Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake - Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic USGS Earthquake Map
© USGSDominican Republic earthquake location.

Earthquake Details
Magnitude 5.1

* Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 17:13:48 UTC
* Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 01:13:48 PM at epicenter

Better Earth

Magma Discovered In Its 'Natural Habitat' For First Time

volcanic eruption of molten lava
© iStockphoto/Rick RhayA volcanic eruption of molten lava at night as it flows into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii.
A crew drilling on the Big Island of Hawaii has discovered magma, the molten rock material - never before found in its natural habitat underground - that is the central ingredient in the evolution of planets and the lifeblood of all volcanoes.

The chance discovery far beneath the Earth's surface gives scientists an unprecedented opportunity to understand the important substance.

"As scientists, we've hypothesized about the nature and behavior of magma in literally countless studies, but before now the real thing has never been found or been physically investigated in its natural habitat within the earth," said Bruce Marsh, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at The Johns Hopkins University's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Magma is the subterranean form of what, when it is ejected from the earth in volcanoes and cools, is known as lava. Underground, it reaches temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius, or more than 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

"Magma resides inside the earth and lava is its equivalent on the surface. But once magma erupts, it begins cooling unusually quickly and it loses any gases that it may contain, so it really is a different animal," Marsh said. "We've never seen, until now, the real animal in its natural habitat. And it's not going anywhere: it's caged, so to speak."

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strikes give blizzard warning

© Stock.xchngLightning may precede heavy bands of snow.
A flash of lightning during a snowstorm may be nature's way of signalling that the worst is yet to come.

The combination of snow, lightning and muted thunder occurs occasionally in storms across the temperate regions of North America, Europe and Asia, often near lakes or cyclones. Eyewitness accounts of these rare events, known as "thundersnows", date back thousands of years to ancient China, and suggest that lightning tends to strike in parts of the storm where the most snow is falling.

To verify such accounts, Patrick Market and Amy Becker at the University of Missouri, Columbia, studied 1000 lightning strikes in 24 thundersnows. They had previously shown that bigger snowstorms tend to produce more lightning, reinforcing the expectation that lightning would coincide with the heaviest bands of snow.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.4 - Southern Italy

Magnitude 5.4

* Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 21:57:45 UTC

* Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 10:57:45 PM at epicenter

* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 39.291°N, 15.485°E

Depth 260.7 km (162.0 miles)


Distances 65 km (40 miles) W of Cosenza, Italy

Cow Skull

Shh! Quiet Bison Get More Sex

Bison with the loudest bellows lose out in the mating game, while the quietest bulls score the most mates and sire the most offspring.

"We were expecting to find that the bigger, stronger guys - the high-quality males - would have the loudest bellows, because they can handle the costs of it," said Megan Wyman, a graduate student in geography at University of California, Davis and the lead author of the study. "But instead, we found the opposite.

Wyman and colleagues also found that the volume of a bison bull's bellow was not related to its weight or age.


Las Vegas gets heaviest snowfall in almost 30 years

© AFP/Getty Images/File/Ethan MillerVisitors take photos under the famous sign welcoming motorists on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip during a rare snowstorm December 17, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas was grappling with the aftermath of a once-in-a-generation snowstorm on Thursday which coated the famous icons of Las Vegas and forced the closure of the city's airport.
A rare winter storm swept through Southern Nevada Wednesday, dumping the most snow on the valley in nearly three decades, grounding flights at the airport, forcing the closure of major highways and closing schools for today.

"This is the most snow we've had in Las Vegas in almost 30 years," said Chris Stachelski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "It's a significant historical event."

The heaviest snowfall occurred in the southeast valley, where about 3 inches of snow had accumulated by 7:45 p.m., with unconfirmed reports of as much as 6 inches in Henderson, he said.


Snow, rain storms trigger blackouts, travel chaos in France

france storms
© AFPFrench electricity provider EDF workers leave after repairing lines damaged by heavy snow in Laissac, central France. Heavy snow and rain storms across southern France killed three people, cut power lines and trapped hundreds in cars and trains and ski lifts on Sunday.
Lyon - Heavy snow and rain storms across southern France killed three people, cut power lines and trapped hundreds in cars and trains and ski lifts on Sunday.

About 100,000 households were without electricity, local authorities and the French power company said. Two thousand people were stuck for several hours on trains running along the Mediterranean coast that were halted when torrential rain brought down power lines.

Up to 60 centimetres (24 inches) of snow fell in hilly regions over 24 hours and the French weather service issued avalanche alerts for 12 departments.


Scientists Denounce AP For Hysterical Global Warming Article

Scientists from around the world are denouncing an Associated Press article hysterically claiming that global warming is "a ticking time bomb" about to explode, and that we're "running out of time" to do anything about it.

As reported by NewsBusters, Seth Borenstein, the AP's "national science writer," published a piece Sunday entitled "Obama Left With Little Time to Curb Global Warming."

Scientists from all over the world have responded to share their view of this alarmist propaganda:

Bizarro Earth

Fifth of world's corals already dead, say experts

Coral die-off
© AFPAn environmental management specialist of the Batangas city fisheries office inspects a coral reef formation in the Verde sea passage south of Manila, Philippines, February 2007.
Poznan, Poland - Almost a fifth of the planet's coral reefs have died and carbon emissions are largely to blame, according to an NGO study released Wednesday.

The report, released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, warned that on current trends, growing levels of greenhouse gases will destroy many of the remaining reefs over the next 20 to 40 years.

"If nothing is done to substantially cut emissions, we could effectively lose coral reefs as we know them, with major coral extinctions," said Clive Wilkinson, the organisation's coordinator.

The paper was issued on the sidelines of the December 1-12 negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change, taking place under the UN flag.

Half a billion people around the world depend on coral reefs for food and tourism, according to a common estimate.


U.S. natural hazard death map is produced

Scientists using nationwide data collected since 1970 have produced a map depicting natural hazard mortality across the United States.

Susan Cutter and Kevin Borden from the University of South Carolina said their map presents a county-level representation of the likelihood of dying as the result of natural events such as floods, earthquakes or extreme weather.

Comment: Or, perhaps cometary impact?

Map County-level hazard induced mortality, 1970 to 2004.
© Kevin Borden/Susan Cutter/IJHGCounty-level hazard induced mortality, 1970 to 2004.
"This work will enable research and emergency management practitioners to examine hazard deaths through a geographic lens," the researchers said. "Using this as a tool to identify areas with higher than average hazard deaths can justify allocation of resources to these areas with the goal of reducing loss of life."