PARIS -- The world's oceans have warmed 50 percent faster over the last 40 years than previously thought due to climate change, Australian and US climate researchers reported Wednesday.
Higher ocean temperatures expand the volume of water, contributing to a rise in sea levels that is submerging small island nations and threatening to wreak havoc in low-lying, densely-populated delta regions around the globe.
The study, published in the British journal Nature, adds to a growing scientific chorus of warnings about the pace and consequences of rising oceans.
It also serves as a corrective to a massive report issued last year by the Nobel-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to the authors.
Comment: Don't put on your speedos and ray-bans yet... there is a whole other raft of evidence showing that the earth has stopped the warming cycle and is now cooling. And with the sun-spot activity at about zero, the chances of an ice-age are pretty good.
Some migratory songbirds figure out the best place to live by eavesdropping on the singing of others that successfully have had baby birds - a communication and behavioral trait so strong that researchers playing recorded songs induced them to nest in places they otherwise would have avoided.
This suggests that songbirds have more complex communication abilities than had previously been understood, researchers say, and that these "social cues" can be as or more important than the physical environment of a site.
The discovery was just published in a professional journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, by scientists from Oregon State University, along with collaborators from Wellesley College, Queen's University and Trent University in Ontario, Canada.
PHNOM PENH -- The world's only captive hairy-nosed otter is living in a new home in a Cambodian zoo, in a move conservation officials said Wednesday could help ensure survival of the rare species.
The young male named Dara was released into its new home Tuesday at Phnom Tamau Zoo, located near Phnom Penh, said representatives from Conservation International (CI).
Two Buddhist monks walked into the enclosure with Dara to bless the animal's new home, following Cambodian tradition.
"Scientists recommend establishing of a breeding population in captivity to ensure survival of this species," said Annette Olsson, a CI researcher in Cambodia.
"Dara could be the founder of such a captive population, if and when we find him a wife, of course," she said.
The animal, a member of the rarest of otter species, had a fraught journey to the enclosure. It was first rescued when its mother was killed by a fisherman in Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake, Olsson said.
PARIS -- The dramatic proliferation of jellyfish in oceans around the world, driven by overfishing and climate change, is a sure sign of ecosystems out of kilter, warn experts.
"Jellyfish are an excellent bellwether for the environment," explains Jacqueline Goy, of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris. "The more jellyfish, the stronger the signal that something has changed."
Brainless creatures composed almost entirely of water, the primitive animals have quietly filled a vacuum created by the voracious human appetite for fish.
Dislodging them will be difficult, marine biologists say.
"Jellyfish have come to occupy the place of many other species," notes Ricardo Aguilar, research director for Oceana, a international conservation organisation.
Nowhere is the sting of these poorly understood invertebrates felt more sharply than the Mediterranean basin, where their exploding numbers have devastated native marine species and threaten seaside tourism.
REYKJAVIK -- Icelandic police said Wednesday they had shot and killed a polar bear discovered earlier this week on the island, which is hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the threatened species' natural habitat.
"It was shot last night (Tuesday)," a police spokesman in the northern town of Saudarkrokkur told AFP.
Polar bears are rare sightings on Iceland, since they have to swim hundreds of kilometres through icy waters to reach the island from their natural Arctic habitats, but the bear discovered Monday was the second spotted and killed on the island in the past two weeks.
Icelandic authorities had been harshly criticised for killing the first bear and had indicated they would try to capture the second animal, which was discovered by a 12-year-old girl as she was out walking her dog.
The chief veterinarian from the Copenhagen zoo had been flown in late Tuesday to help.
The police "tried to get close to (the bear) with our vet, but they did not get close enough to shoot it with the anaesthetiser," zoo spokesman Bengt Holst told AFP.
"Then the bear started running, so the police were frightened they would lose control. The bear could run very close to the populated area, so they decided to shoot it," he added.
KOLKATA - Flash floods triggered by two days of heavy rain in eastern India killed seven more people and displaced more than two million, officials said Wednesday.
"At least five deaths were reported in two districts as raging rivers collapsed thousands of huts, uprooted trees and damaged roads," Asim Sengupta, finance minister of West Bengal state, told AFP.
The minister said 1.6 million people had been made homeless.
Nearly a million people were cut off in the neighbouring eastern coastal state of Orissa, where two people drowned, disaster management minister Manmohan Samal said.
Four rivers were overflowing in Orissa, where medical teams were being sent to affected areas and air force helicopters were due to drop food packets.
In West Bengal, soldiers had been called to rescue tens of thousands of people marooned in flooded villages.
Schools and colleges in the affected districts were ordered shut to house displaced people.
Reykjavik -- A polar bear has been discovered on Iceland, which is hundreds of kilometres from the threatened species' natural habitat, a local photographer said Tuesday.
"The bear is in the north of Iceland near the town of Saudarkrokkur," Rax Axelsson, a photographer with Iceland's newspaper of reference, Morgunbladid, told AFP.
"The bear is living off of eggs and birds" and does not appear to be hungry, he added.
The bear was discovered by 12-year-old Karen Heljateynsdottir not far from her farm as she was out walking her dog on Monday.
"She saw something white and thought it was a plastic bag, and then she realised it was a polar bear. She ran home and she said she has never run so fast in her life," Axelsson said.
The Athens Geodynamic Institute says an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 struck near the Greek capital before dawn Wednesday.
No injuries or damage were reported.
BEIJING - At least 80 percent of the habitat for giant pandas in China's earthquake-hit province was destroyed or damaged, a forestry official said Tuesday.
|©AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan
|Two pandas play at China Conservative and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, China's southwest Sichuan province, Tuesday, June 10, 2008. The nine-year-old Mao Mao was finally found Monday and dug out Tuesday, almost a month after the May 12 devastating earthquake, crushed by a wall of her enclosure as the river nearby swelled with landslide debris.
When Al Gore lost his bid to become the country's first "Environment President," many of us thought the "global warming" scare would finally come to a well-deserved end. That hasn't happened, despite eight good reasons this scam should finally be put to rest.