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Warming world sends plants uphill

Climate change has resulted in many plant species moving an average of 29 metres uphill every decade. Climate change has caused plants to seek cooler conditions at higher altitudes. Smaller species such as ferns, which have shorter reproduction cycles, were the quickest to relocate. This suggests that long living woody plant species, such as trees, are likely to be more threatened by climate change than herb species like grasses. "This may imply profound changes in the composition and structure of plant communities and animal species that depend upon them."

Violent Weather Taking Toll on States

Iowa was one of 17 states whacked this year by an UNUSUALLY severe outbreak of storms, with financial, public safety, infrastructure and environmental repercussions that could take state officials years to resolve. Hurricane season started June 1, so more states could face disasters. But already 2008 has been UNUSUAL, meteorologists say, because of the frequency of fast-moving storms that have occurred at night in populated areas. About 60 people a year die in tornadoes, but this year 118 have been killed, the most in 10 years. The burst of violent weather began on Feb. 5 when 87 tornadoes swept across Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, killing 56 people. Since then, tornadoes have struck Georgia, Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Multiple heavy thunderstorms have pelted Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, leading to flooding.

Floods boost food prices for years

Breaking Earth News
Levees on the cresting Mississippi River held today as the worst US Midwest flooding in 15 years began to ebb, but multibillion-dollar crop losses may boost world food prices for years.

In the Philippines,
a "food shortage" looms in the next one to two months after the massive floods due to typhoon "Frank" (international codename: Fengshen) devastated farm lands and livestock in the Western Visayas. One of the affected provinces, Iloilo, is one of the top three rice-producing provinces in the country. The floods destroyed 22 hectares or rice lands, equivalent to 66,000 metric tons of rice, and "almost wiped out" livestock and fisheries in the region. In Cadiz town in Negros Occidental, the storm destroyed half a billion pesos worth of fishing boats. Water systems destroyed by the storm have not been repaired.

Thin line between mayhem and safety

The Mississippi River rushes through a break in Indian Grave Drainage District levee north of Quincy, Ill., and south of Meyer, Ill., on June 18.

Well before record floods overwhelmed at least two dozen levees in the Mississippi River watershed, government officials at all levels have raised concern about the ability of such structures to protect property and lives. For millions of Americans living in flood-prone places, all that stands between the waters of mayhem and safety is a pile of dirt.

Thin line between mayhem and safety Thin line between mayhem and safety Thin line between mayhem and safety

Severe Consequences of Philippine Ferry Tragedy

ESPANA, Philippines (AFP) — Local Filipino fisherman Robert Naiya looks out across the still waters towards the bow of the ill-fated Princess of the Stars and asks: "What about us?"

"We should be out fishing today," he said, but a government ban has meant that Naiya and his friends just sit on their colourful boats that dot the beach, talking and wondering what the future holds.

The near 24,000-tonne passenger ferry capsized during Typhoon Fengshen on June 21 with more than 850 people on board in this picturesque bay on the south coast of Sibuyan island in the central Philippines.

There were fewer than 60 survivors.

Heat waves expected

The National meteorological institute has revealed that this summer is expected to be ONE OF THE HOTTEST IN THE LAST 25 YEARS. Temperatures for June, July and August are expected to be 0.5 degrees above average, with the highest likely to be recorded in central and southern Portugal. “If the predictions are correct then we could have a very serious situation, similar to that of 2003 when 1,953 people died because of the heat.” As well as high temperatures, the meteorological institute also alerts to high levels of ultra violet (UV) radiation, which is measured on a scale from the lowest level of one to the highest level of 11. The UV levels for the Algarve are expected to remain at a minimum of Very High (between eight and 10) this summer.

Thousands flee Euro 2008 electrical storm

(CNN) -- Thousands of football fans fled for safety and millions of TV viewers were left disappointed Wednesday night as an electrical storm in Vienna disrupted coverage of the first of the Euro 2008 semifinals.

Thousands flee Euro 2008 electrical storm

Bizarre Electrical Storms hit California and New Zealand

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) In less than a day, an electrical storm unleashed nearly 8,000 lightning strikes that set more than 800 wildfires across Northern California — a RARE example of "dry lightning" that brought little or no rain but plenty of sparks to the state's parched forests and grasslands.

HOT SPOTS: A map from MetService shows thousands of lightning strikes in the 24-hours to 8am.

Bizarre Electrical Storms hit California and New Zealand Bizarre Electrical Storms hit California and New Zealand Bizarre Electrical Storms hit California and New Zealand

Here’s looking forward to a warmer summer

Each morning I check the garden hoping for signs of life in the vegetable patch. For weeks all our seeds in the cold damp soil decided that this spring is nothing more than winter in disguise. It was a struggling no-show but finally a few have begrudgingly surfaced. I can’t remember a spring as wet, cold, and long as this one. Apparently I’m not alone. “It’s been so cold,” said Mark Sweeney, industry berry specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. “Right from December it’s been odd. And not getting above 12oC in (early) June is extremely unusual. I can’t remember a spring like this.” Skywatch Media News

Here’s looking forward to a warmer summer

Food dwindles for cyclone survivors

Burma (Myanmar)

NEARLY three quarters of those who survived Burma's devastating cyclone lack enough food to last more than a week and remain in desperate need of help, according to the United Nations.

More than 138,000 people were killed or remain missing in the wake of Cyclone Nargis hitting southwest Burma on May 2 and 3.

Only 45 per cent of survivors are getting food from international aid agencies, according to a report by the United Nations and the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN, which conducted a detailed assessment of the worst-affected areas.


Myanmar cyclone toll rises to 138,000 dead or missing

More than 138,000 are dead or missing from the devastating cyclone that struck Myanmar last month, the government said on Tuesday, according to an Asian diplomat.

Kilauea Just Keeps Going and Going

Hawaii, USA
A new vent that erupted to life in mid-March 2008 atop Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island shows no signs of shutting down. At times a billowing white steam plume has blasted thousands of feet into the air, so high it has been picked up on satellite imagery. Other times the vent has glowed a ghostly bright orange or shot out a sooty rusty cloud of ash, hurtled rocks out of its throat and several small explosive eruptions, THE FIRST OF THOSE TYPE IN OVER 80 YEARS, have occurred.

It's nature's one-two punch - VIDEO-
Halemaumau crater's explosion and Kilauea's leaking of lava give the Big Island not one, but two outlets for venting sulfur dioxide. "Experts told a House vog task force that over time the toxic gas could wreak havoc with all sorts of things. One of the possibilities is prolonged activity at Halemaumau." The longer vog particulates are injected into the air, the greater the chance for less rainfall. "No individual droplet is able to accumulate enough mass to actually precipitate." That's bad news for Big Island farmers. They are already seeing crop damage from the toxic air. Less rainfall would be devastating. Another concern is breathing problems. Doctors at Kau Hospital are seeing more respiratory infections that may be linked to vog. On the south side of the Big Island you can't escape it. "One of the emergency room physicians told me he has come into the hospital on high vog days and actually seen a layer of vog down the hallway." "The eruption rate of lava is on the average of a half a million cubic meters per day. That's a lot of lava." And it's not going to stop anytime soon. With Halemaumau also venting toxic gas, scientists and medical experts say it's time to do more than watch and wonder.

Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century - A special report by Johann Hari

Bangladesh, the most crowded nation on earth, is set to disappear under the waves by the end of this century – and we will be to blame. Johann Hari took a journey to see for himself how western profligacy and indifference have sealed the fate of 150 million peoplewent to see for himself the spreading misery and destruction as the ocean reclaims the land on which so many millions depend.

Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century - A special report by Johann Hari Bangladesh is set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century - A special report by Johann Hari

Rift extends for 15 km along ground after Tohoku earthquake

The rift that appeared in the ground is shown in a rice paddy. The right side is elevated and cedar trees in the background are leaning to one side.

Story: A rift extending for about 15 kilometers has appeared on the surface of the ground in five districts following the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Japan's Tohoku region on June 14, it has emerged. In the Mochikorogashi district of Koromogawa-ku in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, a zigzag fault has appeared in the surface through two rice paddies, with the land on the west side about 45 centimeters higher. Across four of the five points, a rift extending for about 10 kilometers has appeared along an old fault on the border between Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. "There's a possibility that this fault caused the earthquake, but with an earthquake of this size it wouldn't be unusual for a step of about 2 meters to appear on the surface. There is also a possibility that another fault caused the earthquake and the effects of that caused this rift to appear on the surface."

The temperature of a hot spring near the epicenter of the Iwate and Miyagi earthquake sharply changed before the temblor struck. A similar phenomenon was observed with other earthquakes, including one that struck Hokkaido in 1993. Seismologists are paying close attention to the phenomenon as it could help predict earthquakes. The temperature of the hot spring water at the Kamikura Hot Spring Inn in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture, which had been 42 degrees Celsius, began to rise in mid-May - about a month before the quake, its owner said. It reached 47 degrees one week before the temblor. The Kamikura inn is situated about five kilometers away from the epicenter of the earthquake that struck on Saturday last week. Furthermore, the temperature of hot spring water at an inn in the Akinomiya area of Yuzawa, Akita Prefecture, declined from 70 degrees Celsius to 60 degrees in mid-May. The hot spring area is located about 30 kilometers from the epicenter. The water temperature at five hot spa areas in southern Wakayama Prefecture declined 0.1 to 0.3 degrees Celsius about a month before a quake hit the area in 2004. Furthermore, the temperature of hot spring water on Okushiri Island, Hokkaido, rose 10 degrees about a month before a powerful quake jolted Hokkaido in 1993. Some scientists believe that underground rocks hit each other before a powerful earthquake, creating huge pressure. The pressure causes the level of subterranean water to rise, which changes the temperature of hot spring water.

Water may be suspect in tainted tomatoes

Pick a tomato in the blazing sun and plunge it straight into cold water. If that happened on the way to market, it might be contaminated. Too big of a temperature difference can make a tomato literally suck water inside the fruit through the scar where its stem used to be. If salmonella happens to be lurking on the skin, that is one way it can penetrate and, if the tomato is not eaten right away, have time to multiply. This newest salmonella outbreak is the 14th blamed on tomatoes since 1990. There is a growing lists of nasty outbreaks in raw vegetables and fruit: E. coli in spinach and lettuce. Hepatitis A in green onions. Cyclospora in raspberries. Salmonella in cantaloupe. Shigella in parsley. Water sources, worker hygiene and wildlife or domestic animals near fields are frequent culprits because they involve points where safety systems can easily break down. The FDA wants the authority to set mandatory safe-handling rules, what it calls "preventive controls," for growers and suppliers of foods linked to repeated outbreaks of serious illness, such as tomatoes and leafy greens. Congress hasn't yet acted on that request. "We need them, we've asked for them, and we don't yet have them." Budget woes mean the FDA's inspections of food-producing facilities have plummeted by 56 percent between 2003 and last year. But the FDA "is not arguing that you can inspect your way out of these problems. The critical point is to build safety upfront, not load up inspection at the end."

Floodwaters breed hidden health dangers

Image: Houses and businesses are surrounded by floodwaters in the town of Louisiana, Mo. Standing water like this is the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and dangerous bacteria.

West Nile, E. coli among deadly concerns in swamped Midwest

Now that the waters are beginning to recede after this month’s devastating floods in the Midwest, state and federal officials are warning of a widespread secondary risk from dangerous bacteria and disease-bearing mosquitoes. They expect this season’s mosquito population to be especially big, nurtured by hot summer temperatures and large pools of standing water that make an ideal breeding ground. “We know we have mosquitoes right now in the state that are testing positive for the West Nile virus.” Stagnant water carries numerous other risks, health officials said. For any number of dangerous bacteria and parasites, hot, fetid pools left over by swamped septic systems are the perfect home. The raging waters also seeped into countless wells, affecting drinking water for thousands of homes and businesses across the region.

Is everything spinning out of control?

Breaking Earth News
WASHINGTON - Is everything spinning out of control? Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country's sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

Story Continues

Massive Dust Storm over the Middle East

A massive dust cloud hovered over the Middle East in mid-June 2008, stretching from Iraq to India and spreading south past the Arabian Peninsula. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this natural-color image on June 18, 2008

For Full Story Go To: Skywatch Media Entertainment

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Massive Dust Storm over the Middle East

Underwater volcanos spew precious minerals into ocean

Fiji- South Pacific
Image: Multibeam sonar high-definition image of the bed of the Pacific Ocean between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. (CSIRO)

Scientists have discovered two mineral-rich, active volcanos more than a kilometre under the sea near Fiji, with mining companies already lining up to try to exploit the sites. Measuring 50 kilometres wide by almost 4,000 metres tall, the volcanoes are bubbling away at 1,100 metres and 1,500 metres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, in an area known as the North Lau Basin, between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. They are within the Pacific rim of fire, an area of high earthquake activity, and are spewing into the sea black smoke containing precious minerals. The volcanoes are quite remarkable - "Some of the features look like the volcanic blisters seen on the surface of Venus." The two volcanoes have been named Dugong and Lobster. Though they are in a seismologically unstable area, the volcanoes are not likely to trigger a Tsunami. The real danger is not eruption but rather collapse. Any eruption though would be a hazard for the neighbouring Pacific nations. The black smoke pouring out of the calderas leaves behind minerals containing lead, zinc, copper and gold.

What the Mississippi River Flood Tells Us About Global Warming

The slug of slow-moving destruction that is making its way from Iowa down the Mississippi River Valley is extraordinary by any measure.

That the last flood of this magnitude occurred just 15 years ago should be cause for concern.

Floods happen. Big floods happen. Epic floods happen.

But they don't happen all the time. Scientists talk about the 100 Year Flood, and the 500 Year Flood. These are floods of such magnitude they could be expected to occur every 100 years, or every 500 years. Infrequently, in other words.

In Iowa, and on down the Mississippi River, that once-a-century event has happened twice in the life of some teenagers.

In December, a coalition of environmental groups analyzed weather data from around the United States and found that the storms that pack the heaviest rainfall were unleashing their deluges more frequently. The frequency of "extreme rainfall" increased 24% from 1948 to 2006, and that observation is consistent with scientific models that project more intense bouts of rainfall as a consequence of global warming. (Worldwide, natural disasters have increased fourfold in two decades, which the international aide group Oxfam attributes to global warming's affect on extreme weather.)

Global warming to spark increase in US wildfires

Breaking Earth News
Much of the north-western US wilderness is already a tinderbox, but thanks to global warming, wildfires will be scorching even more land every year by the end of the century. Warmer-than-average ocean temperatures in the North Pacific create more low-pressure weather systems than cooler waters do, pushing jet stream circulation north into Canada. This leaves room for high-pressure systems to move in from the south, bringing drier and hotter air to the north-west. Calculations show the amount of land burned annually in the north-west will grow from under a million hectares in 2002 to nearly 2 million hectares by 2080.

Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast'

Arctic sea ice is melting even faster than last year, despite a cold winter. The year began with ice covering a larger area than at the beginning of 2007. But now it is down to levels seen last June, at the beginning of a summer that broke records for sea ice loss. Scientists say that much of the ice is so thin that it melts easily, and the Arctic may be ice-free in summer within five to 10 years.

Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast' Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast' Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast' Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast' Arctic Sea Ice 'Melting Fast'

Panic loom over Gojal in Hunza after glacier burst

The third outburst of a glacier in Gulkin Gojal, upper Hunza, caused widespread panic among the inhabitants and they called for immediate measures to save them from loss. Huge boulders that blocked Karakuram Highway were cleared to restore traffic but the mudflow from the lake disrupted telecommunication and damaged water channels of the Gulkin village. “The residents are shifted to safe areas temporarily to save them as two houses were damaged partially due to mudflow." The mudflows from the glaciers badly affected the irrigation system of Gulkin village and people were concerned about their standing crops in the fields. They feared if measures for its repair were not undertaken on war-footing-basis they might suffer huge monetary losses as well. There were reports of damages in orchards and potato crops, and the villagers were frightened of another big catastrophe as the local population was expecting additional bursts in the upper glaciers.

New Changes For Skywatch-Media News

From the Editor's Desk
Skywatch-Media News

Skywatch-Media News and all of its' affiliate websites will soon be implementing a streamline, user friendly website. Our goal is to bring top quality, multi-media entertainment to our regular viewers and Internet visitors. In order to achieve this, we have developed a new website that will serve our purposes as well as those of the general public.

Our new site, will provide all of the news and entertainment services we currently offer, including audio and video podcasts, our radio archives, radio blog, the newsletter, breaking earth news, a merchandise shopping cart, and much more. The new site will provide a private log-in service, both secure and user friendly.

Membership to our new site will be by invitation only prior to our launch, and by paid subscription through our paypal services or via credit card. After we launch the new site, all our news and media postings from our affiliate websites will require a log-in through our hosting services.

To learn more about our new services, or to sign-up for a new account, please email me directly at

As always we are committed to bringing our viewers the very best news and entertainment on our changing planet, and with our new website, we hope to get even better. We hope that all of you will continue to be a part of our growing network as we look forward to providing our new services across the Internet.


Steven Shaman

China's pandas in danger following quake

The lives of nearly 90% of China's endangered pandas are in danger after last month's earthquake devastated their mountainous habitat, Chinese government experts have warned. The lives of about 1,400 wild pandas in quake-hit areas of Sichuan province are in jeopardy, and some may have already died. "Massive landslides and large scale damage to forests triggered by last month's earthquake are threatening the existence of wild pandas. Caves and tree hollows where giant pandas live may be damaged, water in the habitat is polluted, and some of the bamboo is buried or smashed. Their living environment is completely destroyed." The quake affected 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres), or 83% of the country's total panda habitat. But officials said the extent of the damage could be even worse because landslides have blocked roads, preventing officials from assessing some areas.

Food prices to soar on back of devastating US floods

Breaking Earth News

An expanding drought in Australia's grain belt has already been blamed for contributing to a world food crisis, and now floods in the US midwest, which have devastated the corn crop, are adding to the misery.

The floods in states including Iowa and Illinois have already sent corn prices to new record highs and there could be worse to come.

Most of Iowa, in the US 'corn belt', has been declared a disaster zone. At least three people have died and tens of thousands have been forced to leave their homes.

As well as the human cost, Iowa's Governor Chet Culver fears the economic impact on the largely rural state could be enormous.

"One thing that we haven't talked about, which I'm very concerned about and is critically important, is the damage that has been done to our agricultural sector," he said.

"It is possible you're talking about $US1 billion ($1.06 billion) to just our agricultrual sector, in terms of loss."

Iowa is America's largest corn producer but many of the state's corn fields are under water.

Earthquake rocks northern Japan

At least six people are dead and more than 140 injured after a powerful earthquake struck northern Japan, triggering landslides.

The 7.2-magnitude quake was centred on Iwate - a rural mountainous region on Japan's main island, Honshu.

Military helicopters are taking in supplies and flying the injured to hospitals. A landslide at a hot spring reportedly buried seven people.

And a small amount of radioactive water was leaked at a nuclear power station.

But officials said there was no danger to the public from the minor spillage at the facility in Fukushima.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said: "Our most important task is to save as many lives as possible, and we are doing the best we can."

At least six people are dead and more than 140 injured after a powerful earthquake struck northern Japan, triggering landslides.

The 7.2-magnitude quake was centred on Iwate - a rural mountainous region on Japan's main island, Honshu.

Earthquake rocks northern Japan Earthquake rocks northern Japan Earthquake rocks northern Japan Earthquake rocks northern Japan

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