Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Erosion of Alaska's north coast speeding up

The speed of coastal erosion on Alaska's far northern coast has doubled over the past 50 years and coastal cliffs saturated with melting permafrost have crumbled into the sea as the world's climate has warmed, scientists report.

©USGS/Gary D. Clow
A cliff collapses into the Beaufort Sea on Alaska's north coast, as the permafrost melts and no longer holds that earth solid.

Using evidence from satellite observations and aerial photographs, two geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded that pack ice shrinking rapidly over the Beaufort Sea has probably caused the waves to surge more powerfully against the weakened cliffs.

Red Flag

Alarm over high number of sea-bird deaths

Hundreds of emaciated seabirds have washed up dead along the south-eastern coast of America, alarming scientists who fear changes in the ocean could have affected the fish that the birds normally eat.

More than a thousand shearwaters, large gull-like birds that spend most of their lives far out to sea, have been found dead over the past two weeks on beaches stretching from the Bahamas to the Carolinas, say wildlife biologists.


Curious creature caught off Keahole Point

It's a squid, it's an octopus, it's ... a mystery from the deep.

What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.

The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab.

"When we first saw it, I was really delighted because it was new and alive," said Jan War, operations manager at NELHA. "I've never seen anything like that."


Western U.S. roasts: 103 ... 116 ... 125. "As far as we see, ... no relief."

Sweltering residents across the West headed for lakes and rivers yesterday, seeking relief from triple-digit temperatures expected to set records through at least today.

Cloud Lightning

Dozens die as landslide swallows bus in Mexico

DELAYED RESPONSE: President Felipe Calderon sent in the army and interior ministry to help, but police kept locals from digging for the bus for several hours

Comment: because... the lives of these people were unimportant?!

As many as 60 people were feared to have died yesterday after a landslide swallowed a bus in Puebla state in central Mexico.

Cloud Lightning

Texas Braces for Still More Rain, Floods

OKLAHOMA CITY - Residents in Texas endured more rain and braced for more flood damage Thursday while floodwaters slowly subsided in parts of Oklahoma and Kansas.

An estimated 1,000 homes in Texas have already been severely damaged or destroyed by the widespread flooding since late May. The slightest additional rainfall could cause flash flooding where rivers, lakes and reservoirs are already full to the brim.


Locust attack coming to India, Pakistan

A locust warning issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations Organisation has asked India and Pakistan to take immediate steps to safeguard their crops.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: State of emergency declared after tornadoes ravage North

A State of Emergecy has been declared in Taranaki after a swarm of tornadoes hit the area, as reports of damage flooded in, and the Metservice predicting more twisters across the country.

Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan of New Plymouth police said that at 5.30pm during an electrical storm tornados hit the in Oakura, Egmont Village, Inglewood and the Waitara area.

A Civil Defence spokesman said at least six tornados hit the region.

©Trevor Read. Taranaki Daily News
RIPPED APART: Firefighters look at the roof that was torn off Placemakers in New Plymouth by a tornado.

Magic Wand

Research ends debate over benefits of butterfly defenses

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have furthered understanding of the relationship between predator and prey in an experiment designed to understand butterfly defence mechanisms

Researchers observed the behaviour of Great-tits foraging for artificial prey to understand more clearly how a species evolves to protect themselves from predators.

Insects, such as butterflies, have bright contrasting colour patterns that indicate to predators that they are not likely to be palatable. In order to gain greater protection from predators, however, some butterflies evolve to imitate the warning signals of a more highly defended species - a phenomenon known as mimicry. Scientists at Liverpool, in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, tested which species of butterfly benefits the most from this technique.

Magic Wand

Chickens also orientate themselves by the Earth's magnetic field

40 years ago, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wiltschko was the first to prove that migrating robins use the Earth's magnetic field to direct themselves during migration. Their magnetic sensor showed them the course of the field lines of the Earth's magnetic field. This produces an inclination compass that reacts to the inclination of the Earth's magnetic field to the surface of the Earth, thus distinguishing between "pole-wards" (the side on which the field lines incline downwards) and "equator-wards" (the side on which they incline upwards). The inbuilt compass is additionally finely tuned to the field strength of the Earth's local magnetic field, but can also be flexibly adapted to other field strengths that the birds encounter in the course of migration. Since that time a compass of this kind has been found in more than 20 species of birds, the majority of them being those songbirds that undertake annual migration. An international working group under the direction of Wolfgang und Roswitha Wiltschko of Frankfurt University has now succeeded in demonstrating the presence of a magnetic sense of direction in domestic chickens as well.