Earth and environmental sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Past Indian summer monsoon (ISM) changes are not well understood. The application of an energetic framework to a transient model simulation shows that ISM influences have changed in the past, with rising water vapor more important during deglaciation, whereas cloud feedbacks dominated during the Holocene.

    • Chetankumar Jalihal
    • , Jayaraman Srinivasan
    •  & Arindam Chakraborty
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The D$${}^{{\prime\prime} }$$ layer in the Earth’s lower mantle involves a seismic discontinuity which is often assigned to a mineral phase transition to post-perovskite, however, as this phase transition occurs over broad region the assignment of seismic boundaries remains unclear. Here, the authors find that due to the kinetics of the bridgmanite to post-perovskite transformation, thick transition layers can be detected by seismic reflections, unlike previously thought.

    • Christopher Langrand
    • , Denis Andrault
    • , Stéphanie Durand
    • , Zuzana Konôpková
    • , Nadège Hilairet
    • , Christine Thomas
    •  & Sébastien Merkel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The relationships between ecosystem productivity and plant diversity are complex. Here, the authors show that sites with high productivity typically have reduced species diversity but high functional and phylogenetic diversity, potentially owing to the creation of additional niche space.

    • Philipp Brun
    • , Niklaus E. Zimmermann
    • , Catherine H. Graham
    • , Sébastien Lavergne
    • , Loïc Pellissier
    • , Tamara Münkemüller
    •  & Wilfried Thuiller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Earth’s carbon cycle and oceanic magnesium cycle are controlled by processes such as weathering, volcanism and precipitation of carbonates, such as dolomite. Here, the authors contradict the view that modern dolomite formation is rare and suggest instead that dolomite accounts for ~40–60% of the global oceanic Mg output in the last 20 Ma.

    • Netta Shalev
    • , Tomaso R. R. Bontognali
    • , C. Geoffrey Wheat
    •  & Derek Vance
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Numerous feathered dinosaurs and early birds have been discovered from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but the early evolution of feather-feeding insects is not clear. Here, Gao et al. describe a new family of ectoparasitic insects from 10 specimens found associated with feathers in mid-Cretaceous amber.

    • Taiping Gao
    • , Xiangchu Yin
    • , Chungkun Shih
    • , Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn
    • , Xing Xu
    • , Sha Chen
    • , Chen Wang
    •  & Dong Ren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The contribution of symbiotic dinitrogen fixation to the forest carbon sink could change throughout forest succession. Here the authors model nitrogen cycling and light competition between trees based on data from Panamanian forest plots, showing that fixation contributes substantially to the carbon sink in early successional stages.

    • Jennifer H. Levy-Varon
    • , Sarah A. Batterman
    • , David Medvigy
    • , Xiangtao Xu
    • , Jefferson S. Hall
    • , Michiel van Breugel
    •  & Lars O. Hedin
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    The recent collapses of ice shelves in Antarctica due to warming make it essential to understand past ice shelf conditions and mechanisms. Here Smith and colleagues review the latest progress in deciphering the geological imprint of Antarctic ice shelves via sediments, landforms and proxy indicators.

    • James A. Smith
    • , Alastair G. C. Graham
    • , Alix L. Post
    • , Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand
    • , Philip J. Bart
    •  & Ross D. Powell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Carbon dioxide removal technologies are often touted as a potential strategy to combat ocean acidification. However, the authors show here that these strategies are only effective when included as part of aggressive and rapid climate-action, undermining the idea of geoengineering as a panacea.

    • M. Hofmann
    • , S. Mathesius
    • , E. Kriegler
    • , D. P. van Vuuren
    •  & H. J. Schellnhuber
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Prior studies have examined fixed traits that correlate with plant invasiveness. Here the authors use a database of population matrices to compare demographic traits of invasive species in their native and invaded ranges, finding that demographic amplification is an important predictor of invasiveness.

    • Kim Jelbert
    • , Danielle Buss
    • , Jenni McDonald
    • , Stuart Townley
    • , Miguel Franco
    • , Iain Stott
    • , Owen Jones
    • , Roberto Salguero-Gómez
    • , Yvonne Buckley
    • , Tiffany Knight
    • , Matthew Silk
    • , Francesca Sargent
    • , Simon Rolph
    • , Phil Wilson
    •  & Dave Hodgson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Photosynthesis generates reactive oxygen species that can damage cells. Here, the authors show that unicellular predators of photosynthetic prey have shared responses to photosynthetic oxidative stress and these may also have been important for the evolution of endosymbiosis.

    • Akihiro Uzuka
    • , Yusuke Kobayashi
    • , Ryo Onuma
    • , Shunsuke Hirooka
    • , Yu Kanesaki
    • , Hirofumi Yoshikawa
    • , Takayuki Fujiwara
    •  & Shin-ya Miyagishima
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors here perform experiments to investigate the dihedral angle of olivine-H2O and olivine-H2O-NaCl systems. The observed effect of NaCl to decrease dihedral angles allows fluids to percolate through forearc mantle wedge and to accumulate in the overlying crust, accounting for the high electrical conductivity anomalies in forearc regions.

    • Yongsheng Huang
    • , Takayuki Nakatani
    • , Michihiko Nakamura
    •  & Catherine McCammon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum constitutes one of the largest climate perturbations in Earth’s history, but its exact causes are not well known. New estimates of greenhouse gas fluxes from the North Atlantic Igneous Province at high temporal resolution show that they could have initiated this event.

    • Stephen M. Jones
    • , Murray Hoggett
    • , Sarah E. Greene
    •  & Tom Dunkley Jones
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Robust estimates of either urban expansion worldwide or the effects of such phenomenon on terrestrial net primary productivity (NPP) are lacking. Here the authors used the new dataset of global land use to show that the global urban areas expanded largely between 2000 and 2010, which in turn reduced terrestrial NPP globally.

    • Xiaoping Liu
    • , Fengsong Pei
    • , Youyue Wen
    • , Xia Li
    • , Shaojian Wang
    • , Changjiang Wu
    • , Yiling Cai
    • , Jianguo Wu
    • , Jun Chen
    • , Kuishuang Feng
    • , Junguo Liu
    • , Klaus Hubacek
    • , Steven J. Davis
    • , Wenping Yuan
    • , Le Yu
    •  & Zhu Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Some of Earth’s earliest continental crust has been previously inferred to have formed from partial melting of hydrated mafic crust at pressures above 1.5 GPa (more than 50 km deep), pressures typically not reached in post-Archean continental crust. Here, the authors show that such high pressure signatures can result from melting of mantle sources rather than melting of crust, and they suggest there is a lack of evidence that Earth’s earliest crust melted at depths significantly below 40 km.

    • Robert H. Smithies
    • , Yongjun Lu
    • , Tim E. Johnson
    • , Christopher L. Kirkland
    • , Kevin F. Cassidy
    • , David C. Champion
    • , David R. Mole
    • , Ivan Zibra
    • , Klaus Gessner
    • , Jyotindra Sapkota
    • , Matthew C. De Paoli
    •  & Marc Poujol
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The basis of sexual dimorphism in non-model species may be elusive, in part due to a lack of genomic and molecular resources. Here, Li et al. report a high-quality anuran genome and reveal candidate genes and pathways associated with shaping sexually dimorphic nuptial spines in a moustache toad.

    • Jun Li
    • , Haiyan Yu
    • , Wenxia Wang
    • , Chao Fu
    • , Wei Zhang
    • , Fengming Han
    •  & Hua Wu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate affects dynamics of infectious diseases, but the impact on respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) epidemiology isn’t well understood. Here, Baker et al. model the influence of temperature, humidity and rainfall on RSV epidemiology in the USA and Mexico and predict impact of climate change on RSV dynamics.

    • Rachel E. Baker
    • , Ayesha S. Mahmud
    • , Caroline E. Wagner
    • , Wenchang Yang
    • , Virginia E. Pitzer
    • , Cecile Viboud
    • , Gabriel A. Vecchi
    • , C. Jessica E. Metcalf
    •  & Bryan T. Grenfell
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Recent studies have suggested that hybridization can facilitate adaptive radiations. Here, the authors show that opportunity for hybridization differentiates Lake Mweru, where cichlids radiated, and Lake Bangweulu, where cichlids did not radiate despite ecological opportunity in both lakes.

    • Joana I. Meier
    • , Rike B. Stelkens
    • , Domino A. Joyce
    • , Salome Mwaiko
    • , Numel Phiri
    • , Ulrich K. Schliewen
    • , Oliver M. Selz
    • , Catherine E. Wagner
    • , Cyprian Katongo
    •  & Ole Seehausen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lithium use in electronics has increased dramatically, but the environmental impacts are poorly understood. Here the authors show lithium in river and tap water in South Korea is coincident with population density, and that waste water treatment is ineffective at scrubbing this potential toxin.

    • Hye-Bin Choi
    • , Jong-Sik Ryu
    • , Woo-Jin Shin
    •  & Nathalie Vigier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Suture zones are abundant on Antarctic ice shelves and widely observed to impede fracture propagation. Here we show that fracture detainment is principally controlled by the zones’ enhanced seawater contents, reducing fracture-driving stresses by orders of magnitude and therefore greatly enhancing stability.

    • Bernd Kulessa
    • , Adam D. Booth
    • , Martin O’Leary
    • , Daniel McGrath
    • , Edward C. King
    • , Adrian J. Luckman
    • , Paul R. Holland
    • , Daniela Jansen
    • , Suzanne L. Bevan
    • , Sarah S. Thompson
    •  & Bryn Hubbard
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anoxic lake sediments are thought to be the major source of the high amount of methane emitted from freshwaters. Here Günthel and colleagues find unexpected quantities of this greenhouse gas are produced in lake surfaces, indicating an overlooked global importance from oxygenated sources.

    • Marco Günthel
    • , Daphne Donis
    • , Georgiy Kirillin
    • , Danny Ionescu
    • , Mina Bizic
    • , Daniel F. McGinnis
    • , Hans-Peter Grossart
    •  & Kam W. Tang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Abrupt land changes may have long-lasting effects on local biodiversity. Here, Jung et al. show that past abrupt land change reduces species richness and abundance, and alters assemblage composition, with recovery often taking more than 10 years.

    • Martin Jung
    • , Pedram Rowhani
    •  & Jörn P. W. Scharlemann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Low seismic velocity anomalies reveal a complex scenario of plume upwellings from a deep thermo-chemical anomaly (superplume) in the mantle below the East African Rift, however, geophysical observations alone are insufficient to identify the extent of plume influence on the magmatism along the rift. Here, the authors use Sr-Nd-Pb isotope data to show that superplume mantle underlies the entire rift system, from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean south of Mozambique.

    • John M. O’Connor
    • , Wilfried Jokat
    • , Marcel Regelous
    • , Klaudia F. Kuiper
    • , Daniel P. Miggins
    •  & Anthony A. P. Koppers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Air pollution can affect people’s emotional status and well-being. Here, the authors simulate fixed-scene images to show that under the atmospheric conditions in Beijing, negative emotions occur when air quality index of PM2.5 increases to approximately 150.

    • Yuan Li
    • , Dabo Guan
    • , Yanni Yu
    • , Stephen Westland
    • , Daoping Wang
    • , Jing Meng
    • , Xuejun Wang
    • , Kebin He
    •  & Shu Tao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Healthy coral reefs have an acoustic signature known to be attractive to coral and fish larvae during settlement. Here the authors use playback experiments in the field to show that healthy reef sounds can increase recruitment of juvenile fishes to degraded coral reef habitat, suggesting that acoustic playback could be used as a reef management strategy.

    • Timothy A. C. Gordon
    • , Andrew N. Radford
    • , Isla K. Davidson
    • , Kasey Barnes
    • , Kieran McCloskey
    • , Sophie L. Nedelec
    • , Mark G. Meekan
    • , Mark I. McCormick
    •  & Stephen D. Simpson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Viral genomic DNA is often modified to evade the host bacterial restriction system. Here the authors identified 2′-deoxy-7-deazaguanine modifications on phage DNA by comparative genomics and experimental validation, showing their role in genome protection.

    • Geoffrey Hutinet
    • , Witold Kot
    • , Liang Cui
    • , Roman Hillebrand
    • , Seetharamsingh Balamkundu
    • , Shanmugavel Gnanakalai
    • , Ramesh Neelakandan
    • , Alexander B. Carstens
    • , Chuan Fa Lui
    • , Denise Tremblay
    • , Deborah Jacobs-Sera
    • , Mandana Sassanfar
    • , Yan-Jiun Lee
    • , Peter Weigele
    • , Sylvain Moineau
    • , Graham F. Hatfull
    • , Peter C. Dedon
    • , Lars H. Hansen
    •  & Valérie de Crécy-Lagard
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The long-term stability of Precambrian continental lithosphere depends on the rheology of the lithospheric mantle as well as the coupling between crust and mantle lithosphere. Here, the authors study crustal seismic anisotropy to reveal that the crust and mantle lithosphere of southern Africa have been coupled since cratonisation, over 2 billion years ago.

    • H. Thybo
    • , M. Youssof
    •  & I. M. Artemieva
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A reference function for describing the orientation of clay platelets in clay-rich materials is still lacking, but is necessary for applications such as prediction of water and solute transfer and designs of innovative materials. Here, the authors determine a reference orientation function of clay platelets, and validate their function for both engineered and natural clay-rich media.

    • Thomas Dabat
    • , Fabien Hubert
    • , Erwan Paineau
    • , Pascale Launois
    • , Claude Laforest
    • , Brian Grégoire
    • , Baptiste Dazas
    • , Emmanuel Tertre
    • , Alfred Delville
    •  & Eric Ferrage
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ross Sea Bottom Water, a major source of Antarctic Bottom Water, has experienced significant freshening in recent decades. Here the authors use 23 years of summer measurements to document temporal variability in the salinity of the Ross Sea High Salinity Shelf Water (HSSW) and found that HSSW salinity decreased between 1995 and 2014 and rebounded sharply after 2014.

    • Pasquale Castagno
    • , Vincenzo Capozzi
    • , Giacomo R. DiTullio
    • , Pierpaolo Falco
    • , Giannetta Fusco
    • , Stephen R. Rintoul
    • , Giancarlo Spezie
    •  & Giorgio Budillon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    High-temperature solid oxide electrolysis cells are a promising technology for energy conversion, but higher current density is needed to increase efficiency. Here the authors design nanocomposite electrodes to improve electronic and ionic conductivity to achieve a high current density.

    • Hiroyuki Shimada
    • , Toshiaki Yamaguchi
    • , Haruo Kishimoto
    • , Hirofumi Sumi
    • , Yuki Yamaguchi
    • , Katsuhiro Nomura
    •  & Yoshinobu Fujishiro
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It remains challenging to estimate carbon accumulation rates in tidal wetlands on a scale as large as the conterminous US. Here, the authors find that mean C accumulation rates vary greatly among watershed regions but not among vegetation types, and that tidal wetlands’ C sequestration capability will remain or increase by 2100, suggesting a resilience to sea level rise.

    • Faming Wang
    • , Xiaoliang Lu
    • , Christian J. Sanders
    •  & Jianwu Tang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate-induced poleward shifts in plant distributions could flatten latitudinal diversity gradients. However, here the authors show that the spread of forests after the last ice age reduced diversity in central and northern Europe, and that human land-use over the past 5000 years strengthened the latitudinal gradient in plant diversity.

    • Thomas Giesecke
    • , Steffen Wolters
    • , Jacqueline F. N. van Leeuwen
    • , Pim W. O. van der Knaap
    • , Michelle Leydet
    •  & Simon Brewer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Resource impacts from the electrification of transport sector in terms of heavy-duty vehicles are understudied. Here the authors find that a mass deployment of plug-in electric vehicles in the heavy-duty segment at the global level can substantially increase the lithium demand.

    • Han Hao
    • , Yong Geng
    • , James E. Tate
    • , Feiqi Liu
    • , Kangda Chen
    • , Xin Sun
    • , Zongwei Liu
    •  & Fuquan Zhao
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The radiative forcing due to aerosol-cloud interactions constitutes one of the largest uncertainties of anthropogenic radiative forcing. Direct satellite measurements of the relevant aerosol properties reveal that the resulting cooling from anthropogenic aerosols is much stronger than previously thought.

    • Otto P. Hasekamp
    • , Edward Gryspeerdt
    •  & Johannes Quaas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Drivers of spatial differences in leaf phenology are not as widely studied as temporal differences. Here the authors show that the spatial variation of leaf unfolding in 8 deciduous tree species in Europe can be explained by local adaptation to long-term mean climate conditions.

    • Marc Peaucelle
    • , Ivan A. Janssens
    • , Benjamin D. Stocker
    • , Adrià Descals Ferrando
    • , Yongshuo H. Fu
    • , Roberto Molowny-Horas
    • , Philippe Ciais
    •  & Josep Peñuelas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Swimming bacteria perform collective motion at high cell density, yet it is unclear how this behaviour affects their ability to follow substance gradients in the environment. Here, Colin et al. address this question by studying motion of Escherichia coli in controlled chemical gradients.

    • Remy Colin
    • , Knut Drescher
    •  & Victor Sourjik
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Whether Australia’s Pleistocene megafauna extinctions were caused by climate change, humans, or both is debated. Here, the authors infer the spatio-temporal trajectories of regional extinctions and find that water availability mediates the relationship among climate, human migration and megafauna extinctions.

    • Frédérik Saltré
    • , Joël Chadoeuf
    • , Katharina J. Peters
    • , Matthew C. McDowell
    • , Tobias Friedrich
    • , Axel Timmermann
    • , Sean Ulm
    •  & Corey J. A. Bradshaw
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Snow cover can affect the Arctic sea-ice system in different ways. Here authors study the relationship between cyclone activity and the seasonal build-up of snow on Arctic sea ice at a multi-decadal and basin-wide scale and find that 44% of the variability in monthly snow accumulation was controlled by cyclone snowfall and 29% by sea-ice freeze-up with strong spatio-temporal differences.

    • M. A. Webster
    • , C. Parker
    • , L. Boisvert
    •  & R. Kwok
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this study, the authors monitor a hydrothermal fluid surge through seismic anisotropy changes at the Hakone volcanic field, Japan. The authors find the anisotropy changes to be set off by the seismic waves of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, that reactivated the hydrothermal system.

    • Maria Saade
    • , Kohtaro Araragi
    • , Jean Paul Montagner
    • , Edouard Kaminski
    • , Philippe Roux
    • , Yosuke Aoki
    •  & Florent Brenguier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Asian summer monsoons and their links to global temperature changes have been the subject of intense debate. Here the authors reconstruct the Asian monsoon climate since the late Miocene, using plant silica records of C4 and C3 grasses in central China, and find that global cooling caused Asian monsoon rainfall to decrease markedly in the late Pliocene.

    • Hanlin Wang
    • , Huayu Lu
    • , Lin Zhao
    • , Hongyan Zhang
    • , Fang Lei
    •  & Yichao Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The links between plate tectonics and deep mantle structure remain unclear. Here, the authors demonstrate that transition elements (Ni, Cr, and Fe/Mn) in basaltic rocks can be used as a tool to trace plume-related magmatism through Earth history, and their results indicate the presence of a direct relationship between the intensity of plume magmatism and the supercontinent cycle.

    • Hamed Gamal EL Dien
    • , Luc S. Doucet
    •  & Zheng-Xiang Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Iron is critical for fueling marine primary productivity, but its concentration is often vanishingly low in the ocean. Here, the authors show that though icebergs serve as vehicles delivering the largest supply of iron to polar oceans, the amount of iron they carry varies widely.

    • Mark J. Hopwood
    • , Dustin Carroll
    • , Juan Höfer
    • , Eric P. Achterberg
    • , Lorenz Meire
    • , Frédéric A. C. Le Moigne
    • , Lennart T. Bach
    • , Charlotte Eich
    • , David A. Sutherland
    •  & Humberto E. González
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Greenhouse gas mitigation can involve land-use changes that alter the habitat available for wildlife. Here, Ohashi et al. perform an integrated assessment showing that climate mitigation can be beneficial for global biodiversity but may entail local biodiversity losses where land-based mitigation is implemented.

    • Haruka Ohashi
    • , Tomoko Hasegawa
    • , Akiko Hirata
    • , Shinichiro Fujimori
    • , Kiyoshi Takahashi
    • , Ikutaro Tsuyama
    • , Katsuhiro Nakao
    • , Yuji Kominami
    • , Nobuyuki Tanaka
    • , Yasuaki Hijioka
    •  & Tetsuya Matsui
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Exceptional alpine plant diversity exists in the Hengduan Mountains. Here, through genome assembly and population genomics studies, the authors find notable intraspecific divergence among Cushion willow populations isolated by the sky island-like habitats and consider it contributes to speciation and biodiversity.

    • Jia-hui Chen
    • , Yuan Huang
    • , Benjamin Brachi
    • , Quan-zheng Yun
    • , Wei Zhang
    • , Wei Lu
    • , Hong-na Li
    • , Wen-qing Li
    • , Xu-dong Sun
    • , Guang-yan Wang
    • , Jun He
    • , Zhuo Zhou
    • , Kai-yun Chen
    • , Yun-heng Ji
    • , Ming-ming Shi
    • , Wen-guang Sun
    • , Yong-ping Yang
    • , Ren-gang Zhang
    • , Richard J. Abbott
    •  & Hang Sun
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There lacks a consistent and holistic evaluation of co-benefits of different mitigation pathways in studies on Integrated Assessment Models. Here the authors quantify environmental co-benefits and adverse side-effects of a portfolio of alternative power sector decarbonisation pathways and show that the scale of co-benefits as well as profiles of adverse side-effects depend strongly on technology choice.

    • Gunnar Luderer
    • , Michaja Pehl
    • , Anders Arvesen
    • , Thomas Gibon
    • , Benjamin L. Bodirsky
    • , Harmen Sytze de Boer
    • , Oliver Fricko
    • , Mohamad Hejazi
    • , Florian Humpenöder
    • , Gokul Iyer
    • , Silvana Mima
    • , Ioanna Mouratiadou
    • , Robert C. Pietzcker
    • , Alexander Popp
    • , Maarten van den Berg
    • , Detlef van Vuuren
    •  & Edgar G. Hertwich
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The tectonic evolution of southwestern North America remains debated. Here, the authors present a complete time-dependent geodynamic model of the tectonic evolution of southwestern North America, which can explain the extensional collapse of the Basin and Range Province since the Late Eocene.

    • Alireza Bahadori
    •  & William E. Holt