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Earth News: Week Ending December 15, 2006

Earth News:
Week of Dec 15, 2006
Ebola Victims
An outbreak of the Ebola
virus in the wild has killed
between 3,500 and 5,000
gorillas in one area of the
Republic of the Congo during the past
four years, according to primate
researchers. Writing in the journal
Nature, Peter D. Walsh of the Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary
Anthropology said there had been a
massive decline in the number of the
animals due to the virus. He believes
the deaths are helping to push the
threatened species even closer to
extinction. Walsh proposes inoculating
some of the surviving western
gorillas with an Ebola vaccine that
has proved to be effective in some
Australian Blazes
More than 3,000 firefighters
in Australia battled to
contain some of the worst
wildfires the country has
seen in 70 years. Fourteen major
blazes were being battled across Victoria,
and at least 14 homes were
destroyed by other fires on the island
state of Tasmania. Worsening
drought conditions have created an
extreme fire danger across many eastern
parts of the country. Fire officials
said they were preparing to bring in
firefighters from the United States to
help with the crisis.

Transportation across northern parts of Pakistan was brought to a standstill by severe weather
Severe weather in northern
Pakistan triggered
landslides, mudflows and
avalanches that blocked
several roads across the region. Boulders
cascading down the mountains
of the North-West Frontier Province
blocked a section of the Karakoram
Highway, which connects Pakistan
and China. Several areas of Pakistancontrolled
Kashmir were isolated due
to slides.
Solar Storm
An explosive burst on the
surface of the sun sent a
stream of charged particles
rushing toward
Earth’s atmosphere. The solar storm
was expected to produce vivid displays
of the aurora borealis, or northern
lights, as far south as parts of
Europe and the northern United
States. Solar experts also warned the
charged particles could threaten radio
communications, satellites and
power grids. Passengers flying in jet
aircraft could also be put at a higher
risk for radiation exposure, forecasters

Tropical Cyclone
Typhoon Utor left a trail of
damage and at least 27
people dead after it roared
across the central Philippines.
Officials say nearly 4,000
homes were destroyed and more than
12,000 others were damaged by the
storm, mainly on the islands of
Samar, Marinduque and Boracay.
Mass evacuations were ordered in
advance of the storm’s arrival to
avoid a repeat of the massive number
of fatalities caused by super Typhoon
Durian a week earlier. Utor later lost
force as it drenched China’s island
province of Hainan.

A magnitude 5.1 quake
damaged college buildings
and sent residents
fleeing their homes when
it rocked northern Thailand’s Chiang
Mai province. No injuries were
reported from the initial shaking or
any of the 23 recorded aftershocks.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Taiwan, Indonesia’s Aceh
province and north Moluccas region,
northern India, southeastern Iran,
central Greece, southern Italy and
southeastern Pennsylvania.

Habitat Conflicts
Four people were attacked
and killed by wild elephants
in northeast India’s
Assam state during the latest
in a series of attacks by the animals.
Wildlife officials said that
about a dozen elephants stormed into
a group of woodcutters, literally tearing
two of the victims apart. The habitat
of wild elephants has come under
increased pressure in recent years as
human development encroaches into
native forests. Assam officials say
pachyderms have killed 248 people
in the past five years, while 268 elephants
have died. Many of the elephant
victims were the target of retaliation
by humans. The aroma of rice
beer being brewed by villagers has
lured the animals into some of the
communities that have come under

Sensors are being strapped to albatrosses to allow the birds to monitor sea surface temperatures during their flights across vast expanses of the North Pacific.
Scientists are enlisting
squadrons of albatrosses
to help monitor the
world’s climate. A team
from the University of California-
Santa Cruz is attaching to the birds
small data loggers that will be able to
measure sea surface temperatures
across the North Pacific in far greater
detail than satellites. “Albatrosses
are particularly good because they
can sample vast areas of ocean in a
relatively short period of time,” said
Scott Shaffer. Some of the attached
instruments will store data until the
birds return to the nesting sites where
they were tagged. Others can transmit
measurements via satellite. Data
gathered by the sensors are expected
to help fill in details missed by satellites,
as well as give details into the
behavior of the long-haul birds.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending December 15, 2006
Distributed by: UPS
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

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