On the horizon

Global warming signs

Himalayan glaciers are receding as fast as any in the world, threatening water shortages for millions of people in China, India, and Nepal, a conservation group said Monday.

The WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) said in a new study that Himalayan glaciers were receding 10-15 meters per year on average and that the rate was accelerating.

Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia's greatest rivers, including the Ganges and Yangtze. The glaciers ensure a year-round supply of water to hundreds of millions of people in China and the Indian subcontinent.

The WWF blamed the melt on global warming and called for work toward reducing carbon-dioxide emissions plus increasing the use of renewable energy and energy-saving measures.

The group released the study before the start of a two-day brainstorming session in London on climate change. Environment and energy ministers from 20 countries received a book containing a photo of Mount Kilimanjaro stripped of its snowcap for the first time in 11,000 years.

Following the cricket trail

Armed with glue guns and radio transmitters the size of pennies, a trio of scientists are trying to stop mass insect migrations that devastate ranches in the mountain West of the United States.

Mormon crickets travel in packs, devouring all surrounding terrain as they move. To understand why they move in packs that can stretch several miles wide and 10 miles in length, the scientists separate individual crickets from the mass. Then they glue transmitters - each weighing less than half a gram - to the backs of their selected critters.

When separated, their research found, 50 to 60 percent of the crickets were killed by predators within two days. That led to the conclusion that pack travel is a survival mechanism for the crickets, a finding that could be applied to all mass migrating animals and insects, said Patrick Lorch, a postdoctoral fellow in biology at UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the three scientists involved in the project.

The scientists hope to identify patterns the crickets follow so they can kill them or divert their paths with small distributions of pesticide, rather than the blanket applications now used against the pests. The researchers spend weeks in the field each summer, usually between Utah and Colorado. Their research, funded by the US Agriculture Department, is in its third year.

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