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Earth Happenings Archive
March, 1999
Monarchs in Trouble: Isotopes Map their Migration (The Why Files 3/24)
"Until now, there's never been a good way to find out exactly where the Mexican monarchs spend their summers and reproduce [....] Now, from the science of geology, comes an appealing solution called stable isotope analysis."
Birds may sing a song of climate change (CNN 3/30)
"Winter songbird populations may serve as a short-term ecological indicator of climate change, according to a University of Michigan study showing a link between temperatures in the Great Plains over the last 30 years and the abundance of several common species of winter songbirds."
Researchers: Earth's water probably didn't come from comets (CNN 3/30)
"A new Caltech study of comet Hale-Bopp suggests that comets did not give Earth its water, contrary to the longstanding belief of many planetary scientists. "
Scientists Map Dinosaur Egg Site (Yahoo! News 3/30)
"Scientists digging in Argentina's southern Patagonian desert said Tuesday they were close to completing the first stage of an extensive map of a site where thousands of dinosaur eggs were found. Experts say the mapping of the area will help scientists understand the reproductive patterns of dinosaurs."
Innovative Process To Benefit Ground Water Clean-Up (Science Daily 3/29)
"A University of Toronto researcher has developed a more efficient way to monitor and improve the clean-up process for ground water pollution."
Southeast Was Probably Warmer, Wetter 5,000 Years Ago Than Previously Thought, University Of Georgia Geographer Says (Science Daily 3/26)
"The Middle Holocene Period -- from 5,000 to 7,000 years ago was a crucial time in what is now the Southeastern United States. The human population was increasing and pine trees began to spread north in vast numbers, displacing deciduous forests."
'Live' Gamma Burst Was Huge, Astronomers Say (Yahoo! News)
"The first gamma-ray burst that astronomers got to watch ``live'' was the biggest explosion ever seen, second only to the ``big bang'' that gave birth to the universe, they said Thursday."
A mosaic of a mammal (Nature Science Update 3/25)
"The exquisitely preserved mouse-sized skeleton of a fossil mammal from China sheds light on the earliest history of all modern mammals -- the group that includes all warm-blooded, hairy animals from cats to kangaroos, and, of course, ourselves."
Modeling Ocean Floor Spreading In A Tub Of Wax, Cornell Researcher Sees Eons Pass In Minutes (Science Daily 3/25)
"Eberhard Bodenschatz watches 100 million years of geological time pass in an hour. He sees transform faults being created, rift valleys opening and spiral structures called microplates forming. "
Radar Data Will Help Scientists In Their Quest To Pinpoint Climate Change (Science Daily 3/25)
"Nature has a way of throwing curves at glacial scientists trying to diagram climate history and find evidence of cycles that might have altered weather repeatedly during hundreds of thousands of years. "
Atmospheric chemicals seen in new light (CNN 3/23)
"University researchers studying natural processes that influence ozone in the Arctic atmosphere have discovered that snowpacks not only absorb chemicals from the atmosphere, but also can help produce them. "
One Billion People Lack Safe Water, Experts Say (Yahoo! News 3/22)
"More than a billion people -- nearly one fifth of the world's population -- lack safe, clean water and the problem will worsen in the early 21st century, experts said Sunday. Most of the projected water shortages in 2025 will be in Africa and the Middle East, but India, parts of China, Peru, England and Poland would also be affected, according to a newly formed commission that focuses on world water supplies."
Glowing Bacteria: DuPont And UD Scientists Detect Poultry Toxin And Other Environmental Contaminants (Science Daily 3/22)
"By harnessing glowing bacteria, scientists at the DuPont Co. and the University of Delaware have created inexpensive biosensors that rapidly detect a key toxin in poultry feed, as well as broad classes of other environmental contaminants, including herbicides and metals."
Geophysicists Propose A New Model Of Earth's Mantle (Science Daily 3/19)
"Earth's mantle, a region as scientifically remote as outer space and the object of the most heated debate in geophysics, gets a remodeling this Friday by researchers at UC Davis and MIT."
Hale-Bopp suggests comets are cosmic leftovers (CNN 3/18)
"Comet Hale-Bopp, which blazed across the sky in 1997, may be brimming with some of the primordial material from which the sun and the planets formed more than 4 billion years ago."
Tiny time capsules from the Antarctic ice cap (Nature Science Update 3/18)
"The old adage that the past is the key to the present is never truer than in the science of climate change. The warming of the planet that has occurred over the past century seems likely to be driven at least in part by the greenhouse gases, particular carbon dioxide, pumped into the atmosphere by human activities such as burning of coal, oil, gas and biomass."
Lunar Data Support Idea That Collision Split Earth, Moon (Science Daily 3/17)
"Analysis of data from NASA's Lunar Prospector spacecraft has confirmed that the Moon has a small core, supporting the theory that the bulk of the Moon was ripped away from the early Earth when an object the size of Mars collided with the Earth."
GalapagosQuest: Journey to the heart of a volcano (CNN 3/16, latest installment in ongoing series)
"GalapagosQuest is an interactive expedition developed by Classroom Connect that will take a team of scientists and explorers on a journey of discovery through the extraordinary Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Follow along here for daily reports on their quest.
Volcanic eruptions are both beautiful and terrifying. From a distance you can appreciate them. From up close you can only run for your life."
Drilling Project To Plumb Million Years Of Volcanic Island History (Science Daily 3/15)
"A time machine will begin operating March 15 in Hilo, Hawaii. The Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project--a cooperative research project involving the University of Hawaii, University of California, Berkeley, and California Institute of Technology--will travel a million years into the past by boring thousands of feet down into the volcanic island."
Duke Expedition Will Visit Dark Underwater Chasm To Study How Ocean Crust Forms (Science Daily 3/10)
"Scientists and students from Duke University will sail Friday toward an area in the Pacific Ocean off Ecuador above a dark, GrandCanyon-sized chasm to learn more about how new oceanic crust forms along Earth's 37,000-mile mid-ocean ridge network, which belts the planet like the seams of a baseball."
Making Sense of Weird Weather (Science Daily 3/10)
La Nina may get the attention, but if forecasts of unusually wild weather this spring come true, lesser-known forces like "zonal jet streams" and "Bermuda highs" will be responsible. UW-Madison weather expert Thomas Achtor said the lesser-known phenomena triggered this unseasonably mild winter, including February temperatures that were way above normal. And they may also bring strong storms this spring, Achtor says."
Geologists Find Motion Across Disappearing Plate Boundary (Science Daily 3/9)
"For three decades, geologists have been mystified by one of the world's largest disappearing acts: How could the boundary between two immense continental plates be geologically detectable for a long stretch, then vanish from scientific view?"
NASA To Launch Emergency Repair Mission To Hubble (Yahoo! News 3/10)
"NASA said Wednesday it would launch an emergency shuttle flight to repair the Hubble Space Telescope before an ailing pointing system halts its flow of spectacular pictures and scientific data."
Big Trouble in the Deep Blue Sea (The Why Files 3/4)
"In Florida, new disease with medieval names like black band disease, white plague and white pox are devastating corals. Reefs, a bedrock of marine biodiversity, have been silently suffering for years -- only more slowly. A new study by James Porter of the University of Georgia found a 446 percent increase in the number of diseased sites -- and a 244 percent increase in the number of sick coral species -- between just 1996 and 1998."
Spring forward, fall back (Nature Science Update 3/4)
"Spring is springing earlier in Europe. Certainly, as far as plants and animals are concerned - 6 days earlier than it did thirty or so years ago. And autumn sticks around for 5 days more than it used to. In fact, the average annual growing season has lengthened by 10.8 days since the 1960s."
Shrinking Greenland Glacier Signals Global Warming (Yahoo! News 3/4)
"Large tracts of the Greenland ice sheet -- a giant ``ice cube'' that helps cool the Earth's atmosphere -- are disappearing faster than scientists expected in a sign that global warming is having dramatic effects, researchers said Thursday."
Dangerous, Hidden Fault Found Under Los Angeles (Yahoo! News 3/4)
" Scientists said Thursday they had found a hidden fault under Los Angeles that has probably caused quakes in the past and could cause bigger ones in the future. The fault runs 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles to the Coyote Hills in northern Orange County and toward Brea in the east, covering at least 324 square miles, John Shaw of Harvard University and Peter Shearer of the University of California San Diego reported."
Seattle Prepares for the big quake (CNN 3/4)
"Seattle areas most prone to earthquake damage are being mapped by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington."
1998 Was Warmest Year Of Millenium, Climate Researchers Report (Science Daily 3/4)
"Researchers at the Universities of Massachusetts and Arizona who study global warming have released a report strongly suggesting that the 1990s were the warmest decade of the millennium, with 1998 the warmest year so far. Researchers have also found that the warming in the 20th century counters a 1,000-year-long cooling trend."
Major Set-Back To Ozone-Layer Recovery
"Recovery of the ozone layer is likely to take years longer than expected, CSIRO scientists warn. Latest research shows that global emissions of a key ozone-depleting halon are 50 per cent greater than previously supposed, says Dr Paul Fraser of CSIRO Atmospheric Research. "
Scientists Devise Method To Address Conflict Between Molecular Clock, Fossil Record Of Mammalian Evolution (Science Daily 3/1)
"Humans can trace the origins of many of their mammalian relatives back either 65 million years or 130 million years, depending on which group of scientists they choose to trust. Now a research team led by University of Chicago paleontologist Mike Foote has developed a mathematical model that could resolve this scientific family feud."

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