Hot topics within Earth and Planetary sciences 2012

Every third month Science direct lists the twentyfive hottest articles within a specific field of research. The present Hot topics list is based on number of downloads for each article during the full year of 2012.  However, the list is still a good indicator if one wants to find out what’s hot in geosciences.

Based on the Science Direct list for 2012, I have compiled the three hottest topics within Earth and Planetary sciences, and these are:

  1. Fresh water treatment/resources 6/25
  2. Ecology/Palaeoecology/Evolution 5/25
  3. Climate change/ocean acidification 5/25

Compared to the last published list the research focus of 2012 based on the most downloaded papers from Science Direct have changed somewhat. The most downloaded papers are now within Fresh water treatment/resources and three of these papers deal with reverse osmosis desalination. Reverse osmosis is one of the main technologies for producing fresh water from saline water and other wastewater sources. Fresh water shortage has become an important issue affecting the economic and social development in many countries, but there are still many challenges with reverse osmosis, as discussed by Kang & Kao (2012) and Pérez-Gonzaléz et al. (2012).

Papers on Ecology/Palaeoecology/Evolution and Climate change/ocean acidification have also attracted a lot of attention of the research community during 2012. The two subjects are tightly linked as exemplified by one of the most downloaded papers (nr 10 of 25), a review paper by Leslie Hughes from 2000: Biological consequences of global warming: is the signal already apparent?

Interestingly, the top downloaded paper within Earth and Planetary Sciences 2012 is a paper demonstrating the potential of microbial U(VI) reduction as an alternative technology to currently used physical/chemical processes for treatment and recovery of uranium in the nuclear industry (Chabalala & Chirwa, 2010). Perhaps this signals an increasing global need to find new methods in order to retreive natural resources that were previously considered to costly and technologically challenging?

To me, the 2012 hottest topics list signals increasing awareness within the research community that climatic and environmental changes, pollution and exploitation of natural resources presents new challenges in a world with increasing population pressure and demand of economic development!


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