Earth & Environment

The "third rock from the Sun"—Earth. With an orbit neither too close nor too far from the Sun, it occupies a unique position in the Solar System. It's the only planet known to man with the right conditions for the origin and evolution of life. During Earth's 4.5 billion-year history, a combination of processes has transformed it into a watery blue, living planet. The Earth's ecosystems involve complex interactions between the biological (living) and physical (non-living) worlds. Scientific research helps us comprehend our effects on the environment and how the environment in turn responds to impacts of our activities.

Early primate ancestor may have come from North America

New research by University of Florida doctoral graduate Paul Morse shows that Teilhardina brandti, a species found in Wyoming, is as old or older than its Asian and European relatives, upending the prevailing hypothesis that this early primate first appeared in China

Crops versus wild

This video describes a food chain that extends from consumers, producers, breeders and the wild crop relatives that breeders depend on for crop improvement.

Tomato crops hinge on adaptation and biodiversity

A team of researchers visits a seed bank, the Tomato Genetics Resource Center, where scientists try to preserve the genetic diversity available in wild tomato relatives and make it available for crop breeders

ROV Jason dives deep

ROV Jason is Woods Hole's state of the art Remotely Operated Vehicle. Supported by the National Science Foundation and equipped with sonars, video and still imaging systems and sampling capabilities, Jason can investigate the deep ocean and seafloor.

A whale of a ride

Barnacles are sticky little critters that hitch rides on the backs of humpback and gray whales. They hold a wealth of information that is helping scientists better understand how whales might respond to the current changes in Earth's climate

NSF Science Now: Episode 64

In this week's episode, we examine barnacles and the wealth of information they hold; explore our brains and perception; and, finally, we test pseudo-LiDAR for self-driving cars. Check it out!

Here's what an Antarctic ice shelf sounds like

Winds blowing across snow dunes on Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf cause the massive ice slab's surface to vibrate, producing a near-constant drumroll of seismic "tones" scientists could potentially use to monitor changes in the ice shelf from afar, according to new research

Fires in the West may be changing the future of forests

Following the Yellowstone National Park wildfires of 1988, Monica Turner, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of integrative biology, immediately got to work studying the recovery of the forests, and has continued to do so in the decades since

Tanana, Alaska: Connecting food, energy and water

The Tanana community is one of four selected for participation in the National Science Foundation project, "Coupling infrastructure improvements to food-energy-water system dynamics in small cold region communities: MicroFEWs"

Cordova, Alaska: Connecting food, energy and water

The Cordova community is one of four selected for participation in the National Science Foundation project, "Coupling infrastructure improvements to food-energy-water system dynamics in small cold region communities: MicroFEWs"

The Changing Arctic 

Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation are helping understand changes in the Arctic, from incorporating the unique perspectives of indigenous communities in the Arctic and subarctic to developing new technologies that collect more data to assist with better modeling

Streamlining ocean rescue

Using drones and dummies, an interdisciplinary team of National Science Foundation-funded mathematicians and engineers is tracking how objects move in real-world water environments

NSF Science Now: Episode 60

This week's episode examines an engineering breakthrough in Type 1 diabetes that could help dogs and humans alike; targeted reading programs that rewire the brains reading circuitry; and finally, explores hidden ice history discovered beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Restoring tropical forest by planting tree islands

Drs. Karen Holl and Rakan Zahawi, along with Mr. Juan Abel Rosales, talk about their 14-yr study comparing planting "islands" or patches of trees with natural forest regeneration and the more standard plantation-style planting approach

A time-lapse of the Vavilov Ice Cap's collapse

In the last few years, the Vavilov Ice Cap in the Russian High Arctic has dramatically accelerated, sliding as much as 82 feet a day in 2015, according to a new multi-national, multi-institute study

Life at the edge

What makes the shelf break front such a productive and diverse part of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean?

Climate change and the re-greening of Puerto Rico

Forest ecologist Maria Uriarte has been documenting the lives of thousands of individual trees in dozens of plots spread across the island, putting her in a unique position to study hurricanes' damage and the long-term implications.

New method makes weather forecasts right as rain

Researchers from the University of Missouri have developed a system that improves the precision of forecasts by accounting for evaporation in rainfall estimates, particularly for locations 30 miles or more from the nearest National Weather Service radar.

Nighttime heat stresses wheat

Kansas State University agronomists Krishna Jagadish and Allan Fritz talk about a research project they're conducting, which is testing the impact of high nighttime temperatures on a wheat stand's ability to produce good yields and quality grain

Earthquakes: Separating fact from fiction

Scientists describe the advancements in scientifically based earthquake research, which today relies on detailed simulations of ground movements using some of the world's largest and most capable supercomputers

Using the unused: Bottles to trees

Douglass Jacobs and Owen Burney have developed Bottles to Trees, a program to address the need for a nursery system that translates into reforestation in countries, such as Afghanistan and Haiti, where trees are desperately needed

This device can turn desert air into water

Last October, a University of California, Berkeley, team headed down to the Arizona desert, plopped their newest prototype water harvester into the backyard of a tract home and started sucking water out of the air without any power other than sunlight

Acidic oceans pose increased risk of reef loss

Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, along with study-lead Southern Cross University in Australia, have found that sands that provide material for the building and maintenance of some coral reef ecosystems face a decline

What will food production look like in the future?

Adam Wolf, founder and CEO of Arable Labs, describes the future of food production. Arable Labs, a National Science Foundation-funded small business, has developed a crop and weather sensor that delivers real-time, precision weather information straight to the hands of farmers in the field

Climate change might have made Harvey rainfall 15 percent more intense

Scientists from World Weather Attribution, including researchers from Rice University and other institutions in the United States and Europe, found that human-caused climate change might have made the record rainfall that fell over Houston during Hurricane Harvey roughly three times more likely and 15 percent more intense

Rice scientists study ants in the Big Thicket after Hurricane Harvey

With support from the National Science Foundation's Rapid Response Research program, Rice ecologists Tom Miller, Sarah Bengston and Scott Solomon, along with their students, are evaluating whether Hurricane Harvey increased opportunities for invasion by exotic ants in southeast Texas

A robotic fish swims in the ocean

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has unveiled "SoFi," a soft robotic fish that can independently swim alongside real fish in the ocean

Recreating Earth's largest extinction in a laboratory

Jeffrey Benca exposed dwarf pines to 13 times the level of dangerous UV-B radiation we get on a sunny day and found that the conditions, similar to what some think occured during Earth's largest extinction 252 million years ago, made the trees sterile

Battling wildfires with data-driven knowledge

San Diego Supercomputer Center's chief data science officer Ilkay Altintas describes a National Science Foundation-funded project that uses data-driven knowledge and predictive tools to battle wildfires, such as those that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in 2017

Heavy nitrogen molecules reveal planetary-scale tug-of-war

Rice University scientist Laurence Yeung, along with scientists at University of California Los Angeles, Michigan State University and the University of New Mexico, counted rare molecules in the atmosphere that contain only heavy isotopes of nitrogen, and discovered a planetary-scale tug-of-war between life, the deep Earth and the upper atmosphere

A close-up look at a rare underwater eruption

In 2015, scientists from the University of Tasmania, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Otago in New Zealand and others traveled to the site of an underwater volcanic eruption, the Havre Volcano in the Southwest Pacific Ocean

The beginning of a new species

The direct observation of the origin of a new species occurred during field work carried out over the last four decades by a wife-and-husband team of scientists from Princeton University on the small island of Daphne Major in the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean

Bumblebees in peril!

Researchers have discovered that climate change, warmer temperatures and earlier snow melt are causing flowers to bloom earlier, affecting bumblebees

Bug battles

With support from the National Science Foundation, University of Florida entomologist Christine Miller and her team are researching mate selection and animal weapons as a key to better understanding animal behavior, diversity and evolution

The glass is greener

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, Bourns College of Engineering have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries

Digital eye in the sky

David Johnson, assistant professor of the practice of marine conservation ecology at Duke University, has found that drone technology allows his research team to collect huge volumes of data from remote or extreme locations

NSF Science Now: Episode 52

In this week's episode, we discover why freshwater lakes are becoming saltier and the role temperature plays in the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, explore a new device for combatting Parkinson's disease, and finally, learn how to excite girls about STEM

Why is Texas shaking?

The new TexNet Seismic Monitoring Network is helping to locate and determine the origins of earthquakes in Texas

Palau coral reefs have a global impact

Humans are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Through a process called ocean acidification, about a quarter to a third of this carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, causing a decrease in the pH of ocean water

Confessions of a marine biologist

Mike Gil, a postdoctoral scholar at University of California-Davis, will be one of 20 international fellows who will give talks at TEDGlobal in Arusha, Tanzania, in August

Every last drop

Each year 12 competitively selected undergraduates fly to Australia to work alongside PIRE researchers as they conduct field work to look at engineering, ecological, and social science aspects of Melbourne's green storm water infrastructure

Was this how dinosaurs began flying?

If a Pacific parrotlet needs to get to a nearby branch, it uses its legs to jump. If a target falls just outside of its jump range, however, it can add a "proto-wingbeat," a small flapping motion that allows it to travel farther without using as much energy as full flight.

Semiconductors for an energy efficient future

Lisa Porter, professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University, discusses her research on semiconductor materials and devices, especially those that enable new technologies for a more energy-efficient future.

Researchers tackle tornadoes!

An NSF-funded research team at the University of Oklahoma's Advanced Radar Research Center hopes that their radar simulator can assist researchers and meteorologists in better understanding how debris interacts with deadly tornadoes.

Farming the sea

Maine's Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) helps support University of Maine research and educational outreach related to the farming of aquatic organisms

Tiny solutions to big water problems

How do you take dirty water and make it clean? With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this team is hard at work designing nanometer-scale water filters that could soon make clean drinking water available and affordable for even the poorest of the poor around the world

Pulling drinkable water out of dry air

Imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun


A team of three scientists from Kansas State University, Michigan State University and the Desert Botanical Garden are investigating polyploidy (the condition of having more than one set of chromosomes) and diversity in the plant genus Phlox (Polemoniaceae).

NSF Science Now: Episode 51

In this week's episode, we learn about marine mammals' need for speed, magnify a new tool combating mosquito-borne disease, break down new materials inspired by kirigami, and finally, discover new hydrothermal vents. Check it out!

Dive Deeper: Donna Blackman looks at the future of Alvin

Marine geophysicist Donna Blackman from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography remembers Alvin's discovery of the Lost City hydrothermal vent field in 2000 and looks ahead to the people and tools that will take Alvin to even greater depths of discovery

SupraSensor: A super tool for precision agriculture

The SupraSensor device is designed to give farmers a highly accurate, virtually constant stream of data on nitrate levels. The device is an excellent example of highly applied science with roots in basic research -- in this case supramolecular chemistry at the University of Oregon.

Researchers assemble 5 new synthetic yeast chromosomes

A global research team has built five new synthetic yeast chromosomes, meaning that 30 percent of a key organism's genetic material has now been swapped out for engineered replacements. Jef Boeke discusses the importance of yeast as a research model and how new research may lead to synthetic genomes to address unmet needs in medicine and industry.

Urban heat island: Improving data for sustainable cities

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Groundwater and agriculture: tapping the hidden benefits

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.


Soil salinization prevents crops from taking up water and nutrients due to an excess of salt in the soil. Meagan Mauter at Carnegie Mellon University is developing technology to monitor salinity levels to allow farmers to make better watering decisions.


Wastewater is what gets flushed down the toilet, rinsed down the drain, and produced by places such as factories, workplaces, and homes. Kartik Chandran at Columbia University is changing the perception of wastewater by treating it more efficiently and creating energy from resources found in it.

It's a twister--of data!

In episode 75, Charlie and Jordan talk about visualizations developed by Amy McGovern at the University of Oklahoma, that may reduce the false alarm rate for tornado prediction.

Landscape analyses: Getting the most from our landscapes

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Are we a sixth extinction?

Stanford University Earth professor Jon Payne puts modern extinction in context by comparing them with Earth's five previous mass extinctions.

Scenarios: building resilience with long-term thinking

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Policy and governance: innovating for clean water results

This video is part of "Changes and Choices in the Yahara," a mini-documentary series showcasing the major research implications from the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate project, a five-year research endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation.

Computing for sustainability

Electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Diana Marculescu, talks about computing for sustainability

What is the Water Sustainability and Climate Project?

In this video, the research team explains the Water Sustainability and Climate Project, which was focused on how to achieve water sustainability for current and future generations, given ongoing changes in climate, land use, and human demands.

Saving Atlantis: Global Coral Microbiome Project, Mo’orea

As part of a feature film project Saving Atlantis, researchers at Oregon State University journeyed to Mo'orea, French Polynesia with scientists from the Global Coral Microbiome Project. This segment explains the interaction between coral reefs and humans.

Carbon flux explorers

Jim Bishop, senior scientist at Berkeley Lab and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is leading a project to deploy robotic floats that provide data on how microorganisms sequester carbon in the ocean.

Big ideas for future NSF investments

Six research "big ideas" that will drive important aspects of the National Science Foundation's long-term research agenda, push forward the frontiers of US science and engineering research, and lead to new discoveries and innovations.

Turn your eyes to the skies for the latest explorers

In episode 68, Charlie and Jordan head outdoors to show how National Science Foundation-supported researchers are finding new ways to use small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)--also known as drones--to gather data, improve communication and explore environments where humans and larger aircraft dare not go.

What's under Mount Hood?

A study of Mount Hood, Oregon, shows that the volcano's magma reservoir is in an eruptible state as little as 1 percent of the time.

Breaking summer records

In episode 60, Charlie and Jordan return from summer break to investigate the future of summers. According to NSF-funded research at NCAR, in 50 years, summers across most of the globe could be hotter than any other experienced by people, ever.

Research at the ends of the Earth

Over the last year, Rhian Waller, associate professor of marine science at the University of Maine, has been to the ends of the Earth to study how changing oceans are affecting cold-water corals and what those changes may eventually mean in places like the Gulf of Main

Citizen science research, improving student motivation

In partnership with Bowling Green State University, Perkins Local Schools and Sandusky City Schools, the iEvolve with STEM project seeks to increase student motivation and engagement through the integration of Citizen Science Research into classroom instruction across the curriculum.

NSF Science Now: Episode 45

In this episode, we tested out a computational design tool that transforms flat materials into 3-D shapes, a virtual reality environment that is helping autistic teens learn to drive, a new novel underwater microscope and, finally, "smart thread" for wirelessly monitoring the health of a wound.

Meet a geophysicist

Postdoctoral Research Fellow from Arizona State University, Harmony Colella, talks about how experiencing an earthquake as a child in Southern California inspired her to become a geophysicist.

Meet a geophysicist: Danielle Sumy

When she was very young, Danielle Sumy's experience on the Earthquake ride at Universal Studios launched her quest to understand how earthquakes happen. Here she describes how this encounter and her early love of science motivated her to become a geophysicist.

Meet a geophysicist: Kathy Davenport

As a graduate student in geophysics, Kathy talks about her involvement with the Idaho - Oregon Research Project (IDOR) and explains why she likes her work. Kathy was part of a team from Virginia Tech supervised by John Hole, one of the IDOR Principal Investigators.

Meet a geophysicist: Jenny Nakai

Jenny Nakai talks about her interest in engineering and science as a means to be useful and solve problems and the importance of education in the Navajo culture in general.

Volcano research: Emily Hooft

Emilie describes her work as a geophysicist, the physics she uses to better understand the forces that make volcanoes work, and how seismic data can help image the magma structures beneath them

Plate boundary observatory overview

In this overview of the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), Glen Mattioli, director of geodetic infrastructure at UNAVCO, provides an overview of its important activities and impact.

The SPREE project overview

The SPREE Project (Superior Province Rifting Earthscope Experiment) is using data from multiple seismometers placed along transects in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada to study a failed rift system.

Idaho-Oregon Research project overview

The Idaho - Oregon Research Project (IDOR) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology and geochronology, to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR Project: Meet the geology team

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: Geology in the lab

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: Geology in the field

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: Meet a seismologist

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: Seismology in the field

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: Meet the gravity team

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The IDOR project: gravity fieldwork

The IDOR Project (Deformation and Magmatic Modification of a Steep Continental Margin, Western Idaho - Eastern Oregon) is combining data from multiple sources, including research on gravity, seismology, structural geology, and geochronology to study a boundary that occurred on the edge of North America between Idaho and Oregon.

The great shakeout earthquake simulation

Geophysicists and seismologists discuss the potential of earthquakes in North America, particularly around the San Andreas Fault in California. Some of the dynamics and rating scales for earthquakes are discussed, and the physical effects of major earthquakes in the western United States are simulated.

The Great California ShakeOut day

Geophysicists discuss earthquakes and the San Andreas Fault system at the San Bernadino County Museum, Redlands, California. Emergency reactions to a violent earthquake are displayed.

Marine geology research

Geophysicist Danielle Sumy discusses her research on mid-ocean ridges and on tremors created by small earthquake events.

Slow slip event research

Postdoctoral Research Fellow from Arizona State University, Harmony Colella, explains the potential importance of slow-slip events in predicting larger earthquakes and how she uses earthquake data and computer modeling techniques to study them.

Rio Grande rift project

Jenny Nakai talks about her research, which involves using data from the EarthScope Transportable Array to study seismicity in the Rio Grande Rift region.

The Gulf Coast Repository core collection

Phil Rumford, supervisor of curation, Gulf Coast Repository, provides a guided tour of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's Gulf Coast Repository facility at Texas A&M University, in College Station, Texas.

San Andreas Observatory at Depth overview

In this overview of the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth project (SAFOD), Judith Chester, professor of geology at Texas A&M University, explains the efforts involved in drilling a three kilometer deep hole into the San Andreas Fault and the importance of the results to the scientific community.

The SAFOD core in the lab

Judith Chester, professor of geology at Texas A&M University, describes how drill cores from San Andreas Observatory at Depth project (SAFOD) are stored at the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's Gulf Coast Repository facility on the university campus in College Station, Texas.

Understanding climate change through clouds

By understanding the properties of individual water particles in the clouds we can better predict the onset of severe storms, floods, and droughts--and even human-influenced climate change.

Research to improve flash flood warnings

A new cell phone app and a network of ultrasound sensors could lead to more accurate warnings about flash flooding. Seo works closely with cities across North Texas and the National Weather Service.

Benthic underwater microscope

Scripps Oceanography graduate student Andrew Mullen discusses the research being conducted using the Benthic Underwater Microscope, an instrument recently developed by the Jaffe Laboratory for Underwater Imaging at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Tectonics and earthquakes of the Himalayas

This video explores the broad tectonic setting of the mighty Himalayan Mountains and the geologic factors that lead to mega-earthquakes along its borders, like the deadly 2015 M7.8 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal.

Clouds are the clue to climate predictions

Neil Donahue, professor of chemical engineering, chemistry, and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon, discusses how organic compounds emitted by trees make particles that affect climate change.

Greener silica from rice

Two University of Michigan researchers turn useless waste from rice processing into the high-purity silica compounds that are used in everything from toothpaste to tires.

NSF Science Now: Episode 43

In this week's episode, we follow a construction site drone, examine tunable window technology, learn how words are represented in the brain and, finally, we examine 240 million-year-old fossils.

Human evolution: teeth tell the story

Alistair Evans of the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University has led research showing that the evolution of human teeth is much simpler than previously thought, and that we can predict the size of teeth missing from human fossils and those of our extinct close relatives.

Pumping oil from plants

An enzyme responsible for making hydrocarbons has been discovered by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists studying a common green microalga called Botryococcus braunii.

Mapping ice trails with UAVs

Scientists in Alaska are exploring using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle photography to map sea ice terrain, helping Barrow locals plot efficient courses for ice trails.

Nifty 50

Jordan and Charlie celebrate 50 episodes with 50 National Science Foundation-funded breakthroughs, discoveries, achievements and generally amazing contributions to science.

NSF Science Now: Episode 42

In this week's episode, we explore origami-inspired devices, examine family technology rules and, finally, we examine how changing ocean chemistry may threaten the Antarctic food chain.

NSF Science Now: Episode 41

In this week's episode, we test out a wearable robotic limb, follow beluga whales in the Arctic and, finally, examine how warming temperatures have caused an increase in forest droughts across much of the U.S.

Carbon sequestration

This video profiles "Understanding Process-Level Physico and Biogeochemical Mechanisms Controlling Soil Carbon Stabilization," a project led by Ganga Hettiarachchi, associate professor of agronomy at Kansas State.

NSF Science Now: Episode 40

In this episode we create an ice storm lab, discover gravitational-waves, track the path of chemo drugs and, finally, test out new deep-sea ROV grippers for handling fragile coral and sponges.

Warming winters

University of Wisconsin-Madison's Jonathan Pauli and Benjamin Zuckerberg of the Forest and Wildlife Department discuss their long-term project on climate change.

The spectacular science of 2015

In episode 38, Charlie and Jordan highlight as many National Science Foundation-funded news stories as they can in one minute, including--but certainly not limited to--water on Mars, the woolly mammoth genome, smart band-aids and a new species of dinosaur.

2015 editor's pick: A sea without stars

An infectious disease, which causes the limbs of starfish to crawl away from their bodies, is killing multiple species along the west coast in the largest marine epidemic ever known. Scientists think the pathogen spreads through the water and physical contact, as well as through shellfish. Starfish are a keystone species, so their loss could disrupt the ecosystem, say scientists.

Make like a tree

In episode 37, Jordan and Charlie explore two different ways the ponderosa pine and the trembling aspen deal with drought. In the face of adverse conditions, people might feel tempted by two radically different options--hunker down and wait for conditions to improve, or press on and hope for the best.

The PALEON project

The PALEON Project is an international collaboration between terrestrial ecosystem modelers, statisticians, and experts in paleoecological data spanning more than 25 institutions and led by the Univiersity of Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative.

SkyTEM aquifer mapping

Ever wonder where your water comes from when you fill up a glass to quench your thirst? Chances are, it's from underground water sources called aquifers. Watch how geologists are using a new high-tech rig, towed by helicopter, to detect and map these underground water reserves.

Science360 Rewind: Home grown

Did you know that the dust in your house could predict your geographic region and the gender of its occupants? In this Super Science Rewind, Charlie and Jordan talk about life at home...microscopic life, that is.

Microbial monsters: algae, Vampirococcus and Halloween

Learn how algae can suffocate a pond of all its life; discover the vampire bacterium known as Vampirococcus, who literally sucks the life out its victims; and watch out for those sweet Halloween treats that can leave holes in your teeth!

Cloud chamber research

Clouds play a crucial part in regulating climate, but precious little is actually known about clouds' inner workings and their role on Earth.

When Nature Strikes: Tsunamis

The massive wave of a tsunami can start thousands of miles offshore, but travel quickly across the ocean and devastate coastal communities. Anne Trehu and Dan Cox of Oregon State University are studying how tsunamis form and behave in order to prepare people for their potential devastation.

When Nature Strikes: Wildfires

Wildfires can burn thousands of acres, devastate communities, and sometimes even claim lives. Janice Coen at the National Center for Atmospheric Research is studying how weather and fire interact in order to develop a wildfire prediction system to forecast fire behavior.

NSF Science Now: Episode 37

In this week's episode, we examine tunable prosthetics, explore origami engineering and duck-billed dinosaurs, and discover how king crabs are migrating to the warming seas off the Antarctic Peninsula. Check it out!

When Nature Strikes: Space weather

Space weather has the potential to wreak havoc on everything from satellite communications to electric power. Sarah Gibson at the National Center for Atmospheric Research is studying the behavior of the sun to help warn against a serious solar storm should it threaten Earth.

When Nature Strikes: Tornadoes

Tornadoes can form in minutes, making early and accurate warnings crucial to saving lives. Howard Bluestein at the University of Oklahoma and Adam Houston at the University of Nebraska are trying to understand why some storms produce tornadoes and others don't.

Life on the (urban) farm

In episode 27, Jordan and Charlie discuss a new mammilian fossils find in New Mexico, Using molecular analysis to clarify dinosaur colors and the Urban Hydrofarmers Project.

When Nature Strikes: Landslides

Landslides occur when material like debris, rock, and soil become dislodged from the earth and slide downward at speeds that can approach 100 miles per hour. David Montgomery at the University of Washington studies past and present landslides to try to understand what causes them.

When Nature Strikes: Flash floods

Flash floods can happen anywhere, but factors such as heavy precipitation, geography and soil conditions can put some areas at greater risk. Russ Schumacher at Colorado State University is studying these factors to make more accurate forecasts.

When Nature Strikes: Hurricanes

Hurricanes are one of nature's most powerful natural hazards. Jenni Evans of Pennsylvania State University and Jeff Donnelly of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are studying how hurricanes form and what factors influence where and when they make landfall in an effort to save lives.

When Nature Strikes: Volcanoes

Volcanoes are one of the most powerful natural hazards on Earth, but supervolcanoes are so large that they have the ability to alter the world's climate. Michael Manga from the University of California, Berkeley, is investigating a supervolcano that erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago, and could do so again.

When Nature Strikes: Earthquakes

John Vidale and his team at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network are monitoring ground motion across Washington State and Oregon to prepare residents for one of the most powerful natural hazards on the planet--a magnitude 9 "megathrust" earthquake.

When Nature Strikes: On the front lines

Natural disasters can bring death and destruction to communities in the United States and around the world, but they can also teach us about Earth's natural processes. Teams of scientists are gathering new information about dangerous natural events, using cutting-edge methods and technology to help people understand them better.

Origins of volcanic island chains

Seismologists have produced for the first time a sharp, 3-D scan of Earth's interior that conclusively connects plumes of hot rock rising through the mantle with surface hotspots that generate volcanic island chains like Hawaii, Samoa and Iceland.

Coral behavior

In episode 23, Charlie and Jordan explore coral offspring's inherent traits, how invasive marine species become invasive and take a peek inside turtle shells.

Mercury, dolphins, fish consumption and human health

Mercury pollution can have significant adverse health effects on both humans and wildlife.The high mercury concentrations found in dolphins may reflect environmental differences in mercury contamination which can impact the concentration of mercury found in fish species that local human populations consume.

Detailing air pollution in Colorado

Scientists tracked air pollution from both human-related activities and natural sources during the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPÉ) in summer 2014.

Life in a puddle

In episode 21, Jordan and Charlie chat about the origins of life, polar bears in the summer time and what it takes to limit energy consumption at home.

Amphibian research drives broad STEM participation

This initiative benefits students on a diverse campus, with many learners traditionally underrepresented in STEM. This Inver Hills Community College video highlights molecular biology and field biology techniques used to study a pathogen contributing to amphibian declines world-wide.

The pentaquark

In episode 20, Charlie and Jordan chat about rising sea levels, biodegradable "smart" implants and the existence of the pentaquark.

NSF Science Now: Episode 35

Hosted by NSF's Dena Headlee, Science Now is a weekly newscast covering some of the latest in NSF-funded innovation and advances across all areas and disciplines, from astronomy to zoology. This fast paced, news round-up reports many of the week's top stories.

Solar cycles

In episode 17, Charlie and Jordan chat about wastewater catalysts, solar cycle disruptions and an "iron shield" for rice.

World Oceans Day

In a special World Oceans Day episode, Jordan and Charlie chat about ocean temperatures, new marine species and metacognition in chimpanzees.

A scientist's life

A profile of Ryan Hechinger, a marine biologist at Scripps Oceanography who uses studies of parasites to understand ecosystem dynamics.

Assembling water-free DNA

In episode14, Charlie and Jordan search underground caves for clues to prehistoric climate changes, explore the difference between mental maps and compasses, and look at water-free DNA assembly.

Mahi mahi migration

In the ocean there lives a fish known as the Mahi Mahi. Very little is known to science about how they migrate. Fishermen are helping scientists study their migration by catching Mahi Mahi with fishing rods, placing fish tags in them, and releasing them back to the wild with hope that their fish will be re-caught with the tag still in them.

Part of the pack

In episode 13, Jordan and Charlie chat about the importance of a pack, discover a new antibody that may combat urinary tract infections and chase down storms with Doppler on Wheels.

A human climate

This video looks at the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP), a project aiming to provide a detailed, continuous and high resolution environmental context for human evolution in the areas where our early ancestors are known to have lived.

Fire and flood prediction

After working for more than a decade to tackle the challenges, NCAR and its research partners have developed the capability to build two new prediction systems--one for wildfires and one for floods.

A new frontier: Mars

After spending years searching for ancient, buried ice elsewhere on planet earth, geologists turn their eyes to Mars, applying their Antarctic field techniques to search for ice buried beneath the Martian surface.

Back at the lab

After a successful field season in Antarctica, the real work begins back at the lab, where geologists pore over reams of data, trying to piece together the history of the ancient buried glaciers of the Transantarctic Mountains. The ice cores they bring back might hold clues to the Earth's past climate, and help scientists predict the future of the polar ice caps and sea-level rise.

Rescuing the gentle giants

Giant clams are ecologically important because they clean seawater, and their huge shells are home to other marine creatures.

Getting to work

A team of geologists is searching for ancient, buried ice deep in the heart of Antarctica. They must hike for several miles a day in sub-zero temperatures to find the perfect spot to drill for ice cores.

Earthquake modeling

Learn how future earthquakes may occur around the San Andreas Fault through special clay modeling techniques used at the University of Massachusetts Amherst by geosciences professor Michele Cooke Andresen.

Discovery made below Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys

Using a novel, helicopter-borne sensor to penetrate the surface of large swathes of terrain, a team of researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has gathered compelling evidence that beneath Antarctica's ice-free McMurdo Dry Valleys lies a salty aquifer that may support previously unknown microbial ecosystems and retain evidence of ancient climate change.

The Earth Day special

In episode 9, Jordan and Charlie celebrate Earth Day by: Chatting about hydraulic fracturing, taking a closer look at batteries and exploring biodiversity.

What dead birds tell us about ecosystems

Ever wondered why you should spend a glorious day in the summer or a cold, windy day in the winter collecting beach-cast seabird carcasses for a citizen science group? Julia K. Parrish, the executive director of COASST, a citizen science group that organizes volunteers to monitor beach-cast seabird carcasses, explains why it would all be worthwhile.

Go with your gut (microbes)

In Episode 8, Charlie and Jordan chat about the many different species of gut microbes, explore how math is helping ovarian cancer research and investigate the smell coming from water pipes in West Virginia's Elk River area.

What dead birds tell us about ecosystems

Wonder why you should spend a glorious day in the summer or a cold, windy day in the winter collecting beach-cast seabird carcasses for a citizen science group? Julia K. Parrish, the Executive Director of COASST---a citizen science group that organizes volunteers to monitor beach-cast seabird carcasses---explains why it would all be worthwhile.

A sea without stars

An infectious disease, which causes the limbs of starfish to crawl away from their bodies, is killing multiple species along the west coast in the largest marine epidemic ever known. Scientists think the pathogen spreads through the water and physical contact, as well as through shellfish. Starfish are a keystone species, so their loss could disrupt the ecosystem, say scientists.

Snowflakes photographed by new high-speed camera

In the late 1800's, Wilson Bentley and Gustav Hellmann began photographing snowflakes. However each of their photos revealed entirely different representations of snowflakes. How could nature present two different forms of snowflakes? Today University of Utah engineer Cale Fallgatter and atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett are helping to solve that mystery with the use of a new camera system that photographs free-falling snowflakes.

NSF Science Now: Episode 30

Hosted by NSF's Dena Headlee, Science Now is a weekly newscast covering some of the latest in NSF-funded innovation and advances across all areas and disciplines, from astronomy to zoology. This fast paced, news round-up reports many of the week's top stories.

Conserving biodiversity

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation, the Central African Biodiversity Alliance is an international partnership of scientists, students and policy makers working to build a framework to conserve biodiversity in Central Africa. The partnership spans three continents, and includes researchers from the U.S., Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Otolith signals

About the size of a diamond and comes from the inner ear of a fish, this tiny construction holds a treasure trove of information--a calcium carbonate microchip made of bone and accessed by a laser. Let's take a look at the science of otoliths.

Arctic spring

Something surprising is happening in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.

How rocks move

Thin sheets of ice push rocks across the desert when conditions are just right

Parasitic plant timelapse

This video shows the relationship between a parasitic plant, dodder, and two host plants, Arabidopsis and tomatoes.


The mission of C-DEBI is to explore life beneath the seafloor and make transformative discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inspire people of all ages and origins.

Jellyfish swarms and environmental change

Jellyfish swarms in the Gulf of Mexico help researchers identify environmental changes in the water. Dr. Monty Graham at the University of Southern Mississippi studies these massive jellyfish swarms that can stretch for many, many miles.

Unlocking ice sheets' mysteries

A University at Buffalo-led research team reports that prehistoric glaciers reacted rapidly to a brief cold snap, providing a rare glimpse of glaciers' response to past climate change.

Geoscience: Saving lives

A look at some of the exciting scientific and technological advancements being made in Earth and space science to ensure public safety and economic security in the face of natural disasters.

Air quality: The FRAPPÉ field campaign

Hear from Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Éxperiment (FRAPPÉ) principal investigators Frank Flocke and Gabriele Pfister as they share the what, why, and how of this field campaign that took place in Colorado.

Scientists detail front range air pollution - FRAPPÉ

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and partner organizations launched a major field project across the northern Front Range of Colorado to track the origins of summertime ozone, an invisible but harmful pollutant.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria

An engineer's research to understand how bacteria and antibiotics interact in the environment may one day help reduce the danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the public

Forest plant genetics

Matias Kirst, an associate professor in quantitative genetics at the University of Florida, explains how researchers study tree genetics to identify species best suited for forest plantations and those able to adapt to climate change.

Why Science? Extension and education

Martha Monroe, a professor and extension specialist at the University of Florida, talks about her career in environmental education and learning about and providing tools for educators to successfully engage and teach students.

Frozen fruit bats

Conservation Biologist Steve Goodman has been working in Madagascar for more than 22 years, enjoy one of his stories from the field

NSF Science Now: Episode 24

In this week's episode we discover secrets in buried soils. We learn how elephant seals protect their organs when diving. We learn about Amulet- the future in wearable technology and finally we explore the fast-moving Thwaites glacier in Antarctica.

NSF Science Now: Episode 23

In this week's episode we discover the earliest and most primitive pterodactyloid. We learn about a new device for diagnosing pancreatic cancer. We study the cougars' diet and finally we explore a science & engineering festival.

Water-wise sensor

A computer engineer has developed a technology to help farmers boost yields and conserve water

A forest after fire

Year after year massive fires continue to rip through the wildland-urban interface in Colorado, but in the face of climate change and a warming climate, our beloved forests might not return after these catastrophic events.

NSF Science Now: Episode 18

In this week's episode we dig up the "King of Gore," the oldest discovered Tyrannosaurid dinosaur yet. We also learn how ordinary foam can help protect athletes from concussions and how a tongue-controlled wheelchair could give people with paralysis more independence. Check it out!

New Zealand pine invasion

This episode explores how invasive lodgepole pine is affecting the landscape of New Zealand and possibly creating a greater risk of wildfire.

Firefly mission to study lightning

This short teaser video introduces us to the mission of Firefly, a CubeSat built by undergraduate students with the partnership of Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Science Foundation.

Local lions

Scientists are learning more about the movements of local mountain lions to understand how we can better share our California habitats.

Distant worlds, immediate concerns

Researchers seek to visually communicate how human impacts such as overfishing, pollution, and carbon dioxide emissions have contributed to coral reef decline over the past few decades.

Ring of fire: Lessons from New Zealand's forests

What is happening with New Zealand forests? A team of University of Colorado fire scientists dig deep into the New Zealand forest for clues about the past and future of wildfire in this fragile ecosystem.

Sustainability: Water - Los Angeles & water imports

The nearly 10 million people in the city and county of Los Angeles, California require a lot of water - most of which is imported snow melt from the Eastern Sierra Nevadas and Rocky Mountains, hundreds of miles away. UCLA researchers Stephanie Pincetl and Mark Gold are studying how Los Angeles can reduce its water imports and better capture, store and reuse water for a more sustainable water supply.

From bloom to book

WHOI ceanographers and a graphic designer team up to create Bloom, a book inspired by the ocean's voluminous seasonal phytoplankton seasonal phytoplankton blooms.

Sustainability: Water - The Ogallala Aquifer

Farmers in Kansas and other states that sit atop the Ogallala aquifer - the largest freshwater aquifer in North America - are pumping out water for crop irrigation far faster than natural seepage of rainwater can replenish it. Scientist David Hyndman from Michigan State University is helping develop a plan to better manage this vital resource for sustainable farming.

Vicki Grassian: Making sense of atmospheric dust

Vicki Grassian helps scientists better understand the complex and wide ranging behavior of dust particles. Vicki's work paints a clearer picture of atmospheric chemistry and the role particulate matter plays in the environment.

Cradle of fire: Exploring Tasmania's past

Join a group of international fire scientists and students as they venture deep into Tasmania's Cradle Mountain National Park to better understand the role of fire in the ecosystem.

Sustainability: Water - Nutrient loading in Lake Erie

Part of the earth's largest surface freshwater system, Lake Erie is a vital source of drinking water for 11 million people. Researchers Anna Michalak, Tom Bridgeman, and Pete Richards are studying how farming practices and severe weather can increase the amount of fertilizer-derived nutrients in the water, which diminishes water quality and threatens the lake's ecosystem and the public's health.

The Synergy Project: Weaving water

Physical oceanographer, Larry Pratt and artist, Anastasia Azure, collaborated to capture the essential motion of eddies through time-lapse photography of moving lights.

Faces of fire: Tasmania 2013

On January 4th, 2013 a catastrophic bushfire ripped through Tasmania. In the aftermath, scientists and residents are struggling to figure out if events like this are likely to happen more frequently in the coming years with climate change.

Sustainability: Water - Sierra Nevada snow pack and snow melt

Snow melt from the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range provides drinking water to about 30% of California's residents, irrigates key crops in the San Joaquin valley, and runs hydroelectric power plants that supply at least 15% of the state's electricity. Scientists Martha Conklin and Tom Harmon of the University of California, Merced are conducting research at the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory, using wireless sensor technology to more accurately measure snow pack and snow melt so that state water managers can make better decisions on how to allocate this precious resource.

Go Down Jason, Let My Mooring Go

When a trigger mechanism failed to release an instrument that was moored near the seafloor, a gung-ho team of oceanographers and a robot come to the rescue.

Cyber Infrastructure: The Climate Change Data Portal

The Climate Change Data Portal provides access to the research collected from the Transects and make this information available to scientists, teachers, and students. Collecting data on wind speed, atmospheric modeling, and climate variances on a daily basis.

Sustainability: Water - Baltimore's Urban Streams

Baltimore, Maryland is a major city situated on the Chesapeake Bay- a sprawling 64,000 square mile watershed. Currently, the Chesapeake is facing an environmental crisis due to pollutants. Scientist Claire Welty of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County is monitoring the travel times of pollutants in the urban streams in and around Baltimore. Through her research, she hopes to gain an understanding of the urban water cycle, and how municipalities can better prevent pollutants from contaminating the greater watershed.

Nevada Climate Change Project - Transects

The Nevada Climate Change project creates a statewide interdisciplinary program that stimulates transformative research, education, and outreach on the effects of regional climate change on ecosystem services.

Bangladesh PIRE

Low-lying Bangladesh is prone to monsoon flooding and devastating earthquakes. Yet these powerful natural forces are little understood in the region. So American and Bangladeshi scientists have formed a major collaboration to study the great rivers that flood Bangladesh and the earthquake faults that lie buried beneath the world's largest delta.

Borneo Stalagmites Provide New View Of Past Climate Events Over 100,000 Years

A set of long-term climate records based on cave stalagmites collected from tropical Borneo shows that the western tropical Pacific responded very differently than other regions of the globe to abrupt climate change events. The 100,000-year climate record adds to data on past climate events, and may help scientists assess models designed to predict how the Earth's climate will respond in the future.

Sustainability: Water - The Water Cycle

This video uses animation, graphics, and video clips to illustrate and explain each of the "flow" and "storage" processes in the Hydrologic Cycle, more commonly known as the Water Cycle: precipitation, interception, runoff, infiltration, percolation, groundwater discharge, evaporation, transpiration, evapotranspiration, and condensation.

NSF Science Now, Episode 14

This week's episode of NSF Science Now explores sea turtle locomotion by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, new images from the Gemini North telescope of comet ISON, also how researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign have created the first digital cameras that mimics insects' unique, 180-degree vision and finally we'll explore Antarctica through a unique Rutgers University program documentary about science on the frigid continent.

Synergy Project: Shaping Sound

Jonathan Fincke works in the field of Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering. He studies, zooplankton which are incredibly small marine animals that drift with the currents. They are central to the marine food chain. Because zooplankton are small and cameras cannot see large distances in the ocean, Jonathan and his colleagues use sound to study them instead.

How Solar Panels Work

When solar denizen Phrank the Photon arrives on Earth, he has a striking impact on Eddee the Exciton in this romp through solar panel dynamics by MIT graduate students Shane Yost and Jordan Chesin. But these scientist/storytellers and their colleagues at the Harvard-MIT Center for Excitonics have plans to get even more out of Phrank. Watch and see...

Two Months Breaking Ice (In Under Five Minutes)

This video is a time-lapse sequence, compressing about 60 days into less than five minutes, taken from the bridge of the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer as it "carves" forward through the Ross Sea in Antarctica.

NSF Science Now 13

This week's episode of NSF Science Now highlights new primate fossil discoveries in Tanzania, the first screening method to detect the early presence of ovarian cancer, a polymer material that more efficiently utilizes solar energy and finally research to gather the most detailed 3-D mapping ever of the Galicia Rift off the coast of Spain.

Synergy Project: Cumulative Hope

Sophie Chu is a chemical oceanographer who studies ocean acidification. Ocean acidification is changing the conditions in the ocean. Carbon dioxide from pollution combines with seawater to form an acid. Sophie Chu's research looks at ways to quantify and measure the chemical changes in the ocean caused by ocean acidification.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Can Mud Crabs Hear?

Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall Hughes study fear on the oyster reef. A predator gives off a chemical "scent," and its prey changes its behavior to avoid being detected. Now, Randall and David are asking, "Do mud crabs hear their prey?"

In The Grass, On The Reef: Apalachicola Oyster Reef Survey

A study headed by Dr. David Kimbro is tackling the Apalachicola Oyster Fishery crisis. In the first phase of this research initiative, small sample areas across the bay were sampled to determine the relative health of reefs in different areas within it.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Where The Land Meets The Sea

Dr. David Kimbro and Dr. Randall Hughes are studying productive ecosystems that are economic drivers on Florida's Forgotten Coast and beyond. In this series, we explore these habitats and their bizarre looking inhabitants, as well as meeting the people who rely on healthy salt marshes, oyster reefs, and seagrass beds for their livelihood.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Oyster Spat Tile Experiment 2.0

The idea of this experiment is to measure how well oysters grow and to see where they grow best. Dr. Randall Hughes, Dr. David Kimbro, and associates devised the spat tile. They affixed an equal number of spat - juvenile oysters - to hundreds of tiles and set them on oyster reefs across the American Southeast. It was a huge undertaking that required a high level of coordination. Only, on the researchers first attempt they encountered a major problem. See how the researchers improved upon their experiment and made it a centerpiece of their Nation Science Foundation-funded oyster study.

In The Grass, On The Reef: How Fear Rules The Oyster Reef

Fear is at work throughout the food web; working its way down from predators like catfish, toadfish, and stone crabs. Large predators eat smaller animals such as mud crabs, oyster drills, and crown conchs. This predation, in turn, keeps the smaller animals from eating the oysters. More powerful still is the mere presence of the large predators on the oyster reef. Smaller animals sense the predators and allow it affect their behavior. The smaller animals are so frightened by the large predators that they will stop eating oysters and go find a place to hide instead.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Fear And An Oyster's Choices

Oysters have no brains and they look like rocks. Looking at a reef filled with seemingly lifeless oysters, it can be difficult to imagine that this is an animal that exhibits any behavior at all. Oysters do make choices and some of those choices are influenced by the predators. In this video, Dr. David Kimbro examines the two choices that oysters make in their lives and how those choices affect an oyster's health.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Oysters And Nutrients

When algal blooms kill all the fish in a body of water, people say that nutrients are to blame. When the Apalachicola oyster fishery failed, people said that there weren't enough nutrients in the water. All life on Earth needs nitrogen to survive and the process that brings the nitrogen to plants and animals is a natural one. But nature provides only a limited amount of this nutrient. Humankind has found a way of synthesizing its own nitrogen for agricultural use and it can be too much of a good thing. See how an excess of nitrogen can be of harm to the environment and how oysters might be able to help remove that excess.

In The Grass, On The Reef: Florida Oyster Reefs Under Siege By Snails

What had once looked like an isolated and very localized problem is starting to look regional in nature. Once commercially viable oyster reefs south of Saint Augustine, Florida were experiencing an explosion in crown conch numbers that corresponded with the decline of the reefs. The affected area was small and well defined. Dr. David Kimbro and his graduate student, Hanna Garland, investigated. The likely cause they identified was an increase in salinity and it's a problem they are now starting to see in other estuaries, including Apalachicola Bay. How is the collapse of Florida's largest oyster fishery similar to what David and Hanna found south of Saint Augustine? Having launched a study in the bay in January of 2013, they aimed to find out.

NSF Science Now 12

This week's episode highlights Vanderbilt University's humanoid robot geared to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, University of Michigan researchers harnessing terahertz technology that could one day help doctors see deep into tissues without the damaging effects of x-ray, Rice University discovery that rocks in the earth's mantle beneath the ocean floor melt much deeper than previously thought and finally, Blue Waters, one of the world's most powerful supercomputers is now available for use nationwide. It's unparrelled processing power enables researchers to perform large-scale scientific applications at the cutting edge of computational science.


Step inside the new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center and learn how supercomputers (and the brilliant people who use them) are helping us understand the interconnections between the atmosphere, our oceans, climate, weather, vegetation, urban development and us.

Capturing Carbon

Burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, or CO2, into the atmosphere, with potentially serious damaging effects. Ron Surdam, director of the Carbon Management Institute at the University of Wyoming, explains efforts to discover geological sites that could be used to keep some of the CO2 emitted by human activity out of the atmosphere. Mohammad Piri, UW professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, is working on ways to get the CO2 from industrial sources to such underground sites.

Hawaii Ocean Time-Series: The 250th Expedition

In March 2013, the University of Hawaii research vessel Kilo Moana returned from the 250th scientific expedition of the Hawaii Ocean Time-series program after nearly 25 years of approximately monthly research cruises to observe and interpret habitat variability and to track climate impacts on Hawaii's marine ecosystem.

Science Of Innovation: Biofuels

A new approach to producing biofuels that uses a marine bacterium called Saccharophagus degradans that left otherwise alone, is mostly known for its damaging impact on the environment.

Understanding Our World

The atmosphere is a fluid surrounding all of our planet, so we look at it globally, explains NCAR scientist John Fasullo. Climate scientists study the interaction of the atmosphere, vegetation, ice, oceans, and the Sun using computer models to help answer questions about the complex Earth system--past, present, and future.

The Air We Breathe

NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer describes the ingredients in a smog cocktail: mix the natural chemicals emitted by vegetation with the chemicals we produce from human activities and add a dash of sunlight.

Blue Planet

Water is the lifeblood of the planet, says Scott Miller, a watershed hydrologist at the University of Wyoming. He explains how computer modeling can help us understand changes in the water cycle, and how changes in land management, population, and climate will affect the supply of water. Fred Ogden, a UW water resource and environmental science engineer, is studying ways to assure the accurate measurement of the flow rate in rivers. Predicting the availability of water resources in the West presents many challenges. Ogden is part of studies using field research, lab studies, and computer model development to tackle the challenges.

NCAR's Air Force

NCAR field project specialist Vidal Salazar explains how research aircraft benefit atmospheric research. NCAR manages two aircraft for the National Science Foundation: the C-130 gathers data at very low altitudes and slower speeds, while the Gulfstream V makes measurements at higher altitudes and over longer distances.

Climate, Weather, And Health

hat's a medical anthropologist doing at an atmospheric research center? NCAR's Mary Hayden describes efforts to understand the connections between climate, weather, and health.

NEON At A Glance

NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network, will be a revolutionary way to study long term ecological trends in the United States.

Our Built Environment: It Takes Energy

Can we rethink the way buildings use energy? John Ochsendorf, an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture at MIT, is working with his students to change the way buildings are made and how they consume energy.

The Synergy Project: Immensity In Minuteness

Along the edges of tectonic plates on the seafloor, molten rock wells up to form fresh rock. Cold seawater seeps through cracks in the rock and is heated, driving chemical reactions that transform seawater into hot, mineral-rich fluids that billow like smoke from chimney-like mineral formations called hydrothermal vents. Although out of range of the sun's rays, these areas are teeming with organisms that derive their energy from chemicals in the vented fluid. Jill McDermott and her colleagues investigate these chemical reactions, which may hold clues to the origin of life on our planet.

Our Built Environment: It Takes Energy

Can we rethink the way buildings use energy? John Ochsendorf, an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Architecture at MIT, is working with his students to change the way buildings are made and how they consume energy.

Brewing Storms

A lot of the weather with a big local impact comes in smaller-sized packages. That relatively small size makes thunderstorms, tornadoes, and local blizzards much harder to predict than big winter storms or hurricanes that can be tracked over several days. NCAR scientist Morris Weisman explains how recent advances are revealing the fine-scale structure of storms and improving forecasts.

The Synergy Project: Sacred Intersections

Synergy is an experimental program that catalyzes partnerships between artists and research scientists. Ellie Bors studies deep-sea life. Laurie Kaplowitz creates mixed-media drawings and paintings.

Storms In Space

We depend on the Sun for heat and light, but there's a lot more going on than meets the eye," says NCAR solar physicist Scott McIntosh. On a whirlwind tour of the Sun's magnetic forces, MacIntosh describes the impact solar storms can have on Earth's environment and explains how scientists study this powerhouse of mass and energy.

Understanding The Role Of Public Trust In Managing Natural Resources

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln teaches fellows about real-world policy applications in the natural resources arena and enable the transfer of knowledge in a way that is useful to policymakers in responding to the challenges created by demands for diminishing resources, and the need to maintain and build resilience in stressed watersheds.

Survival Of Trees

Understanding how trees of the past chose to adapt to climatic changes, Dr. Joy Ward is able to predict how trees might adapt to climatic changes in the future

Study Shows Which Fish Clean Up Coral Reefs

Using underwater video cameras to record fish feeding on South Pacific coral reefs, scientists have found that herbivorous fish can be picky eaters - a trait that could spell trouble for endangered reef systems.

The Art Of Science

Science isn't just electron microscopes and high-tech instruments. Researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech are examining the intersection of art and science.

Megathrust Earthquakes

QUEST Northwest talks with geologists and seismologists about cutting edge research in earthquake prediction, and what it would look like if the next "Big One" hits close to home.

The Power Of Wind

NCAR researcher Bill Mahoney and University of Wyoming professor Jonathan Naughton describe advances in managing the power of wind.

NSF Science Now 6

In this week's episode of NSF Science Now we explore climate change and the Colorado River, helping children with disabilities, porcupine's quills, and finally the decline of chinstrap penguins.

The Fury Of Fire

NCAR scientist Janice Coen on the latest research to better understand and predict the erratic behavior of wildfires.

Researching Cold Water Corals

Pioneering faculty and students at UMaine's Darling Marine Center dive into the rarely seen world of deep sea coral bringing new and exciting discoveries to the surface.

The Chemistry Of Snowflakes

This video tracks the formation of snowflakes from their origins in bits of dust in clouds that become droplets of water falling to Earth.

Geospatial Revolution: Episode 1

This first episode covers what is involved in the geospatial revolution, the origins of mapping and geospatial technology, and a look at the use of crisis mapping in Haitian earthquake relief efforts.

Geospatial Revolution: Episode 2

This episode looks at how local governments and business use geospatial technology to deliver services and run efficiently, keeping a continuing eye on future developments and applications.

Geospatial Revolution: Episode 3

The third episode explores geospatial technology in the world of security: how new technologies help to broker peace, wage war, and fight crime but can also compromise personal privacy.

Geospatial Revolution: Episode 4

The fourth and final episode explores geospatial technology around the world: monitoring global climate change, preventing famine, tracking disease and mapping communities never before seen on a map.

Whales In Fjords

Researcher Eric Keen describes his research about fin whale occurrence and vocalizations within a developing coastal corridor. Produced for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program Video Contest.

Turtles In The Deep

This short video explains how Lindsey Peavey's PhD research is shaping the field of sea turtle ecology by taking investigations from nesting beaches into open ocean habitats where threatened turtles spend the majority of their time and encounter major threats. The open ocean foraging ecology insights that result from her research will be instrumental in informing marine resources managers tasked with balancing species protection, fisheries production and ecosystem preservation. Produced for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program Video Contest.

The Secrets Of Nitrogenase

Did you know approximately fifty percent of the nitrogen in our bodies comes from an industrial process called the Haber-Bosch process? How is this possible? And why is it important? And what the heck is nitrogenase? Watch and Learn! And find out more than you ever wanted to know about nitrogen.

Lake Temperatures

Lake ecosystems in both high and low latitudes being affected by rising water temperatures

NSF Science Now 3

In this week's episode of NSF Science Now we explore NSF's Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Site, phytoplankton and climate change, how silver turns people blue and finally why math hurts.

Black Carbon

Soot from black carbon causing health and environmental concerns

NSF Science Now 2

In this week's episode of NSF Science Now we explore Hawaiian volcanoes, smart homes, robot locomotion and finally novel engineering ideas on the tiny wings of butterflies.

NSF Science Now 1

In this week's episode of NSF Science Now we explore "Yellowstone", one of the world's most powerful supercomputers, acidification of McMurdo Sound, a living laboratory and finally EcoATM.

Heading Due South

Scripps researchers gather geomagnetic signs to determine if Earth's magnetic field is currently headed toward a complete reversal.


Studying the cross-shore mortality of the copepods in the Gulf of Maine

Bark Beetle Outbreaks

Millions of pine trees are dying in western North America, all due to a beetle about the size of a grain of rice

The Chemistry Of CO2: Carbon Dioxide

The Chemistry of CO2: Carbon Dioxide," uses CO2's molecular structure to explain and illustrate the Octet Rule (Rule of 8); and examines CO2's role in carbonation, the carbon cycle, and the Earth's atmosphere, surface temperature, and ocean acidity.

Jewels In The Mud

A marine biomedicine pioneer leads explorations of the oceans to battle drug resistance and disease.

Science Behind The News: Tornadoes

Tornadoes are violent, twisting columns of air with wind speeds over 100 miles per hour that can tear communities apart. Josh Wurman, an atmospheric scientist, explains that tornadoes develop in a special type of thunderstorm called a supercell, but that there are still mysteries to unravel.

PREDICT: A Look Into Hurricane Development

Why do some tropical storms form into hurricanes and others don't? The Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics - PREDICT - is an atmospheric science study that investigated tropical cyclone development in 2010 to help forecasters increase their lead time on hurricane warnings

Chemistry Of Changing Leaves

Why do tree leaves turn gold, orange and scarlet in the fall? "Chemistry of Changing Leaves" explains the role of pigment molecules, including chlorophyll, carotenoids, and anthocyanin.

Lessons From Deepwater

America's biggest oil leak exposed a glaring need to proactively protect and monitor coastlines, researchers say.

Changing Planet Town Hall At Yale University

A panel of experts on climate gather at Yale University to discuss how climate change is affecting human health, economic opportunity and competitiveness and moral and religious values, as well as how young people are getting involved in finding solutions

Volcano From Space

Michelle Coombs from Alaska Volcano Observatory tells a story about first astronaut report of a erupting volcano from the International Space Station.

Deep-Ocean Volcanoes

National Science Foundation and NOAA funded scientists discover the deepest ocean eruption ever seen

The Triple Bottom Line

In "The Triple Bottom Line," the title refers to the business concept that economic activity should not only benefit the traditional bottom line of profit, but also to meet the needs of the people and the planet.

Desperate Alewives

This episode features members of a collaborative SSI research team focused on the ecological and economic recovery of the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers and the impact that alewife restoration may play in that recovery.

Wiring The Oceans

A state-of-the-art global observatory will launch ocean science light years ahead

Seismic Hazards In Haiti

Scientists explain how they predicted that Haiti could be hit by a massive earthquake just over year before their prediction proved to be true


Greening open medians in roadways helps support urban ecosystems