Natural Disasters

Volcanic Activity Triggered Deadly Prehistoric Warming

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 26, 2007   View Article

The prehistoric bout of volcanic activity that slowly ripped Greenland from Europe triggered a deadly global warming event, a new study says.

The event, which happened about 55 million years ago, has similarities to today’s climate changes, which have been linked to human generation of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels.

Orangutans Displaced, Killed by Indonesian Forest Fires

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 17, 2006   View Article

Intentionally lit forest fires on the island of Borneo are killing Southeast Asia’s endangered orangutans, conservationists warn.

The fires are lit annually to clear land for oil palm plantations and agricultural fields. Many of the blazes quickly rage out of control.

Over 200 Years of Hurricane Data Recorded in Trees, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 18, 2006   View Article

A chemical signature of just about every hurricane to roar across southern Georgia during the past 220 years is preserved in the region’s longleaf pine trees, according to a new study.

Further detective work should extend the record for the southeastern United States back another 400 years, says Claudia Mora, study co-author and a geochemist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Global Warming Link to Hurricane Intensity Questioned

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 28, 2006   View Article

An expert with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is questioning the connection between climate change and the appearance of more intense hurricanes in recent years.

Historical data on hurricanes is too crude to determine long-term trends in intensity, says Christopher Landsea, a science and operations officer with NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.

Earthquake Proof Pipelines Tested in the Lab

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 20, 2006   View Article

The nightmare: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocks the neighborhood. Sidewalks buckle. Brick houses crumble. A water main snaps and floods the street.

And then, boom! A nearby house is engulfed in a ball of flames when its natural gas line ruptures.

Wailing sirens mute barking dogs and shrieking children, but with no water to douse the flames, the fire rages on unchecked.

Thomas O’Rourke, an engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is working to ensure this scenario never becomes reality.

Major Earthquake Due to Hit Southern California, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 21, 2006   View Article

Get ready for the Big One.

About 300 years of pent-up stress in southern California is sufficient to trigger a catastrophic earthquake on the San Andreas Fault system, according to a new study.

Hurricane Plane Flies Into Storms to Sharpen Forecasts

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 12, 2006   View Article

High-altitude pilot David Wright took two passes over the eye of Hurricane Emily last July, and then caution took hold.

“The turbulence became pretty significant,” Wright said. “I decided the better part of valor was to fly in a box pattern the remainder of the night.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach