People have been finding loose diamonds across the United States and Canada since the early 1800s, but for the most part, no one knows where they came from. It was not until the 1990s that geologists tracked down the first commercial deposits, on the remote tundra of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Yaakov Weiss, a geochemist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is investigating the origins of these rich diamond mines.
Five hundred utilities in the U.S. provide drinking water with unsafe levels of arsenic, the Environmental Protection Agency says. But how many people are getting too much arsenic in their water is much less clear, according to a study conducted in part by the Columbia Water Center.
Groundwater levels are dropping across a much wider swath of the United States than is generally discussed, according to a new report, suggesting that the nation’s long-term pattern of groundwater use is broadly unsustainable.
Earth Institute field researchers study the planet on every continent and ocean. Projects are aimed at understanding the fundamental dynamics of climate, geology, ecology, human history and more. Here is a partial list of upcoming expeditions.
Last year was one of the warmest on record, according to analyses of global temperature data by NASA and NOAA. Both federal agencies placed 2013 among the top 10 warmest years since records began in 1880, continuing a longer-term trend of global warming.
People’s views on climate seem easily swayed, or in some cases manipulated, by daily weather. In a new study, researchers drilled into what goes on in people’s minds when they respond to these smaller-scale stimuli.
Understanding the climate history of Mono Lake will help scientists understand the future impact of climate change. This is no esoteric question for Los Angeles, which depends in part on Mono Lake’s watershed for drinking water, green lawns, agriculture and industry.
Americans are paying more for water than they did a decade ago, even as water utilities fall into debt and water infrastructure deteriorates, according to a Columbia Water Center report.
“One of the ways that climate change is going to manifest is through warmer temperatures. … What we are seeing, in line with our projections, is that even if you assume constant precipitation, the temperature effects are so large that it is going to dry things out. This is going to have really big impacts on soil moisture, reservoirs and stream flow for irrigation and drinking water. The availability of water is going to decline into the future, and the challenge is adjusting for that, and what that means for agriculture and development.”
As environmentalists have pushed for greater investment in wind and solar energy, critics have insisted that renewable sources of power could never provide more than a fraction of world energy demand. Evidence is mounting, however, that the critics are wrong.