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Category: Earth and atmospheric sciences

Scientists build new atlas of ocean’s oxygen-starved waters | MIT News
December 27, 2021

Life is teeming nearly everywhere in the oceans, except in certain pockets where oxygen naturally plummets and waters become unlivable for most aerobic organisms. These desolate pools are “oxygen-deficient zones,” or ODZs. And though they make up less than 1 percent of the ocean’s total volume, they are a significant source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Their boundaries can also limit the extent of...

“Newer, nimbler, faster:” Venus probe will search for signs of life in clouds of sulfuric acid | MIT News
December 10, 2021

With multiple rovers landed and a mission set to return samples to Earth, Mars has dominated the search for life in the solar system for decades. But Venus has some fresh attention coming its way. In a new report published today, a team led by MIT researchers lays out the scientific plan and rationale for a suite of scrappy, privately-funded missions set to hunt for signs of life among the ultra-acidic atmosphere of the...

Climate modeling confirms historical records showing rise in hurricane activity | MIT News
December 2, 2021

When forecasting how storms may change in the future, it helps to know something about their past. Judging from historical records dating back to the 1850s, hurricanes in the North Atlantic have become more frequent over the last 150 years. However, scientists have questioned whether this upward trend is a reflection of reality, or simply an artifact of lopsided record-keeping. If 19th-century storm trackers had access to...

Nanograins make for a seismic shift | MIT News
November 24, 2021

In Earth’s crust, tectonic blocks slide and grind past each other like enormous ships loosed from anchor. Earthquakes are generated along these fault zones when enough stress builds for a block to stick, then suddenly slip. These slips can be aided by several factors that reduce friction within a fault zone, such as hotter temperatures or pressurized gases that can separate blocks like pucks on an air-hockey table. The...

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