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Etna: Life beneath the volcanic dust of repeated eruptions

Etna: Life beneath the volcanic dust of repeated eruptions

Science
Getty ImagesIrene Corsaro will never forget her first driving lesson under a rain of black ash from Mount Etna. Like many Sicilians from Catania, the 18-year-old has learnt quickly how to make her way home on a road covered in volcanic dust during one of the volcano's 11 eruptions in the past three weeks. A 12th eruption was under way on Friday.Every so often, the volcano's four main craters awake with intense, simultaneous blasts. These episodes create a spectacular natural firework display, replete with bubbles, fountains and flows of lava. Within minutes, neighbouring towns and villages are showered with flakes of ash and other debris.'Lava falling on my roof'Irene's trip with her mother through the deserted streets of her home town of Nicolosi, on Etna's slopes, turned into a nightmare...
Global warming to keep driving winds poleward, deep sea dust suggests

Global warming to keep driving winds poleward, deep sea dust suggests

Science
Jan. 6 (UPI) -- New analysis of dust grains dredged from the bottom of the North Pacific suggests the westerlies moved toward the poles during the warmest stretches of the Pliocene, between 3 and 5 million years ago. Scientists on Wednesday published their findings in the journal Nature. Advertisement The westerlies, sometimes called the anti-trades, are a series of prevailing winds blowing from west to east across the middle latitudes. Over the last several decades, scientists have noticed the winds slowly migrating away from the equator, inching into higher and higher latitudes. "Much of the work that has been done in describing changes to the westerlies over the last several decades suggests that warming caused by greenhouse gases may be a major contributor to this movement of the wes...
Rising atmospheric dust across the Great Plains recalls lead up to the Dust Bowl

Rising atmospheric dust across the Great Plains recalls lead up to the Dust Bowl

Science
Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Atmospheric dust levels are rising 5 percent per year across the Great Plains, according to a new survey by scientists at the University of Utah. The research, published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, increased cropland conversion and expanded growing seasons are exposing more and more soil and wind erosion. Advertisement Authors of the new study suggest the phenomenon, if combined with drier climate conditions as a result of climate change, could yield conditions comparable to the Dust Bowl, the series of droughts and dust storms that devastated the Midwest during the 1930s. "We can't make changes to the earth surface without some kind of consequence just as we can't burn fossil fuels without consequences," lead study author Andy Lambert said in a...
Airborne dust makes faraway planets more habitable

Airborne dust makes faraway planets more habitable

Science
June 9 (UPI) -- The presence of airborne dust on alien planets increases the odds of habitability, according to new research. The findings could help planetary scientists hone in on exoplanets most likely to host alien life. The habitability of a rocky planet depends on its ability to host liquid water. The planet can't be too cold, or water will remain perpetually frozen. If the planet is too hot, all the water will boil away. The type of host star and how far away a planet is from it determines the range of temperatures on the planet's surface. Advertisement New planetary models developed by scientists at the University of Exeter, the Met Office and the University of East Anglia showed that the presence of dust can also influence surface temperatures. Scientists detailed their findings ...
Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala leaves town in dust

Fuego volcano eruption in Guatemala leaves town in dust

World
There was no time to eat. Sunday family lunches were interrupted, the food left on the table. Children abandoned toys, and clothes still hung on lines in backyards. Animals died petrified. Guatemalan authorities reacted slowly to signs of the Fuego volcano's impending eruption on June 3, contributing to one of the most tragic natural disasters in recent Guatemalan history. The volcano rumbled to life early that Sunday. By midday, it was spewing ash in smoking columns miles high that then fell, dusting a wide swath of the Central American country. But with the mountain's rumbles and the first ash showers, many villagers made a fatal bet to stay put, gambling that the luck that had protected them for decades would hold once again. In the afternoon things took a turn for the worse. T...