Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Temperatures plummet 20C in northern China

A cold front has brought dramatic temperature drops to the northern regions of China.
A cold front has brought dramatic temperature drops to the northern regions of China.

North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin are seeing falls of up to 20 degrees Celsius. In Harbin, the highest temperature is just 5 degrees Celsius. And the lowest in many cities is below zero. Heilongjiang's Mohe has seen some heavy snowfall this season already.

The cold front is however a bringer of good news as it's driving away the smog that's been lingering in the north for several days. Air pollution has been easing gradually since Monday afternoon.

The cold will also creep down into the southern and eastern regions, with temperature falls of up to 10 degrees Celsius, along with bouts of rain.


Earth 'opening up': Seismologists confirm a global surge of great earthquakes from 2004-2014

San Andreas Fault
© Credit: Wikipedia.
Aerial photo of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain, northwest of Los Angeles.
The last ten years have been a remarkable time for great earthquakes. Since December 2004 there have been no less than 18 quakes of Mw8.0 or greater - a rate of more than twice that seen from 1900 to mid-2004. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and massive damage has resulted from these great earthquakes. But as devastating as such events can be, these recent great quakes have come with a silver lining: They coincide with unprecedented advances in technological and scientific capacity for learning from them.

"We previously had very limited information about how ruptures grow into great earthquakes and interact with regions around them," said seismologist Thorne Lay of the University of California at Santa Cruz. "So we are using the recorded data for these recent events to guide our understanding of future earthquakes. We've gained a new level of appreciation for how one earthquake can influence events in other zones."

High on the list of areas ripe for a great quake is Cascadia, the Pacific Northwest, where the risk for great quakes had long been under appreciated. Evidence began surfacing about 20 years ago that there had been a great quake in the region in the year 1700. Since then the view of the great quake risk in Cascadia has shifted dramatically.

Comment: See also: Earthquake frequency increasing rate of strong quakes doubles in 2014

To understand why this is happening, read Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection. Here's a relevant excerpt:
From 1973 to 1996, earthquake and eruption frequencies were almost stable, increasing only slightly year after year, but from 1996 onwards, an acceleration is noticeable. Volcanic eruptions show an increase from about 59 eruptions per year at the end of the 1990s to roughly 75 eruptions per year in the period 2007 - 2010 (+30%).

Today, the increase in volcanic activity has reached such a level that, by late November 2013, 35 volcanoes were actively erupting , including volcanoes that had been dormant for decades.

It could be argued that the increase in both the frequency and intensity of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is, at least partly, a result of the slowdown and 'opening up' processes:

1) The Earth's minute slowdown exerts mechanical stress on the crust (compression at low latitudes and extension at high latitude). This stress deforms the crust. This deformation is more pronounced and can even lead to partial ruptures around the weakest spots of the crust, i.e. the fault lines (boundaries between tectonic plates) which are the typical location of seismic and volcanic activity.

2) The mantle has a higher density than the crust and therefore has a higher momentum and won't slow down as fast as the crust. The difference in rotation between the crust and the mantle is equal to the crustal slippage. The fluidity of the mantle enables slippage induced by the different momentum carried by the crust, the upper mantle and the core.

This speed difference can cause friction at the interface between the crust and the mantle. This friction can locally deform the crust and cause earthquakes and eruptions.

3) The decrease in the surface - core E-field reduces the binding force and loosens the tectonic plates relative to each other. The plates are then free to move relative to each other. It is this very relative movement (divergence, convergence or sliding) which is one of the main causes for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions:
[Change] in Earth's speed of rotation would induce changes in the magma tide as it adjusted to the new equator or altered rotational speed. Such changes, however, might not be uniform throughout, owing to a 'drag' factor deep in the magma itself, although, overall, they would certainly impose terrible strains on the lithosphere generally.
4) A final factor involved in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions is electromagnetism:
Some scientists have become aware of a correlation between sunspots and earthquakes and want to use sunspot data to help predict earthquakes. The theory is that an intensification of the magnetic field can cause changes in the geosphere [i.e. crust]. NASA and the European Geosciences Union have already put their stamp of approval on the sunspot hypothesis, which suggests that certain changes in the Sun-Earth environment affect the magnetic field of the Earth, which can then trigger earthquakes in areas prone to them. It is not clear how such a trigger might work.

Cloud Precipitation

Deadly flash floods hit Tenerife - 5 and a half inches of rain in just 24 hours

© Canarias Emergencias / Twitter
Flood damage in Tenerife, Canary Islands, October 2014.
At least one person has died in flash flooding that struck on the tourist island of Tenerife. Some local media reports claim that at as many as 5 people have died in flooding in the Canary Islands between 19 and 20 October 2014.

Streets were turned to rivers as the eye of a storm passed over Tenerife and La Gomera islands, dumping 140 mm of rain on the Santa Cruz area of Tenerife in just 24 hours. Cars were submerged and tarmac ripped up from roads as raging flood water swept through the streets. Over 4,000 homes were left without power during the peak of the storm.


Update: Bear to be shot after man found dead in Bieszczady Mountains, Poland

An order has been given to shoot a bear after a missing 61-year-old man was found dead having apparently been mauled by the animal in the Bieszczady Mountains south east Poland.

The dead man was found on Monday after two members of a rescue team were allegedly attacked by a bear on Sunday evening.

"According to initial findings, the wounds found on the victim's body indicate that he may have died after being attacked by a predator," commented police spokesperson Katarzyna Fechner.

"However, this will only be verified after the autopsy by doctors," she stressed.

The 61-year-old, a resident of the village of Olszanica, had been reported missing on Saturday.

Comment: See also: Bear attacks search party in the Bieszczady Mountains, Poland


Wild boar attacks man in Inarajan, Guam

© Alamy
A 57-year-old man was taken to Guam Memorial Hospital today following an attack by a wild boar at around 9 a.m. in Inarajan, according to Guam Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ed Artero.

The man was conscious and alert when he was taken to the hospital, Artero said.

At around 1 p.m., GMH spokeswoman June Perez said the man was undergoing treatment, but was in stable condition.

No further details of the incident were available.

Wild boar savagely attacks man in Imphal, India

In a bizarre incident, Ngakuipam (26) of Langdang village, Ukhrul was treated at the unit hospital, 41 Assam Rifles of 10 Sector AR under the aegis of HQ IGAR (South) following multiple injuries sustained from a wild boar attack.

The victim had gone to his paddy field to oversee the harvesting when he was attacked by a rogue wild boar inflicting multiple deep lacerated wound over his left thigh and buttock. The Medical Officer and medical team of the unit hospital attended to the injured man with utmost care.

The village authority of Langdang expressed gratitude to the Assam Rifles for the humanitarian service rendered to the poor villager in dire need of medical aid.
Cloud Lightning

The Netherlands: Coastal provinces take action ahead of Tuesday night's storm

Winds of up to storm force nine are expected to batter coastal parts of the Netherlands on Tuesday evening, as the tail end of hurricane Gonzalo hits mainland Europe.

Heavy showers will move across the country from the west, bringing strong gusts and thunder and lightning at times, the KNMI weather bureau said. The KNMI has issued a code yellow weather warning for the entire country.

Some sea sluices in the far north of the country have been closed because of the likely impact of the strong winds and high tide. Water levels in the far north are expected to reach up to 3.6 metres above their normal level, making localised flooding likely.

Comment: The storm hit the Netherlands right after a 'historically hot' weekend.


Strange-looking "elephant" pig born in China

© Huffington Post/ChinaFotoPress
Despite the apparent trunk and floppy ears, that is not a picture of a baby elephant, but a very unfortunate (and maybe a little bit cute?) piglet born in northeastern China last week.

The piglet was the second to be born out of eight siblings. He really stood out from his brothers and sisters as the only one with grey skin, big ears, and a trunk. Unfortunately, he was also the only one to be born without a mouth.

Mouths are pretty essential, so the piglet sadly died just two hours after its birth. The farmer has since frozen the carcass so that he can prove to his friends that the pictures he took are totally not photoshopped.

We've seen pigs with two mouths and two noses, we've seen pigs with two heads and three eyes, but we've never quite seen something like this.

All hail the glorious "elephant" pig!
Arrow Down

Extremely rare white rhino dies in Kenya - his kind nearly extinct

The 34-year-old Suni was one of two breeding males of his subspecies left on Earth.

© Barcroft Media, Getty Images
Suni, seen here at Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy in November 2010, died at age 34.
The northern white rhinoceros is one step closer to extinction with the death of Suni, one of only two breeding males left of his kind.

The 34-year-old animal was found dead October 17 in his enclosure in Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy, possibly from natural causes, the reserve said in a statement. White rhinos are thought to be able to live up to 40 or 50 years. An autopsy is under way, but officials are certain poachers did not kill Suni, as the animal was monitored around the clock.

The death of the rare creature, which had not fathered any offspring, leaves only six northern white rhinos left on Earth, including just one male of that subspecies. The southern white rhino, a related subspecies, is considered near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Born at the Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, Suni had been an emblem of hope: He was one of four of the world's eight remaining northern rhinos sent to the Kenyan conservancy in 2009 as part of a last-ditch effort to save the critically endangered subspecies.

Vicious dog attack by her own pet leaves woman with horrendous injuries in Lichfield, UK

© Pic from @MAAHMED09
Air Ambulance at Whittington Barracks where woman attacked by dog.
Air Ambulance called to horrific scene at Whittington Barracks

A woman was airlifted to hospital with horrific injuries after being attacked by her of Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog.

The dog owner, believed to be in her 20s, sustained serious arm injuries after the daylight attack outside Whittington Barracks in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

After hearing her terrified screams, cadets at the barracks, who were training outside, scaled the 12 foot high perimeter fence to rush to the woman's aid.

With the help of army medics, they tended to her wounds before an air ambulance rushed the badly injured victim to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

In the wake of the incident the Midland Air Ambulance tweeted: "HMed09 have airlifted a patient from near Lichfield. Thanks to the men & women from Whittington Barracks for their help."