Earth Changes


Study finds less than 6% of Earth's modern groundwater is renewable within a human lifetime

© Karyn Ho
If all the Earth's modern groundwater was pooled above ground, how deep would it be?
Groundwater: it's one of the planet's most exploited, most precious natural resources. It ranges in age from months to millions of years old. Around the world, there's increasing demand to know how much we have and how long before it's tapped out.

For the first time since a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the global volume of groundwater was attempted in the 1970s, an international group of hydrologists has produced the first data-driven estimate of the Earth's total supply of groundwater. The study, led by Dr. Tom Gleeson of the University of Victoria with co-authors at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Calgary and the University of Göttingen, was published today in Nature Geoscience.

The bigger part of the study is the "modern" groundwater story. The report shows that less than six per cent of groundwater in the upper two kilometres of the Earth's landmass is renewable within a human lifetime.

"This has never been known before," says Gleeson. "We already know that water levels in lots of aquifers are dropping. We're using our groundwater resources too fast—faster than they're being renewed."

With the growing global demand for water—especially in light of climate change—this study provides important information to water managers and policy developers as well as scientists from fields such as hydrology, atmospheric science, geochemistry and oceanography to better manage groundwater resources in a sustainable way, he says.

Comment: For more information about groundwater, one of the planet's most exploited yet precious natural resources, see:


5.9 earthquake hits Afghanistan; shakes northern India, Pakistan

Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region
A 5.9-magnitude quake struck northern Afghanistan late Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, jolting the Indian capital and parts of Pakistan according to local reports.

The tremor struck 22 kilometres (14 miles) southwest of Ashkasham, 300 kilometres northeast of the Afghan capital Kabul, at a depth of 92.4 kilometres. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The quake, which occurred at 02:16 am local time (1816 GMT), was felt across northern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan and in the Indian capital Delhi.

In October a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing almost 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

For many in Pakistan, October's quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In Nepal a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.

Arrow Down

Nearly a dozen large sinkholes open up in Andhra Pradesh, India

© The Hindu
Kadapa District Collector K.V. Ramana inspecting a large sinkhole formed in Nayanoripalle village in Kadapa District on Sunday.
The revenue and police officials of Kadapa exhorted the villagers of Nayanoripalle in Chintakommadinne mandal in Kadapa District to vacate the village and move over to safer places and large sinkholes formed in the village could endanger lives.

Kadapa District Collector K.V. Ramana and Geological Survey of India officials of Hyderabad visited Nayanoripalle village on Sunday and inspected the multiple sinkholes. Earlier, officials of the mining and groundwater departments conducted a survey on the Collector's directions and detected limestone deposits at a depth of 30 feet.

Heavy rains since a week resulted in dissolving of the limestone and soil sunk to depths of 30 feet, the officials deduced. The villagers were panic-stricken with the formation of sinkholes of a diameter of 25 metres at several places in Nayanoripalle.

Ice Cube

Film captures the moment an enormous glacier collapses sending an avalanche of ice and rock down a mountain in New Zealand


Rocks below the ice began to break free and small pieces tumbled down the mountain for around 30 seconds
This is the breathtaking moment an enormous glacier collapsed just inches from a skier to send thousands of tonnes of rock, snow and ice thundering down a mountain.

Ryan Taylor, 22, who was seconds away from skiing down the slope in Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand, watched as rocks beneath the ice began to break free and fall.

The amateur adventure photographer filmed 30 seconds of tumbling rubble before one large block of ice dislodged, smashing into a thousand pieces and plummeting down the mountain.

The video shows more chunks of ice cascading to the bottom as Ryan watches in amazement at the incredible natural spectacle taking place in front of him.

Later in the clip Ryan points the camera at the thousands of tonnes of rock and ice flowing down the steep decline like a raging river.


Three suns appear over Chelyabinsk, Russia


An eye opened up in the sky over Chelyabinsk on November 19, 2015.
Three suns appeared in the sky of Chelyabinsk on November 19, 2015.

Look at amazing pictures and videos of this awesome sun dog phenomenon.


Dead Beaked whale found on Bridgehampton beach, New York

© Robin L. Mueller
A beaked whale was found dead on Scott Cameron Beach in Bridgehampton on Thursday afternoon. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is performing a necropsy Friday afternoon, and will know more about how the whale died after that.

Robin L. Mueller said he discovered the dead whale, and the foundation said it received a call on its hotline reporting the whale at about 3:30 p.m.

The foundation sent a team out on Friday and a biologist and volunteer transported the 11-foot male back to its facility, according to Rachel Bosworth, a spokeswoman for the foundation. It weighed 1,071 pounds, she said.

It wasn't immediately clear what led to the whale's demise. Blood spatter seen in the photographs is from the eye, "where seagulls unfortunately got it," Ms. Bosworth explained.


3 dead fin whales found on beach near Bella Bella, Canada

© Randy Carpenter
Three fin whales have been found dead on a beach near Bella Bella on the central coast of B.C.

The dead whales were spotted by a helicopter pilot flying over Bird Point, northwest of Bella Bella, who then notified Fishers and Oceans Canada (DFO) on Saturday.

Paul Cottrell, Pacific Marine Mammal Coordinator with the DFO, assessed the whales and says there does not appear to be any obvious cause of death.

"It is very rare and odd that you get three large whales together in one small area," says Cottrell. "We want to know why it happened, whether it is a natural event, killer whale predation or something else."

Cottrell says, to his knowledge, it has never happened in B.C. before, which is a source for concern.


Chicago's first snow of the season brings largest November snowfall in 120 years

© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
Snow falls in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood Nov. 21, 2015.
The season's first snowfall dropped as much as 17 inches across Chicago's northern suburbs, and the total of 11.2 inches at O'Hare International Airport made it the largest November snowfall in 120 years.

The steady stream of snow began Friday evening and carried into Saturday, bringing cold winds and slushy puddles to Michigan Avenue. But it also fashioned a wintry backdrop to the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, transporting Chicagoans into a life-sized holiday snow globe.

The chill didn't bother the Kendalls, who traveled from Northwest Indiana for the festivities. They stood in Pioneer Court bundled in snow gear, relishing bites of candy-cane-garnished cheesecake as heavy snowflakes plopped onto their noses.

"It rings in the beginning of Christmas season," said Jessica Kendall. "The roads are warm, the snow's melting and we had a nice, wintry drive."

The storm hit hardest in the northern suburbs.

Lake County was walloped. By about 2 p.m. Saturday, there were reports of 17 inches in Grayslake, 16.5 in Hawthorn Woods, and 15.5 inches in Mundelein, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen.

McHenry County also was socked, with 13.6 inches in Bull Valley, 12.5 inches in Woodstock and 9.5 inches in Hebron by about 7 a.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.

Arrow Down

Devastating landslide near jade mine in Myanmar kills at least 90 people

© Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
This photo taken on Oct. 4, 2015, shows construction vehicles being used by workers at a jade mine in Myanmar's Kachin State.
At least 90 people have been killed in a huge landslide while searching for precious jade in a remote mining area of northern Myanmar, officials say.

"We found 79 dead bodies on November 21 (and) 11 today so the total so far is 90," said Nilar Myint, an official from the local administrative authorities in Hpakant, northern Kachin state.

Nilar Myint added that the rescue operation was ongoing.

The Global New Light of Myanmar earlier reported that at least 30 dead bodies were retrieved from the landslide site, quoting local officials and media reports.

Rescuers battled to dig through the mountains of loose rubble at the site on Sunday, with fears that the toll could rise further.

It is the latest deadly accident to affect Myanmar's secretive multi-billion-dollar jade industry in war-torn Kachin.

Snowflake Cold

Winter storm brings record breaking snowfall to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota

Winter Storm Bella not only brought the first, not to mention locally heavy, accumulating snow of the season for some in the Great Lakes and Midwest, but also was one of the heaviest November snowstorms of record for some.

Scroll down to the "snowtables" section for a list of records set during this storm.

Parts of the Sioux City, South Dakota metro area picked up over a foot of snow in an intense snowband Friday. Snow has since ended, there, but has now spread into the Great Lakes, with some totals over 10 inches already coming in from parts of Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Winter storm warnings continue from parts of northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana and southern Lower Michigan, including the Quad Cities, Rockford, Milwaukee, Chicago, South Bend and the north and west Detroit suburbs. In the much of the Upper Midwest, this means a likelihood for at least 6 inches of snow in 12 hours, or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Winter weather advisories are posted for other parts of Illinois, Indiana, northwest Ohio and Lower Michigan, where somewhat lower snowfall totals are expected. Despite lacking strong surface low pressure, these systems are notorious heavy snow generators in the Midwest.

Snowfall Reports - A sampling of snowfall totals since Thursday.
Snowfall Totals So Far

As of Saturday midday, numerous locations from southeastern South Dakota to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois have reported a foot or more of snow from the storm.

Here is a sampling of official snowfall totals around the area, by state:
  • South Dakota: Tea (18 inches), Sioux Falls Regional Airport (7.2 inches)
  • Iowa: George (17 inches), Waterloo (12.7 inches), Dubuque (10.2 inches), Des Moines (6.9 inches)
  • Nebraska: Near Bloomfield (16 inches), South Sioux City (6.5 inches), Valentine (4 inches)
  • Minnesota: Worthington (8 inches)
  • Illinois: Grayslake (16 inches), Chicago O'Hare (11.1 inches), Moline (9.9 inches), Rockford (8.6 inches),
  • Wisconsin: Near Footville (17 inches), Janesville (11.5 inches), Milwaukee (6.7 inches), Madison (4.1 inches)
  • Michigan: Rives Junction (8 inches), Kalamazoo (5.3 inches), Flint (3.2 inches), Detroit Metro Airport (1 inch)
  • Indiana: Crown Point (5 inches), Lafayette (3.5 inches), near South Bend (3 inches), Tipton (2 inches)
Bella also produced the season's first flakes as far south as northwest Arkansas Saturday morning, and left a dusting of snow in Springfield, Missouri, as well.

Comment: To the horror of global warming alarmists...