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Sat, 25 Feb 2017
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Earth Changes


Abnormal seismic swarm detected under Lanin volcano on the border of Chile and Argentina

© Hugo Moreno (University of Chile)
Lanin volcano
An energetic seismic swarm has been detected under Lanin volcano on the border of Chile and Argentina, prompting the Chilean National Geological and Mining Service (Sernageomin) to raise the volcanic alert level to Yellow. The last known eruption of this volcano took place in the year 560 (± 150 years).

According to Sernageomin's special report issued February 15, a swarm of earthquakes, associated with the movement of fluids inside the volcano, started at 18:24 UTC and lasted 59 minutes and 45 seconds. The strongest earthquake had a magnitude 1.8.

No changes have so far been observed at the surface.

Sernageomin said the seismicity continued after they issued the report and estimated that there could be a destabilization of the volcanic system.

Given the relevance of this unusual activity, the agency has raised the alert level to Yellow.

This has activated the Civil Protection System and the notification to the Argentine Mining Geological Service to take measures to safeguard the population on both sides of the border.


Record drought to record rain in 3 months: Many rivers in northern California at or above flood stage

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in parts of Northern California Monday, February 20, 2017, as another heavy rainmaker slammed the region.

Many rivers in Northern California are at or above flood stage after a series of powerful storms hit the state in recent months. There are reports of flooded streets and trees and debris crashing into roadways. More than a dozen reports of flooding and debris flows have come in Monday from as far south as Monterey and as far north as Santa Rosa, according to The Weather Channel.

Two people have lost their lives Monday morning on a rural road between Oakdale and Waterford after head-on crash due to wet road, bringing the total death toll in California to 9 in just a few days.

I-80 westbound is currently closed from the Nevada state line through Donner Pass due to multiple vehicle collisions.

Comment: What a phenomenal turn-around by Mother Nature: 3 months ago, California's reservoirs were bone dry - now they're bursting at the seams!


Summer snow for Australia and 58 glaciers growing across New Zealand

The base camera at Mount Mawson in Tasmania
Summer snows blanket New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Coldest temperatures in Perth breaking records back to 1879 and new report out shows that 58 glaciers in New Zealand are advancing. The repeated summer snow events are showing a clear trend that growing seasons are becoming shorter.



Disappearing honey bee population could spell trouble for some crops

Honey bee
The honey bee contributes to a third of the country's food supply but the population is declining. Last year eight percent of the bees disappeared according to the American Beekeepers Federation. The situation was more severe between 2015 and 2016 when there was a 44 percent decrease in colonies.

Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the President of the Bee Informed Partnership, says if this trend continues it could limit the food American's eat. "If we didn't have honey bees, we certainly would lose a lot of our diet," vanEngelsdorp said. He told Fox that would include blueberries, strawberries and vegetables.

The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by humans. The species can pollinate over 75 percent of flowering plants and crops, making it one of the top pollinators in the U.S. That means the bee can travel up to 6 miles a day and pollinate between 50 to 100 flowers per trip. The pollination process occurs when the pollen sac from one flower sticks to a honey bee's legs and is transferred to another plant. The pollen within the sac spills out when the bee lands on the plant, causing it to be fertilized.

Arrow Down

Brutal ivory trade: Poachers are decimating elephant populations in Africa's most important nature preserve

© Thomas Breuer/PLoS

The population of forest elephants in Gabon's Minkébé National Park—one of Central Africa's largest and most important nature preserves—has declined by a whopping 81.5 percent since 2004 due to poaching. It's considered a major setback for the preservation of this endangered species, of which less than 100,000 remain in the wild.

A discouraging new study published in Current Biology shows that 25,000 elephants were poached in Minkébé National Park for their ivory between 2004 and 2014. That's a lot more than expected, amounting to approximately six to seven elephants killed each day over a 10 year period.

At the turn of the 21st century, the 7,570 square kilometer Minkébé National Park featured the highest population density of forest elephants in all of Central Africa. Given that half of Central Africa's forest elephants, which are distinct from the more well-known savannah elephants, live in Gabon, these losses represent a major setback for the species.

Comment: African elephant populations facing extinction due to hunting and poaching for ivory


Old man in critical condition after bear attack in Odisha, India

An elderly man was seriously injured this morning after a bear attacked him when he had gone to attend nature's call at a farmland near his home in Balasore district of Odisha.

The injured was identified as 70-year-old Bhagaban Nayak of Mahishapata village under Nilagiri police limits in the district.

According to reports, a bear attacked the old man's waist in the morning when he was in a farmland to answer the call of nature.

Bhagaban screamed following the attack and villagers rushed to rescue him from the claws of the wild animal.

He was rushed to Balasore District Headquarters Hospital in a critical condition where on duty doctors suggested to shift him to SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack.

Later, he was shifted to SCBMCH for treatment.


Rare 'fire rainbow' lights up the sky over Singapore

© Chi Navarro
The fire rainbow above Singapore

Observers say fleeting phenomenon lasted 15 minutes

Singapore was treated to a rare weather phenomenon as an apparent "fire rainbow" lit up the sky.

Weather watchers on the island state in south-east Asia were treated to the multi-coloured glow yesterday.

The stunning scene may also have been cloud iridescence. Both phenomena can be caused by the refraction of light through ice crystals, or in the case of iridescence, by water droplets.

For iridescence to occur clouds must be thin so the sun's rays encounter very little water.

The technical name for a fire rainbow is a "circumhorizontal arc".

The light show persisted for about 15 minutes and could reportedly be seen across the island.

Bizarro Earth

Strong 6.5 magnitude tremor strikes Bolivia

A strong earthquake (terremoto) with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 has struck a mountainous region in central Bolivia, with shaking felt in Sucre, Potosi, Padilla and other cities across the region,.seismologists and residents say.

The earthquake, which struck at 10:09 a.m. local time on Tuesday, was centered about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the town of Padilla in the Chuquisaca Department, or 143 kilometers (89 miles) east of the city of Sucre. It struck at a depth of 596 kilometers (370 miles), making it a deep earthquake.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude of Tuesday's earthquake at 6.5. The depth of the earthquake is likely to have minimized the effects of the quake and there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Tuesday's tremor is the strongest tremor to hit Bolivia since November 2011, when a 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of Trinidad in north-central Bolivia.

We're working to gather more information.


No surprise here - Thousands of spills at U.S. oil and gas fracking sites

© Science for Nature and People Partnership
A map showing spills sites in North Dakota over the ten years of the study
Up to 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year, according to new research from US scientists. They found that there had been 6,600 releases from these fracked wells over a ten-year period in four states. The biggest problems were reported in oil-rich North Dakota where 67% of the spills were recorded. The largest spill recorded involved 100,000 litres of fluid with most related to storing and moving liquids.

Higher numbers

The rapid growth in the extraction of oil and gas from unconventional sources in the US has had a massive impact on the production and consumption of energy over the past ten years. The key to this expansion has been the use of hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting fluids with chemical additives under pressure to crack underground rock and release the trapped resources.

However, environmental campaigners have long been troubled by the potential for this process to contaminate water supplies and the environment through leaks and spills. A study carried out by the US Environment Protection Agency on fracking in eight states between 2006 and 2012 concluded that 457 spills had occurred.

But this new study, while limited to just four states with adequate data, suggests the level of spills is much higher. The researchers found 6,648 spills between 2005 and 2014.

Comment: Fracking chemicals are showing up in everyday items from toothpaste, detergents and ice cream
Fracking - you are not important
Fracking banned in Victoria, Australia
Holy frack: More concern arises over groundwater contamination from fracking


Rare great kiskadee spotted in Colleton County, South Carolina

© Kelley Luicky
Great kiskadee on Bear Island
Avid birders have been flocking to the Bear Island Wildlife Management Area in Colleton County for the past 10 days to see a bird that likely has never before visited the Palmetto State.

A great kiskadee - a large, "boisterous" flycatcher typically found in South and Central America, Mexico and the southern edge of Texas - was first spotted by nature photographer Kelley Luikey of Port Royal on the morning of Feb. 9.

"When I arrived at Bear Island that morning, the light and the birds were not cooperating in the areas I had planned on shooting, so I went looking for what else I could find," said Luikey, who was alone.

When she first saw the bird, her view was obscured by branches of a pecan tree, but she was able to keep tracking it because of its call, which is known to be loud and sounds like "kis-ka-dee."

"It was unmistakably something that we do not have here in South Carolina," said Luikey, recalling its bright colors.