Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Coldest winter in nearly 50 years for Tasmania, Australia


Snowfall in early August reached sea level for the first time in several decades.
The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed what many Tasmanians already suspected, it has been the coldest winter in nearly 50 years.

With winter coming to a close officially ahead of the first day of spring on Tuesday, the bureau's Debbie Tabor revealed it was the sixth coldest winter on record.

"It's been below average temperature and rainfall for Tasmania during this winter," she said.

"Preliminary analysis is all indicating that it's the sixth coolest on record, that's resulting in the coolest winter since 1966."

Heavy snow in August reached sea level for only the seventh time since 1986.

The dump in early August closed several schools and roads and stranded people in their cars.

Snow fell again in late August again closing roads and creating traffic chaos.

The snow was a welcome boost for the ski season at Mount Field and Ben Lomond but made it .

Alarm Clock

Triple threat: Earthquakes rattle California, Oklahoma, Oregon

© fotandy/Shutterstock
COMPTON, Calif., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- No injuries or major damage was reported Monday after earthquakes rattled cities in California, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Around noon local time, a 2.9-magnitude earthquake rattled a location two and a half miles southwest of Compton, Calif. This report comes after news of a 2.6-magnitude earthquake that struck at 5:11 a.m. local time Sunday along the Hayward Fault in California's East Bay. Local residents reported feeling the quake, which is the latest in a series of rumbles along the fault scientists said could be precursors to a large temblor coming soon, KRON in San Francisco reported.


Almost all seabirds are eating plastic

© Britta Denise Hardesty
Toothbrushes, dolls arms, balloons, cigarette lighters and bottle caps are just some of the items on a seabird's dinner menu these days, say researchers.
Ninety per cent of the planet's seabirds are having plastic for dinner, a new study has found.

The findings are from the first global assessment of plastic ingestion by seabirds, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, bottle caps and even a doll's arm are just some of the items on a seabird's dinner menu these days, says Dr Chris Wilcox of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Previous research suggests there are as many as 580,000 pieces of plastic polluting each square kilometre of the ocean at any one time. And there have been increasing reports about it being found in the guts of marine organisms including turtles, fish, dolphins and seabirds.

To see how pervasive the plastic threat was to seabirds across the planet, Wilcox and colleagues compared maps showing the changing density of plastic over time with maps showing the distribution of seabird species.

They also reviewed published studies of plastic ingestion carried out in 135 species of seabirds between 1962 and 2012. For example, previous studies on Lord Howe Island have found that around 10 per cent of the body weight of some birds is plastic. By combining all this data, the scientists were able to develop a model that links the amount of plastic a seabird consumes to the amount it's exposed to.

"As birds encounter more plastic they'll have more plastic in their gut and conversely if they encounter less they'll have less," says Wilcox.

Using the model the researchers estimate that today, a "shockingly high" 90 per cent of seabirds are ingesting plastic. The researchers also found that the threat was relevant to 99 per cent of seabird species.

"If you use that model and predict forward we conclude that by about 2050, plastic will be in about all seabird species on the current trend."

The research suggests plastic ingestion is likely to have its highest impact in the Tasman Sea, southeast of Australia, where there is a high number of seabirds and a high density of plastic pollution, says Wilcox.


Mystery: Purple waves puzzle Oregon coast scientists, officials

© Jeanine Sbisa
A true mystery is brewing on the Oregon coast, with a dozen or so scientists and public officials stumped, and the public increasingly enthralled.

Puzzling purple waves have been hitting the Oregon coast here and there for the last month, and no one seems to know what it is. Meanwhile, a lot of velella velella jellyfish - otherwise known as Purple Sails - have shown up again as well, but the two are completely unrelated.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection got word of the perplexing purples in the ocean over the weekend from visitor Jeanine Sbisa and her family. She photographed these examples of the stuff in Neskowin on August 15. Oregon State Park Ranger Dane Osis snapped another incident at Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria.

After sending word to a host of scientists, naturalists, volunteers from CoastWatch and even state officials from the Oregon Health Authority (which sends out beach bacteria alerts), no one could come up with a positive answer. All were quite mystified and admitted they hadn't seen anything like it. There is no evidence it's harmful in anyway, just a big enigma.


THREE simultaneous Category 4 Hurricanes in Pacific Ocean: A new record

Three Category 4 hurricanes on Sunday morning in the Pacific. Kilo (left), Ignacio (center) and Jimena (right).
A very rare meteorological event occurred Saturday evening into early Sunday morning when three Category 4 hurricanes were ongoing simultaneously in the Pacific Ocean.

At 11 p.m. EDT Saturday, Huricane Kilo (135 mph) was located well southwest of the Hawaiian Islands followed by Hurricane Ignacio (140 mph) to the east of Hawaii and Hurricane Jimena (140 mph) in the eastern Pacific. Kilo was the last of the trio to reach Category 4 status, doing so on Saturday evening. For reference, hurricanes with maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph are classified as Category 4, which is the second highest category on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

However, by 5 p.m. EDT Sunday both Kilo and Ignacio had begun to weaken and were classified as Category 3 hurricanes, while Jimena maintained its Category 4 status.

This is the first recorded occurrence of three Category 4 hurricanes in the central and eastern Pacific basins at the same time. In addition, it's also the first time with three major hurricanes (Category 3 or stronger) in those basins simultaneously, according to hurricane specialist Eric Blake of the National Hurricane Center.

Arrow Down

Sinkhole swallows car in Boulder, Colorado

© Ariel Mata, KUSA
The woman driving a car that fell into a sinkhole after a Boulder water main break was not injured.
Crews are working to repair a sinkhole that opened up on a Boulder street, swallowing a car.

The car driving near Folsom Street and Iris Avenue in Boulder was almost completely swallowed up by a sinkhole Sunday evening.

The 53-year-old Boulder woman in the car got out of her Honda Civic before it sank into the four-by-six foot deep hole caused by a water main break.

Traffic in the area will be shut down until at least 3 a.m. Monday as crews work to fix the roadway before rush hour. Boulder says drivers should expect delay throughout the day as the westbound lanes will remain closed indefinitely for repairs.

"Not something you normally see on your way home from work," said Troy Ginley, a Boulder resident.


300 buffaloes die of anthrax at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Bacillus anthracis
In an update on the anthrax update at Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya from July, Dr Kisa J. Z. Juma Ngeiywa, CVO Director of Veterinary Services with the Ministry of Agriculture in Nairobi reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health that the outbreak is ongoing and the number of animals affected has increased.

Ngeiywa notes the number of dead Cape buffaloes due to anthrax in Lake Nakuru National Park has reached 300. The park has a buffalo population of 4,500.

In addition, a number of other animals have been affected to include rhinos, Rothschild giraffes, elands, impalas, warthogs and Thomson gazelles.

Officials report the source of the outbreak is contact with infected animal(s) at grazing/watering near the lake shore, watering holes and the fence line since mid-July.


Mysterious disease kills 100 goats in Ragapur, India


100 goats perish in Ragapur village
At least 100 goats have perished displaying symptoms of cold and fever at Ragapur village in Sirpur (U) mandal in the last four days spreading panic among the Gonds. "We are unable to understand what ails the goats," wondered Pendur Geeta one of whose goats fell ill two days back. Kanaka Sonabai, the local Asha workers and some other villagers informed the animal husbandry department of the disease which seems to be endemic as of now.

The veterinarian did respond but failed in saving the goats the loss being valued at over Rs. 4 lakh in terms of money.

According to villagers the goats seemed to have contracted the disease while grazing in the nearby open lands. "The animals developed the symptoms only in the night after returning from grazing," Geeta disclosed.


Magnitude 3.5 earthquake strikes near Fort Bragg, California

© Bing Maps
Map shows location of the epicenter of Saturday morning's quake near Fort Bragg.
A shallow magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported Saturday morning 11 miles from Fort Bragg according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The temblor occurred at 1:13 a.m. Pacific time at a depth of 1.9 mile.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was 30 miles from Ukiah 63 miles from Clearlake and 71 miles from Healdsburg.

In the past 10 days, there have been two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby.

This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical Storm Erika has left over 7,300 people displaced in the Dominican Republic

Tropical Storm Erika has left 7,345 people displaced in the Dominican Republic.

Tropical Storm Erika has left 7,345 people displaced and over 820 houses damaged in the Dominican Republic, director of the country's Center for Emergency Operations (COE) Brig. Gen. Juan Manuel Mendez said.

The storm caused over 400 road obstructions and massive power outage and caused the country's authorities to issue a red alert, Mendez told reporters on Friday, as quoted by the Listin Diario newspaper.