Earth ChangesS


5 million aquatic animals die at Mara river in Kenya

The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), Public Health Ministry and Kenya Wildlife Service are investigating the deaths of fish in Mara River. Conservationists suspect the deaths that started last week might have been caused by agro chemicals from farms, that drain into the river. Hoteliers in Masai Mara Game Reserve are now expressing fear that the chemicals might kill animals that depend on the river.

"The deaths could have been caused by agro chemicals from large scale farms on the upper side of the river. The chemicals might also kill hippos, crocodiles and other animals that drink water from the river," said Ben Kipeno, a conservationist from the northern side of the reserve. Mr Kipeno said on Wednesday there were unconfirmed reports that apart from fish, a crocodile and a hippo have already succumbed to effects of the chemicals. He urged the Government to rein in farmers along the river who use potent chemicals and claimed that despite several complaints to Nema no action has been taken. Officials from KWS who were dispatched from Nairobi took samples of the fish to the Government Chemist for further tests to ascertain the cause of the deaths. When The Standard visited the river, dead fish were floating with scavengers, including the Marabou stork, feeding on them. The Narok South Nema officer in charge Gabriel Tambushi said initial reports had indicated that more than five million fish were killed at the confluence of the seasonal Moyan River in Transmara with the Mara following a heavy flood.


Scientists: Sun's Approaching 'Grand Cooling" Assures New Ice Age

ice age earth
© n/a
NASA and the ESA agree, and so does the Russian space agency, Roscosmos - the sun is headed for a Grand Solar Minimum and a Grand Cooling will commence.

The aptly named Grand Cooling is exactly what it implies: the sun is going to cool. That cooling will also cool off the Earth. It will last from 30 to 50 years.

What exactly does global cooling mean? Well for one, Al Gore was sure wrong! The Earth isn't going to warm, it's going to get colder. Much colder. So cold a little or full-blown Ice Age will ensue. As a matter of fact, some scientists claim we're already in the early stages of an Ice Age.

Maybe the Nobel Committee and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should ask Mr. Gore to return his awards.

Dutch Professor Cees de Jager, a prominent astronomer and solar expert, forcefully asserts that we the world is indeed entering for a long period of very low solar activity. The professor and his colleagues are certain Earth is heading for a "long Grand Minimum" - defined as either a Solar Wolf-Gleissberg or a Maunder Minimum - "not shorter than a century." His 2010 paper, "The forthcoming Grand Minimum of solar activity," outlined the extended period of time that the diminished solar radiation would affect the Earth.

Bizarro Earth

Scientist Finds Gulf Bottom Still Oily, Dead

Underwater video of BP's Gulf oil spill
© BPUnderwater video of BP's Gulf oil spill, from June, 2010.
Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a scientist's video and slides that demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.

At a science conference in Washington, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't.

"There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading," Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil.

"Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye said, later adding: "there's a lot of it out there."

Bizarro Earth

Siberia's Lake Baikal Feeling the Heat


The "Butterfly Effect" the idea that on a global scale, even small events can have a ripple effect around the world is demonstrated in the work of a Russian family in Siberia that have for three generations studied Lake Baikal -- one of the most biologically diverse of the world's oldest and deepest lakes. In the 1940's, Mikhail Kozhov began taking detailed measurements of the lake's temperature. His granddaughter, Lyubov Izmest'eva, continues the family tradition.

Izmest'eva ventures out onto the water, or ice in the winter, to collect water samples and measure temperatures, just like her mother and grandfather before her.

Along with a team of scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Izmest'eva recently co-authored a study of Lake Baikal. The research sheds light on the way climate change is affecting temperatures in large bodies of water.

Bizarro Earth

US: Nearly 60 Small to Moderate Earthquakes Strike Arkansas and Are Widely Felt

Nearly 60 small and moderate earthquakes struck Arkansas since Feb. 15, 2011, the most recent a magnitude 4.3 earthquake this morning 37 miles away from Little Rock. Many of the earthquakes are large enough to be felt.

"These earthquake swarms are not that unusual for the region," said Harley Benz, scientist in charge at the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center. "Central Arkansas has a history of earthquake activity with a swarm of thousands of earthquakes smaller than magnitude 4.5 in the early 1980s and another swarm in 2001, known as the Enola earthquake swarms."

Citizens are encouraged to report any experience feeling the earthquake(s) at the USGS Did You Feel It? website. The earthquake swarm that began Tuesday may continue. This area is slightly south of and most likely related to similar ongoing activity involving hundreds of small earthquakes near Guy, Ark., from August 2010 to present.

Scientists do not know why swarms start, why they stop, or how long to expect them to last. The possibility of a larger earthquake cannot be discounted, but none of the other swarms have caused any reason to expect a future earthquake large enough to cause significant damage in central Arkansas.

USGS scientists have been working with their partners at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) at the University of Memphis and the Arkansas Geological Survey (AGS) to carefully monitor this situation. They have deployed a local network of stations - an array - that measure seismicity in the Greenbrier-Enola area to augment regional seismic stations. The CERI and AGS array and personnel are the best source of the most current information about the new earthquake swarm. The AGS and CERI are investigating whether the earthquakes occur naturally or are related to human activities.

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake Magnitude 3.5 Strikes Southern Alabama Coast

Authorities say a 3.5-magnitude earthquake has shaken southern Alabama, and people have reported feeling the quake as far away as Birmingham, Ala.

Residents in the Pensacola area of the Florida panhandle also say they felt the quake, according to reports from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Information from the Geological Survey indicates the quake happened at 5:15 p.m. Friday.

Officials say the epicenter was near the tip of the Fort Morgan Peninsula at the mouth of Mobile Bay in Baldwin County.


Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland: a geologist's analysis

© unkMap: Bardarbunga is in a more central position north east from Eyjafjallajokull.

An article on Bardarbunga, the volcano behind the recent Iceland eruption scare, written by geologist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson.

This past spring, while the eruption at Eyjafjallajokull was taking place, there was large scale earthquake activity at Bardarbunga. The increased seismic activity in the area then, and again just a couple of weeks ago, created a lot of discussion and deliberation. Bardarbunga is a big volcano under the Vatnajokull ice cap with a large ice-filled caldera some 6-700 metres deep and a lateral volcano at Hamar to the south of the main crater. Bardarbunga is a central volcano in the Icelandic volcano system. The system's fissure swarm stretches from the northeast to the southwest from the central highlands under the glacier; all the way from Tungnaa in the south to the lava fields west of Askja in the north. The system is over 100 kilometres long.


US: Earthquake activity near Mount St. Helens volcano quietly continues

© Google Image
Aftershocks from Monday's 4.3 magnitude earthquake northwest of Mount St. Helens have continued all week, but most of them have been too small to be felt any distance away.

The most recently recorded shock occurred at 8:07 a.m. Friday about six miles from the volcano, the same vicinity as the temblor that jolted a broad area of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon at 10:35 a.m. Monday, according to the University of Washington geophysics lab in Seattle. Two quakes measuring 2.4 and another hitting 2.3 occurred late in the week.

None of the earthquakes is known to have caused any damage or injuries.


US: Pele shows 'a lot more' Big Island activity

© Hawaiian Volcano ObservatoryLava continued erupting Thursday morning from a vent in the east wall of Puu Oo crater.
Increased volcanic activity continues at the summit of Kilauea and at the Puu Oo vent.

Lava is flowing from another east cone and a vent on the east wall of Puu Oo into the crater. Hawaii Volcano Observatory released a video Wednesday of the activity in the crater. The flow continued, off and on, Thursday and yesterday.

A lava lake in Halemaumau is also active.

A section of rock above the summit vent collapsed into the lake Monday, sending gas and ash into the air and creating loud popping that could be heard by visitors at the Jaggar Museum overlook in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava ash and "Pele's hair" - fine strands of cooled lava - dusted cars in the parking lot.

Cloud Lightning

Pakistan: Rain, snow disrupts life in Quetta, Ziarat

© Google MapsQuetta, Pakistan
Quetta: Rain has been pouring off and on in Quetta and nearby regions whereas snowfall was recorded in Ziarat closing road links between Quetta and Chaman and Ziarat-Sanjawi.

Quetta, Bustan, Pishin, Yawar, Qila Abdullah, Khanozai, Kan Mehtarzai, Mustang, and several other regions received heavy rains. As a result most of the places were flooded with rain water.

Ziarat has been hit with snowfall since last night and 5 inches of snow has been recorded so far. According to the Meteorological Department of Pakistan there is a prediction of rain in the next 24 hours. The weather will remain cold and dry in other parts of the region.