Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Two mild earthquakes measuring 5 and 4.1 hit northern Nicaragua

Two earthquakes measuring 5 and 4.1 on Richter scale shook on Tuesday the north zone of Nicaragua, damaging 28 houses and affecting 81 people.

Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER) said that the 5-magnitude quake was felt at 11:50 a.m. local time (1750 GMT). The epicenter was located 62.7 km underground and some 154 km north of Managua. The second earthquake was registered at 11:57 a.m. local time (1757 GMT), its epicenter was located 78.1 km underground.

Secretary from the Municipal Council of San Juan del Rio Coco, Carla Solis, said that the towns of La Dalia, Barrio Nuevo, San Lucas and San Pedro de las Canas were the most affected.

Bizarro Earth

Strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake hits Papua New Guinea coast

A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea's northern coast on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or tsunami activity. The quake hit at 1:55pm (0355 GMT) with an epicentre about 31 kilometres (19 miles) east-southeast of the coastal town of Wewak, at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), the USGS said.

The tremblor was not expected to generate a tsunami, said assistant director of the PNG government's Geological Survey Department Chris McKee.

"I've had no reports of any damage and a 6.3 magnitude quake is unlikely to generate a tsunami," he told AFP.

Bizarro Earth

Underwater earthquake rattles western Indonesia

An underwater earthquake rocked western Indonesia on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude of the quake at 5.5. It struck 160 miles (260 kilometers) south of Bengkulu, a city on Sumatra island, around 20 miles (35 kilometers) below the ocean floor.

Residents along the coast said they did not feel the afternoon tremor.

The country's geophysics agency put the magnitude at a much higher 6.1. Such discrepancies - though large - are not considered unusual here.


Genes Help Monarchs Migrate

Activity of 40 genes differs in butterflies that stay put versus those that travel south.

Come fall, monarch butterflies feel the need for a change in latitude. A new study shows that changes in the activity of a suite of genes in the butterflies' brains help the insects find their way to overwintering grounds in Mexico.

Steven Reppert, a neurobiologist from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, leads a team of scientists on a mission to uncover the monarch's migratory signals. The team describes a new genetic analysis of stationary summer monarchs and fall migratory monarchs in the March 31 BMC Biology.

At least 40 genes are involved in keeping the monarchs Mexico-bound once they start migrating, the researchers report. Reppert and his colleagues analyzed 9,000 of the monarch butterfly's genes, about half of the genes in its genome.

Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarchs in the eastern United States and Canada begin flying south for the winter. The butterflies navigate with internal clocks and use the sun as a compass to find their way to overwintering grounds in oyamel fir forests in central Mexico. No one knows what environmental signals flip the switch that causes butterflies to forgo reproduction and start migrating.

Bizarro Earth

US: Magnitude 4.3 Palo Alto earthquake reveals newfound fault

A small earthquake that rattled parts of the Bay Area Monday morning occurred on a previously unknown fault, according to Jack Boatwright, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The magnitude 4.3 quake hit at 10:40 a.m. and was centered about 11 miles north of Morgan Hill and 16 miles east-southeast of San Jose, according to the USGS.

Personnel at several police departments and the USGS said they had not received reports of any damage. The trembling was felt mildly by residents in various parts of the Bay Area, including in San Francisco.

Boatwright said the small, unmapped fault that appears to have produced the earthquake is believed to be a "splay fault" off the Calaveras Fault, which is itself a branch off the San Andreas Fault. The fault crosses the hills east of San Jose, an area that is difficult to map.

Bizarro Earth

East Tennessee rocked by second earthquake in four days

The U.S. Geological Survey confirms that East Tennessee was rocked by its second small earthquake in four days over the weekend.

The most recent quake happened at 2:52 PM on Sunday in Bradley County and had a magnitude of 1.3.

USGS officials say its epicenter was located six miles north of Cleveland, in an open field along Eureka Road. The exact location of the quake was about 10 miles underground.


Early spring snow hits Iran

snow in Iran
© Ahmadi NastaranTravellers caught by surprise in the untimely snow storm
Strong winds, heavy rain, sleet and snow in Iran have blocked roads, keeping Iranians contained in the middle of New Year holidays.

When snow begins to melt, people count it as a sure sign of the coming spring. With the Iranian New Year celebrated on March 21 to signal the first day of spring and to mark the revival of nature, many Iranians pack their bags and spend their holidays traveling.

This year, forcing many to cut back on their holidays and shocking many others trapped in roads, 10 to 20 centimeters of snow has blanketed the western part of the country.

Cloud Lightning

US: Red River threatens to flood North Dakota

flood North Dakota
© UnknownA house is surrounded by flood water from the Red River in Fargo.
The swollen Red River and melting snow in the central-north US state of North Dakota have threatened to flood the city of Fargo.

After the level of the Red River inched downward throughout Sunday and Monday, there was hope that the damage caused by the rising tide was over. An early spring snowstorm, however, has swept into the area, prompting officials to think otherwise.

The river is expected to crest at nearly 12 meters, very close to the top of the city's main dike. Winds of 40 to 65 kilometers per hour are hampering emergency efforts


Climate Change Rumours Of Possum's Death Were Greatly Exaggerated

Last December, the Australian lemuroid ringtail possum was widely reported as the first possible extinction casualty of climate change.

But last week it rose from the dead with ecologists reporting the discovery of three of the creatures and declaring that the species was never feared extinct. But its future is far from certain.

"They have a very limited range - most likely due to an inability to tolerate high temperatures - so they are at risk from future temperature extremes," says ecophysiologist Andrew Krockenberger of James Cook University in Cairns, Australia.

Stephen Williams of James Cook University in Townsville agrees. "There has been a massive decline in one population. One more hot summer could wipe [that population] out."

Bizarro Earth

Invasion of the jellyfish: They could take over our seas, say wildlife experts

© UnknownStingers rising up from the deep
Fast-breeding jellyfish could take over our seas if we don't act now to protect threatened marine ecosystems, Northern Ireland wildlife experts have warned.

The 'rise of slime' is coming unless we halt the threatened collapse of marine ecosystems, the Ulster Wildlife Trust said.

Seafloor habitats are being destroyed by overfishing, rising water temperatures and dwindling marine biodiversity, reducing the ability of the seas around Ireland to recover and support humans long-term, the Trust said.