Seen in 2012, an excavator works on a road near an Indonesian oil palm plantation built on disputed lands once home to a rainforest.

The Best and Worst Places to Build More Roads

Road works today are “basically chaos”—but a new global road map could be key to protecting agriculture and nature

California’s exceptional drought has exposed the bottom of Big Bear Lake.

California’s Record Drought Is Making Earth's Surface Rise

Lifting land shows that the U.S. West is now missing some 62 trillion gallons of water

An April earthquake in northern Chile left one highway with a deep crack.

Lingering Stress Hints at the Next Giant Earthquake in Chile

A section of the South American tectonic plate holds the potential for a massive quake in the near future

Two hurricanes, Iselle and Julio, that could hit Hawaii this weekend (seen here in a satellite image captured August 4) may have been influenced by an El Niño developing in the Pacific.

Ancient Clam Shells Show That What Drives El Niño Is Still Unclear

Earth’s path around the Sun may play a role, but other factors are still unknown

Tropical regions are home to many unique species, such as this tiny frog belonging to the genus Dendrophryniscus that lives in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. A new study finds that removing just a few trees can quickly cause biodiversity in these tropical forests to fall.

Removing Just a Few Trees Can Lower Tropical Animal Biodiversity

Selective logging can halve the number of species of mammals and amphibians in a forest

Mount Fuji is beautiful when viewed from a distance. But it is also an active volcano that, if it erupts, could displace more than a million people in Japan.

What Makes A Volcano Dangerous? People

Millions of people worldwide live in the shadows of dangerous volcanoes

In cities, where the urban heat island effect can raise the local temperature several degrees higher than nearby rural areas, summer is a time to cool off wherever you can.

Why the City Is (Usually) Hotter than the Countryside

The smoothness of the landscape and the local climate—not the materials of the concrete jungle—govern the urban heat island effect, a new study finds

Among the many downsides of natural gas extraction are the small earthquakes caused by injecting wastewater back into the earth. Above, an oil rig drills for natural gas through shale.

Time to Start Paying Attention to Fracking’s Earthquakes

With wastewater injection sparking swarms of small quakes, some states are taking notice of the danger

Many fish and other organisms make their home on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. How will the massive living structure change as climate changes?

Great Barrier Reef Gets A Little Good News

New research shows that some corals may be able to adapt to faster warming than previously thought

Leaves of the plant Plantago lanceolata infected with powdery mildew.

What the Spread Of A Plant Mildew Tells Us About Forests

Fragmenting habitats into smaller pieces may let diseases spread more easily, a new study finds

Inside the semi-subterranean 19th-century burial vault, conditions had deteriorated. The wooden shelves that held the caskets of nearly two dozen individuals had disintegrated. Bones were exposed.

To Discover What Life Was Like in 19th Century D.C., a Smithsonian Scientist Investigates a Tomb

Forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley digs into an 1835 vault and reveals the startling history of a famous Washington family

Hurricane Irene caused destruction throughout the Caribbean and along the U.S. East Coast, killing more than 50 people in late August 2011.

Our Gender Biases May Be Making Hurricanes With Female Names More Deadly

Even without Katrina and Audrey, storms with feminine monikers have killed more people than those with masculine names

Watching a movie on a DVD requires more energy than streaming it over the Internet, a new study finds.

Streaming a Movie Uses Less Energy Than Watching a DVD

Getting rid of DVD players could reduce carbon dioxide emissions, researchers find

The interior of Greenland (seen here with researchers’ tents pitched) is usually covered in frozen ice and snow. In July 2012, though, 97 percent of the surface melted for the first time in more than 100 years. Scientists now know why that happened.

Nearly All of Greenland’s Surface Melted Overnight in 2012—Here’s Why

High temperatures and black carbon from forest fires and fossil fuels combined to push the huge ice sheet over the edge

Water extracted from beneath California’s San Joaquin Valley keeps farm fields green. But it may also be affecting earthquakes in the region.

Pulling Water Out of the Ground May Lead to Quakes on the San Andreas Fault

Ground movements linked to water extraction may change stresses on the fault famously responsible for California earthquakes

Around three billion people worldwide depend on rice for their diet. But a new study finds that rice and other crops grown under high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide results in lower levels of some nutrients.

More Carbon Dioxide in the Air Makes Some Crops Less Nutritious

Crops such as rice and wheat have lower concentrations of some nutrients when they’re grown under an atmosphere with higher levels of the greenhouse gas

Trash, such as this glass bottle, has been found deep in the ocean, far away from shore.

Your Garbage Is Polluting Even The Deep, Remote Reaches of the Ocean

Scientists have found plastic, glass and other trash littering the seafloor and collecting in canyons

An experiment with corals taken from the warm waters of the U.S. National Park of American Samoa showed that at least one species can quickly adapt to rising heat.

This Coral Has Shown It Can Weather Warmer Waters

Corals are not expected to do well with climate change. But the ability to adapt to warmer oceans could give them more time

As climate change makes wet places wetter and dry areas drier, the frequency of drought is expected in increase in certain locations. Droughts, such as this one in Kenya in 2006, can increase food insecurity, especially among the poor.

Eight Ways That Climate Change Hurts Humans

From floods and droughts to increases in violent conflict, climate change is taking a toll on the planet's population

Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat, by Simon de Myle

Ten Ancient Stories and the Geological Events That May Have Inspired Them

If you dig deep enough, say scientists, you can find some truth to legends and creation stories

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