It’s day 1 of Open Access Week, and this year, as well as making all our published content free to access, we’ve also decided to focus on a different subject area each day to highlight the amazing open access research published across all our journals.

First up it’s the earth sciences. In this field, researchers use tools from across other disciplines including physics, engineering and maths to try and understand the earth, its various systems and its history. This results in a great variety of interesting research, as shown below.

Ocean processes at the Antarctic continental slope

Map of Antarctica Antarctica is remote and inaccessible, but crucially important for global climate and for its role in ecosystems and carbon sequestration. This research from Philosophical Transactions A discusses how well climate models can simulate this region, and new observing techniques to determine the small scale processes that have a global impact.


Subglacial swamps

Geometry of the flow under consideration. A three-dimensional schematic diagram. Ice streams are fast flowing bands of ice responsible for up to 90% of ice-sheet drainage in Antarctica. The existence of both water and sediment at the bed of ice-streams is well-documented, but there is a lack of fundamental understanding about the mechanisms of ice, water and sediment interaction. In this work published in Proceedings A, the authors consider how the water and sediment at the bed of ice-streams interact concluding that water is likely to flow in shallow, swamp-like streams, incised into the sediment.


Could brown bears (Ursus arctos) have survived in Ireland during the Last Glacial Maximum?
Ursus arctosBrown bears survived until 3000 years ago in Ireland, and ancient DNA analysis has revealed that this now-extinct population hybridized with polar bears, presumably during the coldest part of the recent Ice Age glaciation. In this Biology Letters paper, researchers investigated the likelihood that brown bears could have survived this cold period in the small ice-free region of southwestern Ireland. This research has important implications for understanding other Ice Age extinctions in Europe.


Repeated mass strandings of Miocene marine mammals

Adult and juvenile fossil rorqual skeletonsMass strandings have puzzled naturalists since Aristotle. Besides human causes, they are also linked to oceanographic events that have occurred over geologic time. In this Proceedings B paper, researchers describe a fossil site which preserves over 40 skeletons of whales and other marine vertebrates in four discrete horizons, indicating a repeated, but similar cause. The only explanation for such repeated mass strandings today are toxins from algal blooms, suggesting that fossil accumulations of these events may be more common than previously thought.

And coming soon in Royal Society Open Science, researchers use engineering techniques to simulate footprint formation across different substrates, examining the biases and formational processes in dinosaur tracks. You can sign up for alerts to find out when the paper publishes.

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