Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

New orangutan population found in Indonesia

Black Orangutan
© Associated Press Photo/The Nature Conservancy, HOn this undated photo released by The Nature Conservancy, an orangutan of a newly found population is seen in Sangkulirang forest on Borneo island, Indonesia. Conservationists have discovered a new population of orangutans in a remote, mountainous corner of Indonesia, perhaps as many as 2,000, giving a rare boost to one of the world's most critically endangered great apes.
Jakarta - Conservationists have discovered a new population of orangutans in a remote, mountainous corner of Indonesia - perhaps as many as 2,000 - giving a rare boost to one of the world's most endangered great apes.

A team surveying forests nestled between jagged, limestone cliffs on the eastern edge of Borneo island counted 219 orangutan nests, indicating a "substantial" number of the animals, said Erik Meijaard, a senior ecologist at the U.S.-based The Nature Conservancy.

"We can't say for sure how many," he said, but even the most cautious estimate would indicate "several hundred at least, maybe 1,000 or 2,000 even."

The team also encountered an adult male, which angrily threw branches as they tried to take photos, and a mother and child.


Australia: Catching food a spit in ocean for dolphin

Snubfin dolphin
© Unknown
A rare and recently discovered species of Australian dolphin catches its prey by spitting at it.

The snubfin dolphin is found along Australia's northern coastlines and was recognised as a new species only in 2005.

The snubfin not only looks strange - it has a small dorsal fin and round, melon-like head - but new research shows it has an unusual method of feeding.

World Wildlife Fund Australia's marine and coasts manager Lydia Gibson said the small dolphins hunt in groups, chasing fish to the surface and rounding them up by shooting jets of water from their mouths. "This incredibly unusual behaviour, first seen in Australia off the Kimberley coast, has only been noted before in Irrawaddy dolphins, which are closely related to this species," Ms Gibson said.


US: Study of fault directly under San Jose points to hard shaking

A new study deepens the knowledge of Silver Creek Fault, charting its precise route under San Jose. The emerging research suggests that if the fault erupts, the city could suffer high levels of ground shaking.

Seismic profiles of the earth underneath three streets near downtown San Jose - Empire Street, Mission Street and Gish Road - provide conclusive evidence of a shallow fault, according to a study by geophysicist Rufus Catchings of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.

"Because the fault zone extends through downtown San Jose, and likely much of the East Bay, the fault may pose a significantly high seismic hazard to the region," Catchings said.

Evil Rays

Bad news for Catlin Expedition: Satellite Data Shows Arctic Cooling in February and March

As reported by Anthony, RSS satellite temperature data is out for March. And as the Catlin adventurers have discovered, it has been "stupidly cold" in the Arctic. March was the second consecutive month of below normal Arctic temperatures, and the continuation of a four year cooling trend - as seen below. Google's linest() function shows that since the beginning of 2005, Arctic temperatures have been cooling at a rate of 1.8 degrees C per decade, or 18C per century ( see comments). Also note that Arctic monthly temperature anomaly now is about three degrees lower than in January, 1981.

That short term trend isn't meaningful, except in the context of the Catlin Expedition and the cold they are experiencing.

Bizarro Earth

Galapagos volcano erupts, could threaten wildlife

© AP Photo/Galapagos National ParkIn this photo released by Galapagos National Park, La Cumbre volcano erupts in Fernandina Island, in the Galapagos islands, Ecuador, Saturday, April 11, 2009. The Galapagos National Park says La Cumbre volcano began spewing lava, gas and smoke on uninhabited Fernandina Island on Saturday after four years of inactivity.
Ecuador officials say a volcano is erupting in the Galapagos Islands and could harm unique wildlife.

The Galapagos National Park says La Cumbre volcano began spewing lava, gas and smoke on uninhabited Fernandina Island on Saturday after four years of inactivity.

The park says in a statement the eruption is not a threat to people living on nearby Isabela Island.

But it says lava flowing to the sea will likely affect marine and terrestrial iguanas, wolves and other fauna.


Catlin Arctic Team in Peril?

Catlin Arctic Survey Team
© unknownPen Hadow and Martin Hartley of the Catlin Arctic Survey battle the elements in the name of science, and their own survival.

The three-person team of British explorers on the Arctic ice cap may or may not be in danger, depending upon which of the team's representatives back at headquarters in London is doing the talking.

Martin Hartley, Pen Hadow, and Ann Daniels have been on a "scientific" mission to measure sea ice thickness that is routinely measured by satellite and buoys. Unfortunately, just about all of their equipment failed as soon as the team got onto the ice, due to what the BBC has reported as unexpected wind chill values as low as minus 70 degrees Celsius.

On the health front, according to Catlin Arctic Survey medical adviser Doctor Martin Rhodes, the team are battling chronic hypothermia. Additionally, Martin Hartley has frostbite on one foot, photographs of which are on the mission website, with a disclaimer for the faint of heart.

Bizarro Earth

Nova program focuses on rain of comets 12,900 years ago

© Royal BC Museum, Victoria, British ColumbiaImpact victim? Nanodiamonds suggest to some scientists that a huge impact did in the mammoths.

Last night at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, a dozen faculty members and students gathered for a "mammoth barbecue" before the U.S. Public Broadcasting System's NOVA program laid out the story of the provocative--and highly controversial--proposal that a huge impact drove the mammoths and dozens of other large North American animals to extinction 12,900 years ago. The verdict?

"It was NOVA theater," says geologist and host Nicholas Pinter. "It was enjoyable, there were nice animals, but there was skepticism [expressed at the gathering] about the impact story." That, despite the first revelation of evidence from Greenland, added further support to an extraterrestrial killer.

Cloud Lightning

Hurricanes peak a day after lightning

A global analysis of lightning during hurricanes has bolstered observations that the worst winds come a day after the bolts strike.

Forecasters struggle to predict peak hurricane winds. So Colin Price of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues studied all category 4 and 5 hurricanes between 2005 and 2007. Out of 58 hurricanes, 56 showed a significant correlation between lightning activity and wind speed, with peak winds arriving 30 hours after the lightning on average. Price believes the lightning may be caused by a change in wind patterns (Nature Geoscience, DOI: link).

Cow Skull

Zambia: Mysterious cattle disease found

Dundumwezi Member of Parliament Edgar Singombe has called on the Department of Veterinary and Livestock Development to ascertain a cattle disease that is killing animals in large numbers in Kasukwe ward.

Mr Singombe told Zanis in Kalomo that several herds of cattle were dying from an unknown disease in the areas around Jongolo, Habusala and Mutubyangulu villages in chief Chikanta's area.

He lamented that despite the matter being reported to the veterinary department last week, no efforts have been made to date.


US: Mysterious Bat-Killing Disease Found In 2 Virginia Caves

First, the frogs began disappearing, with as many as 122 species becoming extinct worldwide since 1980. Then honeybee colonies began to collapse. Scientists fear that bats might be next.