Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Scientists develop new method making it easier to find oil all over the world

Researchers at KTH have been able to prove that the fossils of animals and plants are not necessary to generate raw oil and natural gas. This result is extremely radical as it means that it will be much easier to find these energy sources and that they may be located all over the world.

"With the help of our research we even know where oil could be found in Sweden!" says Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the KTH Department of Energy Technology in Stockholm.

Together with two research colleagues, Professor Kutcherov has simulated the process of pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner strata of the earth's crust. This process generates hydrocarbons, the primary elements of oil and natural gas.

Bizarro Earth

Newspapers Examine Drought, Famine in East Africa

According to Canada's National Post, a humanitarian coalition "warns East Africa faces 'a perfect storm of crop failures, a multi-year lack of rain, conflicts and political turmoil,' which now threatens 20 million people with severe hunger." Fighting in Somalia has driven 1.55 million people to internal camps outside the capital of Mogadishu as well as refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where the unsanitary conditions of one camp led Oxfam to label it "barely fit for humans."

"For the fourth year in a row, East Africa is in the grip of a devastating drought, which is killing crops, livestock and children, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people," according to the National Post, which adds that 28 percent of the U.N.-led emergency appeal for $576 million in aid has received funding. One in 10 Kenyans and 4.6 million Ethiopians are in need of food assistance, according to the World Food Program (9/9).

The New York Times examines the situation in Kenya, where the "devastating drought ... is stirring up tensions in the ramshackle slums where the water taps have run dry, and spawning ethnic conflict in the hinterland as communities fight over the last remaining pieces of fertile grazing land."


Drought makes California vulnerable to busy fire season

Los Angeles - Even as a mammoth wildfire still burns in the San Gabriel Mountains, California hasn't seen this year the level of destruction that flames delivered the past two years.

That could change soon however, fire officials say. A prolonged drought, which is drying up vegetation and fueling a seemingly endless fire that has burned more than 250 square miles of Los Angeles County, could be the start of a fall siege in Southern California.

Cloud Lightning

'Freak' storm and tornado kills 17 in Argentina

A violent storm that triggered a tornado has killed at least 17 people in the southern part of South America and destroyed hundreds of houses.

Northern Argentina and southern Brazil, and the small countries of Uruguay and Paraguay wedged between them, were hit by fierce rain, hail and winds travelling at more than 70mph.

In northeastern Argentina, 10 people died, including seven children, authorities said.


Scientists Discover New Coral Species in Galapagos Waters

© Photograph: PRA nudibranch rests against brightly coloured coral at the Wolf island site in the Galapagos.
Discovery of new species raises hopes that coral reefs may be more resilient to rising sea temperatures than previously thought.

Scientists have discovered three new coral species - and one that was thought to be extinct - in an extensive survey of reefs around the Galapagos Islands, raising hopes that reefs may be more resilient to rising sea temperatures than previously thought.

Honeycomb coral (Gardineroseris planulata) had apparently been wiped out in in 1997-98 by the last big El Niño event. This natural periodic event affects weather globally and another is expected this year. But the study around the relatively unexplored areas of the coasts of Wolf and Darwin islands to the north-west of the main archipelago turned up several separate colonies.


Alarming Invasion Of Round Goby Into Great Lakes Tributaries: Impact On Endangered Fishes 'Serious'

© YavnoThis is a round goby.
A team of scientists from the University of Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the University of Guelph has identified a drastic invasion of round goby into many Great Lakes tributaries, including several areas of the Thames, Sydenham, Ausable and Grand Rivers. A number of the affected areas are known as "species-at-risk" hot spots.

"This invasion poses many potential threats for native species of fish and mussels," says Mark Poos, a PhD Candidate in U of T's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Poos is lead author of the study published recently in the international journal Biological Invasions. Up to 89 per cent of fish species and 17 per cent of mussel species are either known or suspected to be affected by the goby invasion. Of particular concern is the impact on species that have a conservation designation, including such endangered species as the small eastern sand darter fish and mussels such as the wavy rayed lampmussel.


Where Did All the Flowers Come From?

© Sangtae Kim/University of FloridaRARE PLANT Amborella trichopoda, a small shrub found only on the island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, represents the oldest living lineage of flowering plants.

Throughout his life, Charles Darwin surrounded himself with flowers. When he was 10, he wrote down each time a peony bloomed in his father's garden. When he bought a house to raise his own family, he turned the grounds into a botanical field station where he experimented on flowers until his death. But despite his intimate familiarity with flowers, Darwin once wrote that their evolution was "an abominable mystery."

Darwin could see for himself how successful flowering plants had become. They make up the majority of living plant species, and they dominate many of the world's ecosystems, from rain forests to grasslands. They also dominate our farms. Out of flowers come most of the calories humans consume, in the form of foods like corn, rice and wheat. Flowers are also impressive in their sheer diversity of forms and colors, from lush, full-bodied roses to spiderlike orchids to calla lilies shaped like urns.

Bizarro Earth

Mexico: Earthquake Magnitude 5.0 - Veracruz

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 at 05:14:33 UTC

Tuesday, September 08, 2009 at 12:14:33 AM at epicenter

17.737°N, 95.418°W

113.6 km (70.6 miles)

85 km (50 miles) SSW of San Andres Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico

85 km (50 miles) ESE of Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

115 km (70 miles) WSW of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico

435 km (270 miles) ESE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Bizarro Earth

Italy: Earthquake Magnitude 5.0 - Sicily

Monday, September 07, 2009 at 21:26:31 UTC

Monday, September 07, 2009 at 11:26:31 PM at epicenter

38.652°N, 14.074°E

10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program

85 km (50 miles) NE of Palermo, Sicily, Italy

140 km (85 miles) WNW of Messina, Sicily, Italy

155 km (95 miles) NW of Catania, Sicily, Italy

385 km (240 miles) SSE of ROME, Italy

Bizarro Earth

6.2 Earthquake Hits Northern Georgia

An earthquake of magnitude 6.2 has struck northern Georgia.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was 10km (6.2 miles) deep, and its epicentre was 80km from the city of Kutaisi, in the Oni area.

There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the earthquake, which struck at 0341 local time (2241 GMT).