Earth ChangesS


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.


Australia: White kangaroo spotted near Mount Burr

A rare white kangaroo was seen near Mount Burr just after dawn on Monday.

It is believed to have been an albino and was spotted at 6.45am.

The kangaroo was seen near the junction of the Millicent-Mount Burr Road and the road leading to the Mount Burr golf course.

This area is well known for having a high density of kangaroos and they are often seen at dawn and dusk.

The sighting was by made by two workmen who were traveling to Millicent in a vehicle.


Australia: Spider invasion in Bowen

Whistling Spider
© UnknownA bird-eating spider found at a Bowen business
In a scene that could almost be out of a B-grade monster movie, giant spiders have invaded Bowen.

For about six weeks, residents have reported seeing huge bird-eating spiders crawling around their backyards and gardens.

Amalgamated Pest Control Bowen pest technician Audy Geiszler took this incredible photo of one of the spiders he caught wandering across the garden of a restaurant near the town's centre.

Mr Geiszler estimated its body alone was 5cm long, a specimen declared 'especially large' by the Queensland Museum. Most grow to be the size of a man's hand.