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Sun, 28 Aug 2016
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Earth Changes


'Upside-down rainbow' (circumzenithal arc) spotted above Salford, UK

© Adam Davies
Settled skies and warm weather combined this week to produce a minor meteorological phenomenom: the 'upside-down rainbow'.

Adam Davies captured this image of the inverted coloured curve while sitting out in his garden in Sportside Avenue, Walkden. Known as a 'Bravias arc', it's not technically a rainbow as it's produced when light from the sun is refracted through ice crystals, rather than raindrops.

High up among the cirrus clouds, water droplets turn to ice. It's here where light refracts through tiny hexagonal ice crystals, which bends the wavelength of the light and makes it appear inverted to the human eye.

The spectrum of colours is only produced under special atmospheric conditions: when the air high up above us is relatively still, and when the sun is shining down at an angle less than 32 degrees from the horizon.

Comment: And it appears to be happening more often because part of the 'special atmospheric conditions' include increased particulates in the atmosphere, i.e. increased volcanic ash/dust and 'meteor smoke' debris left by meteor fireballs exploding in the atmosphere.

Adam used his HTC One M9 smartphone to capture the image. "You could also see a kind of halo ring effect around the sun - I've never seen it shining that bright before," he said.

© Adam Davies


Portugal's August wildfires make up half of EU's 2016 total

© Nuno Andre Ferreira/EPA
Authorities say a series of wildfires this month in Portugal has burned more than half of the land lost to blazes in the entire 28-nation European Union so far this year.

The EU's Forest Fire Information System, which collates wildfire data, says wildfires have charred more than 217,000 hectares (536,200 acres) in the bloc in 2016.

Almost 116,000 hectares (286,600 acres) of the charred forest land is in Portugal, the agency told The Associated Press.

Four people have died in the country's worst wildfires in recent memory.

However, Portuguese emergency services reported Wednesday that cooler temperatures and a drop in wind strength gave fire crews some respite after two weeks of battling intense flames.

Comment: Over 700 forest wildfires break out in Portugal

Blue Planet

After researchers declare coral reef 'dead' in 2003, biologists discover it alive again in 2015

From the "global warming and ocean acidification will kill everything, forever" and the "nature always finds a way" department comes this inconvenient truth.

Back From The Dead: Giant Coral Reef That 'Died' In 2003 Teeming With Life Again

In 2003, researchers declared Coral Castles dead.

On the floor of a remote island lagoon halfway between Hawaii and Fiji, the giant reef site had been devastated by unusually warm water. Its remains looked like a pile of drab dinner plates tossed into the sea. Research dives in 2009 and 2012 had shown little improvement in the coral colonies.


Colorado firefighter films wildfire-fueled firenado near Beaver Creek, Colorado

A firefighter battling a Colorado wildfire captured footage of a wind-fueled firenado spinning a column of flames into the sky.

The firenado, also known as a fire tornado or fire whirl, was photographed Sunday by Charles "Trey" Bolt of the Beaver Creek Fire Department Engine 1419.

The department posted the photo to Facebook and later followed up with Bolt's video of the spinning column of flames.

"One of our firefighters captured this fire whirl yesterday on the ‪#‎BeaverCreekFire‬. Wow!" the post said.

The Beaver Creek Fire has burned through nearly 57 square miles since it began June 19. The fire is 44 percent contained, firefighters said.

The unusual phenomenon was caught on video just days after firefighters in Oregon captured footage of a similar firenado swirling on the border of the town of Cornelius.


Massive 7.3 magnitude earthquake near South Georgia island

Shaken: The quake's epicentre hit the British islands of South Georgia
A 7.3 magnitude earthquake is described as "very strong" by seismologists.

The quake struck the South Georgia island region at a depth of about 10 kilometres, according to the USGS.

The islands host a British Antarctic research station - around 1,500 miles east of the Falklands.

It was the centre of British whaling for decades until the trade was abandoned in the 1960s.

There were reports of tremors in the nearby Falkland Islands.

No immediate tsunami warning was issued.

It comes just months after a 7.2 magnitude quake struck the South Sandwich Islands.


Santiaguito volcano erupts spewing ash 13,000ft high in Guatemala

The Santiaguito volcano erupted on the morning of Thursday, August 18
Santiaguito volcano erupted on August 18 spewing a column of volcanic ash and steam that rose to 13,000 feet over the Guatemalan volcano.


Endangered manatee discovered dead in Shem Creek, South Carolina

© Jonathan White
A dead manatee was found Tuesday washed up in the marsh at the mouth of Shem Creek
It didn't look real, at first, when Jonathan White glanced at the marsh bank as he paddled out of Shem Creek. Then he realized the manatee was dead.

The carcass of the large sea mammal was found Tuesday and recovered Wednesday by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. A necropsy was underway.

White, of Oakmont, Pa., and others who saw it thought it might have been struck by a boat. An adult manatee has few if any natural predators.

"It was sad," he said. "They'd never hurt anything."

But no sign of a strike was found.

"The results were inconclusive, except to note an acute cause of death," said Erin Weeks, DNR spokeswoman. "There were no obvious propeller wounds or broken ribs, but the animal had been healthy and feeding full of plant material up until its death." The manatee a young male, 9½ feet long, she said.


Boy aged 3 dies following dog attack in Essex, UK

A three-year-old boy has died after being mauled by a dog in Essex, the second fatal dog attack in four days.

The latest incident happened at a property in a residential street in Halstead at 5.40pm on Thursday.

A 29-year-old woman was arrested for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control and injuring a person, Essex police said. The dog was seized by police and placed in kennels. Police said they had yet to establish its breed. Two officers were guarding the owner's home in Parker Way, Halstead.

The three-year-old boy was airlifted to Addenbrooke's hospital in Cambridgeshire where he died from his injuries, the East of England ambulance service said.

On Monday a 52-year-old man was killed by a dog that had been returned to its owner despite concerns that it was dangerous.


Intense Blue Cut wildfire in Southern California grows to over 31,000 acres; only 4 percent contained

© Jonathan Alcorn/AFP/Getty Images
Smoke rises from a burned out grove of trees at the Blue Cut wildfire in Wrightwood, California, on Aug. 17, 2016.
The Blue Cut wildfire in Southern California, which has destroyed homes and forced evacuations, has spread to over 31,000 acres today.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Mike Mohler told ABC News today, "Explosive fires are the new normal. ... I've never seen in 22 years fire activity like that."

"The containment is going to be very slow," he said. "We still have a long fight ahead of us."

More than 1,500 personnel are at the scene today. The blaze is just 4 percent contained.

Officials said the fire, named after the Blue Cut hiking trail, began Tuesday morning for unknown reasons. It quickly grew to nearly 30,000 acres by Wednesday.

"It was such a large flame front and it came so fast and so hard that firefighters did all they could to basically get people out of the way of this advancing front," San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig told ABC News this morning.

Comment: State of emergency declared for wildfire raging in San Bernardino, California; 18,000 acres burned and 82,000 people evacuated


Family dog kills boy in Oudtshoorn, South Africa

The dog has reportedly been put down after the incident occurred at the weekend in Oudtshoorn.

A four-year-old boy has died after being attacked by the family dog in Oudtshoorn.

The incident occurred at the weekend.

The police's Malcolm Poje says the child died in hospital.

"I can confirm that we've opened an inquest docket pertaining to the incident in Oudtshoorn, where a young child was apparently attacked by a dog. He was taken to hospital with multiple injuries to his face and head. He had unfortunately succumbed to his injuries."

The dog has reportedly been put down.