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Sun, 10 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes


Firefighters gain upper hand against Greek inferno

Exhausted firefighters contained on Monday wildfires which had been bearing down on Athens and threatened ancient Greek landmarks after a round-the-clock rescue effort.

But the authorities' response to the inferno came under criticism two years after similar wildfires that killed 77 people.

After a weekend of devastation which saw hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes in the suburbs, thousands of hectares of woodland reduced to cinders and fears that Athens would soon be choked by smoke, respite finally came when heavy winds died down.

Bizarro Earth

Mexico water body warns of risk of 'critical' shortage

Mexico's water commission warned Monday of the risk of a "critical" water shortage at the start of 2010 and called on state governments to act now to save water.

"El Nino (seasonal warming), climate change and low rainfall could increase drought in the country, and cause a critical situation in the first quarter of 2010," a Conagua statement said.

Farming and some water supplies across the country have already been hard hit by this year's drought.

Supplies for both public and private use could be affected next year, the statement said, pointing to record low levels at the Cutzamala reservoir which supplies the capital's urban sprawl.

The main problem in and around the city of some 20 million people, which once sat on lakes, was the over-exploitation of aquifers, the statement said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Maine spectators ignored warnings before wave hit

© Associated Press
Two boys watch as heavy surf generated by Hurricane Bill pounds the shore, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Augusta - Rangers at Acadia National Park insisted Monday that they had done all they could to warn visitors before beauty suddenly turned brutal, launching a hurricane-generated wave over a group of gawkers, dragging three into the roiling Atlantic and killing a 7-year-old girl.

Many visitors didn't heed alerts Sunday to keep back from huge waves that crashed spectacularly and dangerously against the rocky shore as Hurricane Bill passed over open ocean to the east, the park's chief ranger said.

Two people were hospitalized after being pulled into the churning surf by a wave that crashed on the rocks about 150 yards from a popular attraction known as Thunder Hole, where plume-like sprays rise into the air even under less severe conditions. A viewing platform there had already been closed by the park because of the dangerous conditions.

The wave swept over 20 people, 11 of whom were taken to the hospital with injuries including broken bones from being slammed onto the rocks, officials said.

Spectators eager to take in the views of dramatic surf began filling up Acadia, about 75 miles east of Augusta, the state capital, on Sunday morning, Chief Ranger Stuart West said. As the tide rose, generating even bigger waves, 10,000 people eventually parked along the road to view the waves spun off by Bill, West said.


West Nile Virus Found in British Columbia Mosquitoes

The West Nile virus has been found in B.C. for the first time, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Mosquitoes collected in a trap in B.C's south Okanagan have tested positive for the virus, officials said. The centre is also investigating possible cases of the virus in two Kelowna residents who had traveled in the south Okanagan region.

"These cases are unusual. We have had 40 people in B.C. so far who have tested positive for the West Nile virus, but all of them had traveled outside the province, so this is the first time that we have confirmed activity actually in B.C." said Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The people undergoing testing are members of the same family and both are in their 40s. Officials expect final test results early next week.

Bizarro Earth

4.4 Earthquake Jolts Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Again

An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook Yogyakarta late Saturday morning, the second quake to hit the province in a week.

Yogyakarta Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency recorded that the quake hit at around 11:35 a.m. The quake's epicenter was located 10 kilometer beneath the earth surface in Temu Ireng, Panggang, about 13 kilometers southeast af Bantul regency in southern Yogyakarta.

Bambang Subadio, head of observation division at the agency, said that Saturday's quake was not related to the earlier quake.

Bizarro Earth

NASA Sees Some Strong Thunderstorms in Bill's Center as He Drenches Eastern Canada

© NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
This infrared satellite image from the AIRS Instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows Bill's clouds (depicted in purple and blue) on Aug. 23 at 1:53 a.m. EDT indicating high, cold powerful thunderstorms still around the eye. Bill was a Category One Hurricane with sustained winds near 85 mph at this time.
Bill is still holding onto hurricane status near Nova Scotia, and will be bringing a lot of rain and heavy surf to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Today, Sunday, August 23, NASA infrared satellite imagery revealed cold high thunderstorm clouds around Bill's eye, indicating there is still some powerful convection and strong thunderstorms happening in the storm.

At 800 a.m. EDT, on August 23, Bill still had maximum sustained winds near 85 mph, making him a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Minimum central pressure was 965 millibars. He was located 175 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, near 42.4 north and 65.4 west, and was racing to the northeast near 31 mph, bringing the center of Bill near or over southeastern Newfoundland tonight or early Monday.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Hurricane Bill and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard captured this infrared image from this morning at 1:53 a.m. EDT (05:53 UTC). The National Hurricane Center noted in their discussion, "Infrared satellite imagery shows cold convective cloud tops continue to surround the cloud-filled eye of Bill." The AIRS image from early this morning did show a very small eye in Bill, despite being filled with clouds. The National Hurricane Center noted that "Recent aircraft fixes have been to the west and southwest of the eye-feature seen in satellite imagery suggesting some vertical tilt to the hurricane."

Alarm Clock

Australia Needs Rain Urgently to Meet Crop Forecast

Australia, the world's fourth- largest wheat exporter, "urgently" needs rain in eastern grain regions as dry weather damages the chance of meeting a government forecast for the biggest crop in four years.

"Extremely hot conditions in northern New South Wales and Queensland over the weekend will have cut yield prospects," Luke Mathews, agri-commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said today in an e-mailed report. "Widespread rain is urgently needed in those regions but no relief is in sight."

Farmers need rain now to reach yield potential in crops ahead of the harvest, which starts from about November. Should drought-causing El Nino weather conditions develop this year, wheat production in Australia's eastern states may drop by as much as 25 percent, Standard Chartered Plc said last month.

The two states planted the biggest area to winter crops in at least 14 years in autumn, putting the nation in line for the largest output since 2005-06, according to a June report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Rain in New South Wales, usually the nation's second- largest grain grower, in the next 10-14 days is "critical," that state's government said yesterday. Without rain within two weeks some farmers will put livestock onto crops and won't harvest paddocks, the state's Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said yesterday in a statement.

Life Preserver

Argentina: Farming crisis batters world food provider

The worst drought in 50 years, combined with a drop in soybean prices and unpopular tax policies, imperils a traditional beef exporter.

San miguel del Monte - If any place encapsulates Argentine pride it is the pampas, the plains that have yielded endless fields of corn and wheat and nourished cattle that produce some of the world's finest beef.

But these days, the pastures are brown. The wheat won't grow. And the cows are dying.

Argentina is facing its worst farming crisis since becoming one of the most prolific food providers in the world. A devastating drought, the most severe in more than 50 years, has dried up grassland and left cattle with nothing to graze.


Argentine farmers face ruin as drought kills cattle, crops

Dying cattle from drought

Argentine farmers profited in years past from selling beef to the world, but some now struggle to feed their cattle

San Miguel Del Monte -- In a small farming town 105 kilometers (65 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires, farmers are struggling to nourish their crops and feed their animals. The worst drought in half a century has turned Argentina's once-fertile soil to dust and pushed the country into a state of emergency.

Cow carcasses litter the prairie fields and sun-scorched soy plants wither under the South American summer sun. Farmers are concerned about their livelihoods.

"I'm losing money. I can't afford to lose money all the time," said Juan Cahen D'Anvers, whose family has been farming in Argentina since the late 1700s. He owns 700 hectares (1,730 acres) in San Miguel del Monte, where he grows sunflowers and barley.

He says this year is one of the hardest he's ever had.

"Production is going to go down a minimum of 50 percent, maybe more. I don't know yet," he said.


Kenya drought worsens hunger risk

More than one million Kenyans risk facing hunger because of a prolonged drought, the UN has warned.
Kenya drought
© Agence France-Presse
People are saying it is the worst drought for years.

The lack of rains has caused crops to fail and cattle-herders are also struggling to keep their animals alive.

The worst affected areas are in the country's semi-arid south-east regions as well as some parts of central Kenya.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has described the crisis as a "very difficult situation" and appealed to donor countries to offer funds.

Currently some 2.5 million people are receiving emergency food aid in the country but the effect of the drought has meant that a further 1.3 million now also need help.