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Mount Gamalama eruption sends ash and rocks 2 km into the sky, Indonesia

Mount Gamalama in North Maluku province of Indonesia erupted at 13:41 UTC on Thursday, December 18, 2014, sending ash and rocks 2 km into the sky and forcing the authorities to close an airport and issue warnings to planes. Nine people were injured while running to escape the eruption. One person is still unaccounted for, authorities said.

Increased seismicity around the volcano was observed since 08:30 UTC. It then sharply increased at 13:09 UTC (22:09 local time), about 30 minutes before the eruption.

Evacuation orders are still not in place, however, a senior official from the disaster management agency in North Maluku province said the communities are ordered to be on alert of possible cool lava flowing in rivers as rain is frequent in recent days.

Comment: How does solar activity connect to seismic activity, and in turn contribute to global cooling? See Earth Changes and the Human Cosmic Connection for the interesting electromagnetic connect, of the way things are turning.

Cloud Precipitation

NASA experts: California needs 11 trillion gallons to end drought

© Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Rain has returned to California, taking pressure off of the immediate emergency of the ongoing drought via the help of several inches of recent rainfall.

But the Golden State loses about 4 trillion gallons per year, and would need roughly three times that amount to return to safe and normal levels.
"Recent rains are no reason to let up on our conservation efforts," Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board stated.
The same NASA experts who sounded the alarm over the drought's threat to the food supply are now warning that California needs some 11 trillion gallons of water to replenish to normal levels.
Eleven trillion gallons - that's the amount of water that NASA scientists say would be needed to replenish key California river basins in what they're calling the first-ever estimate of the water necessary to end an episode of drought. That 11 trillion gallons is the deficit in normal seasonal levels that NASA said a team found earlier this year in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. The GRACE data, presented Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, showed those river basins losing about 4 trillion gallons per year - more than state residents use annually, NASA said.

Comment: California drought spreading at unprecedented rate:

Black Cat

First mountain lion seen in Kentucky since before the Civil War shot by wildlife officer

© US Fish and Wildlife Service.
A Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officer killed a mountain lion on a Bourbon County farm on Monday, marking the first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in Kentucky since before the Civil War, said Mark Marraccini, a spokesman for the agency.

Marraccini said a farmer spotted the cat in a tree and alerted the department. When the officer responded, he found the animal had been trapped in different tree by a barking dog and decided it was best to "dispatch it."

Mountain lions were once native to Kentucky but they were killed off here more than a century ago, Marraccini said.

Mountain lions are the largest cats found in North America and can measure up to eight feet from nose to tail and weigh up to 180 pounds. Also known as cougars, pumas, panthers and catamounts, the cats are considered top-line predators because no other species feed on them.

Comment: Just in case the reader thinks this killing might be an exceptional or isolated incident undertaken by a wildlife officer, then take a look at this article: Out of control: USDA's Wildlife Services killed 4 million animals in 2013 (including 345 pumas)

Also this story: Wildlife officers kill four mountain lions in Black Hills, South Dakota

Cloud Precipitation

Supertyphoon shifted 177-ton boulder 150 feet

University of Cologne and University of the Philippines researchers said the boulder is the largest ever documented to have been moved by a storm.

Supertyphoon Haiyan set a world record when it touched down in the Philippines by moving a 177-ton boulder a distance of about 150 feet.

Max Engel, a geoscientist at the University of Cologne in Germany, and colleagues from his college and the University of the Philippines' Marine Science Institute said they looked at satellite photos from before and after the typhoon's landfall in the Philippines in November 2013 and determined the boulder, weighing more than 25 adult African elephants, had been moved about 150 feet along a beach by the Haiyan's tsunami-like waves.

The researchers, who presented their paper, "Storm Surge of Supertyphoon Haiyan (7 - 9 Nov 2013) on Samar (Philippines) Moved the Largest Boulder Ever Documented for a Recent Storm," Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco, said the boulder is the largest on record to be shifted by a storm.

Engel and his colleagues said their findings suggest other boulder movements associated with tsunamis may have been caused by superstorms.
Arrow Up

Carnivore Comeback: Bear and wolf populations are thriving in Europe

© Kjell Isaksen
A female brown bear (Ursus arctos) with three yearlings in Gutulia National Park in Hedmark, South East Norway.

Despite having half the land area of the contiguous United States and double the population density, Europe is home to twice as many wolves as the U.S.

A new study finds that Europe's other large carnivores are experiencing a resurgence in their numbers, too - and mostly in nonprotected areas where the animals coexist alongside humans. The success is owed to cross-border cooperation, strong regulations and a public attitude that brings wildlife into the fold with human society, rather than banishing it to the wilderness, according to study leader Guillaume Chapron, a professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences' Grimsö Wildlife Research Station.

In Europe, "we don't have unspoiled, untouched areas," Chapron told Live Science. "But what is interesting is, that does not mean we do not have carnivores. Au contraire; we have many carnivores."
Arrow Down

Reindeer populations are on the decline worldwide

Reindeer populations are in trouble around the world, and in China, the iconic animals are on the decline largely because of inbreeding, according to new research.

Some folklorists say Christmas tales of flying reindeer may have originated as a hallucination, with one theory claiming the inspiration for Santa Claus came from shamans who would give out bags of hallucinatory mushrooms in late December in the Siberian and Arctic regions. But, nonflying reindeer are very real and an important part of northern ecosystems.

Reindeer populations currently live in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Alaska, Russia, Mongolia and China, and populations across the board are declining. In the new study, researchers from Renmin University in Beijing focused on the reindeer population in China, which has declined about 28 percent since the 1970s.
Snowflake

Japan snowstorm dumps feet of snow, kills 11; hundreds of flights canceled

© Instagram/@marn_9
In the village of Hinoemata in western Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, more than 30 inches of snow covers the ground following a large storm, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014
A massive storm system dropped feet of snow on parts of Japan this week, leading to travel problems and at least 11 deaths.

"As of late Thursday night, local time, Tsunan, Japan reported a snow depth of 81.5 inches (207 centimeters)," said weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Seven other locations in western Honshu reported at least 150 centimeters (about 59 inches) of snow depth, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency."

Eleven people have been confirmed dead in the storm. NHK said one Hokkaido death occurred when a car skidded into a utility pole, and the other was a 74-year-old woman who was trapped under a warehouse roof that collapsed under the weight of the snow. The fatality in Hiroshima occurred when a driver got out of his car and was hit by another vehicle, NHK said.

Comment: Related:
Major winter storm targets Japan; heavy rain, snow, typhoon strength winds
Heavy snow in Japan causes power blackouts and stranded train passengers
The geological record shows that the default climate for this planet is a very cold one. Ice Ages last up to 100,000 years and are separated by 'inter-glacials', narrow windows of relative warmth that last, on average, 11,500 years. Our civilization is currently situated on the tail-end of the Holocene inter-glacial, meaning that it's just a matter of time before the next Ice Age.

How much time? Nobody knows. But in this week's show we're also going to examine the evidence for a synchronistic relationship between climate stress and the rise and fall of human civilizations within a more recent historical timeframe. Is it possible that humanity does play a role in modulating 'climate change', but perhaps not in the way environmentalists are suggesting?

SOTT Talk Radio: Ice Age Cometh? Extreme Weather Events and 'Climate Change'


Arrow Down

New study shows 2,000-year downward trend of Northern European summer temperatures

In a paper published in the Journal of Quaternary Science, Esper et al. (2014) write that tree-ring chronologies of maximum latewood density (MXD) "are most suitable to reconstruct annually resolved summer temperature variations of the late Holocene." And working with what they call "the world's two longest MXD-based climate reconstructions" - those of Melvin et al. (2013) and Esper et al. (2012) - they combined portions of each to produce a new-and-improved summer temperature history for northern Europe that stretches all the way "from 17 BC to the present." And what did they thereby learn?

As the international team of researchers from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland describes it, this history depicts "a long-term cooling trend of -0.30°C per 1,000 years over the Common Era in northern Europe" (see figure below). Most important of all, however, they note that their temperature reconstruction "has centennial-scale variations superimposed on this trend," which indicate that "conditions during Medieval and Roman times were probably warmer than in the late 20th century," when the previously-rising post-Little Ice Age mean global air temperature hit a ceiling of sorts above which it has yet to penetrate.

© Adapted from Esper et al. (2014).
Northern Europe summer (June, July, August) temperature reconstruction. Data shown in°C with respect to the 1961-1990 mean
Bizarro Earth

Japanese meteorologists monitoring Takachidake volcano as seismic activity increases

Japan's Meteorological Agency which provides round the clock monitoring of volcanic activity has raised the volcanic eruption alert to the second level for the Tokachidake region in Hokkaido.

Japan's Meteorological Agency has raised the volcanic eruption alert for the Tokachidake volcano on Hokkaido Island to the second level, warning that small-scale volcanic activity is possible.

The agency has set a one kilometer safe zone around the area as a volcanic eruption may trigger a rockfall. Meteorologists note that Tokachidake's volcanic activity has been growing steadily in recent years, accompanied by small-scale earthquakes. Since July 2014 there have been a number of changes in the rates of seismic activity in the region. For example, in September 2014 there were a series of small earthquakes, "volcanic tremors," lasting for almost 22 minutes. Meteorologists warn that the eruption of ash and small rocks caused by a "tremor" may pose a serious threat to people.

Comment: Volcanic eruptions and seismic activity have been on the increase in Japan for some time:

Japan's Mt. Ontake volcano suddenly violently erupts - seven people unconscious, eight seriously injured and more than 250 stranded on the mountain

Mount Aso volcano in South Japan erupts after 22 years prompting flight cancellations

Japan's massive 2011 earthquake may trigger more, and larger, volcanic eruptions


Igloo

'Ice pancakes' pictured floating on River Dee

Ice pancakes
© HEMEDIA

Ice pancakes recently found at Lummels Pool, near Aboyne, Aberdeenshire.
"Ice pancakes" made out of frozen foam have been forming on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire.

The discs, which are roughly the size of dinner plates, were photographed on the Scottish river at Lummels Pool, in Birse.

They are thought to have been formed overnight, when temperatures fall to below freezing, before they rub and bump together to make a roughly circular shape, as temperatures rise during the day.

The phenomenon can happen on rivers or the open sea, but is more usually spotted in the Antarctic, according to experts from the River Dee Trust who made the discovery.
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