Enn Original News
The Great Lousiana Flood
May 16, 2011 01:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 are among the largest and most damaging along the U.S. waterway in the past century, rivaling major floods in 1927 and 1993. In April 2011, two major storm systems dumped record rainfall on the Mississippi River watershed. Rising from springtime snowmelt, the river and many of its tributaries began to swell to record levels by the beginning of May. Following the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, much effort has been invested in building defenses to withstand a flood of three million cubic feet per second just upstream from the Old River Control Structure. The US Army Corps of Engineers refers to this design goal as the "project flood". As of 11 May 2011 the expected flow will be on the high side, but still within that maximum capacity, assuming everything works as expected. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Saturday opened two of the 125 floodgates at the Morganza Spillway 45 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, and opened two more on Sunday. Opening the floodgates - a move last taken in 1973 - will channel water away from the Mississippi River and into the Atchafalaya River basin. That will take the floodwaters toward homes, farms, a wildlife refuge and a small oil refinery but avoid inundating New Orleans and Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge.
The Parakeet Invasion of England
May 16, 2011 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
This green and pleasant land is quickly becoming home to a green and not so pleasant bird. The Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri), an exotic bird from India and sub-Saharan Africa is spreading like wildfire in London and its surrounding suburbs. Their population was estimated at 1,500 in 1995. Only a few years ago, their numbers have jumped to an estimated 30,000! At first they seemed like a new attractive bird in people's backyards. Now they are a pest, hogging bird feeders and causing a nuisance. However, the greatest fear is that they will spread to agricultural areas and threaten crops.
The Fantastic Fox, new from BBC Earth
May 13, 2011 05:09 PM - Editor, BBC Earth
In myth, the fox is better known for its cunning rather than its courage. Becoming a symbol of trickery, deceit and even having its name attributed to false prophets in the bible. Yet the bad press received is counter to the foxes natural strengths and abilities! Living on a diet of scavenged scraps while always remaining one step ahead of its many predators, are just two examples of this animals ability to adapt, and above all, survive. A member of the canine family, it is understandable to see how the fox has been able to colonize in so many parts of the world. As a relation of dogs, wolves and coyotes, this animal naturally sits on the boundaries of civilization. However this domestication has meant that while some species have thrived in the urban jungle, others have not. This species success story is therefore best seen out of the cities, and into the remote habitats where the variations in their biology can really be seen/appreciated. Although you may have to look hard, as these 'true foxes' of the deserts, mountains, tundra's and frozen worlds are kings of being coy. Of the 37 species referred to as foxes, only 12 actually belong to the Vulpes genus of true foxes; and one that fits into this category but also that of its own genus, is the Arctic fox. Surviving in a subzero temperatures, this compact fox has evolved to have short ears, short legs, and incredibly dense fur. This canine's unique physical development does not stop there. With its footpads also covered with thick hair, it enables this small creature to hunt all year round, by protecting it from the severe cold and even providing traction on ice.
Longer Life from Good Work Relationships
May 13, 2011 12:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
We all know how stressful work can be. The pounding headaches, the long hours, and the guilt adds up. Then we go home. People who have a good peer support system at work may live longer than people who don't have such a support system, according research published by the American Psychological Association. This effect of peer social support on the risk of mortality was most pronounced among those between the ages of 38 and 43. Yet similar support from workers' supervisors had no effect on mortality, the researchers found. In addition, men who felt like they had control and decision authority at work also experienced this protective effect, according to the study, published in the May issue of the APA journal Health Psychology. However, control and decision authority increased the risk of mortality among women in the sample.
Study Finds Breastfeeding Leads to Good Behavior in Childhood
May 13, 2011 09:34 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Breastfeeding, the act of feeding an infant directly from the human breast, is known to be good for children. There are formulas available which can simulate a mother's milk, but can never perfectly replicate the natural act of breastfeeding. In the past, studies have shown inconsistent results as to whether or not breastfeeding really improves childhood wellbeing in areas such as IQ, behavior, and obesity. However, a new study from the University of Oxford has put a firmer grip on this already well-known theory.
May 12, 2011 02:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Barred Owl is a large typical owl. It goes by many other names, including eight hooter, rain owl, wood owl, and striped owl, but is probably known best as the hoot owl. Barred owls may be more abundant in coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest than previously recognized, according to research published today in the Journal of Wildlife Management. This finding likely has implications for the recovery of the federally threatened northern spotted owl. Related studies about the competitive interactions between barred owls and spotted owls are under way, with results anticipated this summer.The research published today also emphasizes the need for species-specific survey methods to document and understand the interactions between the northern spotted owl and its close relative, the barred owl. Barred owls, which have gradually expanded their range into the Pacific Northwest over the past 30 years, are now thought to be competing with dwindling numbers of spotted owls for critical resources such as food and nesting habitat.
Put up your data and step away from the car
May 11, 2011 03:31 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributiing Editor,ENN
Your driving and charging habits mean a great deal to companies selling Electric Vehicles (EV), to government when developing policy, to firms developing wireless communications or charging stations and to utility companies that will be required to supply the electricity. All of them want to know when/where and how much electricity is needed and how it is obtained as more and more people buy EV. Most likely your decision to buy an EV might depend on how far you will be driving regularly. BEV gives more range, but HPEV save you from range anxiety. Either way, you are only going to spend the extra money to own an EV if you know you can drive/charge the way you want. Whether we like it or not, that means it is as important to us as it is to utilities, car companies or the government that good vehicle charging data become available. Americans have always been leery of intrusions into their privacy. Use data from personal electric vehicles, be they BEV or PHEV, will become only more important to the development of policy and marketing for greener driving goals. Think about your EV. You leave home one morning after having charged it up overnight. You go to work, where your employer provides a parking bay with an EV charger and charge it again. This charge will be what you need to get home, but what happens when your daughter calls and asks you to pick up your grandchild from daycare for her? Well, that's across town and you need extra battery range for that. But, you check your iPhone app and see that Walgreens has installed chargers at the store near daycare, so you figure you'll pick up your granddaughter and the two of you can get her the stuffed animal you promised her while the car charges again. Any other day maybe you’d only charge at home and work.
How Old Neanderthal Man?
May 11, 2011 07:58 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. The first proto-Neanderthal traits appeared in Europe as early as 350,000—600,000 years ago. These characteristics are generally thought of as disappeared in Asia by 50,000 years ago and in Europe by about 30,000 years ago. Researchers have dated a Neanderthal fossil discovered in a significant cave site in Russia in the northern Caucasus, and found it to be 10,000 years older than previous research had suggested. This new evidence throws into doubt the theory that Neanderthals and modern humans interacted for thousands of years. Instead, the researchers believe any co-existence between Neanderthals and modern humans is likely to have been much more restricted, perhaps a few hundred years. It could even mean that in some areas Neanderthals had become extinct before anatomically modern humans moved out of Africa.
El Nino Tree Ring Story
May 10, 2011 07:27 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
El Niño and its partner La Niña, the warm and cold phases in the eastern half of the tropical Pacific, play havoc with climate worldwide. Predicting El Niño events more than several months ahead is now routine, but predicting how it will change in a warming world has been hampered by the short historical record. El Niño/La Niña-Southern Oscillation is a quasiperiodic climate pattern that occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean roughly every five years. It is characterized by variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean—warming or cooling known as El Niño and La Niña respectively—and air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific—the Southern Oscillation. record. An international team of climate scientists from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa recently found that annually resolved tree-ring records from North America, particularly from the U.S. Southwest, give a continuous representation of the intensity of El Niño events over the past 1,100 years and can be used to improve El Niño predictions.
Andean Earthquakes to the East
May 9, 2011 07:42 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The region west of the Andes Mountains is the leading edge of the South American continent into the Pacific Ocean. Subduction of the Nazca plate beneath South America has driven the growth of the Andes Mountains. Subduction has routinely generated earthquakes larger than magnitude 8.0 along the western margin of the mountain belt. Lesser known for tectonic activity is the eastern side. The region east of the central Andes Mountains has the potential for larger scale earthquakes than previously expected, according to a new study posted online in the May 8th edition of Nature Geoscience. Previous research had set the maximum expected earthquake size to be magnitude 7.5 (Richter), based on the relatively quiet history of seismicity in that area. This new study by researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and colleagues contradicts that limit and instead suggests that the region could see quakes with magnitudes 8.7 to 8.9.