Earth ChangesS

Alarm Clock

Schwarzenegger declares California drought emergency

Sacramento - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 percent.

"This drought is having a devastating impact on our people, our communities, our economy and our environment, making today's action absolutely necessary," the Republican governor said in his statement.

Fish

Fish pivots tubular eyes to scan for food

Image
The fishy denizens of the deep are many, varied and strange, and among the strangest are the barreleyes, swift little hunters with tunnel-shaped eyes that live in the darkness of the deepest waters of Monterey Bay and in other seas worldwide.

For decades, biologists have puzzled over those fishes' eyes, because apparently they could look in only one direction - upward - and have wondered at the role of the mysterious transparent shield that covers their heads much like the cockpits of jet fighter planes.

Now two marine biologists in Monterey Bay, trolling with remote-controlled submarines from their surface ship, have tracked and captured the 6-inch living barreleyes on film and studied them in a lab to solve the puzzle: Those tunnels that hold their eyes, the scientists discovered, can actually pivot up and down - a rarity for any animal.

Snowman

Study: Global cooling causes vast Antarctic glaciation in ancient time

A study showed that vast Antarctic glaciation was caused by global cooling, according to a news release issued by the University of Hong Kong on Thursday.

Global climate rapidly shifted from a relatively ice-free world to one with massive ice sheets on Antarctica about 34 million years ago. A team of scientists from research units from different countries and regions offered a new perspective on the nature of changing climatic conditions across this greenhouse-to-icehouse transition, which has important implications for predicting future climate changes.

Detailed in the latest issue of Science, an international scientific journal, the data disproved a long-held idea that massive ice growth in the Antarctic was accompanied by little to no global temperature change.

Sun

California declares drought emergency

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency on Friday because of three years of below-average rain and snowfall in California, a step that urges urban water agencies to reduce water use by 20 per cent.

Mandatory conservation is an option in the US if the declaration and other measures are insufficient.

The drought has forced farmers to fallow their fields, put thousands of agricultural workers out of work and led to conservation measures in cities throughout the state, which is the top agricultural producer in the US

Fish

Heat Could Be Stifling Turtles' Swimming Abilities in Australia

Turtle
© The University of QueenslandTurtle on Heron Island.
It seems we're not the only ones struggling to adapt to the summer weather - University of Queensland researchers have found the increased temperatures may be affecting turtles too.

Zoologist Dr David Booth, from UQ's School of Biological Sciences, said green turtle hatchlings from Heron Island weren't swimming as well as usual.

"The 2008-2009 green turtle nesting season on Heron Island has seen the highest nest temperatures recorded at this site, with many nests having average temperatures above 31 degrees, and experiencing temperatures above 35 degrees during the last week of incubation," Dr Booth said.

"Initial impressions are that hatchlings emerging from these hot nests are not as strong swimmers as hatchlings coming from cooler nests recorded in previous years.

"If climate change results in consistently high nest temperatures in the future, then the poorer swimming ability of hatchlings emerging from hot nests may have a negative impact on recruitment of hatchlings from coral cays because predation rate is thought to be related to swimming ability."

Bug

Desert Ants Smell Their Way Home

Cataglyphis fortis
© Max Planck InstituteCataglyphis fortis
Humans lost in the desert are well known for going around in circles, prompting scientists to ask how desert creatures find their way around without landmarks for guidance. Now research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Frontiers in Zoology shows that Desert Ants input both local smells and visual cues into their navigation systems to guide them home.

Until now researchers thought that the Desert Ant Cataglyphis fortis, which makes its home in the inhospitable salt pans of Tunisia, was a pure vision-guided insect. But Kathrin Steck, Bill Hansson and Markus Knaden from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany used gas chromatography to verify that desert microhabitats do have unique odour signatures that can guide the ants back to the nest.

Cloud Lightning

Severe storms hit Cyprus: one dead

Cyprus storm
© Unknown
A man was killed by lightning during a severe thunderstorm in the Cyprus capital Nicosia yesterday.

Police said the man, an immigrant worker, was struck while working in fields in the buffer zone, about 25 kilometres west of Nicosia.

He was taken to hospital, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Heart - Black

Gore business: 2340 climate lobbyists

Greenpeace global warming banners
© ReutersGreenpeace activists hold a banner during a rally outside the U.S. embassy for Hillary Clinton in Jakarta on Feb. 19.

After years of resistance from the Bush administration, global warming advocates are convinced the time has come for passage of major climate change legislation.

But even with a sympathetic White House and Congress, the years of delay might well have complicated their task as an army of lobbyists assembled to do battle over the issue.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Senate lobbying disclosure forms shows that more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year, as the issue gathered momentum and a bill came to a vote in Congress.

That's an increase of more than 300 percent in the number of global warming lobbyists since 2003, when Congress previously voted on climate change legislation, and means that Washington can now boast more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress.

It also means that 15 percent of all Washington lobbyists spent at least some of their time on global warming last year, based on a tally of the total number of influence peddlers on Capitol Hill by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The center estimates that lobbying expenditures on climate change last year topped $90 million. About 130 businesses and interest groups spent more than $23.5 million on lobbying teams solely focused on climate, but that vastly understates the money devoted to the effort.

Snowman

'Snow bomb' brings record snowfall across New Brunswick

The winter storm that swept across New Brunswick on Monday blew in record levels of snow in some parts of the province.

Some of the snowiest places following Monday's blizzard were McNamee, near Boiestown, which saw more than 65 centimetres of snow fall, as well, Kouchibouguac, on the province's east coast, witnessed 60 centimetres of snow fall.

New Brunswick snow
© Canadian Broadcasting CorporationA Fredericton resident cleans up on Monday after 48 centimetres of snow fell.
Bathurst residents were digging out from 55 centimetres of snow, which set a new record for the northern city in terms of snowfall in one day in February.

Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet said the cleanup is continuing from Monday's record-breaking snowfall, one of the worst winter storms he can remember.

"You're driving down the street and you're going down like a snake. You know, there's nothing straight on our streets at all because of the snow," Brunet said.

Additionally, 48 centimetres of snow fell on Fredericton, 37 centimetres on Saint John and 21 centimetres in Moncton.

Igloo

Greenland's Ice Armageddon Comes To An End

Greaanland glacier
© unknown

One of the catastrophic results of global warming always cited by climate change alarmists is the melting of the ice sheets covering Greenland. Some even speculated that global warming had pushed Greenland past a "tipping point" into a scary new regime of wildly heightened ice loss and rapidly rising in sea levels. Now, from the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, comes word that Greenland's Ice Armageddon has been called off.

In the late 1990s, streams of ice flowing into the sea from the great Greenland ice sheet had begun speeding up. As the glacial ice faces receded global warming proponents pointed to the shrinking ice cap as proof that catastrophe lay just around the corner. But then came reports of a broad slowdown from a survey of glacier conditions across southeastern Greenland. Researchers reported in 2007 that two of the area's major outlet glaciers - Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq - had slowed significantly by the summer of 2006. Then at the 2009 AGU meeting, glaciologist Tavi Murray and ten of her colleagues from Swansea University in the United Kingdom reported the results from their 2007 and 2008 surveys.
Greenland glacier
© Ian HowatHelheim Glacier's flow to the sea sped up in 2005, as evidenced by the 5-kilometer retreat of its leading edge, but by 2006 it had slowed back down.

"It has come to an end," Murray said during a session at the meeting. "There seems to have been a synchronous switch-off " of the speed-up, she said. Based on the shape and appearance of the 14 largest outlet glaciers in southeast Greenland, outlet glacier flows have returned to the levels of 2000 nearly everywhere. "There's a pattern of speeding up to maximum velocity and then slowing down since 2005," Murray reported. "It's amazing; they sped up and slowed down together. They're not in runaway acceleration."