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Earth News: Week Ending December 22, 2006

Earth News
Week of Dec 22, 2006
Solar Blackout
The sun produced a second
surface explosion
within a week, sending
another blast of radiation
into Earth.s atmosphere a few minutes
later. The following geomagnetic
storm caused vivid displays of
the northern lights as far south as
Iowa, while the southern lights were
seen as far north as Sydney, Australia.
The solar storm interfered with communications
on Earth, and one burst
of energy caused a complete blackout
of GPS navigation satellite systems
for up to two hours. .It is a rare
occurrence to have a strong event like
this so late in the solar cycle,. said
Larry Combs, a forecaster at
NOAA.s Space Environment Center
in Boulder, Colo. The sun produces
an 11-year cycle of sunspot activity,
with the last peak occurring in 2002.
Photo Above: TV engineer Stan Richard
took this photo of the northern lights from
Saylorville Lake, near Des Moines, Iowa.
While the colorful rays seem to end just
above the water, they are actually at altitudes
of 60 miles (100 km) or higher.
Locust Plague Averted
Locust-fighting efforts
have made it unlikely
Africa.s Sahara and
Sahel regions will be
plagued by a major invasion of the
destructive insects next spring,
according to the United Nations. The
Food and Agricultural Organization
said international efforts to combat a
resurgence of desert locusts in northern
Africa has prevented a repeat of
the massive swarms that devastated
crops between 2003 and 2005.
Photo Above: A Mauritanian looks at a sky filled by a desert
locust swarm earlier this year. The insects were laying eggs
in the north of the country.
Asian Floods
Southern Malaysia was
hit by the heaviest rainfall
in 100 years, triggering
massive flooding that
forced about 30,000 people from their
homes. The floods blocked main
roads and disrupted train service in
the state of Johor. A 24-hour deluge
also swamped parts of neighboring
Singapore, where mudslides and high
water blocked several roadways.
Photo Above: An aerial view of flooded area in Malaysia’s
southern state of Johor

A Warm Year
The U.N. meteorological
agency announced that
2006 is likely to be the
sixth-warmest year since
reliable observations began about
150 years ago. Climatologists at the
World Meteorological Organization
said the global mean surface temperature
for the year will be approximately
0.76 degrees Fahrenheit
above the 1961-1990 annual average.
They added that 2006 had been
marked by extreme drought followed
by devastating floods in Africa, heat
waves in the United States and
Europe and deadly typhoons in
Southeast Asia. Canada experienced
its mildest winter and spring on
record while the United States
received its warmest January-
September period.

Tropical Cyclones
An area of disturbed
weather over the western
Indian Ocean rapidly
formed into Cyclone
Bondo. The storm strengthened to
category-4 force, which is rare for
such storms in the region. Bondo
brought more than 11 inches of rainfall
to the north coast of Madagascar
and the Mauritius island of Agalega.
Tropical Storm Trami barely
reached storm force after forming to
the southwest of Guam.
Increased activity within
Indonesia.s Mount Soputan
volcano prompted
officials to warn nearby
residents on the island of Sulawesi to
be prepared for possible evacuation.
The 5,849-foot mountain last erupted
in December 2004 and twice during
2003, spewing lava and volcanic ash
up to 25 miles to the north. The nearest
village is five miles from Soputan's
Several villages in the central
Philippines were blanketed with ash
as Bulusan volcano produced a series
of explosions. The mountain is
located about 240 miles southeast of
Manila and has been expelling ash
and steam since March.

At least four people were
killed and about 150 others
were injured when a
magnitude 5.7 temblor
rocked the western coast of Indonesia's
Sumatra island. Aftershocks
kept many survivors from returning
to their homes.
Earth movements were also felt
in metropolitan Tokyo, southern Iran,
northwestern Algeria, southeastern
Tennessee, central Oklahoma, central
California and the San Francisco
Bay Area.

Dolphin Extinction
I n t e r n a t i o n a l
researchers say a rare
freshwater dolphin only
found in China.s Chang
Jiang (Yangtze) River has become
extinct. The team of U.S., Chinese
and Japanese researchers conducted
a search for the baiji during November
and December. They say they
scoured a 2,175-mile stretch of the
river without finding a single specimen.
The baiji, known in China as the
Goddess of Chang Jiang, is a white
dolphin with small eyes that is
believed to have existed for several
million years. About 400 were
believed to have existed at the beginning
of the 1980s, but only 13 were
found in 1997, and one in 2004. The
group attributed heavy ship traffic,
excessive fishing and water pollution
to the decline in the baiji population.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending December 22, 2006
Distributed by: UPS
© 2006, Earth Frenzy Rights Reserved

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