Earth Changes

Ice Cube

Antarctic sea ice extent July 24 2014 - breaks daily record by 240,000 sq km

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is 1,102,000 sq km above the 1981-2010 mean

That smashes the previous daily record by 240,000 sq km. And is also the 126th daily record for the year.
Bizarro Earth

Horrific flash flood captured on video at Lai Chau, Vietnam

Due to heavy rains lasting about 14 hours on the 5th June, at km59+820 Highway 12, Lai Chau province, flash floods happened causing 20.000m3 of mud and soil flowing down onto the road, cutting off Highway 12 connecting the two provinces of Lai Chau and Dien Bien. According to representatives of Hung Hai building company, which is working on the construction and renovation upgrade to Highway 12, very fast and powerful flash floods have swept away the roadbed of the bridge Nam Pon and swept away two houses from the upstream along with equipment, machinery down the river, including the 60-ton ferry, 16-ton roller, temporary housing, etc. It caused an estimated 3 billion dong in damage and caused local congestion between Lai Chau-Dien Bien, fortunately no damage to people. As soon as the incident occurs, the construction company has conducted a road blockade, informed the media. Initially, the vehicles from Dien Bien province will temporarily go towards Nua-Sin Ho in Lai Chau and vice versa.

Water shortage: Colorado river groundwater disappearing at 'shocking' rate

A ring of light-colored rock shows how much the water level has dropped at Nevada's Lake Mead.

Credit: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
As the Southwest's drought has worsened in the last decade, making surface water scarce, millions of people are drawing more heavily on underground water supplies. The water is coming out faster than it's being replenished, a new study finds.

Between December 2004 and November 2013, more than 75 percent of the water lost in the Colorado River Basin was from groundwater, according to the study. The region has been in a drought since 2000, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The results show that groundwater is already being used to fill the gap between the demands of the region's millions of residents and farmers, and the available surface water supply, the researchers said. [Dry and Drying: See Images of Drought]

Comment: For another recent report on this important issue see here

Bizarro Earth

Disturbing NASA study shows water reserves in western US being drained underground

As droughts have ravaged the western US for over a decade, much of the water loss has come from underground resources in the Colorado River Basin, a new study has found. The water loss may pose a greater threat to the West than previously thought.
western US water shortage
© Reuters / David Becker
The study by NASA and the University of California, Irvine found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. It is the first time researchers have quantified the amount that groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states, NASA said.

The research team measured the change in water mass monthly from December 2004 to November 2013, using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin. Changes in water mass are related to changes in water amount on and below the surface.
Cloud Lightning

Tornado kills 3 in Virginia campground

Virginia tornado
© Jay Diem/Eastern Shore News/AP
A tractor trailer truck lies on its side in the median of US Route 13 in Cheriton, Va. while a fire engine responds to a nearby campground after a severe storm passed through the area, Thursday.
Three people died after a tornado touched down Thursday in an Eastern Shore campground, Virginia emergency officials said.

More than two dozen people were injured and were transported to area hospitals, said emergency officials responding to Cherrystone Family Camping & RV Resort.

More than 1,300 vacationers were at the campground when the storm hit. The tow of Cape Charles, just south of the campground, has about the same number of year-round residents.

The area around the campground where the twister touched down was under a tornado warning at the time, according to the National Weather Service. Weather service radar had shown a waterspout over Chesapeake Bay a little before 9 a.m. ET that prompted the alert.
Bizarro Earth

Swimmers banned on Lake Michigan as cold front could bring 15 foot waves

waves lake michigan

Waves Prompt Warning For Lakefront Visitors, Beach Closures. July 23, 2013 6:55 AM. Waves pound the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago.
Visitors to Chicago's lakefront on Tuesday will need to be careful, the National Weather Service is warning.

According to the NWS, swimmers should stay away from the city's beaches and runners and bicyclists using the lakefront path should be extra cautious.

A cold front and strong winds moving over the warm waters of Lake Michigan will bring "rogue" waves that could be as high as 15 feet, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The waves are dangerous in that they could sweep even experienced swimmers out into the water.

The Chicago Park District already issued swim bans at seven of the city's beaches -- all on the Far North Side -- as of Monday afternoon: Fargo, Howard, Jarvis, Juneway, Leone, Loyola and Rogers, DNAinfo Chicago reports.

The front is also bringing cooler temperatures into the city on the heels of the first heat wave of the year. The Chicago Weather Center reports Tuesday's high will only hit the upper 70s and Wednesday will be slightly cooler than that.
Alarm Clock

Fracking fears after highest number of earthquakes in a decade hits the UK

Earthquake in Kent
© Getty Images
File image from Kent earthquake in 2007
An increasing number of earthquakes have been recorded in the UK, official figures show.

The highest level of detections in the last decade is set to be registered for 2014, with 100 earthquakes already recorded in the first three months of the year and 149 in total up until July.

This compares to 154 throughout 2013, 64 in 2006 and 111 reported in 2005, 2007 and 2011.

One small tremor, which centred on Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands earlier this month.

The quake had a magnitude measuring 4.2, making it the largest in the region for almost 90 years and the tremors were felt all along the south coast of England.

The tremor was reported to have registered on British Geological Survey monitoring station equipment in Exeter, Devon.

Environmental activists fear the Government's desire to exploit shale gas reserves in rocks beneath the UK will cause small earthquakes.

But ministers believe the technique used to tap into the potential supplies - known as fracking - will bring down energy bills and create thousands of jobs.
Alarm Clock

Earthquakes are rising in Oklahoma - 2300 since January!

Oklahoma earthquake map
Earthquakes used to be rare in Oklahoma, a handful per year or so. Not anymore. So far this year, the state has experienced some 2,300 earthquakes, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, an average of more than 11 per day.

Accordingly, the number of Oklahomans with earthquake insurance has jumped a startling 500 percent in less than three years, reports the Oklahoma Department of Insurance. While the cause of increased tremors in the Plains States remains under contention, residents, at the least, are preparing for the worst.

The state agency doesn't typically track the data and insurance companies don't report it, but "we were getting calls from around the country," says communications director Kerry Collins. So Collins called the state's top five homeowners insurance companies - accounting for more than 70 percent of the market - and estimated an average: In 2011, only 3 percent of the state's homeowners had an earthquake rider on their homeowners insurance policies; this year, 15 percent did.

Old Mig fighters washed down the river after flood in Russian city

A powerful cyclone in Russia's Far East has caused a river in the city of Magadan to break its banks and wash away a display of old Soviet fighter jets. Some people have taken to jet skiing along the streets to get around.

Three months worth of rain fell overnight on Tuesday and turned the normally shallow Magadanka River into a torrent taking everything in its wake, from small buildings to the skeleton fighter jets, down towards the Sea of Okhotsk.

The two fighter jets were part of public display of military hardware, parked next to apartment blocks and used as a playground for local children.
Bizarro Earth

NBC News declares 'billions could starve' as America's water aquifers run dry

© Unknown
In America, a crisis is unfolding right under the public's feet. Water scarcity is beginning to creep into the Texas panhandle and the breadbasket region of the United States. A valuable aquifer that once provided water security is drying up beneath farmers' feet as drought-like conditions linger.

"This country became what it became largely because we had water security," says Venki Uddameri, Ph.D., director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech. "That's being threatened to a large degree now."

The vital Ogallala Aquifer is drying up, putting billions of people at risk

The Ogallala Aquifer, sprawled out beneath eight states in the heart of the US, is being depleted with mathematical certainty. Spanning 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles, this vital aquifer feeds the sophisticated agricultural region from South Dakota through Nebraska and Kansas to the Texas panhandle.

As NBC News recently declared, "If the American Breadbasket cannot help supply ever-growing food demands, billions could starve."

"The depletion of the Ogallala is an internationally important crisis," said Burke Griggs, Ph.D., consulting professor at Stanford University, stating how populations around the world rely on the agricultural production of the breadbasket region of the US. "How individual states manage the depletion of that aquifer will obviously have international consequences."

Parts of the aquifer have already dried up and receded. A farmer in the Texas panhandle named Lucas Spinhirne attests to this. Just a decade ago, water flowed boundlessly under his farmland. By 2011, that water had all been pumped out, leaving Spinhirne only one source of water for his wheat and sorghum crops -- the rainwater from the sky.

"We try to catch anything that falls," Spinhirne said.

The Ogallala aquifer has been used up at an unsustainable pace since the early 1980s when big agriculture began using automated center pivot irrigation devices. Once farmers started putting these devices into widespread use, the Ogallala became a center for abuse, precipitously drained year after year. The Ogallala is unique; it cannot be replenished by surface water or precipitation. When it's used up, there's no more water to go around.