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Sat, 23 Oct 2021
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Cloud Lightning

UFOs or High Altitude Lightning?

Green
© FMA Research
Sprites over thunderstorms in Kansas on August 10, 2000, observed in the mesosphere, with an altitude of 50-90 kilometers as a response to powerful lightning discharges from tropospheric thunderstorms.
Over 90% of UFO sightings can be easily explained, and are usually visual misinterpretations of meteors, weather balloons, a flock of birds, blimps, or even the Moon. Here's one more to add to the list of items mistakenly identified as UFO's: sprites. No, not the elf or troll-like sprites, but a natural phenomenon which occurs during thunderstorms. "Sprites appear above most thunderstorms," said Colin Price of the Tel Aviv University, "but we didn't see them until recently. They are high in the sky and last for only a fraction of a second."

While there is much debate over the cause or function of these mysterious flashes in the sky, Price says they may explain some bizarre reports of UFO sightings.

Sprites are described as flashes high in the atmosphere, between 35 and 80 miles from the ground, much higher than the 7 to 10 miles where regular lightning bolts usually occur.

"Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," explained Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences Department at Tel Aviv University. "We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft."

Bizarro Earth

Mass Migrations and War: Dire Climate Scenario

Climate
© AP/R. Robert
If we don't deal with climate change decisively, "what we're talking about then is extended world war," the eminent economist said.

His audience Saturday, small and elite, had been stranded here by bad weather and were talking climate. They couldn't do much about the one, but the other was squarely in their hands. And so, Lord Nicholas Stern was telling them, was the potential for mass migrations setting off mass conflict.

"Somehow we have to explain to people just how worrying that is," the British economic thinker said.

Stern, author of a major British government report detailing the cost of climate change, was one of a select group of two dozen - environment ministers, climate negotiators and experts from 16 nations - scheduled to fly to Antarctica to learn firsthand how global warming might melt its ice into the sea, raising ocean levels worldwide.

Better Earth

Shocking pink tubes help to save albatrosses

Wandering albatrosses
© Mark Jobling / Wikimedia Commons
Wandering albatrosses like this one are critically endangered, partly as a result of getting snagged on fishing lines, but a new scheme is changing that.

Gaudy strips of pink fluorescent tubing are helping to save albatrosses from extinction. They frighten the birds away from baited hooks on fishing lines, which attract, snag and drown some 100,000 albatrosses and petrels a year.

In South African waters in 2008, 85% fewer albatrosses died this way than a year earlier, thanks to the introduction of the pink strips on vessels fishing there for tuna and swordfish.

Flapping in the wind, the strips frighten the birds away from fishing vessels reeling out the lines.

"They form a visible deterrent and a no-go zone close to the bait and fishing gear as it's reeled out," explains Graham Madge of the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which co-launched the Albatross Task Force in 2006 with BirdLife International to stop albatrosses being snagged on hooks and drowning as they try to steal bait.

Bizarro Earth

Residents flee as deadly Australian wildfires flare

Melbourne - Several hundred Australians fled their homes on Monday as wildfires that killed more than 200 people flared again, destroying at least one home and injuring two firefighters.

The deadly combination of strong winds and searing temperatures that whipped up the most deadly fires in Australia's history returned to drive flames toward towns to the east and northwest of Victoria's state capital, Melbourne.

Target

Earthquake strikes between Indonesia and Philippines

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook an area between Indonesia and the Philippines early Monday, geologists said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was about 310 kilometres south-southeast of General Santos in the southern Philippines.

Bell

California, US: Geysers quake bigger than thought

Federal officials have upgraded Friday's earthquake in The Geysers area to a magnitude of 3.7 from the initial 3.3.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 2:30 a.m. quake was was centered about one mile north of The Geysers and five miles southwest of Cobb in Lake County.

Hourglass

US: Quagga mussels are clogging Hoover Dam, colonizing lakes, rivers

Lake Mead, Nevada - It took some of America's best engineers, thousands of laborers and two years of around-the-clock concrete pouring to build the 726-foot-high Hoover Dam back in the 1930s. It took less time than that for the tiny, brainless quagga mussel to bring operators of this modern wonder of the world to their knees.

While federal lawmakers continue to squabble over how to stop overseas ships from dumping unwanted organisms into the world's largest freshwater system, the Great Lakes' most vexing invasive-species problem has gone national.

Fish

Photos trace Florida reef fish decline

Image
© Unknown

A U.S. researcher has used historic photographs as evidence of fishing's impact on marine ecosystems and the decline of "trophy fish."

Graduate student researcher Loren McClenachan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California-San Diego accessed archival photographs spanning more than five decades to describe an 88 percent decline in the estimated weight of large predatory fish imaged in black-and-white 1950s sport fishing photos compared with the relatively diminutive catches photographed in modern pictures.

"These results provide evidence of major changes over the last half century and a window into an earlier, less disturbed fish community ..." she said.

Cloud Lightning

Japan snowstorm disrupts flights, damages houses

A snowstorm in Japan has damaged houses, caused power failures, disrupted train service and led to the cancellation of more than 150 domestic flights, local authorities said on Sunday.

About 40 centimetres (16 inches) of snow blanketed the runways at New Chitose Airport, the biggest air hub on the northern main island of Hokkaido on Saturday, an airport official said. At least 154 flights were cancelled.

Cloud Lightning

US: 10 Tornadoes Confirmed in Georgia

Workers
© Beau Cabell/The Telegraph
A group of power company linemen work to restore high voltage lines Friday near the intersection of U.S. 129 and U.S. 441 south of Eatonton.
Ten tornadoes, one packing winds of more than 160 mph, touched down in parts of Georgia on Wednesday, the National Weather Service said Friday.

The storms caused an estimated $25 million in insured losses, said John W. Oxendine, the state's insurance commissioner.

"I spent some time surveying damage and talking to residents in Jasper, Putnam and Hancock Counties" on Friday, Oxendine said in statement. "I believe claims will easily reach $25 million. Actual losses are much higher when you consider things like infrastructure damage and uninsured losses."