Earth Changes

Cloud Lightning

Canada: Spring storm slams central Alberta with snow and ice

© RCMP Innisfail
A collision on Highway 2 near Carstairs on April 8, 2010.
Edmonton - A spring storm that left roads slick with ice and caused major traffic tie-ups and road closures on provincial highways Thursday night forced the City of Edmonton to send 40 sanding crews onto city streets to bring roads up to good driving conditions.

Alberta Motor Association road report co-ordinator Terry Clovechok said the storm hit central Alberta particularly hard. On the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway, there was a 54-car pileup near the Olds overpass. Also on the QEII, a tanker truck full of propane that overturned near the Highway 72 overpass, forced the highway to be closed for several hours overnight.

Clovechok said the spring snow storm had a major impact on driving conditions.

"Visibility is greatly affected, and when the snow hits the ground, because of the temperatures, it just forms into ice," Clovechok said. "You have a combination of zero visibility, icy roads, people slowing down, or maybe not slowing down, and the collisions result. You have big trucks, little cars - it's not a good combination."


Bodies piling up "like a hill" after China quake

© Associated Press
Rescuers search for survivors in the ruins after an earthquake at Jiegu township in Yushu county, western China's Qinghai province, Wednesday, April 14.
Rescuers fight freezing temperatures and altitude sickness to find survivors

Jiegu, China - Rescue teams fought gusty winds and altitude sickness Thursday as survivors faced a second night outside in freezing weather after strong earthquakes left more than 600 dead and 9,000 hurt in a mountainous Tibetan area of western China.

Rescuers, tired from the high winds and thin oxygen, pulled survivors and more bodies from the pulverized remains of the town flattened by Wednesday's quakes, the largest of which was magnitude 6.9. About 15,000 houses have collapsed.

"We've seen too many bodies and now they're trying to deal with them. The bodies are piled up like a hill. You can see bodies with broken arms and legs and it breaks your heart," said Dawa Cairen, a Tibetan who works for the Christian group the Amity Foundation and was helping in rescue efforts. "You can see a lot of blood. It's flowing like a river."

Grim pictures emerged from several collapsed schools that were the focus of early rescue efforts. Footage on state television and photos posted online showed bodies laid out near the rubble, and the Xinhua News Agency quoted a local education official as saying 66 children and 10 teachers had died, mostly in three schools.


Volcano's ash cloud causes flight chaos across Europe

Tens of thousands of people across northern Europe have faced flight disruptions after a dangerous ash cloud from a volcano eruption in Iceland billowed throughout the region's skies.

Airports across UK, Ireland, Norway, Holland and Finland have closed down their airspaces, cancelling all flights.


Iceland Volcano Ash Disrupts European Flights

© Phil Noble / Reuters
Passengers wait, after flights were disrupted, in a terminal in Manchester Airport, Manchester, northern England April 15, 2010.
London - Ash clouds drifting from Iceland's erupting volcano disrupted air traffic across Northern Europe Thursday, forcing airports to close and the cancellation of hundreds of flights in Britain, Ireland and the Nordic countries.

In Iceland, hundreds have fled from floodwaters rising since the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted Wednesday for the second time in less than a month. As water gushed down the mountainside, rivers had risen by up to 10 feet by Wednesday night.

The volcano was sending up smoke and ash that posed "a significant safety threat to aircraft," Britain's National Air Traffic Service said, as visibility is compromised and debris can get sucked into airplane engines.


Ocean salinities show planet's water cycle has intensified

CSIRO Wealth from Oceans scientist, Dr Susan Wijffels, who shares the helm of the world’s largest ocean monitoring program aimed at reducing uncertainties about climate change.
Evidence that the world's water cycle has already intensified is contained in new research to be published in the American Journal of Climate.

The stronger water cycle means arid regions have become drier and high rainfall regions wetter as atmospheric temperature increases.

The study, co-authored by CSIRO scientists Paul Durack and Dr Susan Wijffels, shows the surface ocean beneath rainfall-dominated regions has freshened, whereas ocean regions dominated by evaporation are saltier. The paper also confirms that surface warming of the world's oceans over the past 50 years has penetrated into the oceans' interior changing deep-ocean salinity patterns.

"This is further confirmation from the global ocean that the Earth's water cycle has accelerated," says Mr Durack - a PhD student at the joint CSIRO/University of Tasmania, Quantitative Marine Science program.

"These broad-scale patterns of change are qualitatively consistent with simulations reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Comment: Good disinfo comes with a kernel of truth. It's impossible to get any climate related study published today without couching it in terms of "man made global warming caused by increased CO2 emissions."

Climategate: One Must Ignore 200 Years of Observations to Believe in AGW

Yes, the oceans are doing as described above, but not because of "global warming" as explicated by the IPCC. The oceans are heating due to undersea volcanic activity. At the same time, the upper atmosphere is cooling due to increased cosmic dust. As noted above, this has produced increased evaporation which leads to increased precipitation in the form of rain and snow.

Bizarro Earth

Supervolcano: How humanity survived its darkest hour

© Sipa Press/Rex Features
The landscape after Pinatubo's eruption may give a glimpse of what early humans experienced
The first sign that something had gone terribly wrong was a deep rumbling roar. Hours later the choking ash arrived, falling like snow in a relentless storm that raged for over two weeks. Despite being more than 2000 kilometres from the eruption, hominins living as far away as eastern India would have felt Toba's fury.

Toba is a supervolcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has blown its top many times but this eruption, 74,000 years ago, was exceptional. Releasing 2500 cubic kilometres of magma - nearly twice the volume of mount Everest - the eruption was more than 5000 times as large as the 1980 eruption of mount St Helens in the US, making it the largest eruption on Earth in the last 2 million years.

The disaster is particularly significant since it occurred at a crucial period in human prehistory - when Neanderthals and other hominins roamed much of Asia and Europe, and around the time our direct ancestors, Homo sapiens, were first leaving Africa to ultimately conquer the world. Yet with no recent eruptions for easy comparison, the full extent of its fallout and impact on early humans has been shrouded in mystery.

Now dramatic finds from archaeological digs in India, presented in February at a conference at the University of Oxford, are finally clarifying the picture of the eruption and its effects, and how it shaped human evolution and migration. Further results from the digs may even rewrite the timing and route that modern humans took out of Africa.

Bizarro Earth

Cyclone Kills 89 People in Eastern India

A cyclone packing winds of more than 100 mph (160 kph) demolished ten of thousands of mud huts in northeastern India, killing at least 89 villagers, officials said Wednesday.

The cyclone struck close to midnight on Tuesday in northeastern parts of West Bengal and Bihar states, uprooting trees and snapping telephone and electricity lines, West Bengal Civil Defense Minister Srikumar Mukherjee said. Hundreds of people were injured and many thousands left homeless.

Devesh Chandra Thakur, Bihar state's Minister for Disaster Management, said there was no cyclone warning from the weather department, so villagers were unprepared.

Television footage showed uprooted trees lying across shanties and sheets of corrugated metal ripped from the roofs of homes. Small children sat outside their damaged huts as parents tried to salvage their belongings from inside.

Bizarro Earth

Glacier breaks in Peru, causing tsunami in Andes

© Municipality of Carhuaz
Huancan peak seeing from a hill close to Carhuaz.
A huge glacier broke off and plunged into a lake in Peru, causing a 75-foot (23-metre) tsunami wave that swept away at least three people and destroyed a water processing plant serving 60,000 local residents, government officials said on Monday.

The ice block tumbled into a lake in the Andes on Sunday near the town of Carhuaz, some 200 miles (320 km) north of the capital, Lima. Three people were feared buried in debris.

Investigators said the chunk of ice from the Hualcan glacier measured 1,640 feet (500 metres) by 656 feet (200 metres).

"This slide into the lake generated a tsunami wave, which breached the lake's levees, which are 23 metres high -- meaning the wave was 23 metres high," said Patricio Vaderrama, an expert on glaciers at Peru's Institute of Mine Engineers.

Bizarro Earth

Taiwan: Mud volcano eruption intrigues locals

The mud volcano in Yushan Village of Nanhua Township erupted again on April 12, creating a boiling pot of soup-like mud. Retired teacher Lai Ming-chang says that the mountain erupts once every three or four months, and that this is a normal release of energy rather than a sign of an impending major earthquake.

At about 7 a.m., Lai was told by a landowner that another eruption was underway. As soon as it started, the surface of the water began bubbling, and the smell of gases released from the water got stronger and stronger. Around noon, the force of the eruption started mounting gradually, and it had reached its peak by 3 p.m. Mud was pouring outward from the middle, getting higher and higher. "It looked as though there was a pot of boiling soup on a burner," bystanders said.

Being a long-time observer of these eruptions, Lai says that the last eruption occurred on January 9, and they generally last between 24 and 26 hours. The water inside the volcano will dry up again in three days, but when they seep out to form an underground lake, the volcano will erupt again.


Iceland evacuates hundreds as volcano erupts again

© Icelandic Coast Guard
This second eruption in as many months was between ten and twenty times more powerful than the first
Reykjavik - A volcano under a glacier in Iceland rumbled back to life Wednesday, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to leave their homes as floodwaters rose.

Emergency officials evacuated 800 residents from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to 10 feet (3 meters) and flooded a sparsely populated area, said Rognvaldur Olafsson, a chief inspector for the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency.

He said no lives or properties were in immediate danger. Scientists said there was no sign of increased activity at the much larger Katla volcano nearby.

Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said magma was melting a hole in the 650-foot (200 meter) thick ice covering the volcano's crater, sending floodwater coursing down the glacier into lowland areas.