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Wed, 27 Jan 2021
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


Monarch butterfly population getting closer to extinction - less than 2,000 of western population counted wintering in California

Monarch butterfly pauses in a field of goldenrod
© Gene J. Puskar
In this Sept. 11, 2020 file photo, a Monarch butterfly pauses in a field of goldenrod at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting the orange-and-black insects closer to extinction, researchers announced Tuesday.

An annual winter count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 2,000 butterflies, a massive decline from the tens of thousands tallied in recent years and the millions that clustered in trees from Northern California's Marin County to San Diego County in the south in the 1980s.

Western monarch butterflies head south from the Pacific Northwest to California each winter, returning to the same places and even the same trees, where they cluster to keep warm. The monarchs generally arrive in California at the beginning of November and spread across the U.S. once warmer weather arrives in March.

Cloud Grey

Clouds fill snow-dusted Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was filled with low clouds on Jan. 24, due to a partial cloud inversion, which is when warm air covers cold air, trapping clouds between the canyon walls.

Cloud Precipitation

Kruger Park floods as Eloise strikes South Africa, roads under water in north of country

An unusual red level 10 warning has been issued by the SA Weather Service for eastern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga for Sunday into Monday.

This is due to persistent heavy rain, with "more heavy rain expected tonight into tomorrow".

"This will cause serious strain on emergency services. Take extreme caution in these areas," SAWS said.

Tropical storm Eloise is currently over the north of the country.

Roads are flooding, as is the Kruger National Park where rivers are overflowing and all gravel roads closed.


New split in Mount Etna's crater dissects the volcano

Mount Etna erupting
© YouTube/RT (screen capture)
Lava rocks fly into the air and orange streams ooze down Mount Etna's slopes as new split in crater dissects the volcano.

Snowflake Cold

Winter storm brings rare snowfall to Malibu, just one week after temperatures were in the 80s

Malibu snow
On Saturday snow fell in Malibu, an unusual occurrence that prompted drivers to get out their cars to play by the side of the road, pictured on social media
A rare dusting of snow fell in Malibu on Saturday, just one week after temperatures hit the 80s.

The surprise arrival of snow and hail in the LA County caused both delight to locals who pulled out sleds, and increased road traffic accidents.

Drivers along the Malibu Canyon Road posted photos and videos on social media of them getting out their cars in wonder and playing in the light powder in an area where temperatures in January don't usually drop lower than 20F.

The photos were a sharp contrast to just days earlier when beach-goers enjoyed unexpected temperatures in the 80s.


Heavy snowfall in Skellefteå, Sweden


Heavy snow in Skellefteå, Sweden - 23 January 2021


Death toll from snow shoveling reaches 70 in Japan

People remove snow from their house in Minakam
People remove snow from their house in Minakami, Gunma Prefecture, on Dec. 16.
The death toll related to snow shoveling has reached 70 this winter, a Jiji Press tally showed.

Deaths were reported in 10 prefectures — Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui.

People aged 70 or over accounted for 48 of the deaths. In many cases, older people died after falling from a roof while removing snow.

Local officials say that people should avoid clearing snow from the roof by themselves.


Lack of oxygen and algae blooms identified as cause of mass mortality event of starfish

© Massimiliano Finzi/Getty Images
In 2013, the lives of millions of sea stars were mysteriously extinguished. Limbs that were once strong, probing arms searching for sustenance, shrivelled and tore themselves away from the rest of their bodies and melted into a sickly goo.

"There were arms everywhere," ecologist Drew Harvell told The Atlantic's Ed Yong last year. "It looked like a blast zone."

The dismal remains of these animals, who are usually capable of regenerating their own limbs, were strewn along the entire West Coast of North America, in one of the largest mass wildlife mortality events ever recorded. Over 20 species of sea stars were perishing.

In some areas, sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) populations dropped by an average of around 90 percent in weeks, a loss that saw this once common and abundant species vanish from most of its range in just a few years.

Comment: Mass mortality events caused by algae blooms are in the news more often recently, and the correlation of ocean anoxia with previous extinction level events is likely to be warning sign of what's to come: Also check out SOTT radio's:

Cloud Precipitation

Tropical Cyclone Eloise: At least 9 dead as storm sweeps Africa's east coast

Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Beira, Mozambique on Saturday

Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Beira, Mozambique on Saturday
At least nine people died on Saturday after Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique in Africa's southeast, bringing rain and powerful winds of around 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour.

The victims died in the worst-hit port city of Beira, most of them killed by falling trees, authorities said.

Cars were submerged in water, walls of some low lying buildings collapsed and swathes of land were flooded in the city, posts on social media showed.

The districts of Buzi and Nhamatanda were affected by severe flooding.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi is set to travel to the area.

Cloud Lightning

'Blue jet' lightning detected from International Space Station

The International Space Station spotted an exotic type of upside-down lightning called a blue jet (illustrated) zipping up from a thundercloud into the stratosphere in 2019.

The International Space Station spotted an exotic type of upside-down lightning called a blue jet (illustrated) zipping up from a thundercloud into the stratosphere in 2019.
Intense flashes lasted only 10 milliseconds, observers say

A blue jet - a bolt of lightning that shoots upwards from thunderstorm clouds - has been spotted from the International Space Station.

The phenomenon was spotted by the European Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) near the island of Naru in the Pacific Ocean.

In an article published in the science journal Nature, astronomers describe seeing five intense blue flashes, each lasting about 10 milliseconds.

Four of the flashes were accompanied by a small pulse of ultraviolet light, which appear as rapidly expanding ring. They are formed by the interaction of electrons, radio waves and the atmosphere and are known as elves (Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources).