Earth ChangesS

Better Earth

Auroras Ahoy!

"Who says one can't photograph the aurora from a moving ship? Digital photography has made things possible of which film shooters can only dream!" says traveling photographer Dennis Mammana. To prove it, he snapped this picture from the deck of the MS Midnatsol off the coast of Tromsø, Norway, on Nov. 12th.

© Dennis Mammana
When the auroras appeared, "I pulled out a 24mm f/1.4L lens, opened it up all the way, kicked up the camera's ISO to 3200 and shot 2 second exposures for the faintest lights, 1 second exposures for the brightest," Mammana explains. "I also made a panorama of four 1 second exposures at ISO 1600."

"Digital noise is, of course, present in all images at such high ISO settings, but thermal noise was minimized by the cold ambient temperatures and could be reduced easily by software."

Bizarro Earth

6.1 Earthquake Shakes Argentina

© RIA Novosti/Olga Melikyan
A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit north-western Argentina late on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website.

The epicenter of the quake was located at the depth of 142 kilometers (82 miles), some 190 kilometers north-east of the city of San Salvador de Jujuy near the border with Bolivia and Chile.

There have been no reports of casualties or any damage so far.

Another powerful, 6.5-magnitude, tremor shook the northern Chilean regions of Arica, Tarapaca and Iquique early Friday, causing some blackouts but no casualties.


Beijing's Heaviest Snow in 54 Years Strands Thousands

Snow at Forbidden City
© Xinhua Visitors walk at Forbidden City on a snowy day in Beijing November 10, 2009.
Beijing's unusually heavy snow, which brought a traffic paralysis to the capital yesterday, again highlighted the controversial use of weather modification.

The snow fell amid lightning and thunder in the capital late Monday to early yesterday, making it the second snowfall in eight days.

"The occurrence was rather unusual for early November," said Sun Jisong, chief forecaster of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

An official from the capital weather modification office who refused to be identified told China Daily yesterday that the second snow in Beijing was also artificially induced but refused to reveal further information.

On Oct 31, the first snow in the capital city this winter was partly induced by 186 doses of silver iodide, a compound used in cloud seeding. More than 16 million tons of snow fell on the city, Zhang Qiang, director of the municipal weather modification office, said earlier.

Without advance notice, the weather manipulation led to another big mess yesterday in Beijing, with traffic and flight delays.

Cloud Lightning

Cyclone Phyan raining on Tibet after breaking a record in India

© MODIS Rapid Response TeamNASA's MODIS instrument on the Aqua satellite captured this stunning visual image of Tropical Cyclone Phyan making landfall north of Mumbai on Nov. 11 at 0845 UTC (3:45 ET).
Cyclone Phyan broke a 43 year record when it made landfall north of the city of Mumbai, India during the evening hours on November 11. NASA's Aqua satellite captured Phyan's landfall with one instrument, and a day later, another of Aqua's instruments show the storm's remnants raining Tibet as Phyan continues to dissipate.

Phyan is the first tropical cyclone to make an appearance in November in the Konkan region of India since 1996. The India Meteorological Department confirmed that the last November appearance of a storm in that region was 43 years ago. As Phyan was making landfall, NASA's Aqua satellite passed overhead, and the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer captured a stunning visual image of the storm on November 11 at 0845 UTC (3:45 ET).


Reindeer herd drowns in icy Lapland waters

© Patrick Tradgardh/Bank Sweden
More than 400 reindeer have drowned in a river in Jokkmokk in northern Sweden after thin surface ice cracked while the herd were moving to their winter pastures.

Reindeer herders in the region were taking around 3,000 animals across the river, a route that has been safely crossed on previous occasions.

"The ice suddenly gave way and hundreds of reindeer fell into the water," said Bertil Kielatis, chairman of the Sirges Sami village in Jokkmokk.

"Now we are working to recover the animals that have drowned," he added.

Cloud Lightning

Heavy Snow in China Kill 40, Collapse 9,000 Buildings

china gas station roof snow collapse
© Reuters/China DailyThe roof of a PetroChina gas station collapses after heavy snow in Xingtai, Hebei province.
Unusually early snow storms in north-central China have claimed 40 lives, caused thousands of buildings to collapse and destroyed almost 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) of winter crops, the Civil Affairs Ministry said Friday.

Nineteen of the deaths resulted from traffic accidents related to the storms that began Nov. 9, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.

The snowfall is the heaviest in the northern and central provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Shandong and Henan since record keeping began after the establishment of the Communist state in 1949, the ministry said without giving detailed figures. It estimated economic losses from the storm at 4.5 billion yuan (US$659 million).


Worst storm of year as parts of Britain battered by 100mph winds

The lighthouse on Porthcawl seafront
© James DaviesThe lighthouse on Porthcawl seafront, South Wales, takes a battering
Gale-force winds of up to 100mph have led to spectacular scenes as the worst storm of the year gripped parts of Britain.

Intense weather conditions in Wales and southern England brought an abrupt end to an unusually mild autumn, with isolated flooding in south-western England and severe winds in coastal regions.

Drama was not confined to the south-west, however, with a fast rescue craft from an unnamed North Sea oil rig running aground at Britain's most easterly point.

Three men were rescued unhurt from the vessel by Lowestoft lifeboat on Friday night after the craft became stuck on a disused jetty at Ness Point in Suffolk, an RNLI spokeswoman said.

Bizarro Earth

California: 2.5 Earthquake Shakes San Jose

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.5 struck this morning in Santa Clara County.

According to the USGS, the earthquake struck at about 5:25 a.m. and had a depth of about 4.9 miles.

Bizarro Earth

India: 4.6 Earthquake Rattles Parts of Maharashtra

An earthquake of moderate intensity measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale rattled many parts of Western Maharashtra this evening, officials said.

The tremor, with its epicentre in neighbouring Satara district, occurred at 6.34 pm and lasted for 15 seconds, according to U V Siddhamal, Chief Executive Engineer of the Koyna dam which has an installed seismograph.

While there were no reports of damage to life and property, some houses in Patan in the district developed cracks due to the shock, they said.

Epicentre of the quake was believed to be near Varanavati, about 20 km from the Koyna dam which has a hydel power station supplying electricity to Maharashtra.

Bizarro Earth

3.0 Earthquake Registered Near Oklahoma City

An earthquake measuring 3.0 on the Richter Scale was recorded east of Oklahoma City on Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Services.

The quake was recorded 4 miles northeast of Choctaw and 18 miles east of Oklahoma City at 5:13 a.m.