Earth ChangesS


Flooding Traps 181 Chinese Miners

Floodwaters from heavy rains poured into two coal mines in a town in eastern China, leaving 181 miners trapped and feared dead, government officials and state media said Saturday.

There was no word on whether there was any sign of life in the mines or when rescuers might enter them. Two high-speed pumps reportedly were being rushed in to drain the flooded shafts.

A dike on the Wen river in Shandong province broke Friday afternoon, sending water gushing into a mine run by the Huayuan Mining Co. in the city of Xintai and trapping 172 miners, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Cloud Lightning

Hurricane Dean strengthens to deadly Category 4

Hurricane Dean grew into a ferocious storm with winds over 135 mph (216 kph) on Friday after it smashed into the Caribbean islands, leveling banana plantations and setting off landslides before heading toward the oil and gas rigs of the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Dean was a Category 4 storm, the second-highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and capable of widespread destruction.


Bizarro Earth

Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Record Low

©AP Photo/NASA
This satellite image released by NASA in 2005 shows the concentration of Arctic sea ice. There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.

WASHINGTON - There was less sea ice in the Arctic on Friday than ever before on record, and the melting is continuing, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported.


Crows wield tools with human-like skill

New Caledonian crows, famed for their tool-making skills, can also use tools to manipulate other tools. Such "metatool" use shows that the crows have the brainpower to apply their skills to a completely new situation and plan ahead to solve a task, researchers believe.

Working with captured wild crows, Russell Gray and his team from the University of Auckland in New Zealand hid a treat in a box so that a crow could only extract it with the help of a long stick. This kind of task is easy for the tool-using crows.

Bizarro Earth

Alaska Peninsula volcano erupts

Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula started erupting Wednesday, a day after scientists issued a warning based on a sudden surge in local earthquakes.

©Ron Engstrom/Anchorage Daily News

The volcano, one of the most active in the Aleutian rim of fire, is spewing molten rock in what could be a buildup to a bigger ash explosion, scientists said.

Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Sepat bears down on Taiwan

Typhoon Sepat swept towards Taiwan on Friday packing winds of more than 180 kilometres (125 miles) per hour, disrupting flights, schools, rail and ferry services.

©US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

The Central Weather Bureau said the typhoon was set to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday in eastern Hualien, pounding the island with strong winds and torrential rains.

Typhoon Sepat Track as of 17 Aug, 17:10 GMT

Better Earth

California: A Big Stink at UC Botanical Garden

When UC Botanical Garden's rare titan arum, Amorphophallus titanium (corpse flower), blooms this week, the flower will both attract and repel visitors. When the plant opens to a diameter of three to four feet, titan arum looks visually arresting, but it's best known for a characteristic that can only be experienced firsthand after it blooms: its distinctive odor.

"It really does smell like there's a dead body in the room," says Garden Director Paul Licht, recalling his experience with Trudy, another corpse flower that blossomed in the garden's Tropical House in July 2005. The odor helps the plant attract insects that carry its pollen to other titan arums, since corpse flowers can't pollinate themselves.


US: Southern heat wave blamed for 33 deaths

The heat wave sweeping through the South has been blamed for at least 33 deaths this month and created potentially ruinous drought conditions.

Relentless sunshine has sent temperatures to record highs across the region, topping 100 degrees in some areas for the 10th straight day. Temperatures soared in Tennessee, where late-afternoon readings reached 109 in Smyrna, 105 in Clarksville and 103 in Nashville. Huntsville, Ala., North Little Rock, Ark., Bowling Green, Ky., and Woodward, Okla., also hit 103.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning kills 306 people in three weeks in China

Lightning strikes have killed 306 villagers in China over the past three weeks as severe weather continues to batter the countryside, the Xinhua news agency said Friday.

Heavy rains have already unleashed numerous mudslides and floods in southern and central China, with damage estimated in the billions of dollars.

All the victims have been rural residents, and 79% of them were killed while working in the fields.

Cloud Lightning

Remnants of storm Erin deluge Houston

The tropical weather season revved up Thursday as the Atlantic's first hurricane formed and quickly strengthened, and as Tropical Storm Erin's remnants soaked rain-weary Texas, snarling rush-hour traffic and killing at least two people.