Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Mission to Break up Pacific Island of Rubbish Twice the Size of Texas

Common Dreams plastic pacific
© ALGALITA MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATIONA shark carcass on Kamilo Beach, Hawaii, where plastic particles outnumber sand grains until you dig down about a foot

A high-seas mission departs from San Francisco next month to map and explore a sinister and shifting 21st-century continent: one twice the size of Texas and created from six million tonnes of discarded plastic.

Scientists and conservationists on the expedition will begin attempts to retrieve and recycle a monument to throwaway living in the middle of the North Pacific.

The toxic soup of refuse was discovered in 1997 when Charles Moore, an oceanographer, decided to travel through the centre of the North Pacific gyre (a vortex or circular ocean current). Navigators usually avoid oceanic gyres because persistent high-pressure systems - also known as the doldrums - lack the winds and currents to benefit sailors.


Ancient tsunami 'hit New York'

© British Broadcast CorporationSuch a wave today would flood Wall Street and the Long Island Expressway
A huge wave crashed into the New York City region 2,300 years ago, dumping sediment and shells across Long Island and New Jersey and casting wood debris far up the Hudson River.

The scenario, proposed by scientists, is undergoing further examination to verify radiocarbon dates and to rule out other causes of the upheaval.

Sedimentary deposits from more than 20 cores in New York and New Jersey indicate that some sort of violent force swept the Northeast coastal region in 300 BC.

It may have been a large storm, but evidence is increasingly pointing to a rare Atlantic Ocean tsunami.

Steven Goodbred, an Earth scientist at Vanderbilt University, said large gravel, marine fossils and other unusual deposits found in sediment cores across the area date to 2,300 years ago.

Better Earth

Dolphins Maintain Round-the-clock Visual Vigilance

© iStockphoto/Peter BarkerDolphins have a clever trick for overcoming sleep deprivation. They are able to send half of their brains to sleep while the other half remains conscious.
Dolphins have a clever trick for overcoming sleep deprivation. Sam Ridgway from the US Navy Marine Mammal Program explains that they are able to send half of their brains to sleep while the other half remains conscious. What is more, the mammals seem to be able to remain continually vigilant for sounds for days on end. All of this made Ridgway and his colleagues from San Diego and Tel Aviv wonder whether the dolphins' unrelenting auditory vigilance tired them and took a toll on the animals' other senses?

Ridgway and his team set about testing two dolphins' acoustic and visual vigilance over a 5 day period to find out how well they functioned after days without a break.

Bizarro Earth

Guatemala: Earthquake Magnitude 6.1

© US Geological Survey

* Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 16:21:46 UTC
* Sunday, May 03, 2009 at 11:21:46 AM at epicenter

Location 14.664°N, 91.144°W

Depth 104.2 km (64.7 miles)

Distances 45 km (25 miles) ESE of Quezaltenango, Guatemala

70 km (40 miles) W of GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala

125 km (80 miles) ESE of Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico

1005 km (620 miles) ESE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Better Earth

Eels in crisis after 95% decline in last 25 years

© Graham TurnerAccording to the Environment Agency, the number of European eels across the continent has declined by as much as 95% in the past 25 years.
They ought to be wriggling through briny water and marshy flatlands in their hundreds of thousands right now.

But the mystery of the vanishing eels is troubling fisheries officials, conservationists and fishermen who for generations have hunted the curious animal.

A conference in Somerset on the plight of the eel, which was attended by experts from across Europe, has been hearing this week that the eel is in crisis.

The number of European eels across the continent has declined by as much as 95% in the last 25 years, the Environment Agency says. Officials report that the number of young eels arriving in Britain's estuaries, rivers and streams this spring is significantly down on last year. Andy Don, an Environment Agency fisheries officer who has studied the eel for 20 years, said: "There is no doubt that there is a crisis. People have been reporting catching a kilo of glass eels this year when they would expect to catch 40 kilos. We have got to do something."


Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Earth

Our paper

Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Earth

has just been published in Energy and Environment. (Vol 20, Jan 2009). [Copies may be downloaded from here . preprint with figures in color here]

We show in Figure 1 the well established observation that the global atmospheric temperature anomalies of Earth reached a maximum in 1998.
Global temperature anomalies 1980 - 2009
© David Douglass and John Christy

This plot shows oscillations that are highly correlated with El Nino/La Nina and volcanic eruptions. There also appears to be a positive temperature trend that could be due to CO2 climate forcing.


Saskatchewan seeding numbers only 2% complete

Email from a farmer in Saskatchewan:

Hi Robert,

My name is Tim. I am a vegetable farmer living in Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada. My dad and I have a combined 80+ years of agricultural experience, so we naturally take the weather very seriously. Since I discovered your site a few months ago, it has been my beacon towards sanity, as it addresses issues and topics that I've been pondering for the past 10 years or so. You obviously don't need me to reiterate point by point and question by question the very obvious contradictions to the IPCC/Al Gore/David Suzuki line that the Mainstream Media by and large refuses to address in it's discussions about climate. I'm trying to wean myself from both name calling and subjectivity on this topic, however what I hear coming from a lot of folks is either crazy or at the very least contradicts reality.

Life Preserver

US: More Rain Dumped on Corn Belt, Planting Behind Schedule

Corn Belt planting behind schedule 2009
© AccuWeather

For the second consecutive year, a cool, wet weather pattern has delayed corn planting in the nation's breadbasket. Corn planted after the middle of May is more vulnerable to summer heat and may not reach maturity before the first frosts arrive. Much of an area from Missouri to Ohio has been very wet during the month of April with rainfall running 120-200% of normal.

One difference between last spring and this spring is that all of the Midwest was running behind schedule last year at this time, while this year, it's mostly the area from Missouri to Ohio and Michigan. The northwestern corner of the Midwest corn belt is actually running ahead of schedule, as of late April. The cool, wet pattern is forecast to last another 1-2 weeks across the Midwest. By the middle of May, corn planting from Missouri to Ohio may be running as much as three to four weeks behind schedule.

Magic Hat

Australia's BOM backs down on warming at Antarctic bases

Bureau blows hot and cold over Antarctica warm-up as Bureau of Metereology backs down from a claim that temperatures at Australia's three bases in Antarctica have been warming over the past three decades
Australia Antarctic station stamp
© unknown

With weather stations like the ones below, it might be a bit hard to separate the real temperature signal of Antarctica from your local UHI. I wonder how much more cooling would be evident in the data had the weather stations been placed away from the "living pods"?

This picture on a postage stamp from Australia, celebrating the Australian Antarctic Territory in 1997, may help settle the issue. Note the Stevenson Screen near the "living pod" on the right.


Al Gore, global warming and truth

I voted three times for Al Gore, twice for VP and once for President. I don't regret the first two votes...

The former Vice President spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. It was not his shining hour. Some of what he said was hyperbole. Some of what he said is just not true. And he, or one of his staff, should surely have known the limits he was transgressing.

For example, when speaking about Arctic ice, he said this:
"New research, which draws upon recently declassified data collected by U.S. nuclear submarines traveling under the Arctic ice cap for the last 50 years ... has told us that the entire Arctic ice cap may totally disappear in summer in as little as five years."
What he might have added was that Arctic ice has only been measured for 30 years, and that it is recovering at the fastest rate ever recorded (from an extreme melt over the past 18 months) and it is more or less (within a standard deviation) back to normal now.