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Wed, 10 Feb 2016
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

Ozone hole forms over the UK

For the past week, sky watchers in the UK have witnessed a rare apparition of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs). Normally restricted to the Arctic Circle, the fantastically colorful clouds have appeared over the British Isles almost every day since Jan. 31st. Colin Fraser photographed the display over Edinburgh, Scotland, on Feb. 2nd:
© SpaceWeather
PSCs form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to a staggeringly-cold -85ºC. High-altitude sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm wide produce bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference.

But there is more to PSCs than ice. Some polar stratospheric clouds contain very small droplets of naturally occurring nitric and sulphuric acids. These droplets destroy ozone. Indeed, atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley points out that a temporary ozone hole has formed over Ireland and the UK. It is the blue patch in this Feb. 1st ozone map from NASA's Arctic Ozone Watch:


Demonic dog attack: 6-year-old boy fighting for his life following pit bull mauling in Wilmer, Alabama

Michael Bulger, of Eight Mile, says his 6-year-old son Andrew was attacked by a pit bull Monday night at approximately 6:30 p.m.
A six-year-old boy is fighting for his life in the hospital after a vicious pit bull attack in Wilmer. This is the second pit bull attack on a child in our area in a week. As we reported, 13-year-old Hunter Sharman was attacked in his front yard in Mobile.

Six-year-old Andrew Bulger is in critical condition undergoing his third surgery in two days at the UAB children's hospital in Birmingham. His first two surgeries were at Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, but his injuries were so bad, he was transferred for specialized treatment.

"The worst is watching him suffer," said Andrew's grandmother, Rene Bulger. "That's the hardest part, you know?"

Andrew can't talk, he can barely move and he can't breathe on his own. Family members say they can't believe their fun-loving little boy is now fighting for his life. Doctors say there is an unknown amount of surgeries ahead and there is no guarantee he will ever talk again.

"What they're going to try and do in the surgery is repair the trachea check out the voice box," said Bulger. "It's very hard, especially when we first came. They restrained him because of the tubes."

Cloud Precipitation

More flooding hits Queensland, Australia

© Queensland Police
Flooding in Dajarra, Queensland
More flooding hit Queensland earlier today, 03 February, this time in the the state's remote north west. Last week, one man died and several were rescued after floods in the Bundaberg area on 31 January.

More heavy rain this week affected communities in the Mount Isa area. On 03 February, Urandangi recorded 162mm of rain in 24 hours, with most of it falling in around 3 hours. This is just short of its highest ever of 164mm, recorded in December 1984. Surrounding areas also received large amounts of rain.

Local police reported that flooding in the township of Dajarra has led to several people being evacuated from homes this morning. Police also reported that a number of vehicles in the area have been impacted by flood waters. At least person had to be rescued after he was stranded in his car by floodwater. Several roads across the region were closed.

Black Cat

Bobcats attacking pets in Richardson, Texas

Efforts to stop a spike in bobcat attacks on pets are running into an unexpected problem. For months animal control officers in Richardson have been trying to crack down on the bobcats.

The city has had some success with about six traps set throughout the city. Owners of pets killed by the bobcats are hopeful the problem doesn't get any worse, but they're asking for the public's help.

10-year-old Yorkie, Denali is one of the lucky ones. When a bobcat leaped into her backyard, it went after her owner's other Yorkie, Dakota.

"She's confused. She doesn't know what's going on. Last night when we were in bed she was looking around like, where's Dakota?" David Dinsmore said about Denali.


Eruptive activity reported on Barren Island, Indian Ocean

Steam / ash plume and thermal hot spot at Barren Island on 1 Feb 2016
Minor eruptive activity (possibly strombolian) seems to continue on the remote island, at least intermittently.

Yesterday and the day before, a weak steam and possibly ash plume was visible on satellite imagery as well as a thermal hot spot.


Dog missing for 3 days found buried alive in sinkhole, Platte County, Missouri

A dog missing for three days is found buried in a 5-foot sinkhole in Platte County.

Lisa Van Valkenburgh said she let her dog Maverick out Thursday evening to relieve himself and he wandered off. Van Valkenburgh said she and her family searched for her dog and found him Saturday afternoon.

"I walked this road. I walked down and back and walked on this side and came right here and heard a moan, like a bark," Van Valkenburgh said.

Maverick's owner said she couldn't believe her 12-year-old German Shepherd was buried alive. "That would swallow a child; that is a dangerous situation," she said.

When the dog was pulled to safety Van Valkenburgh said he was lethargic and dehydrated.

Greg Sager, the Platte County Director of Public Works said water caused the pipe to rust and the soil was washed away, creating the sinkhole. Sager said a new pipe was ordered today and he expects to have it replaced in a week or two.

As for Maverick, his veterinarian said he's expected to make a full recovery.

Arrow Down

Forgot to pay the parking fee? Sinkhole in Moscow swallows two cars

© alicebon5 / Instagram
Moscow authorities are trying to determine what caused a rather deep crevice to open up in a parking lot in the capital's northeast. It swallowed two cars! Social media users jokingly suggested the drivers overlooked the parking fee.

The incident happened on Wednesday after two unsuspecting drivers parked their Hyundai and BMW on a spot that would soon turn into a gaping hole.

The Hyundai was unlucky and literally took a dive into the gap. It had to be pulled out with a crane and a tow truck, while the BMW teetered on the edge of the crater.

The surface of the hole was 15 square meters (nearly 161 square feet) and was 3 meters deep, TASS reported.


Several tornadoes hit the American South, heavy snow in the Midwest

© Paula Merritt, AP
Debris lies on the ground near First Baptist Church of Collinsville in Lauderdale County, Miss., after it was severely damaged during a storm Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016
Several tornadoes ripped across parts of eastern Mississippi and western Alabama Tuesday, while a brutal winter storm paralyzed parts of the Midwest with more than a foot of snow.

The southern tornadoes left behind devastation but no deaths. The storms took down trees and power poles and damaged structures, the Weather Channel reported. More than 14,000 Alabama Power customers were without power, mostly in Birmingham, the utility reported.

In Alabama, the National Weather Service in Birmingham reported a "confirmed large and destructive tornado" on the ground near the city of Aliceville, about 45 miles west of Tuscaloosa, according to the Associated Press.

"We have trees down along with live power lines," said Belinda Tilley, Aliceville's emergency 911 director, after the tornado had passed. "We've had some houses hit and minor injuries reported," she added.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.8 earthquake rattles northeastern Taiwan

An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale occurred off the coast of northeastern Taiwan at 10:19 p.m. Tuesday, the Central Weather Bureau reported shortly after the temblor.

The quake's epicenter was located at sea about 185.4 kilometers east of Keelung City Hall in northern Taiwan at a depth of 212.7 km, the bureau said.

The strongest tremors, which had an intensity of 3 on Taiwan's 0-7 seismic intensity scale, were felt in Nan'ao in Yilan County and Yenliao in Hualian County.

Taichung, Nantou County, Taitung County and Hsinchu County recorded an intensity of 2, while an intensity of 1 was reported in Taipei, New Taipei and Taoyuan, the bureau said.

Bizarro Earth

Australian volcanic eruption captured on film

© Pete Harmsen
The still-smoking peak of Big Ben volcano, shortly after the eruption.
Australia's only two active volcanoes have both erupted - and scientists on board a ship conducting research nearby caught the rare event on film.

The Big Ben volcano on remote Heard Island in sub-Antarctica, almost 1800 kilometres north of Australia's Antarctic base at Davis Station, erupted a combination of poisonous gases and red-hot lava. It was the first time it had done so in decades.
We witnessed the lava descending Big Ben interacting dramatically with the snow and ice cover of the mountain.

Richard Arculus, ANU volcanologist
The other volcano, on the neighbouring McDonald islands, erupted gas only. Scientists on board the CSIRO's RV Investigator were visiting the islands to conduct research into the concentration of iron in Antarctic waters.

"We witnessed the lava descending Big Ben as it interacted dramatically with the snow and ice cover of the mountain," said ANU volcanologist Professor Richard Arculus, who witnessed the eruption first hand.