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Wed, 21 Oct 2020
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Better Earth

Volcanic particles 'can help cool' Earth

Russian scientists have discovered that volcanic particles can help cool the Earth, a leading environmental scientist said yesterday.

The world's temperature can drop 0.5 to 1 C a year if 1 million tons of volcanic particles are sprinkled across the globe from 10 to 14 km in the sky, said Yuri Israel, deputy head of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice-president Al Gore.

"Our experiments have shown it's effective, and actually it's more effective than some methods stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol to mitigate global warming," Israel said during a Moscow-Beijing video-conference on climate change. The conference was part of an exchange program between Russia and China.

Better Earth

Volcano Deep Down Could Be Melting Greenland's Ice

A thin spot in the Earth's crust is enabling underground magma to melt Greenland's ice, scientists at the Ohio State University feel.

According to them, the "hotspot" is located in the northeast corner of Greenland -- just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered.

The researchers don't yet know how warm the hotspot is, but if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could enable the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea.

Bell

Damage but no deaths as earthquake 6.8 hits New Zealand

A strong earthquake has hit the east coast of New Zealand, causing power cuts and damage to buildings but no casualties.

The tremor, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, struck at 8.55pm (7.55am GMT). It was centred 30 miles (48km) off the coast, just south east of the city of Gisborne on the country's north island.

Snowman

Year of global cooling

Al Gore says global warming is a planetary emergency. It is difficult to see how this can be so when record low temperatures are being set all over the world. In 2007, hundreds of people died, not from global warming, but from cold weather hazards.

Better Earth

Saharan Dust has chilling effect on North Atlantic

NASA satellites have provided evidence that the chilling effect of dust was responsible for one-third of the drop in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures between June 2005 and 2006, possibly contributing to the difference in hurricane activity between the two seasons.

Heat from warm ocean surfaces is known to fuel hurricanes, leading to stronger and more frequent storms. During the hurricane season of 2006, however, sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic remained relatively cool and the season saw only five hurricanes, compared to 15 hurricanes in 2005 when the ocean surface was warmer.

Bizarro Earth

Powerful 7.2 quake shakes Alaska's Aleutian Islands

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the western end of Alaska's Aleutian Islands early Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Binoculars

Historic Halos in Oslo

On December 16th, the skies above Oslo, Norway, stunned onlookers with a display of ice halos that "looks set to go down in halo history as one of the greatest ever," says atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley.

Binoculars

New Giant Rat, Pygmy Possum Discovered Among Other Beauties



©National Geographic

Mammal expert Martua Sinaga holds a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) rat that may be a species new to science. The rat was found in the remote Foja Mountains of western New Guinea, Indonesia, on a June 2007 expedition, experts announced yesterday.

Syringe

Darwin's Surprise; Why are evolutionary biologists bringing back extinct deadly viruses?



©New Yorker
Disabled retroviruses-fossils of molecular battles that raged for generations-make up eight per cent of the human genome.

Thierry Heidmann's office, adjacent to the laboratory he runs at the Institut Gustave Roussy, on the southern edge of Paris, could pass for a museum of genetic catastrophe. Files devoted to the world's most horrifying infectious diseases fill the cabinets and line the shelves. There are thick folders for smallpox, Ebola virus, and various forms of influenza. SARS is accounted for, as are more obscure pathogens, such as feline leukemia virus, Mason-Pfizer monkey virus, and simian foamy virus, which is endemic in African apes. H.I.V., the best-known and most insidious of the viruses at work today, has its own shelf of files. The lab's beakers, vials, and refrigerators, secured behind locked doors with double-paned windows, all teem with viruses. Heidmann, a meaty, middle-aged man with wild eyebrows and a beard heavily flecked with gray, has devoted his career to learning what viruses might tell us about AIDS and various forms of cancer. "This knowledge will help us treat terrible diseases," he told me, nodding briefly toward his lab. "Viruses can provide answers to questions we have never even asked."

Cloud Lightning

Caribbean hit by tropical storm

Tropical storm Olga, a rare December cyclone, has caused major floods and landslides in the Caribbean, killing at least eight people, officials say.

Hardest-hit was the Dominican Republic, where at least seven died and thousands were forced to flee their homes. One person died in Puerto Rico.