How do we know if an asteroid headed our way is dangerous?

There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures public imagination, finding itself popularised in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids. In our solar system there are millions of space rocks […]

The curious case of northeast Brazil’s cross-breeding sea turtles

Sea turtles have been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, stretching back about 110 million years. Yet now their existence is at risk, with six of today’s seven species classified as threatened or endangered. While efforts are ongoing to protect turtles, part of the puzzle that requires more knowledge concerns the effects of interspecies mating, […]

Water in a loop: how to combat water scarcity on remote islands

Every summer, thousands of tourists travel to Greece’s idyllic islands to enjoy their sunny beaches. Even the global pandemic couldn’t keep visitors away, but water scarcity might. Many Greek islands survive on water imports and are struggling to meet residents’ and agriculture’s water needs – let alone those of tourists. These islands illustrate the difficulties faced in other […]

Q&A: Climate monitoring, pandemic insight, decomposition – what insects do for us

Insects are vital to the health of our planet but they can also reveal a lot about climate change and help us fight future vector-borne disease outbreaks, says Alexey Solodovnikov, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who runs the rove beetle-dedicated Solodovnikov Lab and is a curator at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.  Dr Solodovnikov […]

To confront climate change, we need to understand the environmental footprint of global supply chains

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic upended international trade. Countries shut their borders, breaking the webs of supply chains that crisscross the globe. These systems of people, organisations and companies work to supply consumers with products, such as mobile phones, or services, like transportation. While some supply chains have since returned to a semblance of normality, understanding their […]

Buildings, tunnels and bridges could soon repair themselves

Stone and concrete structures with the ability to heal themselves in a similar way to living organisms when damaged could help to make buildings safer and last longer. Over time the weather, vibration, ground movements and general wear and tear can take their toll on the masonry and concrete used in buildings. But keeping buildings in […]

2021: Beyond coronavirus – what’s in store for science in the year ahead?

There was one science story that dominated 2020 and coronavirus is likely to remain a dominant theme in 2021. But from vaccine rollout to lessons for future pandemics and – that other big challenge that we’re facing – climate change, how will the year in science play out? We asked a selection of our interviewees […]

Twenty surprising scientific facts we learned in 2020

From corals bunkering down in deeper waters to wait out climate change stress, to how vaccines can boost our immune system beyond a specific disease – here are the 20 most surprising scientific facts that we discovered this year.  Image credit – Vlad Kutepov/Unsplash Read: Five things you need to know about bats, disease and […]

Black carbon and other pollution seeds clouds. We’re just starting to understand the climate implications

Particles swirling around our atmosphere add to climate change, yet much about how they interact with sunlight and influence the seeding of clouds remains puzzling. Studies are lifting the lid on how these tiny particles influence something as big as climate by analysing them from jet aircraft, satellites and ground measurements.  The leading cause of climate change is rising levels of carbon dioxide in the […]

Cloud shapes and formations impact global warming – but we still don’t understand them

by Sarah Wild Above the Atlantic Ocean, puffy white clouds scud across the sky buffeted by invisible trade winds. They are not ‘particularly big, impressive or extended’, says Dr Sandrine Bony, a climatologist and research director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. ‘But they are the most ubiquitous clouds on Earth.’ Clouds are one […]