Earth and Environmental Sciences

Browse the following groundbreaking articles nominated by our Editors-in-Chief and read why they believe they could help change the world.

Enjoy free access until the end of July, 2018. Open access articles are freely available online on a permanent basis.

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The importance of small waterbodies for biodiversity and ecosystem services: implications for policy makers


Stresses the importance of often-neglected water bodies with high levels of aquatic biodiversity and offers concrete advice for managers and policymakers alike.

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A landslide inventory system as a base for automated process and risk analyses

Earth Science Informatics

Open source technology has paved the way for the rapid and automated risk analysis of landslides, and could help experts all over the world apply standard data formats in connection with active landslides.


A macroecological perspective for phenological research under climate change

Ecological Research

An excellent perspective paper demonstrating the importance of macroecological approaches to forecasting future changes in biological communities around the globe.


A Shortcut Approach to the Multi-scale Atomic Targeting and Design of C–H–O Symbiosis Networks

Process Integration and Optimization for Sustainability

Shows pathways for achieving industrial sustainability through the synthesis of carbon-hydrogen-oxygen symbiosis networks.


Analysis of geothermal energy as an alternative source for electricity in Colombia

Geothermal Energy - Science, Society and Technology

The latest findings from Colombia shed new light on the high potential to diversify its power sources using geothermal energy – a move towards energy reliability.


Assessment of agri-spillways as a soil erosion protection measure in Mediterranean sloping vineyards

Journal of Mountain Science

This article assesses the effect of traditional agri-spillways in sloping vineyards in Spain on soil erosion protection. A must-read for researchers and technicians, offering them an inexpensive and effective way to control sloping land erosion.


Carbon dioxide mitigation potential of seaweed aquaculture beds (SABs)

Journal of Applied Phycology

An analysis of the role of seaweed farming in mitigating global CO2 levels.


Carbon uptake by mature Amazon forests has mitigated Amazon nations’ carbon emissions

Carbon Balance and Management

Mature forests are assumed to be close to equilibrium, but this paper suggests this is not the case, at least not in Amazonia.


Classification and characteristics of tight oil plays

Petroleum Science

Unconventional oil and gas is currently a major focus area in petroleum research. This review article discusses the classification and characteristics of tight oil, which is of great significance to petroleum exploration and development.


Clonal plants and facilitation research: bridging the gap

Folia Geobotanica

A proposal for bringing together research on facilitation and clonal plant functioning, as both areas offer valuable ideas concerning plant–plant interactions.


Congruence and the Biomonitoring of Aquatic Ecosystems: Are Odonate Larvae or Adults the Most Effective for the Evaluation of Impacts

Neotropical Entomology

Essential advice for conservation research and policies: a low-cost measure for preserving the natural heterogeneity and biodiversity of water bodies.


Considering groundwater use to improve the assessment of groundwater pumping for irrigation in North Africa

Hydrogeology Jounal

Offers a fresh look at the factors needed to decode well inventories and groundwater withdrawal data, which are highly relevant to agro-irrigation at the regional scale.


Current status and future development of solvent-based carbon capture

International Journal of Coal Science & Technology

This paper explores the current status, future development and challenges of solvent-based carbon capture.


Detection of endotoxins using nanomaterials

Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences

Toxicology researchers can learn how to easily detect endotoxins with the help of nanomaterials.


Emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5?°C

Nature Geoscience

The “1.5-degree” Paris climate change target is still within reach, if carbon dioxide emissions after 2015 stay below 200 GtC.


Evaluating the sensitivity of glacier to climate by using stable water isotopes and remote sensing.

Environmental Earth Sciences

Climate modification affects us all. Monitoring changing glacial conditions can serve as a “canary in the coal mine” in this regard.


Genome sequencing of the staple food crop white Guinea yam enables the development of a molecular marker for sex determination

BMC Biology

Understanding the genomics of yams, a crucial plant, will help farmers increase both yields and sustainability.


Geosynthetic Protection for Buried Pipes Subjected to Surface Surcharge Loads

International Journal of Geosynthetics and Ground Engineering

This paper investigates the use of geosynthetic reinforcement to protect buried pipes from the influence of localized surcharges on the ground surface. It shows that the presence of the reinforcement is effective in reducing not only the vertical stresses transferred to the pipe but also pipe strains. These findings can be highly useful in cost-effectively designing buried pipes/conduits.


Global water vapor content decreases from 2003 to 2012: An analysis based on MODIS data

Chinese Geographical Science

The comprehensive examination of water vapor changes promises a more holistic understanding of global climate change and potential underlying mechanisms.


Implications of overestimated anthropogenic CO2 emissions on East Asian and global land CO2 flux inversion

Geoscience Letters

This paper shows that the increase in China’s anthropogenic CO2 emissions has actually been overestimated, which has major implications for estimated CO2 sink increases across East Asia.


Increased light, moderate, and severe clear-air turbulence in response to climate change

Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

The study warns that airline passengers are in for greater turbulence, thanks to global warming. Pilots and aircraft manufacturers should be prepared for increased clear-air turbulence.


Indicator system for the sustainability assessment of the German energy system and its transition

Energy, Sustainability and Society

The indicator system presented in this article is more than the sum of individual indicators addressing the various facets of sustainability. It goes beyond a mere statistical representation to monitor the development of a given energy system and could offer a valuable tool for describing, assessing and managing the sustainable development of complex socio-technical energy systems, while also supporting policymaking in a variety of ways.


Lemthang Tsho glacial Lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Bhutan: cause and impact

Geoenvironmental Disasters

Glacial lake outburst floods in the Himalayan region due to climate change make effective risk management vital. Read more.


Levels of selection shaping caste interactions during queen replacement in the honey bee, Apis mellifera

Insectes Sociaux

Find out how evolution shapes reproduction at critical moments in the honeybee’s lifecycle.


Monitoring recent changes in snow cover in Central Asia using improved MODIS snow-cover products

Journal of Arid Land

Significant implications for understanding climate change throughout Central Asia.


Multi-model comparison on the effects of climate change on tree species in the eastern US: results from an enhanced niche model and process-based ecosystem and landscape models

Landscape Ecology

This analysis of multiple models provides a useful approach to comparing disparate models and a more consistent interpretation of the future for use in vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning.


Nanostructured bioactive compounds for ecological food packaging

Environmental Chemistry Letters

New nano devices for food packaging hold the potential to end hunger, reduce food waste and save millions of lives.


Possible correlation between annual gravity change and shallow background seismicity rate at subduction zone by surface load

Earth, Planets and Space

This paper describes the potential held by satellite monitoring of the Earth’s gravity field, which could detect the hydrological changes that trigger subduction earthquakes.


Preconditioned prestack plane-wave least squares reverse time migration with singular spectrum


The least squares reverse time migration (LSRTM) is a hot spot in the field of imaging, but computationally costly and characterized by slow convergence. In this paper, the preconditioned prestack plane-wave LSRTM method with singular spectrum constraint is applied in the LSRTM process to remedy these problems. 


Quality control of subgrade soil using intelligent compaction

Innovative Infrastructure Solutions

Provides a unique and innovative solution for quality control in subgrade soil, which represents an important step towards sustainable roads.


Real-time multi-GNSS single-frequency precise point positioning

GPS Solutions

Demonstrates the advantages of using combined observations from virtually all GNSS systems, such as GPS (USA), COMPASS (Russia), BeiDou (China) and Galileo (Europe).


Recent growth changes in Western European forests are driven by climate warming and structured across tree species climatic habitats

Annals of Forest Science

The article provides clear insights into how recent forest growth patterns have been structured along gradients of mean climate warming.


Role of endogenous energy efficiency improvement in global climate change mitigation

Energy Efficiency

Unbiased estimate of energy efficiency can promote optimal global climate policies on GHGs mitigation, and help to save costs.


Rural Electrification in Sub-Saharan Africa with Innovative Energy Policy and New Financing Models

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

I nominated this paper because it offers practical advice on environmental protection, economic growth and prosperity, and energy security in developing nations.


Soil nutrient maps of Sub-Saharan Africa: assessment of soil nutrient content at 250 m spatial resolution using machine learning

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

Soil fertility information for African farmers will allow best management practices to be more effectively fine-tuned.


Strategies for feeding the world more sustainably with organic agriculture

Nature Communications

This article addresses how integrating organic agriculture with other strategies concerning food waste, crop–grass–livestock interdependencies and human consumption could yield a sustainable food future.


Sustainable intensification of agriculture for human prosperity and global sustainability

Ambio - A Journal of the Human Environment

Presents an operational framework for the sustainable intensification of global agriculture.


The biophysical effects of neolithic colonization: General dynamics and sociocultural implications

Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Describes the long-term social organizational consequences of human modification of the planet dating back to the Neolithic.


The Functioning of Rhizosphere Biota in Wetlands – a Review


We are now only beginning to understand the scale and range of functions and ecosystem services provided by microbial communities in wetlands. This paper provides an excellent overview of the current state of research.


The impact of two fluoropolymer manufacturing facilities on downstream contamination of a river and drinking water resources with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

Environmental Science and Pollution Research

A warning article on fluoropolymers found in the environment.


The influence of time since introduction on the population growth of introduced species and the consequences for management

Population Ecology

Must-read advice for conservation biologists seeking to plan optimal management strategies for introduced species.


The Twentieth-Century Sea Level Budget: Recent Progress and Challenges

Surveys in Geophysics

Overview of information on sea level rise (~ 1 to 2 mm/year) obtained by various techniques.


Towards Quantitatively Understanding the Complexity of Social-Ecological Systems—From Connection to Consilience

International Journal of Disaster Risk Science

A concept for a new network characteristic – the consilience degree – that could be used to measure how network topology & node activities, taken together, contribute to system outcomes.


A real-time Global Warming Index

Scientific Reports

Combining temperature data with measures of climate change drivers generates an up-to-date estimate of human contributions to global warming


Highly valuable 420 million year-long compilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations provides a uniquely valuable perspective on our anthropogenic future

Nature Communications

Highly valuable 420 million year-long compilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations provides a uniquely valuable perspective on our anthropogenic future.


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