Earth Changes
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Butterfly

Bye-bye butterfly: monarchs' are about to disappear

monarch butterfly
© Tim Johnson / MCT
A monarch butterfly lands on the head of an unsuspecting photographer in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico's Michoacan state, March 21, 2014
On a high mountain slope in central Mexico, a patch of fir trees looks dusted in orange and black. In fact, millions of monarch butterflies cloak the trees. The forest murmurs with the whir of their flapping wings.

Every year, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies, each so light that 50 together weigh barely an ounce, find their way on what may be the world's longest insect migration, traveling the length of North America to pass the winter in central Mexico.

Yet the great monarch migration is in peril, a victim of rampant herbicide use in faraway corn and soybean fields, extreme weather, a tiny microbial pathogen and deforestation. Monarch butterfly populations are plummeting. The dense colonies of butterflies on central Mexican peaks were far smaller this year than ever before.

Scientists say Mexico's monarch butterfly colonies, as many as several million butterflies in one acre, are on the cusp of disappearing. If the species were to vanish, one of the few creatures emblematic of all North America, a beloved insect with powerhouse stamina that even school kids can easily identify, would be gone.
Sun

NASA releases footage of M6.5 solar flare

© Reuters/NASA
A spectacular mid-level solar flare was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which released stunning footage of the looping whip of fire.

According to the North American Space Agency (NASA), the sun emitted the mid-level solar flare on Wednesday at 14:05 GMT. The flare was classified as an M6.5 example. M-class flares are ten times less powerful than the most intense X-class flares. Within a class there is a linear scale from 1 to 9.n (apart from X), so that an X2 flare is twice as powerful as an X1 flare, an M2 is twice as powerful as an M1, and so on.

The video captured by the observatory shows the flare "in a blend of two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light: 304 Angstroms and 171 Angstroms, colorized in yellow and red, respectively."
Hourglass

Volcano Shiveluch in the Russian Far East erupts ash at altitude of 6 km

Volcano eruption
© ITAR-TASS
Volcano Shiveluch has erupted ash at an altitude of six kilometres above sea level in Russian Far East's Ust-Kamchatsky municipal entity, Kamchatka branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences geophysical service stated on Sunday.

The ash plume has spread northwest of the volcano towards Bay Ozernoy not affecting any settlements, the Kamchatka territorial emergency situation department said. No threat exists for settlements.

The volcano is ranked with orange aeronautical code of high eruption hazard.
Sheeple

Rare half-goat, half-sheep born in Ireland‏

© Farmer's Journal
An Irish farmer from Co Kildare is the proud owner of a rare hybrid between a goat and a sheep. The half-goat half-sheep, which is known as a 'geep,' was born to a ewe on Paddy Murphy's farm.

Paddy, who also owns Murphy's pub in Ballymore Eustace, said the 'geep' has thrived since birth. "He's absolutely thriving," Paddy told RTÉ News. "He's running around a lot quicker than the other lambs which were born. He has much longer legs". "The ewe has taken to him like he's just another lamb. There's no difference in how he's been reared."

After the Farmers' Journal posted a video of the creature on YouTube yesterday, it quickly went viral among customers in Murphy's pub.
Info

Mystery boom rattles homes in Duncan, Oklahoma

© KWSO
Stephens County is still dealing with a case of a phantom boom.

Wednesday night, just after 6:00 p.m., several folks were rattled after hearing what sounded like a large explosion nearby. Twenty-four hours later, Duncan residents and officials alike are still stumped, which has caused the mystery blast to be the talk of the town.

In southwest Oklahoma, many of us are used to the rolling thunder, or even Fort Sill's artillery popping. But what Stephens County experienced Wednesday night was something different.

"I asked my husband, I was like, 'what was that?' he said I think it was thunder and I said 'no I don't think so!'," said one Duncan resident.

The boom was so loud, those who heard it weren't the only ones shaken by its power.

"I know it hit pretty hard though, because it shook the stuff in my house," said another Duncan dweller.

Comment: Interestingly, the next day in the community of Norman, which lies about 60 miles to the north of Duncan, came a report of dead and dying birds birds found under mysterious circumstances. See: Over 30 birds fall dead from the sky in Norman, Oklahoma

See also:

Radar Dopppler images confirm overhead 'turbulence' cause of 2011 mass bird death case in Beebe, Arkansas
Meteoric Deja-vu: Exactly one year later, dead blackbirds fall again in Beebe, Arkansas
A Sign for the New Year: 1,000 Birds Fall From the Sky in Beebe, Arkansas
Situation Update More than 5000 birds fall dead from Sky in Arkansas 12-31-2010 New Years Eve

Stock Up

World food prices jump again in March - Mostly due to Earth changes

© Reuters
Global food prices rose to their highest in almost a year in March, led by unfavorable weather for crops and political tensions over Ukraine, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) price index, which measures monthly price changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 212.8 points in March, up 4.8 points or 2.3 percent from February. The reading was the highest since May 2013.

While weather was the most important factor affecting crops, Russia's annexation of Crimea introduced fear into grain markets and the wheat market in particular, and risked damaging trade patterns, a FAO senior economist told Reuters.
Arrow Down

Giant sinkhole shuts down Diagonal Road in Streetsboro, Ohio

© Bob Gaetjens/Gateway News
A 12-foot wide sinkhole has closed Diagonal Road between S.R. 14 in Streetsboro and Overlook Drive in Twin Lakes for four to six weeks. The hole was the result of a collapsed storm sewer line. On Friday, city employees worked to support an exposed water line in the sinkhole.
A portion of Diagonal Road between S.R. 14 in Streetsboro and Overlook Drive in Twin Lakes could remain closed four to six weeks because of a sinkhole.

The road was closed at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The sinkhole is on Diagonal Road between Pleasant Valley Road and Lake Royale Boulevard. Road closed signs are posted at S.R. 14 and Overlook Drive in Twin Lakes.

By about noon on Friday, the hole, which started as a 6- to 7-foot wide sinkhole, had eroded into a 12-foot wide chasm, according to Streetsboro Service Department Director Bill Miller. Portions of the shoulder of the road began falling into the hole, as well.

"Due to the questionable safe passage of motor vehicle traffic, the decision was immediately made to close the road to traffic," Mayor Glenn Broska wrote in a statement. "Barricades were erected as soon as possible and will remain in place until the culvert is repaired."

Miller encouraged traffic to use S.R. 14 and S.R. 43 as a detour.
Question

Over 30 birds fall dead from the sky in Norman, Oklahoma


In the last 24 hours, Becki Miller has observed at least a dozen birds drop dead in her yard.
There's a bit of a mystery in the Norman area. Birds were seen falling dead out of the sky.

One homeowner, near highway 9 and I 35, found more than a dozen dead in her yard. Becki Miller does not consider herself a bird watcher, but she's identified a potential problem with a flock of black birds.

"I heard this thump and I noticed a bird had just fallen out of the sky," she said.

In the last 24 hours, she's observed at least a dozen birds drop dead in her yard. Becki worries the flock was poisoned, or worse, could be carrying a disease. She called on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to investigate.

Micah Holmes with the Department of Wildlife explains the sudden deaths of the birds could also be attributed to weather patterns or environmental stressors.

Comment: On the evening prior to this event came this report from the town of Duncan, which lies about 60 miles to the south of Norman: Mystery boom rattles homes in Duncan, Oklahoma

See also:

Radar Dopppler images confirm overhead 'turbulence' cause of 2011 mass bird death case in Beebe, Arkansas
Meteoric Deja-vu: Exactly one year later, dead blackbirds fall again in Beebe, Arkansas
A Sign for the New Year: 1,000 Birds Fall From the Sky in Beebe, Arkansas
Situation Update More than 5000 birds fall dead from Sky in Arkansas 12-31-2010 New Years Eve

Hourglass

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupts again, spews ash and molten rock

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupts
© Reuters / Carlos Campana
Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spews molten rocks and large clouds of gas and ashes near Banos, south of Quito, April 4, 2014.
Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted on Friday, spewing a huge column of molten rock and ash which surged 10 kilometers (six miles) above the volcano's crater following two strong explosions.

Pyroclastic material, a fast-moving current of hot gas and rock, flowed out of the northern and northwestern regions of the volcano, Geophysical Insitute of Ecuador's National Polytechnic School reported. The Institute continues to monitor the situation, as tremors are ongoing.

Five moderate explosions were also registered on Friday.

The 5,023-meter volcano, referred to as the 'Throat of Fire,' is located in the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes of central Ecuador and is the one of most active volcanos in South America and Ecuador.

Tungurahua had been quiet since October 2013 before resuming eruptions in February.

The volcano has been active since 1999, with the worst eruption occurring in 2006, when it killed four people and left two others missing.
Ambulance

Earthquake magnitude 5.3 in SW China: Over ten injured

Earthquake 5.4 in China
© USGS
At least ten people were injured after a 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck a town in southwest China early Saturday, authorities said.

Yongshan County, Yunnan Province felt the shock, with epicenter 13 km deep in Xiluodu township, at 6:40 a.m. Saturday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center.

Two of the injured are in a serious condition, said the county government's information office. Twenty houses collapsed and two roads were blocked by fallen rocks. One road has since reopened. Communications in the area were not affected.

"We felt the quake strongly, but it did not last long," said a local resident. Some were woken up by the tremor and ran out of their houses, but returned home a few minutes later.

Authorities have sent 400 tents and quilts for displaced residents and several thousand more have been made ready.

Yongshan is home to the Xiluodu hydropower project, China's second largest hydropower station, only 15 km from the epicenter. Rumors have spread that the quake was caused by the power station.
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