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Sun, 14 Feb 2016
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Earth Changes


Body of sperm whale that died on Norfolk beach to be tested; 29th to die in Europe within 4 weeks

© Matthew Usher
Investigations have started on the second whale which has washed up on Old Hunstanton Beach, the second in the area within a week.
Tests are to be carried out on a sperm whale that died after washing up on a Norfolk beach in an attempt to explain a spate of recent deaths.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue said the bull died shortly after 8pm on Thursday. It had been stranded at Hunstanton since that morning.

Stephen Marsh, operations manager at the rescue organisation, said: "We're very sad to confirm that the whale has died but it is a bit of a relief because it had been in quite a lot of suffering." He added that work would now be carried out to establish the circumstances surrounding the beaching.

The whale is the 29th to have died after becoming stranded on beaches in northern Europe and the east coast of England.

Last month, three dead whales washed up on the Lincolnshire coast and another was found at Hunstanton.

Arrow Down

Huge sinkhole opens up on road in Wildwood, Missouri

Beware of a massive sinkhole in Wildwood; the hole is about 20' around and looks to be up to 40' deep in spots.

Both Rose Newell and her granddaughter Sophia had ridden over the stretch of Melrose Road near Highway 100 not long before the hole opened late Tuesday afternoon. Sophia on the bus coming home from school.

"We drove it over this and we were perfectly fine," she said.

A short time later the hole opened after an SUV drove over it.

"Safety is the biggest concern. It's a rural road. It just happened to be at the right spot and the right time to open up underneath the roadway," said Wildwood Mayor, Tim Woerther.

Blue Planet

Japan's Sakurajima volcano erupts some 50km from nuclear plant

© Kyodo / Reuters
Volcanic lightning is seen at an eruption of Mount Sakurajima, in this photo taken from Tarumizu city, Kagoshima prefecture, southwestern Japan, February 5, 2016.
Japan's Sakurajima volcano, situated about 50km from the Sendai nuclear station, has erupted with the country's meteorological agency issuing an orange warning not to approach it.

Residents in the area were evacuated in August last year after an alert for the volcano was raised to its second highest level. When Sakurajima erupted in 1914, it was Japan's most powerful of the 20th century. The lava flows filled the strait separating the island from the mainland, turning the area into a peninsula.


Dozens of dead and dying starlings found on road in Wichita, Kansas

About 40 Starlings were found dead on a street and in a neighborhood in West Wichita on Wednesday.

"It's kind of weird," said Seth Dugan, who works nearby.

The birds were found dead on Carr Avenue, south of Kellogg and Maize Road.

"Completely clear and then come back out 20 minutes later and there was a ton of birds laying out here and people were stopping and taking pictures on their cell phones," said Dugan.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Wichita Fire Department responded to the scene and gathered the dead birds. The Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism also responded and investigated the cause of death.

Wildlife Biologist Charlie Cope has ruled out poison and guns as the cause of death.


10 Indian soldiers feared dead in Himalayan avalanche

© AP
The Siachen Glacier, which traverses the Himalayan region dividing India and Pakistan, about 750 km (469 miles) northwest of Jammu, India, is seen in 2005. An avalanche hit the Siachen Glacier in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir early Wednesday, trapping 10 Indian army soldiers in the snow.
Officials say 10 Indian soldiers are feared dead after an avalanche hit a military post on the Siachen Glacier in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences to the families of the soldiers on Twitter Thursday night.

The avalanche hit the military post on Wednesday in the northern part of the glacier, trapping the soldiers under a mass of snow.

Since then, army and air force teams have been searching for the soldiers, army spokesman Col. S.D. Goswami said. He said the chances of finding survivors are "very remote."

The army is yet to retrieve their bodies.

Avalanches and landslides are common in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both.

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.