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Earth News Journal: Week Ending March 9, 2007

Earth News
Week of March 9, 2007

Asia Smog Melts Arctic
The sharp increase in
industrial pollution across
India and China during the
past three decades has
amplified the North Pacific storm
track and significantly contributed to
the recent warming of the Arctic,
according to a report by a Texas
A&M University researcher. Atmospheric
science professor Renyi
Zhang wrote in the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences that
his team analyzed weather patterns
between Asia and North America
from 1984 to 2005 and found that the
Pacific’s unique deep convective
clouds seemed to surge by as much
as 50 percent as atmospheric pollution
from Asia blew into the Pacific.
The resulting amplified storms transferred
significant heat high into the
Arctic. Zhang said the trend appeared
to be unrelated to other climate conditions,
such as El NiƱo. “It possibly
means the polar ice caps could melt
more quickly than we had believed,”
wrote Zhang.

Aborted Hunt
Japan’s Antarctic whaling
fleet cut short its
annual hunting expedition,
which was dogged
by an aggressive Greenpeace ship,
widespread condemnation from Australia
and New Zealand and a fire that
badly damaged one of its ships. The
six-vessel fleet has captured only half
of its intended catch since setting out
on a five-month hunt in mid-November,
according to the Japan Fisheries
Agency. Japan has used a loophole to
get around an international moratorium
on commercial whaling by saying
its catches are for research purposes.
But most of the meat eventually
winds up on Japanese dinner
plates. Japan says it plans to expand
its hunt next season to include the
killing of humpback whales.

Too Many Elephants
South Africa’s environment
minister announced
the country could reintroduce
elephant culling following
a sharp increase in the number
of the animals over the last
decade. Marthinus van Schalkwyk
told reporters that since the government
launched a moratorium on
killing elephants in 1995, their numbers
have surged from about 8,000 to
about 20,000 at the beginning of this
year. “Elephants are potentially difficult
to confine within protected
areas, and if they leave the area, they
pose a threat to the lives and property
of neighbors,” said van Schalkwyk.

Earthquakes
Initial reports from Sumatra
said that around 70
people perished during a
6.4 magnitude earthquake
on the Indonesian island. Several
strong aftershocks also shook the
region. A separate 5.9 magnitude
quake caused panic in Sumatra’s Nias
region the following day.
• At least 35 people in southwestern
Iran were injured when a 4.8 magnitude
quake damaged buildings
around the town of Doroud.
• Earth movements were also felt
in Indonesia’s Papua province and
Moluccas islands, northern New
Zealand, Japan’s Akita prefecture
and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tropical Cyclones
Australia’s Northern Territory
was drenched by a
tropical disturbance that
later became Cyclone
George. The storm gained force off
the country’s northwest coast before
slamming into Western Australia.
• Cyclone Jacob was a threat to
shipping over the northeastern Indian
Ocean between Java and northwestern
Australia.

Andean Eruption
Ecuador’s Tungurahua
volcano spewed columns
of ash and heavy smoke
high above the northern
Andes during the mountain’s most
intense activity since last August.
That eruption killed four people and
wrecked nearly 5,000 homes. The
volcano began showering nearby villages
with incandescent rocks again
last month, and authorities advised
hundreds of local residents to voluntarily
evacuate their homes due to the
latest increase in activity.

Mystery Bird
A wetland bird that was
believed to have been
captured only once in
India in 1867, and presumed
to be extinct, has been rediscovered
in Thailand. The finding was
announced on the Birdlife International
Web site on March 7. Ornithologist
Philip Round was banding wild
birds around a wastewater treatment
plant near Bangkok last year when
one of the birds he caught seemed
very odd. “Then it dawned on me ...
I was probably holding a large-billed
reed warbler,” said Round. Only one
sample of the bird was initially
believed to have been captured 139
years ago. But six months after the
rediscovery, another specimen was
uncovered at the Natural History
Museum at Tring, England. DNA
comparison with both samples
proved that Round’s discovery was
indeed the same species. The bird
was released after being extensively
photographed and having the DNA
sample collected. Almost nothing is
known about the bird, and studies are
being planned to determine the range
of its habitat.

Earth News: A Journal of the Planet
Week Ending March 9, 2007
Distributed by: UPS
© 2007-Earth Frenzy Radio

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