Earth and environmental sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The fate of soil carbon is controlled by plant inputs, microbial activity, and the soil matrix. Here the authors extend the notion of plant-derived particulate organic matter, from an easily available and labile carbon substrate, to a functional component at which persistence of soil carbon is determined.

    • Kristina Witzgall
    • , Alix Vidal
    •  & Carsten W. Mueller
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Elevated Zn isotope compositions occur in K-Pg sedimentary layers of three different depositional environments across North America and the Caribbean. The data indicate a volatilization event, and act as a robust mechanistic indicator of the meteorite impact at the end of the Cretaceous.

    • Ryan Mathur
    • , Brandon Mahan
    •  & Francisca E. Oboh-Ikuenobe
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Warmer and drier conditions are increasing the frequency of forest fires, which in turn produce pyrogenic carbon. Here the authors show that accumulation of pyrogenic carbon can suppress post-fire methane production in northern peatlands and can effectively buffer fire-derived greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Tianran Sun
    • , Juan J. L. Guzman
    •  & Largus T. Angenent
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Estimating velocities in gas liquid flows is of importance in many engineering applications. Hohermuth et al. show that previous bubble velocities obtained from intrusive probes have been underestimated and provide a correction scheme for more accurate velocity measurements.

    • B. Hohermuth
    • , M. Kramer
    •  & D. Valero
  • Article
    | Open Access

    N2 fixation by heterotrophic bacteria has recently been found to take place on sinking marine particles, but an understanding of its regulation and importance is lacking. Here the authors develop a trait-based model for this N2 fixation, finding that this once overlooked process could have global importance.

    • Subhendu Chakraborty
    • , Ken H. Andersen
    •  & Lasse Riemann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Arc olivines are commonly explained through a paradigm of core-to-rim sequential growth and oscillatory zoning is interpreted to represent magma mixing. Here the authors show Fo–Ni–P oscillatory zoned olivines can grow as out-of-sequence crystal frames and complex zoning can occur in closed systems.

    • Pablo Salas
    • , Philipp Ruprecht
    •  & Osvaldo Rabbia
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Access to low cost finance is vital for developing economies’ transition to green energy. Here the authors show how modelled decarbonization pathways for developing economies are disproportionately impacted by different weighted average cost of capital (WACC) assumptions.

    • Nadia Ameli
    • , Olivier Dessens
    •  & Michael Grubb
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Predicting the risk of flooding in coastal environments relies on accurate land elevation data, but this is not available in many parts of the world. Here the authors apply a global lowland digital terrain model derived from satellite LiDAR and determine that the regions most vulnerable to sea-level rise are in the tropics.

    • A. Hooijer
    •  & R. Vernimmen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How sea-level in the western Mediterranean reacts to climate changes is not well known. Here, the authors present a regional reconstruction and show that temperatures influenced sea-level change rates during the Holocene, while recent sea-level rise is happening faster than during any other period of the last 4000 years.

    • Matteo Vacchi
    • , Kristen M. Joyse
    •  & Alessio Rovere
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The drivers of monsoon systems in the past are not well known. Here, the authors present a model-based reconstruction of the last 30 million years and show that the south east Asian monsoon evolution is dominated by orographic development while the strength of the Indian Summer monsoon is controlled by a combination of factors.

    • James R. Thomson
    • , Philip B. Holden
    •  & Nigel B. W. Harris
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Microbes that colonise ice sheet surfaces are important to the carbon cycle, but their biomass and transport remains unquantified. Here, the authors reveal substantial microbial carbon fluxes across Greenland’s ice surface, in quantities that may sustain subglacial heterotrophs and fuel methanogenesis.

    • T. D. L. Irvine-Fynn
    • , A. Edwards
    •  & A. Hubbard
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Release of freshwater into the oceans as a result of ice sheet melting could impact the distribution of climate-sensitive diseases. Here, the authors show that a rapid ice sheet melting in Greenland could cause an emergence of malaria in Southern Africa whilst transmission risks in West Africa may decline.

    • Alizée Chemison
    • , Gilles Ramstein
    •  & Cyril Caminade
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Subduction zone volcanoes are underlain by extensive magma plumbing systems, which can obscure original mantle source signals. Here, the authors show that intra-crystal oxygen isotope analysis of clinopyroxenes from the Sunda arc (Indonesia) reveal the δ18 O value of the sub-arc mantle.

    • Frances M. Deegan
    • , Martin J. Whitehouse
    •  & Osvaldo González-Maurel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    How the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) changed on glacial-interglacial time scales is not well known. Here, the authors present a 140,000 year long sediment record from the Drake passage and show both glacial-interglacial as well as millennial-scale variability which are linked to Atlantic variability and marine carbon storage.

    • Shuzhuang Wu
    • , Lester Lembke-Jene
    •  & Gerhard Kuhn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anomalously slow earthquakes play a critical role in the earthquake cycle and fault sliding. Here, the authors detect continuous seismic radiation from a glacier sliding over its bed and show persistent coastal shaking to represent an addition to the family of slow earthquakes.

    • Evgeny A. Podolskiy
    • , Yoshio Murai
    •  & Shin Sugiyama
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Land use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity change. Here the authors measure diversity across multiple trophic levels in agricultural grassland landscapes of varying management, finding decoupled responses of above- and belowground taxa to local factors and a strong impact of landscape-level land use.

    • Gaëtane Le Provost
    • , Jan Thiele
    •  & Peter Manning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Summed probability distributions of radiocarbon dates can be used to estimate past demography, but methods to test for associations with environmental change are lacking. Here, DiNapoli et al. propose an approach using Approximate Bayesian Computation and illustrate it in a case study of Rapa Nui.

    • Robert J. DiNapoli
    • , Enrico R. Crema
    •  & Terry L. Hunt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    “Earth degassing is a critical carbon source, but its contribution to Cenozoic atmospheric CO2 variations is not well known. Here, the authors analyse CO2 fluxes on the Tibetan Plateau and suggest that the India-Asia collision was the primary driver of changes in atmospheric CO2 over the past 65 Ma.”

    • Zhengfu Guo
    • , Marjorie Wilson
    •  & Jiaqi Liu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Despite a ban on ozone depleting substances, ozone depletion during cold winters in the Arctic stratosphere has been increasing in recent decades. Here, the authors show conditions favourable for Arctic ozone depletion could worsen as a response of stratospheric temperature and water to continued release of greenhouse gases.

    • Peter von der Gathen
    • , Rigel Kivi
    •  & Markus Rex
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Constraining the thermal state of the lithosphere is crucial to understanding geodynamic regime in early Earth. Here the authors reconstruct ~2.9–2.5 Ga thermal structure of continental lithosphere of the North China Craton using TTG and propose a systematic Archean geodynamic evolution process.

    • Guozheng Sun
    • , Shuwen Liu
    •  & Fangyang Hu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    There is a lot of uncertainty about what Earth’s climate and geography were like in the early Cambrian, when animal life diversified throughout the oceans. Here we show that numeric comparisons of model simulations and climatically influenced rocks can help constrain geography and climate during this time.

    • Thomas W. Wong Hearing
    • , Alexandre Pohl
    •  & Thijs R. A. Vandenbroucke
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Conserving mangrove biodiversity has numerous co-benefits, including climate change-mitigation. Here the authors demonstrate that blue carbon storage in mangroves can be best sustained by combining site-specific dominant species with other species with contrasting functional traits.

    • Md Mizanur Rahman
    • , Martin Zimmer
    •  & Ming Xu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The downhill motion of soils on hillslopes is not well understood. Here, the authors present laboratory experiments and show that hillslopes are made perpetually fragile by environmental perturbations that prevent them from stabilizing.

    • Nakul S. Deshpande
    • , David J. Furbish
    •  & Douglas J. Jerolmack
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Afforestation is an important greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategy but the efficacy of commercial (harvested) forestry is disputed. Here the authors apply dynamic life cycle assessment to show that new commercial conifer forests can achieve up to 269% more GHG mitigation than semi-natural forests, over 100 years.

    • Eilidh J. Forster
    • , John R. Healey
    •  & David Styles
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Aviation contributes to climate change and ways to reduce its emissions are widely debated. Here, the authors assess the effects of technology improvements and the use of sustainable aviation fuels and find that even when these are considered aviation is unlikely to meet emissions goals in line with the Paris Agreement.

    • Volker Grewe
    • , Arvind Gangoli Rao
    •  & Katrin Dahlmann
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Reprocessed data from satellite altimetry show that the mean significant wave height decreases globally by 22% on average from 30 km to 3 km from the coast. By combining these data with wave period from reanalysis, we estimate a mean reduction of 38% concerning the mean wave energy flux.

    • Marcello Passaro
    • , Mark A. Hemer
    •  & Florian Seitz
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the uncertainties associated with urban heat wave (UHW) projection is critical for local actions to mitigate extreme heat risks in cities. Here, the authors show that choices of model structural design contribute a large proportion of the uncertainty in projecting UHWs under climate change.

    • Zhonghua Zheng
    • , Lei Zhao
    •  & Keith W. Oleson
  • Review Article
    | Open Access

    Whether or not a city achieves absolute sustainability is difficult to assess with existing frameworks. Here the authors, in a review, show that a further integration of consumption-based accounting and benchmarking is necessary to aid the monitoring and assessment of Sustainable Development Goals in cities.

    • Thomas Wiedmann
    •  & Cameron Allen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    As sea levels rise, coasts are being increasingly  threatened by overtopping caused by the combination of sea level rise, storm surge and wave runup. Here the authors find that global coastal overtopping has increased by over 50% in the last two decades, and under a RCP 8.5 scenario this could increase up to 50 times by 2100 compared to today.

    • Rafael Almar
    • , Roshanka Ranasinghe
    •  & Elodie Kestenare
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Jiao et al. conducted a comprehensive evaluation of changes in water constraint on vegetation growth in the extratropical Northern Hemisphere between 1982 and 2015. They document a significant increase in vegetation water constraint over the last three decades.

    • Wenzhe Jiao
    • , Lixin Wang
    •  & Paolo D’Odorico
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advanced copper supply chain modeling shows China’s new waste trade policy may increase pollution, while limiting other low-value imports reverses this trend. Here the authors show that recycling is vulnerable to supply chain shocks, requiring investment during recoveries to promote a circular economy.

    • John Ryter
    • , Xinkai Fu
    •  & Elsa A. Olivetti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    North Atlantic deep water (NADW) formation influences the climate and carbon cycle, but the contribution of Arctic waters is difficult to constrain. Here the authors use Pa/Th proxy measurements to determine the amount of Arctic Ocean water that flows through the Fram Strait and contributes to NADW.

    • Lauren E. Kipp
    • , Jerry F. McManus
    •  & Markus Kienast
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impacts of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) decline in future climate change are uncertain. Here the authors show that the inter-model spread in the AMOC response in global climate models amplify uncertainties in the projections of temperature, rainfall and the jet-stream.

    • Katinka Bellomo
    • , Michela Angeloni
    •  & Jost von Hardenberg
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Satellite-based estimates of radiative forcing by aerosol–cloud interactions are consistently smaller than those from global models, hampering accurate projections of future climate change. Here, the authors show that the discrepancy can be substantially reduced by correcting sampling biases induced by inherent limitations of satellite measurements.

    • Hailing Jia
    • , Xiaoyan Ma
    •  & Johannes Quaas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    European Union’s vulnerability to climate change stretches far beyond its borders. Here the authors find that more than 44% of the EU agricultural imports will become highly vulnerable to drought in future because of climate change.

    • Ertug Ercin
    • , Ted I. E. Veldkamp
    •  & Johannes Hunink
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors present a high-resolution palaeomagnetic record for a Late Cretaceous limestone in Italy. They claim that their record robustly shows a ~12° true polar wander oscillation between 86 and 78 Ma, with the greatest excursion at 84–82 Ma.

    • Ross N. Mitchell
    • , Christopher J. Thissen
    •  & Joseph L. Kirschvink
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is one of the most important environmental health risk factors in many regions. Here, the authors present an assessment of PM2.5 emission sources and the related health impacts across global to sub-national scales and find that over 1 million deaths were avoidable in 2017 by eliminating PM2.5 mass associated with fossil fuel combustion emissions.

    • Erin E. McDuffie
    • , Randall V. Martin
    •  & Michael Brauer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The role of meteorological factors in SARS-COV-2 transmission is not well understood. Here, the authors use county-level data from the United States to the end of 2020 and find evidence of a moderate association between increased transmissibility and cold, dry weather and low ultraviolet radiation.

    • Yiqun Ma
    • , Sen Pei
    •  & Kai Chen