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More protection: UN says Earth's ozone layer is healing

More protection: UN says Earth's ozone layer is healing

Technology
Earth's protective ozone layer is finally healing from damage caused by aerosol sprays and coolants, a new United Nations report said. The ozone layer had been thinning since the late 1970s. Scientists raised the alarm and ozone-depleting chemicals were phased out worldwide. As a result, the upper ozone layer above the Northern Hemisphere should be completely repaired in the 2030s and the gaping Antarctic ozone hole should disappear in the 2060s, according to a scientific assessment released Monday at a conference in Quito, Ecuador. The Southern Hemisphere lags a bit and its ozone layer should be healed by mid-century. "It's really good news," said report co-chairman Paul Newman, chief Earth scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "If ozone-depleting substances had continued to ...
Satellite data offers enhanced view of Earth's tectonic structures

Satellite data offers enhanced view of Earth's tectonic structures

Science
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- New satellite surveys and fresh gravity datasets are helping scientists image tectonic structures, revealing links between Antarctica and the rest of Earth's continents. Using data collected by the European Space Station's GOCE mission -- short for Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer -- scientists have begun to identify the lithosphere structures that define the movement and evolution of the planet's continents. The insights made possible by the newly analyzed GOCE data offer a view of Earth's tectonics distinct from seismic surveys. Until now, detailed images of Antarctica's underlying tectonic structures have been hard to come by. By analyzing gradients in the gravity data collected by ESA's GOCE satellites, scientists were able to produce "curvatur...
German satellites sense Earth's lumps and bumps

German satellites sense Earth's lumps and bumps

Science
The German space agency (DLR) has released a spectacular 3D map of Earth. Built from images acquired by two radar satellites, it traces the variations in height across all land surfaces - an area totalling more than 148 million sq km. DLR is making the map free and open, enabling any scientist to download and use it. There will be myriad applications, from forecasting where flood waters flow to planning big infrastructure projects. How was the map made?The two satellites involved are called TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Like all radar spacecraft, they send down microwave pulses to the surface of the planet and then time how long the signals take to bounce back. The shorter ...
ICESat: Space laser to get unprecedented view of Earth's ice

ICESat: Space laser to get unprecedented view of Earth's ice

Science
The American space agency is about to put a laser in orbit to measure the condition of Earth's ice cover. The satellite mission, called ICESat-2, should provide more precise information on how these frozen surfaces are being affected by global warming. Antarctica, Greenland and the ice floating on the Arctic Ocean have all lost volume in recent decades. ICESat-2 will track ongoing change in unprecedented detail from its vantage point some 500km above the planet. A Delta II rocket is booked to take the satellite laser into space on Saturday. Lift-off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is scheduled for 05:46 local time (12:46 GMT; 13:46 BST). As the name suggests, ICESat-2 is a follow-on project. The original spacecra...
Earth's earliest animals were strange frond-like sea creatures from the Ediacaran period

Earth's earliest animals were strange frond-like sea creatures from the Ediacaran period

Science
Aug. 20 (UPI) -- New fossil analysis suggests the planet's earliest known animals emerged at least 571 million years ago. The new study -- published this month in the journal Paleontology -- proves members of the Ediacaran biota are indeed animals and were diversifying for several million years before the acceleration of speciation known as the Cambrian explosion. Scientists recovered the first Stromatoveris psygmoglena fossil in the mid-20th century. The frond-like sea creature baffled paleontologists for decades. Stromatoveris psygmoglena hails from the Cambrian period, but dozens of similar blob-like fossil imprints have been found among older strata -- rocks from the Ediacaran period, which lasted from 635 to 542 million years ago. Until now, scientists have struggled to understand t...