Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Coral Reefs May Be Protected By Natural Ocean Thermostat

Natural processes may prevent oceans from warming beyond a certain point, helping protect some coral reefs from the impacts of climate change, new research finds. The study, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), finds evidence that an ocean "thermostat" appears to be helping to regulate sea-surface temperatures in a biologically diverse region of the western Pacific.

©UCAR, Credit: Illustration by Steve Deyo
The Western Pacific Warm Pool, which lies northeast of Australia, contains some of the warmest ocean waters in the world. Water temperatures in the warm pool have risen less than elsewhere in the tropics, which may explain why reefs there have experienced less coral bleaching.

Bizarro Earth

New Study Claims Global Warming Not Only Reason for Ice Shelf Collapse

Two scientists have claimed that climate change was not the only cause of the collapse of a 500bn tonne ice shelf in Antarctica six years ago.

Cloud Lightning

Central Brisbane flooded

Flooding has hit central Brisbane after a massive rainstorm this afternoon.
Police are warning motorists are advised to avoid areas of Fortitude Valley due to local flooding.


Tajikistan 'facing catastrophe'

Tajikistan is in the grip of emergency food shortages, the UN's World Food Programme is warning.

The deteriorating food situation is part of the energy crisis which hit the mountainous nation in the middle of its coldest winter for five decades.


Gibraltar Arc Active Faults Mapped To Prevent Earthquakes

Africa and Europe get about 4 mm closer every year in a northeast convergence direction. The exact position and geometry of the boundary between the African and Eurasian plates is unknown, but it is located near the Gibraltar Arc - an area of intense seismic activity which was not studied deeply until now.

A group of researchers from the Andalusian Institute for Earth Sciences (CSIC) and the Department of Geodynamics of the University of Granada (UGR) described for the first time the physical and mechanical properties of the uppermost part of the Earth's crust - to a depth of 30 km which is where the highest magnitude earthquakes occur.

The researchers characterised a region of intense deformation in which the relative movement of blocks is caused by left-lateral strike-slip faults known as "the Transalboran fault system," which expands from Murcia (Spain) to Alhucemas (Morocco). The other significant fault of the Gibraltar Arc area, which crosses the Transalboran fault perpendicularly, is called Nerja-Yusuf and goes from Malaga (Spain) to the Algerian coast.

Cloud Lightning

Tornado-hit US residents mop up, grateful to have survived

Residents of Atkins, Arkansas were thankful to be alive Thursday as they began a huge clean-up operation after a band of tornados ripped across southern states, killing 55 people.

"The neighbors were on their porch, they said they saw the house going up in the air and explode," said farmer Clay Dixon, 43, in a part of the town which was razed by the tornado.

"I'm just glad I'm still alive," he said, surveying the damage left by the deadly storms here in which a couple and their 11-year-old daughter died.

Dozens of tornadoes sliced across the region late Tuesday and early Wednesday, leaving a trail of destruction in five states and deaths in four, in what US media called the deadliest US tornado outbreak in two decades.

Cloud Lightning

Baby a sign of hope in devastated South

The muddy field was littered with debris after a wave of violent storms: Living room couches, strollers, children's toys. So when two rescuers came upon a baby, they thought he was a doll. Then he moved. "We grabbed hold of his neck (to take a pulse) and he took a breath of air and started crying," said David Harmon, a firefighter from a nearby county who was combing the field for tornado victims.

©Associated Press
Kyson Stowell, 11 months, is shown in a hospital in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008. Kyson was found in a field, about a hundred yards away from a house, after a severe storm went through Castalian Springs, Tenn., Tuesday, Feb. 5. His mother, Kerri Stowell, was killed.


Baboon Dads Have Surprising Influence On Daughters' Fitness

Polygamous baboon fathers get more grandchildren if they spend a little time with their children during their juvenile years, according to research directed by scientists at Duke and Princeton universities.

The findings, in well-studied social groupings of yellow baboons living at the foot of Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro, were unexpected in "multi-male" animal societies where both genders have multiple partners and mature males were thought to focus their energies almost solely on mating.

©Susan Alberts
Baboon family mingles at Kenyan study site.

Heart - Black

Japanese whaling pictures 'sick': Australian minister

Photographs of a mother whale and her calf being dragged on board a Japanese ship after being harpooned in Antarctic waters have been described as sickening by Australia's environment minister.

The pictures, plastered over front pages and shown on television here Thursday, were taken from an Australian customs vessel tracking the whalers to gather evidence for possible legal action to stop the annual slaughter.

"I guess when I saw the photos I just felt a bit of a sick feeling as well as a sense of sadness," Environment Minister Peter Garrett told Nine Network television.

"It's very disappointing. It's distressing when you think that it can take up to 15 minutes after a harpoon actually hits a whale for the whale to die.


Ecuador volcano blows its top, forces 1,450 from homes

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano exploded into action Wednesday, spewing red-hot lava, rocks and a 10-kilometer (six-mile) high plume of ash that forced 1,450 people from their homes, officials said.

"The eruption is going on right now and continues to generate pyroclastic flows" of red-hot gas, ash and rocks down the volcano's western flank, Geophysical Institute director Hugo Yepez told reporters.

The 5,029-meter (16,500-foot) mountain, 135 kilometers (84 miles) south of the capital Quito, began erupting with a series of loud explosions in the pre-dawn hours, waking more than 20,000 people living in 10 towns and villages in its surroundings.