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Thu, 21 Oct 2021
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Better Earth

New weather warning after storms kill 21 in France and Spain

As hundreds of thousands are left without power, forecasters fear floods will follow worst weather for a decade

Emergency services struggling with the aftermath of Saturday's storms in France and Spain faced a new spate of victims as four people died and more than 100 were hospitalised after inhaling carbon monoxide from electricity generators.

With 680,000 people still without electricity in France and 50,000 in Spain, families have been using their own generators to power their homes, businesses and farms

But Michèle Alliot-Marie, the French Interior Minister, warned of the dangers today as hospitals dealt with victims poisoned by generators they had installed without proper ventilation.

"People must be more vigilant," she said as officials called for private power generation units to be placed outside.

Bizarro Earth

5.0-magnitude earthquake jolts NW China

An earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale jolted northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region at 9:47 a.m. Sunday, according to the state earthquake authority.

The earthquake occurred in Xibe Autonomous County of Qapqal, 700 kilometers from the regional capital Urumqi. The epicenter was at 43.3 degrees north latitude and 80.9 degrees east longitude at a depth of 10 kilometers, the China Earthquake Administration said Sunday.

Better Earth

An Earthquake Occurred in the Republic of Yakutia

An earthquake measuring 5.3 points occurred in the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha) on Tuesday morning, at 06:30 local time.

According to the Yakutsk seismic station, the earth jolts were felt in the city of Tynda. However, there were no negative consequences. The shifts of the Earth's crust occurred at a depth of ten kilometers in a thinly populated area.

Hourglass

Tasmania: Sympathy for the Devil

Tasmanian devil with tumors
© Menna Jones
Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease
Efforts to save the endangered Tasmanian Devil have been boosted by the raising of $13,200 at a charity dinner in New York last week. The money was raised as part of Tourism Tasmania's G'DAY USA 2009 Activities in the United States according to a Tasmanian Government press release.

Speaking from New York, Tasmanian tourism minister Michelle O'Byrne told reporters the money was raised from gifts and the holding of a silent auction. She added the cause for the devils was supported by messages from over 300 high-profile wildlife lovers who attended the event.

Better Earth

Earthquake Felt in Aleutian Islands

An earthquake with a 5.6 magnitude was felt in the middle of Alaska's Aleutian Islands chain.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center reports no damage to the town of Nikolski, which sits about 927 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The center says the quake struck shortly after 10 a.m.

Phoenix

Volcano: Natural Cause For West Antarctica's Warming?

There might be a possible natural explanation for West Antarctica's warming. In 2008, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey reported a layer of volcanic ash and glass shards frozen within an ice sheet in western Antarctica. The volcano punched a hole right through due to its heat and force.

This geologic event may prove to be the source of the recent warming seen in West Antarctica in what has otherwise been reported as a 50-year cooling trend seen in East Antarctica. This seems to be the first time scientists see a volcano beneath the ice sheet punching a hole through the ice sheet.

Bug

New Zealand Reptile Becomes Dad at 111 Years Old

A captive reptile in New Zealand has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.

The centenarian tuatara, named Henry, was thought well past the mating game until he was caught canoodling with a female named Mildred last March - a consummation that resulted in 11 babies being hatched on Monday.

Tuatara are indigenous New Zealand creatures that resemble lizards but descend from a distinct lineage of reptile that walked the earth with the dinosaurs 225 million years ago, zoologists say.

Better Earth

Climate Change Enhances Grassland Productivity

Climate Change
© Dr. Jürgen Kreyling/Universität Bayreuth
Due to global warming and a greater absence of an insulating snow cover, these cyclic processes are likely to increase. In spite of this and apart from a study from the North of Sweden there are hitherto practically no investigations that have conducted research on the significance of these cyclic processes for plants.
More frequent freeze-thaw cycles in winter can increase biomass production according to the results of a recent study conducted by the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ), the University of Bayreuth and the Helmholtz Center in Munich. For their experiment at the Ecological-Botanical Garden of the University of Bayreuth the researchers installed underground heating on their plots, thereby enabling five additional thawing periods to take place in the winter of 2005/2006.

They found that on the manipulated plots ten percent more biomass grew compared to on the control plots. Such increased plant productivity can be explained by several factors, like for example an increase in nitrogen supply in the spring, according to the researchers account in the scientific journal New Phytologist.

Soils that experience seasonal freeze-thaw cycles currently cover c. 55 million km2. This equates to more than half of the total land area of the northern hemisphere. Forecasts such as the IPCC-Report 2007 anticipate that due to global warming the soil temperature there in the future will fluctuate more frequently around the freezing point. The change between freeze-thaw cycles is considered to be one of the major factors for the release of nitrogen into the soil and consequently for an increase in microbial activity.

Better Earth

Strong Earthquake Occurs Off Fiji

A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, occured in the vicinity of the Fiji Region at 7.54 tonight.

According to a statement from the Meteorological Department, the epicentre of the earthquake was 348km from East Suva, Fiji and 7,400km South-east of Kunak, Sabah.

Nevertheless, there is no tsunami threat to Malaysia.

Bug

Antarctic Sea Creatures Hypersensitive to Warming

Woodlouse
© Alister Doyle
British marine biologist Simon Morley holds up an Antarctic marine woodlouse -- related to far smaller woodlice found on land -- in an aquarium at the British Rothera research station in Antarctica, January 20, 2009.
Thriving only in near-freezing waters, creatures such as Antarctic sea spiders, limpets or sea urchins may be among the most vulnerable on the planet to global warming, as the Southern Ocean heats up.

Isolated for millions of years by the chill currents, exotic animals on the seabed around Antarctica -- including giant marine woodlice and sea lemons, a sort of bright yellow slug -- are among the least studied in the world.

Now scientists on the Antarctic Peninsula are finding worrying signs that they can only tolerate a very narrow temperature band -- and the waters have already warmed by about 1 Celsius (1.6 Fahrenheit) in the past 50 years.