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Earth Changes


Wildfire burns almost half of Antelope Island, Utah

© Scott Sommerdorf
Firefighters work to set a back fire as favorable winds allow for the strategy on Antelope Island, Saturday, July 23, 2016.
Fanned by steady winds, a wildfire had burned 13,740 acres of Antelope Island by Saturday night — nearly half the acreage at one of Utah's best-known landmarks.

No injuries were reported Saturday, nor were there reports of fire consuming any of the island's iconic mammals.

"The total acreage for Antelope Island is 28,000," said Jeremy Shaw, manager of Antelope Island State Park. "We're approaching half the island pretty rapidly. The wind's not helping us right now."

The blaze has been dubbed the West Antelope Fire. It is spreading north and east, was 35 percent contained as of Saturday evening. Ground crews and aircraft battled the blaze throughout the day.

Cloud Precipitation

Floods kill seven with over 20,000 marooned in Assam, India

Flood batters Assam
The overall flood situation continued to be grim in Assam with over six lakh people affected across 14 districts till Sunday evening while one person died in Lakhimpur on Sunday taking flood-related death toll to seven this year.

An Assam Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) official said that the flood have inundated large areas in Tinsukia district on Sunday, besides Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Morigaon, Jorhat, Dhemaji, Sivsagar, Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, Dhubri, Dibrugarh and Chirang districts, which have remained flooded since last few days.

"As on today (Sunday), 6,41,043 people in 1,206 villages in the 14 districts remained affected due to the current flash of floods. The concerned district administrations have opened 81 relief camps in the flood hit districts housing 21,931 marooned people," an ASDMA official said.

One person died due to floods in Lakhimpur district on Sunday, the ASDMA officials said. Two deaths - one in Lakhimpur and another in Morigaon - due to floods were reported on Saturday.


Update: Charred corpse found at 'Sand Fire' site as raging flames consume 20k acres (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

© brian_obrien / Instagram
Fire fighters have 10 percent containment of the fire.
A charred corpse has been found in an area of Santa Clarita, California, under threat from wildfires that have consumed over 20,000 acres. Firefighters are struggling to contain the fire that has raged since Friday.

The body was found on Iron Canyon Road, an area of Santa Clarita that authorities had ordered to be evacuated. A resident in the area told KTLA that the deceased man was found burned in a car after being separated from his partner.

Comment: See also: Wildfires force mass evacuations north of Los Angeles,California, prompt warnings of extreme danger

Bizarro Earth

Scientists warn Great Barrier Reef in Australia is undergoing a complete ecosystem collapse

© Reuters
An aerial view of Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is so damaged it is undergoing a "complete ecosystem collapse," scientists monitoring the area have warned.

Parts of the Queensland reef are still bleaching even in the Southern Hemisphere's winter, and fish populations are disappearing. The Great Barrier Reef has suffered from bleaching in as much as 93 percent of the reef, with 80 percent enduring severe bleaching, Climate Central reported in April.

Coral Watch's Justin Marshall spent a week surveying reefs near Queensland's Lizard Island and said the lack of fish was the most shocking discovery. "I was seeing a lot less than 50 percent of what was there [before]. Some species I wasn't seeing at all," he told the Guardian.

Coral bleaching is the result of warming sea water which causes coral to release algae in an effort to cool. The algae give coral its color. When the coral is unable to cool down and find new algae, it dies and turns a white color. The dead coral then attracts dark algae which give it a brown appearance.

This dark, or 'turf', algae block the fish from food and shelter, which causes fish populations to deplete through dying or relocating to more promising food sources.


Wildfires force mass evacuations north of Los Angeles,California, prompt warnings of extreme danger

© Noah Berger / Reuters
The Erskine Fire burns above South Lake, California.
Huge wildfires burning in the mountains north of Los Angeles and near Big Sur on California's Central Coast are posing a threat to more than 1,300 households and already caused forced evacuations of about 300 homes, according to local authorities.

A fire that erupted on Friday in the Sand Canyon area near Santa Clarita located north of Los Angeles has already incinerated some 4,450 hectares and has grown to more than eight and a half square miles.

Comment: See also: California wildfire nearly doubles in size to 20,000 acres

Cloud Lightning

Man dies following lightning strike in Arvada, Colorado; 12th death within 6 weeks in U.S. due to lightning

A 23-year-old former Westport man was killed by lightning while at a suburban Denver golf course, authorities said.

He was identified as Peter Hawkes, who attended Staples High School in his freshman year and graduated in 2011 from New York's Xavier High School. He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015.

Hawkes and another man were at the struck just before 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Indian Tree Golf Course in suburban Arvada, the Denver Post reported. Other reports said they were under a tree.

Hawkes spent several hours in a burn unit but was pronounced dead by 1 a.m. Wednesday, the Denver Post said. The condition of the other man was not available.


California wildfire nearly doubles in size to 20,000 acres

© Twitter
Hundreds have fled their homes as the Califormia fire remains largely out of control
Evacuation orders remained in place for around 1,500 homes near a wildfire north of Los Angeles early Sunday, after the blaze nearly doubled in size Saturday.

The mandatory evacuation orders were prompted by the so-called Sand Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest and areas near Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Earlier, evacuation orders affected around 300 homes.

Authorities discovered a burned body Saturday evening outside a home on Iron Canyon Road in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles.

Detectives were trying to determine whether the person was killed by the blaze or another cause, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Rob Hahnlein said. The home also may have burned, he said.

The fire broke out at around 2:11 p.m. local time Friday (5:14 p.m. ET) and swelled to 11,000 acres by noon Saturday and then to 20,000 acres by Saturday evening, fire officials said. More than 900 firefighters were battling the blaze, the Angeles National Forest said.

Comment: Could 2016 be California's worst wildfire season?


The coming ice age - Antarctic peninsula has been cooling not warming

© Wikimedia Commons
A tidewater glacier on the Antarctic coast, with a sharply peaked mountain behind.
The "fastest warming place" on Planet Earth wasn't warming.

A new Antarctic study wipes out 20 years of panic about the West Antarctic Peninsula. All these years while people were crying about penguins, it turns out that the place was cooling rather than warming. Mankind has emitting a third of all its "CO2-pollution" ever from 1998, and there was "no discernible" effect on Antarctica. Indeed, the study quietly finds that even the bigger longer warming that has happened in the last century was not "unprecedented" in the last 2000 years.

In the last decade as this cooling trend was happening in the real world - in the media, the same spot was being described as "one of the fastest warming places on Earth":
The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth, NBC, 2013

West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming twice earlier estimate, BBC, 2012
And this sort of news has been going on for years. This was "big deal" once-in-2000 year type stuff:
UK scientists say parts of Antarctica have recently been warming much faster than most of the rest of the Earth. They believe the warming is probably without parallel for nearly two thousand years. - BBC, 2001
But the news in 2016 was a bit of a bomb, prone to being misinterpreted, so the PR Team was pre-armed with excuses, from the first line of the scientific abstract which pretty much says that the peninsula still was one of the fastest warming places on Earth (if you look at warming from 1950 and ignore the last 20 years the study is studying). Great opening line. The abstract also mentions that the Antarctic peninsula is only 1% of the Antarctic (though no one seems to mention that when it was melting).

Cloud Precipitation

129 killed and more than 8.6 million people affected as extreme rains flood China

© Darley Shen / Reuters
A woman with a body of a dead pig at a flooded farm in Xiaogan, Hubei Province, China, July 22, 2016.

Some 8.6 million people have been affected by destructive floods and landslides caused by heavy rain in China, local media report. They add that at least 129 people have been killed and the death toll is likely to rise.

The worst-hit was Hebei province in northern China, Xinhua news agency reported. Some 52,000 homes collapsed in the area. Hebei has about 73 million residents.

At least 114 people have been killed and 111are still missing in the province, according to the People's Daily newspaper.

The city of Xingtai alone saw nine people killed, with 11 more unaccounted for.


Minke whale carcass washes up at St John's Point, Northern Ireland

The whale that washed up at St John’s Point
The carcass of 26ft-long minke whale has washed ashore on rocks at St John's Point in County Down.

The body of the huge creature, which is believed to have been dead for around a week, was discovered by a member of the public on the foreshore near Killough.

A team from Newcastle Coastguard Station was sent to the scene to measure and photograph the body.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Ian Enlander, from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said: "In the summer, minke whales move south from the west of Scotland into the Irish sea, where there is plenty of food for them.

"They're often sighted off Islandmagee as they migrate toward the Isle of Man.

"It appears that this young male minke died after its tail became entangled in some discarded fishing gear."