Earth ChangesS


Update! Floods follow drought in eastern Australia, worst in 40 years

Residents of a previously drought-stricken area of southeastern Australian were Friday being evacuated to safety as rising floodwaters threatened to swamp homes and farmland.

Scores of people have already been evacuated by army helicopters and police from homes in Gippsland in the east of Victoria state as officials warned that the deluge could worsen as rivers peak.

Jeff Amos, deputy mayor of the Wellington Shire Council, said it was ironic that residents who had recently battled savage bushfires and a long-standing drought had been confronted almost overnight with a flood emergency.

"It was a fair deluge during the past week which has put an end to the drought in one way," Amos told AFP. "But unfortunately it's probably going to do more damage than good.

Light Sabers

Coral Reef Fish Starve Themselves to Maintain Social Order

Some coral reef fish starve themselves to avoid getting into fights with their larger, dominant neighbors, researchers have found.

Emerald coral gobies live in small groups in which social rank is strictly determined by body size. Within each group only the largest, dominant female mates with the one resident male.

Rather than competing for the top spot, subordinate female gobies often limit their own growth to remain non-threatening to higher-ranking fish.

Underlying this strategy of peaceful coexistence is fear of being kicked out and left to die, the researchers say.

Each goby group of up to 17 individuals occupies a single coral colony that provides food and shelter.

Cloud Lightning

Syberia: Rescuers warn about heavy showers and thunderstorms at weekend

Rescuers declared a storm warning in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to bring blasts of Northern wind reaching 40-50 mph, the regional agency for civil defense and emergencies reported.


Weather extremes wither LA, drown Texas

Barring a surprise arrival of the kind of gully washers Texas is getting these days, Los Angeles' driest year in 130 years of record-keeping will go into the books this weekend.

Cloud Lightning

Flashback "Night-shining" clouds bring mystery; Once confined to Earth's poles, the bizarre clouds have now been spotted above central Colorado

Since their discovery 120 years ago, strangely luminescent clouds called noctilucent clouds have been creeping slowly toward the equator.

©Denver Post
This hauntingly beautiful noctilucent cloud was photographed over the Juneau, Alaska, ice field in 1998. Once confined to Earth's poles, the clouds have been spotted above Colorado.


A mystery: NASA satellite captures first view of 'night-shining' clouds

A NASA satellite has captured the first occurrence this summer of mysterious iridescent polar clouds that form 50 miles above Earth's surface.

The first observations of these clouds by the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite occurred above 70 degrees north on May 25. Observers on the ground began seeing the clouds on June 6 over northern Europe. AIM is the first satellite mission dedicated to the study of these unusual clouds.

These mystifying clouds are called Polar Mesospheric Clouds, or PMCs, when they are viewed from space and referred to as "night-shining" clouds, or noctilucent clouds, when viewed by observers on Earth. The clouds form during the Northern Hemisphere's summer season that begins in mid-May and extends through the end of August. They are being seen by AIM's instruments more frequently as the season progresses. The clouds also are seen in the high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere during the summer months.

Very little is known about how these clouds form over the poles, why they are being seen more frequently and at lower latitudes than ever before, or why they have been growing brighter. AIM will observe two complete polar mesospheric cloud seasons over both poles, documenting for the first time the entire, complex life cycle of PMCs.

Comment: The article starts out by assuming it's a change in the atmosphere that's creating the clouds, but then later on says, "The Cosmic Dust Experiment is recording the amount of space dust that enters Earth's atmosphere to help scientists assess the role this dust plays in PMC formation." So which is it? Could the dust be a pre-swarm indicator?

If so, the dust would have to come from particles big enough not to be blasted out by the solar wind, implying that small meteors are responsible which would explain the increasing number of fireballs seen worldwide in the past few years. It's all speculation, but the point is not to assume that it's an atmospheric change only.

Red Flag

2 Die in Greece Forest Fires

©AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris
Children play in an Athens park in front of smoke from a forest fire in Dervenohoria, north-west of the capital

ATHENS, Greece - Wildfires swept through Greece on Thursday, killing two people and destroying homes after days of record temperatures of more than 100 degrees that led to at least nine heatstroke deaths and extensive power cuts.

Cloud Lightning

UK: Bigger storms are on the way

Flood-battered Britain is on alert for further chaos and loss of life this weekend as fears grow that more heavy downpours are on the way.

Forecasters say an "organised band of persistent showers" is set to sweep the country on Friday and Saturday, bringing several more inches of rain to many already-­saturated regions.

DELUGE: An aerial view of flooded homes in Catcliffe near Sheffield.

Cloud Lightning

Two dead in Cyprus heatwave

Two elderly people died as a withering heatwave blasted Cyprus for a fourth day Wednesday and electricity workers went on strike cutting air conditioning, doctors and officials said.

The overall toll from the baking temperatures climbed to three with the deaths or a man and a woman in their mid-90s, as the thermometer soared to 42 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).


Strong earthquake rocks Papua New Guinea region

A strong earthquake packing a magnitude of 6.7 has hit Papua New Guinea (PNG), but there are no immediate reports of damage or a tsunami.

The US Geological Survey says the undersea quake struck 219 kilometres (136 miles) south-west of the town of Arawa, in the politically troubled region of Bougainville.