest place ever recorded on Earth’s surface was 2370°C

When a rock from space crashed to ground 38 million years ago, it briefly heated the impact zone to 2370°C, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth’s crust

Air pollution changes what bugs colonise our airways

Higher levels of pollutants in the air correlate with reduced diversity of bacteria in our nose, hinting at a possible mechanism for why pollution causes disease

Extreme wildfires in the US could lead to long-term lung damage

This year’s exceptional wildfire season could drag on until December, and the resulting air pollution poses a serious risk to people’s health

The Caribbean will be recovering from Hurricane Irma for years

Florida escaped the worst of hurricane Irma, but islands like Puerto Rico and Cuba were hit hard – and they face a hard road back to prosperity

Stripy ponds in the Utah desert help green the bone-dry land

Multicoloured patchwork ponds in this desert play a key part in tapping sources of potassium chloride, a vital fertiliser

Florida suffers coast-to-coast battering by Hurricane Irma

After striking the Caribbean islands and leaving several close to uninhabitable, Hurricane Irma has made landfall in Florida and caused untold damage

Gel-like ice is the lightest form of water ever discovered

A type of simulated water ice has a molecular structure so sparse it’s like frozen candy floss, making it the lightest type of ice we’ve ever seen

Hurricane Irma tears across Caribbean leaving chaos in its wake

The tropical storm has left a trail of devastation across the region, reducing islands to wreckage and leaving at least 14 people dead

Mexico on tsunami alert after biggest earthquake in 85 years

The US Geological Survey reported the earthquake's magnitude as 8.1, making it the biggest earthquake in Mexico since 1932

Hurricane Irma’s epic size is being fuelled by global warming

The monster storm has the second strongest wind speeds ever recorded for an Atlantic hurricane, and its growth was fuelled by warming waters

Eight low-lying Pacific islands swallowed whole by rising seas

As sea levels have risen due to climate change, uninhabited islands in Micronesia have vanished beneath the waves - but some last longer than others

Europe’s last wildernesses are under threat – can we save them?

A glut of new dams and motorways in eastern and south-eastern Europe will bring prosperity, but could mean unique flora and fauna will soon be gone for good

Houston got rich on urban sprawl, and now it’s paying the price

Unfettered economic growth guaranteed Houston's vulnerability to a natural disaster that hit the poorest hardest, says analyst Owen Gaffney

Asteroid Florence buzzes Earth in closest fly-by since 1890

A 4.4-kilometre-wide space rock whizzed past Earth on its closest orbit in over a century. This asteroid won’t get this close again until after 2500

The cities in the firing line for the next Hurricane Harvey

Of five cities set to see the worst losses from flooding by 2050, three are in the US. Yet the country is unprepared for worsening weather brought by climate change

India floods: Apartment building collapses in Mumbai

A five-storey building has collapsed in the Indian city of Mumbai, following torrential monsoon rains that have also caused widespread floods

Explosions heard at flooded Texas chemical plant after hurricane

Two explosions and black smoke have been reported at the flooded Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, which has lost power and backup generators it needs to keep volatile chemicals refrigerated

‘Mother’ coral reefs are breathing life into their neighbours

Strong currents in the Red Sea are sweeping huge masses of larvae-rich sea water from one reef to the next

Brazil rejects bid to drill for oil near unique Amazon reef

Total has had its drilling licence turned down, with Brazil’s environment agency saying the French oil giant has failed to address the environmental risk of oil spills

Taking Earth’s pulse: How to predict eruptions from space

Our planet’s inner stirrings manifest as moving bulges on the surface. Now an eye in the sky is watching them to help predict disasters and save lives

The brothers who went missing on a glacier for almost 90 years

In March 1926, three brothers and a friend climbed up to a hut overlooking the Aletsch glacier in Switzerland. They were never seen again – until their bones were found in 2012

Texas may be just as vulnerable when next big hurricane hits

Houston is battling unprecedented floods from Hurricane Harvey – and yet Texas’s plans to protect itself from floods remain stalled

Large non-native species like donkeys can boost biodiversity

Many large animals are now living far outside of their native ranges, and that may actually be helping conservation

Secret lifestyle of the dodo revealed for the first time

A study of dodo bones has revealed how the legendary birds matured, bred and moulted, and explains discrepancies in sailors’ descriptions of them

We really can run the world on renewable energy – here’s how

Can the planet change over to 100 per cent clean and renewable energy fast enough to avoid extreme climate impacts? Yes it can, says Mark Jacobson

Wiping out a population of animals might help the species

Mass deaths might not be all bad, because local die-offs could help to ensure the survival of the species as a whole

The push for UK fracking may be 55 million years too late

Cuadrilla is pressing ahead with a project to drill for shale gas in Lancashire, but a geologist thinks plans for industrial-scale fracking may be doomed

Can a crowdsourced mega-forest offset Trump’s climate chaos?

It's an appealing idea, a vast forest to soak up the extra carbon released due to Trump's policies, but it may not be so easy in reality, says Olive Heffernan

Weird creatures are spreading polluting plastic through the sea

Plastic particles sink to the seabed after being eaten and excreted by animals called larvaceans, which could be why we see less floating plastic than expected

Back to the wild: How nature is reclaiming farmland

Farmland is shrinking for the first time on record thanks in part to consumer choices. What does this mean for the environment and the future of food?

There are almost 100 new volcanoes hiding under Antarctic ice

The 91 newly found volcanoes lurk beneath the vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet and could accelerate its demise

This year may be one of the worst ever for Atlantic hurricanes

Between 14 and 19 storms are predicted to sweep across the Atlantic from June to November this year, threatening the US and other countries

Fighting to breathe in the face of Canada’s wildfire emergency

British Columbia is facing its worst documented wildfire season in almost 60 years – Mika McKinnon went to the city of Kamloops to find out why

Farmland is in retreat. We should make the most of that

Now that more land globally is being revegetated than cleared, we need to figure out how to use this force for ecological good. But it won't be an easy sell

The BBC should stop giving unwarranted airtime to Nigel Lawson

The broadcaster had tough questions for Al Gore and then gave space to false claims of a prominent climate sceptic. This is a recipe for spreading misinformation

Mystery of missing tsunamis explained by geological model

Massive debris flows below the waves can trigger devastating tsunamis, but sometimes they generate the merest ripple – now we know why

Al Gore: The return of climate science’s preacher man

Climate denialism seems to loom large, but after 10 years delivering his message globally, Al Gore believes we’re on the road to salvation

Early humans may have seen a supervolcano explosion up close

Two ancient teeth found on Sumatra suggest early humans were there when the island’s supervolcano erupted 71,000 years ago

There is a good case to unleash job-killing AI on the high seas

Life on a container ship can be hellish, so maybe we shouldn't mourn the loss of these roles too much as the first crewless vessels take shape, says Paul Marks

Sea snakes are turning black in response to industrial pollution

Indo-Pacific sea snakes living in polluted waters near industrial areas have darker bodies – perhaps because pollutants bind better to their dark skin pigment

Largest ever dinosaur may have been as long as 7 elephants

Analysis of fossils from six Patagotitan mayorum dinosaurs suggests the animals may have weighed 62 tonnes and measured more than 35 metres from nose to tail

Americans already feeling effects of climate change, says report

A leaked report says evidence that humans are responsible for climate change is strong – but it remains to be seen how the Trump White House will react

Largest ever wildfire in Greenland seen burning from space

The blaze is the biggest ever detected by satellites – and a recent increase in fires in the region could well be a result of the rapid warming in the Arctic

Satellite shows clear-up operation after severe floods in China

The photo shows teachers cleaning the mud from a school sports ground and running track in Jilin province, north-east China – an area devastated by floods

Is our environmental future better than we thought?

Two possible visions of our future are competing for our attention: an Anthropocene desert of homogenised mongrels and a virtual supercontinent teeming with new species

NASA’s planetary protection officer will defend Mars, not Earth

A NASA job advert has made for excited headlines, but the agency isn’t hiring someone to protect us from aliens – it wants someone to protect alien microbes from us

Al Gore’s Inconvenient Sequel could just make climate rift worse

Perhaps the veteran Democrat should have stayed in the wings for the follow-up to hit documentary An Inconvenient Truth, suggests Adam Corner

Deforestation may soar now Colombian civil war is over

Now that the 52-year Colombian conflict that killed tens of thousands of people is over, the country's forests are once more under threat

Voyage to study Earth’s mostly submerged hidden continent begins

The research ship JOIDES Resolution is on its way to take samples from Zealandia, a continent that lies mostly below the waves

Quantum gravity detector will use atom clouds to survey for oil

A commercial device that uses quantum technology to detect subtle differences in gravity, should be able to detect coal, oil or pipes underground

Throwaway culture: The truth about recycling

We take it for granted that recycling is the best way to dispose of waste. But is that just greenwash? New Scientist sorts through the trash so that you can make up your mind

Taking back control must not mean a return to overfishing

The return of North Sea cod to sustainable status has been greeted with glee in the UK. We must not let Brexit jeopardise this success

Bringing our soil back to life with the latest in earth science

David Montgomery's Growing a Revolution says farming can save the soil and even address climate change – can his optimism be justified?

Robot spots signs of melted fuel at submerged Fukushima reactor

An underwater robot captured images believed to be the first signs of melted nuclear reactor fuel that sank after the plant’s 2011 failure

Yellowstone National Park hit by 1400 earthquakes in six weeks

A major quake swarm has hit Yellowstone National Park - but it’s unlikely to be a sign of an impending volcanic eruption, according to geologists

The great polar mystery: closing in on the truth

What happened when all 129 men in John Franklin’s Arctic expedition vanished in the late 1840s? We’re finally putting the pieces together

Australia to expand commercial fishing in marine sanctuaries

Fishing operations will be rolled out in Australia’s protected marine areas, in a move that could endanger fragile ecosystems

California climate case turns up the heat on fossil fuel giants

Coastal communities in the US state are suing oil, gas and coal giants for the cost of dealing with sea level rise. Expect more of this, says Sophie Marjanac

Earth’s underwater dunes help explain Venus’s weird surface

Some of the properties of wind and dust on Venus may be similar to those of water and sediment at the bottom of our oceans

Tanzanian volcano blast could destroy ancient hominin footprints

If Ol Doinyo Lengai erupts, iconic prints at Laetoli and another set at Engare Sero are at risk

Use waste rather than crops for biofuels, says UK report

Liquid biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions, but the focus should be on making them from wastes such as cooking oil, says major review

A massive iceberg just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf

A 5,800-square-kilometre iceberg weighing more than a trillion tonnes is one of the largest known, and will change the face of Antarctica forever

Uninhabitable Earth? In fact, it’s really hard to fry the planet

A controversial article says we’re heading for the worst-case warming scenarios. But while we can’t rule out extreme warming, it’s not our most likely future

Invisibility cloak makes solar panels work more efficiently

A new material that hides the metal grid on top of solar panels make them 9 per cent more efficient in lab tests

Melting ice may be making mountains collapse in Greenland

The collapse of the mountain which triggered a tsunami that destroyed an Arctic village last month may have been caused by climate change – and more may follow

It’s time we all burst our carbon bubbles

Distant financial elites aren't the only ones with investments in the fossil fuel industry – most people with a private pension or savings account do too

The ethics issue: Should we geoengineer the planet?

We only have one Earth. How far should we go in our attempts to save it from ourselves?

France plans to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040

The country’s environment minister has pledged to phase out coal by 2022, and end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 204  

How Aboriginal knowledge can help the world combat wildfires

Wildfires are on the increase across the globe as the climate changes. To gain control, we should learn how people in Australia have traditionally tamed them

Dams can lead the way to a better relationship with nature

We cannot restore the environment to a pristine state, but we can be better stewards of change. Making dams work for us and for nature is a good start

Demise of dinosaurs opened the doors to the age of tree frogs

Frogs leaped to take advantage of the global catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago

Why Morocco loves its meteorites

Why have more space rocks been recovered in Morocco than in other countries of a similar size? It’s a great question for the world’s Asteroid Day  

Fighting climate change could trigger a massive financial crash

The risks of global warming go far beyond the physical. If we don’t start preparing for the transition to a low-carbon economy we’re in for an incredibly bumpy ride

Wildfires’ ‘killer haze’ tracked with Twitter as it spreads

The Indonesian government is using a tool that mines social media chatter to track deadly smog and monitor the evacuation of local people

Open the floodgates: Designer deluges could save dammed rivers

Dams provide vital green power but destroy precious river ecosystems. Could unleashing artificial floods give us the best of both worlds?

Nature and human nature intersect in a crowdsourced exhibition

At the Wellcome Collection's mischievous exhibition of "modern nature", author Boyd Tonkin detects an abiding respect for the non-human world

Ozone layer recovery will be delayed by chemical leaks

Leaks of a common chemical used in paints and for manufacturing are harming the ozone layer and could delay recovery of the ozone hole until 2095

The death of King Coal hints we are at a climate turning point

Coal use is dying out and wind and solar energy are booming. This means the world is changing around you despite inaction by backward-looking politicians

More killer hail coming unless we curb global warming

Extreme hail storms can be a threat to life and property. If we carry on polluting the planet we'll have to face more of them, warns physicist Raymond Pierrehumbert

Living with climate change: Convincing the sceptics

Global warming is real, and global warming is here. Whether old-school conservative or free-market radical, here's how to convince the doubters of the facts

Living with climate change: You can make a difference

With climate change, individual behaviour does matter. Here's how to influence the future through how you travel, where you get your electricity and what you eat

Living with climate change: How to cope in a warmer world

Feeding and housing a growing human population when seas are rising and extreme weather hits will be hard – but manageable if we take the right decisions now

Trump’s wise monkey environment plan: See no evil, hear no evil

If you don't measure the bad stuff, you don't have to do anything about it. That looks like the Trump philosophy, say Gretchen Goldman and Andrew Rosenberg

Italy’s drying lakes imperil rare shrimp species found only here

The survival of ancient and unique species thriving in mountain lakes in central Italy have been threatened by a double whammy of a quake and climate change

Living with climate change: Turning the corner

In 2016 for the third year greenhouse gas emissions were almost static, while the world's economy grew – showing it is possible to go green and prosper

Oil-exploration airguns punch 2-kilometre-wide holes in plankton

The seismic airguns used to look for undersea oil don’t just disrupt marine mammals, their shock waves also kill and disperse the plankton population

Living with climate change: Can we limit global warming to 2°C?

Current commitments from the world's nations mean we will overshoot the 2°C target agreed in Paris. More radical strategies are needed – and we need to work on them now

Living with climate change: What’s the worst that can happen?

If Earth reaches dangerous tipping points like the Antarctic glaciers melting, we'll have to engineer our way out of the crisis. It's difficult to gauge how far we are from either of those things

Bizarre new deep-sea creatures discovered off Australian coast

Faceless fish, giant sea spiders, and other strange species have been found 4-km-deep off the east coast of Australia

Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal

The greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere are already changing Earth's weather, ecosystems and even its tilt. Here's how

Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law

A climate plan backed by an overwhelming majority in parliament makes Sweden the first country to significantly upgrade its target since the Paris agreement

Satellite’s eye view reveals retreating glaciers in the Andes

In Patagonia, the largest icefields in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica are rapidly shrinking

World’s largest annual wildlife drowning boosts river ecosystem

Thousands of wildebeest drown as they cross the Mara river in Kenya on their yearly migration – creating a boon for the river’s ecosystem

Strange ice lolly icicles seen floating in clouds above the UK

Tiny icicles shaped like lollipops can form and exist in clouds – and may even affect the weather

UK’s hunger for prawns is killing thousands of turtles a year  

Up to 29,000 marine turtles are being killed by nets used to catch tropical prawns for sale in the EU, predominantly in the UK, a report suggests  

Billion-dollar dams are making water shortages, not solving them

Dams are mitigating climate change impacts for certain populations, but the overall effect of such interventions may be increased drought