Earth ChangesS


China to Build Remote-Sensing Satellite Receiving Station in Antarctica

A Chinese scientist said China plans to build a remote-sensing satellite receiving station in Antarctica to better monitor the global ocean environment.

Jiang Xingwei, director of China's National Satellite Ocean Application Service, who is traveling with the Xuelong icebreaker, said the receiving station will rely on the Zhongshan Station and the Great Wall Station, China's two research stations in Antarctica.

Jiang said the receiving station will mainly receive information sent out by ocean satellites, and acquire updates on ocean water color, ocean dynamic environment and the polar region environment.

The station has great significance as over 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by ocean, he added.


Arizona, US: Giraffe Arrives at Zoo with Crooked Neck

© Angela Evans/Tulsa ZooAmali the giraffe developed a crick in her neck while being transported from The Wilds park in Ohio to Tulsa Zoo in Arizona.
This giraffe is suffering what looks like the world's biggest pain in the neck.

Five-year-old Amali from Tulsa Zoo, Oklahoma, had the unfortunate crick in transit from The Wilds Park in Ohio.

It is feared that the hook might never be cured.

Since undergoing treatment from Tulsa Zoo's resident vet Dr Kay Backues, Amali has been kept in medical quarantine since her arrival on October 18.

Luckily, the 11-foot tall female giraffe is not thought to be in any pain and staff at Tulsa Zoo are hoping the crick corrects itself naturally.

'When Amali the giraffe walked off the trailer into her new home she could walk, eat and manoeuvre normally,' said Dr. Backues.

'Amali was initially treated for muscle fatigue and possible soft tissue trauma.

'We are using medications a human might use if they strained their neck or back, such as non-steroidal ant-inflammatories similar to ibuprofen, muscle relaxers, pain relievers (analgesics) and a vitamin supplement.


Australia: Kangaroo Tries to Drown Man, Dog

© AP PhotoA startled kangaroo tried to drown an Australian man
An Australian man was almost drowned by a kangaroo after he dived into his farm dam to save his pet dog.

Chris Rickard, 49, of Arthurs Creek, is being assessed by Austin Hospital surgeons after being mauled by the nearly 5-foot roo at 9 a.m. AEDT. He only managed to end the attack when he elbowed the kangaroo in the throat as it tried to hold him under water, The Herald Sun reported.

By then he had already suffered a deep gash across his abdomen as the kangaroo tried to disembowel him with its hind legs, as well as a deep gash across his forehead and further cuts and scratches across his chest.

Speaking from the hospital's emergency department, Mr Rickard said he was walking his blue heeler dog Rocky at the back of his property about a quarter mile from his home when they woke the kangaroo which had been sleeping in long grass near the dam.

Bizarro Earth

NASA Satellites Detect Unexpected Ice Loss in East Antarctica

© University of Texas at Austin Center for Space ResearchGrace estimate of changes in Antarctica's ice mass, measured in centimeters of equivalent water height change per year.
Using gravity measurement data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission, a team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin has found that the East Antarctic ice sheet-home to about 90 percent of Earth's solid fresh water and previously considered stable-may have begun to lose ice.

The team used Grace data to estimate Antarctica's ice mass between 2002 and 2009. Their results, published Nov. 22 in the journal Nature Geoscience, found that the East Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass, mostly in coastal regions, at an estimated rate of 57 gigatonnes a year. A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds. The ice loss there may have begun as early as 2006. The study also confirmed previous results showing that West Antarctica is losing about 132 gigatonnes of ice per year.

"While we are seeing a trend of accelerating ice loss in Antarctica, we had considered East Antarctica to be inviolate," said lead author and Senior Research Scientist Jianli Chen of the university's Center for Space Research. "But if it is losing mass, as our data indicate, it may be an indication the state of East Antarctica has changed. Since it's the biggest ice sheet on Earth, ice loss there can have a large impact on global sea level rise in the future."

Bizarro Earth

Torrential Rains Kill 48 in Saudi Arabia

© Eontarionow
Heavy rains have left 48 people dead in a number of provinces in Saudi Arabia, the Al Riyadh paper said on Thursday.

Rains lashed Jeddah and the adjacent holy places of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafath, where pilgrims spent their first day of Hajj on Wednesday.

Traffic in Jeddah, located 80 km (50 miles) west of Mecca, was logged, and the sewage system was severely affected.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign pilgrims gathering for today's Hajj in Mecca has exceeded 1.6 million, Prince Naif, Saudi Arabia's second deputy prime minister, said in a telegram to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on Thursday.

Bizarro Earth

Heavy Storm Kills 11 in Southern Brazil

A total of 11 people were killed due to the heavy rain that has been lashing southern Brazil since last week, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The most recent death occurred in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, when 45-year-old Luiz Alberto Carvalho Nene was struck by lightning.

On Wednesday, the towns of Cacapava do Sul, Cerrito and Manoel Viana in the state declared a state of emergency. So far, 48 of the 496 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul have declared a state of emergency.

Over 14,000 people in Rio Grande do Sul had to leave their homes due to the floods, and a power cut affected almost 10,000 people in the state.


Extreme drought forces thirsty kangaroos to invade Aussie town

Thargomindah, in the outback of Queensland, Australia, is a quiet small town with a population of 203. That is, until nightfall when the town's population doubles with the arrival of hundreds of other Australians...kangaroos and emus desperate to find food and water.

Some 700 miles west of Brisbane, Thargomindah is suffering its worst drought in 50 years. Both the wildlife and grazers are suffering. But as kangaroos reach plague proportion, farmers complain that the animals are eating any new growth available.

[Scott Fraser, Local Farmer]:
"It's possible to shoot seven-hundred a night, they're that thick. They're swarm proportions, you have no idea, it gives you a creepy feeling when you see them that thick."

Cow Skull

6,000 Thirsty Camels Face Bullet After Terrorising Australian Town

Camel Oz
© Northern Territory government/EPA
Northern Territory officials plan mass cull after 6,000 wild camels run amok in Docker River in search of water

Australian authorities plan to round up about 6,000 wild camels with helicopters and shoot them after they overran an outback town in search of water, trampling fences, smashing tanks and contaminating supplies.

The Northern Territory government announced its plan yesterday for Docker River, a town of 350 residents where thirsty camels have been arriving every day for weeks because of drought conditions.

"The community of Docker River is under siege by 6,000 marauding, wild camels," the local government minister, Rob Knight, said in Alice Springs, 310 miles (500km) north-east of Docker. "This is a very critical situation out there, it's very unusual and it needs urgent action."

Arrow Up

Ireland: Fears of more floods as water level rises

Ireland flood
© Irish IndependentMary Keenan is distraught after visiting her house for the first time since the start of the floods in Caherlea, Claregalway
Towns and villages in the path of the River Shannon were unable to take a breath last night after the worst rainfall ever recorded.

Levels continued to rise on the lower and mid-Shannon where there has already been unprecedented increases in Lough Ree and Lough Allen.

Experts warned that a third of the rainfall normally experienced in one year had fallen in November alone so far -- and on land that was already "seriously saturated".

Lough Ree is being blamed for the latest floods that forced more than 100 residents out of their homes in Athlone in two days. Twenty-five homes had to be evacuated in Parnell Square in Athlone. Families were also taken from 22 houses in Deerpark and from eight houses in Iona Villas.

Taxi man and local councillor Kevin 'Boxer' Moran has been driving around Athlone in his four-wheel-drive vehicle rescuing people.

Better Earth

Atlantic Hurricane Season Quietest Since 1997

The Atlantic Hurricane season, which officials ends Nov. 30, will go into the record books as the quietest since 1997, due to the impact of the El Nino weather phenomenon, forecasters at Colorado State University said Thursday.

The season featured nine named storms, three hurricanes and two major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per season.

In their far-forward December 2008 forecast, experts at Colorado State projected an above-average season, with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The forecasters said the impacts of El Nino, unforeseen at the time, sharply reduced hurricane formation, and they reduced their storm expectations as the season progressed.