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Alarm Clock

80 whales die in stranding in Australia

HOBART - A group of about 80 whales stranded on a remote coastline in southern Australia were battered to death on rocks before rescuers could reach them.

Officials from Tasmania state's Parks and Wildlife Service rushed Sunday in four-wheel-drive vehicles to the remote site at Sandy Cape after the long-finned pilot whales were spotted by air a day earlier.
Better Earth

Alaskan Cold and Glacial Advance Due to PDO

The PDO not Greenhouse Gasses are responsible for changes in Alaska

The PDO has a major influence on Alaskan and for that matter global temperatures. The positive phase favors more El Ninos and a stronger Aleutian low and warm water in the north Pacific off the Alaskan coast. The negative phase more La Ninas and cold eastern Gulf of Alaska waters. Note the strong similarity of the positive phase with El Nino and the negative with La Nina.
Crusader

Arctic Sees Massive Gain in Ice Coverage

Increase twice the size of Germany: "colder weather" to blame.

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has indicated a dramatic increase in sea ice extent in the Arctic regions. The growth over the past year covers an area of 700,000 square kilometers: an amount twice the size the nation of Germany.

With the Arctic melting season over for 2008, ice cover will continue to increase until melting begins anew next spring.
Bizarro Earth

Alaskan Glaciers Grow for First Time in 250 years

High snowfall and cold weather to blame.

A bitterly cold Alaskan summer has had surprising results. For the first time in the area's recorded history, area glaciers have begun to expand, rather than shrink. Summer temperatures, which were some 3 degrees below average, allowed record levels of winter snow to remain much longer, leading to the increase in glacial mass.
Bizarro Earth

US: Small Arkansas earthquakes could be warning

LITTLE ROCK - A series of small earthquakes that rattled central Arkansas in recent weeks could be a sign of something much bigger to come.

By this weekend, seismologists hope to install three measurement devices to gather data about future temblors in the area. That information could show whether the rumbles come from heat-related geological changes or from an undiscovered fault - which could mean a risk of substantial earthquakes in the future.

"The potential for generating a high-magnitude earthquake is real," said Haydar Al-Shukri, director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Info

Pilot study: tags track whale survivors

Pilot whales that survived a mass stranding in Tasmania are yielding fresh insights into the mammals' little-known deep-sea lives.

Satellite tags attached to five of the surviving whales on Sunday have let scientists track the specie's movements for the first time in Australian waters.

They also worked as beacons, allowing airborne wildlife officers to find and photograph all 11 survivors swimming together.
Pilot Whales beached
© Peter Lord
Tragic … 11 out of 65 whales survived the stranding.

A Tasmanian Government zoologist, Rosemary Gales, said yesterday the findings confirmed for the first time the success of a pilot whale rescue in the state, which is a hot spot for beachings.

"Everybody asks, 'How do you know whether the whales you rescue survive?' " Dr Gales said. "Well these ones have."

The small, dark-skinned pilot whales normally live in open oceans, where they dive up to 1000 metres in search of prey.
Life Preserver

500 trapped narwhals culled in Canada

Cetaceans have a bad habit of stranding themselves. Last week a large pod of 65 pilot whales stranded themselves on a beach in Tasmania. Only 11 survived.

When a similar mass stranding occured in 2003, a predator was suspected of having scared the animals onto the beach. Military use of sonar has also been linked - and cleared of causing - whale strandings.
Narwhals
© Unknown
Narwhals breach.

Now there's another disaster, on a bigger scale: a huge group of about 500 narwhals have trapped themselves in sea ice in Nunavut, in Arctic Canada. The trapped animals are being culled to prevent a more painful death by starvation or suffocation as the ice closes in around them.
Igloo

Mystery of iceberg 'birth' solved

US scientists have figured out how icebergs break off Antarctica and Greenland, a finding that may help predict rising sea levels as the climate warms.

Icebergs form fastest when parent ice sheets quickly spread out over the sea, the scientists say.

It's too late to help the Titanic, but this newly derived, simple law may help researchers improve their climate models and predict ice sheet break-up, they say.

Other factors, such as ice thickness, width of the ice flow, distance from land or waves, are less important, they add.

Ice cracking off into the ocean from Antarctica and Greenland could be the main contributor to global sea level rises in the future. If all the ice in Greenland and Antarctica melted, seas would rise by more than 60 meters.
Frog

Invasive ant ruins gecko's sweet relationship

They say three's a crowd, and that appears to be as true ecologically as it is socially. Researchers have discovered that an invasive ant is ruining the mutualistic relationship that has long existed between a gecko and a critically endangered flower.

The blue-tailed gecko (Phelsuma cepediana) feeds on nectar from the flowers of the Roussea simplex shrub on the island of Mauritius, pollinating the plant and dispersing its seeds.
Geckos
© Dennis Hansen
Geckos have an essential pollination role with this critically endangered flower.

But the invasive white-footed ant (Technomyrmex albipes) that arrived on the island in the last century has disrupted the gecko-flower relationship. The ant builds galleries of dirt on the flower where it can "farm" other insects to feed on honeydew.
Bizarro Earth

President-elect Barack Obama will hasten America's decline

American voters were faced with Hobson's choice in this election as far as global warming was concerned.
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