Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Australia: Cyclone Causes Extensive Flooding In Queensland

Flooding is likely to continue in northern Queensland state after tropical cyclone Ului hit the coast early on Sunday morning, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said Sunday.

At least 60,000 homes are without power and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said initial reports suggest the damage is moderate-to-severe, although it's too early to assess the full extent of the damage, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on its Web site.

Heavy rainfall and flooding are likely to continue about coastal and adjacent inland areas between Bowen and St Lawrence, the Bureau said. The cyclone is weakening rapidly and is expected to be downgraded below cyclone strength this afternoon, it said.

Bizarro Earth

Undersea Volcanic Activity Contributing To Cooling

Undersea volcanic activity appears to provide a dampening influence on global warming as the seabed eruptions create nutrient-rich water that feeds carbon dioxide-eating plants.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, Australian and French scientists show that hydrothermal vents around underwater volcanoes in the Southern Ocean spew iron.

After billowing to near the surface, the mineral allows single-cell organisms called phytoplankton to bloom, soaking up the greenhouse gas in the process. The world's oceans are thought to remove 20 percent to 25 percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activities.

Comment: Here is a link to video of the West Mata Deep-Sea Volcanic Eruption recorded in May 2009.

Bizarro Earth

Rain in quake-devastated Haiti causes panic

© Ramon Espinosa | Associated Press
Heavy rain flooded this camp of homeless earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, yesterday. Screaming residents were swept into eddies, and latrines overflowed.
One of the heaviest rainfalls since Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake swamped homeless camps yesterday, sweeping screaming residents into eddies of water, overflowing latrines and panicking thousands.

The overnight downpour sent water coursing down the slopes of a former golf course that now serves as a temporary home for about 45,000 people.

There were no reports of deaths in the camp, a town-size maze of blue, orange and silver tarps behind the country club used by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division as a forward-operating base.

But the deluge terrified families who just two months ago survived the collapse of their homes in the magnitude 7 earthquake and are struggling to make do in tent-and-tarp camps that officials have repeatedly said must be relocated.


Magnitude 5.3 quake hits Guatemala; no damage

A magnitude 5.3 quake struck in Guatemala on Saturday, about 60 miles (97 km) from the country's border with Mexico, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage, Reuters reported.

The quake was centered about 53 miles (85 km) north-northeast of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, at a depth of 51 miles (82 km), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Bizarro Earth

Cuba: Earthquake Magnitude 5.6 Offshore

Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 18:08:09 UTC

Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 01:08:09 PM at epicenter

Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

19.731°N, 75.279°W

17.2 km (10.7 miles)


45 km (30 miles) S of Guantanamo, Cuba

65 km (40 miles) ESE of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

825 km (510 miles) ESE of HAVANA, Cuba

840 km (520 miles) SE of Miami, Florida

Better Earth

Seabird evolved head feathers as sensory device

Attracting the opposite sex is not the only reason some birds have elaborate head ornamentation. Avoiding things that might bump your head in the dark is also important, at least for crested and whiskered auklets - seabirds famed for their decorative head feathers.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.2 - New Ireland Region, Papua New Guinea

Earthquake Location
Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 14:00:51 UTC

Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 12:00:51 AM at epicenter

3.380°S, 152.231°E

423.5 km (263.2 miles)

95 km (60 miles) N of Rabaul, New Britain, PNG

150 km (95 miles) NW of Taron, New Ireland, PNG

870 km (540 miles) NE of PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea

2670 km (1660 miles) N of BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia

Better Earth

Orangutans can swim - we've got pictures to prove it

Orangutans normally steer clear of water. In the wild they rarely go near rivers and lakes, to avoid the crocodiles and snakes that lurk there. So it came as a surprise to conservationists when a group of orphaned orangutans that had been relocated to Kaja Island in Borneo started getting wet for all sorts of reasons: one pair was even seen having sex in water.

"My guess is that the male chose the location because there was less chance of him being interrupted by other, more dominant males," says Anne Russon of York University in Toronto, Canada.


"Orangutans are famous for their fear of water," says Russon. "They have high body densities and can't help but sink." They're such lousy swimmers that some zoos have stopped surrounding enclosures with moats - too many orangutans have drowned.

© Anne Russon
"One day we saw an adolescent orangutan called Sif wade into deep water, hunker down and then lunge forward making simple paddling movements with her arms and legs," says Russon. "It was kind of like a bad dog paddle." Sif didn't get all that far - about a metre.

Bizarro Earth

Orange sky in Beijing for year's biggest sandstorm

© Associated Press
Taipei city is seen among dust storm Wednesday morning, March 17, 2010. A wave of sandstorms hit Taiwan Tuesday, affecting the air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Administration.
China's capital woke up to orange-tinted skies Saturday as the strongest sandstorm so far this year hit the country's north, delaying some flights at Beijing's international airport and prompting South Korean weather officials to issue a dust warning for Seoul.

The sky glowed and a thin dusting of sand covered Beijing, causing workers to muffle their faces in vast Tiananmen Square. The city's weather bureau gave air quality a rare hazardous ranking.

Air quality is "very bad for the health," China's national weather bureau warned. It said people should cover their mouths when outside and keep doors and windows closed.

China's expanding deserts now cover one-third of the country because of overgrazing, deforestation, urban sprawl and drought. The shifting sands have led to a sharp increase in sandstorms - the grit from which can travel as far as the western United States.


Climate-change scientists aren't happy and feel 'muzzled' by Canadian government: documents

A dramatic reduction in Canadian media coverage of climate change science issues is the result of the Harper government introducing new rules in 2007 to control interviews by Environment Canada scientists with journalists, says a newly released federal document.

"Scientists have noticed a major reduction in the number of requests, particularly from high-profile media, who often have same-day deadlines," said the Environment Canada document. "Media coverage of climate change science, our most high-profile issue, has been reduced by over 80%."

The analysis reviewed the impact of a new federal communications policy at Environment Canada, which required senior federal scientists to seek permission from the government prior to giving interviews.