Scientists at the University of Michigan have found that <a href="/earth/polar/cryosphere_permafrost1.html&edu=high&dev=">permafrost</a> in the <a href="/earth/polar/polar_north.html&edu=high&dev=">Arctic</a> is extremely sensitive to sunlight.  Exposure to sunlight releases carbon gases trapped in the permafrost, including <a href="/earth/climate/earth_greenhouse.html&edu=high&dev=">climate-warming</a> <a href="/physical_science/chemistry/carbon_dioxide.html&edu=high&dev=">carbon dioxide</a>, to the <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/overview.html&edu=high&dev=">atmosphere</a> much faster than previously thought.<p><small><em>George Kling, The University of Michigan</em></small></p>An image of Hurricane Sandy taken by the GOES-13 satellite on October 28.  This category 1 <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/hurricane/hurricane.html&edu=high&dev=">hurricane</a> was huge, spanning a horizontal distance of about one-third the US continental landmass.  The storm came onshore in New Jersey, and gradually moved northeast.  The storm disrupted the lives of tens of millions in the eastern US, doing billions of dollars in damage, resulting in over 30 deaths.  Visit the National Hurricane Center's webpage on <a href="http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/">Hurricane Sandy</a> for details.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA</em></small></p><p>The United Nations <a href="http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/PAND_report.pdf" target="_blank">estimated</a> that between 1994-2015, there were 6,873 natural disasters worldwide, which affected 218 million people and claimed 1.35 million lives. </p>
<p>Check out the materials about natural disasters in <a href="/earth/natural_hazards/when_nature_strikes.html&edu=high&dev=">NBC Learn Videos</a>, and their earth system science connections built up by the related secondary classroom activities.</p><p><small><em>NBC Learn</em></small></p>New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide  support for the hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed (shown in red) polar craters. Areas where polar deposits of ice imaged by Earth-based radar are shown in yellow.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington/National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, Arecibo Observatory</em></small></p>There are over 900 <a href="/the_universe/uts/megalith.html&edu=high&dev=">rings of stone</a> located in the British Isles. The most famous of these stone rings is of course, <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge.html&edu=high&dev=">Stonehenge</a>.    The stones of Stonehenge were put in place between 3,000 B.C and 2,000 B.C. by neolithic people.Some speculate that the site was built as a temple of worship of the ancient Earth deities. Some say it was used as an <a href="/the_universe/uts/stonehenge_astro.html&edu=high&dev=">astronomical observatory</a> of sorts. Still others say it was a burial ground.<p><small><em>  Image courtesy of Corel Photography.</em></small></p>A group of
  Emperor penguins wait their turn to dive into the ocean near <a
  href="/people/postcards/jean_pennycook_11_29_0.html&edu=high&dev=">Ross
  Island, Antarctica</a>
  on November 3, 2004.
Emperor penguins routinely dive to 500 meters in
  search of food. Scientists are interested in understanding how they can
  endure the stress of these dives in such an <a
  href="/earth/extreme_environments.html&edu=high&dev=">extreme
  environment</a>.<p><small><em> Image courtesy of Emily Stone,   National Science Foundation</em></small></p>

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