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Better Earth

East Antarctic Ice Sheet May Be Losing Mass

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© Unknown
The mass loss is probably driven by processes occurring on the coast.
The East Antarctic ice sheet has been losing mass for the last three years, according to an analysis of data from a gravity-measuring satellite mission.

The scientists involved say they are "surprised" by the finding, because the giant East Antarctic sheet, unlike the west, has been thought to be stable.

Other scientists say ice loss could not yet be pinned on climate change, and uncertainties in the data are large.

The US-based team reports its findings in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The data comes from Nasa's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) mission.

Grace has previously shown that the smaller West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing mass.

Control Panel

Stunning Deception and Misconduct at UK Warming Research Center Revealed

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© Universal Studios
Climate researchers at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit may have intentionally and artificially skewed temperature data in studies

The field of global warming is a fascinating facet of atmospheric science. Unfortunately, few are approaching the topic from an unbiased perspective -- the majority is dead set on proving it, while other are equally passionate about disproving it, or at least removing the implication that man may play a role in global warming. Both sides have been found to falsify data, withhold information, or otherwise distort views on the topic, reportedly. Notably internal investigations found that the Bush administration worked to silence climatologists at NASA who published pro-warming papers. Likewise, James Hansen, the leading climate scientist at NASA, was found to be engaging in an equally deceptive game of altering temperature data to make warming look more serious than it was.

Light Saber

Climategate: the final nail in the coffin of 'Anthropogenic Global Warming'?

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Polar bear in the 'Plane Stupid' ad released in cinemas
If you own any shares in alternative energy companies I should start dumping them NOW. The conspiracy behind the Anthropogenic Global Warming myth (aka AGW; aka ManBearPig) has been suddenly, brutally and quite deliciously exposed after a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (aka Hadley CRU) and released 61 megabites of confidential files onto the internet. (Hat tip: Watts Up With That)

When you read some of those files - including 1079 emails and 72 documents - you realise just why the boffins at Hadley CRU might have preferred to keep them confidential. As Andrew Bolt puts it, this scandal could well be "the greatest in modern science". These alleged emails - supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing AGW theory - suggest:
Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more.
One of the alleged emails has a gentle gloat over the death in 2004 of John L Daly (one of the first climate change sceptics, founder of the Still Waiting For Greenhouse site), commenting:
"In an odd way this is cheering news."

Butterfly

Tree-Eating Bugs Threaten Monarch Butterfly in Mexico

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© PhysOrg
Monarch butterflies in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
The mysterious Monarch butterfly, which migrates en masse annually between Canada and Mexico, is now facing a new peril: another insect thriving in Western Mexican forests.

Some 8,000 oyamel fir trees - the butterflies' unique mountain habitat each winter -- were cut down in July in a bid to remove beetles that threaten the Monarch's ages-old migration.

But now another small beetle has since taken to devouring the savory tree trunks, further endangering the butterflies' winter colonies.

"We are working to determine how many trees have been affected," said Homero Gomez, president of El Rosario Sanctuary, a premier migrating spot for the Monarch in the western Mexican state of Michoacan.

Bizarro Earth

Colombia: 1000 People Evacuated After Colombia Volcano Erupts

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© AFP Photo
The Galeras volcano erupted in southern Colombia without causing casualties
A thousand people were evacuated and traffic was stopped after the Galeras volcano erupted in southern Colombia without causing casualties, officials said Saturday.

The locals were taken to shelters in Pasto, the capital of Narino department on the border with Ecuador, after authorities put the volcano -- the most active in Colombia -- on red alert to signal an imminent or ongoing eruption.

Some 9,000 people live in the vicinity of the volcano, which erupted at 8:37 pm Friday (0137 GMT Saturday), will be forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in temporary accommodations if the alert is prolonged, the Colombia Institute of Geology and Mining (Ingeominas) said.

Narino Government Secretary Fabio Trujillo, whose office coordinates volcano prevention, evacuation and relief efforts, told local radio that traffic restrictions would be imposed on the highway linking Pashto -- 920 kilometers (570 miles) -- to localities close to Galeras.

Magnify

Active Hearing Process in Mosquitoes

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© University of Bristol
This is a mosquito hearing organ.
A mathematical model has explained some of the remarkable features of mosquito hearing. In particular, the male can hear the faintest beats of the female's wings and yet is not deafened by loud noises.

The new research from the University of Bristol is published in the Journal of the Royal Society: Interface.

Insects have evolved diverse and delicate morphological structures in order to hear the naturally low energy of a transmitting sound wave. In mosquitoes, the hearing of acoustic energy, and its conversion into neuronal signals, is assisted by multiple individual sensory units called scolopidia.

The researchers have developed a simple microscopic mechanistic model of the active amplification in the Tanzanian mosquito species Toxorhynchites brevipalpis. The model is based on the description of the antenna as a forced-damped oscillator attached to a set of active threads (groups of scolopidia) that provide an impulsive force when they twitch. The twitching is controlled by channels that are opened and closed if the antennal oscillation reaches critical amplitude. The model matches both qualitatively and quantitatively with recent experiments: spontaneous oscillations, nonlinear amplification, hysteresis, 2:1 resonances, frequency response, gain loss due to hypoxia.

Sherlock

Mystery of World's Worst Mass Arsenic Poisoning Finally Solved

The culprit are tens of thousands of man-made ponds excavated to provide soil for flood protection.

Paris - Researchers have pinpointed the source of what is probably the worst mass poisoning in history, according to a study published Sunday.

For nearly three decades scientists have struggled to figure out exactly how arsenic was getting into the drinking water of millions of people in rural Bangladesh.

The culprit, says the new study, are tens of thousands of man-made ponds excavated to provide soil for flood protection.

Sun

Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out

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© NASA
Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.

At least the weather in Copenhagen is likely to be cooperating. The Danish Meteorological Institute predicts that temperatures in December, when the city will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be one degree above the long-term average.

Otherwise, however, not much is happening with global warming at the moment. The Earth's average temperatures have stopped climbing since the beginning of the millennium, and it even looks as though global warming could come to a standstill this year.

Ironically, climate change appears to have stalled in the run-up to the upcoming world summit in the Danish capital, where thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, business leaders and environmental activists plan to negotiate a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Billions of euros are at stake in the negotiations.

Sherlock

Scientists Uncover Corn's Full Genetic Code

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© AFP Photo
Two corncobs are seen in a corn field ready to be harvested
A team of US scientists has uncovered the complete genetic code of corn, a discovery that promises to speed development of higher yielding varieties of one of the world's most important food crops.

Corn is the third most abundant cereal crop, after rice and sorghum, researchers said. Advances in corn production could mean major steps toward feeding the world's growing population as it struggles with climate change.

The team of 150 experts, led by Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, said Thursday they had identified some 32,000 DNA sequences, or genes, in the 10 chromosomes that make up the genome of maize, the largest of any plant examined so far.

By comparison, the human genome includes 20,000 genes distributed in 23 chromosomes.

Better Earth

Rich Ore Deposits Linked to Ancient Atmosphere

Much of our planet's mineral wealth was deposited billions of years ago when Earth's chemical cycles were different from today's. Using geochemical clues from rocks nearly 3 billion years old, a group of scientists including Andrey Bekker and Doug Rumble from the Carnegie Institution have made the surprising discovery that the creation of economically important nickel ore deposits was linked to sulfur in the ancient oxygen-poor atmosphere.

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© iStockphoto
Volcano eruption on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
These ancient ores -- specifically iron-nickel sulfide deposits -- yield 10% of the world's annual nickel production. They formed for the most part between two and three billion years ago when hot magmas erupted on the ocean floor. Yet scientists have puzzled over the origin of the rich deposits. The ore minerals require sulfur to form, but neither seawater nor the magmas hosting the ores were thought to be rich enough in sulfur for this to happen.

"These nickel deposits have sulfur in them arising from an atmospheric cycle in ancient times. The isotopic signal is of an anoxic atmosphere," says Rumble of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory, a co-author of the paper appearing in the November 20 issue of Science.