Earth ChangesS


Bird uses 'whiskers' like a cat

Fancy feathers are usually thought to be just ornaments, but a pair of biologists has shown that a little seabird uses the plumes on its head like a cat's whiskers to feel its way through dark crevices.

Aptly named whiskered auklets (Aethia pygmaea ) breed on the volcanic Aleutian and Kuril Islands that rim the north Pacific. They lay their eggs in small chambers reached by narrow passageways through jagged lava rocks, which they enter and leave only at night.

©Ian Jones
Seeing in the dark: 'whiskers' help these birds to sense their surroundings.


Chinook salmon vanish without a trace

The Chinook salmon that swim upstream to spawn in the fall, the most robust run in the Sacramento River, have disappeared. The almost complete collapse of the richest and most dependable source of Chinook salmon south of Alaska left gloomy fisheries experts struggling for reliable explanations — and coming up dry.


Katrina aftermath erodes bayou culture

GRAND BAYOU, La. - When Ruby Ancar talks about her fishing village on the bayou, she says a divine hand has protected her Atakapa-Ishak kinfolk for generations.

But Grand Bayou is forsaken these days, 30 months after Hurricane Katrina washed over it and dragged one of Louisiana's last authentic outposts of bayou culture into a world defined by insurers, money lenders, building code enforcers and government auditors.

coastal Louisiana

Comment: For a more in-depth look at the "eroding of the bayou culture", have a peek at Naomi Kline's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism HERE.

Cloud Lightning

Vast storm damage to parks in Northwest

YAKIMA, Wash. - Hundreds of trees blown down by wind exceeding 100 mph. Roads and campgrounds washed away by swollen rivers. Damages still unknown to be repaired on backcountry trails.

Winter storms have devastated the Pacific Northwest's popular national parks each of the past two years, causing damage that has run into the millions of dollars.

Pacific NW crane
©AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Andrew Pratt, of Quigg Bros. Construction, based in Aberdeen, Wash., uses backhoe Friday, March 7, 2008, to build a rock wall on a bank of the Quinault River where it washed out a portion of North Shore Road in Olympic National Park in Washington state. Even though volunteer crews are making the park the focus of their efforts this year -- joining workers at Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks in their storm clean-up efforts -- summer visitors will still have to sidestep some storm damage.

Cloud Lightning

Vehicle pileup in snow kills 2 in Arizona

PHOENIX - Dozens of vehicles collided in heavy, blinding snow on a northern Arizona interstate Sunday, killing at least two people, critically injuring 11 others and forcing police to close the highway for 20 miles in both directions.

The low visibility on Interstate 40 near Flagstaff caused about 20 collisions, which occurred over a stretch of highway at least 4 miles long around noon, Flagstaff Fire Department Chief Mark Wilson said.

He described the wrecks as clumps of vehicles piled on top of each other, involving cars, trucks and semis.

"The magnitude of it was pretty severe," Wilson said. "We had a whiteout scene with the snow, and obviously a single-vehicle accident caused multiple-vehicle accidents, which continued to pile up due to the low visibility."


Majestic Lesser Flamingos Survive In Contaminated Indian Waters

A University of Leicester ecologist is setting out to discover why flamingos are so in the pink of health - in the poo!

©University of Leicester
A University of Leicester ecologist is setting out to discover why flamingos are so in the pink of health - in the poo!

Cloud Lightning

US: Georgia storms kill 2 after Atlanta twister

Tens of thousands of basketball fans at two arenas were perfectly safe, officials insisted Saturday, even though the crowds apparently weren't warned about an approaching tornado - one that would ravage skyscrapers and injure dozens.

©REUTERS/Tami Chappell
Debris are cleared away from a building in downtown Atlanta, Georgia March 15, 2008.


Early Bird Doesn't Always Get The Worm

Competing against older brothers and sisters can be tough work, as any youngest child will tell you. But new research from a biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that when it comes to some birds, you should reserve any underdog sympathies for the first born -- or rather, first laid -- siblings as well.

Lincolns sparrows
©Keith Sockman
Newly hatched Lincoln's sparrows.


Coolest Winter Since 2001 For U.S., Globe, According To NOAA Data

The average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

U.S. winter temperature
U.S. winter temperature highlights.

Bizarro Earth

6.2 quake hits off western Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A strong earthquake struck nearly 200 miles off western Indonesia late Saturday. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The magnitude 6.2 quake was centered 190 miles southwest of Banda Aceh on the island of Sumatra, the U.S. Geological Survey said.