Journal Highlights

Initiation of Snowball Earth with volcanic sulfur aerosol emissions

Editors’ Highlight—This paper proposes that volcanic activity, specifically the injection of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, directly led to the Sturtian glaciation, the first Neoproterozoic global glaciation event. The authors test the plausibility of their hypothesis with three low-order atmospheric models which assess the height to which hot, buoyant sulfur-bearing plumes from fire fountains could reach in the atmosphere; the chemical and microphysical evolution of sulfur in the atmosphere; and the radiative effects of sulfate aerosols once they formed. The idea that volcanic sulfur aerosol emissions can be a mechanism for a rapid increase in planetary albedo and thus trigger a rapid glaciation, or Snowball Earth event, presents a new perspective on Earth’s history and has implications for paleoclimate, exoplanets, and geo-engineering.

A perfect storm of fire and ice may have led to snowball Earth

Blog—What caused the largest glaciation event in Earth’s history, known as ‘snowball Earth’?

Geologists and climate scientists have been searching for the answer for years but the root cause of the phenomenon remains elusive.

Now, Harvard University researchers have a new hypothesis about what caused the runaway glaciation that covered the Earth pole-to-pole in ice…more

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Featured Special Collection

First Results from NASA's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission has been performing particle and electromagnetic field measurements in the near-Earth environment since its launch in March 2015. Thanks to data with unprecedented time resolution on four identical spacecraft in a close tetrahedron configuration (down to 10 km), MMS science goals are to probe and understand the electron-scale physics involved in the magnetic reconnection process. This collection provides a selection of key results obtained during the first phase of the mission at the dayside magnetopause. It includes new observations of the geometry and variability of the reconnection process, the detailed dynamics of particles, fields and waves in the vicinity of the reconnection region, the observation of small-scale signatures at current sheets formed in the magnetosheath, in Kevlin-Helmholtz vortices, or flux transfer events, as well as other small-scale features which are by-products of magnetic reconnection or not. These results open a new window for our understanding of magnetic reconnection in space, with direct and numerous implications for astrophysical and laboratory plasmas.