Earth ChangesS

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Hundreds of Ducks Dead After Landing in Pond Owned by Canadian Oil Sands Company

Alberta's environment minister said the provincial government's efforts to allay environmental concerns about its booming oil sands industry will be hurt by the deaths of hundreds of ducks that landed on a pond filled with toxic waste.

Environment Minister Rob Renner concedes the deaths have put a dent in Alberta's efforts to counter the message being spread by environmental groups that Canada's oil sands projects are taking a toll on the environment.

Bizarro Earth

4.2-magnitude quake shakes area near Palm Springs

PALM SPRINGS - A moderate earthquake has shaken an area near Palm Springs.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 4.2-magnitude quake struck at 8:55 p.m. 14 miles east-southeast of Anza and 27 miles south of Palm Springs.

USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin says the quake was felt from the Palm Springs area south to the El Centro area along the Mexican border.

Bizarro Earth

US Geological Survey reports 6.5 magnitude quake near Alaska

ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday reported a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in a sparsely inhabited area near the tip of the Aleutian island chain, 45 miles WNW of Adak, Alaska.

The temblor, recorded at 6:33 p.m. Pacific time (9:33 p.m. EDT), was at a depth of 29.6 miles, the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury in the Aleutians, a chain of more than 300 small volcanic islands that are home to small communities of some 8,000 natives.

Better Earth

Oxygen Depletion Zones In Tropical Oceans Expanding, May be Due To Climate Change

Scientists confirm computer model predictions that oxygen-depleted zones in tropical oceans are expanding, possibly because of climate change. An international team of physical oceanographers including a researcher from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has discovered that oxygen-poor regions of tropical oceans are expanding as the oceans warm, limiting the areas in which predatory fishes and other marine organisms can live or enter in search of food.

oxygen concentrations in the worlds oceans
Mean dissolved oxygen concentrations in the world's oceans at a depth of 400 meters (1,312 feet) with blue contours representing the lowest concentrations. Boxed areas represent ocean regions analyzed in the study.


4.4-magnitude quake strikes in mountains near Bakersfield, California

A moderate earthquake shook a mountainous area near Bakersfield, Calif., early Thursday, just hours after a quake some 230 miles to the southeast.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 4.4-magnitude quake struck at 1:11 a.m. and was centered 12 miles south-southeast of the resort town of Lake Isabella and 35 miles east-northeast of Bakersfield.


Birdsongs give insights into learning new behaviors

Young songbirds babble before they can mimic an adult's song, much like their human counterparts. Now, in work that offers insights into how birds - and perhaps people - learn new behaviors, MIT scientists have found that immature and adult birdsongs are driven by two separate brain pathways, rather than one pathway that slowly matures.

The work is reported in the May 2 issue of Science.

"The babbling during song learning exemplifies the ubiquitous exploratory behavior that we often call play but that is essential for trial-and-error learning," comments Michale Fee, the senior author of the study and a neuroscientist in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and an associate professor in MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Evil Rays

Report: More than 100 hurt in western Iran earthquake

An earthquake hit western Iran Thursday, causing minor injuries to more than 100 people, state TV reported.

The report said the magnitude 4.7 quake jolted three towns in Lorestan province at 4:45 a.m., but no one was seriously hurt or required hospitalization.

The head of Lorestan's emergency department, Reza Ariai, was quoted as saying that at least 70 of the wounded lived in Boroujerd, about 200 miles southwest of Tehran.


'Sonic boom' preceded 5.2 quake near Burnt Ranch, Northern California

A magnitude-5.2 earthquake, centered 11 miles east southeast of Willow Creek, jolted the North Coast at 8:03 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Unites States Geological Survey termed it a level VI temblor with a strong shake and light damage.

A magnitude-2.0 aftershock hit five minutes later, 16 miles to the east of Willow Creek.

"It was sort of like a sonic boom," said Brenda Simmons of SkyCrest Lake resort in Burnt Ranch. "It was a very loud noise before the house started shaking. It was pretty scary, the biggest thing I've ever felt here. (It) lasted 10 seconds max. I didn't feel the aftershock."

Alarm Clock

Fairly strong earthquake jolts Chiba Prefecture

A fairly strong earthquake jolted Chiba Prefecture on Thursday morning, the Meteorological Agency said.

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Global warming may 'stop', scientists predict

Global warming will stop until at least 2015 because of natural variations in the climate, scientists have said.