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.

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