Earth Changes

Snowflake Cold

Minnesota reports subzero temperatures; coldest Thanksgiving since 1930

Minnesotans woke up to subzero temperatures on Thanksgiving Day, and if the mercury doesn't make it up into the double digits, the day could be one for the record books.

As of 8 a.m., it was 2 below in the Twin Cities, and 20 below in Bemidji, in northern Minnesota.

Meteorologist Matt Brickman is forecasting a high Thursday afternoon of 10 degrees. And if temperatures don't rise higher than that, it will be the coldest Thanksgiving since Herbert Hoover was president, in 1930.

Snow will fall during the night in some areas, followed on Friday by the possibility of freezing rain.

Comment: Think the past winter was bad? Get ready for mini Ice Age

Ice Cube

Surprise! Submarine drone finds Antarctic ice a lot thicker than previously thought

© Still from YouTube video/AntarcticSurvey
A new type of 3D mapping revealed Antarctic sea ice could be much thicker than previously estimated, shows a study done with the help of a yellow robotic submarine named SeaBed.

The new study, published in Nature Geoscience, showed that average ice thickness in Antarctica is between 1.4 meters and 5.5 meters. The maximum thickness recorded was 17 meters.

Also, 76 percent of the mapped ice has been tagged as 'deformed,' the study stated, which means that ice crashed together, forming a thicker layers of ice.

"Our surveys indicate that the floes are much thicker and more deformed than reported by most drilling and ship-based measurements of Antarctic sea ice," states the study. "We suggest that thick ice in the near-coastal and interior pack may be under-represented in existing in situ assessments of Antarctic sea ice and hence, on average, Antarctic sea ice may be thicker than previously thought."

SeaBed robot has been involved in two expeditions in Antarctica with scientists from the UK, the US and Australia. The yellow robot is an autonomous underwater vehicle (or AUV) equipped with upward-looking sonar to measure and map the underwater sea ice.

The two-meter robot moved in a "lawnmower" pattern so as not to miss any areas and bounced sound waves off the under-surface of the ice to make its estimates.

Two expeditions took place in 2010 and 2012 and included regions of Weddell, Bellingshausen, and Wilkes Land.

Comment: A dose of COLD reality: The ironic saga of the eco-campaigners trying to highlight global warming and melting ice caps trapped in the freezing Antarctic


Dog attacks on people triple over a year in Queenstown, New Zealand

© John Kirk-Anderson
DANGEROUS: The number of dog listed as 'menacing' in Queenstown is on the rise.
Roaming dogs, the number of menacing dogs and attacks on people are on the rise in Queenstown.

The number of attacks on people increased from six in the 2012/13 financial year to 19 in the last period.

The number of dogs classed as "menacing" more than doubled from eight to 19, while the number of infringement notices for failing to keep a dog under control leapt from 17 to 37.

Councillors will consider a dog control report during a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting today.

Council regulatory manager Lee Webster said there was a small increase in the number of dogs registered in the district but the increased number of attacks may also be due to more reporting.

"Over the last year we have seen an increase in the overall number of attacks [on people and animals] from 24 to 46 which has generated significant demand for the animal control service," the report said.

Dozens of bird corpses wash up on Monterey beach, California

Birds recently began washing up on Monterey Municipal Beach.
Over the past few days, the tide has brought in more than just kelp.

Recently, observant beachgoers have reported dozens of bird corpses along the high-water mark of several local beaches. On Wednesday morning, there were over four dozen dead seabirds along a 1.5-mile stretch of Monterey Municipal Beach, including Cassin's auklets, western grebes, northern fulmars and murres.

Seabirds can die during fall migration if they are too old, weak or malnourished. Also, warm near-shore waters may have decreased local populations of krill, a common food for seabirds, according to Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz. Occasional algal blooms can also kill seabirds.

The causes of death of the birds spotted Wednesday were not known. But, dead seabirds are not an unusual feature of Monterey-area shorelines during autumn, experts with the Audubon Society and the Monterey County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.

"This appears to be one of those things that can happen every year around this time," said Jessica Shipman, a spokeswoman with the Monterey County SPCA.

3 stranded sperm whales die on Rototai beach, New Zealand

© Charlotte Squire
Word of mouth spread fast, inspiring hundreds of people to make the trip out on Rototai Beach to see and touch three sperm whales that stranded on the shallow tidal flats on Saturday night
In what became a Golden Bay community event, hundreds of people turned up at Rototai beach to see and touch three dead sperm whales that had become stranded.

The whales, which ranged in length from 14 to 17 metres long were located about one kilometre out on tidal flats from the beach carpark.

Local iwi gathered to bless the three whales, which were towed by tug boat to Farewell Spit last night, once the tide was high enough to move them.


Third elephant attack within 3 days in Sri Lanka: Two killed in jumbo attack

Two men were killed in a wild elephant attack on Monday night at Ellakattuwa,

The deceased were A. Gunadasa (65) and P. G. Sambarana (62).

The Wildlife officials said that the elephant had emerged from the jungles of Nochchiyagama and moved to Malwathu Oya after killing the two persons.

A team of Wildlife officials had moved to the area to capture the elephant and relocate it, the officials said.

Source: NP

Comment: The other reports this week: Father and son killed in elephant attack, Sri Lanka

2 people killed in another elephant attack in Sri Lanka

Other recent reports from Sri Lanka: Wild elephant attacks kills two in Sri Lanka

One person killed in wild elephant attack in Sri Lanka

Fourth elephant attack within four weeks in Sri Lanka

Two killed in a wild elephant attack in Maankulam, Sri Lanka


Large-scale die-off of Cassin's auklets reported along U.S. West Coast

Cassins Auklet at night (Ptychoramphus aleuticus) photo taken in 2003 on Farallon Islands
Scientists up and down the West Coast are monitoring what appears to be a large-scale die-off of young Cassin's auklets, small seabirds whose breeding grounds include a colony in the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco.

Emaciated, white-bellied birds have been washing ashore in Sonoma County and along a broad swath of California coastline since early November after a period of ocean warming in the Farallones region and disappearance of the tiny krill that provide their main source of food, researchers say.

Scientists are still collecting data, but the largest concentration of dead birds appears to be in northern Oregon, according to monitors in the Pacific Northwest. Birds have been washing up in Washington, as well.

Scientists say anyone who finds a dead bird should leave it alone so that monitors surveying the beaches can collect accurate records on the die-off.

Over 30 dead or dying crows found in Portland parks, Oregon

© K0IN 6 News
About 30 dead crows were found in downtown Portland parks, Nov. 26, 2014
ODFW will conduct necropsies, Audobon Society helping to investigate

About 30 dead crows were found along the Willamette River waterfront and some Portland parks, and officials don't have any idea at this time what caused their deaths.

Several crows were seen suffering seizures and flopping on the ground at Waterfront Park, police said, and several dead crows were seen nearby. Other dead crows were found around Chapman and Lownsdale Square parks and the Lovejoy Fountain.

PPB Sgt. Roger Axtelm said the bureau "had a number of phone calls from citizens calling about the blackbirds that were down and apparently ill. Some were deceased."

A few of the birds were alive but in bad shape. Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audobon Society said the ones still alive "were convulsing."

Bizarro Earth

Powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake strikes off Indonesia

A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia late Wednesday, prompting villagers to flee to higher ground, but officials said a tsunami was unlikely.There were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.8 quake hit about 161 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Ternate, the provincial capital of North Maluku, and was centered 41 kilometers (25 miles) below the seabed. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center said based on historical records the quake was not sufficient to trigger a tsunami.

George Rajaloa, a resident of Ternate, said by telephone that many people ran out of their homes and away from coastal areas out of fear that there would be a tsunami.

USGS data
Cloud Precipitation

Up to 9 inches of rain across Central Florida

© AccuWeather
As the rain continues to fall across Central Florida, temperatures will steadily drop into the 50s by this afternoon due to a passing cold front, meteorologists say.

Some areas in Brevard and Volusia counties saw 7 to 9 inches of rain since Tuesday morning. As for Orange County, at least 6 inches have fallen in the attractions area, Windermere, Pine Hills and Bithlo. And it's not done raining yet, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne. A flood watch remains in effect for Volusia, Brevard, Lake, Orange and Seminole counties through noon.

"[The rain] is slowly going to taper off through late morning," meteorologist Tony Cristaldi said. In Volusia County, one of the hardest hit areas Tuesday night was New Smyrna Beach with crews of Public Works working all hours to dry the streets. Five pumps were helping clear water throughout the city, with two pumps just on Columbus Avenue, which historically gets the most damage, said Holly Smith, spokeswoman for the city.