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Sat, 13 Feb 2016
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Earth Changes


Africa's "Terrible Hairy Fly" Found in Kenya

© Reuters/International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology
Mormotomyia hirsuta. Scientists in Kenya have located one of the world's rarest and oddest-looking flies after a long hunt for an insect dubbed the "terrible hairy fly," experts said on Wednesday.
Scientists in Kenya have located one of the world's rarest and oddest-looking flies after a long hunt for an insect dubbed the "terrible hairy fly," experts said on Wednesday.

Scientists first stumbled across the yellow-haired fly in 1933 and then again in 1948. Since then, at least half a dozen expeditions have visited a site between the towns of Thika and Garissa to find it again.

At about one centimeter long and so far found on a single 20-meter high rock, the Mormotomyia hirsuta looks more like a spider with its hairy legs, scientists said.

Unable to fly and partial to breeding in bat feces, the fly is thought to live only in the dank, bat-filled cleft of an isolated rock in the Ukazi Hills. It also has non-functional wings that resemble miniature belt-straps, and tiny eyes.

Dr Robert Copeland of the Nairobi-based International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology said the fly's physical appearance had left scientists bamboozled about where exactly it belonged in the entire order of Diptera, or "true flies."


United Kingdom Freezing: 35,000 Deaths Feared in New Artic Blizzards

© unk
Experts predict a dramatic increase in cold-related fatalities
Death rates are set to soar "scandalously" this winter as a new Arctic blast batters Britain with temperatures on a par with Siberia.

Experts predict a dramatic increase in cold-related fatalities as we suffer the bitterest winter in a century, causing 12 deaths every hour.

Britons face spiralling energy bills while the death toll this winter could reach 35,000.

There are also fears some mail may not reach its destination by Christmas Day because of the freeze.

Forecasters said temperatures could plummet to record lows in the run-up to Christmas, putting tens of thousands of vulnerable people at risk.

Charities warned of pensioners suffering "Dickensian" conditions, resorting to riding on buses or huddling in shopping centres just to keep warm.

Millions of Britons are being forced to turn down their thermostats as gas and electricity prices spiral.


Russia to pull out of Kyoto deal: Canada and Japan may follow

© Reuters
A Greenpeace activist demonstrating in front of Parliament Hill several years ago to call on Canada's government to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. It's also recently emerged that the Canadian government may also withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
Russia opposes the renewal of the Kyoto protocol and will not sign an extension to the climate treaty, Russian envoy Alexander Bedritsky said on Friday.

"Russia will not participate in the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol," he told the UN climate change conference in Cancun.

The Kyoto Protocol is a legally binding agreement restricting carbon emissions that expires in 2012. A new global climate deal is needed to continue efforts beyond 2012.

Bedritsky - president of the World Meteorological Organization and adviser to the Russian president - said there had been "no basic changes in the negotiating process."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev previously said the country would pull out of the Kyoto agreement if a compromise could not be found concerning the reduction of carbon emissions.

Cloud Lightning

Storms, winds of over 100 km per hour hit Israel, Egypt

© Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Cairo was hidden in fog during cold weather on Saturday
Winds of over 100 km per hour lashed Israel on Saturday, knocking down power lines and trees and sweeping one person into the sea. Egypt closed 10 ports because of high waves and sandstorms.

In the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, a 41-year-old Russian tourist was blown off the promenade into the sea and was missing and feared dead, public radio reported.

Police were unable to search for the missing man because of the stormy seas, it reported.

The winds knocked down power lines and trees, causing power cuts across Israel, said the state-run Electricity Company. The Parks Authority shut several nature reserves in the southern Negev desert because of the possibility of flash floods.


Canada: Newfoundland Frozen Waves

This strange weather phenomenon happened in Newfoundland where the waves were actually frozen as they crashed on the beach.


Upper Midwest pummeled by strengthening blizzard

An iReporter took this shot of a snowplow in Rochester, Minnesota. Parts of the state already had 23 inches of snow this month.
Much of the upper Midwest battled blizzard conditions Saturday, with a combination of heavy snow, fierce winds and sub-zero temperatures pummeling the region 10 days before the official start of winter.

A blizzard warning, issued by the National Weather Service, stretched from South Dakota to Wisconsin and down to Missouri and Illinois. The storm was expected to dump between 15 and 20 inches of snow in some locales.

The storm will likely gain strength during Saturday, before bearing down on the Chicago, Illinois, area, the weather service said.


Greenland Ice Sheet Flow Driven By Short-Term Weather Extremes Not Gradual Warming

© Unknown
Noting observations that during heavy rainfall, higher water pressure is required to force drainage along the base of the ice, Schoof created computer models that account for the complex fluid dynamics occurring at the interface of glacier and bedrock. He found that a steady supply of meltwater is well accommodated and drained through water channels that form under the glacier.
Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration - and eventual loss - of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.

The ice sheet consists of layers of compressed snow and covers roughly 80 per cent of the surface of Greenland. Since the 1990s, it has been documented to be losing approximately 100 billion tonnes of ice per year - a process that most scientists agree is accelerating, but has been poorly understood. Some of the loss has been attributed to accelerated glacier flow towards ocean outlets.

Now a new study, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature, shows that a steady meltwater supply from gradual warming may in fact slow down glacier flow, while sudden water input could cause glaciers to speed up and spread, resulting in increased melt.


Maine diver videos underwater encounter with shark

A scuba diver who came face-to-teeth with a shark used a camera to fend off the animal when it came at him with its teeth bared - and he has the frightening video to prove it.

Scott MacNichol, 30, was shaken up but uninjured after a porbeagle shark apparently mistook his camera equipment for food Saturday while diving near Eastport, off the eastern tip of Maine. He estimated the shark was 8 feet long (2.4 meters) and weighed about 300 pounds (136 kilograms).

MacNichol saw the shark swimming above him while he was filming the ocean floor under empty salmon pens as part of an environmental assessment for Cooke Aquaculture Inc. The animal then came at him, jabbing at the camera with its snout. In the video, its sharp teeth fill the frame before it swims off.

"He took a couple of bites at the camera. When he did that I was pretty much petrified," MacNichol said Wednesday. "If you watch the video, you can hear me screaming underwater."

Better Earth

New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming

© Public Domain
A group of top NASA boffins says that current climate models predicting global warming are far too gloomy, and have failed to properly account for an important cooling factor which will come into play as CO2 levels rise.

According to Lahouari Bounoua of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and other scientists from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), existing models fail to accurately include the effects of rising CO2 levels on green plants. As green plants breathe in CO2 in the process of photosynthesis - they also release oxygen, the only reason that there is any in the air for us to breathe - more carbon dioxide has important effects on them.

Ice Cube

UK: Big freeze to last at least another month, forecasters warn

© PA
Heavy snow fell on Scotland and northern England last week
Shivering Britain can expect at least another month of bitterly cold temperatures with many parts failing to get much above zero until the middle of January, forecasters have warned.

So far December has seen some of the coldest temperatures and heaviest snowfalls since 1981, but with no let up on the horizon, it could end up being the worst winter since 1910.

Parts of northern England and central Scotland have seen lows of (0F) -18C while the mercury has continued to drop in the south.

But apart from a brief respite over the coming weekend, when temperatures are expected to climb slightly, the cold snap is likely to continue throughout Christmas and well into January.