Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

US Winter Wheat Production Lower In Virtually Every State

United States winter wheat production would shrink 376 million bushels and 20% from 2008, according to USDA's June crop production estimates. Virtually every state is expected to produce less wheat.

The steepest production cut is predicted in soft red winter wheat, down 32% from 2008, due primarily to sharply reduced crop acreage. Soft red winter wheat is used for cakes, cookies, crackers and snack foods and is produced heavily in the Midwest and Mid South.

The major "breadbasket" states in the Great Plains will produce 16% less wheat than last season. Output is predicted sharply lower in Oklahoma and Texas, where a drought and freeze exacted a heavy toll on wheat. The top US wheat state Kansas is expecting average production similar to 2008. Likewise Nebraska's outlook is little changed from last year. Colorado is expecting a much larger harvest compared with a poor crop in 2008.


Southeastern Missouri farmers try to overcome wet spring, soggy crops

Bloomfield, Missouri - Southeastern Missouri's Mike Bell is among area farmers struggling to get crops planted after a wet spring.

Bell, of Bloomfield, usually has about 2,000 acres of corn planted by now. This year, he's has only 1,100 acres finished. Bell expects he'll face a harvesting date nearly a month late this fall. He was also behind on his soybean crop.


Canadian Wheat Output May Fall on Dry, Cool Weather

Canada's wheat production may fall 18 percent this year as dry, cool conditions in the western Prairies slow crop development and wet weather in Manitoba delays seeding, the Canadian Wheat Board said today in a report.

The harvest may include 16.4 million metric tons of non- durum wheat, down from 20 million tons a year earlier, and 4.4 million tons of durum varieties, down from 5.5 million tons, the CWB said in a preliminary forecast. The U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday predicted a Canadian crop of 25 million tons.

Cooler temperatures for the past four to six months may curb yields to 33.4 bushels an acre, the lowest initial projection in seven years, Bruce Burnett, the director of weather and market analysis at the CWB, said today in a conference call.

"Cold weather across the Prairies this spring has had a detrimental effect on planting and early crop development in most growing regions," Burnett said. "Soil moisture levels are dangerously low in parts of Alberta and western Saskatchewan, where dry conditions have persisted since fall."

Cloud Lightning

US: Strong storms soak Plains states

Strong thunderstorms pounded the Kansas City, Mo., area, overnight, downing trees, filling waterways and leaving thousands powerless, officials said Tuesday.

The line of storms packed hurricane-force, straight-line winds that uprooted trees, damaged foundations and tossed cars across the road, KMBC-TV, Kansas City, reported. Utility companies along the storms' path reported thousands of customers were without electrical power.

In Tonganoxie, Mo., at least 6 inches of rain fell, while Olathe got 2 inches of rain in a 45-minute period, running off quickly into creeks, streams and rivers, KMBC said.


Ash plumes from Russian volcano prompt Air Canada travel advisory

Vancover, B.C. - A remote volcano on Russia's central Kuril Islands is affecting air travel between Vancouver and Asia.

Air Canada has issued an advisory warning that its flights between Vancouver and Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong could be disrupted by volcanic activity at Sarychev Peak.


Spain warns of summer jellyfish invasion on Mediterranean beaches

Portuguese Man-of-War
© Jim Simmen Portuguese Man-of-War Jellyfish

Holidaymakers are being warned to be vigilant when they take to the water and beware of the stinging menace in the shallows.

For the first time in a decade the potentially deadly Portuguese Man o' War, which are not strictly jellyfish but floating colonies of microscopic hydrozoans, has been spotted close to the beaches of the Costa del Sol.

With tentacles sometimes more than 30 yards long, which are barbed with a sting 10 times stronger than an ordinary jellyfish, it presents a more dangerous threat than the annual jellyfish invasion of Mediterranean beaches.

In extreme cases, the sting can cause heart failure in victims who are allergic to it.

Scientists fear the creatures could spread along the coast of Spain and invade waters around the Balearic Islands after venturing away from its north Atlantic habitat and through the Strait of Gibraltar.

Bizarro Earth

Typhoons take the pressure off earthquake zones

© NASASatellite captures typhoon Jangmi as it heads towards the coast of Taiwan
Can storms prevent nasty earthquakes? That's the suggestion of study showing that typhoons can trigger benign, "slow" quakes that ease the stress between tectonic plates.

Beneath Taiwan, a tectonic plate is diving under its neighbouring plate at one of the world's fastest rates. "You can almost watch them," says study co-author Alan Linde of the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC. Yet the island has had fewer big rumbles than you'd expect from such movement.

One explanation is that Taiwan undergoes slow earthquakes, in which crustal faults slip over hours or days, rather than seconds, creating no seismic judders.

Better Earth

Alaska's Rat Island rat-free after 229 years

© NASARat Island (26.7 km² in area) is one of the smaller islands to be found within the Rat Islands group which run along the central portions of the Aleutian arc for around 180 km.
Alaska's Rat Island is finally rat-free, 229 years after a Japanese shipwreck spilled rampaging rodents onto the remote Aleutian island, decimating the local bird population.

After dropping poison onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half last autumn, there are no signs of living rats and some birds have returned, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rats have ruled the island since 1780, when they jumped off a sinking Japanese ship and terrorized all but the largest birds on the island. The incident introduced the non-native Norway rat -- also known as the brown rat -- to Alaska.

Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Magnitude 5.4 - Central Peru

© US Geological Survey
Monday, June 15, 2009 at 13:04:37 UTC
Monday, June 15, 2009 at 08:04:37 AM at epicenter

13.576°S, 75.993°W

53.2 km (33.1 miles) set by location program

20 km (15 miles) SE of Chincha Alta, Peru

55 km (35 miles) NNW of Ica, Peru

185 km (115 miles) SSW of Huancayo, Peru

200 km (125 miles) SE of LIMA, Peru


Science, belief and rational debate - AGW

The scientific method is a valuable way to advance objective knowledge. By testing a hypothesis against observation, it can either be falsified or supported. Not proved, of course, but nevertheless over time sufficient evidence can accumulate for a hypothesis to be generally accepted as the best available explanation. It is then known as a theory. Hence, although the vast majority of scientists and citizens (at least in Europe) accept Darwin's description of evolution, this is still regarded as a theory rather than fact. This is important, because as our understanding develops, apparently satisfactory theories may be replaced by others.

For simple things such as the effect of the Earth's gravity on objects we are familiar with, collecting the evidence is straightforward and no experiments have been done which contradict the theory of gravity. But over the last century, it has been accepted that classical Newtonian mechanics is actually only valid at a certain scale (which encompasses everything in our normal Earthbound existence). At the atomic scale, we enter the abstruse realm of quantum mechanics, and on a cosmic scale Einstein's theory of relativity is currently the best description of what goes on across the observable universe.

Importantly, both of these deviations from the familiar everyday world as explained by Newton arose because observation did not fit with prediction: the theory broke down at very large and very small scales. The boundaries of knowledge have since been pushed back steadily, leading to a general acceptance of quantum mechanics and relativity as the best theories to date to explain observations.