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Sun, 10 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes


Update: Earthquake kills over 100 in Pakistan

A government minister says more than 100 people have been killed in an earthquake in southwestern Pakistan.

Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation Zamaruk Khan says the government is preparing to provide food, shelter and medical care to survivors of Wednesday's quake.

Bizarro Earth

Pakistan 6.4 Earthquake Kills 31

Islamabad - A strong earthquake struck parts of southwestern Pakistan early Wednesday, killing at least 31 people, officials said.

The quake struck just after 4 a.m. in Baluchistan, an impoverished province bordering Afghanistan. It had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The province's police chief, Asif Nawaz Khos, said at least 31 people had been killed, and a local mayor said many houses were damaged.

The quake was centered about 400 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad.


Salmon tracked to aid conservation

Oslo - Hi-tech devices tracked two small salmon on a 2,500 km (1,550 mile) swim from the Rocky Mountains to Alaska in a step toward understanding fish migrations and protecting stocks, scientists said.

The two salmon, about 14 cm (5.5 inches) long and with almond-sized implants, swam down a tributary of the Columbia River in Idaho into the Pacific Ocean and north past a string of electronic listening devices during a three-month trip.

"We've demonstrated the ability to track animals about the size of a hot dog," Jim Bolger, executive director of the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) project, told Reuters. The fish swam the same distance as from Moscow to London.

"We're demonstrating the use of this array to see what's happening in the oceans. Previously we've been searching with a flashlight -- now we feel we are turning on the lights."


Scientists urge ban on catching Atlantic sharks

Washington - An international team of scientists wants to ban the catching of eight species of Atlantic Ocean sharks and put a strict limit on the catch of two others to try to prevent population crashes.

Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they reproduce and grow slowly, but there are currently no international limits on shark catch, according to the non-profit Lenfest Ocean Program, which convened a meeting of shark experts to study the problem.

The group found in a study released on Monday that 10 species of Atlantic sharks are at serious risk of being overfished.

"Our results show very clearly that there is a critical need to take management action to prevent shark population depletion and maintain ecosystem function," said lead author Colin Simpfendorfer of Australia's James Cook University.


Snakes, Salamanders And Other Creatures Thrive In Areas With Higher Deer Populations

Reducing the number of deer in forests and parks may unexpectedly reduce the number of reptiles, amphibians and insects in that area, new research suggests. A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and National Park Service found that higher deer activity is modifying forest ecosystems in unexpected ways. Out of several species of snakes, salamanders, and invertebrates studied, a greater diversity of animals were found in areas with deer populations than were in areas with no deer activity.
hellbender salamander
© Ohio State University
Katy & Hellbender: Ohio State doctoral student Katherine Greenwald, seen here with the hellbender salamander, is studying how human disturbance to the environment affect different types of salamanders. Hellbenders are the third largest aquatic salamander in the world, weighing 3 to 5 pounds on average.

The study, which comes at a time when many states have begun to selectively control deer populations, challenges previous research that has suggested deer populations can negatively impact forest ecosystems through eating plants that many smaller animals may depend on.

Instead, researchers found that high numbers of deer may in fact be attracting a greater number of species. This may be because their waste creates a more nutrient-rich soil and as a result, areas with deer draw higher numbers of insects and other invertebrates. These insects then attract larger predators which thrive on insect lava such as salamanders, and the salamanders in turn attract even larger predators such as snakes.


UK Weather - Snow and Ice in October, the Shape of Things to Come?

Widespread frosts and ice, snow showers, sub zero temperatures and winds direct from the arctic aren't things normally associated with mid Autumn, but this week they're all going to be mentioned within weather forecasts for the UK.

Is this the shape of things to come for the rest of Autumn and into Winter though? Forecasters at Netweather.tv think it may be, as they expect a November with temperatures to be close to or below the average with the start of Winter following a similar vein.


Mud Volcano Erupts In Trinidad

Port of Spain - A mud volcano erupted in an oilfield area in Santa Flora, Trinidad Sunday, shocking area residents.

Better Earth

Orange Peel Can Help Clean Up Dirty Water

Highly colored industrial waste water is a serious environmental problem as it seriously discolors waterways as well as blocking sunlight for photosynthesizing plant species in the water. Now, researchers in Algeria have discovered that nothing more sophisticated than orange peel could be used to remove acidic dyes from industrial effluent.

They describe their findings in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Environment and Pollution.
Orange Peel
© iStockphoto
A simple orange peel could be used to remove acidic dyes from industrial effluent.

"Synthetic dyes are extensively used by industries including dye houses, paper printers, textile dyers, color photography and as additives in petroleum products," explains Benaïssa Houcine of the Laboratory of Sorbent Materials and Water Treatment, Department of Chemistry-Faculty of Sciences, at University of Tlemcen, in Algeria. "The effluents of these industries are highly colored, and disposal of these wastes into the environment can be extremely deleterious. Their presence in watercourses is aesthetically unacceptable and may be visible at concentration as low as 1 ppm (part per million).

Bizarro Earth

New roads could bring pollution to Yellowstone

Some of the US's pristine forests could soon be criss-crossed with roads for logging and mining as the federal government once again relaxes conservation rules - this time in Idaho.

US national parks are still protected, but at threat are so-called "roadless" areas of national forests. These cover more than 230,000 square kilometres - an area nearly as large as the UK. Bill Clinton banned virtually all development in these areas just before leaving office in January 2001. The Bush administration scrapped this policy in 2005, working out rules on a state-by-state basis instead.

On 16 October, the federal government announced it had opened up more than 1600 square kilometres of roadless forest in Idaho to development, including areas bordering Yellowstone national park (see map).


Climate Change, Acid Rain Could Be Good For Forests

After more than 20 years of research in the northern hardwood forests of Michigan, scientists at Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science have reached a surprising conclusion: Moderate increases in temperature and nitrogen from atmospheric pollution actually improve forest productivity.
© Michigan Technological University
Michigan Tech forest productivity research.

Andrew Burton, an associate professor at Michigan Tech and head of the National Institute for Climatic Change Research's Midwestern Regional Center, is part of a team of researchers that has been monitoring and measuring the temperature, moisture levels and nitrogen deposited by acid rain or varying levels of experimental nitrogen at four forest sites ranging from northwestern to southern Michigan since 1987. He's found that the trees grow faster at higher temperatures and store more carbon at greater concentrations of nitrogen, a chemical constituent of acid rain, providing there is sufficient moisture.