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Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Update: Powerful Hurricane Paloma slams into Cuba

Miami - Dangerous Hurricane Paloma made landfall near Santa Cruz del Sur in southeastern Cuba on Saturday as a Category 3 storm with 125 mile-per-hour (200-kph) winds, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
© REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa
People carry their belongings on the back of a cart ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Paloma in Camaguey, Cuba November 8, 2008.


Overfishing Threatens European Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna disappeared from Danish waters in the 1960s. Now the species could become depleted throughout the northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean, according to analyses by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua) and University of New Hampshire. The species is highly valued as sushi.

Bluefin tuna is a treasured delicacy. A kilo of its much sought after meat can bring in prices reaching 130 Euros at fish auctions. The species in the Mediterranean Sea and northeast Atlantic is caught by fishermen from many countries, particularly France, Spain and Italy.


Tale Of Two Snails Reveals Secrets About The Biochemistry Of Evolution

Researchers in Spain are reporting deep new insights into how evolution changes the biochemistry of living things, helping them to adapt to new environments. Their study, based on an analysis of proteins produced by two populations of marine snails, reveals chemical differences that give one population a survival-of-the fittest edge for life in its cold, wave-exposed environment.
study of two populations of marine snails
© American Chemical Society
A study of two populations of marine snails provides new insights into how evolutionary changes works on the chemical level.

In the new study, Emilio Rolán-Alvarez and colleagues note that scientists long have known that animals of the same species can have different physical characteristics enabling them to survive in different habitats. One famous example is the different beak sizes and shapes that evolved in Darwin's finches, enabling the birds to live on different foods in different habitats on the Galapagos Islands. Until now, however, scientists knew little about the invisible biochemical changes behind such adaptations.


Sea Snakes Seek Out Freshwater To Slake Thirst

Sea snakes may slither in saltwater, but they sip the sweet stuff. So concludes a University of Florida zoologist in a paper appearing this month in the online edition of the November/December issue of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.
sea snake
© Leslie Babonis/UF Department of Zoology
A sea snake rests on rocks near at the shore of Orchid Island, Taiwan.

Harvey Lillywhite says it has been the "long-standing dogma" that the roughly 60 species of venomous sea snakes worldwide satisfy their drinking needs by drinking seawater, with internal salt glands filtering and excreting the salt. Experiments with three species of captive sea kraits captured near Taiwan, however, found that the snakes refused to drink saltwater even if thirsty - and then would drink only freshwater or heavily diluted saltwater.

Cloud Lightning

Paloma becomes Category 4 storm, heads toward Cuba

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands - Paloma became an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane early Saturday, dumping wind and rain on the Cayman Islands and threatening to strike hurricane-ravaged Cuba as a major storm, forecasters said.

Cloud Lightning

Hurricane Paloma heads to Cayman Islands

GEORGE TOWN - Late-season Hurricane Paloma strengthened into a Category 3 storm as it lashed the Cayman Islands with wind and rain Friday, knocking down trees and signs.


Mild earthquake jolts Catanduanes province, Philippines

A magnitude 4.6 earthquake rocked Virac town in Catanduanes province, Thursday morning.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Legazpi City traced the earthquake epicenter was 54 kilometers southeast of Virac town. It was felt around 9 a.m.

Intensity three was felt in Sorsogon and Legazpi City, Catarman and Samar and intensity two in Can-avid, Eastern Samar.

There were no reported injuries after the tremor.


Pakistan Sends Quake Aid as Survivors Face Freezing Conditions

Pakistan's government ordered extra aid be shipped to the country's earthquake-devastated southwest as survivors faced icy conditions with the approach of winter.

The United Nations Children's Fund has estimated that 70,000 people were made homeless after the powerful quake struck Oct. 29 in the Ziarat and Pishin districts of Baluchistan province.


Snow In The Arctic: An Ingredient In A Surprising Chemical Cocktail

In the Arctic in spring, the snow cover gives off nitrogen oxides. This phenomenon, the extent of which had not been previously realized, is the source of one third of the nitrates present in the Arctic atmosphere, according to researchers from CNRS, the Université Joseph Fourier and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie[1].
Arctic in spring
© CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
In the Arctic in spring, the snow cover gives off nitrogen oxides.

They made a quantitative study of the origin and evolution of nitrogen compounds in the Arctic atmosphere, in order to understand their environmental impact on this region. These findings are published in the 31 October 2008 issue of the journal Science.

Bizarro Earth

Ancient China: Lack Of Rainfall Could Have Contributed To Social Upheaval And Fall Of Dynasties

Chinese history is replete with the rise and fall of dynasties, but researchers now have identified a natural phenomenon that may have been the last straw for some of them: a weakening of the summer Asian Monsoons.

Such weakening accompanied the fall of three dynasties and now could be lessening precipitation in northern China. Results of the study, led by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Lanzhou University in China, appear in the journal Science. The work rests on climate records preserved in the layers of stone in a 118-millimeter-long stalagmite found in Wanxiang Cave in Gansu Province, China.
Asian monsoons, Northern Hemisphere temperatures and alpine glacier data across 1,800 years
© Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Asian monsoons, Northern Hemisphere temperatures and alpine glacier data across 1,800 years are compared.

By measuring amounts of the elements uranium and thorium throughout the stalagmite, the researchers could tell the date each layer was formed. And by analyzing the "signatures" of two forms of oxygen in the stalagmite, they could match amounts of rainfall--a measure of summer monsoon strength--to those dates.