Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Key reservoir for Sao Paulo drying out from extreme drought

Atibainha dam, Brazil
© AP Photo/Andre Penner
In this Oct. 10, 2014 file photo, the frame of a car sits on the cracked earth at the bottom of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira System responsible for providing water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in Nazare Paulista, Brazil. Halfway through the rainy season, the key reservoir for the hemisphere's largest city, the Cantareira water system, holds just 6 percent of its capacity, and experts warned Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 that authorities must take urgent steps to prevent the worst drought here in more than 80 years from drying it out.
Halfway through the rainy season, the key reservoir for the hemisphere's largest city holds just 6 percent of its capacity, and experts warned Friday that Sao Paulo authorities must take urgent steps to prevent the worst drought in more than 80 years from drying it out.

The system of reservoirs and rivers that provide water to millions in this city have received less rainfall than hoped during the first weeks of the wet season, raising fears they won't be replenished as hoped. Rainfall during the first two weeks of January totaled just 2.9 inches (7.1 centimeters), well below the historic average for the month of 10.7 inches (27.1 centimeters).

The biggest problem is in the Cantareira water system, which is the largest of six reservoirs that provide water to some 6 million of the 20 million people living in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo city. Cantareira is now down to 6 percent of its capacity of 264 billion gallons (1 trillion liters), the water utility Sabesp said on its website.

Of the remaining five systems, Alto Tiete is at 11 percent of capacity, Rio Claro 25 percent, Alto Cotia 30 percent, Guarapiranga 40 percent and Rio Grande 70 percent.

Comment: Sao Paulo experienced violent storms and heavy flooding in December, yet drought conditions persist. For a better understanding of the reasons why weather patterns have become extreme and unpredictable around the world, read Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection.


Man attacked by owl in Salem, Oregon

Great Horned Owl
Ron Jaecks of Salem was on his usual morning run in Bush's Pasture Park on Tuesday when he was attacked, or so he thought.

Jaecks was jogging near the baseball field about 5:15 a.m. Suddenly in the morning darkness his stocking cap was pulled from his head, and almost simultaneously he felt something puncture his scalp.

Jaecks thought he was dying.

"It was like a huge electric shock ran through my body, but also like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four all at the same time," Jaecks said. "Or maybe a strike of lightning."

Jaecks, 58, immediately began to run faster, trying to escape his assailant.

Running in circles and screaming, the general surgeon for Kaiser Permanente began to think that he was having a stroke or an aneurysm.

Comment: See also: Barred owl attacks 6 people, terrorizes others in Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Canadian rabbit trapper says owl attack left his head bleeding

Multiple owl attacks reported in Springfield, Missouri


Hundreds of thousands of blue jellyfish invade Surfer's Paradise, Australia

A giant swarm of blue jellyfish has invaded the pristine waters of the Gold Coast
A giant swarm of blue jellyfish has invaded the pristine waters of the Gold Coast, forming a spectacular display as the mass of creatures congregated in Queensland's iconic Surfer's Paradise.

Spotted just off Narrowneck, near the northern end of Surfer's Paradise beach, the school of jellyfish extended for 50 metres in circumference.

Photographer and lifesaver Grahame Long captured footage of the blue jellyfish as he patrolled the beach, about 400 metres offshore.


Record snowfall of two meters in western Norway

© Rune Sævig
Some buildings in Voss have collapsed under the weight and several municipal buildings are in danger of collapsing.

On Tuesday, civil defense authorities asked for assistance in shoveling massive amounts of snow from roofs on municipal buildings.

As if 1,000 cars on the roof

According officials, the Vossestrand omsorgstun, which has a roof surface of 2,500 square meters, was covered by a half to two meters deep snow.

"Our calculations show that it is 400 kilograms per square meter of snow. It is as if we were placed 1,000 cars onto this roof," said operations Eivind Hovden in civil defense.

There is so much weight that you have trouble opening doors and windows. There is immense power, he adds.

Rare Arctic Ivory gull found in Ullapool, Scotland

© Matthew Ross
They're more at home following polar bears around the Arctic but this young ivory gull has taken up residence at a fish farm near Ullapool.
A rare Arctic visitor is getting folk all a flutter in Wester Ross.

A young ivory gull, generally found in the high Arctic, has been spotted at a fish farm near Ullapool.

They have only been reported in the UK as few as 100 times.

The bird was spotted by Wester Ross Salmon employee Matthew Ross when it landed at the fish farm at Ardmair Bay north of Ullapool. Matthew was unsure of the species of bird and sent pictures to a local wildlife tour operator to identify it.

The sighting has caused interest with bird watchers due to its rarity and there is speculation that it may be the same individual that was spotted at Uig Harbour in Skye at New Year and has possibly been blown to the mainland in the recent winds.

Inverness-based Alan Tissiman of RSPB Scotland said: "Ivory gulls are very rare visitors to the British Isles, invariably seen in the winter months after strong north westerly gales. They are usually found far to the north on the Arctic pack ice where they live all year round.

"They are scavengers, never happier than when they find a dead whale or seal to feed on! They are known to follow polar bears and other predators to feed on the remains of their kills.

"They are lovely-looking birds and I would imagine that this individual will have attracted a fair amount of interest from birdwatchers - though they may not wish to enquire too closely into its feeding habits!"

Comment: See also: Rare Arctic Ivory gull spotted in Quincy, Illinois


14 whales and 16 turtles wash up dead on Baja California Sur coast

© Profepa
The finding of the specimens was detected during a surveillance round carried out by Profepa inspectors .
Specialists say the death of the specimens might be due to natural causes.

14 gray whales and 16 sea turtles were found dead in the Baja California Sur coast, according to the Federal Attorney's Office for Environmental Protection (Profepa).

The finding of the specimens was detected during a surveillance round carried out by Profepa inspectors on the Ojo de Liebre lagoon, in the municipality of Mulegé, Baja California Sur.

According to specialists, the death of cetaceans could be due to natural causes, as this is a breeding area for the mammals, so it is common the whale calves get lost or are abandoned by the mother, so they do not receive adequate nutrition and die.

Cetaceans found were in an advanced state of decomposition, however no rips or injury caused by ships or entanglements were found.

According to Profepa inspectors, another cause of death could be hypothermia, derived from the low temperatures due to cold fronts in recent days.

Comment: See also: 554 dead seabirds and 4 sea lions found on beaches in Baja California, Mexico


Ice covering Great Lakes makes giant leap in January

GIF animation

Animation of ice cover on the Great Lakes from Jan. 7 to Jan. 14 (NOAA)

Ice cover on the Great Lakes has made quite a leap after the first, week-long cold snap of the season.

As of Thursday, ice covered 34.1 percent of the Great Lakes, up from just 5.6 percent on Jan. 1, and 10.8 percent on Jan. 5 - the first day of a polar plunge that gripped most of the eastern U.S. for days to come.

"Last year, the Great Lakes were 21.2 percent ice-covered on Jan. 14, making this year's ice cover 13 percent higher to date," writes "If you recall, below-average temperatures were persistent from mid-January onward in the winter of 2014, leading to the second highest ice coverage on record at 92.2 percent on March 6, 2014."
Amazing shot from our Life on #LakeErie Photo Contest: Fortress of Solitude by @LakeErieSurfer

- Lake Erie Commission (@OhioLakeErie) January 15, 2015
This year's January cold snap set off an upward spiral in ice cover over the lakes, particularly for Erie, the shallowest lake in the network.

Pack of Dhol wild dogs kill 7-yr-old girl in India

© Tarique Sani
Dhol - Indian wild dog
A seven-year-old girl was mauled and killed by a pack of feral dogs in Bhidiya Rasoolpulpur village on Thursday afternoon.

According to reports, the minor, daughter of a brick kiln worker, was attacked by the pack while she was on her way home after giving lunch to her father.

Hearing her cries, villagers and passersby rushed to the spot and tried shooing the pack away but to no avail. The girl, after some time, started bleeding profusely and fell unconscious on the spot.

The dogs did not leave the spot despite many attempts by the locals. It was only when some villagers armed with sticks rushed to the place, that the dogs left.

By then, the girl had already died due to extensive bleeding and deep injuries, said inspector Bachchu Singh of Sheshgarh police station.

"This is the first time that such an incident has been reported. Though the pack inhabits the forest area, it rarely ventures into the village to attack the locals," said Singh. The girl's body was taken away by her parents who refused to allow the police to conduct a postmortem and instead cremated her body quietly.
Ice Cube

Lake Erie's sudden freeze of January 2015

NASA/NOAA satellite image from above the Great Lakes taken just after 1:30 p.m. Monday
Lake Erie was less than six percent frozen last Tuesday with ice covering only a sliver of the lake's western basin.

But, after a week with frigid temperatures in the single digits, heavy lake-effect snows and high winds, Lake Erie is freezing up fast.

Nearly 60 percent of the lake waters were frozen today, according to graphs by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).

Most of the western half of the lake is already under ice coverage.

In some areas - the western basin, along the U.S. and Canadian shorelines, near Long Point, Ont. and close to Buffalo - it's nearly 100 percent iced over, according to GLERL charts.

As Lake Erie iced, so too have the Great Lakes at large.

Just a week ago, more than eight percent of the surface area of all of the lakes was frozen.

But by Monday, nearly one-quarter of the Great Lakes were under ice.
Bizarro Earth

Tongan volcano creates new island since last month's eruption

Erupting Volcano
© Agence France-Presse
This handout photo taken on January 15, 2015 from a boat at sea and released by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade shows smoke rising from the eruption of a volcano, some 65 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of the South Pacific nation Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa.
Nuku'Alofa, Tonga -- A Tongan volcano has created a substantial new island since it began erupting last month, spewing out huge volumes of rock and dense ash that has killed nearby vegetation, officials said Friday.

The volcano, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the South Pacific nation's capital Nuku'alofa, rumbled to life on Dec. 20 for the first time in five years, the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry said.

It said the volcano was erupting from two vents, one on the uninhabited island of Hunga Ha'apai and the other underwater about 100 meters offshore.

The ministry said experts took a boat trip to view the eruption on Thursday and confirmed it had transformed the local landscape.