Earth Changes
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Ice Cube

Deep freeze over the Great Lakes halts cargo shipments

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© Canadian Coast Guard
The ship Arthur M. Anderson got underway on Lake Erie on Saturday after getting help from Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers.
The trip to pick up a load of iron ore powder in Conneaut, Ohio, was supposed to take four days by way of the Great Lakes.

But within sight of its destination, the cargo ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, got trapped in ice. Two heavy icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard eventually broke the vessel free.

It was a 24-day ordeal, and the ship returned to its home port in Wisconsin without picking up the cargo.

A deep freeze this winter left much of the Great Lakes blanketed in thick ice, sidelining the ship lines and companies that move vast amounts of grain, cement and other commodities through this system of waterways. And now the spring thaw, which creates piles of impassable ice, will most likely create more delays.

"There's a lot of ice out there, and we need to understand the impact of that ice," said Mark Barker, the president of the Interlake Steamship Company, which carries mostly iron ore, coal and limestone on its nine ships. "Last year, we pretty much lost the month of April."

X

SUV swallowed by 20-foot sinkhole in New Jersey suburb

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Crews pulled a car out of a huge sinkhole in South Amboy, New Jersey Tuesday afternoon - and some neighbors still were not being allowed back in their homes.

Around 6:15 a.m. Tuesday, authorities were alerted about the 20-foot-deep sinkhole that opened up on Gordon Street. Throughout the day, it was a bad, tense scene - with people wondering why the ground collapsed and if there was still any danger.

Authorities said a broken water main that undermined the earth was to blame for the sinkhole.

A neighbor first called to report that his car had been stolen - but that was not what had happened at all. He discovered that it actually had been swallowed up by the sinkhole, along with part of his yard.

"My dad, he said around 6 o'clock, he heard some crackling, high winds — almost like a recycling truck, it sounded like," said Dawn Matthews, the daughter of the man who lost his car. "He looked to the front and he didn't see a recycling truck, but then he went to the back, and saw in the back of the house, the neighbor's fence was kind of going down, and saw that part of road collapsed."

About an hour later, more of the street collapsed. Video from the scene showed a small SUV covered in mud that appears to have been swallowed up as the road gave way.

"All of the utilities have been shut off to these houses, we've evacuated three houses and there's a car at the bottom of the hill," Fire Chief Mike Geraltowski said.

Cloud Precipitation

Worst hailstorm in 40 years destroys avocado crop in Mexico

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Hailstones.
The most severe hailstorm in 40 years has hit the Mexican state of Michoacan, destroying avocado crops in some of the country's (and the world's) most productive municipalities.

The most affected Michoacan municipalities are Ziracuaretiro, San Juan Nuevo, Tancítaro and Uruapan.

It is estimated that more than 17,000 hectares have been seriously affected, and that the production of other fruits, such as blackberries and blueberries, has also been lost.

The extent of the destruction has been such that it has endangered the health of avocado trees in Tancítaro, which grows almost 20% of Michaoacan's total annual production, which in turn represents 85% of Mexico's total production.

"In Tancítaro, there will no longer be any production this season, as the trees will not recover and flower again until November," explained the delegate of the Secretariat of Rural Development (Sedru), Andrés Ciprés Murguía.

In San Juan Nuevo and Uruapan, the damage was not as great as in Ziracuaretiro, as due to their warmer climates the fruit was already in a more advanced development stage.

"We were informed that the hailstones were the size of ping-pong balls, and that even some people were injured," stated Andrés.

Attention

Bogota, Colombia covered in 60 cm (24 inches) of snow and ice from hail storm

Colombia's capital Bogota was surprised on Sunday by a major hail storm that covered the south of the city with a 60 centimeter (24-inch) layer of icy snow.

The excessive hail caused a number of emergencies across the city.

The most affected were Santa Isabel, La Fragua and El Restrepo.

The Bogota Fire Department reported that rainfall "generated water depths of between 15 and 20 inches accompanied by ice". However, no cases of gravity are presented.

The first census said at least 500 homes were affected. Late into the night Sunday, backhoes worked on the streets to remove the ice.


Comment: Extreme weather events continue to unfold. Here are two other recent extreme hail storms of note, but in Australia:

Giant hailstones fall in Queensland, Australia

Large hailstones kill horses, birds and ravage cotton crops in northern New South Wales, Australia

Despite mainstream media and science lack of coverage and connecting the dots for such events, the earth's weather is rapidly shifting and will continue to impact humans in increasing numbers.


Attention

Dead baby whale found near Maui beach, Hawaii

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© Maui County ocean safety division
Maui County Ocean Safety officials are warning beachgoers Tuesday about sharks feeding on a whale carcass off Kite Beach near the Kahului airport in Kanaha.
The carcass of a baby whale near Kanaha Beach Park on Maui was towed offshore, but the waters will remain closed after several large sharks were spotted in the area.

Maui ocean safety officials closed the beach and warned the public about the decomposing whale after a 10-foot-long tiger shark was seen feeding on the carcass Tuesday morning. The 10-foot-long whale had been about 100 yards offshore of Kaa Point, which is also known as Kite Beach near Kahului Airport.

Around noon, state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers and lifeguards patrolled the shoreline while an aerial survey by helicopter was conducted to look for sharks in the area .

According to county officials, several large sharks could be seen, prompting Ocean Safety officials to keep the waters 1 mile either side of Kaa Point closed until an assessment of the waters by air can be made Wednesday morning.


Wolf

Woman aged 64 dies after being savaged by dog at home in Cardiff, Wales

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Tragic: Tributes have been left at the home where the woman was attacked in Cardiff
Police were called to a house at around 10pm on Friday night - despite efforts to save the woman, she later died from her injuries in hospital

A grandmother has died after being mauled at her home by a bullmastiff-type dog, police have said.

The victim, named locally as mum-of-four Rhona Greve, 64, died in hospital after suffering neck and face ­injuries in the terrifying attack

Police were called to a house in Crossways Road, Ely, shortly after 10pm on Friday to reports a woman had been attacked by a dog.

Binoculars

50% decline in songbirds across Canada in the last 50 years

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Songbirds, like this tree swallow, are in serious decline across North America.
It's a sure sign of spring when the chorus of songbirds once again returns to our region. Recent mornings, I've awoken to the sounds of robins chirping, the tune of a white-throated sparrow and the gentle cooing of morning doves. The silence of the winter has broken.

Imagine for moment if that winter silence continued into spring and summer. Unfortunately, it's a scenario that could very well unfold as we've seen sharp declines in the number of songbirds over the past few decades.

Birdsong that has graced the Earth for millions of years, and for all of human history, could soon be stilled in a human-made perfect-storm of negligence and unintended consequences.

A film that was shown on CBC-TV last week, Song Bird SOS, shines light on the ever-growing decline of songbirds, and outlines some of the potential causes. You can view the documentary at cbc.ca.

Directed by Su Rynard, the film is the artfully shot story of the mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas, an alarming thinning of populations that has seen declines of many species since the 1960s. According to international birding expert Dr. Bridget Stutchbury, who is featured in the documentary, we may have lost almost half the songbirds that filled the skies 50 years ago.

Bizarro Earth

Rainbow lorikeets eating meat leaves bird experts astonished

© Matt Watson
Two rainbow lorikeets tuck into pets mince in a backyard feeder in Elimbah.
The behaviour of a population of rainbow lorikeets who frequent a backyard feeding station on a property north of Brisbane has left bird experts baffled. The lorikeets are eating meat and Griffith University's Professor Darryl Jones is shocked.

Professor Jones, who is researching the impact of backyard feeding on bird populations, said lorikeets usually eat nectar and pollen which they obtain from native plants and shrubs.

"I have researched what birds feed on all around the world," Professor Jones said.

"I'm up to date with all the kinds of crazy things that birds are eating all over Australia.

"To see a lorikeet eating meat astonishes me completely. I have never heard of such a thing before."

For years, Bill, who owns the Elimbah property, has put out pets mince for magpies, currawongs and kookaburras. He also puts out seed for vegetarian birds like galahs, king parrots and the lorikeets.

He feeds about a dozen birds each day and knows they are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Bill's property is home to native trees and shrubs, and there is untouched forest nearby. He is happy to offer a few scoops of mince and seed to the birds that come in for a free feed.

It was about seven years ago when Bill first noticed the lorikeets eating meat, and they have been eating it ever since.

"At first they went for the seed but then they started chasing the other birds away from the meat, which surprised me," he said.

Snowflake Cold

Ice age on the way: Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say

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Gulf Stream stops Britain from freezing over in Winter
The Gulf Stream that helps to keep Britain from freezing over in winter is slowing down faster now than at any time in the past millennium according to a study suggesting that major changes are taking place to the ocean currents of the North Atlantic.

Scientists believe that the huge volumes of freshwater flowing into the North Atlantic from the rapidly melting ice cap of Greenland have slowed down the ocean "engine" that drives the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean towards north-west Europe, bringing heat equivalent to the output of a million power stations.

Comment: At least one of the reasons for the slow down in the gulf stream is man made, and is leading to an ice age:


The effects of the slow down are also discussed here: Britain faces big freeze as Gulf Stream loses strength


Gold Seal

"The Day After Tomorrow" just got one step closer to reality!

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© Joe Raedle/Getty Images
In the 2004 blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, abrupt climate change plunges the world into chaos. According to new research published Monday, the idea that underpins the film's plot—that rapid Arctic ice melt could cause dramatic changes to the global climate system—just got one step closer to reality.

Of particular concern are the profound changes happening in the Greenland ice sheet: It appears that the massive amount of freshwater from melting Greenland glaciers has now begun to slow the ocean's circulating currents.

Monday's study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, is as frightening as it is significant. Among its authors are some of the biggest names in climate science: Jason Box, a glaciologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, whose ongoing "Dark Snow" project is measuring the rapid melting of ice in Greenland; and Michael Mann, a meteorologist at Penn State University, whose famous 1999 "hockey stick" graph showed the sharp influence of human greenhouse gas emissions in context of 1,000 years of temperature data from ice cores and tree rings. Mann's graph was so powerful it became a lightning rod of climate denial.

Fresh water is less dense than saltwater. So when glacial melt from Greenland enters the ocean, it resists the natural sinking motion at the northern edge of the Gulf Stream and slows down the Atlantic's deep current—creating a ripple effect across the entire planet.

The study uses a library of ice cores, tree rings, coral, and sediments to generate a new reconstruction of the historical strength of the Atlantic's circulation based on temperature changes. The team found recent changes in ocean circulation are "unprecedented" since at least the year 900 A.D., about as far back as these proxy data can reliably go. According to the paper, the probability of a similar circulation slowdown caused by natural variability alone (with no influence from human-caused climate change) was less than 0.5 percent.

Comment: See also: Top scientist resigns from post - admits Global Warming is a scam