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Earth Happenings Archive
February, 1997
Study says fight against global warming lacks punch (CNN 2/28/97)
"The World Wildlife Fund is accusing the United States and other industrialized countries of stalling efforts to curb the release of "greenhouse" gases that could warm climates and raise ocean levels. The United States ranked worst in the group's review of the attitudes and progress of industrialized countries in fighting global warming."
Ancient Asteroid Blew Marine Life Out of Water (APNet 2/28/97)
"Few scientists doubt that a giant meteorite slammed into the waters southwest of Mexico's Yucat‡n Coast. But the impact's aftermath --whether it actually caused the demise of dinosaurs and untold other species 65 million years ago-- is a subject of fierce debate. Now there's new evidence that the meteorite was indeed a killer, at least in the sea: A core of ancient sea-floor sediment shows that the impact and the extinctions occurred at the same geologic moment."
Did 10,000-Year Belch Fuel American Life? (ScienceNow 2/28/97)
"Paleontologists searching for an explanation for why modern mammals suddenly appeared in North America 55 million years ago had never thought to probe the deep sea. But according to a report in the March issue of Geology, the global warming that drove the mammals' transition had roots beneath the ocean floor."
Fossil hair reveals antiquity of mammals (Nature Science Updates 2/27/97)
"Remarkable discoveries of fossilized hair show that hair is an extremely ancient feature of mammals, dating back to at least 200 million years ago."
Is it a planet, or isn't it? Scientists disagree (CNN 2/26/97)
To Seek Out New Worlds--From Scratch? (Science Now 2/26/97)
Astronomer Studies First Planet (Washington Post/AP 2/26/97)
"The first world ever found beyond the solar system is but an illusion, a Canadian astronomer contends. What astronomers really see when they look at 51 Pegasi, are regular pulsations of a lone star that mimic the effect of an orbiting planet."
Vietnam investigates mysterious sinking near volcano (Nando Times 2/21/97)
"Vietnamese scientists Friday were investigating reports of land having sunk by up to 10 feet near a long-extinct volcano in the central highland province of Gia Lai."
Spacecraft Buzzes Jupiter Moon (Washington Post 2/20/97)
" The Galileo spacecraft made its closest pass by Jupiter's moon Europa on Thursday, seeking to capture detailed views of the icy slabs that scientists believe might hide an ocean of microscopic life." Visit the Galileo Project Homepage at JPL for more information.
Birds Survived the Big One? (Science Now 2/20/97)
"Many people think that the catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago--probably a giant asteroid--also took out most archaic birds and mammals, too. If so, modern birds evolved only later, from the survivors. But a report in tomorrow's Science comes to a different conclusion: that a diverse flock of birds flew through the cataclysm unscathed."
Deep sea organisms can survive climate change (Science Now 2/19/97)
"Using fossil records from beneath the North Atlantic, Thomas Cronin of the US Geological Survey in Virginia, and Maureen Raymo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts have found that periodic ice ages more than 2 million years ago depleted the numbers of species living in the deep sea. But they also discovered that sufficient numbers remained to recolonize a new population when temperatures began to rise. Cronin and colleagues show that species which disappear during a cold patch become severely depleted but not extinct."
Quake Faults Found Near Seattle (Washington Post/AP 2/16/97)
"Samuel Johnson, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, says he has discovered two new faults under Puget Sound capable of generating earthquakes of magnitude 6.5 or greater."
Spill sends oil into Russia's Volga River (CNN/Reuter 2/16/97)
"About 400 tons of oil spilled into the Volga River Sunday after a pipeline ruptured near the town of Saratov, south of Moscow."
Scientists find evidence of dinosaur-killing asteroid (CNN/AP 2/16/97)
"Scientists who drilled core samples from the ocean bed said Sunday they have found proof that a huge asteroid smashed into the Earth 65 million years ago and probably killed off the dinosaurs."
Skeptic: Life on Mars Unlikely (Washington Post/AP 2/15/97)
"To find out if life once existed on Mars, a prominent scientist says NASA should launch a 15-year effort to retrieve and analyze rocks from the red planet -- looking for three key ingredients that would provide proof."
Scientists say otherwordly life probably lives beneath planet surfaces (Nando Times/AP 2/14/97)
"If 21st century explorers are to find life on other planets, they'll probably have to dig. Experts in the field of extraterrestrial life said at a scientific meeting Thursday that several places in the solar system, though barren on the surface, have the potential to harbor underground life."
Satellite Shows Larger Universe (Washington Post/AP 2/15/97)
"Turns out the universe may be bigger than we thought. A European satellite has measured the position of 120,000 stars, and the results have led scientists to correct one of their basic measuring sticks of the universe."
Satellite Data May Resolve Universe's Age Paradox (Science Now 2/14/97)
"The universe may not be younger than its oldest stars after all, according to a preliminary analysis of satellite data on star positions. If confirmed, the news could settle one of the most nettlesome quandaries in modern cosmology: Studies of the universe's oldest stars suggest they are as much as 15 billion years old, but observations of how fast the universe is flying apart suggest it is 3 billion to 5 billion years younger than that."
Australian farmer unearths ancient fossil (CNN/Reuters 2/15/97)
Farmer Finds Salamander Fossil (Washington Post/AP 2/14/97)
"Scientists Friday hailed the discovery of a 220 million-year-old fossil amphibian as one of the most important finds in Australia this century. Australian Museum experts said the fossil, almost six feet long, probably belonged to a species of amphibian that was the ancestor of today's frogs and salamanders and existed before the dinosaurs."
Water May Slow Warming (Washington Post/AP 2/13/97)
An Ocean Cooler for Greenhouse Warming? (Science Now 2/13/97)
"Any increase in the Earth's temperature caused by the greenhouse effect of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be slowed by a massive flowing to the surface of cold water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which in turn could be caused by global warming, a new study suggests."
Meteorite Reveals Amino Acid Preference (Science Now 2/13/97)
"Research published in tomorrow's issue of Science shows that the predominance of one amino acid shape isn't unique to life on Earth: It also shows up in a meteorite from space. This surprising finding suggests that an excess of one form of amino acid did not evolve on Earth, as many scientists have believed. Instead, it may have been the result of chemical processes in the interstellar gases at the time the solar system was formed."
Volcano eruption changes everything for residents of Montserrat (Nando Times 2/13/97)
"Since it first erupted on July 18, 1995, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills volcano has dramatically changed life in this verdant British Caribbean colony. The volcano has chased a third of the 11,000 residents to neighboring islands or back to Britain, sometimes splitting families, rousted hundreds of others from comfortable homes to crowded shelters and hobbled a once-burgeoning economy."
Company wants to drill oil wells within Utah's new national monument (Nando Times 2/12/97)
"Now an oil company wants to do some exploring of its own inside the 1.7 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, created by presidential fiat last September."
The Origin of Insect Flight (Science Now 2/12/97)
"Scientists have never known just what to make of flying insects. The fossil record shows that they arose on the scene some 500 million years ago, but just how insects managed to evolve wings has remained a mystery. In tomorrow's issue of Nature, however, a pair of researchers in Germany reports finding the first genetic evidence that insect wings evolved from gills, evidence that very well may settle the debate."
Volcano Movies in the News
The Cascade Volcano Observatory answers some frequently asked questions generated by the new movie Dante's Peak. Find out what's real and what's Hollywood here.
When North America Burned (Discover Magazine 2/97)
"The impact that may have killed the dinosaurs also triggered the most terrible fire in the planet's history, setting most of North America ablaze within minutes."
Those aren't 'just stones': Villagers stumbled over dinosaur-egg fossils in India (CNN/AP 2/11/97)
"Indian villagers thought they were stumbling over rocks as they plowed their wheat and cotton fields -- but scientists were thrilled to find fossilized dinosaur eggs. In all, more than 300 dinosaur eggs in clusters of four to 10 were unearthed."
Island nations, concerned about rising sea level from global warming, want less fossil fuel used (Nando Times 2/11/97)
"For the tiny Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, global warming is a matter of survival: if the rising temperature raises sea level by two feet over the next century, as many predict, 80 percent of the island will be underwater."
As Ice Age gripped Britain, people fled to South of France (Nando Times 2/11/97)
"Between 23,000 and 13,000 years ago, archaeologists have concluded, the country was virtually empty. The period was the coldest spell in a long succession of ice ages, and it proved too much even for the hardy people then inhabiting Britain."
A Second Martian Meteorite Mystery (Science Now 2/11/97)
"The controversy over whether a Martian meteorite bears evidence of ancient life is still raging, but two scientists think they've pinned down where on Mars the famed chunk of rock originated."
Astronomers eagerly anticipating arrival of Hale-Bopp (Nando Times 2/11/97)
" Here comes this year's "Comet of the Century," and the Internet is percolating with reports that this chunk of ice-and-dust is being shadowed by a spaceship populated by ill-humored aliens."
Volcano chasers: all in the line of duty (MSNBC 2/7/97)
"2 filmmakers truly risked all to shoot eruption of St. Helens"
Is global warming melting Antarctica? Scientist predicts shelf collapse (CNN 2/6/97)
"Two years ago, the northern section of the 620-mile-long Larsen Ice Shelf collapsed after a period of warmer-than-usual temperatures. On Wednesday, Rudi del Valle, director of geology with the Argentinean Antarctic Institute, flew over the rest of the 4,600-square-mile ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula and predicted it would collapse within two years. Antarctic Ice Shelves" (For more information see the Greenpeace report Anarctic Warming - Early Signs of Global Climate Change)
Methane, fuel of the future? (Nature Science Update 2/6/97)
"Confirmation that 'substantial' quantities of methane gas are locked away inside sediments in the western Atlantic is expected to intensify the search for a low-cost technique to extract what some describe as the fuel of the future."
Early monkey evolution in Thailand (Nature Science Update 2/6/97)
"Thai researchers have recovered some of the earliest evidence for the evolution of monkeys, apes and humans. The new findings include fragments of lower and upper jaws and teeth of a medium-sized monkey-like creature that lived about 40 million years ago."
The Moons of Jupiter (Nature Science Update 2/6/97)
Mysterious Europa
The visits of the Galileo spacecraft to Io and Ganymede
Magnetic fields
Satellite Radar Interferometry (Scientific American 2/97)
"From hundreds of kilometers away in space, orbiting instruments can detect subtle buckling of the earth's crust."

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