Desert

Can Deserts Stop Global Warming? No, but They Help, Study Says

Publication: NBC News   Date: April 6, 2014   View Article

The world’s arid areas — deserts filled with scrubby vegetation and sand — are absorbing more of the carbon dioxide that’s being emitted into the atmosphere than expected, a new study shows. While these ecosystems will not stop global warming, scientists said the finding provides a better understanding of the carbon cycle, and thus how the global climate will change in the future.

“It is definitely not going to stop it … just now we are understanding the processes that are going on,” lead author Dave Evans, a biologist specializing in ecology and global change at Washington State University, told NBC News. “But we are still seeing huge amounts of carbon accumulating in the atmosphere.”

Arizona Tries to Save “Living Cave”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 19, 2005   View Article

In 1974 cool, moist air billowed from a crack in Arizona’s sunbaked desert and lured cave hunters Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen underground. There, glistening formations of rock hung from the ceiling like icicles and sprouted from the ground. The explorers were overwhelmed. They’d discovered a so-called living cave.

Tufts and Tenen were the first humans known to set foot in the Kartchner Caverns, which today are among the world’s top show caves.

“Miracle” Microbes Thrive at Earth’s Extremes

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 17, 2004   View Article

For the past 30 years scientists have scoured the most inhospitable environments on Earth searching for life. Just about everywhere researchers look, they find it thriving in microscopic form.

These organisms, known as extremophiles, snuggle up to scalding hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean. They cling to ice in Antarctica. They burrow in the high deserts of Chile and wallow in salty lake beds of East Africa.

High Lakes May Yield Clues to Life on Mars

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 27, 2003   View Article

Next month Nathalie Cabrol and colleagues hope to slip into drysuits, don masks, and dive, without the aid of an oxygen tank, into a lake tucked into the crater of a 19,734-foot (6,014-meter) tall volcano on the border between Chile and Bolivia.

If they succeed, they will tie a world record for the highest “free dive.”

Chile Desert to Prepare Robot for Life on Mars

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 25, 2003   View Article

Scientists on the prowl for life on Mars have trained their sights on the parched Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Scientists believe that if their high-tech robotics succeed in their quest to find life in the Earth’s most inhospitable deserts, they may also be able to find life on Mars.

David Wettergreen, a research scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, described the Atacama as “the most arid desert on Earth. It is what scientists call an end member [ecosystem] in that it has the lowest organic content of anywhere on Earth.”

Utah Dinos May Have Been Killed by Drought

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 20, 2002   View Article

Drought—not the perils of a muddy bog—may explain why millions of years ago hundreds of large, lumbering meat-eating cousins to Tyrannosaurus rex perished in what is now a dusty, rocky desert in southern Utah.

The site, named the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, is one of the world’s most prolific dinosaur fossil sources. It has yielded more than 70 partial skeletons, 12,000 individual bones, and single dinosaur eggs.

Book Report: Mummies Reflect Primal Urge to Extend Human Life

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 9, 2001   View Article

Most humans yearn for immortality. This desire to extend human life is the root of mummification all around the world, says a science journalist who explores the subject in a new book.

“Mummification is closest to [immortality],” says Heather Pringle, a science journalist from Vancouver, Canada. “It is a way of keeping something of us for future generations.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach