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Earth Sciences News

The jet stream over North America. Photo courtesy of NASA.gov.

5 Factors Affecting California’s Drought

May 27, 2015

What conditions and factors prompted our drought? Why has it persisted? Why are we running out of water? Five experts — from USC Dornsife, USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Price School of Public Policy —…

Their dependence on silica likely gave sea sponges an advantage in an age of climate change between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. Photo courtesy of the NOAA Ocean Explorer.

The Winner in Climate Change?

April 7, 2015

Global temperatures climb, acid levels in the Earth’s oceans spike and sea levels rise. Next come the dinosaurs. No, we are not talking about today’s climate change phenomena. Think back —way back…

Naomi Levine, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife. Photo by Alex Herrera.

Microbes and Climate

January 6, 2015

A new research laboratory in the USC Dornsife Marine Environmental Biology program is investigating the impact of climate change on microbial communities in the open ocean. Naomi Levine, Gabilan Assistant Professor of…

The team, led by USC Dornsife’s Josh West, left, and Sarah Feakins, sampled water for later analysis at their labs. Here, Feakins and West haul water from the turbulent rivers of the Andes. Photo courtesy of Sarah Feakins.

Climate Change in the Amazon

December 10, 2014

USC Dornsife scientists headed to Peru’s cloud forests to study the roles of forests and rivers in carbon cycling. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a key greenhouse gas and scientists are eager to understand how carbon…

Students in the International Geobiology Course enjoy an afternoon of field study as a break from intense analytical work at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. Photos by Letty Avila.

Where Earth and Life Sciences Merge

July 24, 2014

Ooids are sediment grains generally composed of calcium carbonate formed on the sea floor. They fascinate geologists because they have appeared throughout the planet’s evolutionary history. Traditionally, earth…

Artist Julie Selan’s reconstruction of Zanda fauna from the Pliocene epoch. Image courtesy of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Arctic Fox, Woolly Rhino and Three-toed Horse

June 17, 2014

For the past 2.5 million years, the Earth has experienced millennia-long cold and warm cycles that collectively have become known as the Ice Age. During cold periods, continental-scale ice sheets blanketed large tracts of the…

Renowned ecologist William Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., spoke to a packed audience of faculty and students at Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall inside the Dornsife Neuroscience Pavilion. Photo by Erica Christianson.

Averting the Apocalypse

April 21, 2014

In 1944, the United States Coast Guard released a herd of reindeer on St. Matthew Island off the coast of Alaska so top naval personnel could hunt them for recreation. The reindeer population grew exponentially. From the 29…

Students who participated in the Science of Sustainable Food Spring Break Program learned how to make compost out of food waste. In six to eight weeks the melon rinds, egg shells and paper napkins they combined will create a nutrient-rich soil for growing vegetables. Photo by Michelle Boston.

Food Revolution

April 7, 2014

As the sun shone against a clear blue sky on Catalina Island, 17  students gathered around a long, rectangular pit filled with dirt, garden clippings and bits of food — banana peels, lettuce leaves, waffles. Eleven…

Meghan Miller’s research looked at the ancient geologic record of Eastern Australia, but it is applicable to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, the Mediterranean and southeast Asia. Photo by John Livzey.

Solving a Geologic Riddle

March 26, 2014

USC Dornsife scientist Meghan Miller is among an international team of researchers who used computer modeling to reveal, for the first time, how giant swirls form during the collision of tectonic plates, with subduction zones…

Researcher Josh West treks through a valley in Peru in search of evidence of chemical weathering of rocks as they erode. Photo by Mark Torres.

The Biggest Natural Recycler

March 21, 2014

Researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China have documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric…