Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole
The summer sun sheds light on an iceberg near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland.
May 18th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole

The Kingdom of Denmark is preparing to claim ownership of the North Pole, according to a Danish media report.

In a document leaked to the Danish newspaper Information, Denmark will ask the United Nations to recognize the North Pole as a geologic extension of Greenland, the vast Arctic island that is a Danish territory. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen confirmed the annexation attempt, Information reported.

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Filed under: Canada • Climate change • Denmark • Earth • Energy • North Pole • Norway • Russia • U.S.
'Peak streak' time for meteor shower
The Eta Aquariids meteor shower comes from cosmic material emanating from Halley's comet, shown here in 1986.
May 6th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

'Peak streak' time for meteor shower

The greatest show on Earth is in the skies this weekend as the Eta Aquariids meteor shower enters peak streak time.

The shower was at its spectacular best early Friday morning, but the wee hours of Saturday also hold promise, pending clear skies.

If you live in the northern United States, the stream of celestial glitter and unicorns that you’re envisioning may be a bit off the mark though.

Can you see them? Send us your images!

Those who live closer to the equator will get the greatest spectacle - upward of 60 meteors per hour - but in North America, you could see about half that, according to Space.com.

Why the name Eta Aquariids? It's named for the radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate, which is the Aquarius constellation, according to Space.com.

“Each Eta Aquarid meteoroid is a piece of Halley’s Comet doing a kamikaze death dive into the atmosphere,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, quoted in Spacedex.com. “Many people have never seen this famous comet, but on the morning of May 6th they can watch bits of it leave fiery trails across the sky.”

The trails are caused by pieces of the comet burning up in our atmosphere, creating cool streaks of light.

But fear not, Americans, while it may not seem quite like a shower, the radiant will be “fairly low,” according to NASA, creating awesome “Earth grazers,” which are the long iridescent hazes you probably envision. But there still won’t be unicorns.

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Filed under: Earth • Science • Space
Study: Yellowstone volcano much larger than believed
This new image shows Yellowstone's volcanic plume reaching about 400 miles from east to west.
April 13th, 2011
09:35 AM ET

Study: Yellowstone volcano much larger than believed

A new kind of image suggests the giant volcanic plume lying under Yellowstone National Park is even bigger than previously thought.

University of Utah geophysicists used the electrical conductivity of the huge tongue of hot and partly molten rock to create an image. That image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with seismic waves.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment • Idaho • Montana • Nature • Science • U.S. • Utah • Volcanoes • Wyoming
April 7th, 2011
09:38 AM ET

Magnitude 6.7 earthquake strikes Mexico

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 hit the region of Veracruz, Mexico, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Thursday. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

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Filed under: Earth • Earthquake • Mexico
Arctic ice at winter peak is least ever measured by satellite
A graphic shows winter's maximum extent of Arctic ice on March 7. The line is the 1979-2000 average. North America is at left.
March 30th, 2011
08:57 AM ET

Arctic ice at winter peak is least ever measured by satellite

At its peak this winter, Arctic Ocean ice covered the smallest area since satellites started measuring it in 1979, researchers report.

Arctic sea ice probably reached its maximum extent for the year on March 7, at 5.65 million square miles, according to the University of Colorado-Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center.

That figure was 463,000 square miles (about the size of South Africa) less than the 1979-2000 average of 6.12 million square miles, and was about the same as in the winter of 2006, the center reported.

At its end-of-summer minimum in September, Arctic sea ice extent was the third-lowest since 1979.

Sea ice extent is the primary measure for assessing the condition of the ice cover, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The NOAA website has a time-lapse video showing how sea ice fluctuates and moves during winter.

“I’m not surprised by the new data because we’ve seen a downward trend in winter sea ice extent for some time now,” National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier told Science Daily.

The seven lowest measurements of end-of-winter sea ice have been recorded in the last seven years, he told Science Daily.

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Filed under: Climate change • Colorado • Earth • Environment • Science
On the Radar: Libya violence escalates; Muslim radicalization; rare earth elements
Refugees head toward Libya's border with Tunisia on Wednesday.
March 9th, 2011
10:03 AM ET

On the Radar: Libya violence escalates; Muslim radicalization; rare earth elements

Libya – Violence in Moammar Gadhafi's Libya was increasing Wednesday as forces loyal to the strongman unleashed bombs and artillery on makeshift rebel forces in the eastern oil city of Ras Lanuf. The latest fighting followed another defiant speech from Gadhafi that aired Tuesday night on state television, in which he again insisted that youths misled and drugged by al Qaeda were to blame for the fighting.

Peter King – The New York Republican congressman says he is determined to use his powerful post as House Homeland Security Committee chairman to hold a highly controversial hearing on what he has dubbed radicalization of Muslims in the United States. Dana Bash, CNN's senior congressional correspondent, profiles the man who says he thinks every day about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Rare earth elements – They are the elements which occupy those two orphaned rows at the bottom of the periodic table. They're essential for our cell phones, our computer hard drives, our HDTVs. And they are running short. China, which controls supplies of 97% of these materials, doesn't like sharing them with the West. And the only U.S. mine for rare earth elements went out of production after a radioactive waste accident in the 1990s. CNN's John Sutter looks at what rare earth elements mean to us.

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Filed under: Earth • Libya • Mining • National security • On the Radar • September 11 • Terrorism • World
3.8 earthquake strikes central Arkansas
February 17th, 2011
06:53 AM ET

3.8 earthquake strikes central Arkansas

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake struck central Arkansas on Thursday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

The agency put the quake's depth at four miles and said it was centered about four miles from the town of Greenbrier.

It was the third quake above magnitude 3.2 in the area in the past 24 hours.

Last October, a 4.0 quake stuck the same area as Thursday's temblor.

At that time, officials said they were investigating what could be behind a series of 500 quakes in under a month.

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Filed under: Arkansas • Earth • Earthquake • U.S.
Strangers in the night: Lunar eclipse, solstice meet again
December 20th, 2010
08:48 PM ET

Strangers in the night: Lunar eclipse, solstice meet again

It's not every lifetime that you get a chance to celebrate a solstice with a total eclipse of the moon.

Weather permitting, a lunar eclipse will be visible from 1:33 to 5:01 a.m. ET Tuesday, with the total eclipse starting at about 2:41 a.m., according to NASA.

The eclipse happens to be on the day of a solstice (first day of winter for the Northern Hemisphere; first day of summer for the Southern Hemisphere). The last time a lunar eclipse happened on a solstice was 372 years ago, in 1638, the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Geoff Chester told NASA.

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Global warming? Cool!, climatologist says
December 7th, 2010
01:05 PM ET

Global warming? Cool!, climatologist says

Global warming isn't such a bad thing, a leading Russian climatologist told a conference last week.

The effects of rising temperatures will save on heating, increase farm production and open northern sea channels, said Vladimir Klimenko of the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, according to a Moscow Times article.

On the downside, several Siberian and Far Eastern Russian cities will have to be rebuilt, Klimenko conceded in his report to Russian and German scholars at a conference sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, a German organization that supports scientific study.

Regardless, "the reduction of heating alone outweighs all the negative results [of global warming] by many times," Klimenko said, according to Moscow Times. If the savings are used wisely, "then something can be achieved," he said.

Shorter heating seasons will save Russia 3 billion tons of oil by 2050 and 17 billion tons by 2150, Klimenko said.

At the same time, the growing season will lengthen and more land will be available for farming as northern climates warm up, he said.

Russia's Arctic coast will be ice-free for 105 days by 2100, and the Barents and Pechora seas will be open to navigation year-round, he predicted.

Andrei Shmakin of the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences told the Moscow Times that global warming will cause droughts in Russia's south, heavy snowfalls in Siberia and icebergs on the seas, negating any imagined benefits.

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Filed under: Climate change • Earth • Russia
November 1st, 2010
02:33 PM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Ric O'Barry

Dolphin activist Ric O’Barry, subject of the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” will meet Tuesday with officials from the Japanese city of Taiji, where hundreds of dolphins are slaughtered each year after being herded into a secluded bay.

The meeting comes as part of a forum organized by the Association to Contemplate Taiji's Dolphin Hunt. The group, which includes the local fisheries union as well as politicians, says it’s not seeking a debate on the slaughter but rather hopes to “exchange relevant particulars in the first instance,” according to an Agence-France Presse report.

O’Barry, who once trained dolphins on the 1960s' TV show “Flipper,” said he and his Earth Island Institute “will continue to address these issues with respect for the people of Japan and will work with them to solve these problems.”

On his blog, he called on Japan’s government to tell its citizens what’s happening in Taiji, where he said the fishermen capture some of the dolphins for sale to aquariums and stab to death the rest.

“The Japanese people must be made aware of the killing of dolphins, which has been covered up by their government. ... The dolphin slaughter cannot be a Japanese cultural practice if the vast majority of the Japanese people don’t even know it is happening,” he said.

The meeting is open to the media but not to the public, according to AFP.

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October 28th, 2010
02:28 PM ET

Lots of Earth-size planets out there, astronomers say

Astronomers observed sun-like stars from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

There may be more Earth-size planets in the universe than astronomers suspect, according to a University of California-Berkeley study published Thursday.

Using NASA's powerful Keck telescope in Hawaii, university astronomers Andrew Howard and Geoffrey Marcy tracked 166 sun-like stars within 80 light-years of Earth, according to their report published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

Howard and Marcy found a notable number of planets of the smallest size currently detectable: about three times the size of Earth.

"If we extrapolate down to Earth-size planets - between one-half and two times the mass of Earth - we predict that you'd find about 23 for every 100 stars," Howard said in a press release. FULL POST

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Filed under: Earth • Space
October 22nd, 2010
12:13 PM ET

NOAA: Arctic changes are affecting climate elsewhere

Changes such as a decrease in sea ice have consequences elsewhere, the report says.

The Arctic's warming trend is beginning to affect the climate farther south, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this week in its annual Arctic Report Card.

"There is evidence that the effect of higher air temperatures in the lower Arctic atmosphere in fall is contributing to changes in the atmospheric circulation in both the Arctic and northern mid-latitudes," wrote the report's authors, a team of 69 international scientists.

Extreme cold and big snowfalls can be blamed on the Arctic changes, according to NOAA.

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Filed under: Climate change • Earth • Environment • Science • Weather
October 15th, 2010
04:31 PM ET

Indian Ocean volcano erupts for 2nd time this year

Lava flows from the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion Island on Friday.

One of the world's most active volcanoes is at it again.

The Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion Island in the western Indian Ocean erupted Thursday evening after several days of increased seismic activity, the island's government said.

The eruption is contained to one of the volcano's calderas, and the lava flow is stable, but public access to the volcano - a main tourist attraction - will be restricted, the local government said in a statement.

The volcano is about 30 miles southeast of the island's capital, Saint Denis. No one was reported to be in danger; a local newspaper, the Journal de l'Ile de la Reunion, reported that the last eruption happened over 10 days in January.

More than 150 eruptions of the volcano have recorded since the 17th century, according to the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program.

Reunion, a department of France, is home to about 784,000 people and lies more than 400 miles east of Madagascar.

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Filed under: Earth • France • Nature • Reunion Island • Volcanoes
October 1st, 2010
01:34 PM ET

Study: Genetically altered trees could help climate

Genetically altered trees could help reduce global warming, according to a study released Friday in the journal BioScience.

The study, led by a team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, analyzed ways plants process carbon dioxide and convert it into forms of carbon.

The findings could one day lead to a forest of trees and other plants genetically engineered to pull in billions of tons of carbon from the air, counteracting the effects of global warming.

Scientists say the use of genetically engineered plants is just one of many initiatives that could help with carbon sequestration, the retrieval and longtime storage of carbon from the atmosphere.

Genetic alterations can improve the efficiency of plant processes, including increasing the carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from the air, according to the study's authors.

In addition, plants could be altered to absorb more sunlight, according to the study.

The research also offers innovative ideas for genetically engineered plants, such as creating better crop yields and vegetation that could withstand harsher growing conditions.

BioScience is published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment
September 30th, 2010
10:31 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Apparent suicide linked to webcast: New Jersey prosecutors are considering additional bias charges against two Rutgers University students accused of invading the privacy of another student who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with another man was streamed online.

Movie star Tony Curtis dead at 85: Screen legend Tony Curtis, who appeared in 150 films including, "Some Like it Hot" and "Spartacus," died Wednesday, his family said.

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Filed under: Crime • Earth • Most Popular • Showbiz • Space
September 8th, 2010
10:19 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Asteroids narrowly miss Earth: Two small asteroids passed within the moon's distance from the Earth about 12 hours apart on Wednesday, NASA confirmed.

Google unveils Google Instant search: The search giant introduced Google Instant, which will give users suggested results before they're even done typing.

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Filed under: Animals • Crime • Earth • Google • Showbiz • Space • Technology • Uncategorized
September 8th, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Asteroid narrowly misses Earth

A small asteroid passed within the moon's distance from the Earth on Wednesday morning, and another will do likewise later in the day, space watchers say.

The objects don't pose a threat to Earth, and they will not be visible to the naked eye, said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30, which is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet in diameter, passed within 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET Wednesday, the website PopFi.com confirmed.

The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in diameter, will pass within 49,088 miles of Earth at 5:12 pm ET.

READ MORE ABOUT THE CLOSE ENCOUNTERS HERE.

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Filed under: Earth • Science • Space
September 7th, 2010
09:28 PM ET

Two asteroids to pass close to Earth on Wednesday

Two small asteroids in unrelated orbits will pass within the moon's distance of the Earth on Wednesday, according to NASA.

It's an unusual event that shows the need for closer monitoring of near space for Earth-threatening encounters, a scientist with the program said.

The objects don't pose a threat to Earth, and they will not be visible to the naked eye, said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth.

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Filed under: Earth • Space
September 2nd, 2010
10:45 AM ET

Powerful, enormous Earl bearing down on East Coast

Larger than the state of California, Hurricane Earl prepared to take a swipe at the Eastern Seaboard on Thursday as residents scrambled to ready themselves ahead of its arrival.

Hurricane warnings and watches stretched from North Carolina to Delaware, and covered parts of Massachusetts.

President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for North Carolina Wednesday evening. The action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts, and also makes federal funds available to states. Maryland's governor issued an emergency declaration earlier in the day.

The monster storm is forecast to pass close to North Carolina's Outer Banks on Thursday night, the National Hurricane Center said. It is expected to take aim at southeastern New England on Friday night. The storm's track shifted slightly to the west, closer to North Carolina's Cape Hatteras. The National Hurricane Center has posted storm watches and warnings for areas as far north as Maine.

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Filed under: Earth • North Carolina • U.S. • Uncategorized • Weather
September 1st, 2010
11:26 AM ET

Hurricane Earl threatens East Coast

Hurricane Earl made its presence known Wednesday despite being hundreds of miles from the East Coast of the U.S., menacing swimmers with dangerous rip currents and large swells as forecasters expanded a hurricane watch northward from North Carolina into coastal Virginia.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Ocracoke Island, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, and Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Dare County Emergency Management officials issued a mandatory evacuation order Wednesday for all visitors to Hatteras Island, effective immediately.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment • North Carolina • U.S. • Uncategorized • Weather
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