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.

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.

Life in the dry valleys

Boston University geologist David Marchant has led his team to the McMurdo Dry Valleys, part of only 2 percent of Antarctica that is not covered in ice. Without snow or ice, the landscape here resembles Death Valley or the Grand Canyon, and probably has not changed in the past 14 million years.

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.

The expedition begins

Boston University geologist David Marchant leads the Antarctica Research Group on the long journey to the Transantarctic Mountains, a three week trek that involves military aircraft, polar survival gear and helicopters.

Episode 8: Go with your gut

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.

Hunting for hidden ice

The search for ancient ice starts back on campus, in Boston University's Digital Image Analysis Lab, where BU geologist David Marchant and his team pour over thousands of high resolution satellite images of Antarctica. They are looking for polygons; shapes in the rock that indicate buried ice below.

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.

The search for ancient ice

Geologist David Marchant leads a team of researchers, including Sean Mackay and Jen Lamp, deep into the heart of Antarctica. They are searching for ancient, buried ice, which may contain clues about the future of the polar ice caps under global warming