Earth ChangesS


Presumed Extinct Javan Elephants May Have Been Found Again - In Borneo

The Borneo pygmy elephant may not be native to Borneo after all. Instead, the population could be the last survivors of the Javan elephant race - accidentally saved from extinction by the Sultan of Sulu centuries ago, a new publication suggests.

The origins of the pygmy elephants, found in a range extending from the north-east of the island into the Heart of Borneo, have long been shrouded in mystery. Their looks and behaviour differ from other Asian elephants and scientists have questioned why they never dispersed to other parts of the island.

Pygmy elephant
©Jan Vertefeuille
Pygmy elephant with radio collar.

Better Earth

Ice Sheet 'Plumbing System' Found: Lakes Of Meltwater Can Crack Greenland's Ice And Contribute To Faster Ice Sheet Flow

Researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the University of Washington (UW) have for the first time documented the sudden and complete drainage of a lake of meltwater from the top of the Greenland ice sheet to its base.

From those observations, scientists have uncovered a plumbing system for the ice sheet, where meltwater can penetrate thick, cold ice and accelerate some of the large-scale summer movements of the ice sheet.

WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das
©Ian Joughin, UW Polar Science Center
WHOI glaciologist Sarah Das stands in front of a block of ice that was raised up 6 meters by the sudden drainage of a meltwater lake in Greenland.

Bizarro Earth

Mercury In River Moves Into Terrestrial Food Chain Through Spiders Fed To Baby Birds

Songbirds feeding near the contaminated South River are showing high levels of mercury, even though they aren't eating food from the river itself, according to a paper published by William and Mary researchers in the journal Science.

somg birds
© iStockphoto/Ronnie Wilson
Pollutant - mercury-laden spiders are eaten by birds, and also fed by parent birds to their nestlings.

Cloud Lightning

New Zealand: Police have released the name of a man killed by lightning in Northland on Tuesday

Roger Francis McGill, 61, of Kaukapakapa, was riding with the Northland Hunt on a farm near Dargaville when struck by a bolt of lightning during a violent electrical storm. He died instantly.

Cloud Lightning

Myths and facts about lightning

Myth: If it isn't raining, there is no danger from lightning.

Fact: Lightning often strikes away from heavy rainfall. It may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Better Earth

Jet Streams Are Shifting And May Alter Paths Of Storms And Hurricanes

The Earth's jet streams, the high-altitude bands of fast winds that strongly influence the paths of storms and other weather systems, are shifting--possibly in response to global warming. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution determined that over a 23-year span from 1979 to 2001 the jet streams in both hemispheres have risen in altitude and shifted toward the poles. The jet stream in the northern hemisphere has also weakened. These changes fit the predictions of global warming models and have implications for the frequency and intensity of future storms, including hurricanes.

Hurricane Andrew
Hurricane Andrew. Storm paths in North America are likely to shift northward as a result of the jet stream changes. Hurricanes, whose development tends to be inhibited by jet streams, may become more powerful and more frequent as the jet streams move away from the sub-tropical zones where hurricanes are born.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude-5.7 Quake Rocks Coast of Honshu, Japan, USGS Says

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 rocked the northwest coast of the Japanese island of Honshu today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The quake, recorded at 4:19 a.m. local time, was 147 kilometers (91 miles) deep, the agency said. Its epicenter was 372 kilometers north of Tokyo, and about 81 kilometers south of Akita.


3 die in Colorado wildfires; storm could aid firefighters

Colorado fire
©AP Photo/Pueblo Chieftain, Chris McLean
Farm structures, fence, trees and brush go up in flames on rural property near Ordway, Colo., on Tuesday, April 15, 2008. What started as a grass fire southeast of the small town in southeastern Colorado quickly grew into a massive blaze as high winds fueled flames and destroyed houses and agricultural ground.

Firefighters were hoping rain and snow Wednesday would help them quell blazes that scorched thousands of acres, forced hundreds of residents to evacuate and left three people dead.


Seven killed in NZ flash flood

Six teenagers and a teacher have been killed in a flash flood on a river in New Zealand. The river level had risen sharply in half an hour, sweeping some of them downstream through a gorge.

A group of 12 students and teachers were on an outdoor leadership course when they were hit by floodwaters late yesterday in the Mangetepopo Gorge, in an isolated area near the centre of New Zealand's North Island.


Mediterranean tsunami warning system set for 2011

Vienna -- Scientists are developing a tsunami warning system for the Mediterranean region which they said on Wednesday should be ready in 2011 and could save thousands of lives.