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Earth Happenings Archive
May, 1999
USGS Study Confirms An Urban Air-Pollution Problem At Mount Rainier National Park (Science Daily 5/31)
"The scenery is spectacular, but don't go for the pure mountain air. According to a recently published study, air in Washington's Mount Rainier National Park contains higher concentrations of ozone, a major component of air pollution, than nearby urban areas. This means local rural residents and park visitors, as well as the beautiful forests, wetlands and alpine meadows of the park, are being exposed to elevated levels of this pollutant, especially during those warm summer days that favor the production of ozone."
Central America Haunted By More Deadly Hurricanes (Yahoo! News 5/29)
"Central America, barely back on its feet after it was hit in 1998 by the worst Atlantic storm in 200 years, risks similar destruction from future disasters if environmental action is not taken, authorities said Friday. As many as 20,000 people may have died and two million lost their homes in Hurricane Mitch last October."
Map Shows Mars Is Pear-Shaped (Yahoo! News 5/28)
"A new laser-produced map of the red planet shows that Mars is a land of extremes, with the highest, lowest and smoothest land forms found in the solar system. A three-dimensional map of Mars, drawn from measurements taken by the Mars Global Surveyor program, also shows the planet to be pear-shaped, with towering volcanic mountains in the south, and a smooth lowland in the north."
Ozone Linked To Warmer Weekend Temperatures In Toronto (Science Daily 5/28)
"Higher amounts of ground-level ozone on weekends compared to weekdays are causing warmer weekend weather in Toronto, according to a U of T study."
Cache of fossilized dinosaur eggs found in S. Korea (CNN 5/28)
"More than 100 fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found on a South Korean beach, scientists said Thursday."
Hubble Research Shows Universe Is 12 Bln Years Old (Yahoo! News 5/25)
"The universe is a youthful 12 billion years old -- not 20 billion, as astronomers once believed -- and that is old enough to support the theory that the Big Bang started it all, scientists said Tuesday."
Meet Sue, Tyrannosaurus Rex With A Sensitive Nose (Yahoo! News 5/25)
"Scientists examining the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found said Tuesday they have discovered it had a particularly acute sense of smell, judging by olfactory bulbs the size of grapefruit in its skull."
Marine Life In South Pacific Region Found To Be Impervious To Oceans' Highest Arsenic Levels (Science Daily 5/24)
"Despite living in waters with the highest known marine concentration of naturally occurring arsenic found anywhere in the world, fish, clams and coral in waters near Papua New Guinea apparently are suffering no ill effects, according to a research report appearing this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Iron minerals in the sediment appear to play a role in protecting marine life in this hostile environment."
A debate of seismic proportions over New Madrid fault (Seattle Times 5/24)
"The New Madrid fault, which cuts through five states along the Mississippi River, ruptured with three of the most monstrous earthquakes ever during the winter of 1811-12. Legend has it the ground shook so violently that the Mississippi ran backward and folks as far off as Canada trembled. "
Natural Hazards Response Requires New Approach, Study Says (Science Daily 5/21)
"The cost of natural hazards in the United States has averaged as much as $1 billion per week since 1989 and is expected to keep rising, according to a new study released today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. "
Report: Coral bleaching hits record level (CNN 5/19)
"Global warming has been linked to an unprecedented episode of coral bleaching in 1998, according to recent statements issued by the U.S. Department of State and the International Society for Reef Studies."
Seismologist says major Papua quake possible soon (CNN 5/18)
"A major, destructive earthquake was possible within a month off Papua New Guinea, site of three large quakes within 36 hours, an Australian seismologist said on Tuesday."
Student-Built Satellite Scheduled To Launch Today (Science Daily 5/18)
"The TERRIERS satellite, built by students at Boston University and scheduled for launch on May 18, could provide a much better understanding of how changes in the ionosphere -- the electrically charged region of the upper atmosphere -- affect global communication systems, satellites, cell phones and pagers."
Scientists Use Fossilized Emu Eggshells To Discern Changes In Vegetation, Provide Additional Evidence Of Human Impact On Australian Landscape (Science Daily 5/17)
"For more than 30 years, scientists have suggested that the first human immigrants into Australia dramatically changed the continent's vegetation with the use of fire. However, few vegetation records from the vast Australian interior exist, and none extend beyond the last 18,000 years. [...] A report in the May 14 issue of Science, describing a novel approach to reconstructing paleovegetation, presents the first continuous vegetation record from the Australian interior extending back 65,000 years."
Mapping the Universe (Scientific American June Issue)
"Using techniques drawn from the analysis of music, astronomers have been studying how galaxies form into progressively larger groupings"
Forest carbon-sink potential explored (CNN 5/14)
"Experimental forest plots pumped up with atmospheric carbon dioxide at levels expected by the year 2050 experienced a 25 percent growth increase, but researchers doubt the plots can sustain such growth. "
Tsunami! (Scientific American May Issue)
"Its awesome fury cannot be diminished, but lessons learned from a rash of disasters this decade--and a new way to track these killer waves--will help save lives."
Yes, It Is Warmer (Science Daily 5/13)
"Just how warm is it, anyway? According to a new study, the average annual surface temperature of the whole world is 14.0 degrees Celsius (57.2 degrees Fahrenheit). It is a little warmer (14.6 degrees C; 58.3 degrees F) in the northern hemisphere, where there is more land, than in the southern hemisphere, where there is more water (13.4 degrees C; 56.1 degrees F)."
Into the abyss (New Scientist 5/15)
"Injecting carbon dioxide directly into deep ocean waters might help put a brake on the greenhouse effect, the first field test of the idea suggests."
In the footsteps of dinosaurs (Nature Science Update 5/13)
"There is more to dinosaurs than fossilized bones. Fossilized footprints provide graphic testaments of dinosaurs as living animals. Interpreting the meaning of tracks, however, is often fraught with problems."
Study finds oxygen key element in polar sea gigantism (CNN 5/12)
"Size matters in the murky depths of the polar oceans and oxygen, not low water temperatures, is the reason why, scientists said Wednesday."
Were they dinosaurs or birds? (Seattle Times 5/11)
"Fossils with featherlike features discovered in China have captured the imagination of the public and drawn the scrutiny of scientists. And they've instigated a wave of disagreement between those who study dinosaurs and some of those who study ancient birds."
NASA, USDA Will Bring Space Technology Down To Earth (Science Daily 5/11)
"A new partnership between NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) could result in updated maps of Yellowstone National Park, a better understanding of wildfires and improved management of California vineyards. "
Ocean studied for carbon dioxide storage (CNN 5/10)
"Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are studying the possibility of storing excess carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels in the cold, high-pressure environment of the deep sea. Carbon levels in the Earth's atmosphere have gone up about 25 percent since the Industrial Revolution primarily due to the burning of oil, coal and natural gas to supply about 80 percent of the world's energy needs. "
Huge Land Mammal Fossil Found In Pakistan (Yahoo! News 5/10)
"The fossil remains of an enormous rhinoceros-like mammal have been discovered in Pakistan and the French paleontologists who found them believe they're the largest fossil remains of a land mammal in the world."
Asteroids close to the Earth? (Nature Science Update 5/6)
"When astronauts set off for Mars, they might have to navigate through a hitherto undiscovered belt of asteroids. A computer study by two UK-based researchers suggests that there could be a narrow ring of around 1,000 asteroids, left over from the birth of the Solar System 4.5 billion years ago, in stable, circular orbits around the Sun, just beyond the Earth's own orbit. These remnant asteroids could since have been joined by bodies ejected from the 'main belt' of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter."
Theory says flapping helped dinosaurs run (Seattle Times 5/6)
"The ancestors of birds may have evolved wings not for flying but for running faster, researchers reported today in the journal Nature in a study that may answer a key question about the origin of flight."
Craft to resume mapping Mars despite flaw (Seattle Times 5/6)
"After vain attempts to free a jammed antenna, the Mars Global Surveyor was to resume mapping the red planet today in an effort to eke out as much of its original mission as possible. The equipment problems that have crippled the craft's ability to communicate with Earth could eventually cause the Jet Propulsion Lab-run mission to lose half the data it was designed to produce, officials said. "
Scientists Pinpoint Near-Earth Asteroid Belt (Yahoo! News 5/6)
"British astronomers have calculated the position of a possible near-Earth asteroid belt that could increase the possibility of a disastrous collision. N. Wyn Evans and Serge Tabachnik of Oxford University said the heavenly bodies could orbit anywhere under the right conditions, even quite near the Earth."
Environmentalists applaud conservation act (CNN 5/5)
"Bi-partisan legislation that would establish a permanent fund for wildlife conservation and related recreation and education programs from a percentage of federal offshore oil and gas revenues is being applauded by environmentalists."
Early Warning: Researchers Testing State-Of-The-Art Technology For Early Detection Of Tornadoes (Science Daily 5/4)
"Testing has begun on the next generation of tornado forecasting technology that could increase warning time by as much as 50 percent in north Georgia. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are testing and optimizing the National Severe Storms Laboratory's (NSSL) Next Generation Warning Decision Support System (NG-WDSS) during the 1999 and 2000 tornado seasons. Though the test area is north Georgia, the study results will be applicable throughout the state."
Plate Tectonics May Have Once Operated On Mars, As Reported In Science (Science Daily 5/3)
"Mars may once have maintained a plate tectonics system, according to a team of U.S. and French scientists who have analyzed new magnetic information about the planet's crust. The team reports its findings, which may be the first direct evidence that plate tectonics are not unique to Earth, in two papers in the 30 April issue of Science."
Seismic Profiling Reveals Ancient River Valley And Prehistoric Faulting Beneath Portland, Ore. (Science Daily 5/3)
"An ancient river valley a mile wide and 250 feet deep, as well as breaks in geologic strata beneath two suspected fault zones have been revealed beneath Portland, Ore., by a team of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington and Portland State University."

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