Earth Changes

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Five volcanoes erupting at once on the Kamchatka Peninsula

© ISS Crew Earth Observations/Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center
Remote. Cold. Rugged. Those three adjectives capture the essence of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. Another word - perhaps more applicable than anywhere else on Earth - is "fiery."

Of the roughly 1,550 volcanoes that have erupted in the recent geologic past, 113 are found on Kamchatka. Forty Kamchatkan volcanoes are "active," either erupting now or capable of erupting on short notice. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured activity at five of them during a single satellite pass on April 14, 2014.

Imagery follows.

Whale found dead in Port Elizabeth harbor to be brought to Jersey City for necropsy

© Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal
A whale that was found dead in New York Harbor was transported to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility at Caven Point Marine Terminal in Jersey City where marine veterinarians performed a necropsy to find out the cause of death, on April 16, 2014.
A 30- to 35-foot whale found dead in the water in the area of Port Elizabeth will be brought to Caven Point Terminal in Jersey City tomorrow where a necropsy will be performed, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers said.

The Army Corps of Engineers was notified on Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the dead whale had been spotted, Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said today. The Corps has lashed the whale to one of its barges used to collect drifting debris in the harbor in order to keep the whale from disrupting ships' navigation, Gardner said.

Gardner said the whale will either be towed or lifted by a drift collection vessel and brought to Jersey City where it will be placed on land for the necropsy. He said he did know what type of whale it is but said officials have it narrowed down to several possible species.

The spokesman said he did not know if the whale had any visible signs of injury such as from a boat propeller and said that will be determined tomorrow. Gardner said the whale was not brought ashore today due to the rainy weather because the necropsy will be performed outdoors. Moving the whale tomorrow will be contingent on the weather as well.

Necropsy is another word for autopsy and is used with reference to animals.

40-Foot gray whale washes up on Oregon Coast

© Matt Fletcher
A dead gray whale washed ashore on the Oregon Coast on Tuesday.

A dead, decomposing 40-foot gray whale washed ashore in the Oregon Coast town of Seaside on Tuesday morning, and marine experts advise staying away from the massive carcass because it's "really nasty."

Keith Chandler, a marine mammal expert from the Seaside Aquarium, said the whale has been dead for "quite some time."

"It's really smelly. We're quite a ways from it and I can smell the whale," Chandler said.

Dr. Debbie Duffield from Portland State University will collect samples on the dead whale and try to determine its cause of death.

Once marine experts have finished collecting all the data they need, the city of Seaside will likely bury the whale. Chandler said it will be a challenge.

Tanzania: More Than 40 Feared Dead After Dar Floods

Tanzania flooding
© Daniel Hayduk / AFP
Pedestrians cross the flooded Old Bagamoyo Road in the Mikocheni area of Dar es Salaam on April 12th.
Some 41 people are feared dead as a result of floods caused by downpour that hit Dar es Salaam for about three days over the weekend, according to Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC) Saidi Meck Sadiki.
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Strong winds cause 2 ships to collide in Chesapeake Bay; third vessel runs aground

Two vessels collided in a main shipping channel and a 751-foot cargo ship ran aground in the lower Chesapeake Bay on Tuesday in high winds gusting up to 70 mph, the Coast Guard said.

The 79-foot rig vessel Petite and the 1,065-foot container ship MSC Charleston collided about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday "due to weather" in the Thimble Shoal Channel, the Coast Guard said in a news release. There were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution and both vessels were safely anchored, the release said.

Norway: Avalanche kills 4 skiers

Norwegian police say rescuers have found the bodies of four skiers who were killed by an avalanche in central Norway.

The four men were reported missing late Monday after skiing off-piste in the Sunndalsfjella mountains.
Ice Cube

Half of the Great Lakes still covered in ice: What it means for the region

great lakes ice
© Jeff Schmaltz
The Great Lakes at 80.3 percent ice cover, on February 19, 2014, taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua Satellite
Over the winter, as polar vortices plunged the U.S. Midwest into weeks of unceasing cold, the icy covers of the Great Lakes started to make headlines. With almost 96 percent of Lake Superior's 32,000 miles encased in ice at the season's peak, tens of thousands of tourists flocked to the ice caves along the Wisconsin shoreline, suddenly accessible after four years of relatively warmer wintery conditions.

The thing is, all of that ice takes a long time to melt. As of April 10, 48 percent of the five lakes' 90,000-plus square miles were still covered in ice, down from a high of 92.2 percent on March 6 (note that constituted the highest levels recorded since 1979, when ice covered 94.7 percent of the lakes). Last year, only 38.4 percent of the lakes froze over, while in 2012 just 12.9 percent did - part of a four-year stint of below-average iciness.

And as the Great Lakes slowly lose their historically large ice covers over the next few months, the domino effects could include lingering cold water, delayed seasonal shifts, and huge jumps in water levels.

Nicaragua on maximum alert after series of earthquakes

Nicaragua resuce
© Reuters
People living in buildings most at risk of collapse are being evacuated to shelters
The authorities in Nicaragua have put the entire country on an "extreme red alert", the highest possible, after the country was hit by a series of tremors.

Nicaraguans were asked to sleep outdoors as seismologists warned of the possibility of a powerful earthquake rocking the Central American country.

Officials said the recent tremors had reactivated a fault which caused a devastating earthquake in 1972.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 people were killed in the disaster.

Dead pilot whale washes up near Coopers Beach, Southampton

© Riverhead Foundation
A 15-foot dead pilot whale was discovered Sunday, April 13, 2014 on a beach in Southampton near Cryder Lane, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, which returned to the beach Monday to conduct a necropsy on the whale.
A 15-foot dead pilot whale was discovered Sunday on a beach in Southampton near Cryder Lane, according to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

Robert DiGiovanni, the foundation's executive director and senior biologist, said researchers took a few samples Sunday, and that he was headed back to the beach Monday morning with a crew to conduct a necropsy on the whale.

"We'll do as much of a necropsy as we can, but it's going to have to remain on the beach," he said.

DiGiovanni said the Southampton Highway Department was able to move the animal further up on the beach, so it wouldn't wash away, but the whale is too large for researchers to take to the foundation's necropsy lab in Riverhead.

The team will look first for any external injuries, and then take more samples before disposing of it, DiGiovanni said.

DiGiovanni said the foundation usually sees one to two pilot whales wash ashore each year.

Multitude of dead animals wash up on local beaches in Florida

Dead marine life wash ashore along our local beaches.

There's something fishy going on in our local waters. No pun intended. According to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: six dolphins, a shark, a humpback whale and multiple manatees/sea turtles have washed up in the last two weeks.

"We know the dolphins are related," marine biologist Nadia Gordon said. "As far as the shark and see turtles, I can't answer that."

The morbillivirus is believed to be the cause of the dolphin deaths. The disease has claimed the lives of 80 in Northeast Florida since July 2013. On a bigger scale, 1200 dolphins have been found dead from New York to Florida since July- up from the average 180 a year.

Biologists still have work to do, but they're hoping they get a lead soon.

"We're hoping it will die off soon and we won't have to worry about it anymore," Gordon said.