Earth Changes


Long harsh winter in Nova Scotia hard on predators like bobcat, foxes

© Tim Krochak/ Staff
A pair of malnourished bobcats under the care of Hope For Wildlife in Seaforth are seen among trees in their enclosure Tuesday.
It's been a long, harsh winter for all local wildlife, but the top of the food chain is suffering most.

Andrew Hebda, the Nova Scotia Museum's curator of zoology, said the recent heavy snowfall is leaving predators hungry.

"It's been especially difficult for foxes, bobcats and coyotes," Hebda said Tuesday. "Anything that relies on rodents, rabbits or any small mammal for food is stressed."

According to Hebda, small mammals are hibernating longer this year, leaving carnivores at risk of starvation.

"We've had quite a few reports of saw-whet owls being found dead," he said. "If you make your living catching things that move, then there's a problem. They just don't have access to food."

Hope Swinimer, director of the Hope for Wildlife Society, has been rehabilitating wild animals for 20 years. So far this winter she's treated eight bobcats, two minks and countless other owls and rodents for starvation.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 4.5 earthquake shakes Hawaii island

This map from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shows the location of a magnitude 4.5 earthquake that struck early Sunday morning off Hawaii island. The earthquake did not generate a tsunami.
A magnitude 4.5 earthquake shook Hawaii island early Sunday morning, but no tsunami was generated and there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or damage.

The earthquake struck at 3:23 a.m. about 7 miles west of Kalaoa and 10 miles northwest of Kailua-Kona at a depth of 6.2 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Only light shaking was reported and the earthquake caused no detectable changes to the volcanoes on Hawaii island, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported.

The earthquake was widely felt on the Big Island. The USGS "Did You Feel It?" website received more than 150 felt reports, including 3 people who said they felt it on Oahu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and in Aiea.

During the past 30 years, geologists recorded 23 earthquakes, including Sunday's temblor, in the same area offshore of Keahole Point with magnitudes greater than 3.0 and depths of 3 to 9 miles.

The volcano observatory said earthquakes at this depth off the west coast of the Big Island are typically caused by abrupt motion on the boundary between the old ocean floor and the volcanic material of the island and are usually not directly related to volcanic activity.

As of 7 a.m., no aftershocks of the earthquake were reported, volcano scientists said.

Comment: Magnitude 3.3 earthquake reported near summit of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano

Red Flag

Man killed by bull in Hoschton, Georgia


Jackson County authorities say a man was killed in a bizarre accident in Hoschton Friday night.

According to Steve Nichols, the director of Jackson County EMS, the man was gored to death by a bull grazing on his property on Highway 332. He said emergency responders arrived at the scene just after 8 p.m.

"They kept the bull at bay until the first responders could remove the victim from the field," said Nichols.

Nichols said the victim owned the property and he owned the animal. He did not know what prompted the animal to attack. The bull was not euthanized; family members will decide what to do with the animal, according to Nichols.

Nichols was unable to release the victim's identity because of HIPPA regulations.


Turrialba Volcano erupts again spewing hot rocks and ash 2 kilometers high

Turrialba Volcano is at it again.

The Volcanological and Seismological Observatory (OVSICORI) released video Tuesday of an eruption at 2:07 a.m., when a column of hot rocks and ash rocketed out of the colossus. The eruption sent ash 2 kilometers into the air.

The eruption's most dramatic moment comes 14 seconds into the video when a rush of heat from the crater flashes white on the screen.

Ash and sulphur smells from the eruption were reported as far away as Cuidad Quesada and across Alajuela, Escazú, Heredia and Curridabat, among other places. See the map from OVSICORI for more details:

A crowdsourced map of ash and sulphur smells from the April 7, 2015 eruption at Turrialba Volcano.
Click here to participate in OVSICORI's ash/sulphur survey (in Spanish).

Comment: Turrialba Volcano spews more ash over Costa Rica's Central Valley

Arrow Down

Sinkhole opens beneath garbage truck in East Hampton, New York

© T.E. McMorrow
Garbage truck in sinkhole.
While many drivers in East Hampton Town have been angered by the recent blight of large potholes along Montauk Highway from Napeague to the Lighthouse, that have been destroying tires and tire rims, they have nothing on the sinkhole that opened up on Montauk Main Street Monday morning.

"We were picking up the garbage," Tim Schellinger, the driver of an East Hampton Town Department of Parks and Recreation garbage truck, said as he stood on the side of the road waiting for assistance, his truck mired in an asphalt pit. He and a co-worker were emptying trashcans after a busy holiday weekend on the north side of Main Street, between Essex and South Edison Streets. They had pulled over by a pail west of Martell's Stationary.

Cloud Precipitation

At least 5,000 birds killed by hailstorm in Bangladesh

© Star
A large number of birds lie dead at Moukori village in Shailakupa upazila under Jhenidah district as hailstorm lashed the area yesterday.
20 hurt, 500 houses damaged, 5,000 birds also killed as the seasonal storm hits Kushtia, Jhenidah

Nor'wester lashed Kushtia and Jhenidah districts yesterday, leaving two people killed and 20 others injured.

The deceased are Nisarunnesa, 55, of Baghdanga village, and Rahela Khatun, 65, of Afzalpur in Kushtia Sadar upazila, reports our correspondent.

Locals said the two died when the sheds of their houses collapsed on them during the storm that lashed Baghdanga and Afzalpur villages at around 3:30am.

Deputy Commissioner Syed Belal Hossain visited the areas in the morning.

A number of houses in the areas were also damaged by the storm, said the DC.

Away in Jhenidah, a storm hit over 50 villages in Shailakupa upazila of the district early yesterday, leaving at least 20 people injured and damaging around 500 houses.

Of the injured, 11 were admitted to the upazila health complex while the rest given first aid, reports our correspondent.

The affected villages include Mirzapur, Diknagar, Kacherkool, Sarutia, Hakimpur and Monohorpur.

At least 5000 birds of different species also died during the storm that lasted for about 30 minutes from 4:00am, said locals.


Blizzard in Mongolia leaves one dead and 98 lost


Cars stuck in snow, Mongolia.
Heavy snowfall and blizzard left 98 people lost, 140 cars and more households covered in snow, and numerous livestock dead nationwide last week.

A total of 98 people were reported missing in Arkhangai, Dundgovi, Uvurkhangai, Tuv, Uvs and Bulgan Provinces. From them, 96 were found safe while one was found dead and one is still missing.

Dundgovi Province Police reported that the last missing person to be found is a 50-year-old herder of Erdenedalai soum, who was reported missing during a blizzard while herding. He was found far from his home in another soum, Luus.

The herder said he found a winter quarter of another herder and took shelter until the blizzard died.


Winter returns to Iceland with a vengeance

© Malín Brand
Take care when dri­ving to­day, the snow is back and roads are icy.
Reykjavik locals had to sweep snow off their cars this morning as the few spring-like days are seemingly over and winter is back with a vengeance. The weather forecast for the next few days is summed up in two words: cold and windy.

The Reykjavik metropolitan police ask people to drive carefully today as the roads are icy. In south and west Iceland today, heavy snowfall is expected causing poor visibility. Today's winds are between 15- 23 m/s and more snow is expected this week. Spring may not be around the corner- yet.


A disaster waiting to happen in Oklahoma? The link between fracking and earthquakes is causing alarm in a town where oil storage is 'booming'

Oil storage tanks in Cushing, Oklahoma, located at the convergence of several pipelines; the number of earthquakes above 3.0 on the Richter scale has risen from two in 2008 to 585 in 2014
At first glance the small town of less than 8,000 inhabitants looks like typical country America, the kind of place that John Updike might once have written about. Except Cushing, in north-east Oklahoma, is very different.

On top of its human residents, it is also home to about 87 million barrels of oil storage. The biggest ocean-going supertankers carry about two million barrels. The Exxon Valdez spilled less than half that amount when it hit Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989.

Now, more tanks are being built in Cushing as storage companies seek to increase stocks at lower oil prices.

Dr Riki Ott has seen most oil-related disasters at first hand. A campaigner for energy transportation reform since the Exxon Valdez, she sees the same convergence of risk and lack of preparedness in Cushing that she once saw in Prince William Sound: "It has all of the ingredients for a major disaster. Government and industry officials are misleading the public and hardly anyone knows about it."

The oil is in Cushing because the town sits at the convergence of several of the largest pipelines in the country and has been a hub for oil transportation and storage since the early 20th century.

One of those pipelines is essentially the southern leg of what has come to be known as the Keystone XL, perhaps the most controversial energy development of the last 20 years. In total, there are about 14,000 miles of pipeline in Oklahoma.

Oil is stored in vast quantities at Cushing in above-ground storage containers that litter the fields surrounding the town. This is a place where "oilfield" has nothing to do with drilling, in a state where the oil and gas industry has become as powerful as it is anywhere in the United States.

Now, thanks to fracking, it's also one of the most active seismic areas in the entire United States.

Ironically it is the fracking industry that created this very real and little-discussed threat to Cushing which, according to Oklahoma Sierra Club's director Johnson Bridgwater, has "the potential for producing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in American history".

Until very recently earthquakes were a rare occurrence in Oklahoma. Not any more. In 2008 the US Geological Survey recorded just two earthquakes above 3.0 on the Richter Scale in Oklahoma.

In 2014 it recorded 585, including 15 that measured over 4.0. The state is on target to break through 800 in 2015, taking California's crown as the most active seismic state in the country.

The epicentre of an earthquake on 10 October that measured 4.3 on the Richter Scale just happened to be Cushing.

Comment: The potential disasters resulting from the same "lack of understanding of risk" and "official denial of reality" and the probable causes are getting more 'fracking obvious'!


10 US rivers most endangered from mining, pollution and agriculture

No 10: Pearl River

Each year American Rivers names 10 of the most threatened waterways in the United States. This year the river flowing through one of America's most iconic landmarks tops the list.

A current and proposed dam for the Pearl River (pictured), which runs through Louisiana and Mississippi, puts healthy wetlands and wildlife habitat at risk, the group argues.

Comment: This is to be expected when corporate profits trump every concern for the environment and the humans who must live nearby.