Earth Changes


'Resurrection plants' might lead to drought-tolerant crops

Jill Farrant, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town, hopes that unlocking the genetic codes of drought-tolerant plants could help farmers toiling in increasingly hot and dry conditions
As the race to adapt to climate change quickens, a South African scientist is leading global research into developing crops that mimic the extraordinary survival skills of "resurrection plants".

Jill Farrant, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town, hopes that unlocking the genetic codes of drought-tolerant plants could help farmers toiling in increasingly hot and dry conditions.

With more than 130 known varieties in the world, resurrection plants are a unique group of flora that can survive extreme water shortages for years.

During a drought, the plant acts like a seed, becoming so dry it appears dead.

But when the skies finally open and the rain pours down, the shrivelled plant bursts "back to life", turning green and robust in just a few hours.


Continuing its rampant activity, Colima volcano erupts spectacularly in Mexico

© Screenshot via webcams de Mexico
Mexico's Fire Volcano is continuing its rampant activity spitting out ash and instilling fear in both locals and visitors to breathtaking effect. Webcams de Mexico has captured the latest stunning Colima volcano activity.

A moderate explosion recorded Tuesday, shows the crater of one of the most deadly volcanoes in the world slowly steaming away when it suddenly erupts, sending debris into the air.

The heated material than falls on the slopes as flashes of volcanic lightning are seen before the ash is whipped up by the wind. After the blast, which happened early Tuesday, the plume from the eruption spread roughly one kilometer into the air. Further eruptions saw the plume reaching roughly 2.5 km into the air.

The volcano continues to remain restless, after being home to a powerful eruption on November 16. On this date, the plume of smoke and ash from the Fire Volcano reached some 3,000 meters into the air. Webcams de Mexico also offers footage of the spectacular explosion.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 7.5 quake jolts Peru-Brazil border

A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake, initially reported as 6.9, has struck eastern Peru, close to the border with Brazil, according to USGS.

The quake was extremely deep, some 600 kilometers below ground level. Besides Peru and Brazil, shaking has also been felt in neighboring Bolivia.

The epicenter of the quake was located in an unpopulated area of the Amazon Basin, 175 kilometers from the closest Peruvian town of Iberia, and some 250 km from the Brazil's Brasileia and Bolivia's Cobija.


Waterspout spotted off Oman's Sur coast

© Times of Oman
A waterspout was spotted off Sur coast today, a weather enthusiast said.

A waterspout is an intense columnar vortex (usually appearing as a funnel-shaped cloud) that occurs over a body of water. They are connected to a towering cumuliform cloud or a cumulonimbus cloud. In the common form, it is a non-supercell tornado over water.

"A waterspout appeared in Sur sea. It's a rare phenomenon, which occurs during cyclone season. Skies are cloudy too," Bader Ali Al Baddaei, an administrator of, a local Web-based forum that discusses weather in Oman, told Times of Oman.

In its latest tweet, Oman meteorology department has predicted rain in coastal areas of Oman. On Sunday itself, meteorology department has predicted heavy rain in northern parts of Oman from today till the end of the week.

In the Sunday's advisory, the meteorology department added that Oman will likely witness deep depression as moderate to heavy rain is expected on Musandam and North Al Batinah while other governorates will witness varied rain shower except for Dhofar and Al Wusta.


Strange 'funnel cloud' filmed in St. Mary's Bay, Canada

There are reports of a possible funnel cloud or water spout in the Harricott area of St. Mary's Bay this morning.

A local resident caught the phenomenon on video this morning.

Provincial Airlines and Aerospace meteorologist, Brian Walsh says he's not aware of any such phenomenon happening today.

He says because the pinkish object remains stationary while the clouds are moving around it, he can't say what it may be.


Primates in peril: 50% of our closest living relatives are on the brink of extinction around the world


More than half of the world's primates are at risk of dying out due to the threat posed by habitat loss and hunting. The Hainan gibbon (pictured) is thought to be the world's most endangered primate, with just 25 of the animals left living on an isolated island in China
They are our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom, yet more than half of the world's primates are facing extinction due to our destruction of the habitats where they live.

Burning and clearing of large areas of tropical forest, combined with hunting of primates for food and illegal wildlife trade, has placed many species of apes, lemurs and monkeys at risk of dying out.

These include iconic species such as the Sumatran orang-utan, Grauer's gorilla, the Northern brown howler monkey and the Hainan gibbon.

Scientists and conservation experts have now updated a report on the world's 25 most endangered primates based on the current knowledge of the animals numbers and the risks facing them.

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, a primatologist and director of conservation at Bristol Zoological Society who helped compile the list, said: 'This research highlights the extent of the danger facing many of the world's primates.


Drought threatens habitat of migratory birds in California

© Reuters
Sandhill cranes land in flooded fields at the Sandhill Crane Reserve near Thornton, California, Nov. 3, 2015. The state's ongoing drought has left millions of waterfowl that migrate from northern climes to California with fewer places to land, seek food.
With their red heads, 2.13-meter (7-foot) wingspan and a trilling call, migrating Sandhill Cranes provide a dramatic sunset spectacle as they land by the thousands in wetlands near Sacramento each night during the fall and winter.

But the state's ongoing drought has left the cranes, along with millions of other waterfowl that migrate from Canada and other northern climes to spend the winter in California, with fewer places to land, threatening their health as they crowd in on one another to seek shelter and food.

"They're left with fewer and fewer places to go, which will start to have impacts on their population," said Meghan Hertel, who works on habitat issues for the Audubon Society in California. "They can die here from starvation or disease or be weaker for their flight back north."


Gas explosion in Indiana "shook the whole town" leveling house, killing one

© Jen Danczak - 21Alive

One person died and two others were injured in a house explosion Monday night. It happened in the 1200 block of S. Gonser Avenue in Ashley around 9:30 p.m.

According to the Ashley Fire Department, it started with a LP gas leak at the house. Ashley Fire Chief Dave Barrand confirmed that something separate from the LP gas leak then triggered the blast.

"I was the first one on scene, and I noticed that the house was leveled with debris out on the roadway and out on the fields," Barrand said. "Did find a male trapped inside with severe burns, also found a female that was under some debris."

Barrand said the man and woman were airlifted to an area hospital. Another man was pronounced dead on the scene.

The home sits in an isolated area. No other buildings were damaged.

Comment: From a few days ago in the UK: Huge suspected gas explosion completely destroys house in Buckinghamshire, UK


Biodegradable is bogus: World's 'Ocean waste baskets' still filled with plastic trash

© LCDR Eric Johnson, NOAA Corps.
Pieces of plastic litter a black rock beach on the island of Hawaii in 2008.
Such products 'will not bring about a significant decrease either in the quantity of plastic entering the ocean or the risk of physical and chemical impacts on the marine environment,' UN report states.

Plastics in the world's oceans, whether floating or resting at the bottom, is a problem that's on the rise, and is said to have "reached crisis proportion."

And while they may be assumed to be more eco-friendly, plastics labeled "biodegradable" still pose a threat to marine environments, a new United Nations study has found.

Comment: Comment: 'Essentially the ocean is a waste basket', maybe most of us are simply unaware of how the oceans of the world are being trashed!

Arrow Down

Large sinkhole appears at Lindal-in-Furness, UK

A large sinkhole opened up near Lindal-in-Furness over the weekend - swallowing a 20ft cabin, a wagon and a Nissan Micra.

The hole, believed to be about 200ft deep, appeared as heavy rain battered the region and is thought to be in the location of an old iron ore mine.