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Wed, 29 Nov 2023
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Earth Changes


In Antarctica, bugs are kings

Rothera Base - Lurking among rocks on the Antarctic Peninsula, the most aggressive land predator on the frozen continent is on the prowl -- for microscopic prey.

Animals such as lions, crocodiles or snakes thrive elsewhere on the planet, but Antarctica's most fearsome land predator is a reddish bug.

The continent is best known for penguins, seals and whales, but all rely on the sea for food, unlike its Lilliputian land-based creatures and plants -- so far almost unaffected by humans.

Scientists are stepping up their study of these tiny creatures in Antarctica for possible early warnings about how climate change may disrupt life around the planet in coming decades.

"Antarctica is strikingly different to other continents in terms of what you find on land," Pete Convey, a biologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said while peering at an apparently barren pile of rocks on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Better Earth

Aurora Watch January 17

Auroras Canada
© Claus Vogel
Pangnirtung, Nunavut - Baffin Island, Canada, January 9, 2009.

A solar wind stream is heading toward Earth, due to arrive on Jan. 17th or 18th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

Better Earth

Fantastic Ice Halos

Ice Halos
© Jari Luomanen and Marko Riikonen
Ice Halos

Night falls. You grab your halogen lamp and step outside into the moonlight. A bitter arctic wind tries to push you back; ice crystals sting your eyes. But what you see overhead carries you forward into the night.

"Jari Luomanen and Marko Riikonen braved the intense cold of the Finland night on January 9/10 to research halos and obtain this stunning shot showing halos from the Moon competing with those from a halogen lamp," explains atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "Lamps plus crystals from snow-making machines are the latest way to study ice halos. Here the lamp is acting as the equivalent of a low sun to create a whole set of rare arcs such as the Hastings and helic previously seen only in Antactica."

Bizarro Earth

US: Earthquake near Giles County, Virginia

A small earthquake rattled parts of the New River Valley and West Virginia Monday evening.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake's epicenter was in West Virginia (37.269 N, 80.776 W), about 5 miles South-Southeast from Narrows, and 5 miles South-Southwest from Pearisburg.


The earth's magnetic field impacts climate: Danish study


Illustration only
The earth's climate has been significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field, according to a Danish study published Monday that could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming.

"Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth's magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics," one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.


Blowing snow and frigid temperatures pound nation

Minneapolis - Arctic air extended its grip Wednesday with below-zero temperatures stretching from Montana to northern New England and frost nipping the Gulf Coast.

A few ski areas in Vermont and northern Minnesota closed for the day because of the cold - 38 below zero at International Falls, with the wind chill during the night estimated at 50 below.

The temperature at Bolton, Vt., was 10 below zero and operators of the Bolton Valley ski resort feared that skiers could freeze if a lift malfunctioned, said spokesman Josh Arneson. "Getting people off a lift can take time," he said.

Schools from Iowa to Pennsylvania opened late so kids would not have to be out in the coldest part of the morning. Some schools closed.

The cold wave also bulged into the Northeast, abruptly dropping temperatures in New York state into the single digits and below zero - after Tuesday's readings in the 30s, the National Weather Service said. Thermometers read 8 below at Massena, on the St. Lawrence River, with a wind chill of minus 25 degrees.

Bizarro Earth

US: TVA Disaster Spreads Far and Wide

As a result of a 1.1 billion gallon spill of contaminated fly ash, there has been discussion, press reportage and blogging about the environmental disaster in eastern Tennessee. Most of us have seen the pictures -- a 300+ acre area strewn with black and brown muck as far as the eye can see. Houses lifted off their foundations and thrown across the road, yards filled so high with ash that people can't leave their homes without stepping in it, roadways littered with the ash from trucks going to and from the site, and an eerie still where active life once existed. While this story continues to unfold -- as more samples are taken that delineate the true toxicity of this mess, as TVA makes plans to contain and abate the disaster -- there is a story that has not been told. It is a story that must be told. And that story is the lives of innocent bystanders that have been turned upside down by this avoidable disaster.

I learned of this disaster on the news just as we all did. Usually I receive an email from someone in the community where there has been an environmental problem. At first, it was all quiet. About 10 days after the tragedy I got the first email, then another one and another one and another one, and they kept coming. I also started receiving anonymous tips. It occurred to me that maybe more was going on than what I could gather from the news. With an invitation from the community, I decided to make the trip.

Cow Skull

Cyprus runs risk of desertification: geophysicist

Cyprus runs the risk of desertification by the end of this century as it feels the brunt of climate change and drought, an expert warned on Friday.

Studies project a rise in summer temperatures on the east Mediterranean island of between two and four degrees this century, compared to the 1960 to 1990 reference periods, Professor Manfred Lange, a geophysicist, said in an interview.

"I think that there is a very definite potential for dramatically increasing desertification," said Lange, director of the Energy, Environment and Water Research Centre at the non-profit Cyprus Institute. By the end of this century, Cyprus can expect an extra two months of days with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees centigrade (95 fahrenheit) on top of the present summer months of June, July and August, Lange said. There is also likely to be less rainfall and increased evaporation because of higher temperatures.


US: Sharp cold wave shocks upper Midwest, temps to -36F

Bismark, North Dakota - Residents of the upper Midwest bundled up or just stayed inside Tuesday as a wave of bitterly cold air barreled south out of the Arctic, following on the heels of a fast-moving blizzard.

Some schools closed because of the cold and temperatures hit the single digits as far south as Kansas and Missouri.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.1 - Crete, Greece

Crete Greece

Date-Time Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 06:12:46 UTC
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 08:12:46 AM at epicenter
Location 35.707°N, 26.286°E
Depth 56.4 km (35.0 miles)
Distances 105 km (65 miles) ENE of Iraklion, Crete, Greece
175 km (110 miles) SSE of Naxos, Cyclades Islands, Greece
195 km (120 miles) WSW of Rodos, Dodecanese Islands, Greece
340 km (210 miles) SE of ATHENS, Greece