Earth ChangesS


Mobile phones used to call owls

A professor has taken to ringing owls on his mobile phone. What is most remarkable is that they return his calls in a project that could revolutionise surveys of wild bird populations.

Great horned owl: The study is sticking with owls because calls at night are cheaper


How Snakes Survive Starvation

Starving snakes employ novel survival strategies not seen before in vertebrates, according to research conducted by a University of Arkansas biologist. These findings could be used in conservation strategies to determine the health of snake populations.

"These animals take energy reduction to a whole new level," said Marshall McCue, a graduate student in biological sciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. He reported his findings in the journal Zoology.

Arrow Down

Low oxygen in coastal waters impairs fish reproduction

Low oxygen levels in coastal waters interfere with fish reproduction by disrupting the fishes' hormones, a marine scientist from The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute has found.

Incidents of seasonal low levels of oxygen, known as hypoxia, have increased dramatically in coastal waters throughout the world over the past few decades, largely as a result of increased run-off from human agricultural and industrial activities. Hypoxia's long-term impact on marine animal populations is unknown.

Life Preserver

Will Baikal Become Ocean

On the summer's last Sunday, Russia is celebrating the Day of Lake Baikal. This tradition was started in 1999 by the public organization Baikal Environmental Wave. By that time, it was already a UNESCO World Heritage site as a masterpiece of nature and the global strategic freshwater resource. Baikal is flanked by the Republic of Buryatia, the Irkutsk and Chita regions, where celebrations of its holiday are particularly glamorous.

Usually, lakes disappear from the face of the Earth in 10,000-15,000 years because of sediments. But Lake Baikal, which emerged on a tectonic crack 25 million years ago, does not reveal a single sign of ageing. Baikal has passed the test of evolution, which prompted scientists to think that it is not simply a lake, but an embryo of an ocean. Baikal shores are moving apart at a speed of two centimeters a year, while its depth reaches 1,620 meters. It is possible that in the future Baikal will become an ocean if its "career" is not ruined by people.


Moderate Earthquake hits SW Western Australia

©Geoscience Australia

Comment: A reader of SOTT sent the following report:
"Earthquakes are rare in this area and it was the first for both myself and my wife who was woken up by it. A number of people at work had also been woken up by the shaking and the noise of the quake. When I looked on the news this morning there was no mention of it and also on USGS no mention. The initial report on the geoscience Australia site was of a 5.2 magnitude quake, which happened at 11.33pm local time. Later it was downgraded to 4.6. We live probably 30-40km outside of the 113km 'felt radius'. "

Bizarro Earth

Winds Fan Wildfire Near Idaho Ski Lodge

KETCHUM, Idaho - Gusty winds pushed a wildfire closer to Sun Valley Resort's ski area on Tuesday, while hundreds more homes were ordered evacuated in the valley below.


Curiouser and curiouser: White waves of foam blanket Australian beaches

It was as if someone had poured tons of coffee and milk into the ocean, then switched on a giant blender.

©Icon Images
Boy in the bubble bath: Tom Woods, 12, emerges from the clouds of foam after deciding that surfing was not an option

Cloud Lightning

Floods cut off villages in Romania

Rain-swollen rivers overflowed Sunday in Romania, killing at least one man, cutting off around 2,000 people in several villages and forcing the evacuation of tourists.

A 15-year-old boy also died in the southern village of Visina after he was struck by lightning while grazing cattle in the village fields, local authorities were quoted by state news agency Rompres as saying.


August rainfall heaviest on record in northeastern Illinois

"Rainfall amounts in northeastern Illinois already have established this as the wettest August and wettest summer since regional records began in 1895," says Jim Angel, state climatologist, of the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "As of the morning of Aug. 24, rainfall for northeastern Illinois -- including those counties from Boone to LaSalle and eastward -- averaged 11.32 inches, 8.10 inches above normal, and beating the 1987 record of 11.02 inches. Totals for June-August thus far in this area averaged 20.02 inches, 8.91 inches above normal, and beating the 1972 record of 19.26 inches.

Cloud Lightning

Why the Weather Went Mad in August on the Korean Peninsula

The weather has been fickle this month and will continue that way. It had been scorching for some time when on Monday the weather suddenly changed. Torrential downpours lasted 10 to 20 minutes in many regions including Seoul and Cheolwon, Gangwon Province, with rain stopping and starting repeatedly. The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) on Monday said similar showers with thunder and lightening are expected in Chungcheong Province and southern parts of Korea on Tuesday.

Two major reasons are cited for the unexpected weather changes. A hot and humid North Pacific anticyclone collided with cold air from China and that made air above Korean peninsular unstable, causing the fickle weather, the KMA said. Experts also pointed to an abnormal cloud belt that formed in the air above the Korean Peninsula.

Satellite picture of sky in East Asia by Japanese weather satellite NTSAT. The ordinary east-west cloud belt is seen in the picture taken on Aug. 27, while clouds are stretched north-south in the picture on Aug. 14.