The Atacama desert lies on the western edge of South America, covering much of northern Chile and parts of Argentina. It is the closest one can get to Mars while remaining grounded on Earth. High atop the Socompa volcano on the Eastern edge of the Atacama desert, the atmosphere is thin, the ultraviolet radiation is intense, and the climate is dry. Nevertheless, the improbable has been found: life. Near the rim of the 19,850-foot-high Socompa volcano, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder's Alpine Microbial Observatory found a thriving, complex microbial community that appears to be supported by gases emanating from volcanic vents around the rim.
Unalaska - The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the warning level for Okmok to yellow, or advisory, on Monday after a series of seismic bursts that lasted for six hours. The tremors repeated again Wednesday but have since subsided. AVO coordinating scientist Steve McNutt said these seismic signals could mean anything.
"Signals like this sometimes precede eruptions on the scale of hours to days, sometimes weeks or longer. And then sometimes the volcano just goes back to sleep," he said. "So you have to be cautious and assume that it may erupt and it could do so quickly, so that's the basis for our treating it with caution and changing the color code. On the other hand it could represent a new physical state of the volcano in which case it could do something different and then go back to sleep."
© Al Hicks, New York Department of Conservation
Little brown bats.
Some researchers are suggesting a way to save bats from white-nose syndrome - at least temporarily. In a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
, scientists used mathematical models to determine whether warmer caves could help decrease bat mortality from the illness, recognized by a white fungus on their noses, ears, and wings.
Heating caves "might be a way to keep the bats alive for a while until we come up with a cure or a solution," says lead author Justin Boyles.
© Courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
An adult male mountain lion weighing between 120 and 130 pounds, in a tree near Spooner, Wis. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attempted to sedate the animal with tranquilizer darts, but it escaped.
An extremely rare sighting of a mountain lion has been confirmed near Spooner, Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The animal, an adult male weighing between 120 and 130 pounds, was first seen Tuesday by a homeowner about 15 miles northwest of Spooner in Burnett County. Dogs were used to track the animal and chase it up a tree.
After the DNR was notified, officals from the department joined in the search, and on both Wednesday and Thursday the mountain lion was chased up trees. Two attempts to sedate the animal with a tranquilizer dart failed, and the mountain lion was not captured.
An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale struck near Sheffield in New Zealand South Island's mid-Canterbury region early Thursday, China's Xinhua quoted the GNS Science as reporting.
New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said the quake, occurred at 03:41 a.m. local time (1441 GMT Wednesday), was centered 20 km east of Sheffield at a focal depth of 33 km.
There were no reports of casualties or damages.
Thu, 05 Mar 2009 08:47 CET
The U.S. Geological Survey has reported that two earthquakes struck within 30 minutes of each other near San Jose late Wednesday.
The first shook the Los Altos Hills approximately 14 miles west of San Jose City Hall at about 11:15 p.m., and was recorded with the preliminary magnitude of 2.3, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
A second earthquake with the preliminary magnitude of 2.6 reportedly hit the same region at about 11:45 p.m., approximately 13 miles west of San Jose City Hall.
The Flinders Ranges have been shaken by a minor earthquake felt up to 30km from the epicentre near Wilmington.
The quake was felt around 9.50am today and measured 3.5 on the Richter scale.
It is the second-largest quake in SA this year and follows a magnitude 4.5 event north-east of Peterborough on January 26.
Primary Industries and Resources SA seismologist David Love said quakes in the ranges were not uncommon.
"Last year, about 250 earthquakes were recorded in the state and 80 per cent of lose were located in the Flinders and North mount Lofty Ranges," he said.
Tue, 03 Mar 2009 07:50 CET
Millions of insects could be wiped out because thinly staffed inspectorate does not know where half the country's beekeepers are
© Associated Press/Haraz Ghanbari
A colony of honeybees
A deadly Asian parasite that threatens to wipe out millions of bees across England and Wales has become endemic because Whitehall does not know the location of more than half the hives in the country, the National Audit Office reveals today.
The auditors estimate that at least 20,000 beekeepers are unregistered, which means they are never inspected and no action can be taken to eradicate the parasite before it destroys the bee colony, the report warns. The registered number of beekeepers stands at 17,000.
Failure to act could wipe out the country's £100m apple harvest and seriously damage pear, raspberry, strawberry and runner bean crops because they are highly dependent on bees for pollination.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs describes the pest as varroa, "a serious Asian parasitic mite of honey bees".
One of the more acrimonious scientific debates of the decade may have ended with the publication of a study showing that genetically modified material did contaminate native corn in the crop's birthplace in southern Mexico, scientists said Wednesday.
But Elena Alvarez Buylla, author of the article published in the February edition of Molecular Ecology, said the difficult atmosphere surrounding the original debate - which threatened the reputations of some scientists - persists.
The controversy started in 2001 with an article in the journal Nature, which said that biotech genetic material had been detected in native Mexican corn in the southern state of Oaxaca, where the crop was first developed thousands of years ago.
Global warming is not a crisis, but it may be creating a crisis of intellectual integrity.
Last month, college campuses held a "National Teach-in on Global Warming Solutions." The thrust of the message was that there is a crisis because global temperatures are rising, endangering the world's future, and humans are to blame.
I agree that there may be a crisis, but I don't believe that it is a crisis of impending heat; it is, rather, a crisis of intellectual integrity.
First, let me point out something that most people may not realize. Since 1998, there has been no trend in world temperatures, neither up nor down, in spite of population growth, greater resource use, and lots of carbon dioxide production. True, 1998, was the warmest year on record, and we are still in a warm period, but world temperatures are no higher than when today's college seniors began middle school. The likelihood of the catastrophic effects that gave Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize is weak.
The crisis that concerns me stems from the way that scientists are addressing the issue. Ever since 1988, when James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, alerted a congressional committee to global warming, climate change has been a political issue.