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Highlights Archive

Earth Science Division Highlights for week ending Jan. 24, 2007

F. Freund delivers talk at Director's Colloquium

Friedemann Freund (SJSU/SETI/SGE) delivered a presentation, “Physics of Pre-Earthquake Signals,” before a nearly packed auditorium during the recent Center Director's Colloquium, Jan. 22. Freund has been studying the possibility of rock physics as warning signals of an imminent earthquake; i.e., stressed rocks may become batteries from which powerful electric currents flow out. Such signals can account for ionospheric perturbations and enhanced IR emissions from the ground. (POC: F. Freund, 4-5183,

J. Skiles interviewed about DEVELOP research into Arctic walrus census

Jay Skiles (SGE) spoke with Lindsay Patterson of “Earth & Sky,” a nationally syndicated radio show, Jan. 23. Skiles detailed the research conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) by last year's DEVELOP team to determine the habitat of Pacific walrus population in the Arctic. Previous efforts to record walrus numbers involved the use of costly and time-consuming methods (aircraft, boats, icebreakers). The students combined walrus census numbers with information from radar satellites to determine the thickness of the ice on which the walrus live. They found that walrus prefer medium to thin ice on which to haul out, mate, birth, and rest. Thin ice allows easier access to the sea when threatened by their chief predator, the polar bear. By knowing where to direct their efforts, USFWS and other agencies can obtain walrus population information more efficiently and economically.

Skiles co-manages DEVELOP (with Cindy Schmidt (SJSU)), a program that gives high school and college students 10 weeks to work on national projects with community-focused outcomes. (POC: J. Skiles, 4-3614,

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