Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

Tourists evacuated after fatal Costa Rica quake

Vara Blanca - Rescue helicopters ferried stranded tourists on Friday from a picturesque volcanic area in Costa Rica where a strong earthquake killed around 14 people.

Two people were buried when Thursday's 6.1-magnitude quake triggered landslides near the La Paz waterfall at Vara Blanca, on the flanks of the Poas Volcano, officials said. A dozen people were killed in nearby areas.

"There are landslides on all the roads," said Guillermo Schwartz, a tourist from Guatemala. "The helicopters are trying to get people to the airport in San Jose."

Four children were killed but the Red Cross struggled to give an exact death count as rescue workers combed jungle paths for victims and emergency officials checked lists of names with tour operators.

"It was terrifying," said Spanish tourist Nazario Llinarez, 50, who described how he was at the waterfall with his wife when part of the hillside collapsed. The couple scrambled up a slope and spent the night huddled in a bus before being evacuated by helicopter.


Rare 'dinky' bird migrates to US for first time

Choke Canyon, Texas-- Birders with binoculars and cameras are flocking to a remote state park in search of a small yellow-chested bird that apparently crossed the U.S. border for the first time from its high-mountain habitat to the south.

At 5 inches with beige and yellow markings, the pine flycatcher doesn't look like much, but its unprecedented migration from Mexico and Guatemala is exciting birders all over the country.

"It's not a thrilling bird visually. It's thrilling because it's a first U.S. record," said Wes Biggs, who flew to Choke Canyon State Park from Orlando, Fla., to catch a glimpse.


Temperature in Germany Falls to Minus 34.6 Degrees

An Arctic chill continued to frost Germany on Thursday, with nighttime temperatures of minus 34.6 degrees Celsius (minus 30.28 Fahrenheit) reported at Funtensee lake in Bavaria, according to the weather service Meteomedia.

Clear skies, dry air and almost a complete lack of wind on top of a thick covering of snow in the German Alps led to the dramatic drop in temperatures. The last time a lower temperature was recorded in the area was during Christmas 2001, when it measured minus 45.9 degrees Celsius, the coldest temperature in Germany since records began. In the town of Mähring in Bavaria near the border to the Czech Republic, the mercury dropped to minus 20.7 degrees Celsius.


'Climate fix' ship sets sail with plan to dump iron

© AWIOcean fertilisation experiments hope to boost krill populations in the southern ocean.

The largest and to date the most comprehensive experiment to soak up greenhouse-gas emissions by artificially fertilising the oceans set sail from South Africa earlier this week.

The ambitious geoengineering expedition has caused a stir among some campaigning groups, but has the scientific backing of the UK, German, and Indian governments, as well as the International Maritime Organisation.

Within weeks, the ship's crew hope to dump 20 tonnes of ferrous sulphate into the Southern Ocean. Plankton need iron to grow, and the aim of the expedition is to trigger a plankton bloom and boost the amount of carbon that is sucked out of the air and locked up at the bottom of the ocean.

The team, led by Victor Smetacek of the Alfred Wegner Institute, Bremerhaven, Germany, will also monitor the population of krill to see if their populations also increase. These small crustaceans feed on plankton and are an important food source for many marine species. So, if the population grows, this could give fisheries a boost.


Weekend Moon will be biggest of the year

© T A Rector/I P Dell'Antonio/NOAO/AURA/NSFThe Moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path that brings it 50,000 km closer to our planet on one side of its orbit than on the other.

The Moon will shine especially bright this weekend, as it will come closer to Earth during its full phase than at any other time in 2009.

The Moon does not orbit Earth in a perfect circle. Instead, it follows an elliptical path that brings it 50,000 kilometres closer to our planet on one side of its orbit (called perigee) than the other (apogee).

On Saturday, 10 January, the Moon will reach perigee, coming within 357,500 kilometres of Earth. The next day, it will enter its full phase, when its disc appears completely illuminated by the Sun.

This will make it about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than typical full Moons (see the difference in the full Moon's size in 2004).


Climate No-Change? US Temperature in 2008 Was Near 20th Century Average

The temperature for the U.S. in 2008 was near the annual average experienced since 1895 and below normal for December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

The average temperature in the contiguous states was 53 degrees Fahrenheit (11.7 degrees Celsius), 0.2 degrees above the 20th-century average, according to a report today from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

U.S. temperatures have increased 0.12 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1895 and by 0.41 degrees in the last 50 years, NOAA data show.


Update: Death toll in Costa Rica quake rises to 14 victims

The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked Costa Rica has risen to 14 with at least 22 people still missing, the Red Cross said Friday.

The magnitude-6.1 quake shook the Central American nation Thursday afternoon, collapsing homes, setting off landslides that blocked major highways and trapping hundreds of people including foreign tourists in damaged mountain towns.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 4.5 Earthquake - Greater Los Angeles Area, California


Friday, January 09, 2009 at 03:49:46 UTC

Thursday, January 08, 2009 at 07:49:46 PM at epicenter

Location 34.107°N, 117.304°W

Depth 14.1 km (8.8 miles)

Region Greater Los Angeles Area California

Distances 3 km (2 miles) SSW (202°) from San Bernardino, CA

5 km (3 miles) NNE (19°) from Colton, CA

7 km (4 miles) E (94°) from Rialto, CA

87 km (54 miles) E (86°) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA

Alarm Clock

Fatal Avalanches Rattle Ski Country in the West

Jackson, Wyoming - Whistler Blackcomb resort in British Columbia has stationed guards at the top of some areas to prevent skiers and snowboarders from entering hazardous terrain. Grouse Mountain resort, in North Vancouver, has suggested that government action may be needed to deter skiers and snowboarders from using off-limit areas. And Jackson Hole in Wyoming has already burned through nearly half of this year's budget for avalanche hazard reduction work, one month into the season.

Resorts throughout the western United States and Canada are struggling with avalanche hazards as weather patterns have created uncommonly widespread conditions of instability, wreaking havoc on mountains crowded with skiers of all levels at the start of ski season. Last week, avalanches at Whistler Blackcomb killed a snowboarder and a skier on terrain outside the resort's boundaries. On Wednesday morning, a controlled slide ran past Jackson Hole's $10 million Bridger Restaurant - already damaged by a recent avalanche - while the mountain was closed to the public.

"It's a war zone," said Lanny Johnson, a wilderness medical advisor and former patroller at Lake Tahoe's Alpine Meadows ski resort. He added that this avalanche cycle had "the best in the field scratching their heads."


Europe's cold snap claims 13 more lives

Europe's cold snap claimed up to 13 more lives as the region battled another day of icy weather and eastern Europe felt the effects of Russian gas cuts.

Poland's interior ministry said on Thursday that six more people had died in the country, taking its death toll from hypothermia to 82 since November, 23 of them in recent days.

Five people, including three homeless, also died in Ukraine's southern Kherson region where temperatures plummeted to minus 19 degrees Celsius, according to the ministry of emergency situations.

While German police said on Thursday the cold snap had claimed another two victims since Monday, both found in the west of the country where temperatures plunged to minus 16 Celsius.