In the Antarctic, a scientist recruits albatrosses to pinpoint illegal fishing boats

Albatross expert Dr Henri Weimerskirch, of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), turned his favourite seabirds into spies two years ago by fixing them up with loggers that could detect the radar of illegal fishing vessels. The information from this project, known as OCEAN SENTINEL, has helped governments select which parts of the ocean … Read more

They can capture more carbon than they emit. So why aren’t wooden buildings mainstream?

Four storeys high and made almost entirely of wood, the ZEB Lab building in Trondheim, Norway, had, even before it existed, sucked as much carbon from the atmosphere as it would probably produce in construction. Now, thanks to its arboreal origins, as well as to the sleek expanse of solar panels on its roof and … Read more

Forest darkness helps stave off effects of nitrogen pollution – but this is set to change

The life that grows underfoot accounts for 80% of the biodiversity in a temperate forest. Image credit - www.pikist.com/licenced under CC0

Europe’s forests are sitting on a pollution timebomb which could rewrite their ecology when it explodes, say researchers. Delicate forest floor plants such as wood sorrel or violet, and the balance among the tree species that tower above them, are all threatened by decades of accumulated nitrogen pollution. A study has found that the darkness … Read more

Pandemic freight emissions reached 2030 target in just months. How do we make the changes stick?

During the coronavirus pandemic, railways have been used more heavily to transport Europe's freight. Image credit - Liberaler Humanist/Wikimedia, licensed CC BY 4.0 International

The pandemic left a visible imprint on car, bus and bicycle use – and at its height brought about cleaner city air – but it also disrupted another, less obvious but highly polluting sector: freight transport. Coronavirus plunged millions of planes, trucks, trains and ships into a massive experiment, disrupting supply chains as national borders … Read more

Q&A: Plate tectonics is fundamental to understanding Earth’s evolution – but big questions remain

The division of the Earth’s surface into seven major mobile plates is fundamental to our planet’s uniqueness, creating a habitable environment and possibly the conditions under which life itself originated. The theory of plate tectonics is 50 years old, but there are many puzzles left to answer, says Dr Kate Rychert, who studies the geology … Read more