Earth ChangesS

Bizarro Earth

A New Kind Of Lightning Discovered

© Bretwood HigmanLightning in the ash cloud atop Mount Redoubt from the March 28 eruption.
When volcano seismologist Stephen McNutt at the University of Alaska Fairbanks's Geophysical Institute saw strange spikes in the seismic data from the Mount Spurr eruption in 1992, he had no idea that his research was about to take an electrifying turn.

"The seismometers were actually picking up lightning strikes," said McNutt. "I knew that I had to reach out to the physicists studying lightning."

With McNutt's curiosity about volcanic lightning sparked, he teamed up with physicist and electrical engineer Ronald Thomas and Sonja Behnke, a graduate student in atmospheric physics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, N.M. for a unique collaboration in order to learn more about volcanic lighting.

When the Mount Redoubt volcano started making seismic noise in January 2009, McNutt alerted Thomas and Behnke that this would be a great opportunity to capture some new volcanic lightning data. By the time the volcano erupted in March, the team had four Lightning Mapping Arrays set up to monitor the lightning from the eruption.

Life Preserver

7 killed, 2,500 stuck in Peru mudslide

Peru mudslide
© unknownMudslide floodwaters trap thousands
Heavy rains accompanied by mudslide have killed seven people while trapping more than 2,500 tourists, who were visiting the renowned Machu Picchu ruins in Peru.

According to emergency services by late Tuesday, the rescue team managed to airlift 125 foreign tourists from the historic site to safer places, leaving back many others in frustration and distress.

Around 1,900 tourists were stranded in nearby Aguas Calientes and 670 more on the Inca Trail, a narrow Andean passage up to Machu Picchu that takes four days to complete and which was cut in several places by landslides.

"People are sleeping in the street square, they are sleeping in gyms, in schools, on trains, in makeshift tents. People are just distressed," Julie Nemcich, 29, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from Aguas Calientes, AFP reported.


US: Winter snow totals trudge deep into records

© Rodney White
The last time there was more snow in Des Moines in December and January, the world was emerging from a several-hundred-year era of cold temperatures dubbed the "Little Ice Age."

Des Moines received 6.4 inches of snow Monday at the airport, pushing the total snowfall since Dec. 1 in the city to 41.4 inches. That topped the 37.2 inches in Des Moines during the same period in 1897-1898.

The record snowfall for Des Moines in December and January is 50.2 inches in 1885-86. Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University Extension climatologist, said the world was coming out of the Little Ice Age in the 1880s.


UN Climate Chief Refuses to Resign Over Glacier Report Error

The head of the UN panel on climate change has brushed aside suggestions that he should resign in the wake of a row over a false report on the threat of global warming.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently admitted it made a mistake in its 2007 assessment of the rates of glacier melting in the Himalayas.

"I am not going to stand down, I am going to stand up," the BBC quoted Rajendra Pachauri as saying.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 said that Himalayan glaciers were receding at an unprecedented speed and could melt to a fifth of current levels by 2035. The statement was widely disputed by the global scientific community.


Winter storm closes roads across Canadian Prairies

Canada blizzard conditions on Highway 1 wes
© UnknownTruck drivers struggle to navigate through blizzard conditions on Highway 1 west between Winnipeg and Portage-la-Prairie on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010.
A harsh blast of winter weather is wreaking havoc on the Prairies, with high winds and blowing snow making travel treacherous Monday across southern Manitoba -- even stopping snow plows.

Blizzard conditions continued throughout the Southern Red River Valley on Monday afternoon, where Environment Canada weather warnings are in affect.

"Strong north winds" were expected to "reduce visibilities to near zero in blowing snow," the warning said. "Gradual improvement is expected through the afternoon."

"We've got wind gusts of up to 80 kilometres per hour, so there is near zero visibility over parts of Manitoba," spokesperson Sandy Massey told The Canadian Press.

The storm closed the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg, as well as Highway 75 between Winnipeg and the U.S. border, the provincial government's website said.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 5.8 Earthquake - Peru

Earthquake Details
Peru 5.8 Earthquake - USGS
© US Geological SurveyEarthquake Location
Magnitude 5.8 CENTRAL PERU
Monday, January 25, 2010 at 22:52:47 UTC

Magnitude 5.8

* Monday, January 25, 2010 at 22:52:47 UTC
* Monday, January 25, 2010 at 05:52:47 PM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 8.546°S, 74.467°W

Depth 153.4 km (95.3 miles)


20 km (10 miles) SSE of Pucallpa, Peru
230 km (140 miles) WSW of Cruzeiro do Sul, Acre, Brazil
240 km (150 miles) NE of Huanuco, Peru
485 km (300 miles) NE of LIMA, Peru

Bizarro Earth

Maximum Height of Extreme Waves Up Dramatically in Pacific Northwest

© Erica Harris/Oregon State UniversityWaves from a powerful storm crash into the seawall at Depoe Bay, Oregon.
A major increase in maximum ocean wave heights off the Pacific Northwest in recent decades has forced scientists to re-evaluate how high a "100-year event" might be, and the new findings raise special concerns for flooding, coastal erosion and structural damage.

The new assessment concludes that the highest waves may be as much as 46 feet, up from estimates of only 33 feet that were made as recently as 1996, and a 40 percent increase. December and January are the months such waves are most likely to occur, although summer waves are also significantly higher.

In a study just published online in the journal Coastal Engineering, scientists from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries report that the cause of these dramatically higher waves is not completely certain, but "likely due to Earth's changing climate."

Using more sophisticated techniques that account for the "non-stationarity" in the wave height record, researchers say the 100-year wave height could actually exceed 55 feet, with impacts that would dwarf those expected from sea level rise in coming decades.


Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified

© AlamyChilling error: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrongly asserted that glaciers in the Himalayas would melt by 2035
The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report's chapter on Asia, said: 'It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.


Poland sinks further into deep freeze

Thermometer plunges in Warsaw, Monday.
As temperatures plunge to minus 30 C in some places in Poland, the winter claimed more lives, the Government Security Center (GSC) has announced.

"Sixteen people have died from hypothermia over the weekend, eleven of them within the last 24 hours," GSC's Bozena Wysocka told Polskie Radio.

The statistics do not only concern the homeless, as some people have frozen to death in their homes. The dead also includes a 13-year old boy found on Saturday, who died on his way home.

The extreme weather conditions caused power outages due to network failures, with entire provinces deprived of electricity in southern Poland. The military has for several days now been assisting the efforts to remove ice from electricity lines. About 8,000 households remain without power in the country.

Meanwhile, last night the temperature has hit a new low, with -30 degrees C in the eastern parts of the country. What's worse, some parts of southern Poland are still deprived of electricity after heavy snow falls at the beginning of January. At the ground level, the temperature fell even below -30 degrees Celsius (-22F) in south eastern Poland, Anna Nemec of a weather forecast center told the newspaper. Tonight is supposed to be even colder. Only in January, over 70 persons died due to the harsh weather conditions.


Temperatures as low as minus 34 as fresh cold snap hits Europe

Snowmen protest climate change!
© OBSHelp, I'm melting: In the German capital of Berlin, artist Ralf Schmerberg erected 750 snowmen as part of a demonstration calling for greater efforts to fight climate change. Schmerberg called on aspiring snow sculptors across the city to participate in the action.
Vienna/Berlin - A fresh cold snap on top of an already unseasonably cold winter in Europe has seen temperatures plummet as low as minus 34, and left a mounting toll of death and disruption on Monday. The worst death toll appeared to be in Romania, where authorities confirmed 23 deaths over the weekend. The authorities urged hospitals to open their doors to the homeless to give them shelter.

A record low of minus 34 was recorded in the town of Bilaystok, north-east Poland overnight Sunday to Monday.

Some 8,000 people in the east of the country were left without electricity after a power outage on Sunday, the Polish Press Agency reported.