Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Looming Storm Prompts Philippines Evacuation Call

© AP Photo/Pat RoqueResidents use an elevated footbridge built on a road intersection as others ride on a makeshift outrigger passing below the bridge on a flooded street Friday, Oct. 16, 2009 in Pasig City, east of Manila, Philippines.
Manila - Officials told residents still reeling from mudslides that recently buried hundreds in the northern Philippine mountains to be ready to abandon their homes again if a storm approaching Friday becomes the third typhoon in a month to hit the country.

The warning came after back-to-back storms since Sept. 26 caused the worst flooding in 40 years in and around the capital Manila and unleashed landslides in the Cordillera mountains in the north of the country, killing 773 people and affecting more than 7 million.

Tropical Storm Lupit may intensify into a super typhoon by the time it makes landfall next week with winds up to 143 miles (230 kilometers) per hour, forecasters said. It was expected to enter Philippine waters late Friday.

Evil Rays

Java earthquake causes minor damage

Indonesia was hit by its second earthquake in just over two weeks earlier today when a quake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck in the Sunda Strait off the coast of Java, around 200 kilometres to the west of the capital Jakarta.

Buildings in the capital swayed for several minutes, but there appears to be little damage and so far there are no reports of casualties. The earthquake on 30 September which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale killed at least 1,115 people on the island of Sumatra.

Cloud Lightning

Lucky strike: San Francisco photographer captures dramatic lightning on early morning drive

If woken by a tumultuous storm outside, most of us will wisely pull the covers over our heads and try to go back to sleep. For one plucky photographer though, it was the chance to dash outside and capture some truly electric images.

Frank Fennema, 56 from California made the trip from his home in Tiburon, north of San Francisco, down to the Golden Gate Bridge.

© Frank Fennemma

Bizarro Earth

Satellite Data Look Behind the Scenes of Deadly Earthquake

© Jianbao Sun; ALOS data: JAXAAn ALOS Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) interferogram that shows the surface deformation associated with the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.
Using satellite radar data and GPS measurements, Chinese researchers have explained the exceptional geological events leading to the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake that killed nearly 90,000 people in China's Sichuan Province.

"One of the very fundamental issues for understanding an earthquake is to know how the rupture is distributed on the fault plane, which is directly related to the amount of ground shaking and the damage it could cause at the surface," said Dr Jianbao Sun of the Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration (IGCEA).

To learn this, Sun and Prof. Zhengkang Shen of IGCEA and Peking University's Department of Geophysics, and collaborators acquired two kinds of satellite radar data: Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) data in C-band from ESA's Envisat satellite and Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data from Japan's ALOS satellite.

Applying a technique called SAR Interferometry (InSAR) on the data, the researchers produced a set of 'interferogram' images covering the entire coseismic rupture region and its vicinity. This interferometric map revealed the amount and scope of surface deformation produced by the earthquake.

Bizarro Earth

5.7 Earthquake Hits Andaman, Santa Cruz Islands

A moderate earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale hit Andaman Islands region at 5.29pm on Wednesday, the Malaysian Meteorological Department said.

In a statement, it said the quake's epicentre was 65km northeast of Little Andaman, India and 908km northeast of Langkawi, Kedah.

Meanwhile, a weak 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck Santa Cruz Islands at 5.35pm.

The earthquake's epicentre was 751km southeast of Honiara, Solomon Islands and 5,627km southeast of Kunak, Sabah.

Bizarro Earth

Philippines: 4.1 Earthquake Hits Batangas

A 4.1 magnitude earthquake shook Batangas province at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The inland tremor struck 55 kilometers northwest of Batangas and 65 kilometers south-southwest of Manila at a depth of 217.7 kilometers.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Cloud Lightning

Weather Geeks Champion New Armageddon-Worthy Cloud

undulatus asperatus
© Danielle Maxwell
In hill country from Iowa to the Scottish Highlands, sky-gazers have reported some strange, ominous-looking clouds of late. Dubbed undulatus asperatus (turbulent undulation), the atmospheric anomaly could be headed where only 80-odd clouds have gone before: into the International Cloud Atlas. If it makes the cut, asperatus will be the first new addition in more than 50 years.

Cloud Lightning

US: Southern California storm menaces neighborhoods near burn

California storm
© Associated Press/Russel A. DanielsA person walks with an umbrella in San Francisco as the first major storm of the season hits the area on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009. Residents across California worried Tuesday about possible flash floods and mudslides as a storm began showering areas devastated by wildfires
A powerful fall storm packing strong winds, drenching rain and heavy snow has moved into Southern California where residents near fire-scarred hillsides braced for possible mudslides and debris flows.

The storm prompted evacuation warnings earlier Tuesday near Santa Cruz and disrupted power across the state.

Officials urged residents to evacuate from about 60 homes in the town of Davenport in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 50 miles south of San Francisco, where more than six inches of rain fell on an area that burned in August.

Residents in the area of the massive Station Fire in Los Angeles County were on guard. The wildfire burned into the backyards of foothill homes in September, and stripped the steep mountains of vegetation that holds the soil to the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Better Earth

Chimps happy to help - you just have to ask

If you're looking for help from a chimp, don't forget to say please. Captive chimpanzees readily help others obtain an out-of-reach snack, but only if they beg for it, a new study shows.

Researchers have long debated whether chimpanzees act altruistically. In the wild, the great apes exchange grooming duties, and occasionally food such as meat, but whether these transactions fit the definition of altruism is controversial.

"It is difficult to evaluate the cost and benefit of behaviours in the wild and actually impossible to control the situations, and therefore it is disputable to say that it is altruistic behaviour," says Shinya Yamamoto, a primatologist at the Kyoto University in Japan, who led the new study.

Studies of captive chimps, meanwhile, found little consistent evidence for altruism, though one report showed that chimpanzees will lend humans a helping hand.


Animals feel the pain of religious slaughter

© Alex Segre / Rex FeaturesBrain signals have shown that calves appear to feel pain when slaughtered according to Jewish and Muslim religious law.
Brain signals have shown that calves do appear to feel pain when slaughtered according to Jewish and Muslim religious law, strengthening the case for adapting the practices to make them more humane.

"I think our work is the best evidence yet that it's painful," says Craig Johnson, who led the study at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Johnson summarised his results last week in London when receiving an award from the UK Humane Slaughter Association. His team also showed that if the animal is concussed through stunning, signals corresponding to pain disappear.

The findings increase pressure on religious groups that practice slaughter without stunning to reconsider. "It provides further evidence, if it was needed, that slaughtering an animal without stunning it first is painful," says Christopher Wathes of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council, which has long argued for the practice to end.