Earth Science

A volcanic eruption moves toward the outskirts of the evacuated town of Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula.

Iceland's Recent Volcanic Eruptions Are Unleashing Deep Secrets

Each dramatic episode over the past few years has led to fresh geologic revelations, and researchers think another bout is on the way

Returning Rapids Project investigator Chris Benson examines old photos of the Colorado River to see how it has changed over time.

Citizen Scientists Document a Recovering Colorado River

The Returning Rapids Project charts a resurgent waterway and its surrounding ecosystems

Costa Rica's Arenal volcano spews geysers of lava, ash and toxic gases

Why Central American Volcanoes Are Ideal for Studying Earth's Evolution

The volcanic arc extending from Mexico to Costa Rica expels a variety of magma types that make for a geological paradise

Meteorological records from USS Pennsylvania, seen here off the Virginia coast in 1927, helped fill a gap in 20th century marine weather records.

How Citizen Scientists Rescued Crucial World War II Weather Data

Newly declassified documents from the Pacific theater have been digitized and could improve climate models

An artist's rendition of the collision between Earth and the protoplanet Theia, which, according to the prevailing theory, resulted in the moon's formation.

Mysterious Lumps in Earth's Mantle May Be Remains of the Crash That Formed the Moon

Chunks of a protoplanet called Theia became lodged within Earth after the two worlds smashed together, new computer simulations suggest

Dust from the Chicxulub impact may have plunged the planet into a cold, dark winter and halted photosynthesis.

Dust May Have Triggered the Global Winter That Killed the Dinosaurs

A new study, based on modeling, suggests fine silicate particles could have blocked sunlight and shut down photosynthesis across the globe

A shot of Hurricane Ian, taken from the International Space Station on September 28, 2022

Atlantic Hurricanes Are Getting More Dangerous, More Quickly

If such changes are in response to climate change, the future may feature more sudden, daunting storms

Warming spurred by Earth's next supercontinent could lead to widespread desert conditions, a new modeling study suggests. Pictured is the Tengger Desert in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China.

Earth's Next Supercontinent Could Wipe Out Mammals in 250 Million Years

Termed “Pangea Ultima,” the predicted future landmass might be extremely hot, plagued by volcanoes and largely inhospitable, per a new modeling study

A quarry in the Cerro Blanco Forest in southern Ecuador, which is facing threats from construction and deforestation.

Humans Have Exceeded Six of the Nine Boundaries Keeping Earth Habitable

Scientists find we are “well outside the safe operating space for humanity” in a new study meant to assess the health of our planet

"Cellphone: Unseen Connections" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History walks through every aspect of the technology.

How Cellphones Connect Us All

A new Natural History Museum exhibition explores how the devices link us to Earth and to a network of people worldwide involved in their supply chain

Apparatus for administering nitrous oxide and other anesthetic gases

These Objects Tell the Story of Human-Driven Climate Change

Smithsonian curators dig into the collections to find artifacts that illustrate how we arrived at this moment

Turkish world-record-holding free-diver Sahika Ercumen swims amid plastic waste on June 27, 2020, to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Scientists Discover Microbes That Could Revolutionize Plastic Recycling

These bacteria and fungi can break down certain plastics at cool temperatures, saving money and energy compared to some current methods

A massive ice island breaks free of the Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland in July 2012.

Satellites Show Warming Tides Melting a Massive Greenland Glacier

The finding could mean that past predictions of sea-level rise from glaciers should double

The Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone National Park

Listen to Music Made From Yellowstone's Seismic Data

A scientist and a musician performed a live musical rendition of the park's underground rumblings

The Neo P1 starts at $179, roughly five to ten times the price of a normal pothos plant.

Could Genetically Modified Houseplants Clean the Air in Your Home?

A Parisian start-up wants to filter harmful chemicals indoors with engineered pothos plants

A revolutionary new tool, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and NASA, will monitor the chemistry and changing dynamics of major pollutants (above: an Arizona power generating station).

This Eye in the Sky Promises Major Insights Into the Air We Breathe

The satellite mission TEMPO will detect pollutants at a neighborhood scale across the nation

Using satellite-based datasets from 2003 to 2017, a new study identified significant decreases in average rainfall in Southeast Asia, as well as the Amazon and the Congo.

Deforestation Is Linked to Lower Rainfall, Study Says

The Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions face drying climates due to loss of trees

An artist's rendition of a cross-section of Earth. The innermost layer, the inner core, is a 1,500-mile-wide ball of iron.

The Spin of Earth's Inner Core May Be Changing, Scientists Say

A new study finds our planet's iron center shifts between spinning slightly faster and slightly slower than the surface—but not all experts agree

Scientists believe that at several times in Earth’s history the planet was covered by ice.

How Animals May Have Conquered Snowball Earth

We know there were animals during our planet's chilliest era. But what did they look like?

Winchcombe meteorite

Meteorites May Have Brought Water to Earth and Mars

Rare, carbon-containing rocks could have created conditions suitable for life on both planets, two new studies suggest

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