Earth ChangesS


New Zealand: May the coldest on record, Niwa figures show

Wairarapa certainly played its part in the record-breaking chill that gripped the country during May, with Martinborough plunged into gloom courtesy of a paltry 92 hours of sunshine.

Niwa senior climate scientist Georgina Griffiths said May "broke records from one end of the country to the other - it was the coldest May on record", and there was nothing much to toast in the South Wairarapa wine village, which registered 69 percent of normal sunshine hours for May - the lowest figure for the town since records began.

"In May, Martinborough was gray, gloomy and depressing," she said.

"In June, the east coast strips of both islands were gloomy while sun shone around the rest of the country, like Hamilton which had record sunshine hours," Ms Griffiths said.

Below normal June sunshine (75 - 90 percent of normal) blighted coastal Otago, coastal Canterbury and the East Cape, she said.

It was wet too with double the normal rainfall for May (about 200 percent of normal) in Wairarapa, Canterbury and Otago while much of Northland, Auckland, Wellington and Southland got at least 150 percent of normal May rainfall.


US: Searchers shovel Northwest dirt seeking giant worm

© AP Photo/Dean Hare
The giant Palouse earthworm has taken on mythic qualities in this vast agricultural region that stretches from eastern Washington into the Idaho panhandle - its very name evoking the fictional sandworms from "Dune" or those vicious creatures from the movie "Tremors."

The worm is said to secrete a lily-like smell when handled, spit at predators, and live in burrows 15 feet deep. There have been only a handful of sightings.

But scientists hope to change that this summer with researchers scouring the Palouse region in hopes of finding more of the giant earthworms. Conservationists also want the Obama administration to protect the worm as an endangered species, even though little research has been done on it.


US: Chicago has its coolest July 8 in 118 years

For the 12th time this meteorological summer (since June 1), daytime highs failed to reach 70 degrees Wednesday. Only one other year in the past half century has hosted so many sub-70-degree days up to this point in a summer season -- 1969, when 14 such days occurred.

Wednesday's paltry 65-degree high at O'Hare International Airport (an early-May-level temperature and a reading 18 degrees below normal) was also the city's coolest July 8 high in 118 years -- since a 61-degree high on the date in 1891.

Bizarro Earth

Toxic Substance Allows Birds to "See" Magnetic Field

Owl Eyes
© Tim Laman/NGSAn African goshawk is seen on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Low amounts of a toxic substance give birds the ability to "see" Earth's magnetic field as they navigate on long journeys.
A toxic substance plays a key role in helping birds migrate, a new study says.

Previous research had shown that birds seem to have an internal compass that allows them to "see" Earth's magnetic field. This magnetic vision guides them on long journeys.

Scientists have also studied a protein molecule, called cryptochrome, that drives the chemical processes behind the birds' magnetic abilities.

But what the molecule was reacting with to create birds' special sight has been a mystery - until now.

Due to a laboratory mishap, scientists have discovered that toxic superoxides may be the previously missed ingredient.

Bizarro Earth

US: Hairless Mystery Animal Photographed

The following animal jumped into the trunk of someone's car in Goodhue, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, and was driven home (allegedly) before being photographed.

Hairless animal
© Unknown
Hairless animal II
© Unknown

Life Preserver

Boston has Sixth Coldest June on Record

As you are well aware, June was unseasonably cold. The mean temperature for June was 63.3°F, which ties it with June 1982 as the sixth coldest June on record in Boston since records began in 1872. Average temperatures of various sorts are often reported by meteorologists, such as the average high or low for a particular day of the year. A statistical quantity that is often overlooked is the standard deviation. That is, when a record occurs, how statistically unlikely is that event compared with the mean?

Your intuition tells you that the standard deviation for Boston temperatures is probably high, since the weather varies greatly from day to day. In places like Los Angeles, California, or Phoenix, Arizona, however, the temperature is fairly constant on a day-to-day time scale, and so the standard deviation is low. Even from month to month, the standard deviation of temperature may vary. For example, in Boston the standard deviation is higher in January than in July.

Alarm Clock

Tasmania as cold as ice: Temperatures plummet eight below average

Bitterly cold weather has been gripping Tasmania as temperatures plummet as much as eight below average.

Widespread frost has affected much of the state in the last few mornings and has been severe in central and eastern parts. Liawenee has had minimum temperatures of minus seven degrees in the last two days, six degrees below average.

Some valley locations, such as Bushy Park and Ouse, which dipped to minus four on Wednesday morning, failed to get within seven degrees of the average maximum. Bushy Park only reached three degrees and Ouse four. Fog and a lack of wind were the main culprits, hampering any warmth from the sun. For Bushy park this is likely to be its coldest day in more than two years and coldest July day in at least eight years.


Top Physicist: Global Warming a Dangerous Belief

Despite alarmist claims of dangerous global warming there's nothing to worry about - it's really getting cooler says Laurence Gould, a professor of physics at the University of Hartford and one of the seven signers of a letter to Congress warning against passage of the so-called cap and trade legislation now awaiting Senate action after being enacted by the House of Representatives last week.

Professor Gould told Newsmax that the evidence on cooling is being ignored by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) upon whose specious reports the cap and trade bill relied.

Gould explained that both "global cooling and global warming have happened throughout much of the earth's climate history," adding that "there have, for example, been the great ice ages as well as the more recent little ice age - all this taking place well before the large buildup of 20th century human industrialization - an industrialization that resulted and continues to result in the increase in the standard of living and in the increased life expectancy of people around the globe."

Bizarro Earth

NASA report of thinning arctic ice is deceiving

NASA Ice report
© NASA ICESatNASA ICESat shows ice thinning. Report ignores where it is thicker.

When looking at arctic ice reports, the most important thing to remember is that we have only been studying the arctic since the end of 1978. That's only three decades, which is a small data set to truly identify a trend for long-term climate. We must look closely at the reports themselves, such as the most recent one from NASA/JPL. The analysis does take time, but that could also mean old data is shown, ignoring current trends. Also, many of these ice reports are released in the summer, when it is 'expected' to be hot, and ice in the arctic is at its lowest point all year. So gloabal warming or climate change aside, the time of year can be misleading.

Bizarro Earth

Freak Summer Storm Dumps Snow On Yonkers

snow yonkers july 2009
© Janice HoganSnow piles seen in Yonkers.

It was Christmas in July for some Westchester County residents.

A wintry mix of hail and heavy thunderstorms downed trees and utility poles in Yonkers last night -- causing mountains of slush and ice to build up in parking lots and on grassy areas.

Police said at least two homes were damaged by falling sleet, which hit the area at 11:30 p.m.

Snow plows were called in early this morning to help remove the snow, while extra fire trucks were on hand to help with the unseasonal cleanup.