Earth ChangesS

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.

Better Earth

Cyclone hits French Polynesia

Cyclone Oli
© University of WisconsinCyclone Oli: Hundreds of tourists have been evacuated from Tahiti as the cyclone hit French Polynesia.
Cyclone Oli is rapidly intensifying and has prompted red alerts on Tahiti and islands nearby.

Hundreds of tourists and locals have been evacuated into schools and hospitals as high winds and very high waves lashed a wide area of French Polynesia.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee, who was on the Tetiaroa, north of Tahiti, was among a group of New Zealanders flown to the main island by the French Military ahead of the cyclone.

Regional meteorological services say Oli is located approximately 300 kilometres southwest of Tahiti and 380 km north of Rurutu.

Today it has under gone a very rapid intensification from Category 1 to Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale where five is the highest.

Bizarro Earth

Pacific Ocean Volcano Erupts

Volcano Erupts
© UnknownA plume of smoke rises from the undersea volcano Mount Fukutokuokanoba, near Minami-Iwojima island in the Pacific Ocean, on Wednesday.
An undersea volcano erupted Wednesday, spewing columns of smoke and ash into the Pacific Ocean sky.

A patrol vessel from the 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters visited the area, some 5 kilometers from Minami-Iwojima island in the Ogasawara island chain, around 7:45 a.m.

The volcano is called Mount Fukutokuokanoba. It is located about 1,300 kilometers south of Tokyo.

A fly-over by a coast guard helicopter at 1 p.m. reported continued activity. Observers said the water in the immediate vicinity of the volcano had turned yellowish green.

Better Earth

Global Ocean Protection Measures Have Failed

Thousands of tons of trash are thrown into the sea each year, endangering humans and wildlife. A classified German government report obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE indicates that efforts by the United Nations and the European Union to clean up our oceans have failed entirely.

Since the world's oceans are so massive, few people seem to have a problem with dumping waste into them. But plastics degrade at very a slow rate, and huge amounts of them are sloshing around in our oceans. Wildlife consumes small pieces causing many of them to die, since the plastics are full of poisons. And, as experts warn, we've reached a point where it's even getting dangerous for humans to consume seafood.

Given these conditions, the international community has been pushing for four decades for massive bureaucratic efforts aimed at clearing the oceans of waste. In 1973, the United Nations sponsored a pact for protecting the oceans from dumping. Additional provisions have been added to the so-called Marpol Convention -- short for "marine pollution" -- on six different occasions. And nine years ago, the European Union put directives on the books that forbid any dumping of maritime waste into the ocean while in ports.