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Bizarro Earth

Unusual Dolphin Strandings on Texas Coast Prompt Inquiry

© AP Photo/Alex Brandon
A pod of Bottle Nose dolphins swim under the oily water Chandeleur Sound, La., Thursday, May 6, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston -- The deaths of more than 120 dolphins on the Texas coast have prompted a federal agency to declare the event "unusual" and launch an investigation into whether they were related to a drought-related algae bloom or a more widespread mortality event that has plagued the northern Gulf of Mexico for two years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has called the stranding of 123 dolphins on Texas shores from November through March an "unusual mortality event," an official federal listing that allows the agency to access additional funds and set up a team of researchers.

All but four of the dolphins that washed up in Texas were dead, and those that turned up alive died a short time later, said Blair Mase, the southeast marine mammal stranding network coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

What alarmed scientists, though, was the age of the bottle-nosed dolphins that washed up -- juveniles rather than the very young or elderly that typically would be found -- and the fact that Texas had a year's worth of dead dolphins turn up over five months.

Phoenix

Update: High Park fire containment will come soon, control is months out

© Eric Lutzens, The Denver Post
Seen from a helicopter, trees burn and plumes of smoke rise over the High Park Fire west of Fort Collins.
Laporte, Colorado - Firefighters attacking the complex High Park fire are using a century-old battle plan, bolstered by modern-day technologies.

Using picks and axes, wildland teams are methodically scratching barriers into the dirt and lighting back fires, while helicopters aided by satellite imagery drop water and tankers douse areas with chemical retardant.

They're trying to pin down the monster at an anchor point, building a line to flank in the beast and pinch off its head for total containment.

"If you go out and throw people all around it then it's wasted effort," said David Liebersbach, a former Type 1 incident commander and past director of Alaska's emergency services. "You find a point where you can anchor in. You work out from that in a continuous line so you don't have a chance blowing out."

But this fire, with its ever-shifting boundaries and multiple heads, isn't a textbook case.

Bizarro Earth

Southern half of Western Australia braces for second cyclonic 125km/h blast

Strong winds battered South-West coastal communities of Western Australia as a dangerous storm front approached overnight.

The intense storm packing dangerous winds of up to 125km/h - consistent with a category two cyclone - is expected to persist into the early hours of thismorning.

Last night Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin have already recorded gusts of up to 96km/h, while winds at Busselton Airport have touched 87km/h.

Closer to the metropolitan area, Rottnest Island was also being buffeted with persistent gusts above 80km/h.


Cloud Lightning

Rare tornado hits Venice

At around 11am today, a tornado hit Venice in Italy. Initial reports indicate that trees were damaged, market stalls overturned and some buildings were damaged. No injuries have been reported,

One of the worst hit areas was the Sant'Elena island where an open air market was in progress. The tornado caused terrified shoppers to dash for cover.

A water bus ticket office had its roof ripped off by the tornado which some reports stated was a waterspout. A number of boats were capsized.

Around one hundred trees on Certosa Island were knocked down by the tornado and the outdoor dining area of the island's restaurant was completely destroyed.

On Sant'Erasmo island, the roofs were removed from around a dozen houses, according to reports from emergency services in the area. In the interests of safety, the cemetery on Sant'Erasmo island has been closed.

Here are two videos of today's tornado:


Comment: Here's a third video, from up close;




Cloud Lightning

Wuhan city in china covered in sudden mysterious yellow haze

© AFP
A thick yellow cloud covers a busy intersection in Wuhan on June 11. Wuhan was blanketed by thick yellowish cloud Monday, raising fears of pollution among its nine million inhabitants, residents told AFP. Witnesses said the haze appeared suddenly in the morning, and residents rushed to put on face masks
Young and old residents of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan were advised to stay indoors on Monday after a thick haze blanketed the city of nine million people, official media said.

Described by residents as opaque with yellowish and greenish tinges, the fug descended suddenly in the morning, prompting people to rush to put on face masks, witnesses told AFP.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted the environmental protection department of Hubei province saying in a statement: "Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors."

Xinhua said straw burning was the cause and denied there had been any industrial accidents in or near Wuhan, after Internet rumours suggested there had been an explosion at a chemical complex northeast of the city.

"I looked out of the window of my office and I could not believe my eyes," said resident Li Yunzhong.

Bizarro Earth

Sri Lankan geologist says a new tectonic plate being created in the region

Colombo: A Sri Lankan geologist says that the new earthquake patterns indicate the creation of a new tectonic plate in the region.

Athula Senaratne, a professor of the Peradeniya University's Geological Research Department has said that the recent quake patterns showed the creation of a new tectonic plate.

He has said that investigations are currently underway to determine the reason for the quakes, felt in some parts of the country on May 26th, had not been recorded in the instruments in Sri Lanka and India.

Heart - Black

Update: Afghans Fear 80 Dead After Quake Triggers Landslide

Kunduz, Afghanistan - An earthquake in Afghanistan triggered a landslide which buried mud homes in a mountain village and rescuers feared at least 80 people had been killed, provincial officials said on Tuesday,


Two quakes with magnitudes of 5.4 and 5.7 struck mountainous northern Afghanistan on Monday, bringing a slide of mud and rocks down on the remote settlement.

The governor of Baghlan province said 22 homes were buried but the bodies of only two women had been recovered. Twenty people were in hospital with injuries.

"We don't think we will be able to take out the other bodies," Governor Abdul Majid said.

A rescue team only had one bulldozer to try to clear the rubble, he said.

"We will hold a prayer for the victims."

The United Nations said it was working with authorities in the area to determine what aid was needed.

Afghanistan's north is prone to earthquakes. A 2002 quake in the same province killed more than 2,000 people.

Bizarro Earth

Guatemala's Fuego Volcano Erupts

© Hispanically Speaking News
The Fuego volcano, located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of this capital, on Sunday spewed a column of ash up to a kilometer (about 3,300 feet) high, a government agency reported.

The National Vulcanology Institute said in a communique that the volcano, which rises 3,763 meters (12,230 feet) above sea level, on Sunday erupted effusively, according to seismic recordings and the images received from a camera at the observatory at Panimache.

The volcano's activity presently consists of emissions of red hot lava being hurled from the crater to a height of some 500 meters (1,625 feet), the agency said.

The institute went on to say that three rivers of lava were emerging from the crater and moving down the sides of the mountain.

In addition, two emissions of ash rising from 800 to 1,000 meters (about 2,600 feet to 3,300 feet) were blowing southeast.

The vulcanology institute warned that although the eruption presently consists of an effusion of lava, the possibility exists that in the coming hours the volcano's activity will increase to a pyroclastic flow of the kind experienced on May 19 and May 25.

Igloo

NASA Predicts Lowest Sunspot Max in 100 Years

© Hathaway/NASA/MSFC
The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 60 in the Spring of 2013. We are currently over three years into Cycle 24. The current predicted size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle in about 100 years.

The prediction method has been slightly revised. The previous method found a fit for both the amplitude and the starting time of the cycle along with a weighted estimate of the amplitude from precursor predictions (polar fields and geomagnetic activity near cycle minimum). Recent work [see Hathaway Solar Physics; 273, 221 (2011)] indicates that the equatorward drift of the sunspot latitudes as seen in the Butterfly Diagram follows a standard path for all cycles provided the dates are taken relative to a starting time determined by fitting the full cycle. Using data for the current sunspot cycle indicates a starting date of May of 2008. Fixing this date and then finding the cycle amplitude that best fits the sunspot number data yields the current (revised) prediction.

Predicting the behavior of a sunspot cycle is fairly reliable once the cycle is well underway (about 3 years after the minimum in sunspot number occurs [see Hathaway, Wilson, and Reichmann Solar Physics; 151, 177 (1994)]). Prior to that time the predictions are less reliable but nonetheless equally as important. Planning for satellite orbits and space missions often require knowledge of solar activity levels years in advance.

A number of techniques are used to predict the amplitude of a cycle during the time near and before sunspot minimum. Relationships have been found between the size of the next cycle maximum and the length of the previous cycle, the level of activity at sunspot minimum, and the size of the previous cycle.

Among the most reliable techniques are those that use the measurements of changes in the Earth's magnetic field at, and before, sunspot minimum. These changes in the Earth's magnetic field are known to be caused by solar storms but the precise connections between them and future solar activity levels is still uncertain.

Cloud Lightning

30ft Massive swell sets stage for unforgettable big-wave surfing session

Kelly Slater was victorious Monday in the Volcom Fiji Pro at Tavarua, but the bigger story was the massive swell that slammed the remote island earlier during the ASP World Championship Tour competition. The waves became so large and dangerous on Friday that the contest was called off after two heats, but that did not stop a handful of event surfers and some of the world's premier big-wave riders from participating in the most epic free-surfing session ever held at Tavarua.
© Unknown