Earth Changes

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Truck topples into sinkhole in central Rome

A truck driver is recovering from shock after his vehicle toppled into a sinkhole in the heart of Rome on Friday morning. Scroll down the article for photos.

The accident happened at around 10am on Friday morning on via Palestro, by Rome's busy Termini Station, Roma Today reported.

Several images of the vehicle and the hole, which was four metres wide by two metres deep, were posted on Twitter (see below).

Initial reports suggest that the road gave way while road works were being carried out. The cause of the accident, however, has yet to be determined.
Bizarro Earth

Mysterious lake appears in Tunisian desert

Mystery Tunisian Lake
© Facebook
The lake has gone from turquoise to a murky green colour.
The lake appeared in the Tunisian desert like a mirage; one minute there was nothing but scorching sand, the next a large expanse of turquoise water.

For locals, roasting in the 40C heat, the temptation to cool off in the inviting water quickly overcame any fears about the mysterious pool.

Hundreds flocked to what quickly became known as the Lac de Gafsa or Gafsa beach to splash, paddle, dive, and fling themselves from rocks into the lake, ignoring warnings that the water could be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, riddled with disease or possibly radioactive. Even after the water turned a murky green, they arrived in droves, undeterred.

"Some say it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse," Lakhdar Souid, a Tunisian journalist, told France 24 television.
Bizarro Earth

Mysterious jellyfish-like creature washing up on California coast

© WikiMedia Commons/Dan
Creatures like these have been washing up along the California coast.
It's not just hordes of anchovies attacking the California coastline this summer, as a small, jellyfish-like creature with a cool blue hue has been washing up by the millions along shores up and down the state's coast since the middle of July.

The beach-crashing creature's full name is Velella velella (not a typo; it's the only species in its genus), sometimes referred to as "by-the-wind sailors," because they live on the surface of the water and are at the mercy of the winds for all of their travel plans.

As befits their nickname, velella have a kind of sail affixed to their tops, which is what allows them their out-of-control seafaring. They have few predators, although some sea slugs and water-bound snails will eat them.

Bear attacks kill at least three people with many others injured in Siberia and far-east Russia

© Michel Roggo/NPL/Rex Features
A brown bear fishes for sockeye salmon in the Ozernaya river, Kamtchatka, Russia, in June last year.
Experts suggest extreme weather could be disrupting biorhythms and food supply, and fishing nets cutting off access to salmon

A rash of bear attacks in Russia have left at least three people dead and many more injured in recent weeks as record high temperatures, freak snow, hailstorms and flooding hit Siberia and the country's far east.

Human activity may be behind some of the attacks. Experts cited by the news agency Interfax said nets and obstacles have prevented salmon from swimming up rivers to spawn, leaving bears without a regular food supply.

Extreme weather can also disrupt the predators' biorhythms and food supply, said Vladimir Krever, director of the biodiversity programme at WWF Russia.

Recent attacks include one at 2am on Wednesday at a meteorological station in the forests of Sakha Republic. A bear broke down the door of a residential trailer and bit the arm of the woman inside, only to be scared away by her loud screaming.

Three days earlier another bear ambushed a boy on Iturup island as he was walking home from his grandmother's house. The bear had dragged the 14-year-old to the shore by the time police arrived and shot it dead. The boy had 170 stitches and remains in critical condition.
Cloud Precipitation

Ontario County farmers suffer crop damage from extreme hailstorm

It was a harsh wakeup call. People around our area were woken up by a strong thunderstorm. In some places, that storm dropped enough hail to cover the ground like snow. In addition to the hail, the storm brought heavy rain, lots of lightning and strong winds. Places in eastern Ontario County were among the hardest hit by the weather.

In his eighty years, Nicholas Legott had never seen a hailstorm in Geneva like he saw Thursday morning. He certainly did not expect to be shoveling hail out of his driveway.

Legott said, "The force of the hail hitting the house. It wasn't just that. It was coming down in buckets. It was unbelievable."

Just Wednesday, Legott and his family were ecstatic about how well their new garden of organic tomatoes and peppers were doing. Now, they are a shredded, icy mess.

Life Preserver

Lake appears mysteriously in Gafsa, Tunisia

Gafsa lake
© Facebook
A lake that mysteriously appeared in a drought-stricken region of Tunisia last month is being hailed as a miracle by locals but may in fact be radioactive.

Local shepherds discovered the large body of water along the Om Larayes Rd, about 25km from the southern Tunisian city of Gafsa, about three weeks ago, France24 reports.

Since then, hundreds of people have flocked to the oasis-like formation dubbed "Lac de Gafsa" or Gafsa Beach. Families swim there, youths leap from surrounding rocks into its clear waters and the curious - and the cautious - come equipped with scuba gear.

Remember the peril of flooded islands due to rising sea levels? Fuhgeddaboudit!

© Reuters
The low-lying Pacific archipelago of Kiribati
From the AAAS Science Magazine and the department of "we told you so" again, and again, and again, comes this "revelation".
Warming may not swamp islands

by Christopher Pala Science 1 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6196 pp. 496-497 DOI:10.1126/science.345.6196.496

In an interview with CNN last month, Anote Tong, the president of Kiribati, insisted that rising sea levels due to global warming will mean "total annihilation" for this nation of 33 coral islands in the Central Pacific and for other atoll island nations like Tuvalu and the Maldives.

In May, Kiribati bought 22 square kilometers of land in Fiji as a haven for displaced citizens, cementing Kiribati's reputation as an early victim of climate change. No doubt, the sea is coming: Global sea levels are expected to rise up to 1 meter by 2100. But recent geologic studies suggest that the coral reefs supporting sandy atoll islands will grow and rise in tandem with the sea. The only Pacific atoll islanders who will have to move must do so for the same reason as millions of people on the continents: because they live too close to shore.

California drought spreading at unprecedented rate

© Reuters/Max Whittaker
Marin County firefighters haul a hose on a fire line while battling the fast-moving wildfire called "Sand Fire," near Plymouth, California July 26, 2014.
The drought in California is getting worse as more than half the state now suffers from the most severe drought conditions possible, according to a new report.

The recent study published by the US Drought Monitor noted that 58 percent of California is experiencing "exceptional drought," which is the most serious category on the agency's five-level scale.

It's also the highest percentage to be recorded since the federal government started monitoring drought levels in the 1990s.

What's more alarming, however, is the fact that before 2014, no parts of California ever suffered from such severe conditions. As the Los Angeles Times notes, the rate at which this level of drought has spread throughout the state is unprecedented. In fact, about 22 percent of the state was moved into the "exceptional" category during the last week.

"You keep beating the record, which are still all from this year," National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Mark Svoboda told the Times.

Montgomery, Alabama has coolest July day on record

© The Register
Montgomery had the coolest July 30 since reliable record keeping began in 1872. Wednesday's low of 59 degrees shattered the previous low of 66 degrees set in 1889.

Although there were reports that Wednesday's temperature also set the record for the all-time low in July, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Garrison said while it was the coolest temperature Montgomery had experienced in July, it didn't break the record.

"The temperature tied it, but it didn't break it," said the Birmingham meteorologist, adding that the previous all-time record was a low of 59 degrees that Montgomery experienced on July 20, 2009.

This was the third round of record-setting lows the area has seen this July. But it has still been a hot one.

The cool weather has alternated with some very hot weather, and the result is that so far even with several record-setting lows, as of Wednesday night this was only the 69th coolest July on record, Garrison said.
Ice Cube

Indianapolis reports coldest month on record

July 2014 will go into the record books as the coldest July since records began in Indianapolis.

Temperatures will stay slightly below normal Thursday, putting the monthly average at 70.1 degrees. That's 0.5 degrees cooler than the previous July low of 70.6, set in 1947. Indianapolis has not even topped 90 degrees so far this year.

"The warmest day of 88 degrees (in July) is also the warmest temperature we've had so far this year," said StormTeam 6 meteorologist Todd Klaassen.In an average July, Indianapolis' temperature is 75.4 degrees. The record-low temperatures this July come two years after Indianapolis set a heat record.

In July 2012, the average temperature in Indianapolis was 84.0 degrees, shattering a record set in 1936. July 2011 was also toasty, with the average that month at 82.0 degrees, ranking it as the third-warmest July on record in Indianapolis. July 2009 was another cool month in Indianapolis, with the average temperature of 70.9, chilly enough for third place in the record books.

Comment: See also:

The Day the Earth Froze: Younger Dryas Ice Age caused by Storm of Comet Debris

Sott's Comets and Catastrophe Series