January 25, 2012

Avalanche     Photo: sgillies/Flickr

WA Snowmobiler Survives Avalanche

Slide caught on video

A Washington State man narrowly survived an avalanche on Saturday only after his friends reacted quickly and dug him out. John Swanson was snowmobiling with a group in Washington's Stampede Pass when another rider set off an avalanche above him. Working quickly—and rolling video—Swanson's friends uncovered his helmet and cleared snow away from his face. "I knew that these guys were looking," Swanson said. "It quickly becomes a reality that time is of the essence when you're there." He escaped with minor injuries.

Read more at ABC

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Deepwater Horizon oil spill     Photo: lagohsep/Flickr

Scientists Develop Magnetic Soap

Applications could include oil clean up

Scientists from the University of Bristol have developed a magnetic soap compound that could be used to help manage oil spills. The soap contains iron-rich salt and can be removed from both water and oil with a simple magnet. Traditional soaps, often referred to as surfactants, were widely used to help disperse oil in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The environmental damage caused by soap use in oil spills could be significant, though scientists believe soap is less harmful than leaving oil untreated.

Read more at Popular Science

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Solar flares     Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Airlines Reroute Flights in Solar Storm

Concern for communications blackout

Concerns that a strong solar-radiation storm would disrupt communications prompted Delta Airlines and United Airlines on Tuesday to reroute flights over both the North and South Poles. The Federal Avaition Administration is closely monitoring what scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are calling the strongest geomagnetic storm in six years. The radiation is the result of a solar flare that hurled a chunk of the sun's atmosphere toward Earth on Sunday night, causing a strong magnetic wind to disrupt the Earth's magnetic field. Although none of the feared disruptions to power grids or satellites have been reported, scientists are predicting more intense solar weather events as the sun reaches peak activity in 2013. "To me this was a wake up call," said Doug Biesecker, physicist at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center. "A lot worse is in store for us. We hope that you guys are paying attention. I would say we passed with flying colors."

Read more at ABC News

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Leaping salmon at Murray's Cauld, Philiphaugh.     Photo: Walter Baxter

Missing Fish Raise Concerns in Scotland

Lost salmon could harm wild population

Conservationists in Scotland are growing concerned that 300,000 missing salmon may harm the wild salmon population in the Shetland Islands. The Meridian Salmon Group reported 300,000 salmon missing around Christmas after a storm washed 11 cages out to sea. Conservationists are concerned that the farm fish could reduce diversity in the wild population should they breed. The farm fish could also infect wild salmon with diseases. Some experts believe that the farm-raised fish have died.

Read more at The New York Times

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A Navy SEAL on a training mission in 2010     Photo: An Honorable German/Flickr

Navy Rescues Hostages in Somalia

In shootout, U.S., Danish aid workers freed

A team of Navy SEALs on Wednesday rescued two aid workers who were held hostage in Somalia in the first major U.S. military incursion into the country since 1994. Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted, a Dane, were captured while working for the Danish Refugee Council in Galmudug, Somalia in October. President Obama reportedly green-lighted the operation after reports that Buchanan's health was deteriorating. Galmudug is a haven for pirates, who on Saturday kidnapped an American journalist working on a book about piracy. All nine kidnappers are believed to be dead. The SEAL team who executed the rescue is from the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden in March.

Read more at Reuters

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