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We're in for a treat this weekend!
On Saturday and Sunday, the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus will be lining up in the western sky. The two planets are approaching 10 degrees apart in the sky by the end of the month. You can see all three at twilight, when the crescent Moon is also visible. For more information, see

Scientists studying air pollution produced by excavation of oil sands have found elevated levels of the pollutants nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide within 50 km of the mines in Alberta, Canada. For more information, see the AGU Press Release from February 22, 2012.

The heat wave that struck western Russia in summer 2010, killed 55,000 people, broke July temperatures records and caused $15 billion in damage. A new study concludes the devastating heat wave had human and natural causes. Soaring temperatures were found to be within the natural range for a Russian summer, but due to human-induced climate change, the chance of such an extreme heat wave has tripled over the past several decades. For more details, see the AGU Press Release from February 21st, 2012.

30 January 2012
AGU Release No. 12-05
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON, DC—New evidence from northern ice sheets suggests that volcanic eruptions triggered the multiple-century cool spell known as the Little Ice Age, and pinpoints the start of the climate shift to the final decades of the 13th century.

According to the new study, the Little Ice Age began abruptly between 1275 and 1300 A.D., triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self-perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Indiana House Speaker has effectively killed a bill moving forward in the Indiana Legislature that would have allowed creationism to be taught in K-12 science classrooms. See for more information.

A firestorm erupted recently when documents were leaked showing that the Heartland Institute, a prominent conservative think tank, is seeking to support development of K-12 curricula designed to promote teach skepticism about global warming. More information about this can be found at the following websites:

Submitted by Pamela Whiffen, NESTA Southwest Regional Director

The USGS and Japanese seismologists both upgraded the magnitude of Japan's March 11, 2011 quake to 9.0 on March 14.

A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit near the east coast of Honshu, Japan, on 3/11/11 at 02:46:23 PM local time at the epicenter. The quake occurred on a thrust fault at or near the subduction zone interface plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates. The earthquake was preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the previous two days, beginning on March 9th with an M 7.2 event.

Three student contests are now open through January 21, 2011. Details may be found at:


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Earth and Space Science Today

Now you can easily access information on topics that highlight our active Earth. Learn all about the latest earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, severe weather, wildfires, tides and currents, droughts, a calendar of solar and lunar eclipses, and daily streamflow information.