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Thu, 30 Nov 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


How Man-Made Noise May Be Altering Earth's Ecology

Bernie Krause listens to nature for a living. The 69-year-old is a field recording scientist: He heads into the wilderness to document the noises made by native fauna - crickets chirping in the Amazon rain forest, frogs croaking in the Australian outback.


Some biofuel crops could become invasive species, experts warn

BONN - Countries thinking of joining the rush for biofuels run the risk of planting invasive plant species that could wreak environmental and economic havoc, biologists warned on Tuesday.

In a report issued on the sidelines of a major UN conference on biodiversity, an alliance of four expert groups urged governments to select low-risk species of crops for biofuels and impose new controls to manage invasive plants.

"The dangers that invasive species pose to the world couldn't be more serious," said Sarah Simons, executive director of the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP).

"They are one of the top causes of global species loss, they can threaten livelihoods and human health and they cost us billions in control and mitigation efforts. We simply cannot afford to stand by and do nothing."

Cloud Lightning

Storm passes in Philippines leaving 13 dead

MANILA - Tropical storm Halong has blown out of the Philippines leaving 13 dead and thousands without power or vital communication lines, the civil defence office said Tuesday.

As of early Tuesday, the storm was barrelling towards Okinawa, Japan with sustained winds of 95 kilometres (58.9 miles) an hour near the centre and gusts of up to 120 kilometres (74 miles) an hour.

Thirteen people were reported killed, according to the latest toll, while two others were missing after the storm brought heavy rains, flooding and landslides as it cut across northern Luzon island at the weekend.

Nearly half a million people were affected by the storm, which blew off tin roofs, toppled power and telecommunication lines, the civil defence office said.

Cloud Lightning

Saudi Arabia: Dust haze covers Bahrain

A severe dust storm over the eastern part of Saudi Arabia resulted in a thick dust haze over Bahrain yesterday, according to the Civil Aviation Meteorology Directorate.

The haze, which began early in the morning, lasted for a greater part of the day and is expected to continue until Friday, said an official.

"The dust has already started to settle down, but we will have hazy weather with rising sand in places for the next four days," he said.

Though the haze reduced visibility at Bahrain International Airport to less than 1,000 metres, no flights were affected, said a Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) official.


China comes to a standstill in silent tribute to earthquake victims

China stood still. Heads bowed, helmets in their hands, soldiers balanced on the rubble of a town devastated by last week's earthquake. A mother whose child had died wept quietly in her van. Thousands gathered under the portrait of Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square.

China's 1.3 billion people stopped yesterday at 2.28pm - the exact time of the 7.9 magnitude earthquake a week ago - for three minutes of silence to grieve for as many as 70,000 people who are feared dead. In Hongbai, one of the worse-affected towns, a single siren wailed and the few dozen people still in the town pressed their car horns. A military helicopter hovered overhead, its emergency siren howling over the roar of its blades.

Cloud Lightning

China: Heavy dust storm enshrouds Beijing

A heavy sandstorm hit Beijing on Tuesday, shrouding the Chinese capital in a cloud of yellow dust and hampering visibility, the local environmental department said.

Clouds of dust were being blown in from neighbouring Inner Mongolia and Shanxi province as a cold front moved in from the north, the Beijing environmental protection bureau said on its website.

Air quality has become a key concern ahead of the August Beijing Olympic Games, with city officials vowing to limit the number of cars on city streets and halt construction projects during the Games.

Better Earth

Ancient Deep-sea Coral Reefs Off Southeastern US Serve As Underwater 'Islands' In The Gulf Stream

Largely unexplored deep-sea coral reefs, some perhaps hundreds of thousands of years old, off the coast of the southeastern U.S. are not only larger than expected but also home to commercially valuable fish populations and many newly discovered and unusual species. Results from a series of NOAA-funded expeditions to document these previously unstudied and diverse habitats and their associated marine life have revealed some surprising results.

brisingid sea-star
©Ross et al, NOAA, HBOI
The brisingid sea-star (Novodinia antillensis) perches high in the coral branches of Lophelia pertusa to filter feed. This photo was taken off the North Carolina coast in about 370 meters (roughly 1,200 feet) of water, far north of the normal range of this species.

Some of those findings and images of the reef habitats 60 to 100 miles off the North Carolina coast will be featured in a high-definition film, "Beneath the Blue", to be shown for the first time in public May 17 at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, N.C. Research scientists, joined by museum staff, conducted a series of expeditions to the deep coral habitats on the continental slope off the east coast from North Carolina to central Florida, in an area known as the Blake Plateau.

Better Earth

Global Warming Has Little Impact In Tropical Storm And Hurricane Numbers

A new model simulation of Atlantic hurricane activity for the last two decades of this century projects fewer hurricanes overall, but a slight increase in intensity for hurricanes that do occur. Hurricanes are also projected to have more intense rainfall, on average, in the future.

Hurricane Ophelia
Satellite of Hurricane Ophelia on September 14, 2005. (Credit: )

"This study adds more support to the consensus finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other reports that it is likely that hurricanes will gradually become more intense as the climate continues to warm," said Tom Knutson, research meteorologist and lead author of the report. "It's a bit of a mixed picture in the Atlantic, because we're projecting fewer hurricanes overall."


Frog march sparks new quake alarm

THOUSANDS of Chinese fled for cover in fear of an earthquake today, alarmed not only by warnings from seismologists but also by an unusual mass movement of frogs, state media said.

Bizarro Earth

Peruvian 'Switzerland' melting under climate change

LIMA - Peru's Cordillera Blanca, a snow-topped northern mountain range sometimes called the "Peruvian Switzerland," is slowly disappearing because of climate change, a key issue on the table of a Latin America-EU summit being held in Lima this week.