Published: Wednesday 15 February 2006

longest core: A core measuring more than 1.5 kilometres long has been recovered under the Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater Deep Drilling Project in the US. The impact crater was formed about 35 million years ago when a rock from space struck the Earth. The drilling project was a major success, said scientist Greg Gohn, adding that a nearly complete set of core samples from the top of the crater fill to the crater floor had been recovered. Scientists have only recently begun to explore the consequences from that distant event and how they have affected the people living there.

root role: Trees, particularly those with deep roots, contribute much more to the global climate than believed, claims a study by scientists from University of California, Berkeley, US.

Conducted on trees in the Amazonian forest, the study shows that roots transfer rainwater from the surface to reservoirs deep underground and redistribute water upwards after the rains to keep the top layers moist. This increases photosynthesis and the evaporation of water from plants, called transpiration, by 40 per cent in the dry season, they add.

last leap: An international research team is offering the first evidence that global warming is behind an infectious disease epidemic (caused by fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) wiping out frog populations and forcing many species to extinction. Led by Alan Pounds from Costa Rica's Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and Tropical Science Center, the scientists investigated how the Monteverde harlequin frog and the golden toad vanished 17 years ago from the mountains of Costa Rica.

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