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6 December 2012
Surprising Source of Tsunamis
No one knew what happened when a 7-foot wave hit Lake Erie’s shoreline, sweeping holiday weekend beach-goers off of their feet and swamping boats in their harbors on May 27 of this year. News reporters jokingly called it a tsunami, but explained it was just another wave surge in the wake of windy weather coming from the Canadian border. But it was a tsunami.
Electrifying new way to potentially predict tornado touchdowns
Tornadoes are being betrayed by their lightning in a way that could help save lives, according to researchers who made an accidental discovery.
5 December 2012
New model of sea level rise accounts for splash in the bath
Vulnerable to Earth’s changing climate, people living on small, low-lying islands dread the day when rising seas will swallow up their homes for good. But new findings predict that some islands will become uninhabitable long before they’re submerged. Some island habitats will be destroyed up to 10 times faster than current models project, scientists reported Tuesday at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Measuring groundwater recharge could protect rural farmers’ livelihoods
In the Gangeshwar watershed in Rajasthan, India, farmers are at the mercy of their water supply. They use electrical pumps to capture well water for irrigating fields of wheat, rice, cotton and other crops. But wells often run dry, threatening crops and livelihoods. Melissa Rohde, now a graduate student in civil & environmental engineering at Stanford, in Palo Alto, California is working to find a simple, cost-effective way to measure …
Glacial quakes mask those warning of volcanic eruptions
Swarms of tiny, repeating earthquakes often precede volcanic unrest, as they did prior to the 1989 eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt. New research at Mount Rainier in Washington state finds that glaciers produce similar low magnitude seismic shocks that are not predictive of volcanic activity, and that could be interfering with efforts to predict when a dangerous eruption is imminent.
Tsunamis in the sky
High in the sky seems like an unusual place to look for a tsunami, a natural disaster created deep beneath the ocean’s surface. But an international team of researchers is scanning the atmosphere for signs of these hazards. Looking at the sky, they say, could help scientists and emergency response agencies improve warning systems before they see any problems on land.
20th Century newspapers, historical documents help improve hurricane predictions
When a storm looms in a hurricane-prone area, coastal residents want to know its strength. Will it be a monster Category 5? A meager Category 1? One research team is taking a low-tech approach to try to give people better advance warning.
4 December 2012
Fiery volcanos seed lightning-generating ice
Volcanic eruptions conjure up images of huge fiery explosions, searing hot magma and charred, decimated landscapes. But some eruptions also create something very different: ice crystals. In a poster presented at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting Monday, atmospheric physicist Arthur Few of Rice University in Houston tied these ice crystals to volcanic lightning, and figured out how they form
Hydrofracturing brings out the tough bugs
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” often voice concerns about chemicals leaking into the groundwater supply and making people sick. But what about the microbes that call fracturing fluid their home?
Egg-shaped asteroids more likely to survive impact
Large asteroids typically hit Earth with enough force to vaporize the entire rock. One asteroid the size of San Francisco formed the 40-mile-wide Morokweng crater in South Africa – but puzzlingly, in 2006, scientists discovered a solid piece of the space rock the size of a bowling ball. The discovery spurred a scientific mystery: How could any of it have survived?