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Environment - New Scientist

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Dinosaur extinction lines up closely with timing of volcanic eruptions

Many people assume an asteroid triggered the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs, but geologists say massive volcanic eruptions occurred at the same time

Coastal catastrophe looms larger as sea level forecasts creep upwards

Sea level rise estimates are moving upwards. There could be at least a 1.3 metre rise by 2100, which would spell disaster for coastal communities

How Earth's changing ecosystems may have driven human evolution

The most detailed ever look at Earth's prehistoric climate suggests many habitats changed in the past 800,000 years – and this may be why we evolved big brains

From the archives: Does dowsing really help you find water?

The ancient practice of water divining is still used across the world to locate water sources. Forty years ago, we wondered whether it might actually work

How the stunning Earthrise became the world’s most famous photograph

On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 became the first crewed spacecraft to circle the moon. Emerging from its dark side, one astronaut reached for his camera

Dan Holdsworth captures a vanishing landscape in a point-cloud

Armed with drones, helicopters and military-grade software, a British photographer has developed a new way to remember glaciers

Fossil blubber shows ichthyosaurs were warm blooded reptiles

A fossil so well preserved that its skin is still flexible is revealing much more about the marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs that swam in the sea during the age of dinosaurs

North Pole and Polar Worlds review – why Inuit don't worry about north

Exciting tales of heroic polar explorers make a great exhibition, but a book on the North Pole shows that times are too changed not to seek deeper narratives

Shallow Mexican seabed traps tsunamis so they strike land repeatedly

A tsunami kept pinging back and forth for three days after being triggered by the 8 September 2017 Mexico earthquake, posing even more risk to human life

Anthropocene review – tough film makes case for human-created epoch

From Kenyan children picking through plastic waste to swathes of Germany laid waste for coal mining, a film shows why we are in a new, human-created epoch

Timefulness review – our impulsive and pugnacious age needs geology

If you want to save Earth, argues a new book, quit sitting around in the present hoping for the best and learn to think really long term, like a geologist

Huge 30-kilometre wide meteorite crater found under Greenland glacier

Radar surveys have revealed a crater left when a kilometre-wide asteroid hit Greenland – and the impact could explain a climate mystery

Why Earth's water could be older than Earth itself

How did water survive Earth's searingly hot birth? A radical new answer turns planetary history on its head – and could revolutionise the search for alien life

Quakes prompt UK fracking operations to pause several times

A rash of recent earthquakes in Lancashire, UK has prompted fracking operations to halt temporarily on six separate occasions

Weird rocks in Australia are a missing piece of the Grand Canyon

Some rocks in Tasmania, Australia, look out of place. Now an analysis suggests they were once part of the rocks that form the Grand Canyon in the US

Supercharged geothermal energy could power the planet

The next generation of geothermal plants will unlock more of Earth's bountiful, underground energy and could allow the technology to finally fulfil its promise

Huge fossil-like scars of the Anthropocene mark walls of Russian mine

Vast machines have left the subterranean world of a potash mine in the Urals with ammonite-like whorls, photographed for a project to highlight lasting human impacts on the planet.

Falling rocks can explode so hard that only nuclear weapons beat them

If big rocks fall far enough they can explode with more energy than any non-nuclear bomb – and the ensuing shockwave can snap large trees half a kilometre away

Front-runner in Brazil’s election wants to pull out of climate treaty

The far-right winner of the first round of Brazil's presidential election wants to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and cut down the Amazon rainforest

Dramatic pictures of the storm damage from Florence and Mangkhut

Extreme storms Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut have caused destruction and taken lives across the globe this week, forcing millions to evacuate their homes

Earliest known animal was a half-billion-year-old underwater blob

The weird ‘Ediacaran’ fossils have stumped scientists for decades - now fatty molecules found inside some of them confirm they are the most ancient animals we know

Photography: heating up the climate campaign

At Unseen Amsterdam, striking images of a melting glacier are stirring visitors to action

Global warming is melting glaciers and that means more tsunamis

Mountainsides are becoming less stable as glaciers retreat, leading to more landslides that can trigger massive - but localised - tsunamis

Special report: The new megaprojects changing the face of our planet

Across the world, new roads, railways, dams and power lines are encroaching on previously virgin territory – with untold consequences for Earth’s wildlife

Biodiversity in crisis: Earth’s giant construction projects mapped out

The planet’s largest areas of undisturbed wilderness in Siberia and tropical rainforests are under threat from huge waves of development. Here’s what it looks like

How a janitor wowed Darwin by solving the ice age mystery

Self-educated ice sage James Croll cracked the conundrum of why Earth periodically freezes over. He was feted in his time, so why did the world forget him?

New world map is a more accurate Earth and shows Africa's full size

The “Equal Earth” projection shows the true area of continents such as Africa without greatly distorting their shapes and is already being adopted by NASA

NASA’s deep-space mission to a $10 quintillion all-metal world

The unique metal asteroid Psyche may be a space miner's fantasy – but there are better reasons to want to visit it, says mission leader Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Life may have begun on Earth 100 million years earlier than we thought

A new timeline of early evolution suggests life on Earth began 100 million years earlier than we thought, while meteorites were still pummelling the planet

Corals on old North Sea oil rigs could help natural reefs recover

Not only are deep-sea coral ecosystems thriving on oil and gas rigs in the North Sea, their larvae may be helping repopulate damaged natural reefs

Asteroid strike may have forged the oldest rocks ever found on Earth

The oldest rocks ever found are over four billion years old and we don’t know how they formed – but a massive asteroid bombardment may be responsible

The Meg: Real Megalodon shark would eat Jason Statham for breakfast

Jason Statham’s new film The Meg looks gloriously silly and good luck to it, but it got us thinking about what its giant prehistoric shark was really like and why it died out

Don’t give up, we can survive even a Hothouse Earth

Bad news on the climate should lead neither to despair nor unfounded optimism. Instead, we need to roll up our sleeves and prepare for life on a drastically changing planet

California's worst wildfire in history is now the size of Los Angeles

Firefighters are battling high winds and extreme heat as they try to slow the spread of the biggest wildfire ever recorded in California

Global warming may become unstoppable even if we stick to Paris target

There could be a planetary threshold beyond which the earth will keep warming even if we stop pumping out more fossil fuels - the so-called 'Hothouse Earth' scenario

A weird Pacific cycle could make the Arctic warm up even faster

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is cyclical, switching from warm to cold phases every 20 years or so. When it switches again it could speed up Arctic warming

Did ancient Mayan civilisation collapse because of a sudden drought?

We have the best evidence yet that there was a prolonged drought at the time of the demise of the classic Mayan civilisation - and could explain why it collapsed

Extreme heat: Why its origins could lie deep in the Atlantic

Swathes of the northern hemisphere are smashing temperature records. Could it be because we’ve broken the ocean currents that stabilise our weather?

Earth Overshoot Day – what to make of this moment of reckoning?

Earth Overshoot Day is a hugely popular way to highlight our global environmental impact. Here are two views on it...

Mass graves found on Scottish islands may be ancient tsunami victims

A rare tsunami may have struck the islands of Shetland and Orkney off the UK’s north coast 5500 years ago, killing dozens of people who had to be hastily buried

Weird 'wind drought' means Britain's turbines are at a standstill

Britain is experiencing a prolonged “wind drought” that has slowed or halted the blades on turbines around the country

Stone Age bakers made first bread thousands of years before farming

Evidence of the first early bread suggests humans were baking with wheat and oats thousands of years before they began farming the cereals

Globetrotting film sends scientists on "relay race" of inquiry

A documentary called The Most Unknown uses a global game of science “tag” as a cute way to frame humanity’s big questions – but it can all get a bit earnest

Record temperatures mean ancient forts become visible in fields

When the ground is baked by days of sun, markings that indicate the location of ancient settlements begin to emerge in the parched terrain

The tiny oasis spared wrath of Hawaii's volcano

A tiny stretch of road has escaped the lava flows from the latest eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, which is still menacing a corner of Big Island two months after it began

UK is not on track to meet its own climate targets, says report

The UK is not on course to meet its own targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s and 2030s, says the UK’s Climate Change Committee

Fire crews prepare 'heavy attack' on massive moorland wildfire

Pockets of fire continue to burn across a six-kilometre area of Saddleworth Moor today as 50 firefighters worked to contain the situation

Illegal Chinese refrigerator factories are selling banned CFCs

Last month it was revealed that someone somewhere was still manufacturing banned CFCs. Now it appears that illegal factories in China are the source

Capitalism broke the planet. Here’s how it’s going to fix things

The environment and high finance are strange bedfellows – but a new movement is raising billions to fight climate change. A breakthrough – or green hogwash?

An entire Arctic ecosystem could vanish within the next decade

The Barents Sea, home to a diverse array of wildlife, could be completely gone in just a few years – perhaps the most dramatic impact of climate change yet seen

Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology: Bobby the whale and Attenborough

Bobby the fin whale presides over the reopening of Cambridge University’s zoology museum – with David Attenborough putting the final specimen in place

Cocaine in the water makes eels hyperactive and damages muscles

There are low levels of cocaine and other drugs in many rivers, and lab studies suggest that European eels are suffering muscle damage as a result

The first Americans had pet dogs 1000 years earlier than thought

There were domestic dogs in North America 10,200 years ago, according to a re-examination of an ancient dog skeleton that looks like a small English setter

The epic hunt for the place on Earth where life started

Darwin's warm little pond, the deep ocean and icy shores – all have been suggested as the birthplace of life. Now one location could have it all

Wild animals are turning nocturnal to keep away from humans

Dozens of species all around the world are abandoning the day and becoming more active at night, to avoid contact with humans

Alarm as ice loss from Antarctica triples in the past five years

The loss of Antarctica’s ice has been accelerating ominously since 2012, and could lead to big rises in sea level if the rate of loss keeps increasing

EU will limit the use of palm oil as car fuel but won’t stop it

The European Union will make only minor tweaks to “renewable” energy policies that are actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions and driving deforestation

Why tidal power won't solve the world's renewable energy needs

There are widespread calls for the UK government not to abandon a trailblazing tidal power project, but this energy source is no green panacea, says Hans van Haren

Finally we can power the planet on renewables alone – here's how

Ditching fossil fuels to go 100 per cent renewable is a dream within reach – thanks to new tech that keep things humming even when wind and sun aren’t there

Britain’s hedgehog population has fallen 66 per cent in 20 years

Britain only has 58 wild mammal species to start with, and many have declined sharply in number since 1995 – with hedgehogs suffering a particularly severe fall

Africa's 2000-year-old trees of life are suddenly dying off

In the past decade most of the oldest baobabs, many of them sprouted over two millennia ago, have died unexpectedly and few new ones are sprouting

A renewables revolution is afoot – but who will benefit?

Donald Trump's commitment to coal is short-sighted and wrong-headed. A 100 per cent renewable future is coming – and other countries will reap the rewards

Sperm whales are tracking fishing boats and stealing their fish

Fishing boats in the Gulf of Alaska are being stalked by enormous sperm whales, which charge in and rip huge volumes of fish from the lines

Why are there so many devastating volcanic eruptions right now?

High-profile volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala are grabbing the headlines, but geophysics isn't responsible for connecting the two disasters

Europeans now burn more palm oil in their cars than they eat

Palm oil consumption in the EU jumped by 7 per cent in 2017 because it is increasingly used as a biofuel – driving the destruction of orangutans’ habitat

The most elusive whales reveal their secrets in their wakes

We know almost nothing about the enormous beaked whales because they spend so much time deep underwater, but a new DNA technique could unmask them

Zambia to kill 2000 hippos because they might spread anthrax

Over the next five years 2000 hippos are to be culled in Zambia, supposedly to stop them giving people anthrax, but the cull may inadvertently fuel the trade in hippo ivory

Guatemala volcano kills 75 as ash buries entire villages

The Fuego volcano in Guatemala has exploded and spewed out molten rock and ash, killing at least 75 people in the country's most violent eruption for over a century

Enjoy a season of science with our 2018 UK festival picks

Stumble into surprises all over the UK, from the physics of gin at WOMAD, to mind-reading at Green Man, to time deconstructed at New Scientist Live

H2Oh! 10 mysteries of water

Water has a host of unusual properties – many of which are essential for life. Here we round up ten of the most peculiar

H2Oh! Water is actually two liquids disguised as one

Earth's most precious liquid is weird, and if it wasn't we would die. Now experiments have uncovered its secret: it's not one liquid, it's two

Night fishing with light-up lures that can be seen from space

In this stunning photo snapped from the International Space Station, green LED fishing lures light up the night in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea

The Great Barrier Reef has died 5 times in the last 30,000 years

The Great Barrier Reef  has resurrected itself five times in the last 30,000 years after being wiped out by dramatic environmental shifts.

Burning Planet: Fire's intriguing role throughout Earth history

We view fire as a hazard, but a thought-provoking book argues it wasn’t always so – and helps us revise our thinking by looking back over geological time

11 unmissable wonders of the natural world

Seven wonders of the world? Too few! We dial it up to 11 with this selection of nature’s greatest hits – unique environments all too often in trouble

The curious fate of the eighth wonder of the world

People travelled from far and wide to see New Zealand’s spectacular pink and white terraces. Then they were destroyed in a volcanic eruption – or were they?

More lava flows reach the coast as volcano threatens Hawaii

Lava is entering the ocean off Hawaii from a third flow, marking the third week of a volcanic eruption that has opened up nearly two dozen vents,

In big cities even the fish are always rushing around the place

Two common US fish have evolved different body shapes to help them survive in the fast-moving streams in built-up areas

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs caused massive global warming

The asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago caused dramatic climate change, which could mean we are underestimating how much the planet will warm in the coming centuries

Fixing planet plastic: How we'll really solve our waste problem

From bag bans to bacterial mulchers, many solutions are touted for the plastic waste crisis. Find out which work – and which don't – in our definitive guide

Mystery ozone-destroying gases linked to badly recycled fridges

Last week we learned a chemical that harms the ozone layer is being emitted in Asia – and now it seems sloppy recycling might be partly to blame

Why the UK’s plan to tackle air pollution is mostly hot air

A ban on using polluting wet wood isn’t nearly enough to halt the rise in dangerous particulates from trendy wood burners

Salvaged plastics imitate bizarre and beautiful sea life

This deceptive artwork was created by photographing just a few of the 5 trillion bits of plastic that pollute our oceans and shorelines

Half of life on Earth has vanished since we arrived on the scene

The biomass of living organisms on the planet has halved since human civilisation began, and humans now outweigh all wild mammals tenfold

Chinese giant salamanders may already be virtually extinct

Researchers spent four years looking for Chinese giant salamanders and only found 24 – and that’s not even the worst bit of news

The volcanic eruption on Hawaii is now making an acidic fog

As lava from Kilauea plunges into the Pacific Ocean, clouds of hot acidic steam are being blasted off – and the eruption shows no signs of slowing down

Plastic waste is a problem – but some solutions are even worse

Plastics have done wonders for hygiene and human health. We need to fix the waste problem – but don’t throw out the baby with the bath tub

A third of ‘protected’ nature zones are quietly being ruined

The world’s nations have set up 200,000 protected areas in which nature is supposed to flourish, but in many cases the protection is pretty much theoretical

Someone is wrecking the ozone layer again. They must be stopped

For the health of our planet, and ourselves, we must find and foil those who breach crucial environmental treaties, says Lesley Evans Ogden

Worst-case climate change scenario is even worse than we thought

A possible future that climatologists treat as the worst of the worst, because it would produce huge greenhouse gas emissions, might lead to even more emissions than believed

Harsh: Europe's cannabis died just as the first farmers arrived

Cannabis – the source of the drug marijuana – virtually disappeared from Europe just as farmers arrived, so they didn’t get the chance to grow it for another 4500 years

Drones plus AI help to spot sick trees and plants in time

Drones fitted with multispectral cameras are scanning forests for beetle attack, and orchards and vineyards for signs of disease before it’s too late

Lizards keep evolving toxic green blood and we don't know why

All the green-blooded lizards in the world live in New Guinea, but it turns out the trait has evolved there independently at least four times

Biodegradable plastic: Waste that eats itself

Plastics that degrade on disposal already exist, and are getting better. But they won't solve the plastic trash problem on their own – and here's why

Fertiliser feeds us but trashes the climate – now there's a fix

The way we make ammonia for fertilizer was developed a century ago and produces more than 1 per cent of all carbon emissions. Now we may have a replacement

Hawaii’s erupting volcano may blast out ‘10-tonne cannonballs’

As Kilauea continues erupting, lava is mixing with water, creating steam that could trigger massive explosions and throw large rocks up to a kilometre away

The tides are getting stronger thanks to the shifting continents

The ocean tides are the strongest they have been for millions of years, and they will get stronger for several million years to come – because of the position of the continents

Rich nations restore their own forests but trash those elsewhere

As countries get richer, they start replanting their forests – but this is not a big environmental gain because they “export” the deforestation to poor countries

We messed up our figures on how much carbon dioxide is too much

Climatologists have tried to set a “carbon budget” that tells us how much greenhouse gas we can emit and stay below 2°C, but their efforts have only caused confusion

It is worth valuing trees, but all deserve our respect

The benefits trees bring to our lives are now being quantified by a band of treeconomists, an approach that could help us give trees the respect they deserve