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Earth Happenings Archive
April, 1998
Mexicans wary of hot hole in the ground (CNN 4/30)
"Under the shadow of what was thought to be an extinct volcano, a group of peasants watch as scientists in masks and white coats study a hole in the ground from which pours intense heat."
Greenhouse century (Nature Science Updates 4/30)
"A report in the 23 April 1998 issue of Nature shows that the twentieth century has been anomalously warm. Indeed, in three of the past eight years (1990, 1995 and 1997), mean annual temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were higher than in any other year since at least 1400 AD. The authors of the report, Michael E. Mann of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts and his colleagues, pin the blame on the greenhouse effect."
Crusader castle 'torn apart' by earthquake (Nature Science Updates 4/30)
"Crusaders' castles were built with such precision, that the distortions introduced into their walls by 800 years of subsequent earthquakes provide a reliable guide to seismic hazard along a fault called the Dead Sea Transform."
Major mammal groups appeared before dinosaurs died out (CNN/AP 4/29)
"Most of the modern groups, or 'orders,' of mammals apparently began before the dinosaurs met their doom 65 million years ago, researchers conclude. The work suggests at least five major lineages, which today include such creatures as rodents, elephants and armadillos, might have appeared more than 100 million years ago."
Hominids may have had vocal capabilities like modern humans (CNN/AP 4/28)
"The nerve that allows the tongue to make the sounds of speech may have developed in primitive, human-like species some 300,000 years ago, long before the evolution of modern humans."
Extreme Droughts Played Major Role In Tragedies At Jamestown, 'Lost Colony' (Science Daily 4/28)
"The worst droughts of the past 800 years likely played a major role in the mysterious disappearance of Roanoke Island's 'Lost Colony' and in the 'starving time' endured by colonists at Jamestown."
Poison-Eating Bugs Strike Gold (Science Daily 4/28)
"Dr Peter Franzmann and Mr Matthew Stott of CSIRO Land and Water and CSIRO Minerals have identified several new species of native microbes able to break down the thiocyanate formed from the cyanide used to extract gold."
Evidence found of ancient climate swings (CNN/ENN 4/24)
MIT Researcher Finds Evidence Of Ancient Climate Swings (Science Daily 4/20)
"A Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher has discovered that for at least the last 1.5 million years, the Earth has undergone rapid and dramatic climate changes similar to those observed in ice cores from more recent times. These climate swings are so dramatic that if we lived through one today, it would be like New England taking on Miami-like weather within a 25-year period."
NASA Tests Hair-Raising Technique To Clean Up Oil Spills (Science Daily 4/24)
"The idea is the inspiration of Phillip McCrory, a Madison, AL, hairdresser. McCrory was watching television coverage of 1989's oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. 'I saw an otter being rescued whose fur was saturated with oil,' said McCrory. 'I thought, if animal fur can trap and hold spilled oil, why can't human hair?'"
Scientists Find Further Global Warming Evidence InTemperature Reconstruction Study (Science Daily 4/23)
"National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded climatologists at the University of Massachusetts (U. Mass.) at Amherst have reconstructed global temperature over the past 600 years and determined that 1997, 1995 and 1990 were the warmest years since at least 1400 A.D."
Tears of a turtle (Nature Science Updates 4/23)
"The [new turtle] fossil takes the record of marine turtles back 10 million years, shedding light on the earliest history of the group. The new fossil is the earliest known record of a turtle that could shed salt tears from salt-excreting glands around the eye, characteristic features of marine turtles."
Sand In Sediment Can Predict River Damage (Science Daily 4/17)
"Forest fires, logging, road construction, urban development and dam operations can send a rush of sediment into gravel-bed rivers, triggering serious consequences, says Wilcock, a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering."
New Satellite Images Show Chunk Of Broken Antarctic Ice Shelf (Science Daily 4/17)
"Recent satellite images collected by the University of Colorado at Boulder-based National Snow and Ice Data Center indicate a section of a large ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has broken away."
Global warming will delay ozone recovery (Nature Science Updates
Arctic Ozone Hole, Responding To Greenhouse Gases, Will Worsen Through 2020, Columbia Team Finds (Science Daily 4/9)
"The recovery of the ozone layer to its pre-industrial state may be delayed, and could even worsen for a time, because of the greenhouse effect, according to a study in the 9 April 1998 issue of Nature."
The great asteroid scare of '98 (Nature Science Updates)
"It is tempting to look at the mess of everyday activity and read into it the serpentine machinations of Machiavellian minds of malice rather than muddle. But sometimes even the messiest muddle can get results that even the most ardent conspirator could not have dreamed of. In this light, one could present the case history of the Great Asteroid Scare of 1998 an example of an arguably misjudged press announcement that could reap increased funding for research into the threat posed to the Earth from collision with asteroids."
New Sunspot Cycle To Be Bigger Than Average, NASA Scientists Predict (Science Daily 4/15)
"'The consensus [among solar physicists] is that this cycle will be above average in size and probably a fast riser,' Wilson said. 'Sunspot maximum should not be perceived as the top of the cycle curve, but instead it should be thought of as an interval of peak activity which usually spans about 2 to 4 years and includes the actual maximum in sunspot number.' For Cycle 23, the peak interval starts in 1999."
Polar Science (The Why Files 4/4)
A review of science in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Seafloor Study Produces A Copper Bonanza (Science Daily 4/7)
Copper under the sea (Nature Science Updates 4/9)
"Geologists drilling into the Pacific floor to study hot-water vents have made an unexpected discovery: a zone of high-grade copper ore deposited below the seafloor. The finding could point the way to similar valuable deposits on dry land."
Evidence of fault beneath Los Angeles (Reuters 4/7)
Study: fault line could threaten older L.A. neighborhood (CNN 4/8)
"Geologists at California Institute of Technology reported new evidence of an 11-mile-long fault that lies beneath Los Angeles."
Global warming could flood New York City (CNN/ENN 4/7)
Warming Could Flood New York Metro Area In Next Century, Columbia Scientist Report (Science Daily)
"Global warming and resulting rising sea levels have the potential to put much of New York City and other low-lying areas at risk of severe flooding, according to a study conducted by Columbia University researchers."
How Did Life Begin? Biochemical Evolution On Mineral Surfaces (Science Daily 4/2)
"A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper published Tuesday, March 31, provides a theory for how small organic molecules may have been able to assemble on the surfaces of minerals into self-replicating biomolecules--the essential building blocks of life."
Fridge Gas: It's Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire (Science Daily 4/2)
"It's out of the ozone depletion frying pan and into the global warming fire, as the gas in your new refrigerator enters the atmosphere."
UF Studies Effects Of Weather On The Typical Southern Home (Science Daily 4/2)
"Researchers are closely examining how harsh Southern weather affects the average home, hoping to determine, for example, how to produce roof shingles that last as long as they do on homes in the North."
Ancient Meteorite Collapsed Margin, Spawned Giant Submarine Avalanches (Science Daily 4/2)
"After untold years of streaking across the galaxy, a giant meteorite smacked the Earth 65 million years ago with the force of a million atomic bombs. The collision, which scientists believe led dinosaurs and many other species to die off within a few years, also caused massive landslides along the edge of the continent north of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, new evidence suggests."
Stumbling at the Start of a Marathon (Earth 4/98)
"In their haste to take on global warming, world leaders may have set the wrong."
Civilizing Influences (Earth 4/98)
"Just a Greek myth? Now the Oracle of Delphi has some real geology behind her prophecies."
Ancient Lives (Earth 4/98)
"One small animal in the wrong place has turned ideas about mammal evolution topsy-turvy Down Under."
ON SHAKY GROUND (Scientific American 4/98)
"For more than a decade, Panayiotis Varotsos, a solid-state physicist at the University of Athens, has attempted to predict earthquakes in Greece. His technique involves planting electrodes in the ground and extracting precursory electrical signals."

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