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Brazilian Downpours Create Havoc

Brazil, S.A.
Crumbling hillsides and rivers of mud caused by torrential rain have swept at least 68 people to their deaths in Brazil.

The Brazilian government said 1.5 million people had been affected by the extreme weather, with eight towns completely cut off by flood waters and landslides.

Image: Many of the streets in Brazil's Itajai city are under water

Did asteroid cause ancient N.Y. tsunami?

Long before New York City was the Big Apple, or even New Amsterdam, a giant tsunami crashed ashore. Image Info: More than 2,300 years ago, a tsunami may have hit what is now New York City. The source of the giant wave, say geologists studying the sediments in nearby bodies of water, may have been a 330-foot-wide asteroid.

It was 2,300 years ago. The Palisades that frame the Hudson River were whisper-quiet, the sandy beaches of Long Island and New Jersey empty, and Manhattan was still just an unbroken sylvan carpet.

Then came the mammoth wave, roaring into the serenity. No one knows for sure what caused it, but new clues found in the Hudson's silt suggest an asteroid 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter slammed into the Atlantic Ocean nearby.

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Report says pandemic will threaten coal, power supplies

A new report from the University of Minnesota warns that an influenza pandemic could disrupt the coal industry, thereby endangering the nation's significantly coal-dependent electric power system and everything that depends on it. "Despite regional differences in coal usage, a pandemic is likely to break links in the coal supply chain, thus disrupting electrical generation. This has the potential to severely endanger the bulk electrical power system in most of the United States." Current federal preparedness plans do not address the possibility of power supply problems resulting from reduced coal shipments during a pandemic. A key planning gap is that federal plans put coal industry workers among those last in line for pandemic vaccines and antiviral drugs.

The "Never Ending" Storm

Worst Flooding in Decades
Southern and central Queenslanders are bracing for the fourth fierce storm in a devastating week described as a "never-ending story". The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast wild winds and possible hail tomorrow across an area stretching from Barcaldine to Brisbane. The early string of storms doesn't bode well for summer.

The Animals and Plants We Cannot Live Without

Nearly 17,000 species are now considered to be threatened with extinction and 869 species are classed as extinct or extinct in the wild on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. In the last year alone 183 species became more endangered.

Now, in the face of the growing threat posed by environmental changes around the globe, five leading scientists are to argue whether there is a single type of plant or animal which the planet really cannot afford to lose

Image: Bees are just one of the many animals facing possible extinction due to pollution, habitat loss, climate change and hunting Photo: PA

Shrimp which is 'louder than a gunshot' found in British waters

Great Britain
The shrimps, which are native to the sub-tropical seas of the Mediterranean, have only been recorded in UK waters a handful of times. They are INCREDIBLY RARE in British waters because the temperature is usually too cold. The one-inch long 'pistol shrimp' snaps its enlarged claw shut at such a speed that it produces a sound wave of up to 218 decibels. The ear-splitting sound shocks its prey before the shrimp uses its powerful claws to rip through crustacean and shellfish skeletons. Two of the crustaceans have been picked up two miles off Pendennis Point in Falmouth, Cornwall, and experts believe they are part of a thriving colony. "The fisherman brought in a bucket and I started to hear this cracking noise as if someone was popping bubble wrap. It wasn't until we unloaded the bucket that I realised the sound was coming from the shrimps snapping their claws together." "I have heard of yachtsmen being moored in a bay and not being able to sleep because of the noise these shrimps make." The species is likely to be seen in UK waters more and more as sea temperatures rise.

Storm historians forecast future

The Bathurst Bay hurricane of 1899 wreaked unparalleled destruction on the east coast of Australia, killing about 350 people and destroying every one of the 100 ships moored in Princess Charlotte Bay on Cape York. In its aftermath dolphins were found wedged 15m up cliffs, sharks were washed 40km inland, human bodies and ships' wreckage formed long drifts in the ocean and on beaches. But coastal dwellers may soon face even more catastrophic storms, due to the combined effects of climate change and long-term oscillations in Australia's weather. A project highlighting long-term patterns in the coastal climate, with periods of drought lasting several decades alternating with similar-length periods of increased storm activity, believes the weather is now in transition from the underlying drought that has been with them since the mid-1970s to a stormier outlook that, when combined with rising sea levels associated with climate change, will "whack us in the face" with dramatic changes to the Australian coastline. "The coast is going to move in for centuries. This is bigger than a few retaining walls. We will be moving inland." The researcher sold his beachfront home 10 years ago and moved "up on to solid rock", but he believes 30 years of relatively storm-free weather has lulled most into a false sense of security. The Gold Coast, parts of the Sunshine Coast and many NSW coastal towns are at particularly high risk.

Current warming sharpest climate change in 5,000 years

Research on Arctic and North Atlantic ecosystems shows the recent warming trend counts as the most dramatic climate change since the onset of human civilization 5,000 years ago, according to studies published Thursday. Researchers studied the increased introduction of fresh water from glacial melt, oceanic circulation, and the change in geographic range migration of oceanic plant and animal species. The team described "major ecosystem reorganization" - or "regime shift" - in the North Atlantic, a consequence of global warming on the largest scale in five millennia. "The rate of warming we are seeing (now) is UNPRECEDENTED in human history." They have found "extensive" shifts in the geographic range of numerous plant and animal species. Image Above: This NASA image received in February 2006 shows the calving front, or break-off point into the ocean, of Helheim Glacier

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