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Expert-reviewed information about the Earth.  For everyone.

  • Earth's atmospheric air Featured Article Earth's atmospheric air Earth's atmospheric air

    The Earth's atmospheric air is a colorless, odorless and tasteless mixture of gases consisting mostly of nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2). It is the part of Earth's... More »

  • Europa Island Featured Article Europa Island Europa Island

    Europa Island located in the southern Mozambique Channel, between Madagascar and Mozambique. Europa Island is about 100 kilometers (km) southeast of Bassas da... More »

  • Composting Featured Article Composting Composting

    Composting is the controlled biological decomposition and pasteurization of organic materials under aerobic conditions— it involves the action of mesophilic microorganisms... More »

  • Vertical farming Featured Article Vertical farming Vertical farming

    The advent of agriculture ushered in an unprecedented increase in the human population and their domesticated animals. Farming catalyzed the transformation of hunter-gatherers... More »

  • What Is Aquaculture? Featured Article What Is Aquaculture? What Is Aquaculture?

    The term aquaculture broadly refers to the cultivation of aquatic organisms in controlled aquatic environments for any commercial, recreational or public purpose. The breeding,... More »

  • Cnidaria Featured Article Cnidaria Cnidaria

    Cnidaria (corals, jellyfish, and Hydra) are incredibly diverse in form, as evidenced by colonial siphonophores, massive medusae and corals, feathery hydroids, and box jellies... More »

  • Fluid catalytic cracking Featured Article Fluid catalytic cracking Fluid catalytic cracking

    Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is the most important conversion process used in petroleum refineries. It is widely used to convert the high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions of... More »

Recently Updated
Tubuai tropical moist forests Last Updated on 2014-04-24 18:30:38 Located south of Tahiti, the Tubuai, or Austral Islands, are eroded volcanic peaks that are surrounded by uplifted limestone reef rims. These islands are among the least studied of the Pacific Island ecosystems. The vegetation includes lowland and montane rain forest, with about 150 species of flowering plants. While the islands are also host to several important endemic plant and animal species, they have a history of profound disturbance by humans. There are five inhabited islands in the Tubuai group: Rimatara, Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae, and Rapa. The largest is Tubuai, with an area of 44 km2. The chain also includes an uninhabited island group, Ilots de Bass (Marotiri), and an uninhabited atoll named Maria. The islands are the expression of a geologic hotspot track and are similar in ages and rock composition to the Hawaiian Islands. The islands at the southeastern end are... More »
Tuamotu tropical moist forests Last Updated on 2014-04-24 18:24:38 Spread over 3,000 km2 of the Pacific Ocean, this ecoregion encompasses the 76 atolls and islands of Tuamotu, which stretch 1,800 kilometers (km) to the Gambier Islands and the Pitcairn Islands 1,000 km to the east. The biodiversity present here highlights the effects of extreme isolation and challenging conditions of atolls on flora and fauna. The Tuamotus and Gambier Islands are largely atolls, while the Pitcairn group consists of raised limestone islands and high islands. The Tuamotus contain some of the most intact and damaged atolls in the Pacific. Natural communities are highly threatened by land clearing, introduced predators, and nuclear testing.                     This ecoregion encompasses an immense area of the Pacific Ocean between 13º to 25 °S latitude and 124º to 149 °W longitude. Ducie... More »
Society Islands tropical moist forests Last Updated on 2014-04-24 18:18:48   The Society Islands are strikingly beautiful volcanic and coral islands supporting hundreds of endemic species. The isolation and great age of the high islands has contributed to marked radiations in some plant and invertebrate taxa. This biodiversity has been seriously impacted by land clearing, fire, introduced mammals, and most recently by an introduced plant that threatens to engulf all remaining forest areas. The Society Islands comprise a chain of high volcanic islands extending from 16º to 18º S latitude and 148º to 154º W longitude. Of the 14 islands in the group, 9 are high dormant volcanoes while the remainder are atolls with volcanic substrata deep beneath. Soils are derived from basalt except in areas with uplifted reefs and on atolls where soils are limestone-derived. The Society Islands range in age from Mehetia which is less than 1... More »
Samoan tropical moist forests Last Updated on 2014-04-24 18:11:34 The islands of Samoa comprise the last large areas of land east of Australia in the central Pacific. Their size has helped them accumulate and support a diversity of plant and animal genera not found further to the east as well as a rich, endemic flora and fauna of their own. About 80 percent of Samoa’s lowland rain forests have been lost during the 3,000 year history of human habitation. Given current trajectories, a devastating loss of native forest is predicted to occur within the next 20 years. Samoa consists of a chain of 14 volcanic islands located 600 kilometers (km) east of Fiji at 13º to 14º S latitude and 168º to 171º W longitude. The Western Samoan islands of Savai’i and ‘Upolu make up 90 percent of the archipelagos’ land area and are separated from Tutuila and Aunu’u Islands of American Samoa by 64 km of ocean. To... More »
Palau tropical moist forests Last Updated on 2014-04-24 18:04:38   The archipelago of Palau, or Belau, is probably most famous for the Rock Islands, a cluster of more than 200 rounded knobs of karst-weathered, forest-capped limestone, with steep sides plunging to the sea. While its marine environment is spectacular, drawing SCUBA divers from around the world, it also contains Micronesia’s greatest diversity of terrestrial flora and fauna. Its proximity to both New Guinea and the Philippines has caused this small archipelago to support a remarkable variety of endemic birds, plants, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. Located about 800 kilometers (km) north of the equator, 800 km east of the Philippines, and 6,000 km southwest of Hawaii, Palau is the westernmost archipelago of Micronesia's Caroline Islands. It consists of six main island groups in a chain approximately 200 km long, and oriented roughly north–south.... More »