Earth ChangesS


Washington State: Mysterious South Kitsap Worms Weave Web of Intrigue

snow worms
© Derek Sheppard/Kitsap SunA close-up view of the inch-long "snow worms" Bill Thornton found in his parent's Port Orchard backyard clearly shows the segments, which look like an earthworm. The running theory is they they're juvenile earthworms, but samples have been sent to a scientist for review.
Who knew snow could be so creepy? And crawly.

Bill Thornton of Port Orchard certainly didn't, until he noticed something in his parents' backyard early Christmas morning.

"The more I looked, the more I found, and they were literally crawling up out of the snow," he said.

Worms - "snow worms," as he's started calling them - squiggled by the thousands atop the backyard snow.

That discovery launched Thornton on an odyssey as he tried to figure out what the worms are and where the came from.


Killer Mice Bring Albatross Population Closer To Extinction

© Ross Wanless BirdLife InternationalIntroduced mice are responsible for declines in Tristan Albatross and Gough Bunting.
The critically endangered Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) has suffered its worst breeding season ever, according to research by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK). The number of chicks making it through to fledging has decreased rapidly, and it is now five times lower than it should be because introduced predatory mice are eating the chicks alive on Gough island -- the bird's only home and a South Atlantic territory of the United Kingdom.

The mice are also affecting Gough Island's other Critically Endangered endemic species, Gough Bunting Rowettia goughensis. A recent survey of the bunting's population revealed that the population has halved within the last two decades. Now there are only an estimated 400-500 pairs left.

"We've known for a long time that the mice were killing albatross chicks in huge numbers. However, we now know that the albatrosses have suffered their worst year on record", said Richard Cuthbert, an RSPB scientist who has been researching the mice problem on Gough Island since 2000. "We also know that the mice are predators on the eggs and chicks of the Gough bunting and mice predation is the main factor behind their recent decline."


Four Years After Tsunami, Coral Reefs Recovering

© Rizya LegawaA successful coral transplant site in Aceh, Indonesia, some four years after the tsunami.
A team of scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has reported a rapid recovery of coral reefs in areas of Indonesia, following the tsunami that devastated coastal regions throughout the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004.

The WCS team, working in conjunction with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARCCoERS) along with government, community and non-government partners, has documented high densities of "baby corals" in areas that were severely impacted by the tsunami.

The team, which has surveyed the region's coral reefs since the December 26, 2004 tsunami, looked at 60 sites along 800 kilometers (497 miles) of coastline in Aceh, Indonesia. The researchers attribute the recovery to natural colonization by resilient coral species, along with the reduction of destructive fishing practices by local communities.

Cloud Lightning

US: Wind-whipped debris blamed for 1 death

High winds buffeted the Washington area, fueling fires, zapping power to thousands of customers and blamed for at least one death, officials said.

Wind gusts near 60 mph in some areas hurled trees and branches onto roads and disabled traffic lights, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Officials said a priest died Wednesday when he was struck by a falling tree as he tried to remove debris from traffic lands. A 2-year-old boy was hospitalized after he was hit by a tree limb while in his back yard, the Post reported.

The gusty conditions forced municipalities along the eastern seaboard to cancel New Year's Eve fireworks displays because conditions were hazardous.

In McLean, Va., a gust sent the "U" of the high-rise USA Today building's sign toppling to the streets below.


Temperatures drop to 50 below zero in parts of Alaska

Fairbanks - Bitterly cold weather slid over from Canada and settled into Interior Alaska with forecasters saying temperatures could continue to slide to nearly 50 degrees below zero in coming days.
thermometer -50
© unknown

Over the weekend, the mercury at Fairbanks International Airport dropped to 39 degrees below zero. Areas in the Interior outside the city were even colder; 46 below on the Yukon Flats, 41 below in Fort Yukon and 44 below in Central, according to the weather service.

Rick Thoman, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Fairbanks, said temperatures rose a few degrees on Sunday, but that was it.

"The temperature will probably continue to go up and down randomly," he said. "With no clouds and no wind on the valley floor, temperatures are pretty much probably going to be stuck."

Fairbanks had experienced a relatively mild winter prior to Christmas. It had only dropped to 30 below once, in early December.

Comment: Current Extreme Temperatures from here:

Last Updated: Thu Jan 1 06:51:02 UTC 2009

PFYU: Fort Yukon, Fort Yukon Airport, AK, United States [-49°C, -56.2°F]
PABI: Delta Junction/Ft Greely, Allen Army Airfield, AK, United States [-42°C, -43.6°F]
PABT: Bettles, Bettles Airport, AK, United States [-43°C, -45.4°F]
PAEG: Eagle, Eagle Airport, AK, United States [-44°C, -47.2°F]
PAEI: Fairbanks, Eielson Air Force Base, AK, United States [-44°C, -47.2°F]
PAFA: Fairbanks, Fairbanks Intl Arpt, AK, United States [-41°C, -41.8°F]
PAFS: Nikolai, AK, United States [-41°C, -41.8°F]
PAGK: Gulkana, Gulkana Airport, AK, United States [-42°C, -43.6°F]
PAIN: McKinley Park, McKinley National Park Airport, AK, United States [-40°C, -40.0°F]
PALR: Chandalar Lake, Chandalar Lake Airport, AK, United States [-44°C, -47.2°F]
PAMX: McCarthy, AK, United States [-42°C, -43.6°F]
PANN: Nenana, Nenana Municipal Airport, AK, United States [-42°C, -43.6°F]
PAOR: Northway, Northway Airport, AK, United States [-41°C, -41.8°F]
PATA: Tanana, Calhoun Memorial Airport, AK, United States [-40°C, -40.0°F]

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 4.9 - North of Svalbard

Earthquake Details

Magnitude 4.9

* Thursday, January 01, 2009 at 02:54:05 UTC
* Thursday, January 01, 2009 at 02:54:05 AM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 80.884°N, 2.923°W

Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program


Distances 270 km (165 miles) ESE of Nord, Greenland

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake recorded near Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

A minor earthquake this morning about three miles east of Dillsburg, York County, measured 2.1 on the Richter Scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's online earthquake center.

It happened at 12:34 a.m., the USGS reported. There were no reported injuries.

It's the second earthquake in the midstate in the past few weeks. A quake measuring 3.3 on the Richter Scale hit Lancaster County on Saturday night.


Sunspots, Global Warming, And An Ice Age

The Earth has been warming ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. But guess what: Researchers say mankind is to blame for that, too.

As we've noted, 2008 has been a year of records for cold and snowfall and may indeed be the coldest year of the 21st century thus far. In the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month of October.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake swarm in Quincy, California continues

For the 14th time since Dec. 26, the U.S. Geological Survey has recorded an earthquake in the vicinity of East Quincy.

The most recent quake, a 2.7-magnitude tremor, was recorded at 2:46 p.m. Tuesday, three mines northeast of the tiny community and about 7.5 miles below it.

The swarm of quakes began at 4:20 a.m. on the 26th with a 4.5-magnitude shaker that was distinctly felt in many areas of Butte County.


Deciphering Dolphin Language With Picture Words

cetacean words
© Sonic Age LtdBecause the higher harmonics cannot be imaged, the cetacean words are thus simplified. The principle is similar to the way our ear-brain mechanism recognises the voice of a friend on the phone when only a single word is spoken, even though the bandwidth of the phone is very limited compared with face-to-face speech. The resulting "CymaGlyphs" (the name coined to describe visible sound patterns) could form the basis of a lexicon of cetacean language, each pattern representing a thought.
In an important breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language, researchers in Great Britain and the United States have imaged the first high definition imprints that dolphin sounds make in water.

The key to this technique is the CymaScope, a new instrument that reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially. Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water. The resulting "CymaGlyphs," as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin 'picture word.'