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Sun, 28 May 2023
The World for People who Think

Earth Changes


Physics professor: Oil leak could last for years

Physics professor Michio Kaku has some bad news: oil could gush from the leaking BP deepwater well for years.

After six methods for stopping the leak failed, BP is now trying a seventh method: "cut and cap." Underwater robots are attempting to trim the pipe connected to the blowout preventer -- and depending on how well the cut is made, either a "top hat" or "top cap" will be lowered from the surface which would then transport the spewing oil to a drilling ship.

The "cut and cap" method has several drawbacks. A perfect seal is thought to be almost impossible and some amount of oil will continue to leak into the Gulf. And the cap will have to be completely removed during inclement weather. The Gulf hurricane season began June 1, and it's expected to be the worst year since 2005.


Noctilucent Clouds Photographed over Denmark

Recent data from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that noctilucent clouds (NLCs) are like a great "geophysical light bulb." They turn on every year in late spring, reaching almost full intensity over a period of no more than 5 to 10 days. News flash: The bulb is beginning to glow. Jesper Grønne photographed a bank of NLCs rippling over Silkeborg, Denmark, on June 1st:
© Jesper Grønne

Cloud Lightning

Australia: Surfing Town Hit By Tornado

Lennox Head Tornado 4
© Google
Map showing the location of the Lennox Head twister
Police say it is a miracle no-one was killed when a tornado smashed into the New South Wales north coast town of Lennox Head this morning.

Twelve houses were destroyed and debris was sent flying when the storm, which one witness said hit "like a bomb", careered in off the sea about 7:30am (AEST).

New South Wales Premier Kristina Kenneally said the tornado caused "widespread devastation" and police said more than 30 houses were damaged.

But Inspector Gary Cowan from Richmond Command says only two people have been taken to hospital.

"When we look at the damage it's just a miracle that no-one was seriously injured or killed," he said.

Cloud Lightning

Lightning Injures Nine in Yellowstone National Park

© AP Photo
A lightning bolt struck as people waited to see the Old Faithful geyser erupt
A lightning bolt has struck nine people waiting to see the Old Faithful geyser erupt at Yellowstone National Park in the US state of Wyoming.

All the visitors were on the boardwalk or walkways around the geyser when the single lightning bolt struck.

One of the nine people hurt was taken to hospital in Idaho for treatment.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash told the Associated Press news agency that the 57-year-old man was to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday evening.

It was not clear what injuries he had suffered.

Seven others were treated at Old Faithful Clinic for tingling, numbness and shortness of breath.


Arctic Ice Volume Has Increased 25% Since May, 2008


The submarine USS Annapolis rests in the Arctic Ocean after surfacing through three feet of ice during Ice Exercise 2009
The Navy requires accurate sea ice information for their operations, and has spent a lot of effort over the years studying, measuring, and operating in Arctic ice both above and below, such as they did in the ICEX 2009 exercise.

So, if you are planning on bringing a $900 million Los Angeles class submarine through the ice, as the captain might say to the analyst after receiving an ice report: "you'd better be damn sure of the ice thickness before I risk the boat and the crew".

Below is a blink comparator of U.S. Navy PIPS sea ice forecast data, zoomed to show the primary Arctic ice zone.


BP Bars Photos of Dead Wildlife as Bodies Pile Up


BP is apparently barring cleanup workers from sharing photos of dead animals that have washed ashore. But whether we're seeing them or not, the bodies are starting to add up.

Late last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other responders issued a tally of the animals collected as of Friday in oil-impacted regions of Alabama, Florida , Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas - dead and alive. Those stats are shocking: 444 dead birds, 222 dead sea turtles, and 24 mammals (including dolphins). I sent a request to the Unified Command office last week asking for data on wildlife collected over a normal time period, pre-oil-disaster, for comparison. I haven't received a reply.


'Drunk' parrots baffle vets as they fall out of trees in Australia

© unk
A lorikeet
Red collar lorikeets have been falling out of trees in Australia and then staggering around in an apparently inebriated state, alarming wildlife experts and veterinary surgeons.

Birds struck down by the as-yet-unidentified illness in Darwin show classic signs of human drunkenness, apparently losing all coordination before passing out. When they wake up, they cower in cages as they recover from their "hangovers".

The affliction is seasonal, with most lorikeets recovering within a few weeks, only to become ill again at the same time the following year.

"They definitely seem like they're drunk," said Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, near Darwin.


Ring of Fire in the Sky: Storm Clouds Form an Astonishing Circle at Sunset in Hungary

shelf cloud
Shelf cloud forms a vast ring of Gyoer, 70 miles west of Budapest, following a torrential shower and hail storm.
A circle of clouds forms a ring of fire above the Hungarian countryside as the sun sets after a day of torrential rain and hail storms which brought havoc to the country and much of central Europe.

This dramatic picture was taken after more than 2,000 people were forced from their homes in northern Hungary as flash floods triggered by heavy weekend rains blocked off villages and cut power in parts of the country.

Unusually bad weather, with heavy gusts of wind and two months' worth of rain in some areas, sent water levels surging to record highs on smaller rivers.

'It's hard to predict when the situation will normalise because of the weather, we have not seen such floods in the valleys of the rivers Sajo and Hernad since 1974,' said Csaba Csont, a spokesman for the water management authority in northern Hungary.


India: 25 Bakkarwals Perish in Snowstorm, Many Missing

Jammu - At least 25 members of Bakkarwal tribe, including women and children, were feared killed along with their livestock while several others are reportedly missing after unprecedented snowstorm in Kishtwar district, official sources today said.

Several nomad families at various migration routes in upper reaches of Kishtwar were reportedly missing since untimely heavy snowfall and rain struck the Pir Panjal mountain ranges last week, UNI said quoting a senior police officer who requesting anonymity.

As per official assessment, over 4,000 cattle, including goats, sheep, horses, cows and buffaloes, have been killed due to a turbulent weather on May 27, 28 last month in inaccessible high reaches of Warwan, the officer said.

"Exact number of people killed in this natural disaster in Warwan area, which connects Kishtwar to Kargil (Ladakh area), could be known only after the administration teams reach the places,'' the officer said, asserting that it takes three days to reach the locations where the deaths of nomadic Bakkarwals have been reported and there is no telecommunication facility in the area.

"So far we can just say several nomadic families are missing as we have not been able to establish contact with them,'' the officer said.


Japan: Mystery of falling tadpoles returns

© Kyodo Photo
Out of their element: Tochigi resident Takao Nagano shows off tadpoles he claims fell from the sky Monday.
Utsunomuya, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) - The mystery of the raining tadpoles is back.

On Monday morning, a man working in a field in front of his house in Oyama, Tochigi Prefecture, reported that he found about 10 tadpoles, which he suspects fell from the sky.

Since last June, tadpoles falling from the sky have been reported in Ishikawa, Miyagi and Saitama prefectures. While some experts believe the tadpoles are dropped by birds, other lay the blame on tornadoes.

At around 8:30 a.m. Monday, Takao Nagano, 65, said he heard the sound of something dropping to the ground while he was planting melon seedlings in his field. He initially thought it was hail, but when he looked up the sky was clear, he said.

Then he found the tadpoles, each measuring about 2 cm, on the ground. Some were still moving, he said, noting they lying about 40 cm apart, almost in a straight line.

"Since the tadpoles had left a clear impression in the ground, they must have fallen from a great height," he said, adding that he didn't see any birds or airplanes flying over at the time.