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.

Science360 Rewind: Make like a tree

Charlie and Jordan will be back with new episodes shortly but they'd hate to leave you without any science. If you are hunkering down this weekend, you and the ponderosa pine have something in common.

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.