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Wed, 01 Dec 2021
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes

Red Flag

USGS Releases Report on Yellowstone Hazard; Don't worry. You'll be hit by a car before the volcano erupts.

Life is a risk, but Yellowstone National Park's tumultuous geology offers a bit more for worrywarts.

Comment: You can download the report yourself.

This is taken from the summary:

Possible future violent events in the active hydrothermal, magmatic, and tectonic system of
Yellowstone National Park pose potential hazards to park visitors and infrastructure. Most of the national park and vicinity are sparsely populated, but significant numbers of people as well as park resources could nevertheless be at risk from these hazards. Depending on the nature and magnitude
of a particular hazardous event and the particular time and season when it might occur, 70,000 to more than 100,000 persons could be affected; the most violent events could affect a broader region or even continent-wide areas. This assessment of such hazards is presented both as a guide for
future activities of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) and to aid appropriate response planning by the National Park Service and surrounding agencies and communities. Although the assessment is presented here in some technical detail, this summary is intended to be
understandable to non-scientists. The principal conclusions also will be made available in other forms, more accessible to general readers.


Warming Kicks Frogs While They're Down

As if frogs and other amphibians around the world didn't have enough to worry about with a killer fungus spreading rapidly and humans encroaching on their habitats, now global warming seems to be affecting one of the few pristine habitats the frogs have left, a new study suggests.

More than one third of amphibian species in the world today are threatened, and it is estimated that more than 120 species have disappeared since 1980.

A lack of long-term data on frog populations has made it difficult to determine the causes of these declines, especially in areas far from the effects of humans.

Scientists know a pathogen called a chytrid fungus is causing an infection in the skin of frogs in epidemic proportions in cool, high-altitude areas, preventing their skin from taking in enough water and causing them to die of dehydration.

Cloud Lightning

A change in the wind

Climate model simulations for the 21st century indicate a robust increase in wind shear in the tropical Atlantic due to global warming, which may inhibit hurricane development and intensification. Historically, increased wind shear has been associated with reduced hurricane activity and intensity. This new finding is reported in a study by scientists at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, N.J., and, scheduled to be published April 18th in Geophysical Research Letters.

While other studies have linked global warming to an increase in hurricane intensity, this study is the first to identify changes in wind shear that could counteract these effects. "The environmental changes found here do not suggest a strong increase in tropical Atlantic hurricane activity during the 21st century," said Brian Soden, Rosenstiel School associate professor of meteorology and physical oceanography and the paper's co-author. However, the study does identify other regions, such as the western tropical Pacific, where global warming does cause the environment to become more favorable for hurricanes.

"Wind shear is one of the dominant controls to hurricane activity, and the models project substantial increases in the Atlantic," said Gabriel Vecchi, lead author of the paper and a research oceanographer at GFDL. "Based on historical relationships, the impact on hurricane activity of the projected shear change could be as large - and in the opposite sense - as that of the warming oceans."

Magic Wand

Snake-Ridden Florida Island Provides Unlikely Haven for Birds

On a remote Florida island crawling with venomous snakes, a scientist believes he has discovered an unusual truce between predator and prey.

The tiny island of Seahorse Key on the central Gulf Coast is renowned among researchers for its teeming numbers of poisonous cottonmouth snakes.

"The population of cottonmouths on Seahorse Key is large and dense - I mean a lot of snakes," said Harvey Lillywhite, a University of Florida biologist who has been studying the island.

About 600 vipers slither around the 165-acre (67-hectare) island, Lillywhite estimates-in some areas with an average of 22 cottonmouths on every palm tree-covered acre.

Cloud Lightning

Sandstorm wreaks havoc at Cairo airport

Egyptian authorities closed Cairo's international airport on Tuesday after a sandstorm reduced visibility, and incoming flights were being diverted to other airports, airport sources said.

Visibility had dropped to less than 100 metres on one runway, preventing planes from landing or taking off, the sources said. The sandstorm was expected to continue until 3pm local time.

Incoming flights were being diverted to Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula and Hurghada along the Red Sea coast.


Storm whips Northeast, batters marathoners

BOSTON - Record rainfall soaked New York while gale-force winds slowed Boston Marathon runners, 17 inches of snow blanketed Vermont and thousands lost power as a fierce storm whipped the U.S. Northeast on Monday.

Bizarro Earth

"Unknown Ecological Effect" Decimates Amphibian and Reptile numbers

Death in the rainforest: fragile creatures give the world a new climate warning

Amphibian and reptile numbers fall by 75% in reserve meant to save them

A protected rainforest in one of the world's richest biodiversity hotspots has suffered an alarming collapse in amphibians and reptiles, suggesting such havens may fail to slow the creatures' slide towards global extinction.


Damaging hailstorms hit southwest China

Coin-sized hailstones and winds of 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour whipped across southwest China's Sichuan province, affecting 1.7 million people, state media said Tuesday.

Cloud Lightning

Record storm soaks Northeast; Nearly 8 inches of rain fall on NYC's Central Park

Hundreds of people were evacuated from flooded homes Monday and refrigerators and trucks floated downstream as a fierce nor'easter drenched the Northeast with record rainfall, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Cloud Lightning

Storm floods Northeast, cuts power to 300,000

People were evacuated from flooded homes Monday and hundreds of thousands had no electricity as a fierce nor'easter drenched the Northeast with record rainfall.

Residents in at least one New York City neighborhood paddled through streets in boats. And in suburban Mamaroneck, Nicholas Staropoli said a truck near his home "actually floated up on the riverbank."

Rain was still falling Monday morning in the New York area and New England after it began early Sunday along the East Coast from Florida to New England. The National Guard was sent to help with rescue and evacuation efforts in the suburbs north of New York City.

Firefighters plucked Kathleen Reale and her twin boys from their window in suburban Mamaroneck using a front-end-loader. Water reached up to her knees in her garage and basement and her family was evacuated to a shelter.