Earth ChangesS


Famous San Francisco Sea Lions Leave in Droves

© AP Photo/Ben MargotTourists watch sea lions on boat docks at Pier 39 in San Francisco.
Two mysteries surround a huge herd of sea lions that were hanging out on a pier in San Francisco Bay: Why did so many show up, and why did so many leave at once?

Just last month, Pier 39, famous in San Francisco for its sea lions and the throngs of tourists they attract, was groaning under the weight of more than 1,500 of the animals. The record number delighted tourists and baffled experts.

Marine experts suspect the sea lions came and stayed for the food, then left largely for the same reason.

"Most likely, they left chasing a food source," said Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, which runs an information center and gift shop at Pier 39. "It's probably what kept them here in the first place."

Bizarro Earth

5.5 Earthquake Jolts Northeast India

An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, jolted parts of India's North-East today.

This was the second quake in the region in the past three days, after a tremor, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, had rocked some parts of the North-East on December 29.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today's quake was felt at 1527 hours and had its epicentre at latitude 27.3 N and longitude 91.4 E in Bhutan at a depth of seven km below the earth's surface.

There were no reports of damage to life or property.


To a Mosquito, Matchmaking Means "Singing" in Perfect Harmony

Researchers have new insight into the sex lives of the much-maligned mosquitoes that are responsible for the vast majority of malaria deaths, according to a report published online on December 31st in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. In finding a partner of the right species type, male and female mosquitoes depend on their ability to "sing" in perfect harmony. Those tones are produced and varied based on the frequency of their wing beats in flight.

"Everyone must be familiar with the maddening whine a mosquito makes as it hones in for a bite," said Gabriella Gibson of the University of Greenwich at Medway. "There's no doubt many of us have wondered why it makes its presence so obvious - surely, after all of these centuries of blood-feeding, selection should have favored a more stealthy approach that would leave mosquitoes less vulnerable to the defensive attacks of its unsettled host. Our findings suggest that mosquitoes rely on the sounds they make to attract a mate of the right species, a behavior that is far more vulnerable to selection than avoiding the risk of being squashed by the rare host that is still awake at feeding time."

The Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in fact include a considerable amount of genetic diversity, representing a complex of seven species and several chromosomal forms. And that diversity comes with real consequences for humans, explained Gibson and Ian Russell of the University of Sussex. The complexity of malaria epidemiology and control is due in part to the mosquito's remarkable genetic plasticity, enabling its adaptation to a widening range of human-influenced habitats.

Cloud Lightning

Extreme Northern Plains Cold Sweeping Northern US

An arctic chill will slam the northern Plains over the next couple of days with subzero temperatures. The core of the coldest air will be across North Dakota and Minnesota, where daytime highs will be in the single digits and overnight lows could reach as low as minus 25 degrees.

Typical high temperatures this time of year are in the low to middle 20s, but with an arctic boundary pushing across the region, temperatures will be 20-25 degrees below normal. Friday will be the coldest of the next two days with highs in northern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota below zero.

Nights will be frigid with furnaces getting a workout. Temperatures will be 10-20 degrees below normal for overnight lows. When normal lows are in the single digits to begin with, anything below normal is bitterly cold.


877 new snowfall records set or tied in the USA in the last week

And that's not all, for the week ending Dec 13th, there were 815 new snowfall records set. December 2009 is shaping up to be quite the snowmaker. Here's a map showing continental USA records:

Continental USA Snowfall Records 12/20/09-12/27/09

Cloud Lightning

Six killed as Big New Year Freeze takes deadly grip of Britain

© Nigel BennettPolice block off access to the M62 motorway after the fatal crash which claimed the lives of three men
Three men have died in a crash on a snow-affected motorway and two killed by an avalanche as Britons were told to prepare for New Year's Eve weather chaos.

The men killed in the crash, who are believed to be from the Preston area, died after their Mitsubishi left the westbound carriageway of the M62 near Huddersfield in snowy conditions and collided with the nearside barrier.

Britain's deep freeze also claimed the lives of two climbers in an avalanche on Ben Nevis. It was one of three to hit Scotland within a matter of hours. The second, in Torridon, Wester Ross, claimed the life of a 53-year-old climber from Derbyshire. He had been found alive but died later from internal injuries in hospital.

The deaths came as forecasters warned temperatures are set to drop below freezing on New Year's Eve with sleet, snow and rain almost certain to plunge the country into chaos once again.

Cloud Lightning

Mother Nature Exacts Her Revenge: It was so warm it snowed

Beyond the old margarine commercial's warning that "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature," we're now learning that it's also dangerous to fool with her.

She doesn't take kindly to puny old mankind's absurd attempts to manage the climate through laws and treaties.

A case in point is Mother Nature's icy blast on the heels of the Denmark conference on global warming, a gigantic hoax now known as "climate change," because it starting getting colder around what the superior class calls the fin de siecle - a Frenchified way of saying the turn of the century.

As the delegates met and dined well and drank well - thanks to the generosity of their country's national treasuries - while hearkening to the wisdom of former Vice President Al Gore, in the words of the old song, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. The weather outside [was] frightful."

Bad Guys

Conflict of Interest: IPCC Chairman Pachuri's services to Big Business

R.K. Pachuri
© Unknown
Seek and ye will find, as Bishop Hill notes. Our friendly part-time chairman of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, is quite a remarkable man. As well as his onerous post with the UN's IPCC, it seems he has a considerable number of other interests.

Dr Pachauri's main day job is, of course, Director-General of The Energy Research Institute (TERI) - which he has held since April 2001, having become its Director and head in 1981 when it was the Tata Energy Research Institute.

Intriguingly, for such an upstanding public servant though, he is also a strategic advisor to the private equity investment firm Pegasus Capital Advisors LP, which he became in February of this year. However, this is by no means Dr Pachauri's only foray into the world of finance. In December 2007, be became a member of the Senior Advisory Board of Siderian ventures based in San Francisco.

Evil Rays

Satellite Tracks North Pole Wolf

© USGSA spaghetti map for Brutus' movements
A male wolf nicknamed Brutus is wearing a satellite tracking collar to learn how wolves fare during harsh winters near the North Pole.

David Mech, a wolf researcher from the U.S. Geological Survey has studied the wolves of Canada's Ellesmere Island for 24 years. This is the first year he's attached a collar to any of them. The project was announced earlier this month.

"We made a huge technological jump from notebook and pens to satellite collars because we wanted to find out what these arctic wolves do in winter in areas when it is dark 24 hours a day and temperatures can fall to -70 degrees Fahrenheit," Mech said in a release Monday.

Ninety-pound Brutus leads a pack of at least 12 adults and six to 12 pups. Recent satellite readings tracked him about 25 miles north of where his pups had been living to a winter feeding ground rich with musk oxen and arctic hares.


Scientific American's Climate Lies

In December 2009, Scientific American, once a respected popular-science journal and now a pulp science-fiction picture comic, viciously attacked US Senator James Inhofe because he had proclaimed 2009 to be the Year of the Skeptic. By skepticism, he meant "standing up and exposing the science, the costs and the hysteria behind global warming alarmism".

Venomously, Science Fiction American's editorial comment continued: "Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists." Yah-Boo! This name-calling marks the depth of unscientific desperation to which the proponents of the "global warming" nonsense have now sunk.

Unscientific American pompously continued: "Not everyone who questions climate change science fits that description, of course - some people are genuinely unaware of the facts or honestly disagree about their interpretation. What distinguishes the true naysayers is an unwavering dedication to denying the need for action on the problem, often with weak and long-disproved arguments about supposed weaknesses in the science behind global warming."