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Earth Happenings Archive
December, 1998
Landscape changes may alter climate (CNN/ENN 12/31)
"From the deforestation of the Amazon to the transformation of millions of acres of North American prairies to farmland, humans have remolded the surface of the Earth. Those changes, scientists now suspect, may have a significant influence on climate, changing regional weather patterns at least, and possibly contributing to global shifts in climate."
Mining the moon (New Scientist 12/24)
"The prospect of the commercial exploitation of the Moon has moved a step closer, with the drawing up of a map of the lunar deposits of helium-3. This valuable isotope of helium might become the source of nuclear fusion energy in the 21st century."
From Germany To The Wild West: Geologists Hunt For Evidence Of Ancient Crinoid (Science Daily 12/21)
"It isn't the lifestyles of the rich and famous that University of Cincinnati geologist David Meyer is concerned about, but Meyer's efforts to understand the lifestyles of the ten-armed fossil crinoid Uintacrinus did send him globe-trotting this year."
Water Travels Chaotically Through The Ground (Science Daily 12/21)
"Water flows in mysterious ways. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory hydrogeologist Boris Faybishenko has discovered that the mystery of water flowing through the earth can be explained using chaos theory."
To Expand Forever Or Collapse? NSF Telescope Sheds Light On Fate Of Universe (Science Daily 12/18)
"Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, using a National Science Foundation (NSF) microwave telescope in Antarctica, have made a crucial measurement of cosmic background radiation that may help science to settle a fundamental question of whether the universe will expand forever or collapse back upon itself."
Can History Foretell California's Next Big Quake? (Reuters 12/18)
"Golfers practicing their swings might be excused for thinking the course's best feature is its stunning view of San Francisco Bay. But for the scientists gathered here the real prize lies underfoot: the Hayward fault, one of the most dangerous earthquake risks in the world."
Nev. Nuclear Waste Site Seen Viable (Yahoo/AP 12/18)
"A proposal to bury thousands of tons of deadly nuclear waste in desert rock in Nevada received a boost Friday when the Energy Department said findings so far have produced nothing to disqualify the site."
Croc-Like Dinosaur Bones Show Arctic Was Once Warm (Reuters 12/18)
Bones Of Crocodile-Like Beasts Tell Tale Of Arctic Warming (Science Daily 12/18)
"Bones of a crocodile-like dinosaur dug up in the Canadian Arctic show the region used to be as warm as Florida is now, scientists said Thursday. The fossilized remains of the beasts, known as champsosaurs, were found alongside remains of what would have been their favorite dinners -- turtles and fish."
'98 World Temperature to Be Hottest (Washington Post/AP 12/17)
"Earth's average temperature in 1998 is projected to be the highest since record keeping began in 1860, the U.N. weather agency said Thursday. The global average for the year is expected to be 1 degree above the long-term average of 59 degrees, said the World Meteorological Association."
Were dinosaurs up to scratch? (Nature Science Updates 12/17)
"No sooner had birds acquired feathers than they started to scratch. According to a report in Nature a 120-million-year-old fossil turns out to have been infested with the eggs of the earliest-known bird parasite, laid by an antique variety of feather-mite."
Warm winter dinosaurs (Nature Science Updates 12/17)
"Large dinosaurs could have been active and nocturnal, even without a 'warm-blooded' physiology, according to a report in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Observations of large crocodiles in Australia, by Frank Seebacher and colleagues from the University of Brisbane, show that 1,000-kilogram crocodiles maintain stable, steady internal body temperatures much more easily than smaller crocodiles."
New NCAR Climate System Model Shows Earth's Surface Temperature To Rise 0.2 K Per Decade (Science Daily 12/14)
"The earth's mean surface temperature is expected to rise nearly 0.2 Kelvin (one-third degree Fahrenheit) per decade over the next four decades, according to a new modeling study using the climate system model (CSM-1) developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)."
Scientists Study 100-Million-Year-Old Volcanism In The Indian Ocean (Science Daily 12/14)
"Clues to Earth's internal dynamics may lie in the remote southern Indian Ocean, in a submarine plateau one-third the size of the United States. For the next two months, geologists with the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), funded in large part by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will unearth the secrets of the Kerguelen Plateau, an example of a unique type of Earth feature, a large igneous province."
Cave Yields Treasure Trove Of Climatic History (Science Daily 12/14)
"Stalagmites from a Missouri cave have yielded a clear picture of climate and vegetation change in the mid-continental region during the millennia leading up to the last ice age (75,000 to 25,000 years ago), a time period for which such data have been sketchy."
Volcanic Ash Hazardous to Aircraft (Washington Post/AP 12/13)
"Scientists warn that commercial jets face an increasing hazard from clouds of gritty ash spewed by volcanoes, even as efforts to detect eruptions improve."
Going for a spin (New Scientist 12/12)
"How tiny sea creatures bridge the huge distance from one deep sea vent to another has been a mystery. Now it seems they may hitch a ride on a flying saucer."
Earthquake Provides Proof That Earth's Innermost Core Is Solid (Science Daily 12/11)
"If Earth were a candy, there would be a nut inside that creamy filling. Confirming a long-held scientific notion, a Northwestern University seismologist and a colleague at the French Atomic Energy Commission have provided the first direct evidence that -- inside a liquid core -- the very center of the Earth is solid."
Foreshocks 'Unclamped' Fault For 1989 California Quake (Reuters 12/10)
"Two medium-sized earthquakes in California's Santa Cruz mountains in the late 1980s were foreshocks that ``unclamped'' seismic faults and set the stage for the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in October 1989, scientists said Wednesday."
Evidence of Ancient Asteroid Found (Yahoo/AP 12/10)
Study Associates Asteroid Or Comet Impact With Extinctions In Argentina (Science Daily 12/14)
"An 18-mile-long layer of greenish glass in an Argentine seaside cliff may have been deposited by the fiery impact of a comet or asteroid hitting the Earth 3.3 million years ago, according to researchers."
New Permafrost Data Suggests Implications For Climate-Change Predictions (Science Daily 12/10)
"When Jack Frost starts nipping at your nose, consider this: Perennially frozen material lurks beneath at least one-fifth, and perhaps as much as one-fourth of the Earth's land surface. Ongoing studies of these "permafrost" regions may help cold-weather communities prepare for potentially hazardous thawing events, says Frederick E. ("Fritz") Nelson, a professor of geography at the University of Delaware."
Gas Releases At Mammoth Mountain More Complex Than Expected (Science Daily 12/10)
"Since an earthquake swarmed beneath the volcano in 1989, carbon dioxide has been seeping out of the ground in areas of Mammoth Mountain, Calif., killing trees and posing a health hazard in this resort area. Now, continuous carbon dioxide monitoring by a Penn State researcher shows that this gas flow is much more complicated than previous measurements indicated."
Geologists Find Glaciers Can Suppress Volcanic Eruptions (Science Daily 12/9)
"Now new evidence indicates that the opposite also occurs - that environmental change can trigger volcanic eruptions. Over the past 800,000 years, a new study shows, glaciers prompted eruptions after they retreated north."
Jupiter's Fault Is Like San Andreas (Washington Post/AP 12/8)
Europa fault gives California's San Andreas a run for its money (JPL Press Release 12/7)
"New pictures from the Galileo spacecraft show a fault line splitting the surface of Europa, a Jupiter moon that some scientists think may have life-sustaining water beneath its crust of ice."
Oldest Ice Core From The Tropics Recovered, New Ice Age Evidence (Science Daily 12/4)
"An analysis of ice cores drilled from a glacier atop a Bolivian volcano is painting a vivid picture of climate conditions in the tropics over the past 25,000 years. The ice at the bottom of the cores was formed during the last glacial maximum -- the coldest part of the last ice age -- making it the oldest core recovered from the tropics."
Prospecting For Helium-3 On The Moon (Science Daily 12/2)
"Future prospectors on the Moon may be assisted by resource maps developed from research by scientists in Arizona and Hawaii. The resources they will be seeking are not gold or diamonds, but helium-3 [3He], an isotope that is rare on Earth, but more common on the Moon. Helium-3 is expected to be the cleanest fuel of choice for potential 21st century fusion reactors, because its reaction is efficient and produces low residual radioactivity."
No Major Changes Seen In Stability Of Antarctic Ice Sheet (Science Daily 12/1)
"The interior of the West Antarctic ice sheet -- the largest grounded repository of ice on the planet -- isnšt melting rapidly, is reasonably stable and has been so for more than a century."

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