Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Saudi Arabia freezes as weather records shattered

Unusually cold weather has smashed decades-old records in Saudi Arabia, with meteorologists forecasting a further cooling, the al-Watan newspaper said on Wednesday.

The cold snap has mainly hit northern parts of the country, where temperatures reached a record low of -6 degree Centigrade (21.2 degree Fahrenheit), freezing water in pipes and closing schools and other facilities. Local authorities had to ration kerosene due to an acute shortage of fuel for heating purposes.


Alaska glacier speed-up tied to internal plumbing issues, says CU-Boulder study

Meltwater clogging and speeding of Kennicott Glacier may help explain behavior and acceleration of glaciers in Greenland, say researchers

A University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates meltwater periodically overwhelms the interior drainpipes of Alaska's Kennicott Glacier and causes it to lurch forward, similar to processes that may help explain the acceleration of glaciers observed recently on the Greenland ice sheet that are contributing to global sea rise.

According to CU-Boulder Professor Robert Anderson of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, the amount of water passing through conduits inside and underneath the Kennicott Glacier increases during seasonal melting and also following annual flooding from a nearby lake. The addition of excess water from melting and flooding causes water to back up into a honeycomb of passages inside the glacier, he said, suggesting the resulting increase in water pressure causes the glacier to slide more rapidly down its bedrock valley.

©Robert. S. Anderson/University of Colorado at Boulder
Alaska's Kennicott Glacier recently has been observed by scientists to be lurching, a result of meltwater and floodwater overwhelming its interior plumbing.

"The phenomenon is similar to the plumbing system of a house that is incapable of handling excess water or waste, causing it to back up," said Anderson. "This is a feedback we are still trying to understand and one that has big implications for understanding the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets, including the behavior of outlet glaciers on the Greenland ice sheet."

Cloud Lightning

Freak Gulf weather claims lives as Dubai floods

Downtown Dubai Jan. 16, 2008

Two people were killed in traffic accidents caused by rains in Dubai on Tuesday, Dubai Police announced. Colonel Omar Al Shamsi, Director of Control and Command Room, Dubai Police, said some 584 road accidents were reported on Tuesday.

People across the Gulf faced torrential downpours and may soon see a rare snowfall, in a region which traditionally holds prayers to ask for rain.

In the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, residents said the temperature had fallen to below freezing level, increasing chances that it might snow, an event Saudis usually only see on television or during travels overseas.

Cow Skull

Water buffalo gores four during Vietnam rampage

An enraged water buffalo went on an hourlong rampage in northern Vietnam, goring four people and destroying food stalls before being shot to death by police, officials said Tuesday. Crowds of curious onlookers scattered for safety after the 450-kilogram beast gored the villagers during a 3-mile tear Monday. No one was seriously injured.


Israel: Cold spell claims 3rd victim

A 50-year-old woman was found unconscious under a bench on Atzmaut Boulevard in Bat Yam Tuesday morning in what appears to be the third death related to the recent cold spell.

The woman was apparently homeless and was found with bottles of alcohol by her side.

Emergency first-responders called to the scene had no choice but to pronounce her dead.


Snowfall and freezing weather claim 120 lives in Afghanistan

The number of deaths caused by freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall in Afghanistan in the past few days reached 120 on Tuesday.

Heavy snowfall resumed today across the mountainous south Asian country, including in areas that have seen no snow for over two decades.

A total of 13 people died during the night, most of them buried under avalanches in the Daykundi and Ghor provinces in central Afghanistan. Two children froze to death in the northern province of Faryab.

Cold weather also caused an outbreak of an unidentified lung disease in Badakhshan, where 11 children died of breathing problems.


Geoscientist Finds Surprise Hidden in the Pacific

UT Dallas geoscientist Dr. Robert J. Stern and former master's student Neil Basu were part of a research team that discovered and studied an extinct underwater volcano near the southern Mariana islands, near Guam, in the western Pacific Ocean.

The volcano lies more than 300 meters below the ocean surface and contains a large volcanic depression, or caldera, that is comparable in size to better-known examples Krakatoa (Indonesia) and Crater Lake, Ore.


Northeast Winters Warming Fast

Earlier blooms. Less snow to shovel. Unseasonable warm spells. Signs that winters in the Northeast are losing their bite have been abundant in recent years and now researchers have nailed down numbers to show just how big the changes have been.

A study of weather station data from across the Northeast from 1965 through 2005 found December-March temperatures increased by 2.5 degrees. Snowfall totals dropped by an average of 8.8 inches across the region over the same period, and the number of days with at least 1 inch of snow on the ground decreased by nine days on average.

"Winter is warming greater than any other season,'' said Elizabeth Burakowski, who analyzed data from dozens of stations for her master's thesis in collaboration with Cameron Wake, a professor at the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space.


Activists threaten to ram Japanese whalers

The militant environmental group Sea Shepherd said Monday that it had located the Japanese whaling fleet near Antarctica and threatened to ram them if they resumed slaughtering the giant sea creatures.

Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd's ship, said the leading Japanese vessel, the Nisshin Maru, was now outside the hunting area and had not killed any whales in the past 48 hours.

"I think they're running scared really," he told AFP via telephone from on board the ship.

This handout picture shows the Japanese whaling vessel Yushin Maru, a catcher boat of the Japanese whaling fleet, as seen from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, in the Southern Ocean 12 January 2008. Greenpeace reported it is carrying out non-lethal research on whale populations in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from their ship, Esperanza, while en-route to stop a Japanese whaling fleet who intend to kill 935 Minke and 50 endangered Fin whales.

"When we found them originally they were down by the icebergs and as we were moving in they started running and they've been running ever since."

In response to a question, Watson confirmed he would ram the Japanese fleet if his ship came upon them killing whales.

Bizarro Earth

Tsunami Linked to Yellowstone Crater

Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. - Tsunami-like waves created by an earthquake may have triggered the world's largest known hydrothermal explosion some 13,000 years ago, a federal scientist says.