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Better Earth

New Tree Species Found in Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar - A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies has been discovered on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, botanists said Thursday.

©AP Photo/Royal Botanic Gardens, John Dransfield
This undated photo released by the Royal Botanic Gardens, shows a newly discovered species of palm tree on the Indian Ocean Island of Madagascar. A self-destructing palm tree that flowers once every 100 years and then dies.

Bizarro Earth

Yangtze River hit by drought in China

China is facing its worst drought in a decade, with water in parts of the Yangtze River at the lowest level in 142 years, state media has reported.

Millions of people were short of water, and dozens of ships had run aground in the river since October, reports said.

Bizarro Earth

Southern Africa Floods Kill 45, Aid Sought - No Chance

Maputo - Floods in southern Africa have killed about 45 people in a growing humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the region and brought renewed appeals for Western financial help.

Heavy rains have caused rivers in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi to burst, killing three people in Malawi since Friday and forcing hundreds of others to flee their homes.

Heavy downpours are common in southern Africa during the rainy season, which runs generally from November to April, but the relentless rain is unusual and has caught officials off guard.

Comment: Unusual flooding in Africa, bizarre snowfalls across the Middle East, extreme cold in Siberia, something is very wrong. Keep watching the Signs, they are all around you!


Sherlock

'Extinct' raccoon dogs detected in Russia's Altai Mountains

Raccoon dogs thought extinct in the Altai Mountains since the early 1950s have been again detected in Russia's south Siberian Altai Republic, a source in the regional government said on Wednesday.

Traces of an unknown dog-like creature had previously been detected by Russian biologist Genrikh Sobansky near Lake Teletskoye in the northeastern part of the republic. He later came to the conclusion that the trail belonged to a raccoon dog, an animal which looks much like the North American raccoon, but is only distantly related.

Cloud Lightning

Saudi Arabia freezes as weather records shattered

Unusually cold weather has smashed decades-old records in Saudi Arabia, with meteorologists forecasting a further cooling, the al-Watan newspaper said on Wednesday.

The cold snap has mainly hit northern parts of the country, where temperatures reached a record low of -6 degree Centigrade (21.2 degree Fahrenheit), freezing water in pipes and closing schools and other facilities. Local authorities had to ration kerosene due to an acute shortage of fuel for heating purposes.

Snowman

Alaska glacier speed-up tied to internal plumbing issues, says CU-Boulder study

Meltwater clogging and speeding of Kennicott Glacier may help explain behavior and acceleration of glaciers in Greenland, say researchers

A University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates meltwater periodically overwhelms the interior drainpipes of Alaska's Kennicott Glacier and causes it to lurch forward, similar to processes that may help explain the acceleration of glaciers observed recently on the Greenland ice sheet that are contributing to global sea rise.

According to CU-Boulder Professor Robert Anderson of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, the amount of water passing through conduits inside and underneath the Kennicott Glacier increases during seasonal melting and also following annual flooding from a nearby lake. The addition of excess water from melting and flooding causes water to back up into a honeycomb of passages inside the glacier, he said, suggesting the resulting increase in water pressure causes the glacier to slide more rapidly down its bedrock valley.

©Robert. S. Anderson/University of Colorado at Boulder
Alaska's Kennicott Glacier recently has been observed by scientists to be lurching, a result of meltwater and floodwater overwhelming its interior plumbing.

"The phenomenon is similar to the plumbing system of a house that is incapable of handling excess water or waste, causing it to back up," said Anderson. "This is a feedback we are still trying to understand and one that has big implications for understanding the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets, including the behavior of outlet glaciers on the Greenland ice sheet."

Cloud Lightning

Freak Gulf weather claims lives as Dubai floods



Downtown Dubai Jan. 16, 2008

Two people were killed in traffic accidents caused by rains in Dubai on Tuesday, Dubai Police announced. Colonel Omar Al Shamsi, Director of Control and Command Room, Dubai Police, said some 584 road accidents were reported on Tuesday.

People across the Gulf faced torrential downpours and may soon see a rare snowfall, in a region which traditionally holds prayers to ask for rain.

In the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, residents said the temperature had fallen to below freezing level, increasing chances that it might snow, an event Saudis usually only see on television or during travels overseas.

Cow Skull

Water buffalo gores four during Vietnam rampage

An enraged water buffalo went on an hourlong rampage in northern Vietnam, goring four people and destroying food stalls before being shot to death by police, officials said Tuesday. Crowds of curious onlookers scattered for safety after the 450-kilogram beast gored the villagers during a 3-mile tear Monday. No one was seriously injured.

Snowman

Israel: Cold spell claims 3rd victim

A 50-year-old woman was found unconscious under a bench on Atzmaut Boulevard in Bat Yam Tuesday morning in what appears to be the third death related to the recent cold spell.

The woman was apparently homeless and was found with bottles of alcohol by her side.

Emergency first-responders called to the scene had no choice but to pronounce her dead.

Snowman

Snowfall and freezing weather claim 120 lives in Afghanistan

The number of deaths caused by freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall in Afghanistan in the past few days reached 120 on Tuesday.

Heavy snowfall resumed today across the mountainous south Asian country, including in areas that have seen no snow for over two decades.

A total of 13 people died during the night, most of them buried under avalanches in the Daykundi and Ghor provinces in central Afghanistan. Two children froze to death in the northern province of Faryab.

Cold weather also caused an outbreak of an unidentified lung disease in Badakhshan, where 11 children died of breathing problems.