Earth ChangesS


'Polar frost' leaves 40 dead in Argentina

Snow Argentina
© Reuters / Chip East

Moscow - Severe cold weather that has gripped central and southern Argentina for two weeks has already killed about 40 people, the Infobae news website reported on Monday.

According to Argentinean media, "a wave of polar frost" came to Argentina last week and caused "a sensational drop in the temperature to minus 16 degrees Celsius." The average winter temperature in Argentina is about 10 degrees Celsius, ranging from 20 C in the north to 1 C in the south.

Compounding the cold, several southern regions saw heavy snowfalls, including in the south of Buenos Aires province, where there was 40 centimeters of snow for the first time in 50 years.

A representative of voluntary organization "Red Solidaria" said most of the deaths were the result of hypothermia or improper use of heating devices, either by fires or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Alarm Clock

Canada: So where's that global cooling alert?

Toronto is having a Newfoundland summer.

Now I don't mean, even though it would be a wonderful idea, that there are bake-apple festivals at Bloor and Yonge. Or that the Bay Street stockbrokers are out jigging codfish on "food fish" weekends. Though that, too, would be an encouraging, even edifying, spectacle.

No, what I mean is that, for most of July, temperatures in the Ontario capital and beyond are in that sweet temperate zone of the low 20s, and there seem to be as many grey and rainy days as sunny ones. With a great heave of homesickness, I've even seen fog obscuring the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the nether parts of the metropolis itself. I know it's odd, but when I see the Royal York hotel clouded by mist, I immediately think of Twillingate.

For Toronto, a Newfoundland summer in 2009 is a godsend. Because as all of Canada and a good portion of the world knows, this city is caught in the turmoil of a garbage strike. Its citizens are doing the best they can with the ever-growing heaps of garbage, but it's been a hard go.


Global cooling hits Al Gore's home

Nashville, the home of leading global warming prophet Al Gore, has enjoyed the coolest July 21 on record, observes Christopher Booker.

Al Gore
© Associated PressAl Gore, obscured by snow.

It was delightfully appropriate that, as large parts of Argentina were swept by severe blizzards last week, on a scale never experienced before, the city of Nashville, Tennessee, should have enjoyed the coolest July 21 in its history, breaking a record established in 1877. Appropriate, because Nashville is the home of Al Gore, the man who for 20 years has been predicting that we should all by now be in the grip of runaway global warming.

His predictions have proved so wildly wrong - along with those of the Met Office's £33 million computer model which forecast that we should now be enjoying a "barbecue summer" and that 2009 would be one of "the five warmest years ever" - that the propaganda machine has had to work overtime to maintain what is threatening to become the most expensive fiction in history.

The two official sources of satellite data on global temperatures, for instance, lately announced that June temperatures had again fallen, to their average level for the month over the 30 years since satellite data began. By contrast, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, run by Mr Gore's closest ally and scientific adviser, James Hansen - one of the two official sources of global temperature data from surface weather stations - announced that in that single month the world had warmed by a staggering 0.63 degrees C, more than its net warming for the entire 20th century.


Sun's antics continue: "Old" cycle 23 sunspot trying to form

sunspot july 23 2009

The strange transition between solar cycles 23 and 24 continues. For the first time in several months, a cycle 23 sunspot is trying to form. This further illustrates the fits and starts that the sun has experienced during its deepest solar minimum in 100 years.

The strange transition between solar cycles 23 and 24 continues. For the first time in several months, a cycle 23 sunspot is trying to form. This further illustrates the fits and starts that the sun has experienced during its deepest solar minimum in 100 years.

Years of study and measurement have shown that during solar cycle transitions, which happen about every eleven years (this one is a year overdue), the sunspot of the emerging (new) cycle appears at latitudes above 20 degrees while the spots of the waning cycle pop up closer to the sun's equator.

Bizarro Earth

Is Earth an "Ill-Fated Planet"?

The following article is based on information gathered during more than 40 years of study. It addresses some of the most vexing problems of human existence through explanations that may seem speculative but also worthy of attention. The reader is simply asked to approach this material with an open mind.

We have discovered through the science of ecology what poets, lovers, and mystics have always known: that the Earth is a living being, amazingly complex, fertile and renewing, and wondrously beautiful.

Earth is the common mother of us all - humans, animals, plants, stones, mountains, rivers, and the sea alike.

If Earth is a mother, then the Sun is a father: the source of life-giving energy, the one whose light shines upon all, regardless of status in the chain of creation. Sunlight, when crystallized within the womb of Earth, becomes organic life, including our own human bodies.


Migrating red crabs driven by sugar rush

© Jurgen Freund / Nature Picture Library / Rex FeaturesDriven by blood sugar levels.
Claws aloft they flow in a vast carpet of red, across busy roads, through shops and over the island's golf course. The annual march of the Christmas Island red crabs has been described as one of the most spectacular animal migrations on Earth.

Now researchers have identified some of the metabolic changes that occur to transform tens of millions of red crabs from inactive, antisocial creatures that hide in their burrows into an unstoppable sea of individuals capable of walking for several days on end in order to fulfil their desire to reproduce.

"This [migration] requires a major physiological change," says Steve Morris of the University of Bristol, UK, who led the study. "If they are made to walk for 5 minutes in the dry season they build up high levels of [lactic acid], yet when the rains come they'll walk a kilometre a day quite easily."

The red land crab, Gecarcoidea natalis, is unique to Christmas Island, which is located in the Indian Ocean, south of Indonesia. Their migration usually occurs at the start of the wet season, and is timed so that females can release their eggs into the sea at the turn of high tide during the last quarter of the moon.


Forget global warming, there's a space rock with our name on it

The year is 2109. Celebrations continue as mankind's heroic, century-long, quintillion-dollar effort to lower the global mean temperature by 1 degree has paid off: It's just as hot as it was in 2009. Few can contain their jubilation.

But even as the carbon-neutral champagne corks fly, the sky darkens. A projectile of a different kind is coming our way. An asteroid streaks across the skies, giving the media just enough time to spread the word. The New York Times, now beamed directly into subscribers' brains via digital-neural networks, fulfills ancient prophecy and warns that women and minorities will be hardest hit by the incoming object.

Bizarro Earth

Hydrocarbons In The Deep Earth?

© A. Kolesnikov and V. KutcherovThis artistic view of the Earth's interior shows hydrocarbons forming in the upper mantle and transported through deep faults to shallower depths in the Earth's crust. The inset shows a snapshot of the methane dissociation reaction studied in this work.
The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth's crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle - the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core.

The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and Sweden, and is published in the July 26, advanced online issue of Nature Geoscience.

Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock. Both of these hydrocarbons, and others associated with fuel, are called saturated hydrocarbons because they have simple, single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen. Using a diamond anvil cell and a laser heat source, the scientists first subjected methane to pressures exceeding 20 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level and temperatures ranging from 1,300 F° to over 2,240 F°.


There is More to Bats' Vision Than Meets the Eye

Bat 1
© Cornelia Hagemann, Goethe University Frankfurt/M, Germany.Flying Carollia perspicillata bat photographed at its breeding colony at the Goethe Universtiy Frankfurt/M.
The eyes of nocturnal bats possess two spectral cone photoreceptor types for daylight and colour vision. Reporting in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and the University of Oldenburg have detected cones and their visual pigments in two flower-visiting species of bat.

With electroretinographic recordings, they found an increased sensitivity to UV light in cone-stimulating light conditions. The researchers conclude that bats' eyes are adapted for both daylight and UV vision. The UV-sensitive cones may yield a number of advantages for bats, including improved visual orientation at twilight, predator avoidance and de tection of UV-reflecting flowers (a benefit for those that feed on nectar).

Bats are mammals in the order Chiroptera, which has two suborders: fruit bats (Megachiroptera) and microbats (Microchiroptera). Microbats (see images 1 and 2), also called 'true bats,' echolocate, while fruit bats do not. Microbats have small eyes and well developed visual centres in the brain. In bats, vision plays an important role in predator avoidance during foraging and homing and, in some species. in prey detection. Moreover, bats are exposed to different levels of ambient light during the day, depending on their roosting situation.


Risk Of Huge Pacific Ocean Tsunami On West Coast Of America Greater Than Previously Thought

Sitka, Alaska
© iStockphoto/Brandon LaufenbergThe city of Sitka, Alaska. The potential for a huge Pacific Ocean tsunami on the West Coast of America may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study of geological evidence along the Gulf of Alaska coast
The potential for a huge Pacific Ocean tsunami on the West Coast of America may be greater than previously thought, according to a new study of geological evidence along the Gulf of Alaska coast.

The new research suggests that future tsunamis could reach a scale far beyond that suffered in the tsunami generated by the great 1964 Alaskan earthquake. Official figures put the number of deaths caused by the earthquake at around 130: 114 in Alaska and 16 in Oregon and California. The tsunami killed 35 people directly and caused extensive damage in Alaska, British Columbia, and the US Pacific region*.

The 1964 Alaskan earthquake - the second biggest recorded in history with a magnitude of 9.2 - triggered a series of massive waves with run up heights of as much as 12.7 metres in the Alaskan Gulf region and 52 metres in the Shoup Bay submarine slide in Valdez Arm.