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Humans want stable landscapes; but rivers need to move

River deltas change over time, and the freedom to shift river location is important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. However, humans are used to the stability of fixed infrastructure, so they struggle dealing with dynamic landforms like river deltas. But rivers changing course and evolving over time is a good sign for the delta and the environment around it. In a new commentary published in Earth’s Future, a national team of experts including Irina Overeem examines the ongoing conflict between stability and sustainability in heavily populated river deltas, such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna in India/Bangladesh and Mississippi in the U.S.

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Expert Q&A on efforts to reverse desertification (drylands reseeding)

Restoration of degraded drylands is urgently needed to mitigate climate change, reverse desertification and secure livelihoods for the two billion people who live in these areas, say an international group of ecologists who examined the success of seeding drylands with key native plant species. Their study is published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Lead author Nancy Shackelford started the project as a postdoc in Katie Suding's group.

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Wildfires in U.S., Siberia are unusually intense, setting emissions records

Wildfires across parts of the U.S., Canada, and Siberia are burning unusually intensely and emitting larger amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than typical during midsummer, scientists say. The fires are thriving in areas experiencing extreme heat and drought conditions. They are both a consequence of climate change and an accelerant of global warming.

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Cores 3.0: Future-proofing Earth sciences’ historical records

Core libraries store a treasure trove of data about the planet’s past. What will it take to sustain their future?

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New analysis shows microbial sources fueling rise of atmospheric methane

The sudden and sustained rise in atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas methane since 2007 has posed one of the most significant and pressing questions in climate research: Where is it coming from? The question has been the subject of intense scientific interest for a decade. Now a research team has tested the leading theories for surging methane levels by analyzing the stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C-CH4) from methane captured in a large set of global air samples to determine if one of the theories is more feasible than the others. Their paper was published in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

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Longer growing season could transform the tundra

Across the tundra, warming temperatures are causing plants to stay greener longer and flower earlier—and that could reshape life there, according to new research led by INSTAARs. The findings, published today in Nature Communications, synthesized 30 years of experimental warming data from 18 different tundra sites across the globe and found that not only are leaves coming out earlier and staying on the plants longer in this critically understudied biome, but their reproductive cycles are not responding in the same way. This change could not only have cascading effects through the ecosystem, but could also change the balance of carbon between the land and the atmosphere.

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