Earth & Environment

Save Frankincense: Overharvesting of a precious commodity and approaches to ensure sustainability

In Somaliland, a northern area of Somalia that operates as an independent country, many of the population rely on frankincense for income. Frankincense is a resin derived from the Boswellia tree. However, the trees are being overharvested, and locals have found themselves in a poverty trap. Despite a huge increase in the price of frankincense on the global market, harvesters […]

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Earth & Environment

Archaeology from space: Using Earth Observation data to unearth our past

Archaeologists have discovered many relics of our ancestors across the Earth’s surface, but much more remains buried beneath the soil. Archaeological prospection plays an important role in both the identification of these special sites and their protection. Dr Athos Agapiou of the Cyprus University of Technology, at the Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics and the Eratosthenes Research Centre, develops […]

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Earth & Environment

Quantum theory for sustainability transformations

Agriculture significantly contributes to environmental issues and requires deep and urgent transformations in order to be sustainable. Agroecological transition is not only technical but involves the evolution of farmers’ ways of seeing and interpreting the world. Dr Cyrille Rigolot at the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (INRAE), explores the potential of quantum theory as a […]

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Earth & Environment

Adaptation to climate change and increasing CO2 in rice

Improving yield response in rice under increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will help this crop adapt to the changing climate. Dr Toshihiro Hasegawa, a plant physiologist at Tohoku Agricultural Research Center in Japan, studies the effects of climate change on rice yield and quality. The FACE (free-air CO2 enrichment) platform provides experimental facilities under open-field conditions for modelling how […]

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Earth & Environment

Microplastics pollution in the Pantanal

By now, we all recognise microplastics as a huge problem in our oceans. This awareness peaked when the threat became direct to humans, through the consumption of contaminated marine produce. Unfortunately, the situation is even bleaker than we realised. Dr Pierre Girard from the Federal University of Mato Grosso has discovered microplastics in the remote Brazilian Pantanal, a huge and […]

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Earth & Environment

Earthquake forecasting: Small earthquakes show when big ones are more likely

Accurate earthquake forecasting is still a major challenge for geophysicists. The sudden and intense shaking of major earthquakes can cause severe damage to infrastructure and loss of life. Dr David Rhoades and Dr Annemarie Christophersen at GNS Science in New Zealand have developed a forecasting model using the seismicity patterns of earthquake precursors. They hope to make earthquake forecasts more […]

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Earth & Environment

Carbon capture utilisation in the deep ocean: The hydrothermal fuel cell

Deep-sea hydrothermal vents are one of the most hostile environments on Earth, and yet they support complex ecosystems. Dr Ryuhei Nakamura of the RIKEN Centre for Sustainable Resource Science and Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, has been researching how hydrothermal vents operate as a fuel cell for microbial life, their potential for deep-sea carbon capture through electrochemical carbon […]

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Earth & Environment

New technology for earthquake prediction: Nankai Trough, Japan

Dr Yusuke Yokota and colleagues at the University of Tokyo are developing so-called GNSS-A technology, which combines satellite positioning technology (GNSS) and acoustic positioning technology (A) to create precise observations of the seafloor position. This has significantly contributed to seismology and earthquake disaster prevention. Dr Yokota is currently focusing on observing so-called slow slip events in which there is a […]

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Earth & Environment

Water and planetary health: Protecting the lifeblood of human civilisation

Water is the lifeblood of planetary health and human civilisation. As a critical source of fresh water, rivers underpin civilisations, past and present. However, rivers constantly change in response to environmental and human pressures. Protecting global river systems from climate change and other anthropogenic activities (e.g., mining, pollution, dam construction), and understanding the interactions with human health (e.g., through the […]

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