Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

India: Western Ghats, Arabian Sea contributing to high incidence of lightning

Blame all the lightning strikes happening this summer on the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, say a team of scientists at the Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS).

The two geographical structures that sandwich the state provide the temperature contrast that ultimately leads to the highest incidence of lightning in the country.

Though mountains are a major factor known for the formation of the cumulonimbus clouds (Cb) that cause lightning, R Vishnu, S Murali Das and G Mohan Kumar of the Atmospheric Sciences Division of the CESS have experimentally proved it.

Evil Rays

Earthquake shakes Tokyo, no damage reported

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 shook Tokyo buildings on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The earthquake registered four out of seven on a Japanese scale of quake intensity, a government agency said, a level that suggests hanging objects would swing considerably but there was unlikely to be serious damage.

Better Earth

Earthquake of 6.4 magnitude shakes southern Iran - IRNA

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran on Friday, an official Iranian news agency reported but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.


US, Missouri: Hummingbird migration nearing state border

If you live in Missouri and have a hummingbird feeder, now is the time to put it out. Observers in Arkansas and Kansas report seeing ruby-throated hummingbirds already.

Lanny Chambers, of Fenton, Mo., maintains a website that encourages birdwatchers from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada to report their first hummingbird sightings each year.

Sighting reports are posted daily at, so anyone who visits the site can follow the progress of the annual rubythroat migration.

Arrow Up

Melting ice caps may trigger more volcanic eruptions

A warmer world could be a more explosive one. Global warming is having a much more profound effect than just melting ice caps - it is melting magma too.

Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland, and is disappearing at a rate of 5 cubic kilometres per year.

Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds, UK, and Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the University of Iceland have calculated the effects of the melting on the crust and magma underneath.

Vatnajökull in the south-east is the largest ice cap in Iceland and conceals several volcanoes

They say that, as the ice disappears, it relieves the pressure exerted on the rocks deep under the ice sheet, increasing the rate at which it melts into magma. An average of 1.4 cubic kilometres has been produced every century since 1890, a 10% increase on the background rate.

Frequent eruptions

In Iceland there are several active volcanoes under the ice. The last big eruption was in 1996 at Gjàlp, and before then in 1938 - a gap of 58 years. But Pagli and Sigmundsson say that the extra magma produced as the ice cap melts could supply enough magma for similar eruptions to take place every 30 years on average.


Over 30 dead seals washed ashore in Caspian

Employees at an oil company have discovered the carcasses of 32 seals along the northern Caspian Sea coast near the Kalamkas oil field in Kazakhstan, the republic's emergencies ministry said on Friday.

The region has already been plagued by a similar tragedy in March 31 - May 14 2007, when a total of 928 seals, including 710 baby seals, died near the Kalamkas oil field.

A research group from Kazakstan's Biological Security Research Institute and Institute of Microbiology and Virology cited the phocine distemper virus (PDV), which has been blamed for the deaths of fin-footed mammals all over the world since 1988, as responsible for the deaths.

Cloud Lightning

US, Massachusetts: Lightning starts fire

When police knocked on Donna Lemire's door late Tuesday night and told her to leave, it was not an April Fool's joke.

A passing storm brought torrential downpours and lightning, which struck outside her building in the Shadowbrook Condominium complex around 11:30 p.m., causing a water pipe to burst and flames to erupt from the third floor ceiling.

Fire Lt. Mark Nelson said a lightning bolt struck a tree outside 17 Shadowbrook Lane, traveled into the ground and through Lemire's building.

©Rachel Juzapavicus
A lightning strike Tuesday night at 17 Shadowbrook Lane in Milford shattered the window of this car, started a fire and burst a water pipe at the condo complex.

Arrow Down

India: Hailstones hit huts, humans & cattle - Ice from sky but not in darjeeling

Hail stones the size of cricket balls flattened about 100 huts, injured three persons and killed cattle in the Bindol gram panchayat area last night.

The storm had started around 9.30pm and grew with each passing minute till it stopped two hours later. A fresh shower of hailstones hit the area again early this morning.

"First came the wind. Strong gusts blew away roofs of tiles and tin. Then came the hailstones. As the night progressed, the size of the stones increased and they came hurtling down, some of them as big as cricket balls," said Narayan Bhowmik, a tea stall owner in Bamua, 20km from here and one of the worst hit areas. The storm left scars across a 9km radius.

©Nityananda Sarkar
A heap of hailstones in front of a house in Bindol

Cloud Lightning

Tornado hits central Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The National Weather Service says an unknown number of people were injured when a tornado swept through the Little Rock, Arkansas, area last night. At the North Little Rock Airport, the tornado destroyed a hangar and several small planes and left several others flipped over onto their wings.

Gregory Greene has lived in this part of Tornado Alley for all of his 39 years and had never seen a tornado.


Tasmania Hurricane-Force Winds leaves a $2m bill

TASMANIANS embarked on a massive clean-up effort yesterday after hurricane-force winds caused damage around the state costing millions.

Homes were left without roofs, major roads were blocked by fallen trees and power lines, boats broke their moorings and debris littered the streets as winds of up to 176km/h stormed through in a wild-weather blitzkrieg.