Reviews & Analysis

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  • Lakes dammed by ice will commonly spill in catastrophic outbursts. Lake Agassiz-Ojibway, at the margin of the Laurentide ice sheet, burst 8,470 years ago in a subglacial flood whose marks have been scratched into the seafloor of Hudson Bay.

    • Martin Jakobsson
    News & Views
  • Despite Titan's cold temperatures (about 93.7 K at the equator), fluvial and atmospheric processes are active on this moon of Saturn, with methane playing a similar role to water on Earth. However, Titan lacks a global methane ocean, and rainfall appears to be episodic.

    • Jonathan I. Lunine
    • Sushil K. Atreya
    Review Article
  • The influence of global warming on temperature trends at higher altitudes has been hotly debated. Stratospheric ozone depletion is another piece in the remaining tropical climate puzzle.

    • Drew Shindell
    News & Views
  • Ice-sheet stability is affected by a complex interplay between meltwater and the geological characteristics of the bedrock under the ice. The identification of a recently active subglacial volcano in Antarctica adds uncertainty to this system.

    • Stefan W. Vogel
    News & Views
  • Local changes in the velocity of ambient seismic noise just before volcanic eruptions could indicate increased magma pressure within volcanoes. Continuous monitoring of such changes may therefore prove to be a potent tool for forecasting eruptions.

    • Karim G. Sabra
    News & Views
  • In the auroral region, solitary plasma waves form in a low-density plasma when energetic electron beams hit and energize ambient ions to escape velocity. Electromagnetic waves from lightning trigger similar plasma behaviour in the equatorial ionosphere.

    • Michael Kelley
    News & Views
  • Impact craters often have asymmetric shapes, which have been used to infer the direction and angle of impact. But pre-existing structural or topographic heterogeneities also play an important role in crater asymmetry.

    • Peter Schultz
    News & Views
  • Rising carbon levels contributed to profound climate change 55 million years ago. Where did that extra carbon come from? One proposal — a cometary impact — is rebuffed by two analyses of magnetic particles in clay sediment cores from New Jersey.

    • Gerald R. Dickens
    News & Views
  • Rivers may be efficient environments for metabolizing terrestrial organic carbon that was previously thought to be recalcitrant, owing to pockets that provide geophysical opportunities by retaining material for longer, and to the adaptation of microbial communities, which has enabled them to exploit the energy that escapes upstream ecosystems.

    • Tom J. Battin
    • Louis A. Kaplan
    • Francesc Sabater
    Progress Article
  • India and Arabia collide with Eurasia at slightly different velocities. Detailed mapping of the Arabian Sea suggests that this motion started between 3 and 8 million years ago, possibly with a transfer of an Arabian plate wedge to the Indian plate.

    • Charles DeMets
    News & Views
  • In aerosol hot spots around the globe, solar radiation is dimmed down on its way to the Earth's surface. The resulting surface cooling turns out to be almost in balance with heating of the atmosphere due to black carbon.

    • John Seinfeld
    News & Views
  • Neither recycled oceanic crust nor sediments alone can explain the composition of ocean-island basalts, but how about a mixture of the two? Recent modelling using the isotopes of hafnium and neodymium appears to support this contention.

    • Terry Plank
    • Peter E. van Keken
    News & Views
  • Modern deep waters form in the Nordic seas when high-salinity surface waters cool and sink. An analysis of Arctic Ocean sediments suggests that throughout the past fifteen million years, brines created during sea-ice formation controlled the sinking of water.

    • Ellen Martin
    News & Views
  • The atmosphere's lowermost 10 km have long been assumed to be almost solely responsible for weather and climate on Earth. Emerging evidence points to the layer above as an important influence on surface winds and temperatures on seasonal to decadal timescales.

    • Tiffany A. Shaw
    • Theodore G. Shepherd
    News & Views
  • From about 470 million years ago, the Middle Ordovician period witnessed a rapid increase in biodiversity. This explosion in numbers of species is almost perfectly contemporaneous with an increased frequency of meteorite impacts.

    • Florentin Paris
    News & Views
  • The relationship between carbon dioxide and climate over millions of years has been a source of controversy. Fossilized liverwort leaves can help illuminate both temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 200 to 60 million years ago.

    • Klaus Wallmann
    News & Views
  • Emerging evidence for threefold higher heat flow across the core–mantle boundary prompts a re-evaluation of the role of thermal plumes in geodynamics and the thermal history of the Earth's core and lower mantle.

    • Thorne Lay
    • John Hernlund
    • Bruce A. Buffett
    Review Article
  • The tropical belt has been widening over past decades — as estimated from a number of independent lines of evidence — shifting the dry subtropical climate zones polewards around the world.

    • Dian J. Seidel
    • Qiang Fu
    • Thomas J. Reichler
    Progress Article