Lake with pillars and clouds in sky above.

Did phosphorus-rich lakes help kickstart life on Earth?

The building blocks of life as we know it require chemical reactions involving phosphorus. But phosphorus is scarce on Earth. Where did enough of it come from to fuel life’s start? Carbonate-rich lakes, like Mono Lake in California, might hold a clue.

Spooky big-headed human-like silhouettes in shadowy forest.

Could invisible aliens exist among us?

The Earth might be crawling with undiscovered alien creatures whose biochemistry is very different from life as we know it. An astrobiologist explains.

2019 was Earth’s 2nd-hottest year on record

According to independent analyses by both NASA and NOAA, Earth’s global surface temperatures in 2019 ranked 2nd-warmest since 1880.

A graphic showing global average temperatures from 1850 to 1919.

2010 to 2019 was the hottest decade on record

According to the UK’s Met Office, each decade from the 1980s has been successively warmer than all the decades that came before. 2019 concludes the warmest ‘cardinal’ decade (those spanning years ending 0-9) in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century.

View from a round window aboard ISS of a powerful, swirling hurricane in the Atlantic.

$1 billion weather/climate disasters: 14 for US in 2019

NOAA reports that 2019 was the 5th consecutive year in which the United States experienced 10 or more $1 billion weather and climate disasters, including fires, hurricanes and flooding.

Tyrannosaurus rex: the teen years

Growing up Tyrannosaurus rex: A new study from Oklahoma State University provides details about what life was like for the famous dinosaurs during their juvenile teenage years.

Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano had a spectacular eruption this week

El Popo erupts! Well, it erupts often, but Thursday morning’s eruption – which happened at sunrise – was a beauty. El Popo is the nickname for Mexico’s most active volcano, Popocatépetl, near Mexico City. The eruption Thursday caused officials to issue a yellow alert.

Map showing epicenter of January 7, 2020 earthquake, south of island of Puerto Rico.

Magnitude 6.4 earthquake shakes Puerto Rico

USGS reports that the strong earthquake in Puerto Rico this morning was “widely felt.” Strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of southern Puerto Rico closest to the event, and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island.

This satellite image was collected by NOAA-NASA's Suomi NPP satellite using the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument on Jan. 01, 2020. Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points. Lynn Jenner with information from New South Wales Rural Fire website and the Bushfires and Natural Hazards CRC website. Via NASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).

Ferocious fires in Australia intensified this week

The outlook for the bushfire situation in Australia continues to be grim. This post is an update via NASA, containing NOAA-NASA satellite images of actively burning fires and the resultant billowing smoke.

January’s birthstone is the garnet

Happy birthday, January babies!  Your birthstone is the garnet.

Wavelike clouds at twilight, above a mountain landscape.

Clouds that look like ocean waves

They’re called Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds, aka billow clouds or shear-gravity clouds, and they look like breaking ocean waves.

November 2019 was 2nd hottest on record for planet

Last month was the 2nd warmest November in the 140-year global climate record, and polar sea ice coverage shrank to near-record lows, according to a NOAA report. .

Some of the fossilized roots uncovered at the quarry in New York. Via Cardiff University

Remains of Earth’s oldest forest found in New York

Scientists found fossilized root systems of ancient trees – from what’s now Earth’s oldest known forest – near Cairo, New York. They looked “surprisingly modern,” the scientists said.

Solstice tale of two cities

December solstice sunrise comes at the same time for St. Augustine, Florida, and New York City. But St. Augustine has an hour more of daylight than New York. Here’s why.

Humpback whale.

Why are whales big, but not bigger?

How did whales that feed on tiny prey evolve into the largest creatures on Earth? And why don’t they get even bigger?

December solstice: All you need to know

It’s getting closer. December solstice 2019 arrives on December 22 at 04:19 UTC. That’s December 21 for much of North America. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!

Vast area of ice-covered water, and a small red ship.

2019 Arctic Report Card: Visual highlights

NOAA’s 14th annual Arctic Report Card recounts the ways that climate change continued to alter the north polar region during 2019.

Southern sea otters resting and napping among kelp fronds in Morro Bay. Photo by Ingrid Taylar via Flickr.

Will sea otters return to San Francisco Bay?

A new study shows that, if they can be returned to San Francisco Bay, California’s southern sea otter population can be tripled. There are now only about 3,000 of the otters left. But, first, they’ll need some help getting past the great white sharks.

Snowy, rocky mountaintop against a pink sky.

Amazon fires quickening glacier melting in Andes

The burning rainforest releases black carbon into the atmosphere, which, according to a growing number of scientific studies, directly contributes to the melting of glaciers.

Researchers describe 71 new species in 2019

New species from 5 continents and 3 oceans include geckos, goblin spiders, flowering plants, and Mediterranean ants.