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Weakening of Gulf Stream Linked To Europe's "Little Ice Age"

Climate Change Analysis
Photo: Satellite image of the 'Gulf Stream'. Credit: NASA.

Nov 29, 2006
The Gulf Stream — the ocean current that helps to bring warm weather to much of the North Atlantic region — was significantly weakened during the period known to historians as the Little Ice Age, new research reveals.The discovery supports the notion that a slowing of ocean currents — as some fear might happen in our future — can have significant consequences for climate.From around 1200 until 1850, during which average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere dipped by around 1 °C, the strength of the Gulf Stream also slackened by up to 10%, oceanographers report.The Gulf Stream, which is part of a vast pattern of currents nicknamed the ocean conveyor belt, carries warm surface waters from the tropical Atlantic northeastwards towards Europe. The reduced flow that occurred during medieval times would have transported less heat, contributing to the icy conditions that persisted until Victorian times. Continue Story

Spectacular Solar Show

Solar News
Nov 30, 2006
When people in Washington D.C. stepped out for lunch on Monday, Nov. 27th, the ones who looked up witnessed a sensational display of luminous halos and arcs around the sun. "I was astounded by what I saw." The scene repeated itself in Maryland and Virginia. It was not only complex and beautiful, but also remarkably widespread. "Outstanding halo displays need high quality ice crystals specially aligned in the sky. This display has it all: random, plate, column, the RARE Parry and the EXTREMELY RARE and controversial Lowitz aligned crystals were present." (photo).

Busy bees may bring rain

Unusual Animal Behavior

ALICE SPRINGS, Australia, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Apiarist Keith Brooke thinks the strange behaviour of his bees means heavy rain is on the way to break a drought in central Australia.
The bees have put breeding on hold and have started storing food in their hives in Alice Springs. Brooke says the bees are also using wax to seal their hives as they did in 1987-88 and 1999 when heavy, substantial rains swamped the Alice Springs area.

Giant 8,000-year-old tsunami is studied

Tsunami Study: Italy
PISA, Italy, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Italian scientists say geological evidence suggests a giant tsunami resulted from the collapse of the eastern flanks of Mount Etna nearly 8,000 years ago.
The collapse of the volcano, located on Italy's island of Sicily, was studied by Maria Teresa Pareschi and colleagues at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. They modeled the collapse and discovered the volume of landslide material, combined with the force of the debris avalanche, would have generated a catastrophic tsunami, impacting the entire Eastern Mediterranean.
Simulations show the resulting tsunami waves would have destabilized soft marine sediments across the floor of the Ionian Sea. The authors, noting field evidence for such destabilization can be seen in other studies, speculate such a tsunami might also have caused the abandonment of a Neolithic village in Israel.

The study -- entitled "The Lost Tsunami" -- appears in the current issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Riddle of UFO 'invasion'

Earth Observations: Britain
Nov 28, 2006
A UFO scare was sparked after the police were flooded with calls about a fleet of 'spaceships' invading the coast of Britain.
Thousands of people spotted the bright orange orbs off the Channel coast at Brighton.
Police and air traffic control centres were inundated by reports of the strange spectacle, the Daily Express reported.
Shocked witness James Gordon-Johnson said: "I hadn't been drinking. I was sceptical about UFOs before but this has changed my mind.
"I saw this big orange light in the sky. Then another one appeared in mid-air. Then another. And another."
Experts are baffled by the phenomenon, but believe it could be linked to a meteor shower.
The Hermstmonceux Observatory in East Sussex said a cloud of comet dust had produced a meteor shower which peaked with a display of shooting stars.
And an earlier Ministry of Defence study into UFOs concluded that many sightings could be "glowing clouds of gas created by electricity charges."

Earth News: Week Ending November 24, 2006

African Flood Crisis
Torrential seasonal rains
continued to drench a
wide swath of East
Africa, worsening an
already acute flood crisis in Kenya,
Somalia and Ethiopia. Flooding has
forced thousands of Somali tribespeople
into neighboring Kenya,
which was already struggling to provide
aid to its own displaced residents.
Relief agencies were making
urgent appeals for donations to help
the approximately 1.8 million people
who have been affected by the floods.
Reports from southern Somalia tell of
people taking refuge in trees to escape
attacks from crocodiles lurking in the
floodwaters. The reptiles have killed
at least nine people so far. Hundreds
of villages are submerged in the country,
which has no central government
and is still suffering from food shortages
caused by a severe drought that
preceded the floods.

A strong temblor near the
Peru-Chile border caused
a motorcyclist to skid off
a road during the shaking,
which also damaged part of a major
highway. The epicenter of the quake
was near the Peruvian city of Tacna.
• Earth movements were also felt
in western Nicaragua, southwestern
Colorado, the Mozambique-Zimbabwe
border region, Serbia, northwest
Sumatra, central New Zealand,
southern Japan and the Kuril Islands.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather south of the
Solomon Islands quickly
intensified into Cyclone
Yani. The storm was predicted to
move southward into the Coral Sea.
• Hurricane Sergio remained well
off the coast of western Mexico
before losing force.

Australian Wildfires
High winds and early summertime
heat in eastern
Australia fanned large
bushfires west of Sydney
in the Blue Mountains. One property
in the New South Wales town of
Molong was destroyed by the blazes,
which went within hundreds of yards
of homes along the Great Western
• Other blazes in the state of Victoria
killed several head of livestock
and sent a pall of smoke blowing over
parts of metropolitan Melbourne.

Vietnam Hail Disaster
Hailstorms and whirlwinds
killed 15 people
and caused at least $21
million in damage across
parts of northern Vietnam. The country’s
National Flood and Storm
Department said the storms
destroyed more than 8,000 houses
and sank 12 boats, including many
around the World Heritage Site and
popular tourist destination of Halong
Bay. Flash flooding accompanied the
storms in some areas.

The world’s smallest active
volcano spewed geysers of
mud in the central Philippines,
but the activity did
not pose any threat to residents of the
region. Taal Volcano is located about
45 miles south of Manila on an island
inside a lake called Taal Lake. A similar
eruption of mud began in November
1999 and lasted until the following
• Java’s Mount Merapi sent hot
clouds soaring nearly 2 miles above
central Indonesia in an eruption that
quickly subsided. The local government
warned people living on the volcano’s
slope to be on alert for more
hot clouds and possible floods of volcanic

Arctic Greening
A new U.S. government
report says that global
warming continues to
affect the Arctic, with the
trend causing a decrease in sea ice and
an increase in the number of shrubs
growing on the tundra. The new
“State of the Arctic” analysis,
released by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, also
warned that there has been a significant
warming of the tundra during the
past 30 years. The subsequent
increase in vegetation is beginning to
affect the migration of reindeer,
according to Vladimir E.
Romanovsky, a professor at the geophysical
institute of the University of
Alaska. The region’s glaciers are continuing
to shrink and river discharge
into the Arctic Ocean is rising,
Romanovsky added.

Lion Cub Poisoning
Animal conservation
groups expressed outrage
at the admission by
Ethiopia’s Lion Zoo that
the facility is poisoning lion cubs and
selling their carcasses to taxidermists.
Zoo spokesman Muhedin
Abdulaziz told the Associated Press
that six cubs have been killed and
stuffed in an effort to raise money for
the cash-strapped Addis Ababa facility.
Federal wildlife officials monitor
the poisoning, which Abdulaziz says
is painless. Only about 1,000
Ethiopian lions, which are smaller
than other lion species, are believed
to still live in the wild. James Isiche,
East Africa director of the International
Fund for Animal Welfare, said
the zoo should prevent the animals
from breeding if it can’t afford to care
for them.

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

Rare November Rainbow Over Moscow

Earth News: Russia
Photo: Double rainbow, BadlandsNat'l Park, South Dakota.

MOSCOW, November 27 (Itar-Tass) -- A bright rainbow was clearly seen on the gray sky in the center of Moscow at 3. 45 p.m. Monday. It was quite a phenomenon to see a rainbow in this part of the world at the end of November. Actually, two parallel rainbows seemed to stem from the complex of the Kremlin buildings and the building of the State Duma in the center of Moscow.
"This was a rare phenomenon to see at that time of the year," assistant Chief of the Russian Weather Monitoring Service Natalia Yershova told Tass. " Usually, there is a snow blanket in Moscow at the end of November, while a rainbow is seen only if there is sunshine with air temperatures above zero and high humidity", Yershova said.
The rainbow stayed in the sky for a quarter of an hour, and then, the colorful miracle slowly faded, leaving no sign of its glamour on the dark, autumn sky.

Lightning strike kills white buffalo

WHITE BUFFALO KILLED BY LIGHTNING - Lightning on Sunday night struck and killed two buffalo cows and three buffalo calves, including a white buffalo on a farm south of Janesville. The white calf's mother was walking around and grunting, so the owner followed her up the hill where he found the five dead buffalo with burn marks laying near a tree. He thinks it was one lightning strike that hit all five and the nearby tree. The farm became a destination for thousands of visitors after Miracle, a female white buffalo, was born there on Aug. 20, 1994. White buffalo are EXTREMELY RARE and are said to fulfill a Native American legend foretelling peace.

Miracle died in 2004 and is now stuffed in the gift shop. A male white buffalo was born on the farm Aug. 25 this year. "How many times in a lifetime does lighting strike?" the owner had said after the second birth. Earlier this year, lightning struck a couple of his Scottish Highlander cows, but it had never happened to any of his buffalo. He said they figured they'd better "call it in and get it on the news wire" so people wanting to visit the white buffalo wouldn't be surprised. "I suppose it's going to be a great loss to a lot of people. It's just coincidence, I guess, that lightning struck twice," he said. "He (Miracle's Second Chance) was born in a storm and died in a storm."

Climate change clues in sky

Nov 26, 2006
Scientists are peering into the clouds near the top of the world, trying to solve the mystery is the droplets of water in the clouds. With the North Pole just 685 miles away, they should be frozen, yet more of them are liquid than anyone expected. Liquid water has even been detected in clouds at temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius (minus 22 F). Water clouds are more likely to warm the Arctic atmosphere than ice clouds, since the liquid clouds retain more heat radiated by the Earth's surface. "In the old days, we used to have 10 months of winter; now it's six. Every year we're getting winter later and later." Studies show that average winter temperatures have increased as much as 7 degrees in the Arctic over the last 50 years. The permafrost - ground that is continually frozen for at least two years - is thawing, imperiling polar bears and forcing other animals to migrate farther north. Climate change is cyclical - the planet's vegetation, over millions of years, sucks in and spits out carbon dioxide. "All the carbon dioxide in the coal and oil was once in the air. The plants took it and it went into the oceans or into the ground - and now we're taking it back out. The cycle is the same today, only you're taking something that took 100,000 years and doing it in one hundred years."
Photo Above: Russ Schnell, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Monitoring Division, uses an inflatable globe to illustrate his points about threats to earth's ozone layer and global warming as he speaks at the Eureka Weather Station in the Canadian territory of Nunavut Monday, July 24, 2006. Scientists at the station, located far above the Arctic Circle, are working to understand the actual components of global warming by studying the weather patterns that are impacting the atmosphere at the top of the world. (AP Photo)

'The weather makes everyone sick'

Earth News: Indonesia
Nov 24, 2006
As Jakarta continues to bake through the long dry season, residents try to cope with the heat while waiting for the respite of the rainy season which has been late to start. "The authorities need to find out what is going on with the weather, whether it is caused by global warming or not. It's useless for the authorities to cover it up just because they may not be prepared to study the matter. This is important so they know what to do, and so the public can be prepared for what lies ahead. The impact of this long dry season must be worse for farmers who have seen their crops fail, and for people without access to clean water." "The weather has been REALLY UNUSUAL. Everyone is getting sore throats this dry season. It is probably some new contagious disease. My whole family was sick this week. And several friends at my taxi pool have had sore throats. In the past, the rainy season started in November and it would rain every day in December and January. This year, if we don't take extra care we will get sick."

NYPD Installs "Sky Watch" In Harlem Neighborhood

Breaking News: New York City, USA

Nov 24, 2006
The NYPD has installed a patrol tower in a Harlem neighborhood in an effort to cut crime in the high-risk neighborhood. The two-story booth tower, called Sky Watch, gives the officer sitting inside a better vantage point from which to monitor the area. Officers in the booth have access to a spotlight, sensors, and four cameras. The tower is portable and can be moved to the areas that need it most. Residents in Harlem say they like the idea, though some wonder if the appearance of Sky Watch has anything to do with the two new luxury condos built on a nearby corner. "There was crime around here before and they never had it. Now all these expensive buildings, it's true,” said one area resident. “But actually it's good though, because then I used to see a lot of crowd here and sometimes I was scared to pass here, but guess what, that doesn't happen anymore. It’s a kind of deterrence and it's good."

Coral reefs are increasingly vulnerable to angry oceans

Size and shape may predict the survival of corals around the world when the weather churns the oceans in the years to come, according to a new model that relies on engineering principles.
Nov 23, 2006

The increasing violence of storms associated with global climate change, as well as future tsunamis, will have major effects on coral reefs, according to a paper published this week in the international scientific journal Nature. Shape and size of the corals are key variables, according to the authors. "Coral reef experts have long had a general sense of which coral shapes are more vulnerable during storms than others," said first author Joshua Madin, a scientist with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "However, to really predict how these events impact the dynamics of coral reefs we needed a way to quantify these vulnerabilities." The authors created the world's first engineering model to predict how much damage a reef is likely to suffer when confronted with the might of an angry sea. They used mathematical models to calculate the forces that coral is subjected to –– events such as waves, storm surges, or tsunamis –– and the probability of the colonies being ripped from the seabed. Working with co-author Sean Connolly, Madin developed the model at the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) at James Cook University, Australia. Connolly is also a senior lecturer at James Cook University. How coral assemblages respond to the power of the sea is essential for understanding the natural distribution of coral types on present-day reefs as well as for projecting how they will change in response to more violent or frequent storms, according to the researchers.

Researchers Gaze At Cloud Formations

Helsinki (UPI) Nov 22, 2006
Finnish researchers analyzing cloud formations say ozone destruction in the Earth's stratosphere might be occurring at a faster pace than thought. Anatoli Bogdan and colleagues at the University of Helsinki say they reached that conclusion after studying low-temperature thin and subvisible cirrus, or SVC.
SVCs cover about one-third of the planet and affect global temperatures by reflecting sunlight back into space and preventing terrestrial heat from escaping into space. In addition, the scientists say ice particles in SVCs have a drying or dehydrating effect on the upper troposphere.
"Here we show, to our best knowledge for the first time, that the small ice particles are not completely solid, as is usually believed, but rather coated with a sulfuric acid/water overlayer," the researchers said.
The coating reduces the rate at which ice particles grow and remove water vapor -- a key greenhouse gas -- from the upper troposphere. That leaves more water vapor to contribute to the greenhouse effect.
The coating further affects greenhouse warming by slightly increasing reflection of sunlight back into space and reducing the escape of terrestrial heat.
The study appeared in the Nov. 16 issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
Source: United Press International

Egyptian famine linked to Iceland volcano

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've found a link between an 18th-century volcanic eruption that killed 9,000 Icelanders and a severe famine in Egypt. The investigators used a National Aeronautics and Space Administration computer model to track atmospheric changes that followed the 1783 eruption of Laki in southern Iceland. The researchers said the study is the first to conclusively establish a link between high-latitude eruptions and the water supply in North Africa. The study presents "strong evidence" that high-latitude eruptions have altered northern hemisphere atmospheric circulation in the summer following, with impacts extending deep into the tropics.

Laki Eruption of 1783
The Laki eruption lasted eight months during which time about 14 cubic km of basaltic lava and some tephra were erupted. Haze from the eruption was reported from Iceland to Syria. In Iceland, the haze lead to the loss of most of the island's livestock (by eating fluorine contaminated grass), crop failure (by acid rain), and the death of one-quarter of the human residents (by famine). Ben Franklin noted the atmospheric effects of the eruption (Wood, 1992). Photo of main fissure at Laki by Thor Thordarson.

Earth News: Week Ending November 17, 2006

Earth News: Click All Images To Enlarge

Carbon Dioxide Surge
The rate at which carbon
dioxide is entering the
atmosphere through the
burning of fossil fuels is
currently increasing four times faster
than it was in the 1990s, according to
a report released at an environmental
conference in Beijing. Despite efforts
to reduce carbon greenhouse gas
emissions, the global growth rate in
carbon dioxide between 2000 and
2005 was 3.2 percent, compared to
0.8 percent between 1990 and 1999,
reported Mike Raupach, chairman of
the Earth System Science Partnership’s
Global Carbon Project. “That
is a very worrying sign,” said the Australian
scientist. “It indicates that
recent efforts to reduce emissions
have had virtually no impact on emissions
growth, and that effective caps
are urgently needed.”

Ice on the Horizon
One of the more than 100
icebergs spotted in the
waters south of New
Zealand during the previous
week was seen approaching the
Otago Peninsula on the country’s
South Island. The Maritime Safety
Authority issued a warning to shipping
after the chunk of Antarctic ice
650 feet long and 165 feet high was
reported only 43 nautical miles offshore,
heading toward the coast. This
is the closest any iceberg has been to
New Zealand for at least the past 75

Tropical Cyclones
Typhoon Chebi left one
person dead and washed
out several roads as it
passed over the northern
Philippines. The storm later dissipated
over the South China Sea.
• Tropical Storm Rosa and Hurricane
Sergio churned the open waters
of the Pacific off Mexico.

New Island Emerges
Crew members of a yacht
sailing westward from the
South Pacific island nation
of Tonga toward Fiji say
they witnessed the birth of a new
island, which appears to have
emerged from the Pacific during a
volcanic eruption. Those onboard the
Maiken initially were puzzled by the
vast blanket of pumice that they
sailed through for several miles. But
they later came across an uncharted
steaming island in Tonga’s Vava’u
group, which was apparently created
by an undersea volcano. The crew
described the new island as being 1
mile in diameter with four peaks and
a central crater. Tongan government
geologist Kelepi Mafi said he plans
to visit the new chunk of rock if his
country can afford to dispatch a military

Kenyan Flood Disaster
The Kenyan government
made an urgent international
appeal for aid to
help the hundreds of thousands
of people hit by devastating and
deadly floods. The inundations were
triggered by days of unusually heavy
seasonal rains that swept northern
and eastern parts of the country,
killing at least 23 people. Roads,
bridges and crops were swept away
along the coast to the north and south
of Mombassa, where military helicopters
ferried relief supplies to tens
of thousands of displaced people.

South African Swarms
Farmers in South
Africa’s Northern Cape
Province continued to
battle large swarms of
wingless locusts, which first invaded
their fields in mid-October. The
chairwoman of the Britstown farmers
association, Nicola van der Merwe,
said that one of the swarms was about
a half-mile long and 650 feet wide.
Intensive daily spraying operations
were being conducted to combat the
hoppers. The ravenous insects were
mostly in a young, wingless phase,
during which they can inflict significant
destruction to crops and pastures,
according to van der Merwe.

A small tsunami hit a wide
area of Japan’s Pacific
coast on the main island of
Honshu as well as coastal
areas of Hokkaido following a magnitude
8.1 temblor centered just east
of the Kuril Islands. But a tsunami 5
to 6 feet in height traveled across the
entire North Pacific, wrecking docks
and sinking a boat when it surged
onto the northwest California coast.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Taiwan, the central Philippines, the
India-Myanmar border region, northeastern
and southwestern Iran and
northern Argentina.

‘Elkoholic’ Bully
A drunken elk in western
Sweden has been terrifying
children at a school
where the animal gets
high on a daily dose of fermented
apples. The Dagen Nyheter newspaper
reports the animal has become
addicted to the alcohol it gets from
the rotting fruit of a tree on the school
grounds. Once the elk becomes sufficiently
buzzed, the newspaper says
it lies down for a snooze in a defensive
position in front of the tree, waking
up and charging anyone who
comes near. Authorities at the
Eklanda school, in the Gothenburg
suburb of Moelndal, called in police,
but authorities have so far failed to
drive away the intemperate animal.

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

Earth Frenzy Network

Skywatch Announcment
From the Editor's Desk
Nov 22, 2006

Skywatch has come along ways since it's inception into the cyber world in 2003. We began as a groups forum at MSN where we joined forces with Nancy Lieder of Zetatalk in an effort to inform the general public about an impending pole shift within the time frame (2012) predicted by the ancient Mayan elders. In June of 2005 we created The Great Red Comet blog which has grown tremendously and has become a great internet success. In February of this year (2006) we created a second blog, Earth Frenzy Radio as a spinoff of GRC. This blog contains a variety of earth related articles and is a member of the Disaster News Network. Earth Frenzy Radio is committed to providing alternative radio broadcasts to it's viewers. In the works is a plan to have a new internet web site developed that will provide a vast array of earth news and audio presentations to subscribed members.
Skywatch has recently joined forces with Webring, Inc. in an effort to expand its viewer membership. By joining the WebRing Community we can drive highly interested people to our websites and easily communicate with them.
Viewers who manage similar websites or forums and have an interest in linking websites with a network of sites across the internet, should seriously consider joining Skywatch in this important endeavor.
You are invited to join the Webring at our new site Earth Frenzy Network, or by linking to our affiliate site Here

If you wish to join at a later date, or if you know of others with similar websites who would like to join, they may do so on the Earth Frenzy Network banner link located at the bottom of the Great Red Comet website, or by clicking the globe image.

IN ADDITION you will find that Skywatch has created a very simple and easy to use Forum site on the Earth Frenzy Network that all viewers are encouraged to join. To join this Forum click Here
Skywatch is committed to bringing our viewers the latest and most complete Earth News, Audio and Video Presentations. We strive to keep you informed on matters that are important to the survival of both mankind and the planet we all inhabit.
If you should have any questions about Webring in general or about signing up to become a ring member you can contact us Here
Steven Shaman
©2006, Skywatch-Keep Looking to the Skies. All Rights Reserved

Wanted: man to land on killer asteroid and gently nudge it from path to Earth

Cosmic/Space News
Nov 17, 2006

It is the stuff of nightmares and, until now, Hollywood thrillers. A huge asteroid is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth and mankind is poised to go the way of the dinosaurs.
To save the day, Nasa now plans to go where only Bruce Willis has gone before. The US space agency is drawing up plans to land an astronaut on an asteroid hurtling through space at more than 30,000 mph. It wants to know whether humans could master techniques needed to deflect such a doomsday object when it is eventually identified. The proposals are at an early stage, and a spacecraft needed just to send an astronaut that far into space exists only on the drawing board, but they are deadly serious. A smallish asteroid called Apophis has already been identified as a possible threat to Earth in 2036.
Chris McKay of the Nasa Johnson Space Centre in Houston told the website "There's a lot of public resonance with the notion that Nasa ought to be doing something about killer asteroids ... to be able to send serious equipment to an asteroid.
"The public wants us to have mastered the problem of dealing with asteroids. So being able to have astronauts go out there and sort of poke one with a stick would be scientifically valuable as well as demonstrate human capabilities."
A 1bn tonne asteroid just 1km across striking the Earth at a 45 degree angle could generate the equivalent of a 50,000 megatonne thermonuclear explosion. Attempting to break it up with an atomic warhead might only generate thousands of smaller objects on a similar course, which could have time to reform. Scientists agree the best approach, given enough warning, would be to gently nudge the object into a safer orbit.

Floods, crocs ravage Kenya, Somalia

Earth News: Africa
Photo: Displaced Kenyans carry their belongings yesterday though flood waters of Tana river in Garissa, northern Kenya, near the Somali border

Published: Monday, 20 November, 2006
NAIROBI: The UN and aid groups yesterday launched a massive humanitarian operation in Kenya to assist more than 150,000 people hit by killer floods caused by unusually heavy seasonal rains. Neighbouring Somalia, which is on the brink of war, the country’s weak government under threat from a powerful Islamist movement, appealed for emergency international aid to help 1.5mn people affected by flooding.Residents of flood-hit areas of Somalia reported that nine people had been devoured by crocodiles unleashed by raging waters, bringing the death toll from three weeks of flooding to at least 52.In Kenya, authorities said the death toll had risen to at least 28 with the drowning of five more people in the east, badly hit along with the country’s northern and coastal areas.

Fires In Far Northern Forests To Have Cooling, Not Warming, Effect

Gainesville FL (SPX) Nov 20, 2006Scientists agree that the effects of global warming are most severe nearest the poles, and boreal forests are already facing longer summers and more prolonged dry periods. This has spurred many large fires, with the most massive forest fires in recorded Alaskan history occurring in the summer 2004.
Droughts and longer summers tied to global warming are causing more fires in the Earth's vast northernmost forests, a phenomenon that will spew a steadily increasing amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Many scientists have predicted that the result of this influx of greenhouse gas will be even more warming, followed by even more fires and so on - a vicious climactic cycle.
But a team of scientists, including two University of Florida ecologists, has arrived at just the opposite conclusion. Their research shows that while the carbon released by burning high-latitude forests of North America, Europe and Russia will no doubt have a warming effect, it will be less than an unexpected cooling effect. That will come from millions of new deciduous trees reflecting the sun's light away from Earth with their light green leaves in the summer. In the winter, these trees lose their leaves, and white snow on the ground will reflect even more light.
A paper about the research is set to appear Friday in the journal Science

Spectacular Meteor Showers Forecast

Photo: Stargazers walk along the Great Wall of China to watch the Leonid meteor shower from Badaling Pass on Nov. 18, 1998. The annual display is one of the highlights of the year in the night sky.
Guide to Viewing the Leonids
Cosmic/Space News: Meteor Showers
Nov 17, 2006
Mid-November brings us the return of the famous Leonid meteor shower, which has a storied history of producing some of the most sensational meteor displays ever recorded.
These meteors travel along the orbit of periodic Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, and whenever that comet is passing through the inner solar system, the Leonids have a chance to provide us with a dramatic show. But the most recent passage of the comet around the sun came back in 1998, and we are now well past the favored time frame when, for several years running, observers in various parts of the world were witnessing very strong, even storm-level Leonid activity.
The most recent Leonid storms occurred in 2001 and 2002.

'Dirty skies may shield against warming'

Breaking Earth News: Global Warming/Conference on Climate Change
Nov 17, 2006

NAIROBI: If the sun warms the Earth too dangerously, the time may come to draw the shade. The "shade" would be a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere to help cool the planet. The proposal comes from prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate. The reaction here at the annual UN conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such "massive and drastic"operations, as the chief UN climatologist describes them.The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first made the proposal is himself "not enthusiastic about it". "It was meant to startle the policymakers,"said Paul J Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this." Serious people are taking Crutzen's idea seriously. This weekend at Moffett Field, California, Nasa's Ames Research Centre hosts a closed-door, high-level workshop on the global haze proposal and other "geoengineering"ideas for fending off climate change.

Icebergs Become Tourist Attraction Off New Zealand Coast

Earth News: New Zealand
Wellington (AFP) Nov 15, 2006
Two icebergs drifting off the New Zealand coast have attracted massive interest from sightseers as well as sparking fresh warnings to shipping after their 13,500 kilometre journey from Antarctica. The icebergs were about 100 kilometres (60 miles) off the Otago coast in the south-east of the country Wednesday, the closest sighting off New Zealand for 75 years, The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said.
Helicopters have been taking scientists and sightseers out to view the massive slabs of ice. One is about 500 metres (1,600 feet) long, 50 metres wide and 60 metres high, while the other has a 100 metre high peak and is about 300 metres long.
The icebergs, accompanied by smaller chunks of ice, are considered unlikely to come close to land.
"From what we saw, they are melting fairly quickly and they are drifting a mile or two a day," Craig Purdie of Otago University told Radio New Zealand Thursday.
He added the icebergs were drifting further east away from the coast, although they could be affected by changing winds.
NIWA marine physicist Dr Mike Williams said the icebergs had drifted 13,500 kilometres from the Ronne Ice Shelf on the far side of Antarctica. Their journey started six years ago when a massive iceberg 167 kilometres long and 32 kilometres wide broke off the ice shelf.
Fishermen spotted the two icebergs on Tuesday night and Maritime New Zealand issued a fresh warning, although the area is not a busy shipping lane.

California volcano showing signs of life

Volcanic News: California, USA
Holocene Clear Lake volcanic field
Nov 15, 2006
The city of Clearlake is home to an active volcano that may erupt violently within the next 10,000 years. Clearlake is a location that the United States Geology Survey recently named as a "high threat" location that should be monitored more closely. The next eruption in Clearlake, a city about 80 miles west of Sacramento, would probably be a violent explosion of magma, not a small lava flow. The volcano in Clearlake may be "actively recharging" for a future eruption for several reasons. The Earth's crust around the volcano is giving off an UNUSUAL amount of heat, and is emitting gases that are chemically similar to magma. Geologists have observed earthquakes below the Earth's surface in Clearlake, and they "have a fluid signature," which points to the existence of magma below the Earth's surface.

Kenya Floods Take Lives as Climate Change Conference Continues

Earth News: Kenya, Africa
By Cathy Majtenyi
13 November 2006

More than 20 people in northern and coastal Kenya have been killed by massive flooding triggered by heavy rains. The disaster is occurring as delegates from around the world attend the U.N. Climate Change conference in Kenya's capital.
In addition to those killed, about 60,000 people are estimated to have been displaced by flooding that hit the coastal town of Mombasa and the northeastern town of Garissa, particularly hard.
The Kenyan health ministry has also issued an alert for possible outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera.
The floods are being caused by three weeks of unusually heavy downpours during the October to December short rains season.
Recently, massive flooding has killed more than 40 people in neighboring Somalia and more than 60 people in Ethiopia.
Flooding and unusual weather patterns are being discussed by six-thousand delegates from around the world at the U. N. Climate Change conference, which ends this week in Nairobi.
"These kinds of extreme flooding are the kind of events that are consistent with scientific forecasts on climate change," explained Nick Nuttall, U.N. Environment Program spokesman. "Africa is an extremely vulnerable continent as it is to weather events, but climate change is making those weather events more extreme and more frequent. So the kind of flooding that you are seeing in Kenya is in line with these kinds of predictions by the best scientific minds."
Photo Above: Katsena Charo, of Bate village, stands next to what used to be the family house

Extreme weather could cost $US1 trillion

Earth News: Climate Change Analysis
Nov 15, 2006
LOSSES from extreme weather could top $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) in a single year by 2040, a UN climate conference was told today.
Speaking at the UN climate meeting in Kenya, a partnership of the United Nations Environment Program and private finance institutions (UNEP FI) said the estimated cost of droughts, storm surges, hurricanes and floods reached a record $US210 billion ($276 billion) in 2005.
Such losses linked to global warming were expected to double every 12 years.
"This is an unequivocal statement by 15 of the largest financial institutions: Climate change is now certain," Paul Clements-Hunt of UNEP FI said.
"In one scenario, potential disaster losses are calculated at more than $1 trillion in a single year by 2040... It is one of many scenarios, but the process was robust and the institutions felt comfortable it was a realistic scenario."

Researchers claim link between tsunamis and outer space

Earth/Space News
PM - Tuesday, 14 November , 2006
Reporter: Mark Colvin
MARK COLVIN: After the devastation of the Aceh tsunami nearly two years ago, Australians have a clear idea of what a tidal wave can do. But imagine a mega tsunami, a tidal wave 10 times bigger than the Aceh event. A group of scientists from the US, Australia, Russia, France and Ireland have been working on a theory that such mega tsunamis may happen, not every half a million years as astronomers had predicted, but every couple of millennia.They say they're caused by meteor or asteroid impacts, which they believe have been much more frequent in earth's history than had been believed.They call themselves Holocene Impact Research Group, and one of their members is Associate Professor Ted Bryant of Wollongong University.He told me one factor behind the theory had been a better way of detecting where asteroids had fallen at sea.

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The Striking Deep Current Reversal In The Tropical Pacific Ocean

Paris, France (SPX) Nov 14, 2006
Knowledge of ocean current circulation made great advances from the 1980s with the general use of current meters applying the Doppler effect.
The ocean's immense heat storage capacity means that it has a dominant role in the regulation of heat exchange and of the Earth's climate. And it is the ocean's currents that drive thermal exchanges between ocean and atmosphere and contribute to climate balance. This they do in transporting warm- and cold-water masses from the Equator to the poles.
The near-surface currents are generated essentially by the winds, whereas the deeper ones (known as thermohaline currents) result from water density variations induced by differences in temperature and salinity between the distinct masses. The prevailing winds in the tropical Pacific, the trade winds, blow from the American continent towards Asia, causing the warm surface waters to drift in a general East-West direction.
As they approach the Asian continent, these waters accumulate, then change direction, part of them turning North and feeding the Kuroshio (the equivalent in the Pacific of the Gulf Stream), part going South to join up with the East Australian current, another portion flowing at depth and feeding the Equatorial Undercurrent (EUC), which runs at between 100 and 150 m below the surface.
The EUC flows along the Equator, from Papua New Guinea to the Galapagos Islands, counter to the trade winds. That current extends over a width of nearly 300 km and transports a large mass of water eastwards (1), at a maximum velocity of around 2 knots (1 m/s or 3.6 km/h).

Rain capture answer to water woe

Earth News: Africa
Nov 13, 2006
Rainwater harvesting could prove a cheap, easy solution to Africa's water woes, according to a UN report.
Scientists found enough rain falls in some countries to supply six or seven times the current need, and provide security against future droughts.
A pilot project in a Kenyan Maasai community has improved supplies and done away with the daily trek to collect river water.
Currently, 14 out of 53 nations are classified as "water stressed".
This number is forecast to double by 2025.
The UN Environment Programme (Unep) says that a cultural change is needed across the continent.
"The biggest problem is awareness," said Elizabeth Khaka of Unep.
"Many people think of rainwater harvesting as a 'poor person's technology'," she told the BBC News website, "and we have to change that."
Last week, the Kenyan government announced plans to make all new buildings include capacity for rainwater collection and storage.
Tell-tale plots
Using geographical information systems (GIS) technology, scientists from Unep and the World Agroforestry Centre mapped rainfall patterns across nine countries in southern and eastern Africa.
They compared these maps with plots of population density and land use.

Next Flu Pandemic: What To Do Until The Vaccine Arrives

Breaking News: Flu Pandemic Alert
New York NY (SPX) Nov 13, 2006
Experts believe the world is overdue for influenza pandemic. However, unless effective action against pandemic flu is taken now, we are in "dire straits," according to a paper published in the November 10 issue of Science. The articled titled, "Next Flu Pandemic: What to Do Until the Vaccine Arrives?," calls for research during the regular season flu season to better understand the effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand washing, face masks, and the like.
"These are ironically similar to the measures used in 1918 to combat the greatest of all known influenza pandemics, but there's a lot we don't know about what may very well be our best defenses," says lead author Stephen Morse, PhD, associate professor of Clinical Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
According to Dr. Morse, unfortunately, there are no readily accessible compendia of best practices or even comprehensive databases of community epidemiologic data, which might help to design the most effective interventions. "As the weather turns cold and the regular flu season is upon us, there is an opportunity to prepare and move ahead with community studies and clinical trials in humans."

Indonesia forest fires,attacks kill 1,000 orangutans

Earth News: Animal Extinction
KARTA, Nov 6 (Reuters) - About 1,000 orangutans are estimated to have died in Indonesia during the dry season this year in which raging forest fires have produced thick smoke across huge areas of Southeast Asia, a conservationist said on Monday.The fires in the Indonesian part of Borneo have deprived orangutans of food and forced them to encroach on human settlements, where they are often attacked for damaging crops, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said."Orangutans are starving. They are sick and many of those we are treating were injured after being attacked by machetes," Willie Smits, an ecologist at the foundation told Reuters, adding that many also suffered from respiratory problems.He said 120 sick orangutans had been treated in three conservation centres over the past three months, and 10 to 15 of them had died.He estimated that in all 1,000 orangutans had died over this year's dry season.Orangutans live on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, but encroachment on their habitats by humans and massive destruction of forests is threatening their existance.In 2002, it was estimated there were 56,000 orangutans in the wild but the population has dwindled at a rate of 6,000 a year, conservationists say.

As Climate Changes, Can We?

Breaking Earth News: Climate Change Analysis
Click Image to link to Friends of the Earth
Nov 12, 2006
If there was any remaining doubt about the urgent need to combat climate change, two reports issued last week should make the world sit up and take notice. First, according to the latest data submitted to the United Nations, the greenhouse-gas emissions of the major industrialized countries continue to increase. Second, a study by the former chief economist of the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern of the United Kingdom, called climate change “the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen”, with the potential to shrink the global economy by 20 percent and to cause economic and social disruption on a par with the two world wars and Great Depression.
The scientific consensus, already clear and incontrovertible, is today moving toward the more alarmed end of the spectrum. Many scientists long known for their caution are now saying that warming has reached dire levels, generating feedback loops that will take us perilously close to a point of no return. A similar shift may also be taking place among economists, with some formerly circumspect analysts now saying it will cost far less to cut emissions now than to adapt to the consequences later. Insurers, meanwhile, have been paying out more and more each year to compensate for extreme weather events. And growing numbers of corporate and industry leaders have been voicing concern about climate change as a business risk. The few skeptics who continue trying to sow doubt should be seen for what they are: Out of step, out of arguments and just about out of time.

EAST AFRICA: Deforestation exacerbates droughts, floods

Earth News: Africa
NAIROBI, 10 Nov 2006 (IRIN) - Frequent droughts and floods in eastern Africa can partly be blamed on widespread deforestation in the region, experts have said."Trees actually do two processes. They drill water into the ground. They funnel water into underground aquifers where it is stored to supply rivers during drought," Nick Nuttal, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said."They also hold soil. Where there are no trees, the soil is washed away into rivers causing siltation into the oceans choking coral reefs," he told IRIN on the sidelines of the 6-17 November conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi. "The link between deforestation anddrought is very significant".The loss of ground cover due to deforestation resulted in flash floods during heavy rainfall, leading to soil erosion. "That is the start of desertification," said Beneah Odhiambo, a professor of geography at Moi University in western Kenya. Photo: Kenyan herders look at the skeleton of a cow killed by drought

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