Five-year anniversary

Nature Geoscience is now five years old. To celebrate, we look back on some numbers regarding the publication process in our editorial. We have asked nine scientists to look back on events and insights of the past five years. Finally, we present a selection of ten of our favourite articles in the journal, across disciplines and across our opinion, review and primary research sections.



Five years on p1


With this issue, we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the launch of Nature Geoscience — a good time to look at some numbers.



Five years of Earth science p7


Adapting the assessments pp7 - 8

Thomas F. Stocker


The current assessment of climate change is nearing completion. It is now time to consider how best to provide increasingly complex climate information to policymakers, suggests Thomas F. Stocker.

The epoch of humans pp8 - 9

Jan Zalasiewicz


People have changed the world irrevocably. Jan Zalasiewicz discusses whether formalization of the Anthropocene as an epoch in geological time will help us understand our place in Earth history.

The mystery of atmospheric oxygen pp9 - 10

James Kasting


Readily available O2 is vital to life as we know it. James Kasting looks at how and when the first whiffs of oxygen began to reach the Earth's atmosphere.

The great sea-ice dwindle pp10 - 11

Marika Holland


Record minima in Arctic summer sea ice have been trumping each other. Marika Holland reflects on the likely fate of the northern sea ice cap.

Megathrust surprises pp11 - 12

Kelin Wang


Numerous earthquakes have occurred at subduction zones in the past 5 years, and some were devastating. Kelin Wang describes what we have learned about the seismicity of the shallow zone.

A steep learning curve pp12 - 13

Ulf Riebesell


Ocean acidification, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, is a significant stressor to marine life. Ulf Riebesell charts the rapid rise in ocean acidification research, from the discovery of its adverse effects to its entry into the political consciousness.

Freshwater in flux pp13 - 14

Jonathan Cole


A surprising fraction of Earth's element cycling takes place in inland waters. Jonathan Cole suggests that interactions between these water bodies and the terrestrial sphere are more extensive and interesting than previously thought.

A crowded Solar System pp14 - 15

Barbara Cohen


The last five years have seen a boon in exploration of the Solar System. Barbara Cohen explains that the biggest gains have been right here on Earth.

Sensitivity from history pp15 - 16

Matthew Huber


Questions about the sensitivity of Earth's climate to greenhouse gas forcing challenge our understanding of climate change. Matthew Huber looks at what we can learn from past greenhouse periods.


Ten favourite papers



Built for stability

Paul Valdes




How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world

Jan Willem Erisman, Mark A. Sutton, James Galloway, Zbigniew Klimont & Wilfried Winiwarter


On 13 October 1908, Fritz Haber filed his patent on the "synthesis of ammonia from its elements" for which he was later awarded the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. A hundred years on we live in a world transformed by and highly dependent upon Haber-Bosch nitrogen.



Palaeozoic landscapes shaped by plant evolution

Martin R. Gibling & Neil S. Davies


Throughout the Palaeozoic era, about 540 to 250 million years ago, plants colonized land and rapidly diversified. An analysis of the palaeontologic record shows that this diversification irrevocably altered the shape and form of fluvial systems.



Slight mass gain of Karakoram glaciers in the early twenty-first century

Julie Gardelle, Etienne Berthier & Yves Arnaud


The mass balance of Hindu-Kush–Karakoram–Himalaya glaciers has been debated, partly because of a severe lack of observations from the region. An analysis of the regional mass balance of Karakoram glaciers by comparison of digital elevation models from 1999 to 2008 reveals a small glacier mass gain in the area.

Reconciling the hemispherical structure of Earth's inner core with its super-rotation

Lauren Waszek, Jessica Irving & Arwen Deuss


Earth's solid inner core is separated into two distinct hemispheres and is thought to rotate faster than the Earth. An analysis of seismic travel time data allows quantification of the displacement of the hemisphere boundary with time, and results in an estimated super-rotation several orders of magnitude smaller than previously reported.

Hydrogen isotope ratios in lunar rocks indicate delivery of cometary water to the Moon

James P. Greenwood, Shoichi Itoh, Naoya Sakamoto, Paul Warren, Lawrence Taylor & Hisayoshi Yurimoto


Water has been found in many lunar rock samples, but its sources are unknown. Isotopic analyses of Apollo samples of lunar mare basalts and highlands rocks suggest that a significant volume of water was delivered to the Moon by comets shortly after its formation by giant impact.

The age of the Solar System redefined by the oldest Pb–Pb age of a meteoritic inclusion

Audrey Bouvier & Meenakshi Wadhwa


The age of the Solar System is defined by the formation of the first solid grains in the solar nebula. Pb–Pb age dating of these solids, which were later trapped in a meteorite, indicates that the Solar System is 0.34–1.91 million years older than previously thought.

Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century

Ruth S. DeFries, Thomas Rudel, Maria Uriarte & Matthew Hansen


Reducing tropical deforestation is at present considered a cost-effective option for mitigating climate change. Satellite-based estimates of forest loss suggest that urban population growth and urban and international demand for agricultural products are key drivers of deforestation in the tropics.

Two-stage subduction history under North America inferred from multiple-frequency tomography

Karin Sigloch, Nadine McQuarrie & Guust Nolet


The ancient Farallon plate subducted under North America in two distinct stages. High-resolution tomographic images show large pieces of the plate, including the currently active piece, which descends from the Pacific Northwest coast to 1,500 km depth, and its stalled predecessor, which now occupies the transition zone and lower mantle beneath the eastern half of the continent.



Climate and human influences on global biomass burning over the past two millennia

J. R. Marlon, P. J. Bartlein, C. Carcaillet, D. G. Gavin, S. P. Harrison, P. E. Higuera, F. Joos, M. J. Power & I. C. Prentice


A compilation of wildfire records spanning six continents and 2,000 years reveals global patterns in biomass burning to be temporally linked with changes in climate, population and land use. An abrupt decline in biomass burning beginning about 150 years ago may be related to the expansion of intensive grazing, agriculture and fire management activities.

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