Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Crops Under Stress as Temperatures Fall

© ReutersWaterworld: Floodwater surrounding a farm near Fargo, North Dakota, in March 2009
Our politicians haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, observes Christopher Booker.

For the second time in little over a year, it looks as though the world may be heading for a serious food crisis, thanks to our old friend "climate change". In many parts of the world recently the weather has not been too brilliant for farmers. After a fearsomely cold winter, June brought heavy snowfall across large parts of western Canada and the northern states of the American Midwest. In Manitoba last week, it was -4ºC. North Dakota had its first June snow for 60 years.


Climate change? Check this data

Next there is the problem of attributing temperature changes to CO2 emissions. In the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Figure 9.1 shows that the main effect of CO2 over the past century (see panel (c)) should have been a strong warming in the mid-troposphere over the tropics. Figure 10.7 shows the same pattern resulting from current and future CO2 emissions. Changes are also projected at the surface in the polar regions. However they are not so easy to tie to greenhouse gases since those regions are also sensitive to solar variability and natural atmospheric oscillations.

Better Earth

Argentine glacier advances despite so-called global warming

© AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, FileIn this May 18, 2009 file photo, a tourist looks back through a cave on Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina's Patagonia region.
Argentina's Perito Moreno glacier is one of only a few ice fields worldwide that have withstood rising global temperatures.

Nourished by Andean snowmelt, the glacier constantly grows even as it spawns icebergs the size of apartment buildings into a frigid lake, maintaining a nearly perfect equilibrium since measurements began more than a century ago.

"We're not sure why this happens," said Andres Rivera, a glacialist with the Center for Scientific Studies in Valdivia, Chile. "But not all glaciers respond equally to climate change."

Viewed at a safe distance on cruise boats or the wooden observation deck just beyond the glacier's leading edge, Perito Moreno's jagged surface radiates a brilliant white in the strong Patagonian sun. Submerged sections glow deep blue.


US: 1967 study had flood prediction right on target

'No one ever dreamed' was a refrain frequently heard after the second week of June 2008: No one ever dreamed a flood of such magnitude could happen in Cedar Rapids.

But such a flood not only had been dreamed of, it had been predicted by the Army Corps of Engineers - 41 years before it happened. The Corps' report with that dire prediction was released in October 1967.

In the Corps' terms, the Flood of 2008 was a "standard project flood ... produced by the most severe combination of meteorological and hydrological conditions that are considered reasonably characteristic of the drainage basin."

Bizarro Earth

Strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits Mindanao, Philippines

An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the southern Philippines this afternoon, geological agencies reported.

The Hong Kong Observatory said the quake occurred 2:03 p.m. local time (0603 GMT). The epicenter was initially determined to be 5.4 degrees north latitude and 126.4 degrees east longitude, about 210 km south-southeast of Davao, Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the United States Geological Survey recorded the quake at 01:58 local time (05:58 GMT). The quake was located 160 kilometers east-southeast of General Santos, Mindanao or 1,185 kilometers south-southeast of Manila, at an depth of 75.8 kilometers.


What really prompts the dog's "guilty look"

guilty dog
What dog owner has not come home to a broken vase or other valuable items and a guilty-looking dog slouching around the house? By ingeniously setting up conditions where the owner was misinformed as to whether their dog had really committed an offense, Alexandra Horowitz, Assistant Professor from Barnard College in New York, uncovered the origins of the "guilty look" in dogs in the recently published "Canine Behaviour and Cognition" Special Issue of Elsevier's Behavioural Processes.

Horowitz was able to show that the human tendency to attribute a "guilty look" to a dog was not due to whether the dog was indeed guilty. Instead, people see 'guilt' in a dog's body language when they believe the dog has done something it shouldn't have - even if the dog is in fact completely innocent of any offense.

During the study, owners were asked to leave the room after ordering their dogs not to eat a tasty treat. While the owner was away, Horowitz gave some of the dogs this forbidden treat before asking the owners back into the room. In some trials the owners were told that their dog had eaten the forbidden treat; in others, they were told their dog had behaved properly and left the treat alone. What the owners were told, however, often did not correlate with reality.

Bizarro Earth

Strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits Vanuatu

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off the Vanuatu islands in the Pacific Ocean on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, but local police said there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The quake was centred 38 miles (60 km) west-northwest of Port Vila and had a depth of 33 miles, the USGS said.

Eye 2

Kenya drought to persist, says report

Kenya is among several sub-Saharan Africa countries that will continue experiencing severe drought as a result of climate change, a new report shows.

The 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disasters and Risk Reduction says parts of North Eastern Province will continue to receive insufficient rains, thereby exposing them to 'a very high' frequency and intensity of famine.

Other parts of the country, which have been receiving minimal rains, are also set to experience cases of famine.

The latest development will not be good news to Kenyans, who have been grappling with increased cases of drought brought about by poor rain patterns in the recent past.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.4 - Eastern Kazakhstan

© US Geological Survey
Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 17:17:40 UTC
Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 11:17:40 PM at epicenter

44.708°N, 78.864°E

26.4 km (16.4 miles)

50 km (35 miles) SE of Taldyqorghan, Kazakhstan

210 km (130 miles) WNW of Yining, Xinjiang, China

225 km (140 miles) NE of Almaty, Kazakhstan

900 km (560 miles) SE of ASTANA (Tselinograd), Kazakhstan

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.0 - Coquimbo, Chile

© US Geological Survey
Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 21:22:08 UTC
Saturday, June 13, 2009 at 05:22:08 PM at epicenter

30.649°S, 71.526°W

35.4 km (22.0 miles)

80 km (50 miles) SSW of Coquimbo, Chile

115 km (70 miles) NNW of Illapel, Chile

240 km (150 miles) SSW of Vallenar, Chile

320 km (200 miles) NNW of SANTIAGO, Chile