Earth ChangesS


Palin hometown a window into her environmentalism

Long before John McCain made Gov. Sarah Palin his running mate and before her views on global warming became a campaign issue, Palin's environmental priorities were crystallized in a city where she was mayor and where development long has trumped conservation.

Better Earth

Protected 'Swimways' Urged For Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Conservation Congress this week adopted a resolution urging nations to protect the leatherback sea turtle and sharks from the world's industrial fisheries by identifying and creating marine protected areas along the Pacific leatherback's migratory routes.

More than 8,000 scientists, government officials and environmental organizations from over 250 nations overwhelmingly supported the resolution, which includes the "Cocos Ridge Marine Wildlife Corridor," designed to shield the critically endangered Pacific leatherback and the hammerhead shark from longline and gillnet fisheries. Recent satellite tracking data from Stanford University researchers shows that after nesting on the beaches in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, Pacific leatherbacks swim toward the Galapagos Islands.

Randall Arauz, President of Costa Rican-based PRETOMA that sponsored the resolution explained, "Our plan allows one of the largest reptiles on Earth to continue its 100-million-year-old existence by opening and closing portions of the migration corridor to fishing as turtles enter and exit the area." He added, "We believe this corridor is also used by other endangered species, such as hammerhead sharks and would benefit many other threatened marine species."


Less Ice In Arctic Ocean 6000-7000 Years Ago

Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.
Astrid Lyså in August 2007 in the ruined settlement left by the Independence I Culture in North Greenland
© Eiliv Larsen, NGUSettlement: Astrid Lyså in August 2007 in the ruined settlement left by the Independence I Culture in North Greenland. The first immigrants to these inhospitable regions succumbed to the elements nearly 4000 years ago, when the climate became colder again.

The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. We still don't know whether the Arctic Ocean was completely ice free, but there was more open water in the area north of Greenland than there is today," says Astrid Lyså, a geologist and researcher at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU).

Bizarro Earth

4 injured, 7 missing in Vietnam floods

THUA THIEN-HUE -- Four people were injured and seven were reported missing Sunday after heavy rains and flooding struck central Vietnam, officials said.


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."