Earth ChangesS

Arrow Down

Avalanches near Afghan capital kill over 60

© Bullit Marquez/Associated PressAfghan commuters walk after emerging from the Salang Tunnel in this 2002 file photo, taken two days after a similar avalanche killed four people.

Rescuers locate hundreds of injured in mountain pass.

Avalanches in a mountain pass north of Kabul have killed at least 60 people and injured more than 400, Afghan officials say.

The avalanches Monday followed heavy snow in the Salang Pass that links the Afghan capital with the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Rescuers worked through the night to save 430 injured, with 180 taken by coalition helicopters to Bagram Airbase for medical treatment, the Defence Ministry said. The remaining 250 people were treated at a local hospital.

Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said Tuesday that rescuers have already recovered 24 bodies, but fear more than 40 others have already died. Some 2,500 people have already been rescued from their snow-blocked vehicles, he said.

Cloud Lightning

More Snow Likely to Cripple Major U.S. Cities

© Unknown
A major snow storm is sweeping through the US Mid-Atlantic region where plows still haven't touched some roads, resulting in closed schools, stranded people, and government closings.

The storm hit the Midwest part of the US early Tuesday, shutting down schools and greeting commuters with slick, slushy roads from Indianapolis to Chicago.

Powerful wind and snow were expected to crawl into the Mid-Atlantic States by the afternoon, expected to leave as much as 20 inches of new snow in the Washington, DC area and about18 inches in another major metropolitan area of Philadelphia by Wednesday night.

Parts of these regions were already buried under nearly 3 feet of record snow that fell throughout the Washington area last Friday and Saturday.

Bizarro Earth

Los Angeles foothill suburbs dig out after mudslides

© AP Photo/Mike MeadowsA Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) member, carries a 91-year-old woman from her flood-damaged home on Ocean View Boulevard Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.
Crews waded through thigh-high mud to check for gas leaks and survey damage in the foothills north of Los Angeles Sunday as evacuated residents waited to find out if they could return to their homes and start digging out.

Forty-three homes in La Canada Flintridge were damaged and 500 more evacuated Saturday after mud and water overflowed basins and surged into streets, taking furniture, cars and concrete barriers with it. About 70 homes remained evacuated Sunday morning.

"In my 20 years of fire service, this is the first time I've seen this much devastation caused by a weather system," Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Brown said while walking past suburban homes with thigh-deep mud in their yards.

Los Angeles County public works crews were using bulldozers and other heavy machinery to move boulders, scoop out catch basins and clear roads.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the area Sunday, stopping to talk to reporters in front of a house where flowing mud left a mark on the wall at least 5 feet above the ground.

Bizarro Earth

Japan: Earthquake Magnitude 6.4 - Southwestern Ryukyu Ilands

Sunday, February 07, 2010 at 06:10:00 UTC

Sunday, February 07, 2010 at 03:10:00 PM at epicenter

23.472°N, 123.713°E

16.5 km (10.3 miles) (poorly constrained)

115 km (70 miles) SSW of Ishigaki-jima, Ryukyu Islands, Japan

225 km (140 miles) ESE of Hua-lien, Taiwan

225 km (140 miles) ESE of Su-ao, Taiwan

2055 km (1280 miles) SW of TOKYO, Japan

Cloud Lightning

Snowmaggedon brings Washington DC to a standstill: heaviest snowfall in US history predicted

Heaviest snowfall on record forecast as second severe blizzard causes deaths and disruption in eastern US

A massive blizzard dubbed "Snowmageddon" by president Barack Obama is causing chaos in the eastern US, with parts of the region buried under more than 20in [50cm] of snow.

Washington DC has already seen more than 10in settle in what forecasters have warned could be the heaviest snowfall in the American capital since records began, with 2.5ft or more predicted.

Parts of Maryland and West Virginia are already buried under more than 20in and forecasters have said up to 2in of snow could fall per hour across the eastern part of the country today.

Authorities have blamed the storm for hundreds of accidents, including the deaths of a father and son in Virginia when they were struck by a tractor trailer.


How the Butterflies Got Their Spots

© Chris Jiggins/University of CambridgeMimetic races of Heliconius erato (left) and Heliconius melpomene (right) from the Tarapoto area of Peru.
How two butterfly species have evolved exactly the same striking wing colour and pattern has intrigued biologists since Darwin's day. Now, scientists at Cambridge have found "hotspots" in the butterflies' genes that they believe will explain one of the most extraordinary examples of mimicry in the natural world.

Heliconius, or passion-vine butterflies, live in the Americas -- from the southern United States to southern South America. Although they cannot interbreed, H. melpomene and H. erato have evolved to mimic one another perfectly.

These delicate butterflies have splashes of red and yellow on their black wings, signaling to birds that they contain toxins and are extremely unpalatable. They mimic one another's colour and pattern to reinforce these warning signals.

Scientists have studied these butterflies since the 1860s as a classic case of evolution in action, but only now is modern sequencing technology unlocking the underlying genetics.

Bizarro Earth

Mexico rainstorms leave at least 15 dead

Hillsides collapse and rivers overflow after freak winter weather that affects more than half the country. Rains are severe in the mountains that are home to Monarch butterflies.

Mexico City - Freak winter rains across Mexico collapsed hillsides, sent rivers over their banks and left at least 15 people dead, officials said Friday.

The rain, which began early in the week and peaked Thursday, had relented by Friday morning, providing officials with their first good look at the damage.

More than half of the country was affected. Hardest hit was the western state of Michoacan, where at least 13 people were killed by landslides and flooding. An unknown number of people were missing Friday.

Rains were severe in the mountainous zone that is famous as a reserve for Monarch butterflies. At least 15,000 residents and 2,000 homes in Michoacan were affected, officials said.

Bizarro Earth

Moderate earthquake shakes Poland

Legnica - A moderate earthquake struck northwest of the Polish city of Legnica on Saturday morning, seismologists said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 4.9, struck about 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) northwest of Legnica at a depth of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre. It happened at 05.55 a.m. local time.

Earthquakes of such magnitudes are rare in Central Europe, and a seismologist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) called it a "significant event" for the region. The strongest earthquake ever recorded in Poland since 1973 was a 5.4 on December 31, 1999.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the earthquake.


US capital shuts down on powerful blizzard

Washington - An "extremely dangerous" blizzard expected to dump record amounts of snow pounded the eastern United States today, closing down the US capital and threatening to trap millions indoors for days.

The National Weather Service (NWS) put the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area under a rare 24-hour blizzard warning starting at 10:00 pm Friday (0300 GMT Saturday).

The storm, dubbed "Snowpocalypse" and "Snowmageddon" by many locals, stretched from Indiana to Pennsylvania and into parts of New York and North Carolina, creating treacherous travel conditions, shutting Washington area airports and leading several states to declare emergencies.

The storm "will significantly impact most of the region through today," the NWS said.


IPCC climate report error #3: "the Netherlands is 55% below sea level"

The UN climate change panel IPCC not only wrongly predicted Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035, it also put more than half of the Netherlands below sea level.

The Dutch environment minister, Jaqueline Cramer, on Wednesday demanded a thorough investigation into the 2007 report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after a Dutch magazine uncovered it incorrectly states 55 percent of the country lies below sea level. The Dutch national bureau for environmental analysis has taken responsibility for the incorrect figure cited by the IPCC. Only 26 percent of the Netherlands is really below sea level.

The error surfaced at a time when the IPCC is already under fire for another false claim that revealed earlier this week. The 2007 report states glaciers in the Himalayas will disappear by 2035, while the underlying research claims the mountain ice would last until 2350, British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph discovered.