Earth­week: a diary of the planet

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Steve New­man ©2018 Earth En­vi­ron­ment Ser­vice

Whale song cypher

Chi­nese sci­en­tists say they have found a way to hide se­cret mes­sages in record­ings of sperm whale songs — a break­through that they say will help China’s mil­i­tary sub­marines avoid scru­tiny.

Whale sounds are typ­i­cally fil­tered out by un­der­wa­ter in­tel­li­gence-gather­ing op­er­a­tions, which fo­cus more on man-made en­cryp­tion ef­forts in sonic sig­nals that are ob­vi­ous and easy to de­tect. But be­cause whales in­habit most of the world’s oceans, the re­searchers from Tian­jin Univer­sity in China say their method would make it nearly im­pos­si­ble for ad­ver­saries to de­tect their new hid­den mes­sages.

There was no men­tion of how the en­coded whale sounds could af­fect the whales them­selves.


State of­fi­cials in­def­i­nitely shut down a waste­water in­jec­tion well as­so­ci­ated with oil and gas ex­trac­tion just out­side Ok­la­homa City af­ter a sharp earth­quake hit near the fa­cil­ity. Earth move­ments

also were felt in north­ern Ari­zona, south­ern parts of the San Fran­cisco Bay Area, the Philip­pine is­land of Mindanao, New Zealand’s North Is­land and western Su­lawesi.


Far East Rus­sia’s Ebeko vol­cano spewed a large col­umn of ash nearly 3 miles into the sky above Para­mushir Is­land, just off the south­ern tip of the Kam­chatka Penin­sula. A light rain of ash fell over the nearby set­tle­ment of Severo-Kurilsk, but there were no re­ports of dam­age or in­juries from the erup­tion. An or­ange alert for ash was

is­sued for avi­a­tion. Ebeko is one of the most ac­tive vol­ca­noes in the Kuril Is­lands.

Trop­i­cal cy­clones

Cat­e­gory 5 Typhoon Yutu dis­si­pated off the coast of Hong Kong af­ter a deadly twoweek ram­page across the Pa­cific. Also this past week, Trop­i­cal Storm Xavier formed briefly off Mex­ico’s Pa­cific Coast.

Sunken is­land

Ja­panese of­fi­cials say one of the coun­try’s tiny is­lands has dis­ap­peared and slipped be­neath the ocean’s sur­face af­ter grad­u­ally be­ing eroded by the el­e­ments. Just off the north­ern tip of Hokkaido Is­land and to the south of Rus­sia’s Sakhalin Is­land, Esanbe Hanakita Ko­jima had been an im­por­tant piece of real es­tate that ex­tended Ja­pan’s exclusive eco­nomic zone far­ther from its main­land ter­ri­tory.

Ozone heal­ing

The strato­spheric ozone layer is heal­ing at roughly 1 per­cent to 3 per­cent per decade, thanks mainly to a 30-yearold in­ter­na­tional agree­ment to ban chem­i­cals re­spon­si­ble for its an­nual for­ma­tion, a U.N. agency says.

The World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion also an­nounced that it be­lieves

Aus­tralian re­searchers say more than 60 com­mon pre­scrip­tion drugs are find­ing their way through waste­water into rivers and streams, con­tam­i­nat­ing in­sects that wind up be­ing eaten by other wildlife up the food chains.

The sci­en­tists at Monash Univer­sity found 69 med­i­ca­tions in in­sects col­lected in waters around Mel­bourne, in­clud­ing painkillers, an­tibi­otics, an­tide­pres­sants and blood-pres­sure treat­ments. They say that the high­est lev­els of con­tam­i­na­tion were found near waste­water-treat­ment plants, but low lev­els also were de­tected in in­sects from more pris­tine ar­eas.

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