Earth ChangesS

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Six die in Japan record heat wave

Japan sizzled through its hottest day on record, as a heat wave claimed at least six lives across the country and spurred fears of an electricity shortage.

The mercury hit 40.9 degrees Celsius (105.62 degrees Fahrenheit) in the western city of Tajimi, breaking a previous national record of 40.8 degrees Celsius set in 1933, according to the Meteorological Agency.

Bizarro Earth

Powerful Earthquake Strikes Peru, over 70 dead

LIMA, Peru - A powerful earthquake shook Peru's coast near the capital on Wednesday, toppling some houses in Lima and causing alarmed residents to flee into the street for safety. A tsunami warning was issued for South America's Pacific coast based on the strength of the quake.


Cloud Lightning

Tropical Storm Erin Heads for Texas

Tropical Storm Erin formed Wednesday in the Gulf of Mexico and headed toward Texas, threatening to bring downpours to a state that already has had one of its rainiest summers on record.

Gov. Rick Perry ordered emergency vehicles and personnel, including National Guard troops, to the Harlingen and Corpus Christi areas.

NOAA satellite imagery shows Tropical Storm Erin intensifying Wednesday morning in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Because storms have saturated much of our state this summer, many communities in this storm's projected path are at high risk of dangerous flash flooding," Perry said in a statement.

Evil Rays

Southern California Long Overdue for Quake, Experts Say

It's only a matter of time before a massive earthquake shakes Southern California to its core, scientists say.

Though dormant for more than 300 years, the southern end of the San Andreas Fault is long overdue for a giant upheaval, according to experts.

And the results of such a quake would be devastating.

"A large earthquake would likely kill thousands and cause billions of dollars in damages," said Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Cloud Lightning

Sixty feared dead in landslide in Indian Himalayas

Around 60 people are thought to have died in the Indian Himalayas after a cloudburst caused a landslide that buried an entire village, officials said on Wednesday.

The army has been called in to look for bodies after Tuesday night's cloudburst in Dharla village in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh. But heavy rain was hampering rescue work.


Magic Wand

Not so "mindless" after all: Ants tend to gravitate to what they do best, researchers show

The remarkable ability of ants and other social insects to divide the work in a colony is a result of many factors: genes, age, social interactions, even size or other physical attributes.

But might individual experience be involved as well? Might those who turn out to be good at a task end up specializing in that task, and those that aren't go on to something else?

©F. Ravary
Cerapachys biroi

These are questions that Fabien Ravary and Emmanuel Lecoutey of the University of Paris-North in Villetaneuse, France, and colleagues sought to answer. To do so, they chose an ant, Cerapachys biroi, that allowed them to focus on experience to the exclusion of everything else. These ants produce a new generation of workers all at once, so they are of precisely the same age and size and are raised under the same conditions.


Firms warned offsetting CO2 emissions does "more harm than good"

A leading scientist with the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has warned that "doing nothing is better than offsetting" on the grounds that there is a serious risk that the practice is leading to increased emissions.

Arrow Up

Deadly heat wave settles over South of the US

A heat wave continued to bake parts of the South on Tuesday, raising the number of heat-linked deaths in Tennessee to at least five and buckling roads in Mississippi.

The temperature in Memphis hit at least 100 degrees again Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of triple-digit highs, as hot air blanketed the south-central portion of the nation. Monday's top reading in the city was 105.


The mystery of Scotland's disappearing common seals

There have been no obvious signs of them washed up on the shore; no evidence that disease or human hand is behind a dramatic reduction in numbers of the sea mammal. But a routine survey has delivered the baffling news that 5,000 common seals have disappeared from the shores of Orkney and Shetland.


At least 14 killed by floods overnight in north Indian region

At least 14 people died Monday night in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh as monsoon floods continued to devastate the region, local radio said.

About 30 people have been killed in the province over the past three days in ongoing torrential rains and landslides, which have destroyed buildings, roads and rail lines, and disrupted water and power supplies.