Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Philippines braces for new storm as toll hits 246

Typhoon Ondoy Philippines
© Reuters/Erik de CastroRescuers assist residents from floodwaters caused by Typhoon Ondoy as they board a rubber boat in Cainta Rizal east of Manila September 27, 2009
Philippine authorities braced on Tuesday for another storm as the toll from rain and floods from a weekend typhoon, now bearing down on Vietnam, rose to 246 dead while damages climbed to nearly $100 million.

Weather forecasters said a new storm forming in the Pacific Ocean was likely to enter Philippine waters on Thursday and make landfall later in the week on the northern island of Luzon, just like Saturday's Typhoon Ketsana.

Ketsana dumped more than a month's worth of average rainfall on Manila and surrounding areas in one 24-hour period. About 80 percent of the city of 15 million was flooded.


South Asia: Rare Vultures Seen in Indian Wild

About 200 rare Bearded Vultures have been seen in a remote part of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, a forestry official has told the BBC.

© BBC NewsLammergeiers are long-winged vultures known for their unusual habit of dropping bones on to rocks to smash them open and get at the marrow.
The state's chief conservator of forests, Vinay Tandon, said that the sighting of the bearded vultures was "hugely significant".

Mr Tandon said that four out of the five major vulture species in India are critically endangered.

Experts estimate that there are only a few hundred vultures left in India.

"We had reports on Monday that what appears to be a very large colony of Bearded Vultures - or Lammergeiers - were spotted close to the border with China in what is known as the trans-Himalayan region," Mr Tandon told the BBC.

"As yet we are not able to confirm that the birds belong to this species. A team from the state's wildlife department will be making its way to the area as soon as possible.

"We are especially pleased to hear of such a large colony when in recent years the vulture population of India has been disappearing so rapidly."


Monster insect mimic lures prey with siren song

Everything was going to plan for the male cicada looking for love. High in his tree in the dry bush country of eastern Australia, he started his serenade. First he gave a bright chirruping prelude, then urr-chip, urr-chip, urr-chip. Right on cue came an answering click. Each time the cicada repeated his urr-chip, there was that click again. His luck was in: a female was signalling her interest. The cicada began to move slowly towards the source of the clicks, singing as he went. The closer he got, the louder the clicks, and soon he could make out a telltale trembling among the leaves. Sure of his target now, he made his final move.

Cloud Lightning

US: Last week's Atlanta flooding set records

The U.S. Geological Survey says Atlanta area flooding last week involved magnitudes so great the odds of it happening were less than 1 in 500 in many areas.

"The USGS can reliably say just how bad these floods were. They were epic!" said Brian McCallum, assistant director of the USGS Water Science Center in Georgia.

On Tuesday, USGS crews said they measured the greatest flow ever recorded (28,000 cubic feet per second) on Sweetwater Creek near Austell, Ga.

In Georgia, the USGS maintains a network of more than 300 stream gages that provide data in real time. Data from those gages are used by local, state and federal officials for numerous purposes, including public safety and flood forecasting by the National Weather Service.

Bizarro Earth

Japan: Earthquake Magnitude 5.9 - Ryukyu Islands

Monday, September 28, 2009 at 19:22:57 UTC

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 04:22:57 AM at epicenter

27.943°N, 127.867°E

10 km (6.2 miles) set by location program

200 km (125 miles) N of Naha, Okinawa, Japan

480 km (300 miles) SSW of Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan

535 km (335 miles) NE of Ishigaki-jima, Ryukyu Islands, Japan

1410 km (880 miles) SW of TOKYO, Japan


Butterflies' Migrational Timekeeper Found

© Monarch Watch/Chip TaylorMigrating monarch butterflies need their antennae to navigate.
Monarchs may navigate using clocks in their antennae.

Every autumn, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies pour out of southern Canada, funnel through the United States to the central Mexican highlands and land in groves of fir trees no larger than the base of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The Sun is a crucial tool for navigating this precise 4,000-kilometre flight path - but it's a moving target. To maintain their southward bearings while the Sun crosses the sky, the insects must keep track of the time of day to continuously correct their internal compass. Neurobiologists have assumed that this clock is in the monarchs' brain together with the rest of the navigation circuitry, but new research reported in Science reveals that it may actually reside in the antennae.

"This is a novel function for the antennae, and a huge surprise overall," says lead author Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. "It brings us closer to understanding how time and space are integrated on [the monarchs'] remarkable migration."

Cloud Lightning

U.S. Northeast May Have Coldest Winter in a Decade

The U.S. Northeast may have the coldest winter in a decade because of a weak El Nino, a warming current in the Pacific Ocean, according to Matt Rogers, a forecaster at Commodity Weather Group.

"Weak El Ninos are notorious for cold and snowy weather on the Eastern seaboard," Rogers said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Washington. "About 70 percent to 75 percent of the time a weak El Nino will deliver the goods in terms of above-normal heating demand and cold weather. It's pretty good odds."

Warming in the Pacific often means fewer Atlantic hurricanes and higher temperatures in the U.S. Northeast during January, February and March, according to the National Weather Service. El Nino occurs every two to five years, on average, and lasts about 12 months, according to the service.


Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide?

dust storm disease
© Tim Wimborne/ReutersA dust storm blankets Sydney's iconic Opera House at sunrise
Huge dust storms, like the ones that blanketed Sydney twice last week, hit Queensland yesterday and turned the air red across much of eastern Australia, are spreading lethal epidemics around the world. However, they can also absorb climate change emissions, say researchers studying the little understood but growing phenomenon.

The Sydney storm, which left millions of people choking on some of the worst air pollution in 70 years, was a consequence of the 10-year drought that has turned parts of Australia's interior into a giant dust bowl, providing perfect conditions for high winds to whip loose soil into the air and carry it thousands of miles across the continent.

Cloud Lightning

Philippine storm leaves 106 dead and missing

© AP Photo/Pat RoqueTwo women scrape mud from the floor at her home after floodwaters subsides Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 in Manila's Marikina City, Philippines. More than a month's worth of rain fell in just 12 hours as Tropical Storm Ketsana slammed ashore in the Philippines, killing scores of people and stranding thousands on rooftops in the capital's worst flooding in more than 42 years.
Rescuers plucked bodies from muddy floodwaters and saved drenched survivors from rooftops Sunday after a tropical storm tore through the northern Philippines and left at least 106 people dead and missing.

It was the region's worst flooding in more than four decades. The government declared a "state of calamity" in metropolitan Manila and 25 storm-hit provinces.

Tropical Storm Ketsana roared across the northern Philippines on Saturday, dumping more than a month's worth of rain in just 12 hours. The resulting landslides and flooding have left at least 83 people dead and 23 others missing, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.

Many parts of the capital remained flooded Sunday, although waters were fast receding.

TV footage shot from military helicopter showed drenched survivors still marooned on top of half-submerged passenger buses and rooftops in the suburbs of Manila. Some dangerously clung on high-voltage power lines while others plodded through waist-high flood waters.


Flash floods kill five in Turkey

Flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rain have killed five people in northeastern Turkey overnight, according to local media reports.

The casualties included three members of one family who died when their house was crushed by a landslide on Wednesday night near the border with Georgia, Anatolia news agency reported.

A five-story building in the town of Kale collapsed and several buildings and a mosque in Demiciler were heavily damaged, DPA reported.