Earth ChangesS


Bizarro Earth

Wenchuan Earthquake Mudslides Emit Greenhouse Gas

Mudslides that followed the 12 May 2008 Wenchuan, China earthquake, ranked by the US Geological Survey as the 11th deadliest earthquake ever recorded, may cause a carbon-dioxide release in upcoming decades equivalent to two percent of current annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion, a new study shows.

Mudslides wipe away plants and topsoil, depleting terrain of nutrients for plant regrowth and burying swaths of vegetation. Buried vegetable matter decomposes and releases carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere.

The expected carbon dioxide release from the mudslides following the Wenchuan earthquake is similar to that caused by Hurricane Katrina's plant damage, report Diandong Ren, of the University of Texas at Austin, and his colleagues, who used a computer model to predict the ecosystem impacts of the mudslides.

Bizarro Earth

4.8 Earthquake Jolts Southern Philippines

An offshore earthquake measuring 4. 8 on the Richter scale hit the southern Philippines this morning, but no casualty or damage was reported.

The quake was recorded at 05:15 a.m. local time ( 2115 GMT on Monday), and the epicenter was 160 km southeast of Davao, Mindanao, or 1,125 km southeast of Manila at a depth of 35. 0 km, said the United States Geological Service.

The Philippines is hit regularly by earthquakes, and most of them are low in magnitude and cause little damage.

The Southeast Asian country is part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a string of islands on the Pacific Ocean rim that were formed by the eruptions of undersea volcanoes.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.3 Earthquake Hits Guam

Guam
© Unknown
An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale hits Guam on Tuesday, March 03, 2009 at 05:10:48 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) and Tuesday, March 03, 2009 at 03:10:48 PM at epicenter local time.

The epicenter of the quake was 105 km (65 miles) WSW of Hagatna, 185 km (115 miles) SW of Rota, Northern Mariana Islands, 305 km (190 miles) SW of SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands, and 410 km (255 miles) SSW of Anatahan, Northern Mariana Islands, according to the US Geological Survey.

On Tuesday, 24 February 2009, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck about 105 miles East-North-East of Guam, but nary a shiver was felt on the island.

Bizarro Earth

UK: 2.8 Earthquake Shakes Kent

Kent
© Peter Macdiarmid/Getty ImagesFolkestone residents sit in the street after an earthquake damaged houses in April 2007.
Krakatoa, east of Maidstone? Not exactly, but tremor did reach 2.8 on Richter scale.

People in Folkestone, Kent were shaken, but not stirred, by a small earthquake in their vicinity yesterday.

A tremor measuring 2.8 on the Richter scale was registered but there were no reports of any damage to buildings or any injuries.

Kent police said: "We have had ­telephone calls and obviously people were concerned that it might be a bomb, but we can confirm it was indeed a tremor."

Frog

Male Lizards Disguise as Females to Avoid Attack

Lizard
© Discovery NewsMale Lizard
Young, male lizards desperate to mate, access women and avoid attack from older males by pretending to be one of the girls, a new study said.

According to the study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, young male Augrabies flat lizards (Platysaurus broadleyi) hide their colors so as to imitate plain, brown females.

"In this system the adult males are extremely colorful and extremely territorial and the females are a plain brown," said co-author Scott Keogh, of the School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University. "Young males purposefully only develop colors on their belly, so they reach sexual maturity by still looking like a female."

Imitating a female allows the juvenile lizards to mate with females, without being detected and driven away by the larger, territorial, adult males, who will chase and bite their young rivals.

Info

Gutsy bloodworms pump out laughing gas

Bloodworms
© Christian Lott / MPI Bremen / HYDRABloodworms are just one type of water-dwelling animal that produces laughing gas.

They may be no match for methane-burping cows, but bloodworms are doing their best to make a name for themselves with climate scientists. New research shows that their guts leak "laughing gas" - a powerful greenhouse gas - albeit in amounts too small to significantly affect the climate.

Previously, no water-dwelling animal was known to produce the gas, more properly known as nitrous oxide (N20).

Some land invertebrates such as earthworms are known to produce nitrous oxide, so to see if water invertebrates are also a source, Peter Stief and his colleagues at Aarhus University in Denmark surveyed seven aquatic sites including freshwater creeks, lakes and the seashore.

They collected a wide range of worms, larvae and bugs, placed them in closed vials, and analysed what came off. They found not only that N20 is produced, but that the amount increased with time.

Fish

Fish numbers outpace human population

Image
© Israel Sun/Rex FeaturesFish in the confines of a fish farm, Eilat, Israel.

It's increasingly likely that the fish you eat was farmed not caught wild, according to the latest statistics of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The group's two-yearly assessment of world fisheries, published today, comes with mitigated good news.

The outlook for wild ocean fish remains gloomy: 80% of all fisheries are at or beyond their maximum yields, and over-fishing continues to climb. Yet the amount of fish available to eat is growing faster than the human population, thanks to a boom in fish farming.

The FAO calculates that, for the first time, fish farms produce half the fish we eat, up from less than a third in 2002. With wild-catch fisheries maxed out, any more increases in fish production will depend on farms.

Igloo

'New York may face largest snowstorm'

New York storm
© UnknownA fierce storm in the East coast of the United States
New York City may face the largest snowstorm in this year as a massive storm ravaged the eastern United States, according to US media.

Sanitation commissioner John Doherty warned that New York should expect "the largest snowstorm we've seen in this year."

The snowstorm early Monday snapped power lines, closed schools and snarled the morning commute amid freezing temperatures from Maryland to Maine.

Umbrella

Ferocious snow storm hits US east coast

A ferocious storm packing freezing rain, heavy snow and furious wind gusts paralyzed most of the East Coast, sending dozens of cars careening into ditches, grounding hundreds of flights and closing school for millions of kids.

The devastating effects of the storm were seen up and down the coast. A crash caused a 15-mile (25-kilometer) traffic jam in North Carolina, forcing police and the Red Cross to go car-to-car to check on stranded drivers. The storm was blamed for more than 500 crashes in New Jersey, and a Maryland official counted about 50 cars in the ditch on one stretch of highway.

By Monday, the storm had moved north into New England, and most areas in the storm's wake expected to see up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow. The weather contributed to four deaths on roads in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and on Long Island.

Evil Rays

Human factor suspected in mass beaching of whales in Australia

Conservationists are demanding an immediate and thorough inquiry into what they say is the suspicious stranding of 200 whales and dolphins.

Fears that the mass stranding on an Australian beach on Sunday was caused by human disturbance were raised because two species of cetacean came ashore simultaneously.

Most of the animals were pilot whales, but a number of bottlenose dolphins were also among the pod.