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climate science

The Polarstern icebreaker in sea ice.
climate science

The Voyage to the End of Ice

January 16, 2020

Summer sea ice could vanish later this decade, with disastrous consequences. It all depends on the physics of ice.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Physics (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Physics

December 23, 2019

Physicists saw a black hole for the first time, debated the expansion rate of the universe, pondered the origin of time and modeled the end of clouds.

Art for "A World Without Clouds"
climate science

A World Without Clouds

February 25, 2019

A state-of-the-art supercomputer simulation indicates that a feedback loop between global warming and cloud loss can push Earth’s climate past a disastrous tipping point in as little as a century.

Art for "How Nearby Stellar Explosions Could Have Killed Off Large Animals"
Abstractions blog

How Nearby Stellar Explosions Could Have Killed Off Large Animals

January 15, 2019

Subatomic particles called muons are thought to have streamed through the atmosphere and irradiated megafauna like the monster shark megalodon.

Art for "Forests Emerge as a Major Overlooked Climate Factor"
climate science

Forests Emerge as a Major Overlooked Climate Factor

October 9, 2018

New work at the intersection of atmospheric science and ecology is finding that forests can influence rainfall and climate from across a continent.

ecology

Cores From Coral Reefs Hold Secrets of the Seas’ Past and Future

May 29, 2018

Layered deposits of coral skeletons hold vast stores of environmental data from thousands of years ago, including annual records of ocean temperatures, water pollution and storm activity.

Art for "A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate"
ecology

A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

May 7, 2018

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.

microbes

Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life

June 16, 2015

The soil teems with billions of hidden microbes. Researchers have begun to catalog how these organisms are changing the world.

Q&A

A ‘Rebel’ Without a Ph.D.

March 26, 2014

A conversation with the mathematical physicist Freeman Dyson on quantum electrodynamics, climate change and his latest pet project.