Research Briefing

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  • Seismic observations reveal that the Earth’s inner core oscillates with a period of approximately seven decades. The multidecadal periodicity coincides with that of several other geophysical observations, particularly the variations in the length of day and the Earth’s magnetic field, suggesting dynamic interactions between the major layers of the Earth.

    Research Briefing
  • The environmental sensors aboard the Perseverance rover on Mars are gathering meteorological data at Jezero crater. These data capture an active atmospheric surface layer that responds to multiple dynamical phenomena, ranging in spatial and temporal scales from metres to thousands of kilometres and from seconds to a Martian year, respectively.

    Research Briefing
  • Anthropogenic nitrogen deposition is known to affect forest soil respiration, but it remains unclear how soil respiration responds to nitrogen deposition over time. Monitoring of CO2 emissions over 9–13 years of nitrogen-addition treatments in three tropical forests in southern China reveals a three-phase pattern of soil respiration.

    Research Briefing
  • Satellite measurements show that dust emission is enhanced following large wildfires, producing considerable dust loadings for days to weeks over normally dust-free regions. These sequential fire and dust extremes will likely become more frequent and severe under global warming, having increased societal and ecological impacts.

    Research Briefing
  • Large channels of meltwater snake beneath the ice in the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica. This water affects the speed of ice flow above and the melt rate of the ice when it reaches the ocean, having a direct role in the response of Antarctica to climate change.

    Research Briefing
  • Seismometers on the NASA InSight lander have identified unusual signals from meteoroid impacts on Mars. Impact locations were confirmed by satellite images of new craters at these sites and directly constrain the martian interior, confirming its crustal structure and ground-truthing the scaling of impact-induced seismicity.

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  • Modelling of the effect of reservoirs on the climate through time (1900 to 2060) revealed that although carbon emissions peaked in 1987, reservoir-induced radiative forcing will continue to rise for the next decades. Over time, reservoir emissions are shifting from carbon dioxide to methane-dominated pathways, on which knowledge is largely lacking.

    Research Briefing
  • Water that has been carried deep into the Earth by oceanic plates in subduction zones, can influence earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Three-dimensional images of electrical resistivity derived from electromagnetic geophysical data provide new constraints on the distribution, transport, and storage of water in the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Research Briefing
  • Ozone depletion is not only a serious health threat but can also affect the climate. Atmospheric chemistry models reveal that springtime Arctic ozone depletion can have major consequences for the seasonal climate in the Northern Hemisphere, including warming over Eurasia and drying across central Europe.

    Research Briefing
  • Monitoring of the daily global CO2 emissions in 2020 reveals the spatial–temporal pattern of the drop in emissions due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The daily CO2 emission changes also reveal different patterns of human activities and fossil CO2 emissions across countries, sectors and periods.

    Research Briefing
  • In a simulation with a state-of-the-art climate model, obstruction of the ocean gateways in the Canadian archipelago due to ice-sheet growth reroutes currents and alters North Atlantic Ocean conditions, permitting glacial inception in Scandinavia. This mechanism could help to explain periods of rapid ice-sheet growth in Earth’s history.

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  • This study shows that by stabilizing the soil, biological soil crusts reduce global atmospheric dust emissions by 60%, corresponding to ~700 Tg of dust per year. According to models of biocrust cover loss, this effect will be reduced in the future, leading to increases in not only dust emissions but also global radiative cooling.

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  • Tree restoration is a popular approach to mitigating climate change, but its hydrological impacts are often overlooked. Tree restoration increases evaporation, as well as increasing downwind precipitation due to enhanced moisture recycling. Our study shows that these combined effects can affect regions’ wetness or dryness, streamflow and water availability.

    Research Briefing