Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Heavy Pre-Season Snow in Australia

Perisher New South Wales Ski Resort
© SkiInfoPerisher

Over half-a-metre (20 inches) of snow has been falling on Australia's ski slopes over the past 48 hours, with most still not expecting to open for nearly six weeks or more.

Snow continues to fall at Perisher in New South Wales. From the peaks to the valleys, a thick layer of snow can be found, making the resort look more like July than April. Another 25cm (10 inches) of snow settled across the upper elevations on Monday night, April 27th.

Overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius and it is currently 0 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the Forester Quad Express. Weather forecasters have predicted that overnight temperatures will stay nice and cool with more snow showers expected in early May. Cold temperatures will also allow Perisher to commence its snowmaking operations earlier as well.

Better Earth

Southern Hemisphere Ski Season Starts Five Weeks Early

Mt Buller
© SkiInfoMt Buller

The southern hemisphere's ski season will have one of its earliest openings on record this weekend when Mt Buller in Australia runs its lifts on Saturday, May 2nd.

The resort, in Victoria province, had not planned to open before June and the new date is five weeks ahead of schedule. It's the area's earliest opening in its 45 year history.

The opening is the result of unseasonably cold weather which brought up to 50cm (20 inches) of snow to many of Australia's ski fields (Buller has 35cm/14 inches), although currently there are no reports of any others planning to follow Mt Buller and open early.


End Of Season Snow Boost For French Alps

French Alps Snow
© SkiInfoStill more fresh snow to groom in France

Despite the late date in the season, powder alarms were in double figures this week with many of the resorts that are still open in the Alps reporting falls of 30-60cm (12-24 inches).

France got the best of the snow yesterday with Tignes, Val d'Isere, Val Thorens, Argentiere and Chamonix all reporting heavy new snowfalls on Tuesday (28 April), La Grave had 20cm (eight inches) of new snow on Sunday (26 April).


Last Week of Winter in France, But it's Still Snowing

Tignes ski slope
© SkiInfoTignes

Two resorts are left open in France, but both Chamonix and Tignes will close for the winter this weekend on Sunday May 10th. Then there's a month's wait until the country's three summer ski options - Tignes, Val d'Isere and Les 2 Alpes open. In the meantime the only snow skiing in France will be indoors, at the Amneville indoor slope.


Thick Arctic ice surprises scientific expedition

Ice in the Arctic is often twice as thick as expected, report surprised scientists who returned last week from a major scientific expedition. The scientists - a 20-member contingent from Canada, the U.S., Germany, and Italy - spent one month exploring the North Pole as well as never-before measured regions of the Arctic. Among their findings: Rather than finding newly formed ice to be two metres thick, "we measured ice thickness up to four metres," stated a spokesperson for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research of the Helmholtz Association, Germany's largest scientific organization.

The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the six research organizations involved in the month-long expedition, called Pan-Arctic Measurements and Arctic Climate Model Inter Comparison Project. The other five include three from Canada (Environment Canada, University of Alberta, York University) one from the U.S. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and one from Italy (Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

Comment: You also see a story on this research here.

Inconvenient Eisdicken - "surprising results" from the Arctic

Evil Rays

Sorry, Al Gore, but Public Cares About the Economy, Not Global Warming

He admits that it's counterintuitive, but Gallup Poll Editor Frank Newport says he sees no evidence that Al Gore's campaign against global warming is winning. "It's just not caught on," says Newport. "They have failed." Or, more bluntly: "Any measure that we look at shows Al Gore's losing at the moment. The public is just not that concerned." What the public is worried about: the economy. Newport says the economy trumps the environment right now, a strong indicator that President Obama's bid to put a cap-and-trade pollution regime into operation isn't likely to be politically popular.


NOAA SWPC Solar Cycle 24 Prediction: "weakest since 1928″

Hot off the press from noon today, published at 12:03 PM. Looks like a peak of 90 spots/month in 2013 now. Place your bets on whether that will be an overshooting forecast or not. - Anthony

UPDATE2: Minutes later @12:15PM. Dammit, they changed the graphs back! Anybody have cache files? - Anthony

UPDATE3: @12:20 PM And now it's back.

UPDATE4: @ 12:45PM There are some serious problems with the SWPC page, the sunspot graph content keeps changing and the 10.7 flux graph is just plain wrong. They also have no written press release. What a train wreck.

UPDATE5: @1:00PM I called Doug Biesecker, SWPC's "media relations" director at both of his numbers, to ask what is going on. No answer. Left a request for a call-back.

UPDATE6: @1:40PM I heard from Doug Biesecker, he said they are having server issues, he and his webmaster were working to fix the problem. He also said the press conference was recorded and he would be sending an audio link. Look for it here soon.

UPDATE7: @2:10PM looks like SWPC has their web page fixed now. Thanks Doug.

UPDATE8: @2:18PM Found the NOAA SWPC press release (linked at and it is reprinted below the "read more" line. I also changed the title of this post to reflect the quote in the feature story/PR from SWPC.


NOAA Predicts Solar Cycle 24

Sunspots  May 06, 2009

A new active period of Earth-threatening solar storms will be the weakest since 1928 and its peak is still four years away, after a slow start last December, predicts an international panel of experts led by NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. Even so, Earth could get hit by a devastating solar storm at any time, with potential damages from the most severe level of storm exceeding $1 trillion. NASA funds the prediction panel.

Solar storms are eruptions of energy and matter that escape from the sun and may head toward Earth, where even a weak storm can damage satellites and power grids, disrupting communications, the electric power supply and GPS. A single strong blast of solar wind can threaten national security, transportation, financial services and other essential functions.

The panel predicts the upcoming Solar Cycle 24 will peak in May 2013 with 90 sunspots per day, averaged over a month. If the prediction proves true, Solar Cycle 24 will be the weakest cycle since number 16, which peaked at 78 daily sunspots in 1928, and ninth weakest since the 1750s, when numbered cycles began.

Bizarro Earth

5.3 Earthquake hits Indonesia

An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale rocked South Aceh district of Aceh province, Indonesia, on Friday, but there was no reports of casualties and material losses.

The quake which took place at 20:19 p.m. local time caused panic and citizens rushed out their homes, said the national Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

The epicenter of the quake was located at 42 km southeast of Tapaktuan, capital of the South Aceh district.


New Zealand: Storm stumps forecasters

Weather forecasters admit the finer details of the approaching storm have them at a loss.

The advances of science, multimillion-dollar technology and computer modelling allow them to say the shape and timing of the system is becoming clearer, but they cannot pinpoint the location of the worst of the expected rain, snow and gales.

MetService severe-weather forecaster Allister Gorman said there was no doubt a big low-pressure system would cover New Zealand from Sunday.