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Wed, 18 Jan 2017
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


Rare giant ice circle appears briefly in Washington State river

© Kaylyn Messer
This weekend, word spread via Facebook that a large circle of ice was spinning in small river just outside of Seattle. After seeing a quick video of it in her feed, photographer Kaylyn Messer jumped in her car and was fortunate to witness the incredible sight of this gargantuan ice disc as it spun in the current of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River.

"The ice circle was pretty captivating," Messer shared with Colossal. "You can hear the sound of the river flowing continuously. Sounds from the ice periodically interjected with very small sharp cracks and groans. Overall, it was a quiet experience to stand along the river watching the ice circle rotate."

Ice circles are a fairly rare phenomenon that occur mostly in North America and Scandinavia in slow moving rivers during the winter. The discs are formed when a large piece of ice breaks off in the river creating an effect called 'rotational shear' where the current slowly grinds away at the free-floating chunk until its smoothed into a perfect circle.

Messer shares more photos and videos of the ice disc on her blog.


Whale carcass towed to Angel Island, California for necropsy

Dead whale towed to Angel Island
A dead whale that washed up near the Oakland waterfront on Saturday is now tied to a pier on Angel Island waiting for clear weather so local marine biologists can investigate the cause of death.

The female cetacean is either a blue or fin whale and is between 40 to 60 feet long, said Marine Mammal Center spokesman Giancarlo Rulli.

On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard called the Marine Mammal Center to report a whale carcass floating upside down near Oakland's Howard Terminal, Rulli said.

The Center sent out two staffers to examine the animal, which is believed to be "sub-adult" and in "good body condition," although quite obviously dead.

Monday morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used two boats to tow the carcass to an area near Blunt Point on Angel Island, where there is ample space to haul it onto a beach for a necropsy once weather permits.

Snowflake Cold

Europe freezes: Snow on Greek and Italian beaches, Southeast USA snow covered

© Nikolay Doychinov / AFP
A man walks in a suburb of Sofia after heavy snowfall on January 7, 2017.
Europe engulfed in blizzards and record breaking snows down to the beaches of southern Italy and Greece.Coldest Orthodox Christian Christmas Eve in 120 years, Bosporus Straight closed due to sea ice and high winds, Istanbul slammed with 2+ feet of snow.

Eastern Europe's roads impassable and the Danube River freezes over.


Comment: Much of Eastern Europe is setting records for cold temperatures.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning bolt kills two in Chivhu, Zimbabwe

Two family members from Chivhu were fatally struck by a bolt of lightning two weeks ago soon after disembarking from a local bus.

Although Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Nobert Muzondo was unreachable for comment yesterday, sources at the provincial police headquarters said the incident occurred on December 24.

They identified the deceased as Georgina Sigudhu (32) and Orlens Nyabadza (age not given), of Chirume Village, under Chief Mutekedza.

Sources said the two were struck by a bolt of lightning and died on the spot as they walked home.

Officers from Masasa Police Station later attended the scene and took the corpses to Chivhu Hospital for post-mortem.


Strong 7.3 magnitude undersea earthquake strikes near the Philippines

The point where the earthquake struck.

Quake measured at a depth of 617 km, according to the US Geological Survey

A major undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck southeast of the Philippines on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake was measured at a depth of 617 km (380 miles), the USGS said. It struck in the Celebes Sea and comes five days after a smaller, 4.7-magnitude tremor in the same area, according to the USGS.

Journalist Barnaby Lo said he felt "no significant tremor" on the island of Jolo, which lies north-east of the epicentre. The US Tsunami Warning Centre has issued no warning, advisory, watch or threat after the quake.

Philippine seismologists said the earthquake was far too deep to cause any damage and casualties or generate a tsunami.

Cloud Grey

Cirrus clouds create 22-degree sun halo in Alabama sky

© Via Instagram/spannpix
Sun halo today over East Alabama...
A veil of high and mid-level clouds spreading across the Tennessee Valley Sunday was the perfect setup to see a rare sight in the sky.

Several WHNT News 19 viewers, including Ramona Edwards and Tressi Downs, shared pictures with us of a large ring around the sun.

This optical feature is called a 22-degree sun halo.

Earthsky.org explains it very simply:
Halos are a sign of high thin cirrus clouds drifting 20,000 feet or more above our heads. These clouds contain millions of tiny ice crystals. The halos you see are caused by both refraction, or splitting of light, and also by reflection, or glints of light from these ice crystals.


Iconic 1,000yo California Pioneer Cabin tree falls victim to winter storm at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

The powerful winter storm affecting California has claimed its oldest victim; the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree, which is thought to be up to 1000 years old, was felled yesterday.

Photos of the fallen icon, captured by park volunteer Jim Allday, were posted to the Calaveras Big Trees Association Facebook page, accompanied by the caption: "The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen! This iconic and still living tree - the tunnel tree - enchanted many visitors. The storm was just too much for it."


Earthquake of magnitude 3.5 recorded at Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland

© Páll Stefánsson.
An earthquake of magnitude 3.5 occurred in the northern caldera of Bárðarbunga volcano in Vatnajökull glacier shortly before noon yesterday. A few aftershocks followed, the largest of which measured 2.3 magnitude.

The Icelandic Met Office, which reported the seismicity, stated that there were no indications of volcanic activity in the area, ruv.is reports.

Bárðarbunga caused the 2014-2015 eruption in Holuhraun in the northeastern highlands.


Up to 80 swans killed by bird flu at UK nature reserve; avian influenza found at 8 other sites in the country

Up to 80 wild swans at the Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset have died after a bird flu outbreak
A famous swannery owned by one of the richest women in Britain has been struck by a bird flu epidemic.

Eighty wild swans have died at the historic Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset - with nine confirmed cases of H5N8 strain of avian influenza.

The site is owned by Charlotte Townshend, the granddaughter of the 7th Earl of Ilchester and daughter of the 9th Viscount Galway.

The 61-year-old - whose fortune has been estimated at £420 million - is the only person in Britain other than the Queen entitled to own swans.

It is the same strain of avian flu that has broken out in other areas of Britain, including the Wildfowl and Wetlands Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire.

The case is the latest of wild birds testing positive for avian influenza this winter


Surfer injured in suspected shark attack off Bali, Indonesia

An Australian man has reportedly been injured in a suspected shark attack while he was surfing at Balian Beach, Bali.

Local newspaper Tribun Bali is reporting that Daniel Qeran, 48, was out surfing when he was allegedly attacked by a shark at 7:30 am on Monday morning.

Qeran has reportedly suffered wounds on his right big toe from the suspected shark attack.

"It's alleged that the victim is suffering from a shark bite. The victim has been taken to BIMC Hospital in Badung," Tabanan Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Putu Oka Suyasa told Tribun Bali.