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Storm brings down trees, powerlines in Northwest

Northwest stormsTrees and power lines snapped Saturday as a powerful storm bearing the remnants of a Pacific typhoon hit the Northwest.

Tens of thousands of people were without power in Oregon and Washington on Saturday as the storm made landfall after gathering intensity off the coast. The National Weather Service said winds gusted above 50 mph in the Portland area and that the strongest winds would hit Seattle from about 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Australian government: Great Barrier Reef 22 percent dead

Great Barrier ReefA significant portion of coral on the Great Barrier Reef has died, the Australian government announced as its assessment of the area entered its second phase.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority began its follow-up investigation into the extent of coral bleaching in early October. The project aims to analyze the level of damage caused by the worst mass bleaching event on record.


Study: Deforestation in Amazon going undetected by Brazilian monitors

Brazilian deforestationOver the last two decades, Brazil's government has pushed to curb deforestation. By official accounts, their progress as been commendable, but new research suggests a significant portion of deforestation has gone undetected by Brazil's satellite monitoring system, called PRODES.

Researchers published their findings this week in the journal Conservation Letters.

"PRODES has been an incredible monitoring tool and has facilitated the successful enforcement of policies," Leah VanWey, co-author of the new study and director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, said in a press release. "But we show evidence that landowners are working around it in ways that are destroying important forests."


Bolt cutters expose vulnerability of North America's oil pipeline grid

Bolt cutters used on pipelinesAll it took was a pair of bolt cutters and the elbow grease of a few climate activists to carry out an audacious act of sabotage on North America's massive oil and gas pipeline system.

For an industry increasingly reliant on gadgets such as digital sensors, infrared cameras and drones to monitor security and check for leaks, the sabotage illustrated how vulnerable pipelines are to low-tech attacks.


6.8-magnitude earthquake hits Papua New Guinea, no tsunami warning

New Guinea quakeA 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck New Britain island off the coast of mainland Papua New Guinea Wednesday.

The Pacific island nation, north of Australia, is a common site for earthquakes. Wednesday's quake was not followed by a tsunami warning, and no reports of injuries or damage were immediately available. The earthquake was centered near the township of Rabaul, on the north side of the island.


North Carolina’s floods could trigger an environmental disaster

NC potential environmental disasterHurricane Matthew swept across the southeastern seaboard of the United States this weekend, bringing intense rainfall to North Carolina and triggering record flooding across much of the state. But as the rains subside and clearer weather rolls in, some environmentalists are raising alarm bells about the potential for yet another environmental disaster.

Over the weekend, Hurricane Matthew — which had been downgraded to a tropical cyclone by Sunday — brought as much as 18 inches of rainfall to parts of North Carolina, causing rivers across the state to reach dangerously high levels. The record-breaking floods have already damaged thousands of homes and left thousands of residents stranded. The state also suffered the highest number of causalities in the U.S. from the storm— nearly half of the 23 people killed lived in North Carolina.


Climate change has doubled western US forest fires

western forest fires increased by climate changeA new study says that human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. According to the study, since 1984 heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have—an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.

The authors warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades. The study appears today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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