State of the Earth 2009

2009-09-23 14:57 BJT


A 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit China’s western province of Sichuan

Studies show that ground earthquakes may be a result of electrical charges in the atmosphere.

The compression of rocks before an earthquake occurs acts like batteries and produce electricity.


Half a billion people live near the world’s 1,500 active volcanoes.

Instead of a cone, super volcanoes have a circular caldera where magma and earth have been sucked inward during an explosion.

Typhoons, Cyclones, and Hurricanes

On May 2, Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar killing nearly 100,000 people.

Hurricane Ike, the most damaging of the 2008 Atlantic hurricanes, reshaped the coast of Texas, obliterating small islands that once dotted the coastline.

Experts have found that 90 percent of Atlantic hurricanes were preceded by lightning storms over the highland of East Africa.

The changing weather that produces intense lightning in East Africa interrupts the path of trade winds, which may result in hurricanes.

Part of the formation of hurricanes is caused by the rising sea temperature.

Coral Reefs

An atoll is a ring of ancient coral reefs that are left behind when an island sinks back into the ocean.

The process of making an atoll can take up to 30 million years, making coral atolls some of the most ancient and rare ecosystems on Earth.

Coral reefs are home to a quarter of the plants and animals in the world’s ocean.

The Arctic

Locked inside the eons-old permafrost in the Arctic is more carbon dioxide than already exists in the atmosphere.

Animal Extinction

Researchers have found that one in four mammals is in danger of extinction--one in seven birds, one-third of amphibians, and 70 percent of plant life is threatened.

In an isolated swamp of the Congo, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society located a previously unknown population of 125,000 western lowland gorillas, more than tripling the known population.

Editor: Zheng Limin | Source: National Geographic