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Is The Cure In The Blood For Bird Flu

Bird Flu Report
Blood plasma transfusions could be an effective form of second-line defense.
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 30, 2006
The secret to curing those infected with avian influenza may lie in the blood of those who have survived the disease, new research shows. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, antibodies from those who have survived bird flu could be used in blood plasma transfusions to help those trying to fight the disease.
Blood plasma transfusions were used by doctors during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, and it is thought that the same technique could be used to supplement the use of vaccines or Tamiflu and other anti-virals in the event of an avian-influenza pandemic.
U.S. military and biotech researchers examined papers on blood plasma transfusions written between 1918 and 1925 and found that influenza-influenced pneumonia sufferers who were given blood plasma transfusions were 21 percent more likely to survive than those who were not. That figure jumped to 41 percent if the transfusion was administered in the first three days of infection.
Sixteen percent of those given the transfusions died, compared with 37 percent of those who were not.
It is not suggested that the use of blood plasma transfusions could replace anti-viral medication; in developing countries, however, where access to vaccines and anti-virals is limited, blood plasma transfusions could be an effective form of second-line defense.

Caribbean 'faces stormier future'

Earth News: Climate Change
Aug, 2006
Latin America and the Caribbean face a greater risk of more natural disasters because of environmental degradation and climate change, campaigners warn.
A report by a coalition of environment and aid groups said the region's weather was becoming less predictable and often more extreme.
Evidence showed many areas were more vulnerable because depleted ecosystems were struggling to adapt, they argued.
The groups said efforts to end poverty were being undermined as a result.
The report, Up in Smoke? Latin America and the Caribbean, presented evidence it said showed that the livelihoods of millions of people in the region were at risk, including:
*Increased storm intensity - the 2005 hurricane season was "one of the most active and destructive in history"
*Water shortages - changes to glacier melt in the Andes were affecting river flows and threatening water supplies, leading to a greater risk of disputes
*Illegal logging and deforestation - linked to increased carbon emissions, and leaves area prone to a greater risk of flooding
The report's author, Andrew Simms, from the New Economics Foundation (Nef), said the findings highlighted how climate change was having an impact on global efforts to eradicate poverty.

Newsletter:Preparing for the Next Pandemic

Skywatch Announcement
Aug 30, 2006
Dating back to antiquity, influenza pandemics have posed the greatest threat of a worldwide calamity caused by infectious disease. Over the past 300 years, ten influenza pandemics have occurred among humans. The most recent came in 1957-58 and 1968-69, and although several tens of thousands of Americans died in each one, these were considered mild compared to others. The 1918-19 pandemic was not. According to recent analysis, it killed 50 to 100 million people globally. Today, with a population of 6.5 billion, more than three times that of 1918, even a "mild" pandemic could kill many millions of people.

The Skywatch weekly newsletter 'Preparing for the Next Pandemic', has been emailed to subscribers and is available at the newsletter archives.

Viewers can subscribe to the Skywatch Newletter Here

The Skywatch Newsletter is provided to viewers and subscribers of the Great Red Comet and Earth Frenzy Radio blogs

Climate change + human behavior = ?

Earth & Sky, on the relationship between the scientific predictions of future climate change
Aug 30, 2006 Radio Series: Climate Change


Interview: Can we steer the course of our changing climate? Scott Doney says we've already committed to some change.

The global business of battling climate change

Published on Page A13 of the August 25, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
IT IS a fact that humans have contributed significantly to the problem of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) emanating from various human activities, like power generation, agriculture and waste disposal, have been proven to accelerate the warming of the earth's surface. A rapid change in the earth's temperatures can lead toward extreme weather conditions and bring about changes that can affect every facet of human life, much like those that we are currently seeing today through the various weather-related calamities and disasters.
Only a global solution can address a global problem. Many nations today are involved in the global business of generating, selling and buying "carbon" credits. Carbon credits are financial instruments that represent a quantified reduction of GHG emissions resulting from the implementation of zero or low-GHG emission projects.
The emergence of carbon markets is an offshoot of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol, which came into force in February 2005, creates legally binding commitments for 38 industrialized countries and 11 transitional economies to bring down their emissions collectively 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels. The protocol also recognizes that reducing global GHG emissions should be done by using flexible mechanisms such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that lower the global costs of climate change mitigation.


Ocean Noise Pollution
A new study that compares
recent underwater
noise levels with data
gathered by the U.S.
Navy in the 1960s shows that the
world’s oceans have become louder
in the last 40 years. Researchers from
the San Diego-based Scripps Institute
of Oceanography say there has been
a tenfold increase in man-made sound
below the ocean surface since the
1960s. Their study shows noise levels
in the North Pacific during 2003
and 2004 were 10 to 12 decibels
higher than in 1964 through 1966.
Most of the added noise is attributed
to increased ocean shipping, which
has more than doubled in the past 38
years. The Scripps report says if the
increased noise level is affecting
marine mammals, it may be appropriate
to divert shipping away from
areas where there are high concentrations
of whales and dolphins.

Spill Disasters
Four towns in the central
Philippines have been
declared under a state of
calamity due to the danger
posed by oil leaking from a
sunken tanker in Guimaras Strait. The
MT Solar 1 sank on Aug. 11 off Iloilo
province in bad weather, carrying
530,000 gallons of oil. It’s estimated
that 80,000 gallons have already
leaked into the sea, killing birds, fish
and other wildlife. Hundreds of people
have become ill, and one man has
died, due to exposure to the pollution,
according to health officials.
• Clean-up crews along the
Lebanese coast have recovered about
100 tons of oil that spilled into the
Mediterranean after Israel bombed a
power plant to the south of Beirut.
But Greenpeace released video that
shows large amounts of the congealed
fuel have sunk, blanketing the
sea floor.

Deadly Eruption
Ecuador’s Tungurahua
volcano erupted violently
before dawn on Aug. 17,
killing six people as it
buried five nearby villages with 8,000
tons of hot ash. Accompanying lava
flows set fire to several homes. Thousands
of head of livestock were killed
and crops were destroyed by the volcanic
debris. Vulcanologists said this
was the mountain’s most severe eruption
since it became active in 1999
after a long dormant period.

Tropical Cyclones
The fourth named storm in
the 2006 Atlantic hurricane
season formed to the
south of the Cape Verde
Islands. Tropical Storm Debby was
predicted to strengthen to near hurricane
force, but curve northward and
not threaten any land areas.
• Twelve members of an Air Force
research vessel were forced to take
shelter on Johnston Island just before
powerful Hurricane Ioke hit the U.S.
Pacific Wildlife Refuge and nuclear
material dump.
• Hurricanes Hector and Ileana
churned the eastern Pacific.

Residents in southwestern
parts of Russia’s Sakhalin
Island rushed into the
streets when a magnitude
6.1 quake struck, damaging water
supply systems in two villages.
• The strongest temblor to strike
the Scotia Sea, between South America
and Antarctica, since 1987 may
have frightened a few penguins,
according to seismologists.
• Earth movements were also felt
in metropolitan Tokyo, Taiwan, eastern
Papua New Guinea, northern
New Zealand, central Iran, Jamaica,
El Salvador, western Mexico and just
north of Los Angeles.

Ozone Recovery Delayed
The hole in Earth’s protective
ozone layer will
take 15 years longer to
recover than previously
predicted, according to the World
Meteorological Organization
(WMO). The U.N. agency predicts it
will take until 2065 instead of the earlier
estimate of 2050 for stratospheric
ozone to recover from decades of
chemical leaks from refrigerators, air
conditioners and other sources.
WHO believes that the amount of
ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons
in storage and still being produced
is higher than was previously
estimated. Most of those substances
are currently banned or are being
phased out under the 1989 Montreal
Protocol — one of the few successful
environmental treaties. The
depleted ozone layer has been blamed
for an increase in skin cancer.

Vulture Siege
The largest city in
Peru’s Amazon rain forest
has become besieged
by hundreds of vultures,
which forced the shutdown of the
community’s main link to the outside
world. The scavenger birds prompted
officials to close the Iquitos airport
due to frequent collisions between the
birds and aircraft. The airport authority
blames the vulture siege on city
officials, who have allowed the dump
for the city of 400,000 to expand to
near the runways. The birds have
flocked to the garbage in great numbers
during recent months. Peru’s
minister for commerce and tourism
described the situation at the popular
tourist destination as “surreal,” and
promised that the government would
soon take action.

Distributed by: UPS
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Planet Earth May Have 'Tilted' To Keep Its Balance

Image: True polar wander is different from the more familiar idea of "continental drift," which is the inchwise movement of individual continents relative to one another across the Earth's surface. Polar wander can tip the entire planet on its side at a rate of perhaps several meters per year, about 10 to 100 times as fast as the continents drift due to plate tectonics.

Princeton NJ (SPX) Aug 29, 2006
Imagine a shift in the Earth so profound that it could force our entire planet to spin on its side after a few million years, tilting it so far that Alaska would sit at the equator. Princeton scientists have now provided the first compelling evidence that this kind of major shift may have happened in our world's distant past.
By analyzing the magnetic composition of ancient sediments found in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, Princeton University's Adam Maloof has lent credence to a 140-year-old theory regarding the way the Earth might restore its own balance if an unequal distribution of weight ever developed in its interior or on its surface.
The theory, known as true polar wander, postulates that if an object of sufficient weight -- such as a supersized volcano -- ever formed far from the equator, the force of the planet's rotation would gradually pull the heavy object away from the axis the Earth spins around.
If the volcanoes, land and other masses that exist within the spinning Earth ever became sufficiently imbalanced, the planet would tilt and rotate itself until this extra weight was relocated to a point along the equator.
"The sediments we have recovered from Norway offer the first good evidence that a true polar wander event happened about 800 million years ago," said Maloof, an assistant professor of geosciences. "If we can find good corroborating evidence from other parts of the world as well, we will have a very good idea that our planet is capable of this sort of dramatic change."
Maloof's team, which includes researchers from Harvard University, the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Princeton, will publish their findings in the Geological Society of America Bulletin on Friday, Aug. 25.

North Atlantic And Arctic Ocean Freshening

Earth News: North Atlantic
Woods Hole MA (SPX)
Aug 25, 2006
A new analysis of 50 years of changes in freshwater inputs to the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic may help shed light on what's behind the recently observed freshening of the North Atlantic Ocean.
In a report, published in the August 25, 2006 issue of the journal, Science, MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) senior scientist Bruce J. Peterson and his colleagues describe a first-of-its-kind effort to create a big-picture view of hydrologic trends in the Arctic. Their analysis reveals that freshwater increases from Arctic Ocean sources appear to be highly linked to a fresher North Atlantic.
"The high-latitude freshwater cycle is one of the most sensitive barometers of the impact of changes in climate and broad-scale atmospheric dynamics because of the polar amplification of the global warming signal," says Peterson. "It's easiest to measure these changes in the Arctic and the better we understand this system, the sooner we will know what is happening to the global hydrologic cycle." (File photo: Satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean.)

"Surviving Katrina": One Year Later

Skywatch Public Announcement
From the Editor's desk
Aug 25, 2006
I have once again been invited by Crew Creative Advertising of Los Angeles, an affiliate of the Discovery Channel, to preview the Exclusive Anniversary Special "Surviving Katrina" which is scheduled for telecast on the Discovery Channel this Sunday August 27, 2006.
Included in the special are NEW dramatic documentary profiles, ENDURING stories of survival, and expert analysis of Hurricane Katrina. Skywatch will conduct a review of this documentary and will post an analysis to the Great Red Comet and Earth Frenzy Radio prior to the telecast.

The following is for press release:
(Pasadena, Calif.) – Survivors of one of the nation’s worst natural disasters open up about their experiences in SURVIVING KATRINA, a two-hour special premiering Sunday, August 27 at 9 PM ET/PT on the Discovery Channel. Emergency phone calls, never-before-seen home video from the Superdome, and analysis of the meteorological superpower combined with first-time heart-wrenching interviews and vivid reconstructions will shed new light on the dark days of August 2005 when a hurricane changed America.

Profiles of ordinary Americans who forged ahead through death-filled waters, mass confusion and devastation to save others and unite with loved ones provide a new face to the tragedy one year later. SURVIVING KATRINA covers the perfect storm of nature, science, politics and extreme human experience with a range of stories and interviews from all major aspects of the disaster, including Charity Hospital, the Convention Center and Superdome and with former FEMA director Michael Brown.

Viewers will meet a doctor who, forced to take matters literally into his own hands, performs open chest surgery on a patient without anesthesia and using only a flashlight, and the patient
who lives to thank him; a brother-and-sister team who make a harrowing road trip to rescue loved ones on their own; and a National Guardsman who took on surreal and horrific conditions in the Superdome. Survivors who watched their homes wash away and whose lives changed forever share with viewers the inspiration that kept them going and the unbridled joy they felt when finally reunited with families.

View Video Clip/FYI


Science Timeline


Survivor Profiles

SURVIVING KATRINA is produced for Discovery Channel by Brook Lapping Productions.

Dow Chemical is the proud sponsor of Surviving Katrina

©2006, Skywatch-Keep Looking to the skies-All Rights Reserved

UK 'could suffer Katrina-style flooding'

Aug 22, 2006
Experts today accused ministers of ignoring the lessons of Hurricane Katrina, warning that the kind of deluge that overwhelmed New Orleans a year ago could not be ruled out in Britain.
Although the UK was likely to be spared the effects of a category five hurricane, the experts said the possibility of flooding caused by storm surges, high tides and heavy rain was real and likely to increase due to the effects of climate change Click on Map to visit Geograph

Migration to coastal and flood plain areas, and projects such as the Thames Gateway development on low-lying land in the south-east, increased the risks and the need for adequate protection.
Yet cost-cutting at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is expected to lead to £15m being slashed from the Environment Agency's flood budget this year.
Areas most at risk of flooding included London and land around the Thames, Portsmouth, Cardiff, and Hull, where some 25,000 people live on a tidal flood plain. London was relatively well protected by the Thames Barrier, designed to withstand a one-in-1,000-year storm surge up to the year 2030.
But the experts, speaking at a briefing in London to mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, pointed out that flood defences which were expected to hold were breached in New Orleans and there was no guarantee that something similar could not happen in London. (photo above : Thames Barrier, London)

Invasive beetles destroying protected hardwood forests

Aug 24, 2006
The Japanese oak ambrosia beetle, a tiny, voracious critter that carries destructive bacteria, is spelling doom for Japan's hardwood forests, say experts.
When the bugs infest a tree, they secrete bacteria that eventually blocks the flow of water and sap. As a result, the tree dies.
Damage to hardwood forests, which make up one-third of forested areas nationwide, has spread rapidly in recent years, experts say.
In a government-protected forest in Kyoto's Higashiyama district, about 230 oak trees had died or were nearly dead as of August a year ago.
All had hundreds of 2-millimeter holes bored into the bark. (photo above: Environmental forest of Japan.)

Santorini Eruption Much Larger Than Originally Believed

Photo: Greece's Santorini archipelago is seen here in a 2000 satellite image, with the largest island, Thera, on the right. The ancient eruption of Santorini—once a single island—released so much magma that it caused the volcano's center to collapse.

August 23, 2006
A volcanic eruption that may have inspired the myth of Atlantis was up to twice as large as previously believed, according to an international team of scientists.

The eruption occurred 3,600 years ago on the Santorini archipelago, whose largest island is Thera. Santorini is located in the Aegean Sea about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of modern-day Greece (map of Greece).

The massive explosion may have destroyed the Minoan civilization based on nearby Crete.
Writing in this week's issue of the journal Eos, a team of Greek and U.S. researchers estimate that the volcano released 14 cubic miles (60 cubic kilometers) of magma—six times more than the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatau (Krakatoa).
Only one eruption in human history is believed to have been larger: an 1815 explosion of Tambora, in Indonesia, which released 24 cubic miles (100 cubic kilometers) of magma.


Climate Refugees
The United States has
become the first country in
the world to experience a
large migration of people
fleeing the effects of global warming,
according to a report by a U.S. world
affairs study group. Many had
expected the first big shifts in population
due to climate change to come
from the South Pacific, where many
island nations are facing the threat of
rising sea levels. But the Earth Policy
Institute warns that the first massive
migration of climate refugees has
been that of people moving away
from the U.S. Gulf Coast. Institute
president Lester Brown said that the
approximately quarter of a million
people who fled the devastation of
Hurricane Katrina last year, and will
not return, should now be considered
“refugees.” The report warns that
“the flow of climate refugees to date
numbers in the thousands, but if carbon
dioxide emissions are not
reduced, it could one day number in
the millions.”

Ethiopian Inundations
Another round of deadly
flooding struck parts of
Ethiopia less than a week
after surging rivers killed
approximately 254 people and left
10,000 others homeless around the
eastern city of Dire Dawa. Boats and
helicopters were dispatched to the
south of the country, where the Omo
River killed at least 364 people when
it overflowed its banks following
heavy downpours. Authorities said
they feared several hundred more
may have drowned along the river in
the remote Southern Nations, Nationalities
and People’s states. The flood
disaster was spreading across many
parts of the country late in the week,
and major dams were approaching
the breaking point. The nationwide
death toll was approximately 900.

Tropical Cyclones
The strongest typhoon to
strike China since the formation
of the communist
government more than 50
years ago killed at least 319 people in
four provinces. Tens of thousands of
people were left homeless after
Typhoon Saomai destroyed 50,000
dwellings in Fujian, Zhejiang and
Jiangxi provinces.
• Japan suffered a second week of
torrential rainfall from passing disturbances
as tropical storms Sonamu
and Wukong moved over eastern and
southern parts of the country.
• Hurricane Hector churned the
Pacific, west of Mexico.

African Blizzards
A second week of heavy
snowfall across many
parts of South Africa and
Lesotho isolated communities,
closed roads and threatened to
bring roofs crashing in. The national
SABC broadcaster reported that three
people were found dead after they
became trapped in snow on Mount
Fletcher, in Eastern Cape province.
Road crews struggled to clear highways
of freak snow that accumulated
across the province. On many
stretches of roadway, the snow had
compacted into a treacherous layer of
black ice. This same area of southern
Africa has suffered from a bitter
Antarctic chill for most of August.

Wildfires Doused
Heavy rain spread across
areas of northwestern
Spain and northern Portugal
where weeks of arsonsparked
wildfires have burned an area
the size of New York City. The
Atlantic cold front responsible for the
downpours also dropped temperatures
that had soared to 104 degrees
Fahrenheit this month to more temperate
readings in the 70s. The arrival
of the first significant rainfall in the
region for months helped 7,000 firefighters
finally extinguish most of the
blazes, or at least contain the few that
were still burning.

A powerful earthquake
centered in western Mexico
rocked buildings in the
capital of Mexico City on
Aug. 11, prompting workers and residents
there to evacuate tall buildings.
No significant damage was reported
from the magnitude 5.9 quake.
• Earth movements were felt in
other parts of western Mexico, southern
Oklahoma, western Ohio, Malta,
Athens, the India-Bangladesh border
area, northwest Sumatra, Indonesia’s
Banda Sea, Taiwan, the central
Philippines and in central and northern
parts of New Zealand.

Ugly Sheep Wanted
Scientists in Australia are
asking farmers in that
country to report any ugly
sheep that they might find
among their flocks. The South Australian
Research and Development
Institute (SARDI) says its “Xtreme
Sheep” campaign is part of an effort
to improve the quality of the country’s
wool. “It might seem a paradox
that ugly wool may be good, but when
looking through a genetic profile, the
random genetic mistakes act like a
flag, speeding up our search to find
genes critical to wool formation and
synthesis,” project leader Simon
Bawden told reporters. SARDI is asking
farmers with unsightly lambs that
have uneven wool, bald patches,
wrinkled skin and other irregularities
to send them to the institute for examination
instead of culling them. Free
transportation will be provided.

Distributed by: UPS
Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

Rising sea forces islanders to relocate

As sea level rises, natural island defenses against storm surges -- such as beaches, coral reefs and mangroves -- become less effective. Rising seas can also inundate crop fields with salt water. Standing water can also promote diseases such as malaria.Tegua is the northernmost island in a chain of islands that make up the country of Vanuatu. These islands are east of Australia in the south Pacific. Vanuatu's population is about 205,000. The settlement on Tegua that was relocated was originally called Lateu. In it's new location, it's called Lirak.Taito Nakalevu says the Tegua islanders couldn't move until they had a source of fresh water. He told Earth and Sky, "Their only water source is basically a tank that was supplied by the government way back in the '70s or '80s. It's a small water tank. The whole island doesn't have a spring or creek. There is no above ground water source. Basically, they have to harness water during rain and capture it."The Canadian government paid for a new rainwater harvesting and storing system to be built farther inland. The islanders then began moving inland in August, 2005.Nakalevu says that the climate change community has focused on projecting how Earth's climate might change and what impacts that might have on people and the natural world."We have pioneered an approach that is quite different," he said. "We've basically spun the whole thing around and we've started from the bottom and looked at it from another angle and say, okay, let's look at vulnerability and adaptation. What are some of the actual vulnerabilities that people are facing at the community level? So in a sense, the starting point of our work is basically the community -- their views and aspirations and the experiences they were facing over the years in relation to the changes in climate and how it has impacted their lives." (photo above: Coastal Vanuatu is flooded during a cyclone in 2004. (Photo courtesy Emalus Campus Library)

Earth Heats Up as Global Warming Debate Rages

By David McAlary Washington, DC
08 August 2006
Click the link to engage the video archive

Searing summer temperatures are shattering records across much of the northern hemisphere. Some European nuclear power plants have cut output because river water used to cool reactors is too warm. Forest fires are breaking out in Europe and the United States. Are these signs of global warming?
Scientists say no single weather event can be attributed to warming. But they say those incidents are consistent with it and may worsen unless humans stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Skeptics argue that global warming is part of the natural climate cycle. They say whatever humans contribute to it will not cause it to be irreversible. VOA's David McAlary examines the issues.
In the past year, several scientific reports have alerted the world to increasing glacier melting in Alaska, Greenland, and Antarctica, reducing habitat for polar bears and other forms of life.
The habitat for beetles that ravage trees has expanded from the normally warm U.S. southwest into the evergreen forests of British Columbia.
Warmer tropical waters seem to be bleaching coral reefs.
The general scientific view is that these changes are caused by a heat-trapping blanket of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere emitted by coal, natural gas, and gasoline burning

Native Alaskans Feel the Heat of Global Warming

Anchorage, Alaska10 August 2006

Native Alaskans have seen many changes in the last century. Many have been converted by Christian missionaries. Their hand-made canoes have been replaced by motorboats. And their meager existence has been supplemented by government assistance. Despite these outside influences, Alaskans have been able to maintain reliance on their traditional way of life. But that could soon change. As VOA's Brian Padden reports, conditions attributed to global warming are now threatening the environment itself.
Mike Williams has spent much of his life on the Kushokwim River in the western region of sub-arctic Alaska. He says rising temperatures during the last decade have been melting the permafrost layer of Earth, causing increased erosion. Bethel, Alaska and other towns have had to constantly reinforce their sea walls.
"Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on this erosion control program for Bethel, Alaska."
Nipaciak and other smaller villages had to be totally relocated. Mr. Williams points out where the villages once stood. "This used to be a village here and because of the erosion, it had wiped it out and people are moving way back."
Williams is a leader of the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council, which represents 229 native Alaskan tribes. He is a Yupiaq Eskimo, a tribe of native Alaskans who have survived here on the outskirts of the tundra for thousands of years. Most still rely on hunting and fishing done in the summer months to sustain them during the winter freeze.

Study Breaks Ice On Ancient Arctic Thaw

Houston TX (SPX) Aug 17, 2006
The diminution of these alternate explanations strongly suggests that an enormous amount of carbon entered the atmosphere at the beginning of the PETM, either from volcanic eruptions or the melting of oceanic gas hydrates.
A new analysis of ocean-floor sediments collected near the North Pole finds that the Arctic was extremely warm, unusually wet and ice-free the last time massive amounts of greenhouse gases were released into the Earth's atmosphere - a prehistoric period 55 million years ago. The findings appear in the Aug. 10 issue of Nature.
Current climatic evidence and computer models suggest the modern Arctic is rapidly warming, gaining precipitation and becoming ice-free because of carbon emissions. Scientists have been keen to unlock the mysteries of the Arctic when this last happened - an interval known as the Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM.
Researchers have long known that a massive release of greenhouse gases, probably carbon dioxide or methane, occurred during the PETM. Surface temperatures also rose in many places by as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit in the relative geological instant of about 100,000 years.
Past analyses of seafloor sediments and sedimentary rocks worldwide have given scientists many clues about the PETM, but sediments from the Arctic remained elusive until 2004, when the $12.5 million Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) recovered the first deep sediments from beneath the ice near the North Pole.
"Building a picture of ancient climatic events is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, and what ACEX allowed us to do was fill in a blank section of the PETM picture," said Gerald Dickens, a Rice University geochemist and study co-author who conducted the initial, shipboard chemical analyses of all the ACEX core samples.

White House: Lesser Bird Flu May Be Here

Avian Flu Update: U.S.
Aug 14, 2006
(AP) Scientists have discovered possible bird flu in two wild swans on the shore of Lake Erie _ but it does not appear to be the much-feared Asian strain that has ravaged poultry and killed at least 138 people elsewhere in the world.It will take up to two weeks to confirm whether the seemingly healthy wild mute swans in Michigan really harbored the H5N1 virus or not.On Monday, the Agriculture Department declared that initial testing had ruled out the so-called highly pathogenic version of H5N1 _ but that they could have a relatively harmless, low-grade H5N1 strain instead.That's the suspicion, making Monday's announcement almost a practice run for the day the more worrisome Asian strain actually arrives."This is not the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that has spread through much of other parts of the world," said Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, adding, "We do not believe this virus represents a risk to human health."Monday's announcement was the first reported hit from a massive new program to test up to 100,000 wild birds in an effort to catch the deadly Asian H5N1 virus if it does wing its way to North America, something the government thinks could happen this year.

Related News
Michigan bird flu cases cited in Korea poultry ban
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea said Wednesday it was halting inspections of U.S. poultry imports as a precaution - effectively banning such products - after authorities discovered possible bird flu in two wild swans in the state of Michigan.
The South Korean Agriculture Ministry will lift the suspension if the virus is confirmed as a low-pathogenic form, said Oh Soon-min, an official of the ministry's animal health division.

Seabed dying in the Baltic Sea

HELSINKI, Aug 17 (AFP) Aug 17, 2006
An increasing lack of oxygen at the bottom of the Baltic Sea is causing animal and plant life to die, with parts of the Gulf of Finland seabed resembling a desert, a European study published on Thursday showed.
"The bottom fauna monitoring gave the worst results so far. An abundant and diversified bottom fauna was now found only at four observation sites of 47" in the Gulf of Finland, the Finnish Institute of Marine Research and the Finnish Environment Institute said.
Their study is the result of a project carried out by scientists from six EU countries (Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Latvia) in the north of the Baltic Sea aboard two oceanographic vessels.
"No less than 37 observation sites were entirely without bottom animals. The bottom fauna is a good indicator of the long-term status of the bottom and especially the changes in the oxygen regime," they said.
Lack of oxygen is a growing problem in the Baltic Sea.

Lightning Blows Up Tree, Damages 17 Homes In Florida

Miami (AFP) Aug 16, 2006
A lightning strike in the Florida city of Cape Coral caused a dead tree to explode in a massive blast that sent debris flying over a two-block radius and damaged 17 houses, the local fire department said Wednesday. "In 18 years with the fire department, I've never seen anything like that," Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Mikell told AFP.
He said the 12-meter (40-foot) pine tree was hit by lightning during a thunderstorm on Monday and exploded "almost like a bomb."
The tree had already been struck by lightning last year, apparently during a hurricane, causing decay that may have produced pockets of gases, said Mikell.
One person was lightly injured and treated on the spot, and 17 houses were damaged, "two to the point of being uninhabitable," said Mikell.
"Sections of the tree were found as far as 500 feet (150 meters) away. ... There was damage within two blocks of the location," he said.
Lightning kills more people in Florida than any other US state, with 85 deaths recorded in the 1995-2004 period.
"We see a lot of lightning damage. That's not unusual," said Mikell. "But I've never seen a blast effect like this."

Global warming 'will cause more forest fires, droughts and floods'

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 15 August 2006
Forest fires, droughts and floods are all likely to become more severe and more common if global warming heats the planet as seriously as some scientists predict.
A study of what may happen if global average temperatures rise by 3C or more over the next 200 years suggests that extreme weather events are going to be more frequent and more severe.
The study also warns that vegetation could lose its ability to be a net absorber of carbon dioxide, and instead become a net producer of greenhouse gases.
Marko Scholze, a climate scientist at Bristol University, said theresearch showed that if the global average temperature rose by more than 3C over the next 200 years, as widely predicted, there is a higher risk of extreme instances of forest fires or floods.
"We looked at these extreme events and what we found was that a once-in-a-hundred-year event can become a once-in-a-ten-year event by the end of the century," he said.
The study analysed 52 computer models of the global climate. Researchers found that as global temperatures rose, so did the risk of forest fires, droughts and flooding caused by the sudden runoff of heavy rainfall.
Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global temperatures are still likely to continue increasing because of the inherent inertia of the global climate system.


War Pollution
The World Wildlife Fund
(WWF) warned that
Lebanon and other parts
of the Middle East have
suffered severe environmental damage
due to weeks of conflict between
Israel and Hezbollah militia. The
group said that oil pollution in the
Mediterranean, which resulted from
Israel’s bombardment of the
Lebanese Jiyeh power station, had
reached “catastrophic proportions.”
Satellite images released by the U.N.
Environment Program clearly show
an expansive oil slick flowing northward
from the crippled power station
to the coast of Syria. WWF
spokesman Stephan Lutter told
reporters the spill is likely the largest
in Mediterranean history. Lutter
added that the slick threatens rare sea
turtles with extinction, as well as
endangering migratory birds and fish
stocks already decimated by overfishing.

Tropical Cyclones
The death toll from
Typhoon Prapiroon’s
sweep across southern
China rose to more than 80
as government officials said that the
storm also destroyed thousands of
homes in three provinces. Guangdong
province was the hardest hit
with a total of 54 deaths and more
than 7,000 homes destroyed, mainly
due to flash flooding.
• Typhoon Bopha lost force
rapidly as it passed over Taiwan’s
rough terrain. No significant damage
was reported.
• More than 1.3 million coastal
residents of China’s Fujian and Zhejiang
province were evacuated before
category-4 Typhoon Saomai roared
• Japan’s eastern coast was
drenched by passing Tropical Storm

Ethiopian Flood Disaster
Torrential rains that fell
over parts of Ethiopia
quickly brought two
rivers over their banks,
sweeping hundreds of people to their
death. Many were sleeping when the
flash floods struck. Rescue workers
rushed to find survivors around the
city of Dire Dawa, but hopes faded as
the receding waters revealed vehicles
and structures buried in mud. Flash
floods in recent years have swamped
large areas of eastern and southern
Ethiopia, displacing tens of thousands
of people and destroying what
crops they were able to plant between

Monsoon Tempest
Torrential monsoon
downpours across four
Indian states brought flash
floods that killed nearly
200 people and forced 4.5 million
others to flee their homes. Food and
medicine were being airlifted into the
stricken areas, and officials warned
residents living in low-lying areas not
already inundated to flee to higher
ground before surging water behind
dams was released. In neighboring
Pakistan’s Baluchistan province,
flash floods killed more than 140 people
and washed away houses, crops
and livestock around 30 villages.

Iberian Blazes
Firefighters in northwestern
Spain and northern
Portugal battled more than
120 wildfires, many of
which were intentionally set. Investigators
specialized in organized
crime were dispatched to look into
what Spain’s Environment Minister
Cristina Narbona called a “wave of
arson.” The Spanish military also
sent more than 1,200 soldiers to help
coordinate evacuations and to discourage

Volcano Evacuations
An eerie calm settled in
around the Philippines’
Mayon volcano shortly
after the military evacuated
nearly 40,000 people who live
around the mountain. Vulcanologists
had earlier warned that an explosive
eruption was imminent. The number
of volcanic tremors dropped from a
daily average of 109 to only 21 the
day after the mass evacuation ended.
President Gloria Arroyo cautioned
residents against returning to their
farms and homes until the government
says it is safe to do so.

A powerful earthquake in
western Argentina’s
Mendoza province produced
light damage to
buildings around the provincial capital
but caused no fatalities or injuries.
• Tremors were also felt in the
Colombia-Venezuela border region,
the Guatemala-El Salvador border
region, the northern Netherlands, the
Greek capital of Athens, southern
Albania, northern India, Bangladesh,
central Java and Vanuatu.

Jellyfish Explosion
Hot and dry weather
across many parts of the
Mediterranean this summer
have brought huge
swarms of jellyfish into popular
beaches from North Africa to Sicily
and Spain. Tens of thousands of holiday
swimmers have been stung so far
this season, forcing some Spanish
beaches to be closed at the height of
the summer vacation season. A survey
by the environmental group
Oceana found that more than 10 jellyfish
per square yard can be found in
some areas of the Spanish coastline.

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This weather is a liability

Aug 12, 2006
FOR sun-worshippers, soaring temperatures and sunny skies make it easier to accept the impact of global warming on the British climate. But for homeowners, the legacy of extreme weather could be more damaging than a bit of sunburn.
Households face an increasing risk of damage to their properties caused by subsidence, storm damage and flooding because of climate change, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Premiums for home insurance are soaring as new weather patterns take their toll. The most recent figures from the ABI show that the number of weather-related insurance claims doubled between 1998 and 2003 compared with the previous five years. The cost of claims has also been rising.
This trend is likely to continue, as the Met Office predicts warmer than average temperatures in the UK over the next three months.
Malcolm Tarling, of the ABI, says: “Insurers are not climatologists. They do not base their premiums on predictions of future risk from climate change; they consider historical patterns, and what is happening now.”
Churchill, the insurer, estimates that half of all UK properties will sustain damage at least once because of storms.

Village left with no water for first time in 300 years

Earth News: England
Aug 13, 2006
Residents in a tiny hamlet are praying for rain after the hot weather dried up their only running water supply for the first time in 300 years.
Fed-up householders in the hamlet of Ryecroft, near Bingley, have been washing in buckets and taking laundry to their friends after being left without running water for three weeks.Villagers had been well-served by an underground spring which had provided free, high-grade water since the early 1700s.But a combination of a dry winter and record-breaking summer heatwave has dried out the spring for the first time in centuries. Retired businessman John Moxon, 74, said the village might remain without running water until regular rain arrived – probably in the autumn."We are having to be philosophical about this. We have 21 households here with between 50 to 60 people who are all relying on friends and favours to wash themselves and do their laundry."Both Bradford Council and Yorkshire Water have been very good and have delivered supplies of bottled water to us. A local farmer, Julian Hartley, has also loaned us a water bowser filled with rainwater from which we are getting water to flush our toilets."When there has been a severe drought in the past there has been a reduction in the water available – but the spring has never run dry."It's amazing how much you take it for granted and the amount of water that you actually need to use throughout the day. It changes your life," said Mr Moxon."We are really concerned about how this happened, the weather is obviously a big problem if it is going to keep getting hotter. Also we are worried that nearby quarrying has something to do with it but the council are looking into that.

Drought worsens in southwest China as floods hit elsewhere

BEIJING, Aug 11 (AFP) Aug 11, 2006
Nearly seven million people in southwest China are in urgent need of drinking water due to a severe drought, state press said Friday, as other parts of the country suffered widespread flooding.
The months-long drought in Sichuan province had affected 37.6 million people, with 6.84 million residents desperately in need of drinking water, the China Daily said, citing provincial officials.
The drought had already killed 129 million head of livestock and was threatening the lives of another 8.5 million farm animals, the report said.
The worst hit area was the city of Suining in northern Sichuan, which received just 32.9 millimeters (1.31 inches) of rainfall from June 21 to July 31, the lowest since 1947, the newspaper said.
The amount of rainfall for Suining was just 25 percent of the normal figure for this time of year, it said, citing the West China Metropolis Daily.
In Suining's Shanxisi village, residents ran out of water on July 17 and were relying on emergency supplies provided by the local fire brigade, according to the report.
Cropland had also been destroyed, with 2.61 million hectares of farmland (6.44 million acres) ruined, causing losses of 4.85 billion yuan (606 million dollars), it said.

Before the ’04 Tsunami, an Earthquake So Violent It Even Shook Gravity

Image Above: GRAVITY'S RAINBOW Fluctuations in gravity occur across the planet. This map shows variances (less than one-thousandth percent of the Earth’s total gravity) detected by Grace.

Aug 8, 2006
The giant earthquake that set off a devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean in December 2004 disrupted the earth enough to change gravity and to deflect satellites passing hundreds of miles above.
Two identical satellites, collectively known as the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or Grace, travel one behind the other in a polar orbit separated by about 130 miles.
By recording small changes in the distance between them when their orbits are deflected, the satellites provide data used to calculate variations in the earth’s gravitational field.
In a report in the current issue of the journal Science, scientists at Ohio State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, report that in the aftermath of the magnitude 9.1 earthquake, the largest in four decades, Grace recorded a sudden drop in gravity near the quake’s epicenter off Sumatra.
The rupture raised thousands of square miles of the seafloor, reducing the density of rocks in the earth’s crust and diluting their gravitational pull. The data, combined with models of the earth’s interior, indicate that the density changes extend hundreds of miles.
“It really gives an insight of the earth’s interior down to the mantle area,” said Shin-Chan Han, an Ohio State research scientist and an author of the Science paper. It was the first time that the gravitational effect of an earthquake had been observed from space.
The gravity at the earth’s surface decreased by as much as about 0.0000015 percent, meaning that a 150-pound person would experience a weight loss of about one-25,000th of an ounce. In other places, where the force of the earthquake compressed rocks, gravity increased by a similar amount.
The force of gravity is changing in other areas of the earth, too. In Hudson Bay, Canada, which was crushed downward by the weight of ice during the last ice age, the ground is still rebounding upward. That change adds about one-400,000th of an ounce to the weight of a 150-pound person every year.

Atlanta's Urban Heat Alters Weather Patterns

Honolulu HI (SPX) Aug 08, 2006
Urban growth has transformed Atlanta's environment, creating a uniquely altered arena of weather. Because urban areas both generate and trap heat, a bubble or "urban heat island" forms around the city. The temperature in Atlanta is 5 to 8 degrees fahrenheit higher than outlying areas, and this excess heat produces increased rainfall and thunderstorms.
This finding was presented at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 24 by meteorologists Robert Bornstein and Qing Lu Lin from San Jose State University in California. Dale Quattrochi and Jeffrey Luvall of NASA's Global Hydrology Center lead this NASA-sponsored study .
The Atlanta Land-use Analysis: Temperature and Air-Quality (ATLANTA) project began in 1996 in order to study the impact of urban heat islands on the environment.
As the heat in a city builds, hot air rises. Colder air rushes into the vacuum, creating winds. The warmer ascending air forms clouds that drop water as they continue to rise. Bornstein and Lin found that Atlanta's urban heat island causes convective clouds to form over the city. "Convective clouds typically produce rains that are intense and localized," says Bornstein. "These types of clouds should also produce thunder and lightning." {photo above: Time-lapse photography shows cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes during a thunderstorm. Photo Credit: NOAA Photo Library.}


Arctic Adventurer
A lone bearded seal, normally
expected to be
inhabiting the waters
north of the Arctic Circle,
has been swimming up France’s river
Seine since early May and shows no
signs of wanting to head back north.
“In two centuries, this is the second
time a seal of this species ... has been
reported in France, and in the first
case it was dead,” Alain Beaufils, the
head of the CHENE center for wild
animals, told the French news
agency. He added that the 2-year-old
male appears to have put on weight
from eating fish in the waterway,
which runs from the English Channel
to its source south of Paris.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather that killed eight
people in floods and mudslides
across several
Philippine provinces later strengthened
into Typhoon Prapiroon over
the South China Sea. The storm made
landfall in China’s Guangdong
province late in the week.
• Tropical storms Gilma and Fabio
moved over the open waters of the
Pacific to the west of Mexico. Tropical
Storm Chris formed just off the
northern Leeward Islands, and was
predicted to move westward, eventually
reaching the Gulf of Mexico.

Chinese Dog Kill
County officials in southwest
China’s Yunnan
province ordered the
killing of more than
50,000 dogs after three people and
several farm animals died from rabies
contracted by dog bites. Police said
50,546 dogs were killed from July 25
to July 30, and estimated that less than
10 percent of the canine population
remained in Mouding county, where
the cull was conducted.

African Snow
A bitter Antarctic cold
front brought South
Africa’s largest city of
Johannesburg its first
snowfall in 25 years. Snow also fell
in many other parts of the country,
including ski slopes in the south,
which normally have to make their
own snow. Severe weather associated
with the front also produced flash
floods that blocked roads and sent
water flowing over dams. Passenger
trains on the main rail line between
Johannesburg and Cape Town were
halted by floods and snowfall for 14

Eastern Indonesia’s Mount
Karangetang expelled at
least 30 blasts of hot gas and
debris that cascaded down
its slopes on Sulawesi Island. More
than 1,000 people were evacuated
from around the volcano, but many
others refused to leave their crops and
animals. An eruption of Karangetang
in 1993 killed six people.
• Scientists in the Philippines say
that mounting activity at the country’s
Mayon Volcano indicates a violent
eruption is imminent. A flow of
lava was approaching a forested area
at the foot of the volcano, threatening
to ignite the trees.

A sharp temblor centered
along the Afghanistan-
Tajikistan border killed at
least 39 people as it
wrecked villages in both countries.
Wells were also damaged or
destroyed, leaving an acute water
shortage in some parts of the region.
• A quake just off the east coast of
Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula produced
a 6.5-foot tsunami that roared
into the coast. No damage or injuries
were reported in the remote region.
• Earth movements were also felt
in northwest Sumatra, central Myanmar,
southern Kazakhstan, western
Mexico’s Michoacan state and the
San Francisco Bay Area.

Balmy British Seas
A growing collection of
exotic sea creatures is
being attracted to the coast
of Britain by global warming
and the resulting higher sea temperatures,
according to a U.K. scientist.
Oceanographer Simon Vauxhall,
of the University of Southampton,
told The Independent: “We are seeing
a pattern of the typical fish
species, such as cod and haddock,
exiting the warmer waters and being
replaced by more unusual species.”
He believes that hotter summers have
been warming costal waters, luring
species that usually inhabit more
southern seas. Other scientists say
fish off Britain are now in competition
with the alien species, but
warmer temperatures will eventually
lead to more algae, providing a more
abundant food supply for all fish.

Buffalo Hazard
A small community in
Canada’s Northwest Territories
was under siege
for weeks by a group of
seven aggressive bull bison, which
kicked dogs, rammed a truck, scared
children and even rubbed the siding
off houses. Fort Providence resident
Darren Campbell told the Canadian
Broadcasting Corp. that most of the
bulls left the town for the rutting season,
but officers killed two of the animals
that stayed behind. He added
that next spring, the community of
800 people will designate bison control
officers to “encourage” the animals
to stay out of town.

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© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

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