April 20, 2012
An aerial view of the Sahara Desert

An aerial view of the Sahara Desert     Photo: furureatlas.com/Flickr

Massive Water Reserves Found in Africa

Aquifers in Sahara could solve water crises

Scientists from the United Kingdom on Friday published a study in the journal Environmental Research Letters showing vast groundwater reserves in some of Africa's most arid regions. That water, according to researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London, could be used to dampen the effects of global warming and aid some of the continent's 300 million people who lack access to clean drinking water. The reserves are 100 times larger than the continent's available surface water, although the news has raised concerns over accessibility and the long-term consequences of a water boom. "The discovery of substantial water reserves under parts of Africa may well be good news for the continent," said United Nations spokesman Nick Nuttall, "but ... if not sustainably managed, could have unforeseen impacts."

Read more at Reuters


Popocatepetl erupts

Popocatepetl erupts     Photo: Rainy City/Flickr

Volcano Erupts Near Mexico City

Villagers on standby to evacuate

On Friday, Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano erupted violently, sending skyward a cloud of ash that was visible from Mexico City 40 miles away. Residents of the town of Xalitzintla, which sits at the foot of the 17,886-foot mountain, awoke on Friday to rattling windows and ash and rocks that shot more than half a mile downhill. Authorities have readied 50 buses and alerted the town's 2,600 residents to stand by for evacuation should mud and ash flood the village, which sits in a ravine. In a portentous speech on Thursday, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon noted Mexico's recent encounters with natural disaster. "All we're missing is an eruption of Popocatepetl and we'll complete the picture," he said, knocking on wood. Popo's last major eruption came in December 2000.

Read more at the Associated Press


Great White Shark

Great White Shark     Photo: hermanusbackpackers/Flickr

Outcry After Fatal Shark Attack

Residents worried by film crew's chumming

Residents of Cape Town, South Africa, are calling on the crew of the television show Shark Men to stop production after a great white fatally attacked a champion bodyboarder on Thursday. Residents are concerned that the crew's practice of chumming has drawn more sharks to the area and may have precipitated the death of David Lillenfeld, 20, who died after a great white severed his leg at the hip. Following the attack, South Africa's environmental authorities immediately pulled the crew's research permits. In a note on Facebook, filmmaker Chris Fischer called news of Lillenfeld's death "tragic," but said that his team had used less chum than any of the three cage diving boats working in the area. National Geographic, which previously broadcast Shark Men, said it had not renewed the show for another season.

Read more at GlobalPost


Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear     Photo: S-t-v/Flickr

Herd of Escaped Bears Kills Two in Japan

Six brown bears shot and killed

On Friday, police in Japan's Akita prefecture were scrambling to contain a herd of bears that escaped an animal park and mauled to death two zookepers. Hachimantai bear park, home to 38 brown bears, contacted police on Friday morning to report that an unknown number of bears had gone missing. Two staff members have been found dead and local hunters have killed six bears within the park. Police were unable to secure the area before nightfall and officials have asked local residents to stay in their houses. "We cannot go close to the park because we don't know which cages are open, and how many bears are on the loose," said an Akita police spokesperson.

Read more at AFP