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Earthquake strikes off Vanuatu

seismograph
Sydney - A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the south Pacific island of Vanuatu on Wednesday, seismologists said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

No tsunami warning was issued after the undersea temblor that the US Geological Survey said struck at 5:35 am (1825 GMT) 75 kilometres (47 miles) north of the capital city of Port Vila.
Bizarro Earth

Plea for more research cash as two billion bees die from rampant disease

bees
© Unknown

They accused the Government of failing to invest in the research needed to stem diseases and parasites which are now thought to have destroyed one in three bee colonies over the past year.

The British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) has calculated that up to two billion bees succumbed to sickness between November 2007 and April 2008, with a similar number expected to be wiped out by the end of this winter.

It wants ministers to increase the £200,000 currently spent on the research of bee health to £8 million over the next five years.

The BBKA warns that unless the money is spent a cure will never be found - leading to the ultimate extinction of Britain's honeybees.

Comment: See the SOTT Focus piece: To Bee or not to Be

Bizarro Earth

Ozone hole the size of North America

ozone
© NZ Herald

The Antarctic ozone hole grew to the size of North America in September, the fifth largest recorded in nearly 30 years.

The information released yesterday by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the ozone hole fluctuated in response to temperature and sunlight.

It had grown to the size of North America in a one-day maximum in September, making it the fifth largest since NOAA satellite records began in 1979.

The primary cause of the ozone hole was human-produced compounds called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, which released ozone-destroying chlorine and bromine into the atmosphere.
Better Earth

Dried Mushrooms Slow Climate Warming In Northern Forests

The fight against climate warming has an unexpected ally in mushrooms growing in dry spruce forests covering Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions, a new UC Irvine study finds.

When soil in these forests is warmed, fungi that feed on dead plant material dry out and produce significantly less climate-warming carbon dioxide than fungi in cooler, wetter soil. This came as a surprise to scientists, who expected warmer soil to emit larger amounts of carbon dioxide because extreme cold is believed to slow down the process by which fungi convert soil carbon into carbon dioxide.
Fungi.
© University of California - Irvine
Fungi. The fight against climate warming has an unexpected ally in mushrooms growing in dry spruce forests covering Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions, a new UC Irvine study finds

Knowing how forests cycle carbon is crucial to accurately predicting global climate warming, which in turn guides public policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This is especially important in northern forests, which contain an estimated 30 percent of the Earth's soil carbon, equivalent to the amount of atmospheric carbon.
Better Earth

Climate Change Bill makes chilling reading

Who says the Almighty has not got a sense of humour? Last Tuesday MPs spent yet another six hours discussing what is potentially the most expensive single piece of legislation ever put through Parliament.

The Climate Change Bill, which had its third reading, commits Britain (uniquely in the world) to an 80 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

As MPs droned on about the need to fight global warming, Peter Lilley drew the Speaker's attention to the fact that, outside on the streets of Westminster, snow was falling. It was London's first October snowfall for 70 years, and similarly unseasonal snow was carpeting a wide swathe of Britain.

In all that six hours of debate, only two MPs questioned the need for such a Bill, which had swept through its second reading with only five opposed.

The sole MP who tried to raise the matter of the cost of the Bill - which could run to trillions of pounds if all its measures were implemented - was Mr Lilley. He was ruled out of order by the Speaker.
Fish

Coral Reefs Found Growing In Cold, Deep Ocean

Imagine descending in a submarine to the ice-cold, ink-black depths of the ocean, 800 metres under the surface of the Atlantic. Here the tops of the hills are covered in large coral reefs. NIOZ-researcher Furu Mienis studied the formation of these unknown cold-water relatives of the better-known tropical corals.
cold-water corals
© Marc Lavalije, NIOZ
Example of the cold-water corals being studied in the Atlantic Ocean at depths of six hundred to a thousand metres.

Furu Mienis studied the development of carbonate mounds dominated by cold-water corals in the Atlantic Ocean at depths of six hundred to a thousand metres. These reefs can be found along the eastern continental slope from Morocco to Norway, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and on the western continental slope along the east coast of Canada and the United States. Mienis studied the area to the west of Ireland along the edges of the Rockall Trough.
Bizarro Earth

Hurricane Ike Caused Underwater Damage To Galveston

Conducting a rapid response research mission after Hurricane Ike, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin surveyed the inlet between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, discovering the hurricane significantly reshaped the seafloor and likely carried an enormous amount of sand and sediment out into the Gulf.
© University of Texas at Austin
Before-and-after bathymetric images of the shell-gravel ridges in the Bolivar Roads inlet off Big Reef (at the northeast tip of Galveston Island), overlaid on satellite photograph.

The ongoing research could help coastal communities gauge the effectiveness of their sometimes controversial efforts to replenish eroding sand along shorelines while revealing the role storms play in building and eroding barrier islands such as Galveston.
Info

Roads Bring Death And Fear To Forest Elephants

Why did the elephant cross the road? It didn't according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Save the Elephants that says endangered forest elephants are avoiding roadways at all costs. The authors of the study believe that these highly intelligent animals now associate roads with danger - in this case poaching, which is rampant in Central Africa's Congo Basin.
© Stephen Blake, Courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society
Why did the elephant cross the road? It didn't according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Save the Elephants that says endangered forest elephants are avoiding roadways at all costs.

According to the study, which appears in the October 27th issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoSONE), forest elephants have adopted a "siege mentality," forcing populations to become increasingly confined and isolated. This in turn reduces these normally far-ranging animals' ability to find suitable habitat; thereby threatening long-term conservation efforts.
Snowman

Storm drops more than foot of snow on Sierra peaks

Reno, Nevada - A storm dropped as much as 15 inches of snow in the Sierra Nevada, hastening the state of the ski season but bogging down traffic on mountain highways.

The Boreal resort atop Donner Summit reported 12 to 15 inches of new snow from late Monday into Tuesday, and said it plans to open Thursday. Alpine Meadows resort just north of Lake Tahoe reported as much as 14 inches of snow during the night, and hopes to open Nov. 26.

"Winter has made an entrance," said David Thatcher, snowmaking manager at Alpine Meadows.
Attention

Governor declares agricultural disaster in 5 counties

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman today declared six Utah counties agricultural disaster areas.

The declaration affects farmers and ranchers in Garfield, Millard, Sanpete, Kane, Piute and Box Elder counties who have been hit hard by extreme weather conditions.
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