Archive | Nature & Ecosystems

California Ski Resorts Celebrate Major Snowfall

BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif., Nov. 29 (UPI) — A major snowfall has allowed some California ski resorts to open for Thanksgiving weekend for the first time in four years, meteorologists say.

The storm came out of the north and hit Southern California mountains early Saturday morning, depositing 3 to 6 inches of snow in mountainous areas north of Los Angeles along Interstate 5, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Among the resorts to open were Big Bear Mountain, which includes the Bear Mountain and Snow Summit resorts. Director of Marketing Chris Riddle told the newspaper that 4 to 6 inches had fallen at the resorts, located about 100 miles east of the city.

“I expected a minor dusting at best,” Riddle told the newspaper. “But lo and behold, when I woke up this morning, it was snowing real hard.”

He said it was the first time in four years his resort had been able to operate on Thanksgiving weekend.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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2004 California Earthquake's Aftershocks Studied

ATLANTA, Nov. 25 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve determined the 2004 earthquake along the San Andreas fault in California had 11 times more aftershocks than previously thought.

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers said they used a technique normally employed to detect weak tremors and discovered the magnitude 6 earthquake along the Parkfield section of the fault exhibited nearly 11 times more events during the first first three-day period following the main quake.

“That’s surprising because this is a well-instrumented place and almost 90 percent of the activity was not being determined or reported,” Assistant Professor Zhigang Peng said.

Peng and graduate research assistant Peng Zhao discovered the earliest aftershocks occurred in the region near the main event. Then with time, the aftershocks started migrating.

“Basically, the big event happens due to sudden fault movement, but the fault doesn’t stop after the main event,” Peng said. “It continues to move because the stress has been perturbed and the fault is trying to adjust itself. We believe this so-called fault creep is causing most of the aftershocks.”

The research appears online ahead of print in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Tonga and Pacific

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga, Nov. 24 (UPI) — A strong earthquake struck in the Pacific close enough to Tonga to wake dogs and rattle dishes in the capital city nearly 100 miles away.

The earthquake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It hit just before 2 a.m. Wednesday morning local time.

The epicenter of the quake was about 85 miles east-northeast of Nuku’alofa and 1,300 miles northeast of Auckland, New Zealand.

While there were no reports of any damage, the earthquake was felt in parts of the Tonga Archipelago, Mantangi Tonga reported. Buildings shook and dogs barked.

The earthquake was followed within an hour by two smaller ones, also offshore, one measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale and the other 5.1.

In late September, a quake measuring 8 on the Richter scale hit between Samoa and Tonga, triggering tsunamis that killed nearly 200 people, mostly in Samoa.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Bush Fires Churn Through New South Wales

SYDNEY, Nov. 23 (UPI) — Cooler weather failed to dampen bushfires raging in areas across New South Wales, Australian fire officials said Monday.

The Rural Fire Service reported major fires along the far north coast in the Liverpool ranges, the west central area, and in the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains area and said the blazes hadn’t posed a threat to anyone’s property so far, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Assistant Rural Fire Services Commissioner Rob Rogers said officials were concerned about more hot conditions forecast for later this week.

“The last thing we want of course is to go into bad weather days, having a lot of fires on the books already,” Rogers said.

He says fires were started by lightning from storms Friday.

Meanwhile, police say they would charge two men allegedly caught starting fires on their property, ABC said. Both men likely would be given notices to appear in court for failing to comply with the fire ban.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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48 Year Old Man Happy with Simple Life in Moab Desert Cave

MOAB, Utah, Nov. 22 (UPI) — A 48-year-old man who has not used money in nine years and resides in a desert cave in Moab, Utah, said he loves his simple existence.

Daniel Suelo said while he shops for clothes by going through garbage, he is content with living an existence where he does not have to worry about a job, mortgage or other concerns that plague most U.S. residents, The Denver Post reported Sunday.

“The understanding that, really, we all possess nothing is the cornerstone of all spiritual endeavors and religions,” Suelo said.

A former Peace Corps volunteer, Suelo said he also will not barter for food or rent because he considers bartering another form of currency.

Suelo began his unique style of living nine years ago despite having a master’s degree in accounting and a degree in anthropology.

Despite his meager belongings and lack of a traditional home, Suelo insists he will never embrace a regular lifestyle again.

“I have no idea what the future holds, and I don’t worry about it. But the longer I do this, it seems absurd to go back,” he told the Post. “It would be like going back to slavery.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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140+ Bushfires Flare Up in Australia's New South Wales

SYDNEY, Nov. 21 (UPI) — About 140 bushfires burned Saturday across the Australian state of New South Wales as high temperatures and gusty winds created dangerous conditions.

Forecasters predicted another bad day Sunday, saying it could be the worst fire conditions ever seen in November, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Rob Rogers, assistant commissioner of the Rural Fire Service, said 1,000 firefighters worked Saturday. He said the heat, winds and dry vegetation made the blazes difficult to control.

”If we don’t catch them very quickly, we won’t be able to put them out,” Rogers said. ”We’ve just got to get through tomorrow and then the weather calms down for a couple of weeks.”

While New South Wales was dealing with fires, Victoria, where deadly bushfires burned earlier this year, was hit by up to 3 feet of rain in 24 hours.

Temperature records were set Friday in New South Wales. Just before midnight, the temperature was still a sweltering 90 degrees in Sydney.

A spokeswoman for NSW Ambulance said residents should remember the elderly and infants need more liquids in the heat.

”We’re reminding mums that bubs need to be breastfed more often,” she said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Australia's New South Wales Bush Fire Conditions Ease

SYDNEY, Nov. 22 (UPI) — Weather conditions have improved slightly for firefighters battling blazes in Australia’s New South Wales, meteorologists said Sunday.

Emergency fire warnings were eased for most parts of the state as a change in wind conditions brought some relief, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

But thousands of crew members remained on the job, the broadcaster said. Almost 2,000 of them were on the ground Sunday, with 1,700 still deployed to battle 90 blazes. Some of those fires were threatening homes, the ABC reported.

New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan told reporters that 50 aircraft were working Sunday around the state as sweltering temperatures continued to dominate. The mercury climbed to 108.5 degrees in Sydney, while at Walgett in northwestern New South Wales, the temperature reached 109.5 degrees.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Wind0 Comments

Heat and Lightning Spark Bushfires in South Australia

SYDNEY, Nov. 20 (UPI) — Firefighters battled dozens of bushfires in South Australia Friday as record-breaking temperatures and lightning storms continued, officials say.

Emergency crews fought scores of fires in the populous state of New South Wales, some on the outskirts of Sydney, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

“There is quite a deal of fire burning in the state,” said Rob Rogers, assistant commissioner of the Rural Fire Service.

Rogers said cooler weather wasn’t expected until Sunday.

“We still have two days of pretty severe fire weather,” he said.

Planes and helicopters were sent to fly over bushland where lightning strikes were spotted.

The government was allowing aircraft battling the numerous bushfires to use a Royal Australian Air Force base.

In the South Australian town of Port Lincoln, schools cancelled bus service and prepared to keep children overnight if their parents were unable to pick them up, The Australian reported.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Hits West Central British Columbia

PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia, Nov. 17 (UPI) — A 6.6 magnitude earthquake quake shook west-central British Columbia around 7:30 a.m. followed by a series of quick aftershocks, seismologists said.

There was no immediate report of injuries or damage along the rugged coast area, the Canwest News Service report from Prince Rupert.

Seismologist Stephane Mazzotti said there was also never a risk of a tsunami, but the shaking was significant.

“It’s been felt extensively up and down the Queen Charlotte Islands in Sandspit and Queen Charlotte City,” he said, adding the area is earthquake-prone as there’s a junction of two seismic fault lines.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 6.6 on the open-ended Richter scale, followed seven minutes later by a 5.7 aftershock.

The mayor of Queen Charlotte, Carol Kelesha, told a Globe and Mail correspondent she was awakened by the event.

“It was significant enough to make me feel I was in a train,” she said.

Earthquakes Canada said the country’s worst-ever quake hit the same area in August 1949, “1,000 times stronger” than Tuesday’s quake and measured 8.1 on the Richter scale.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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European Union Report Urges More Resource & Environmental Protection

BRUSSELS, Nov. 16 (UPI) — An exhaustive report released by the European Union says investing in environmental protection will pay off for mankind far more than commercial exploitation.

The 300-page survey concluded that current uses of land and sea resources generally ignore the role the overall health of the planet plays in supplying livelihoods to its inhabitants.

“Nature provides us with clean air, fresh water, food, materials and medicines. It helps regulate our climate and protects us from disaster,” EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said at the unveiling of the survey Friday. “We tend to take them for granted but we can not survive without them.”

The EUobserver said Monday that the report also points to the economic benefits of protecting ecosystems and watershed, which come in the form of more productive fisheries, lower public works expenses and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The EUobserver said Dimas urged negotiators at next month’s climate summit in Denmark to at least come up with an agreement to preserve tropical rainforests. He said deforestation was a source of some 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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