Earth ChangesS


Crows wield tools with human-like skill

New Caledonian crows, famed for their tool-making skills, can also use tools to manipulate other tools. Such "metatool" use shows that the crows have the brainpower to apply their skills to a completely new situation and plan ahead to solve a task, researchers believe.

Working with captured wild crows, Russell Gray and his team from the University of Auckland in New Zealand hid a treat in a box so that a crow could only extract it with the help of a long stick. This kind of task is easy for the tool-using crows.

Bizarro Earth

Alaska Peninsula volcano erupts

Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula started erupting Wednesday, a day after scientists issued a warning based on a sudden surge in local earthquakes.

©Ron Engstrom/Anchorage Daily News

The volcano, one of the most active in the Aleutian rim of fire, is spewing molten rock in what could be a buildup to a bigger ash explosion, scientists said.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Sepat bears down on Taiwan

Typhoon Sepat swept towards Taiwan on Friday packing winds of more than 180 kilometres (125 miles) per hour, disrupting flights, schools, rail and ferry services.

©US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

The Central Weather Bureau said the typhoon was set to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday in eastern Hualien, pounding the island with strong winds and torrential rains.

Typhoon Sepat Track as of 17 Aug, 17:10 GMT

Better Earth

California: A Big Stink at UC Botanical Garden

When UC Botanical Garden's rare titan arum, Amorphophallus titanium (corpse flower), blooms this week, the flower will both attract and repel visitors. When the plant opens to a diameter of three to four feet, titan arum looks visually arresting, but it's best known for a characteristic that can only be experienced firsthand after it blooms: its distinctive odor.

"It really does smell like there's a dead body in the room," says Garden Director Paul Licht, recalling his experience with Trudy, another corpse flower that blossomed in the garden's Tropical House in July 2005. The odor helps the plant attract insects that carry its pollen to other titan arums, since corpse flowers can't pollinate themselves.


US: Southern heat wave blamed for 33 deaths

The heat wave sweeping through the South has been blamed for at least 33 deaths this month and created potentially ruinous drought conditions.

Relentless sunshine has sent temperatures to record highs across the region, topping 100 degrees in some areas for the 10th straight day. Temperatures soared in Tennessee, where late-afternoon readings reached 109 in Smyrna, 105 in Clarksville and 103 in Nashville. Huntsville, Ala., North Little Rock, Ark., Bowling Green, Ky., and Woodward, Okla., also hit 103.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning kills 306 people in three weeks in China

Lightning strikes have killed 306 villagers in China over the past three weeks as severe weather continues to batter the countryside, the Xinhua news agency said Friday.

Heavy rains have already unleashed numerous mudslides and floods in southern and central China, with damage estimated in the billions of dollars.

All the victims have been rural residents, and 79% of them were killed while working in the fields.

Cloud Lightning

Remnants of storm Erin deluge Houston

The tropical weather season revved up Thursday as the Atlantic's first hurricane formed and quickly strengthened, and as Tropical Storm Erin's remnants soaked rain-weary Texas, snarling rush-hour traffic and killing at least two people.

Cloud Lightning

Hurricane Dean poses major Caribbean storm threat

Hurricane Dean strengthened and threatened to become a dangerously powerful storm as it plowed toward the Caribbean and aimed for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula or the Gulf of Mexico beyond, forecasters said on Thursday.

More immediately in the path of the 2007 Atlantic storm season's first hurricane were the Lesser Antilles, in particular the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia and the French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.


Major earthquake rocks E. Indonesia

A major undersea earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

According to the USGS, the magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit Banda Sea at 12:04 a.m. It was centered 2,520 kilometers northeast of Jakarta and 10 kilometers under the seabed.


Red Flag

Coral reef loss at unprecedented levels

Pacific coral reefs are dying at an unprecedented rate, scientists have found. Almost 600 square miles of reef have disappeared every year since the late 1960s - twice the rate of rainforest loss.

Coral loss had become a global phenomenon caused mainly by climate change, rising sea temperatures and man-made nutrient pollution.

©University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill