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B.C. pine beetles now killing spruce trees

B.C. Canada
Photo: The mountain pine beetle has devastated forests across much of British Columbia.

June 28, 2007
Starving mountain pine beetles in central British Columbia have moved into spruce trees as the supply of lodgepole pines disappears. Although spruce are generally not nutritionally or chemically suitable for the beetles to reproduce, they still do enough damage to kill the trees. Last year, more than 9.2 million hectares of B.C. and Alberta forest were in an advanced stage of attack from the tiny, but voracious beetles. As they seek new food sources they are moving east. The worry is that the beetles will soon hit the mother lode of pine trees in the boreal forest. If the beetles jump from the lodgepole pine to the boreal forest's jack pine, an infestation could wipe out billions of trees all the way to the East Coast

Abnormal weather in Sarawak, no traditional haze

Malaysia
Click on the Map to Enhance

June 28, 2007
KUCHING: Traditionally, it is now the time for the start of the drought and haze season in Sarawak.But it rains almost everyday here and in some other parts of the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said this was abnormal as the weather now had become very unpredictable.
``Because of the El Nino, the weather pattern has changed.
``We expect the rains to be heavier towards the end of the year,'' he told reporters on Thursday.
Dr Chan, also state disaster relief committee chairman, said unpredicted heavy rains and thunderstorms had caused flash floods in Miri and other towns.
He said local councils should check on drains in the cities and towns to ensure that these were not blocked by rubbish.
Flood warning systems, he said, were put in place in flood prone areas.

Unusual storm breaks weather in Afghanistan

Photo: Boys swim in a flooded field in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Thursday, June 28, 2007. (CP PHOTO, Stephanie Levitz)

June 28, 2007
AFGHANISTAN - this week's storm over the Gulf of Oman was an "absolute monster." "This storm is an anomaly in that it hit us. Much like how (hurricane) Juan hit Halifax, how the tornadoes in Edmonton hit in '87. On a climatological scale, these things don't happen - these areas aren't prone to getting hit." The storm swirled up on Tuesday, unleashing wind and rain throughout Afghanistan over three days, including a three-hour crackling thunderstorm that at times was hard to discern from the roar of military aircraft. The usual rainfall this time of year for southern Afghanistan is zero. By late Thursday night, 40 millimetres had fallen. In parts of Afghanistan, the impact of the storm was severe; Afghan National Police and coalition soldiers rescued 42 people Wednesday who were trapped on rocks in the province of Kapisa, in the eastern part of the country. Further east, in Pakistan, the provincial relief commissioner estimated that some 200,000 houses were destroyed or damaged. More than 800,000 people have been affected by floods from heavy rains and overflowing rivers and dams. In Kandahar City on Thursday morning, the storm cut off power and phone access for thousands of people, bogging down side streets and main arteries throughout the city. Farmers especially were worried about the UNUSUAL weather. One grape farmer mocked a westerner who was enjoying the respite from the heat, saying the rain would certainly ruin what had looked to be a bumper crop this season. The region is entering the season known as the Wind of 120 Days, an arid blast of air that sweeps over from Iran, and unstopped by the vast desert of southern Afghanistan, rips across the country with gale-force strength.

Pakistani villagers hit by floods riot after little or no help arrives

Pakistan
Photo: Villagers flee after their homes were destroyed by flood in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber, near the Afghanistan border, Friday.(Mohammad Zubair/Associated Press)

June 29, 2007
Victims of monsoon floods in southwest Pakistan rioted Friday, protesting the slow arrival of meagre aid to their villages.
Police attempted to contain the crowd of several thousand in Turbat with tear gas and shots fired into the air, but with little effect. Earlier in the day, the crowds broke into and ransacked the mayor's office.
The protests come after Cyclone Yemyin dumped torrential rains in the area on Tuesday, causing widespread flooding.
Military helicopters continue to drop relief supplies, but many of the more than 800,000 people affected by the flooding in southwest Pakistan appeared to have received little or nothing.

Huge Dust Cloud Moving Towards Florida

Florida, USA
Photo: A look at the dust layer during a flight from Barbados to Miami.

June 28, 2007

Droughts followed by tropical downpours followed by . . . Saharan dust storms.

A mammoth cloud of African dust is heading in our general direction, close behind the disturbances that brought torrential rain to parts of the region.

Joseph Prospero, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said the dusty, reddish-brown cloud hovered Wednesday over the Caribbean and Atlantic.

It was likely to complete its 6,000-mile trip to Florida by Friday, the first of many wind-blown deliveries of soil that blows off the Sahara this time of year and ends up on our lawns, fields -- and cars.

Click the Image at Left to View Saharan Dust Entering the Caribbean Sea on June 26

News Source: Jordy of Virtual Matter

UN issues desertification warning

Click the Image Above to Enlarge


The impact of human activities on wilderness qualities has been modelled using the GLOBIO-2 model. The model uses infrastructure and settlements as proxies and measure the degree by which habitats have reduced their wilderness qualities, by fragmentation and disturbance. According to the model, huge tracts of desert areas are relatively undisturbed, the majority of highly impacted areas are in the drylands of Central Asia and North America.
Click Image Below for more information.



Breaking Earth News
The United Nations



Tens of millions of people could be driven from their homes by encroaching deserts, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, a report says.
The study by the United Nations University suggests climate change is making desertification "the greatest environmental challenge of our times".
If action is not taken, the report warns that some 50 million people could be displaced within the next 10 years.
The study was produced by more than 200 experts from 25 countries.
This report does not pull any punches, says BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath.
One third of the Earth's population - home to about two billion people - are potential victims of its creeping effect, it says.
"Desertification has emerged as an environmental crisis of global proportions, currently affecting an estimated 100 to 200 million people, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of a much larger number," the study said.
The overexploitation of land and unsustainable irrigation practices are making matters worse, while climate change is also a major factor degrading the soil, it says.

VILLAGE OF THE DAMMED

June 27, 2007
U.K
DESTRUCTION AND DEATH AS SUMMER DELUGE BATTERS ENGLAND Residents flee as torrent threatens reservoir

A MULTI-MILLION-POUND clean-up operation has started in Sheffield after floods killed two people and brought chaos to the city.
The worst deluge since records began burst the banks of the rivers Don and Sheaf, sending millions of gallons of water into homes.

TORRENTIAL RAINS
"While it's not unusual to get isolated flash floods in the summer, it's UNPRECEDENTED to experience so many serious flooding incidents at the same time."

China region starts from scratch after devastating quake

China
Photos: A villager stands on a pile of rubble where his house once stood. All photos by David Darg

June 27, 2007
On the morning of 3 June a violent earthquake struck the Pu'er region of southwestern China. The quake measured 6.4 on the Richter scale and over 90 percent of all homes and buildings in the region were badly damaged or destroyed in an instant.
To date, 44,000 families have lost their homes and a further 58,000 will need to carry out major repairs before returning home. Amazingly with an earthquake of this magnitude, only three people were killed and a further 28 seriously injured.
The low casualty count is very fortunate and attributed to the quake striking in daylight hours. But the region is bracing for difficult times ahead. For a population whose annual average income is $80 dollars the economic loss will be devastating.

Southeast drought causes rise in infestations as pests seek water

MONTGOMERY, Ala.- June 26: In addition to wilting plants and water restrictions, homeowners in the Southeast are also seeing a rise in unwelcome invasions of creepy crawly visitors because of the drought.Wildlife experts and pest control professionals say insect infestations are up as increased numbers of ants and cockroaches enter homes seeking water. Rodents and snakes - which typically prefer to avoid humans - are also venturing into more densely populated areas as their water sources dry up and food grows scarce. Pest control firms have also noticed a spike in rodent calls, UNUSUAL for this time of year. Rodents generally enter homes in October as temperatures fall, and homeowners usually report infestations in January and February when the first litters of baby rats and mice start running around. Usually, exterminators report very few, if any, rodent calls between May and October. "Rodents would prefer not to be around humans, but if they're hungry or thirsty enough, they'll put up wit

Lightning kills 37 over 3 days in eastern China

China
June 26, 2007
Lightning killed 37 people in eastern China in a span of three days, including a dozen farmers who were struck as they worked in a field, state media reported Tuesday

East Gippsland faces record flooding

Breaking Earth News
Australia
TORRENTIAL rain pelting Gippsland has flooded roads and is flowing towards houses.
The wildest weather in a decade has shut the Princes Highway between Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance. The highway is also closed at Nicholson. Rising waters are reportedly lapping at several houses in Bairnsdale. Heavy rain is also bolstering Victoria's biggest water catchment, the Thomson Dam. Rain lashed Gippsland overnight. A second burst of rainfall and damaging wind gusts is forecast today.


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Goodbye sunshine

Britain
June 26, 2007
Over the last few days Britain has been subjected to the “WORST RAIN FOR 50 YEARS” according to some national newspapers. The southeast is usually the driest region in the UK and has a lower rainfall average than Jerusalem and Beirut at between 450mm and 600mm per year. The wet weather has reportedly wiped out the nesting season for some of Britain's rarest wading birds, up to 1,000 pairs of waders and ground-nesting birds have lost their eggs or chicks after rain hit the Ouse Washes in East Anglia. This month Ipswich has seen nearly double the average amount of rainfall as a rare “European monsoon” descends on the Suffolk skyline. And this month has followed the wettest May on record over much of Suffolk. Only April was better than expected - there was virtually no rain for the entire month, prompting fears of a drought. “Two Junes in every ten years will see moist air travelling in from the Atlantic, resulting in torrential rain of a tropical intensity like the sort we have seen for the past few weeks. This May was one of the wettest for 100 years, with five inches of rainfall, which is three times more than what we should have had.” The four-weekly forecast predicts that while this week should improve, next week will see the return of unsettled weather and then more rain will fall during the middle of July. Click Here for More Information on Flooding

IN THE NEWS

BBC News website readers, reporters and correspondents in the field have been writing in with their experiences of the extremes from across the country. Readers have submitted more than 3,000 pictures and 200 mobile phone videos so far.
You can read a selection of comments and reports by clicking the link above.

Video: Egyptian Royal Mummy Discovered

Egypt
June 27, 2007

Click the Arrow to Begin Video

Crater Could Solve 1908 Tunguska Meteor Mystery

June 26, 2007
In late June of 1908, a fireball exploded above the remote Russian forests of Tunguska, Siberia, flattening more than 800 square miles of trees. Researchers think a meteor was responsible for the devastation, but neither its fragments nor any impact craters have been discovered.

Astronomers have been left to guess whether the object was an asteroid or a comet, and figuring out what it was would allow better modeling of potential future calamities.
Italian researchers now think they've found a smoking gun: The 164-foot-deep Lake Cheko, located just 5 miles northwest of the epicenter of destruction.

Deadly flu virus mutating rapidly

Pandemic Alert
The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is mutating unpredictably and at a rapid pace, a senior WHO official has warned Asia Pacific health ministers.

APEC health ministers have wrapped their two-day Sydney meeting with a pledge to address the "very real" threat of a global pandemic of bird flu or human influenza.

The commitment came after a World Health Organisation (WHO) presentation urging vigilance in the face of unpredictable changes in the H5N1 virus, which poses the biggest current threat.

Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, told ministers and senior delegates from the 21 nations the virus was rapidly evolving.

"The virus is already entrenched, embedded in this part of the world and ... it has been very, very unstable and changeable," Dr Omi said after the meeting.

"If we put (these two points) together it's a very clear indication that we have to remain vigilant."

The Indonesian strain has infected 309 people since 2003, killing 188, but Dr Omi warned that what was once two distinct grades had now spilt into four sub-groups.

"And I would not be surprised if we end up with more sub-classes in the years to come," he said.

The Asteroid that Hit L.A.

A catastrophe calculator lets you try out some "what if" scenarios.

Simulate a 130-foot diameter Iron based asteroid, an 11 mile wide "planet killer" and an Apophis-sized (1050 foot wide) impact - then read what some of the possible results would be. Click Here

Credit: PBS / NOVA / scienceNOW for this great visual aid.

Distemper kills Danish seal pups

Denmark
June 25, 2007
An outbreak of distemper has killed at least 41 seal pups, whose carcasses have washed up on a Danish island. There are fears that thousands of seals could die if the virus spreads. A distemper outbreak in 2002 killed about 30% of seals off Denmark, but the virus killed nearly 60% of seals in the area in 1988. The virus causes laboured breathing, fever and neurological problems. It does not affect humans.

Latest Bird Flu Outbreaks


Avian Flu Update
June 25, 2007







TONGO confirmed its first H5N1 outbreak.


INDONESIA reported its 100th human H5N1 case.


CZECH REPUBLIC has reported its first poultry H5N1 outbreak.


GERMANY - The highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N1 has been found in two dead swans in Germany.

EGYPT - A four-year-old Egyptian boy has tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus, becoming the 37th human case in the country.








Europe's Extreme Weather




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WA dams hit rock bottom as rain fails

Western Australia
June 24, 2007

The drinking water crisis in the South-West has been further highlighted with some of the Western area’s main dams at RECORD LOWS. Millstream Dam just outside Bridgetown has dropped to an alltime Statewide low of 9 per cent capacity. The dam’s current condition was the worst seen in more than 20 years in the region. “It looks like we’ve drained it for maintenance — I’ve never seen it this low. It’s terrible." The Water Corporation would usually start transferring water from Millstream Dam to other dams at this time of the year. No relief is in sight because three fronts arriving within a week are expected to bring only light rains to agricultural areas. Some farmers in the north-west who need 350mm of rain before the end of the year had received only 10mm to date. Farmers around the Geraldton area were losing topsoil to high winds because of the lack of rain.

Expect an increase of short, sharp storms with climate change

United Kingdom
June 22, 2007

Severe floods have affected many parts of the UK over the past week, with more storms in store. Around the country, over 750 properties have suffered extreme damage from flooding from both water crosses and surface waters. With some areas receiving more than a month's rainfall in just 24 hours, fatalities include a young soldier who died during a 'routine exercise' on the north Yorkshire moors when he fell into a stream swollen by heavy rainfalls. The storms have also resulted in a large number of people who have been evacuated from their homes. "This isn't freak weather, but we do have a consistent area of low pressure." With more storms in store over the coming days, the low pressure is moving from northern England to the south. "[Over time] what we'll expect to see is more of the short, sharp storms that are extreme with lightning and thunder. Under climate change predictions, the heavy summer rain is something we're going to continue seeing."

Ancient Meteor Blast May Have Caused Extinctions

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., May 24 /Standard Newswire
New scientific findings suggest that a large, extraterrestrial rock may have exploded over North America 13,000 years ago, explaining riddles that scientists have wrestled with for decades, including an abrupt cooling of the atmosphere and the extinction of large mammals. The extraterrestrial rock must have been about five kilometers across, and either exploded in the atmosphere or directly hit the Laurentide ice sheet located in the Northeastern section of North America. Wildfires across the continent would have resulted from the fiery impact, killing off the vegetation that was the food supply of many of the larger mammals like the woolly mammoths, causing them to go extinct. Since the Clovis people of North America hunted the mammoths as a major source of their food, they too were affected by the impact and their culture died out. The scientific team visited over a dozen archaeological sites in North America where they found high concentrations of iridium, an element that is rare on Earth, and is almost exclusively associated with meteors. The team concluded that the impact of the space rock melted a large portion of the Laurentide ice sheet, causing enormous amounts of cool, fresh water to flow into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. This would have caused a major disruption of the circulation of warm and cold water in these oceans, leading to a cooler atmosphere and the glaciation of the Younger Dryas period. The scientists found evidence for the impact as far west as the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.

Cyclone Gonu: After The Storm

Oman
Photo: Bruised: Jeffrey C. Catanjal shows a sample of the coral damaged by the storm

June 21, 2007
A damaged trail of coral left behind in the wake of Cyclone Gonu has changed the underwater landscape of some of the UAE’s favourite diving spots. In some areas, large areas of coral – which provide food and shelter to marine life – were damaged or wiped out. Dibba Rock has lost more than half its coral. A large, shallow area which was earlier covered by coral was damaged, but there is still a lot of marine life left. The damage at Dibba was “like someone had ground the coral”. In other areas, like Snoopy Island, the damage was less severe as rocks protect much of the coral. Still, casualties of the storm exist even at Snoopy Island, where some coral was ripped from the seabed. Soft corals suffered the most, particularly at sites like Martini Rock. However, being a fast-growing species, it will recover if the conditions are right. “Divers who are familiar with the area will notice changes caused to the marine life. We know for a fact that marine life recovers, but it depends on many factors. If there are additional industrial pressures, this will further delay the recovery period.”

Mystery deepens over disappearing lake in Patagonia




A lake in southern Chile has mysteriously disappeared, prompting speculation the ground has simply opened up and swallowed it whole.

The lake was situated in the Magallanes region in Patagonia and fed by water, mostly from melting glaciers.

It had a surface area of between four and five hectares (10-12 acres) - about the size of 10 soccer pitches.


News Source: The Great Red Comet


Distributed by Skywatch-Media News



Thousands converged on Stonehenge to celebrate summer solstice


Associated Press

June 21, 2007

STONEHENGE, England -- Thousands of modern-day druids, pagans and partygoers converged on Stonehenge early Thursday to cheer the dawn of the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere -- the summer solstice.

Clad in antlers, black cloaks and oak leaves, a group gathered at the Heel stone -- a twisted, pockmarked pillar at the edge of the prehistoric monument -- to welcome the rising sun as revellers danced and yelled.


An estimated 20,000 people gathered at the stone circle in Wiltshire, in southwestern England. Dancers writhed to the sound of drums and whistles as floodlights coloured the ancient pillars shades of pink and purple and couples snuggled under plastic sheets.

Freak winter is Europe's warmest for 700 years

Last autumn-winter season was Europe's WARMEST FOR MORE THAN 700 YEARS. The last time Europeans saw temperatures similar to those of the autumn and winter of 2006-07, they were eating strawberries at Christmas in 1289. European climate measurements and temperature records stretch back several hundred years to 1659. Estimating historical temperatures beyond then involves scrutinising contemporary documents and diaries. Separately the temperatures experienced during autumn 2006 and winter 2007 are likely to have been the warmest in 500 years. But the sequential combination of two such warm seasons is a still RARER event – probably the first since 1289.


News Source: The Great Red Comet



Distributed by Skywatch-Media News



Top End shivers in unusual cold

Breaking Earth News
Australia

Northern Territory residents are stocking up on jumpers and blankets as they shiver through the COLDEST JUNE ON RECORD. The wild weather further south has brought UNPRECEDENTED COLD and steady rain to much of the Top End in what is meant to be the sunny, dry season. With temperatures under 23 degrees Celsius, locals used to wearing shorts all year round have been wearing fleece-lined jackets. Tennant Creek and Katherine have had their COLDEST JUNE DAYS ON RECORD. The chilly conditions also playing havoc with the digestive system of salt water crocodiles. They cannot even eat. "It's tough for crocodiles when it gets cold, because they can't digest food."

Mexico City Could Face Major Flooding

Mexico City
June 20, 2007

The City Was Once An Island
There is a "high possibility" a huge underground drainage tunnel in Mexico City could soon fail, flooding parts of this metropolis 15 feet deep in sewage. Officials have been puzzled for years by the gradual decrease in capacity of the approximately 20-foot-wide tunnel built in the 1970s to drain waste water from the valley, which is home to 20 million people and has no natural outlet. They have speculated that the tunnel may be partially clogged or that its walls could be decaying. But because it is constantly filled with water, officials have not been able to travel through the structure to inspect it or perform much-needed maintenance. "A failure ... could cause severe floods reaching five meters in the city's historic center, the international airport" and other boroughs on the city's east side. Poor drainage and flooding has been a historical problem for the city, especially during the rainy season that runs typically from late May through October. The Mexico Valley, where the city is located, was largely covered by lakes when the Aztecs founded the city on an island in 1325. The Aztecs built dikes to try to keep out flood waters. The Spaniards who conquered Mexico in 1521 tried to drain the lakes, which have disappeared under the urban sprawl.

NPR-Mexico City Struggles with Water Management

The Fourth World Water Forum opens in Mexico City, a city that would flunk almost any test of good water management. The city sits on a huge aquifer. But to make room for this sprawling metropolis, the water is being pumped out faster than it is being filled.


Water spray latest headache for Indonesian mudflow engineers

June 20, 2007
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian experts scrambled Wednesday to deal with a massive water spray gushing from the ground near a "mud volcano" of toxic sludge on Indonesia's Java island.Ahmad Zulkarnain, the spokesman for the government team handling the disaster, said that the five-metre (16-feet) high spray began before dawn on Saturday at a restaurant in Jatirejo village, near the mudflow area."We are going to channel the water to the river to prevent it from flooding the area," he told AFP, adding that workers had failed on Tuesday to "plug" the water."We are afraid that if we do not hurry, it may submerge the village, highway and railway," he said.Zulkarnain said there had been about 60 incidents of water or gas spurting from the ground near the so-called mud volcano, which erupted in May last year, inundating an area of some 600 hectares (1,500 acres).

Lake goes missing in Chile

Breaking Earth News
Chile, S.A.

A lake in southern Chile has mysteriously disappeared, prompting speculation the ground has simply opened up and swallowed it whole.
The lake was situated in the Magallanes region in Patagonia and was fed by water mostly from melting glaciers.
It had a surface area of between 4 and 5 hectares, about the size of 10 soccer pitches.
"In March we patrolled the area and everything was normal," Juan Jose Romero, regional director of Chile's National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) said.
"We went again in May and to our surprise we found the lake had completely disappeared.
"The only things left were chunks of ice on the dry lake-bed and an enormous fissure."
CONAF is investigating the disappearance.
One theory is that the area was hit by an earth tremor that opened a crack in the ground which acted like a drain.
Southern Chile has been shaken by thousands of minor earth tremors this year.
- Reuters

Earth could 'flip' into environmental disaster

Breaking Earth News
New Zealand

The Earth is in imminent peril and nothing short of a planetary rescue will save it from the environmental cataclysm of dangerous climate change, six leading scientists say .
Writing in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, the American scientists believe civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.
They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for under-estimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.
Instead of sea levels rising by about 40 centimetres, as the IPCC predicts in one of its computer forecasts, the scientists say the true rise may be as great as several metres by 2100, which is why Earth today is in "imminent peril".
The 29-page scientific paper, Climate Change and Trace Gases, is the product of James Hansen, the director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Makiko Sato, Pushker Kharecha, and Gary Russell, also of the Goddard Institute, David Lea of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Mark Siddall of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

Bird Flu Fears Reignited

Toronto (UPI) June 19, 2007
When the new hens began dying between May 1 and May 17, health authorities from both countries descended on the farm, testing the sick birds and determining that the birds had H7N2 disease.







New lava eruption seen at Kilauea


Hawaii, USA

June 19, 2007
Scientists on the Big Island observed a new lava eruption at Kilauea volcano's upper east rift zone Tuesday morning following another swarm of small earthquakes. The small outbreak of lava oozed from a fissure in the forest nearly four miles west of Puu Oo and eight miles southeast of the Kilauea summit. "The outbreak appeared to be a short one that had been over for at least a few hours by the time it was seen this morning. This may be related to the abrupt eastward migration of earthquake epicenters into this area noted between 3:45 and 5 p.m. yesterday. Small earthquakes continue to occur in the area at low levels."

'Stealth' Tsunami That Killed 600 In Java Last Summer Had 65 Foot High Wave

Breaking Earth News
Though categorized as magnitude 7.8, the earthquake could scarcely be felt by beachgoers that afternoon. A low tide and wind-driven waves disguised the signs of receding water, so when the tsunami struck, it caught even lifeguards by surprise. That contributed to the death toll of more than 600 persons in Java, Indonesia
Image: Chart shows maximum estimated tsunami heights across the Indian Ocean. Credit: Image courtesy Vasily Titov, NOAA Pacific Marine and Environmental Laboratory

Climate change behind Darfur massacre

DARFUR - the UN Secretary General said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon. Four years of fighting has killed at least 200,000 people. "The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change." UN statistics show that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons. When Darfur's land was rich, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water. With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing. "For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out." Sudan is not the only country with such problems - Somalia, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso are other African countries with "food and water insecurity."

Arctic spring's 'rapid advance'

The Arctic
June 18, 2007

Spring in the Arctic is arriving "weeks earlier" than a decade ago. Ice in north-east Greenland is melting an average of 14.6 days earlier than in the mid-1990s, bringing forward the date plants flower and birds lay eggs. The observed changes could disrupt the region's ecosystems and food chain, affecting the long-term survival of some species. "We were particularly surprised to see the trends were so strong when considering that the entire summer is very short in the High Arctic - just three or four months from snowmelt to freeze-up." The warming in the region, which is occurring at twice the rate of the global average, could affect the future stability of the region's ecosystem. "There could be positive consequences in the short term, and potentially negative consequences in the long term."

Human Activities Increasing Carbon Sequestration In Forests

June 14, 2007
Image: It was first recognized in the 1980s that human activities, by releasing unprecedented amounts of active nitrogen into the atmosphere, were not just altering the global nitrogen cycle but also causing the eutrophication of large parts of the biosphere, the researchers said in their report. Nitrogen - produced by automobile engines, factories, and intensive agriculture - is often a key, limiting nutrient in forests and other ecosystems.

Human-caused nitrogen deposition has been indirectly "fertilizing" forests, increasing their growth and sequestering major amounts of carbon, a new study in the journal Nature suggests
.

The findings create a more complex view of the carbon cycle in forests, where it was already known that logging or other stand-replacement events -- whether natural or not -- create periods of 5-20 years when there is a net release of carbon dioxide from forests to the atmosphere, instead of sequestration as they do later on.
The end result is a highly variable forest carbon cycle that appears to be heavily influenced by the footprint of humans, one way or another. It's a complicated process with powerful driving forces that were poorly understood, said scientists from 10 institutions in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Antarctic to cover global water shortage

June 15, 2007
MOSCOW. (Nikolai Osokin for RIA Novosti) - Many Antarctic mysteries have been unraveled. Just as many continue to puzzle us to this day. For instance, science has not yet calculated the Antarctic ice cap balance - that is, the ratio between the annual snow fallout and the amount of ice lost as icebergs thaw off.
An ambitious program, International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, was launched last March to delve into Arctic and Antarctic secrets. It involves experts from more than 60 countries as breakthroughs in Earth sciences can be made only by pooled efforts on comprehensive projects. The program attempts to collect comprehensive information about many aspects of the Arctic and Antarctic environment, and its wide and quick dissemination. It envisages an accurate all-round evaluation of current processes and forecasts of climatic and environmental changes. Scientists will offer recommendations on possible practical measures.

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