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Sat, 23 Jul 2016
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Earth Changes


July snowfall hits the Alps in Austria, Italy and Switzerland

© ischgl.com
Lots of fresh snow in Ischgl's upper bowls - 14 July 2016
Fresh snow in the Alps!

Following a very warm start to July, temperatures have plummeted this week with fresh snow as low as 1600m in parts of the Alps this morning!

The heaviest snow has been in Austria (benefiting summer ski areas such as Hintertux and Mölltal), eastern Switzerland and parts of the central and eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Passo Stelvio), where as much as 30cm has fallen at high altitude with more forecast today.

© passostelvio.com
Fresh snow at Passo Stelvio, one of a handful of ski areas open in the Alps in July - 14 July 2016
Western glaciers (e.g. Tignes) have also had at least a dusting, but the cold weather won't last long, with temperatures expected to return to normal by the weekend.

© valtline.it
Fresh snow to 1800m in Livigno this morning - 14 July 2016


Black bear attacks hiker in British Columbia; 'I couldn't believe this was happening to me'

© Wikimedia Commons
A black bear chasing a dog attacked a hiker in Okanagan, British Columbia.
Rachel Lautard was hiking on a trail in Okanagan, British Columbia, when she heard loud footsteps behind her. Quickly turning around, she saw a dog run past followed by a charging black bear.

The Greenwood, B.C., woman had picked up the pace and became separated on the trail from family and a friend. They were camping near Conkle Lake Provincial Park southeast of Kelowna.

Lautard told CBC News (warning of graphic photos in link) she believed the black bear was chasing the dog and attacked her instead.

"The next thing I know I was on my back with this bear on top of me," Lautard told CBC News. "I was wearing steel-toed work boots at the time and I was kicking and basically bicycling and screaming for help.

"He bit into my leg and he was holding on, but I was kicking as hard as I could...

"I couldn't believe this was happening to me."

Cloud Lightning

Man killed by lightning in Huntsville, Alabama

A Redstone employee is dead after being struck by lightning.

The Arsenal confirmed the employee was transported to the University of Alabama-Birmingham hospital on Thursday night. The victim was pronounced dead at 11:30p.m.

The employee worked for Eskola Roofing. The victim's identity is being withheld until all family is notified.

"We are very saddened at the loss of our Teammate," said Col. Tom Holliday, Garrison Commander, Redstone Arsenal. "We should all remember the family and friends during this time and rally around them."

Better Earth

Massive Florida algae bloom can be seen from space

© NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
A toxic algal bloom that is covering a good chunk of Lake Okeechobee in Florida can be viewed from space.
A huge bloom of toxic algae that took over Florida's largest freshwater lake has been captured in stunning images taken from space.

The NASA images show an expanse of blue-green algae that covered Lake Okeechobee in Florida this summer. The toxic bloom appeared in May and expanded to 33 square miles (85 square kilometers) in area, covering a good chunk of the 730-square-mile (1,913 square km) body of water — the second-largest lake entirely within the contiguous United States (second only to Lake Michigan).

The invasion by the single-celled organisms, also called cyanobacteria, was still present on July 2, 2016, when the images were captured by NASA's Operational Land Imager, aboard the Landsat 8 satellite.

Algal blooms occur for a variety of reasons. Pollution, nitrogen-fertilizer-laden runoff from farms and even warm lake water can fuel the growth of these single-celled creatures. The cyanobacteria — often blue-green algae or other phytoplankton — use sunlight to make food and thrive when concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous rise.

Comment: Further reading:


2016 could be worst year on record for UK butterflies, experts warn

© Bob Eade/Butterfly Conservation/PA
Many common species, such as the small copper butterfly, appear to be extremely scarce this year.
A deadly combination of a sunless summer, cool spring and mild winter may make 2016 the worst year for butterflies since records began, experts warn.

Sir David Attenborough is urging the public to take part in the Big Butterfly Count so that scientists can discover just how disastrous the unsettled weather is proving for Britain's 59 butterfly species.

The count, the largest insect survey in the world, begins today with people asked to spend 15 minutes recording which butterflies they see in a park, garden or countryside.

Richard Fox, of Butterfly Conservation, which runs the survey, said: "It's not looking good at all but we will only know how bad a year it's been if lots of people take part. Even if you see only one butterfly - or none - please submit these sightings because that's what we need to tell how good or bad this year will turn out to be for our butterflies."


Carcass of sperm whale found in the Firth of Forth, Scotland

© Scottish National Heritage
The carcass of the dead sperm whale
A dead sperm whale has been found floating in the Firth of Forth nine days after one or more were spotted swimming further upriver.

The 40ft carcass was spied near the Isle of May.

A group from the island launched a boat and found the young whale about a mile out.

On July 5, up to three whales believed to be sperm whales were sighted off the coast of Kinghorn.

The massive species, which grow to over 50 ft long, are rarely seen so far up the Forth.

Observers reckoned that one of the whales was sick or injured, as another whale appeared to be supporting it.

David Steel, Isle of May reserve manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, said it was a "sad end for a giant of the sea".


10-year-old girl killed by stray dogs in India

In a tragic incident, a 10-year-old girl died on the spot after stray dogs attack her.

According to the police, the incident happened in Srikakulam on Thursday. The girl D. Spandana, a Class V student was walking to the field to give tea to her father D. Bodesh. But stray dogs attacked her. The dogs bit the girl with such severity that a nerve on her neck was damaged.

Police said "the dogs attacked the girl outside the village. The scene indicated that Spandana tried to resist before collapsing from the attack. No one else was at the spot at the time of the incident. Locals rushed her to the hospital, where the doctors declared her dead."

TD legislator and government Whip Kuna Ravikumar and few others visited the family members of Spandana to console them.

Bizarro Earth

Angry birds: City birds are more aggressive than their country cousins

© Virginia Tech
Scott Davies, a postdoctoral associate in biological sciences in the College of Science, measured territorial aggression in male song swallows at three rural and three urban sites in the New River Valley during the spring of 2015.
No need to head to the movie theater or download the video game app: Angry Birds can be found right in your backyard this summer—if you live in the suburbs, that is.

Virginia Tech researchers recently found in Southwest Virginia that birds that live in suburban areas exhibit significantly higher levels of territorial aggression than their country counterparts. The results were published in Biology Letters June 22.

"A possible reason for this is that these birds have less space but better resources to defend," said Scott Davies, a biological sciences postdoctoral associate in the College of Science. "Living near humans provides better food and shelter, but it also means more competition for these limited resources."

Davies and co-author Kendra Sewall, an assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, measured territorial aggression in 35 urban and 38 rural male song sparrows at three rural and three urban sites in the New River Valley during the spring of 2015.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike kills thoroughbred horse near Midway, Kentucky

Grade I winner and freshman sire Brilliant Speed was found dead in his paddock at Three Chimneys Farm the evening of July 13, struck down by lightning, according to Chris Baker, chief operating officer for the farm.

"He was found stricken in his paddock," Baker said. "The autopsy confirmed the cause was a lightning. We got hit by a freak storm that came up. It wasn't in the forecast of the any of the several resources we use to monitor the weather."

Brilliant Speed was a son of Dynaformer, who was a perennial leading sire and hallmark stallion at Three Chimneys, near Midway, Ky. Dynaformer died at age 27 in 2012 shortly after suffering an aortic valve rupture.

© Louise Reinage
Brilliant Speed
"Brilliant Speed was a class horse in the form of Dynaformer," Baker said. "We had high hopes for his progeny, which you would have expected to get better with age. You know the best lies ahead."

Cloud Lightning

Woman likely killed by lightning strike in Stewart County, Tennessee

A 65-year-old woman has died after allegedly being struck by lightning in Stewart County.

According to Greg Barrow, Stewart County Coroner, the woman from Clarksville was camping at Piney Campground in Dover.

Her husband called for help around 11:50 a.m. Thursday. He stepped inside his tent and heard a loud boom. When he looked outside he saw his wife lying underneath a tree.

When emergency crews arrived at the scene the woman was pronounced dead. Her identity had not been released.