Earth ChangesS

Red Flag

Dessert fissures can ruin homes in SW U.S.

They can start as a small little ripple in the desert crust. A little bit of rain can trigger an earth fissure to tear open a crack large enough to swallow a car.

Fissures are a southwestern phenomenon aggravated by our need for water. Underground water tables hold up the earth above. As we pump out the water the earth has nothing to support it and collapses on top of itself creating a fissure. The on -going drought and constant demand for water has lowered the water table below compounding the fissure problem.

Red Flag

Strong undersea earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

A strong undersea earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit eastern Indonesia, although there were no reports of casualties or damage, an official at the country's meteorological agency said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Geological Survey said in a bulletin sent by email that the quake struck the Moluccas islands in the Banda Sea at 1128 GMT and put the magnitude at 5.8.

Cloud Lightning

Hurricanes Still Frustrate Forecasters

Hurricane forecasters are getting better at pinpointing the paths of these swirling storms, but predicting how intense they will be is still problematic, according to a statement released today by the American Meteorological Society.

The errors in track forecasts (which tell where a hurricane is most likely to head next and are the foundation of the warning process) have roughly half the errors that they did just 15 years ago.

Forecasts for tracks generally appear in what is called a cone: the middle portion on the cone is where the storm is most likely to hit, but it can veer anywhere inside the total cone's area. Over the past decade, forecasters have honed their predictions so that the length of coastline under warning from that cone has decreased from 454 miles to 317 miles, meaning there's less chance of a false warning.

Magic Wand

Scientists discover new species in Suriname forest

Researchers have discovered 24 new species in Suriname while a fish species thought to be extinct has been rediscovered, a conservation organisation reported here Monday at the presentation of the result of an expedition from 2005 and 2006.

At a presentation at the Hotel Krasnapolsky in Paramaribo, representatives of US-based Conservation International (CI) told government officials, reporters and others that among the 24 new species there is a purple fluorescent frog (Atelopus species).

CI also issued a statement reporting on the extraordinary discovery of so many species outside the insect realm. Scientists warned however that the new found creatures are threatened by illegal small-scale gold mining, hunting and other forestry activities.

Cloud Lightning

Understanding what causes rain

Weather models are not good at predicting rain. Particularly in hilly terrain, this can lead to great damage arising from late warnings of floods, or even none at all. From June 1 to September 1, 2007 Delft University of Technology is participating in a major international experiment in Germany's Black Forest, to learn more about what causes rain. Aircraft and an airship are to be used alongside ground-based observatories. Satellites will be used to gather the large-scale information.

The creation of rain is the result of a variety of physical processes. These processes influence each other and play out both at an extremely small scale (several micrometres) and on a very large one (100 kilometres). The spatial scale of weather models is a few kilometres, and physical processes which occur at a smaller scale have to be approximated. Cloud formation is an example of this. The complexity and differences in scale make weather modelling inaccurate in predicting the time and place of a downpour, and the quantity of rain which will ultimately fall.


Hundreds of Antarctic Peninsula glaciers accelerating as climate warms

Hundreds of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula are flowing faster, further adding to sea level rise according to new research published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Climate warming, that is already causing Antarctic Peninsula increased summer snow melt and ice shelf retreat, is the most likely cause.

Using radar images acquired by European ERS-1 and -2 satellites, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) tracked the flow rate of over 300 previously unstudied glaciers. They found a 12% increase in glacier speed from 1993 to 2003. These observations - that echo recent findings from coastal Greenland - indicate that the cause is melting of the lower glaciers, which flow directly into the sea. As they thin, the buoyancy of the ice can lift the glaciers off their rock beds, allowing them to slide faster.

Magic Wand

Study of underground lakes in Antarctica could be critical, prof says

The discovery of interconnected lakes beneath kilometers of ice in Antarctica could be one of the most important scientific finds in recent years, but proper procedures need to be established before investigation begins, says a Texas A&M University scientist who is a leader in the research efforts.

Mahlon "Chuck" Kennicutt II, professor of oceanography and director of the Sustainable Development Program in Texas A&M's Office of the Vice President for Research, says the National Science Foundation and 11 countries involved in the research and exploration are seeking agreement on how best to study these unique environments, which include at least 145 lakes under Antarctica's massive ice sheets. Several of the lakes are immense, and one, Lake Vostok, is similar in size to Lake Ontario, roughly 5,400 square miles, scientists note.

Participants in the project known as The Russian Antarctic Expedition have announced their intentions to penetrate Lake Vostok during the coming Antarctic field season.

"These lakes were rediscovered within the past 10 years or so, but no one yet has penetrated them and we want to make sure that the research is done properly and adheres to the highest environmental stewardship principles," says Kennicutt, who also serves as a director of the SALE (Subglacial Antarctic Lake Environments) office, which is maintained at Texas A&M.

Light Saber

World Environment Day homes in on fear of melting ice

TROMSOE, Norway - The world marked Environment Day on Tuesday with cheerful events like tree-planting and solar cooking in the heat of Asia, but also gloomier talk in the not-so-frozen north of melting polar caps.

The United Nations chose Tromsoe in Norway to host the day this year to highlight the dangers of melting snow and ice.

Cloud Lightning

Cyclone Gonu's Winds Blast Oman Coast

MUSCAT, Oman - Thousands of people fled low-lying areas as the strongest cyclone to threaten the Arabian Peninsula in 60 years blasted Oman's eastern coast early Wednesday with strong winds and waves, Civil Defense officials said. Southern Iran and the oil-rich Persian Gulf were next in its path.


Jungle For Sale: Going... Going...

A charity is appealing for people to buy up small patches of rainforest to help prevent it disappearing forever and combat climate change.

Every year, the destruction of tropical land releases more climate-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire USA.

The trees are felled for logging and farming.

Cool Earth - launched today - leases and maintains endangered land, giving local people access.