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Steroid biomarkers provide evidence for a rapid rise of marine planktonic algae between 659 and 645 million years ago, establishing more efficient energy transfers and driving ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms.
Phosphorus loading can cause eutrophication of lakes. Analyses of lake chemistry in China reveal that policies have led to lower phosphorus levels overall, but increasing trends in some lakes suggest that expanded policies may be needed.
Organic carbon fluxes from glaciers are a key control on biogeochemical cycles in polar regions. Two analyses of carbon cycling in glaciers show the importance of glacier–surface microbial communities in setting these inputs.
Over 70% of the volcanism on Earth occurs beneath an ocean veil. Now, robotic- and fibre-optic-based technologies are beginning to reveal this deep environment and identify subaqueous volcanoes as rich sources of sulfur, carbon dioxide and life.
Freezing and thawing of soils leads to large pulses of nitrous oxide release. An empirical model shows that cropland winter nitrous oxide emissions are substantial, calling for a revision of the global nitrous oxide budget.
Dissolved iron is mysteriously pervasive in deep ocean hydrothermal plumes. An analysis of gas, metals and particles from a 4,000 km plume transect suggests that dissolved iron is maintained by rapid and reversible exchanges with sinking particles.