Deep sea mining licences issued
Vast new areas of the ocean floor have been opened up in an accelerating search for valuable minerals including manganese, copper and gold.
In a move that brings closer a new era of deep sea mining, the UN's International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued seven new exploration licences.
State-owned and private companies from India, Brazil, Singapore and Russia are among those to land permission for minerals prospecting.
One British firm, UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the US defence giant Lockheed Martin, has secured exploration rights to an area larger than the entire UK.
This means that the total area of seabed now licensed in this new gold rush has reached an immense 1.2 million square kilometres under 26 different permits for minerals prospecting.
Shuttle diplomacy in climate countdown
A senior British minister is once again launched on a long-haul high-carbon mission of shuttle diplomacy in the cause of tackling climate change.
The target is to try to land an international deal on limiting greenhouse gases at what is billed as a major summit in Paris in late 2015.
Oklahoma drought kindles spectre of 1930s 'Dust Bowl'
A menacing cloud of dust swirling above a parched field in Oklahoma is a disturbing reminder of the power of drought.
All too often here, when the land is baked dry, the winds can strip away an inch of precious topsoil in as little as 24 hours, soil that has taken centuries to form.
How much money can we make from fracking Britain?
How much money can be made from trying to extract oil and gas from the layers of shale that lie beneath Britain?
Answering that is proving to be a surprisingly difficult scientific question because knowing the basic facts about shale is not enough.
Pfizer takeover could delay drug development, says Astra chief
For anyone in the pharmaceutical industry, the Holy Grail is the discovery of what they call a new "molecule", a cleverly-designed compound that proves effective as a treatment.
But achieving this is fiendishly complicated - getting approval has become hugely expensive and success is far from guaranteed.
'Nothing can stop retreat' of West Antarctic glaciers
West Antarctica is one of the least accessible parts of the planet and it takes a huge effort to research the changes under way there. Nearly a decade ago, I joined a flight on an old US Navy patrol plane that made a gruelling 11-hour round trip from the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas to Pine Island Glacier, which lies among the glaciers featured in these latest studies.
There was no possibility of landing and, if the worst were to happen, there was no-one close enough to offer any kind of rescue. This is research at its most daring. On board was a team from Nasa whose instruments were measuring the elevation and thickness of the ice below us. Even at this stage, it was clear that the glacier, far larger than anything you might see in Europe or North America, was speeding up.
How does Europe wean itself off Russian gas?
Each escalation of the crisis in Ukraine sends a jolt of nervousness far beyond its borders as Europe worries about its energy supplies.
With about one-third of Europe's gas coming from Russia and about half of that gas flowing through Ukraine, these are tense times.
Agreement reached on deep sea mining
Plans to open the world's first mine in the deep ocean have moved significantly closer to becoming reality.
A Canadian mining company has finalised an agreement with Papua New Guinea to start digging up an area of seabed.
George Osborne orders new icebreaker for UK polar science
Global warming does not mean an end to polar ice nor to the need for icebreakers. Even if the Arctic becomes largely ice-free in summertime later this century, as the latest science suggests, the legacy of each winter's deep freeze will still litter the ocean - some of the jagged shards of ice will be visible but many will bob treacherously just below the surface.
While reporting on an expedition through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage in October 2007, I woke to the sound of an unnerving clanging along the hull. The vessel, the Amundsen, was pushing through pack ice and each jolt and reverberation made me wonder about the strength of the steel. But to understand how the polar regions are changing, and the implications for everything from wildlife to fishing to new oilfields to future shipping routes, the view from space offered by satellites is not enough.