Earth ChangesS


Arctic Safety: Why you should avoid 'mingqutnguaq'


Yup'ik Eskimo Grant Kashatok speaks about his life on ice in Newtok, Alaska

The number of Eskimo words for snow has long been a point of debate.

In the Yup'ik Eskimo Dictionary published by the Native Language Centre at the University of Alaska, and found in schools throughout Alaska's Yukon Delta, there are 37 ways of referring to it.

When snow falls from the sky, an Eskimo can say "it's snowing" in four different ways: aniu, cellallir, ganir or qanunge.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.8 - Papua New Guinea

Earthquake Details
Magnitude 5.8

* Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 00:54:41 UTC
* Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 10:54:41 AM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 6.951°S, 147.246°E

Depth 87.1 km (54.1 miles)


Distances 35 km (20 miles) SE of Lae, New Guinea, PNG
200 km (125 miles) NE of Kerema, New Guinea, PNG
280 km (175 miles) N of PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea
2355 km (1460 miles) NNW of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia


Beluga whales in Alaska listed as endangered

Anchorage - The depleted population of beluga whales that swim off the coast of Alaska's largest city was listed as endangered on Friday by the federal government.
Yulka, a beluga whale
© REUTERS/Heino KalisYulka, a beluga whale, swims at the Oceanografic in Valencia August 11, 2006.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it has determined that belugas in Cook Inlet, the channel that flows from Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska, are at risk of extinction and deserving of strict protections under the Endangered Species Act.

The population, which fell to a low of 278 in 2005 from 653 in 1994, has yet to rebound from a period of over-harvesting by the region's Native hunters, officials said.

Hunting of Cook Inlet belugas largely ceased in 1999, but the population continues to struggle, officials said.

Cloud Lightning

Omar becomes a hurricane again in Atlantic

Miami - Tropical Storm Omar regained hurricane strength on Friday in the Atlantic Ocean but did not pose an immediate threat to any land areas after blasting through the northern Caribbean this week as a powerful hurricane.

Omar weakened after a close encounter with the U.S. Virgin Islands and other small islands in the northeastern Caribbean, but the U.S. National Hurricane Center said its sustained winds had strengthened to 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour), making it a minimal Category 1 storm on the five-step hurricane intensity scale.

Better Earth

Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks Of First Life

New research suggests that lightening and volcanoes may have sparked early life on Earth. Researcher Jeffrey Bada at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and colleagues reanalyzed Stanley Miller's classic origin of life experiment, offering a new analysis on how the essential building blocks of life may have arose from volcanic eruptions.
Scripps professor of marine chemistry Jeff Bada
© Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San DiegoScripps professor of marine chemistry Jeff Bada produces an electrical stark in an experimental apparatus to show how the atmospheric conditions during volcanic eruptions may have led to early life on Earth.

Bada, Scripps professor of marine chemistry and graduate student of Miller's in the Chemistry Department at the UC San Diego in 1960, preserved Miller's original chemical samples. Bada along with lead author Adam Johnson, Indiana University graduate student and colleagues, reanalyzed the samples to determine if new chemical compounds could be detecting using modern equipment. The paper, "The Miller Volcanic Spark Experiment," is published in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Science.

"We believed there was more to be learned from Miller's original experiment," said Bada, co-author in the paper. "We found that a modern day version of the volcanic apparatus produces a wider variety of compounds."


Gorilla Study Gives Clues To Human Language Development

A new University of Sussex study provides evidence that gorilla communication is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain - just as it is in humans.
gorilla communication
© University of SussexA new University of Sussex study provides evidence that gorilla communication is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain - just as it is in humans.

Psychologist Dr Gillian Sebestyen Forrester developed a new method of analysing the behaviour of gorillas in captivity and found there was a right-handed bias for actions that also involved head and mouth movements. The right side of the body is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, which is also the location for language development.

The findings could provide major clues as to how language developed in humans. Dr Sebestyen Forrester says: "We shared 23 million years of evolution with great apes and then diverged approximately six million years ago. Gorillas have highly-complex forms of non-verbal communication. I think we are looking back at what sort of communication skills we may have once had."

Bizarro Earth

Strong quake hits off Guatemala-Mexico coast

Guatemala City - A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.5 struck in the Pacific near Guatemala's border with Mexico, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Thursday.

A Reuters reporter in Guatemala City said he felt shaking for 30 seconds. There was no immediate tsunami warning, although the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center noted that quakes of this size can sometimes generate localized sea surges.


Skippy on the Menu as Australia Seeks to Fight Global Warming

© Jack Atley/Bloomberg News
The kangaroo epitomizes Australia, appearing on the coat of arms and dollar coin and starring in the TV series, "Skippy.'' Now, a government adviser says Australians should eat more of the animals to ease global warming.

Ross Garnaut recommended last month that the methane-rich gas and burps from cattle and sheep, which contribute to climate change, could be reduced if citizens switched to kangaroo meat. The proposal sparked opposition from consumers, ecologists and the A$16 billion ($11 billion) livestock industry.

Comment: This is typical of the sort of pseudo-science that gets bandied around in relation to global warming. It escapes so many scientists - at least the ones that get airtime in the media and grants from government - that global warming is part of a natural cycle and has very little to do with man or the animals.

However, considering that the Great Chicago Fire is promoted as being started by the gaseous emissions from a cow, when it seems a comet was a much more likely candidate, it isn't really surprising that the increase in temperatures on Earth is also blamed on cows. But that does of course leave the question of how cows were able to heat up Mars and other planets in the solar system as popular science will not address the cosmic sources of this phenomena.

Given what passes for science on the matter of global warming it would not be surprising to read that a research grant has been awarded to a team of 'experts' who are investigating whether the warming of Mars is due to the gaseous emissions from the cow that jumped over the moon.


Oregon, US: Weekend cold set new record lows

Cold temperatures set several new record lows this weekend, including a low of 22 Saturday in downtown Pendleton that broke a 118 year-old record of 24.

Record lows started falling Thursday with a new low of 20 for Meacham, four degrees cooler than the previous record from 2006, according to information from the Web site for the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Pendleton.

Heppner and Long Creek then set new low temperatures Friday. Heppner hit 29, the coldest that date has seen since 1960 when it was 30; and Long Creek was 21, besting the 1987 record by four degrees.

Saturday set multiple new lows, including the record 22 in downtown Pendleton. John Day dropped to 21, breaking the 1990 record of 23; Meacham's 15 broke the previous low of 20 from 2002; and Mitchell set a record with 21, five degrees cooler than the 2002 record.


Arizona, US: Record cold temps hit Tucson

The Stock market isn't the only thing resembling the 1930s this week. As of 7:00 on Monday morning, temperatures dipped to 39 degrees to break the record low of 43 degreees set in 1932.

"A cold front passed through the area bringing cold Canadian air," KOLD Meterologist Aaron Pickering said. "It's the same front that brought snow in Salt Lake City and Billings, Montana."