Earth Changes
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Phoenix

California fires destroy 1,000 homes, winds ease

LOS ANGELES - Wildfires hop-scotched around Southern California on Sunday although calmer winds slowed flames that have destroyed almost 1,000 houses, forced tens of thousands to evacuate and turned some neighborhoods into scenes resembling war zones.
Bizarro Earth

7.5 Earthquake Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Date-Time

* Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 17:02:31 UTC

* Monday, November 17, 2008 at 01:02:31 AM at epicenter

* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
© USGS

Location 1.275°N, 122.103°E

Depth 21 km (13.0 miles) (poorly constrained)

Region MINAHASA, SULAWESI, INDONESIA

Distances 135 km (85 miles) NW of Gorontalo, Sulawesi, Indonesia

305 km (190 miles) W of Manado, Sulawesi, Indonesia

1485 km (920 miles) S of MANILA, Philippines

1890 km (1170 miles) ENE of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 7.8 km (4.8 miles); depth +/- 23.8 km (14.8 miles)
Phoenix

Hungry LA fires reduce hundreds of homes to ash

LOS ANGELES - Southern Californians endured a third day of destruction Saturday as wind-blasted wildfires torched hundreds of mobile homes and mansions, forced tens of thousands of people to flee and shut down major freeways.
Eye 1

Sunspots spell end of climate myth

It is disturbing that many recent statements on climate change by influential people are not supported by hard evidence.

For instance, Professor Ralph Chapman's statement that the globe risks a tipping point if emissions are not reduced by 2015 is unsupported by hard evidence, as is David Parker's claim that if we do nothing to reduce emissions, New Zealand could be up to $500 million worse off by 2012.

This is not true because, if we adopt the Emissions Trading Scheme, electricity bills alone will increase by more than $500 million each year.

On Kyoto, lawyer Alistair Hercus recently claimed that "as a country we have to pay". In fact, the Kyoto protocol says nothing about enforcement and as yet there are no international emissions enforcers to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Snowman

The world has never seen such freezing heat

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.
Bizarro Earth

Small Quake Reported In Central Arkansas

The U.S. Geological Survey says a small earthquake occurred in central Arkansas.

The quake, of preliminary magnitude 2.9, occurred at 7:47 a.m. Saturday, 14 miles north of Hector in Pope County.

A dispatcher with the Pope County Sheriff's Office said the office had not gotten any calls regarding the tremor.

A quake of magnitude 2.5 to 3 is the smallest generally felt by people. Hundreds of earthquakes occur each year. Most are so small they cannot be felt.
Fish

Quarter of Atlantic sharks and rays face extinction

New figures show 26% of all sharks, rays and related species in the north-east Atlantic are threatened with extinction

More than a quarter of sharks and rays in the north-east Atlantic face extinction from overfishing, conservationists warned today.

A "red list" report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 26% of all sharks, rays and related species in the regional waters are threatened with extinction. Seven per cent are classed as critically endangered, while a fifth are regarded as "near-threatened".

The total number of at-risk species may well be higher because scientists lack of sufficient information to assess the populations of more than a quarter (27%) of them, the report adds. Many are slow-breeding fish that are especially vulnerable to fisheries.
Bizarro Earth

UPDATE: Los Angeles fears blackouts as wildfire burns

Los Angeles - A wildfire whipped up by hurricane-force gusts raged through northwestern Los Angeles foothills on Saturday, burning some 165 homes and threatening the power supply of California's largest city.

More than 10,000 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders as the fire, which has burned more than 2,600 acres, spread westward fanned by dry winds.
Fire in Sylmar, California
© AFP/Getty Images/David Mcnew
Firefighters are pelted with ash and embers driven by high wind as most of the homes in the Oakridge mobile home park, which reportedly has 600-800 homes, burn in the Sylmar Fire in Sylmar, California.

A separate fire burned a second day in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, where 111 homes have been destroyed.
Better Earth

Mysterious Microbe May Play Important Role In Ocean Ecology

An unusual microorganism discovered in the open ocean may force scientists to rethink their understanding of how carbon and nitrogen cycle through ocean ecosystems. A research team led by Jonathan Zehr, professor of ocean sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, characterized the new microbe by analyzing its genetic material, even though researchers have not been able to grow it in the laboratory.
cyanobacteria
© Rachel Foster
These unidentified cyanobacteria were collected in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.

Zehr said the newly described organism seems to be an atypical member of the cyanobacteria, a group of photosynthetic bacteria formerly known as blue-green algae. Unlike all other known free-living cyanobacteria, this one lacks some of the genes needed to carry out photosynthesis, the process by which plants use light energy to make sugars out of carbon dioxide and water. The mysterious microbe can do something very important, though: It provides natural fertilizer to the oceans by "fixing" nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form useable by other organisms.
Igloo

Sea Ice Growing at Fastest Pace on Record

Rapid Rebound Brings Ice Back to Levels from the 1980s.

An abnormally cool Arctic is seeing dramatic changes to ice levels. In sharp contrast to the rapid melting seen last year, the amount of global sea ice has rebounded sharply and is now growing rapidly. The total amount of ice, which set a record low value last year, grew in October at the fastest pace since record-keeping began in 1979.

The actual amount of ice area varies seasonally from about 16 to 23 million square kilometers. However, the mean anomaly-- defined as the difference between the current area and the seasonally-adjusted average-- changes much slower, and generally varies by only 2-3 million square kilometers.

That anomaly had been negative, indicating ice loss, for most of the current decade and reached a historic low in 2007. The current value is again zero, indicating an amount of ice exactly equal to the global average from 1979-2000.
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