Earth Changes


Bear sightings set record pace across Japan, raising danger of encounters

© Kamaishi city
An Asiatic black bear seen near a human settlement in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, in June
A spike in bear sightings across Japan including western Tokyo has some experts raising the alarm, following a recent attack on elderly field workers in Iwate Prefecture.

The increase has been particularly high in the mountainous Tohoku region and in some parts of western Tokyo.

On Sept. 12, three men and women in their 60s and 70s who were working in fields near their homes in Hanamaki, Iwate Prefecture, were assaulted by an Asiatic black bear.

The encounter left them with injuries including scratches on their faces and backs.

Prior to the incident, the prefectural government issued bear warnings for the first time in eight years. According to the prefecture's nature preservation division, bears were spotted in 12 cases as of Sept. 19 this fiscal year, which ends in March 2015.
Arrow Down

Huge sinkhole opened up in Asheville, North Carolina

© Katie Bailey
A large sinkhole opened up Wednesday in the parking lot at the Buncombe County Planning and Development building on S. Charlotte Street.
A sinkhole the size of a pickup truck opened up overnight Wednesday on a county-owned parking lot behind the former TK Tripps restaurant at College and South Charlotte streets.

Heavy rains Tuesday apparently opened up the crater, according to local developer Rusty Pulliam, who with a partner is building a retail/office complex on the site.

Workers about two months ago discovered a drainage pipe installed in 1922 on their property and the county lot, and they are working with the city to relocate it so it will drain to South Charlotte Street, Pulliam said.

"Some sections of it are 40 feet deep, and some of it had collapsed," he said.

The city had agreed to pay for half the cost of relocating the pipe, which appears to carry a stream, but the county has not taken any action, Pulliam said.

Early October snowfall on the Big Island of Hawaii

Here is something you don't see every day, a satellite image showing a sizable amount of snow cover on the big island of Hawaii. While snowfall on the big island is nothing new, commonly seen on the mountains on Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, (top and bottom arrows respectively in the photo) seeing snow this early in the season on the mounatins is somewhat rare.
McIDAS images of GOES-15 (GOES-West) 6.5 µm water vapor channel data showed an upper-level low that moved from east to west over the Hawaiian Islands during the 13 October - 14 October 2014 period. This low forced the development of widespread showers and thunderstorms, especially over the Big Island of Hawai'i - and even produced some snowfall in the highest elevations around the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Romanian politician calls for the army to help control bear population

© Mihai Barbu/Corbis
Bears’ normal diet of nuts and acorns has been scarce leading to more frequent cases of bears venturing into towns in search of food.
Csaba Borboly has called for military assistance and for culling quotas to be lifted following a spate of cases involving brown bears damaging property in Romania

In the depths of Transylvania, Romania, a war against one of Europe's largest brown bear populations is looming.

Following a string of cases involving damage to private property from bears in recent months, Csaba Borboly, a senior politician from the Transylvanian region, has called for the army to be brought in. "The [bear] problem needs the involvement of specialised state institutions such as the police, the paramilitary and even the army."
Cloud Precipitation

Floods in North Jutland, Denmark after 100 mm of rain in just one day

© Nordjyllands Politi
Collapsed road after floods in North Jutland, Denmark.
Heavy rain over the last 24 hours has brought flooding to parts of North Jutland (Nordjylland) in Denmark.

North Jutland police are reporting a road near Sindal has been completely closed after parts of it collapsed as a result of the heavy rain and flooding.

Other roads, including the E39 motorway, as well as parts of the railway network have also been badly affected. Earlier today police advised motorists to avoid travel where possible. Some roads looked more like lakes after the prolonged rainfall. Extra water pumps have been brought in to help alleviate the flooding. Several houses in Lendum are said to have been completely flooded.

Geochemistry and micropalaeontology combined to track oxygen levels in Earth's oceans

Microfossils reveal warm oceans had less oxygen, according to Syracuse geologists
Foraminiferas registers iodine ratio to calcium, determining oxygen levels.
Researchers from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences are pairing chemical analyses with micropalaeontology - the study of tiny fossilized organisms - to obtain a better understanding of how global marine life was affected by a rapid warming event over 55 million years ago.

Their findings are the subject of an article published in the journal Paleocenography (John Wiley & Sons, 2014).

Zunli Lu
Asst. Professor of Earth Sciences Zunli Lu among those researching oxygen saturation.
"Global warming impacts marine life in complex ways, of which the loss of dissolved oxygen [a condition known as hypoxia] is a growing concern," says Zunli Lu, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences and a member of Syracuse's Water Science and Engineering Initiative. "Moreover, it's difficult to predict future deoxygenation that is induced by carbon emissions, without a good understanding of our geologic past."

Lu says this type of deoxygenation results in larger and thicker oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) in the world's oceans. An OMZ is the layer of water in an ocean where oxygen saturation is at its lowest.

Much of Lu's work revolves around the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a well-studied analogue for modern climate warming. Documenting the expansion of OMZs during the PETM is problematic due to the lack of a sensitive, widely applicable indicator of dissolved oxygen.

Comment: These little foraminiferas seem to be the hot ticket item in oceanic research of late. They are also being studied for ocean temperature variants (see Warm Gulf Stream water continued to flow into icy Nordic seas during last Ice Age)

Even with the iodate application analyzing iodine-to-calcium ratios, the findings are first and foremost still estimates. It is unclear from this article as to whether the foraminiferas are the only defining edge considered in this comparison. It is also unlikely that this research could historically stretch the findings to broad-stroke a human influence on global warming, since this would "theoretically" be the first-of-its-kind "climate alteration" along with the falsely maligned culprit CO2. (Unbiased research shows global warming is happening at this time to all the planets in the solar system.) If the OMZs are present, and have been periodically for eons, it may be due to repeated cycles of a grander nature than the comparatively recent meddling of human activity.

It is more likely that methane released into the oceans (increasingly happening NOW) would overwhelm any influence added CO2 could have to produce a warming effect. Methane is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas and, by the way, greatly affects the level of oxygenation in both deep and shallow ocean waters since the aerobic oxidation of methane consumes oxygen. Methane-caused oxygen depletion has been proven to create or expand OMZs.

Ice Cube

Another polar vortex looks 'set to hit the U.S. Northeast from January and not let up for months...' with higher than normal snow levels predicted

Get ready: Winter will arrive without delay, according to, with frigid air from another polar vortex seeping down into the country's midsection and Northeast as early as November
The Polar Vortex Part II is getting ready to roll back into town. Leading meteorologists are warning the Mid-Atlantic is in for a repeat of last winter, which was noted as the 34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895, according to

Now, with a month-and-a-half left of fall, the forecasts are in, and another polar vortex looks set to hit the Northeast from January and not let up for months.

Accuweather are reporting that New York will again experience above-average snow and freezing temperatures, however neither is expect to hold out as long as the brutal winter of 2013/14.

'I think, primarily, we'll see that happening in mid-January into February but again, it's not going to be the same type of situation as we saw last year, not as persistent,' Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

Additional images

Update: Blizzard conditions kill 27 in Nepal with another 70 missing

Members of the army pulling dead bodies of trekkers from the Thorung La mountain pass on the Annapurna Circuit, near Muktinath, in Mustang district
Dozens of stranded foreign trekkers have been rescued and more bodies have been found following a blizzard and avalanches in northern Nepal, taking the death toll to 27. About 70 people are still missing along or near the popular Annapurna trail, according to the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, and the death toll is expected to rise.

The route, 100 miles north-west of the capital, Kathmandu, was filled with international hikers during the peak October trekking season, when the air is generally clear and cool. Government administrator Yama Bahadur Chokhyal said rescuers recovered 10 more bodies from the Thorong La pass area - which lies at over 17,000 feet - where they had been caught in a sudden blizzard on Tuesday.

The bodies were not yet identified. Rescuers recovered the bodies of four other hikers - two Poles, an Israeli and a Nepalese - from the area on Wednesday.

Additional images
Cloud Precipitation

Category 4 Hurricane Gonzalo taking aim on Bermuda

© AP Photo/NOAA
This image provided by NOAA Thursday Oct. 16, 2014 shows Hurricane Gonzalo, lower right. At 2 a.m. EDT Thursday the storm had top sustained winds near 125 mph (205 kph) and was centered about 555 miles (1,075 kilometers) south south-west of Bermuda early Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving north at 9 mph (20 kph).
Hurricane Gonzalo is roaring toward the British territory of Bermuda as a powerful Category 4 storm and forecasters say it will likely bring damaging winds and life-threatening storm surge to the island in coming hours.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says conditions in Bermuda, where a hurricane warning is in effect, will begin deteriorating later Friday morning. Gonzalo is about 240 miles (385 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda and packing top sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph)s.

Forecasters say Gonzalo is moving north-northeast at 15 mph (24 kph) and its eye is expected near Bermuda by Friday afternoon or evening.

Bermuda residents have been rushing to make preparations for Gonzalo, days after Tropical Storm Fay damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines there.
Cloud Precipitation

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie declares Emergency as state prepares for Tropical Storm Ana's approach

For the first time since 1992, Hawaiians are preparing for the possibility of two tropical systems making landfall in one season. First, it was Iselle, which made landfall on the Big Island back in August. Now, Tropical Storm Ana is approaching the state, threatening to become a hurricane and ready to cause disruptions for residents even if it remains a tropical storm.

"Tropical Storm Ana is currently moving to the west and is expected to turn toward the northwest by Friday, taking it in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands," said meteorologist Linda Lam. "Ana is expected to gradually strengthen and could still become a hurricane. Bands of rain may reach the Big Island as soon as late Friday and large swells are expected to begin to reach Hawaii late Thursday."

As a result, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has declared an emergency for the state, according to the Associated Press. The proclamation will last through Oct. 24, allowing the state to access state and federal resources for preparation and recovery, if needed, the report adds.

Residents on the Big Island and Oahu have been urged to prepare for serious weather conditions that could be life-threatening if the proper precautions aren't taken, reports.