Earth ChangesS


Mysterious hole appears in Md. yard

A child raised on dungeons and dragons and underground empires might have been enchanted.

But Virgil Poe, a crusty 60-year-old retiree, wasn't all that amused when recent heavy rains opened a 16-foot hole in his yard.

The cylindrical hole is lined with bricks, suggesting it might have been the water supply for an old farm.

"I'm picking up sticks from the storm," Poe said. "As I was walking, I saw it, and I thought what on earth is that?"

He crawled closer to the hole, peered inside and found what looked like an old well.

Cloud Lightning

Illinois tornadoes dip a year after spinning up a new record

Because spring temperatures roller-coastered from freezing to summerlike heat, there were fewer tornadoes than usual in Illinois this year.

A year ago, Illinois logged about 90 funnel clouds heading into June on the way to a record 124. The state averages about 40 tornadoes annually.


Golden Eagle hatches in Donegal

A wild Golden Eagle chick has hatched in Co Donegal, for the first time in almost 100 years.

The nest actually hatched two chicks, but as normally happens, the second chick died after five days. According to the Golden Eagle Trust, there will be a further wait of seven to eight weeks to see if the remaining chick can continue to grow and hopefully fledge in late July.

Golden Eagle chick

Black Cat

Rodents of Unusual Size, Florida tries to wipe out cat-sized African rats

Deep in the heart of the Florida Keys, wildlife officials are laying bait laced with poison to try to wipe out a colony of enormous African rats that could threaten crops and other animals.

U.S. federal and state officials are beginning the final phase of a two-year project to eradicate the Gambian pouched rats, which can grow to the size of a cat and began reproducing in the remote area about eight years ago.

Light Sabers

NASA's Top Official Questions Global Warming, Griffin Questions Need to Combat Warming

NASA administrator Michael Griffin is drawing the ire of his agency's preeminent climate scientists after apparently downplaying the need to combat global warming.

In an interview broadcast this morning on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, Griffin was asked by NPR's Steve Inskeep whether he is concerned about global warming.

"I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin told Inskeep. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

Evil Rays

Human noise at sea could imperil creatures that depend on sonar

They're leaving behind people who banged on pipes and played a weird compilation of humpback hits, but the whales that lingered in the Delta are returning to an increasingly noisy ocean, where humans are the biggest noisemakers.

We pierce the depths with sub-seeking sonar. We rattle them with oil-exploration blasts. And we churn out a constant din from shipping.

The sounds sometimes kill, leaving beaked whales dead on shore after military exercises.

Light Sabers

China's water supply could be cut off as Tibet's glaciers melt

The clear water of the Min river in the Jiuzhaigou National Park is a candidate for the cleanest in China. It is filtered by 108 lakes as it makes its way down from the glaciers of this vast nature reserve before feeding into the Yangtze river.

Back up through the mists, along a spectacular cliff-lined valley, there is Long Lake, a blue glacial expanse of water, while higher up in this mountainous park you can find corrie glaciers. Waterfalls line the route, azure pools brim over with fresh water.

Yet this beautiful park, completely defined by water, is threatened by climate change. Normally a winter wonderland, there was no snow at all last year. The glaciers will get warmer and melt, the rivers will have less water, although rainfall makes up much of the water flowing through the park.


NASA mission checks Greenland's ice sheet and glaciers - confirms inland areas thickening!

A NASA-led research team has returned from Greenland after an annual three-week mission to check the health of its glaciers and ice sheet. About 82 percent of Greenland is made up of a giant ice sheet. During the Arctic Ice Mapping Project, researchers measured critical areas of the island's ice sheet as well as its glaciers and monitored changes that may be connected to global climate change.


Whales slip out the Golden Gate

That's the verdict from scientists who acknowledged the humpbacks' quiet departure was bittersweet for the whale rescue team.

The last confirmed sighting of the mother and calf was Tuesday night near Tiburon, about four miles from the Golden Gate Bridge.


Southern Fires Raise Smoke Concerns

At the request of the Georgia State Department of Health, scientists with the Southern Research Station Smoke Management Team located at the Center for Forest Disturbance Science in Athens, GA, are producing daily smoke forecasts which help communities determine potential health risks caused by current wildfires across south Georgia and north Florida. Smoke from these fires has impacted major airports and interstates throughout both States, and statewide air quality advisories have been issued. Smoke forecasts will be particularly useful when deciding to issue warnings for sensitive populations such as infants and children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with chronic heart or lung diseases such as asthma.

The forecasts show smoke concentrations over continuous 72-hour periods, combining detailed weather forecasts with information about the fire to estimate the amount of smoke produced and where that smoke will be transported. The smoke forecasts focus on a specific class of pollutant, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter or PM 2.5, that is known to be associated with respiratory problems and is a criteria pollutant measured by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.