Our Daily Planet: Christchurch Earthquake Survivor Search and Mega Droughts

Each weekday morning, OurAmazingPlanet takes the pulse of the Earth, reporting on natural phenomena and exploration news from around the globe.

New Zealand Earthquake: The outlook is grim for survivors of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that rocked New Zealand's second-largest city, Christchurch. The death toll now stands at 98, with more than 200 hundred still missing, according to news reports. [Related: The Science Behind the New Zealand Quake .]

Fog of Research: Many scientists are saying that they're frustrated at the lack of focus in the BP oil spill research effort. The shortage of money for the huge task isn't helping either, they say.

Coral Concerns: A new look at the world's coral reefs finds that they are in big trouble from overfishing, pollution and warmer and more acidic waters.

Mega-Drought: The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s was a mere dry spell compared to ancient mega-droughts in U.S. prairie land, a new study found.

Previously on Our Daily Planet: New Zealand Earthquake Rescue and West Coast Snowstorm

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at bisrael@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.