Physical sciences, Earth sciences

An international team of scientists has argued that if the asteroid that likely caused the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs had hit the Earth only a minute or two earlier (or later), the extinction may never have taken place and, the dinosaurs might have survived, and us humans may never have existed.
The Mediterranean has been described as ‘under siege’ because of the intense pressure it is under from a variety of human activities. But more information is needed to see what impact the activities are having on the ecosystem and its resources. An EU-funded project has published a report to help plug the information gap.
Barriers on Europe’s rivers can improve fishing, be a source of energy and reduce the passage of invasive species, but they can also be a flood risk, interfere with migration patterns and fragment habitats. So what’s the best approach to reconnecting our rivers? One EU-funded project is providing some answers.
By providing a better understanding of the Arctic’s biogeochemical cycles of trace elements, the EU-funded ARCTIC GEOTRACES project is shedding more light on the Arctic Ocean’s resilience to global changes and so also pointing to its likely future.
The EU-funded DEEPEGS project has managed to drill 4 659 meters into a geothermal field in what is being described as a ‘significant milestone’ for the geothermal industry.
Will we have enough fertile land to grow the food our increasing population needs? Is it possible to adapt food production to climate change? How do we define responsible research and innovation in relation to food security? An EU-funded project, which aims to encourage people to debate the issues and articulate their views, has just published a toolkit settig out the steps to maximise grass-roots engagement.
Researchers have made a chance discovery on how wax moth larvae commercially bred for fishing bait have the ability to biograde polyethylene – in essence, they can eat our waste, sparking widespread excitement that these little critters could become a potent weapon against environmental pollution.
Two successive years of mass coral bleaching have left 1 500 km of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef badly weakened. Scientists now fear the damage is irreparable.
New research has cast new light on the Earth’s early atmosphere, which was dominated by thick clouds of methane. These methane clouds forced hydrogen to leave the atmosphere, allowing today’s oxygen-rich air to develop.
Current volcano monitoring techniques essentially revolve around geophysical observations. Building upon the consensus that volcanic gases are another determining factor in volcanic eruptions — one that cannot be ignored — the BRIDGE project has set out to develop gas monitoring technologies whose combination with geophysics should help improve predictions.
With competition for the use of forest resources ever increasing, the EU-funded project DIABOLO sets out to track disturbances and degradation more effectively.
Researchers examining the causes of the record dust storm that affected the Middle East and Cypus in 2015, identified erosion as one key factor, a problem that the war in Syria and Iraq is making more acute. However, although record-breaking, the storm was not forecast – such events remain hard to predict.
With a patent already filed and the project barely halfway through, the EU funded CARBAZYMES has identified promising biocatalyst enzymes with the potential to transform industrial chemical processes, benefiting industry, consumers and the environment.
A recently published study has described a new species of Tyrannosaur, arguing that these fearsome Cretaceous reptiles actually had incredibly sensitive snouts, as sensitive to touch as human fingertips. One of the results of this, the scientists behind the study suggest, is that males and females enjoyed rubbing their sensitive faces together whilst mating.
‘Hiding in plain sight’ is how five newly identified particles have been described, but it took the exquisite sensitivity of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to finally spot them. CERN describes the observation of five new states all at once as ‘rather unique’.
Research supported by the EU-funded CLIM-AMAZON project into river sediment has revealed that the Amazon is considerably older than previously thought.
As we mark World Meteorological Day, the world is moving into what has been referred to as unchartered territory, with 2016 the warmest on record and 2017 set to follow the trend. With the Paris Climate Change Agreement less than 18 months old, what now for progress?
An EU funded project, has created a range of tools to give a more accurate picture of current biodiversity, aiding efforts for sustainable governance of natural resources.
Building on previous EU-funded research into uranium, researchers have established a potential approach for safely removing radioactive elements from nuclear waste.
Identifying regions of self-amplifying forest loss can help maintain biodiversity, supporting climate change mitigation, according to research carried out with support from two EU-funded projects.
Known as the richest and most important Mesolithic site in Great Britain, Star Carr is still holding many secrets that archaeologists are eager to reveal before it’s too late. Indeed, peat desiccation, fluctuating water tables and unprecedented levels of acidity are deteriorating the site at a worrying pace.
An innovative dry etching method developed by EU-funded researchers could reduce the cost of manufacturing solar cells by up to 25 %.
The EU-funded XF-ACTORS project recently reported on its disease modelling work, key to its integrated management strategy to control the spread of the Xylella fastidi-osa (XF) pathogen, which is putting olive groves at serious risk in Southern Italy.
To this day, the true potential of the ‘all-connected’ world has been hindered by the very thing that is supposed to power it: battery technology. A material capable of turning sunlight, heat and movement into energy could soon shake things up.
Launched by Shell at Cobham services on the M25 motorway, the new station was supplied by ATM as part of the EU funded HYFIVE project. It’s the first of three hydrogen stations to be opened by Shell in the UK in 2017.
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Study in Poland