Earth Changes


Where did all the sunspots go? Eerie quiet descends on the sun

This week, solar activity has sharply declined. There is only one numbered sunspot on the Earth-facing side of the sun, and it is so small you might have trouble finding it. Click to enlarge this July 17th image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Obervatory and see if you can locate AR2113:

In case you couldn't find the sunspot's tiny decaying core, here it is.

Long-time readers absorbing this image might be reminded of 2008-2009, years of spotlessness when the sun plunged into the deepest solar minimum in a century. The resemblance, however, is only superficial. Deep inside the sun, the solar dynamo is still churning out knots of magnetism that should soon bob to the surface to make new sunspots. Solar Max is not finished, it's just miniature.

Until the sunspots return, solar flares are unlikely. NOAA forecasters estimate the odds of an M-flare today to be no more than 1%. Updates on Twitter @spaceweatherman.

Dead and lost boobies: More than 6,000 dead seabirds found on Peruvian beaches, with thousands more in Chile

© Ronny Peredo
Dead seabirds—mostly Peruvian boobies—appeared along the northern Chilean coast in late June.
On June 20, naturalists aboard the National Geographic Endeavour spotted an unusual bird - a Peruvian booby - while exploring seabird colonies on the Galápagos Islands. What made seeing this bird so unusual? It was the first record ever made of the species in the eastern Pacific archipelago.

Peruvian boobies normally live along the western coastline of South America from Chile to southern Ecuador (some 600 miles - 966 kilometers - to the east of the Galápagos) where they feed on anchovies that thrive in the cold, productive water of the Humboldt Current.

In a typical year, the birds don't stray much farther than 40 miles (64 kilometers) from their homes. But it may not be a typical year. Instead, a growing El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific may have stirred up the boobies. And that could be bad news, leading to the starvation of thousands of seabirds.

Peruvian boobies are known for abandoning their normal feeding grounds when strong El Niños hit, sometimes traveling as far as Panama (850 miles, or 1,368 kilometers, to the north) in search of food.

"During El Niño conditions the likelihood of citing vagrant [Peruvian boobies] is much higher than during normal, non-El Niño conditions," said Carlos Zavalaga, a seabird biologist at the Universidad Cientifica del Sur in Lima, Peru.
Cloud Lightning

At least 18 killed in China rainstorms

china flooding
© Xinhua/Peng Biao
Rescuers evacuate people trapped in flood water in Jishou, central China's Hunan Province, July 16, 2014.
Continuous rainstorms have battered several provinces in China this week, killing at least 18 people and affecting several million.

In southwest China's Guizhou Province alone, 7 people were killed in floods, when their homes collapsed or by lightning strikes, the provincial civil affairs bureau said in a press release Wednesday. Three others were reported missing and more than 91,000 were relocated.H Heavy rain, which began on Sunday night and lasted through Wednesday, destroyed 5,800 homes and damaged another 16,300 in Guizhou.

In Tongren City, the Jinjiang River overflowed into many downtown streets, flooding homes and stores. Firefighters were mobilized to pump the floodwater from downtown areas.

Power supplies were cut off in nearly 300,000 homes in Tongren, Zunyi and Bijie. As of Wednesday night, about 100,000 homes were still without power.
Cloud Lightning

Family of four struck by one lightning bolt during unusually high numbers of "fierce thunderstorms" in Norway

© Shutterstock
Large lightning bolt at night
Four members of the same family were all struck by a lightning bolt on Saturday in Rennebu, South Trøndelag.

Around 5pm on Saturday, a married couple, both 57 years old, and their son, 24, and daughter, 23, were all admitted to St Olav's Hospital.

The couple and their daughter suffered only minor injuries from the lightning attack, but the young man was seriously injured. He was taken to intensive care at the hospital where his condition is said to be stable. He received vital heart and lung rescue at the scene of the incident after having a heart attack.

Tore Kyllo, operation leader with the local police, confirmed to NTB: "It is a family of four that is struck. One of them got a cardiac arrest, but resuscitation made his heart beat again."

Deep water melon-headed whale was sick before it stranded on Perdido Key, Florida

© Ben Twingley
Workers take the dead melon-headed whale off the Perdido Key beach Tuesday afternoon.
A melon-headed whale that died Tuesday on Perdido Key was sick, and NOAA scientists will try to determine if it died from the same illness being blamed on a mass die-off of dolphins.

The small melon-headed whale that died Tuesday after stranding on Gulf Islands National Seashore's Perdido Key beach showed clear signs of suffering from some type of illness, initial findings from a necropsy revealed.

Exactly what made it sick won't be known for weeks or months, after pathologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service analyze tissue, blood samples and other data collected by Steve Shippee, stranding coordinator for Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge in Fort Walton Beach.

"Our dolphin, which we continue to believe is a melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra), most likely had a chronic illness that should be detectable by pathology and lab analysis," he said. "On gross necropsy exam, we are able to describe lesions and injuries that an animal sustained, but the findings of the tissue analysis will take a while to be returned. Sadly, the animal was in the prime of life as a mature breeding age member of his species."

Russian scientists: Forget global warming

Kazan Federal University: intense cold snap is to replace a long period of intense warming.

According to Russian scientists of Kazan Federal University (Republic of Tatarstan, Russia), air temperatures increase in the Northern Hemisphere registered during the past 37 years has slowed down.

"We analyzed the average long-term values and fluctuation of air temperatures, barometric pressure and wind speed in the Northern Hemisphere in 1948-2013 respectively, and found that after a long period of intense warming, a period of intense cold snap began" told Yuri Perevedentsev, staff member of the Meteorology Department at Kazan Federal University, to ITAR-TASS reporter. He explained that this data does not support the hypothesis of global warming, but rather reflects cyclical climatic processes.

The scientists also found that "the temperature curve resembles wind speed curve, only with some delay", and in some regions "the contribution of wind component to temperature fluctuation reaches 60 percent."

In recent years, said Yuri Perevedentsev, the wind speed started slowing down, and with a lag of about 8 years the average air temperature also went down. Analysis of a large array of meteorological data revealed uneven temperature changes in the midland, tropics and circumpolar regions. During the temperature increase amounting to more than 30 years in the mid-latitudes (30-70° N), the temperatures grew by 0.75 degrees, in the tropics the increase was less: by 0.54 degrees only, and the highest temperature increase (2.38 degrees) was registered in the circumpolar regions.

Comment: Read the following articles to learn more: Also, watch Habibullo Abdusomatov's speech:

Part 1

Part 2

Alarm Clock

USGS: Earthquake Magnitude 6.0 - 95km NNW of Yakutat, Alaska

Earthquake in Yakutat Alaska
Event Time
2014-07-17 11:49:37 UTC
2014-07-17 04:49:37 UTC-07:00 at epicenter

60.217°N 140.550°W depth=14.8km (9.2mi)

Nearby Cities
95km (59mi) NNW of Yakutat, Alaska
300km (186mi) W of Whitehorse, Canada
411km (255mi) NW of Juneau, Alaska
512km (318mi) E of Knik-Fairview, Alaska
523km (325mi) E of Anchorage, Alaska

Scientific data
Cloud Lightning

Typhoon Rammasun kills 38 in Philippines, millions without power

Typhoon Rammasun
© AP
The typhoon ripped off tin roofs and felled trees as it swept through provinces south of the Philippines
A powerful storm that battered the central Philippines has killed 38 people and left millions without power.

Ten more people were injured by Typhoon Rammasun and another eight remain missing, according to authorities.

The typhoon swept through the country on Tuesday night before making a shift away from Manila on Wednesday.

More than 530,000 people took refuge in evacuation centres. Many of those who died were killed while outdoors by falling trees and flying debris.

Millions living in provinces southeast of the capital still have no power, according to news agencies.

Officials have managed to restore power to only half of Luzon, which has 17 million people.

Much of the eastern region of Bicol, which was hit first by the storm and is home to five million, is also without electricity.

Manila was hit by widespread blackouts as well, but most of the city's power has since been restored.

Officials said more than one million people were affected by the storm. Most of them were from Bicol.

The storm is now heading westwards towards China's Hainan island. The Tropical Storm Risk website is predicting it will gain in strength to Category 2 - one grade below its strength in the Philippines - within 24 hours.
Typhoon Rammasun
© Reuters
Officials estimate the typhoon caused about $1 million (£580,000) in damage to infrastructure

Heavy symbolism: Internet famous eagle in Iowa gets electrocuted, dies

© Mary Chind, The Des Moines Register
The eagles made famous by live, streaming video tend to three hatchlings in April 2011 in their nest south of Decorah, Iowa.
A bald eagle viewed from hatch to first flight by thousands online met a cruel fate Tuesday morning in Iowa. It was most likely electrocuted after coming in contact with a high-voltage electrical transmission line.

Nearly 3,800 comments of sadness and outrage flooded the Raptor Resource Project's Facebook page in the next 24 hours. One woman posted that she was so heartbroken she took to the piano to play "Wind Beneath My Wings," which she also played at her mother's funeral.

"People loved this bird," said Bob Anderson, the raptor researcher from Decorah, Iowa who made the Decorah eagles world-famous by first mounting a nest camera in 2008. "I'm trying to keep people calm."

Some questioned what can be done about the bird-zapping problem of electrical lines that has occurred since the first telegraph pole was erected in the mid-19th century.

Power poles are attractive to raptors as high perching spots, and eagles are the most commonly electrocuted birds - 4,300 between 1960 and 1995, according to a federal study cited in a 2005 report by biologist Albert Manville. Electrocution was the fourth-leading cause of death among bald eagles, behind accidental trauma, poisoning and shooting.

Comment: See also: One of America's Oldest Bald Eagles Gets Electrocuted


'Heaven and Earth', Part 6 - May, June, July 2014

This is part 6 of my series for 2014, which includes strange phenomena of all kinds and awesome natural events or beautiful phenomena reported around the world in the last couple of months.

These videos try to make people aware of the might of the world we are living in, and the times we are living in. It's but a fraction of recent impressive events - I'm far from covering all the amazing stuff going on out there!