Wednesday, September 21, 2011

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: SEASON ANOMALIES - Britain Sees "Two Autumns" As Trees Turn At Different Times, Drop Leaves Early?!

has come twice this year, according to the Woodland Trust, after the dry spring and invasive pests caused some trees to drop their leaves early.

Traditionally the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness” falls in late September as trees begin to turn gold and shed foliage. But this year many species lost their leaves early due to one of the warmest and driest springs on record. The Royal Horticultural Society recorded leaves turning yellow on hazelnut, acer and laburnum at the beginning of August. Horse chestnuts, or conker trees, lost their leaves early due to the leaf miner moth, from Turkey, that has been spreading across the country. Autumnal flowers like winter hellebores, viburnum and magnolia also came out early. But this was a “false autumn” caused by a lack of water rather than cold weather, explained Professor Tim Sparks, nature adviser to the Woodland Trust. Trees shed their leaves during a drought in order to retain water and survive. He said the real autumn is only just happening as native species like oak and ash, that are more used to the capricious British weather, begin turning. Prof Sparks urged the public to help record the “real autumn” by looking out for the vivid red, golds and browns of turning leaves. "Autumn is the best season to get out and make the most of our trees and woods, the beautiful reds, browns and golds are an awe-inspiring sight. We're calling for the public to help us record the changing seasons, which helps inform scientists about the effects of climate change on our native flora and fauna." The study of the seasons, known as phenology, is important for measuring how the weather is changing in Britain with global warming.

The Woodland Trust recorded the earliest spring so far this century this year, leading to the expectation that autumn will come early because of the “shelf life” of leaves. However this is not necessarily the case, if temperatures remain high and there is enough rain trees may continue blooming later. It tends to be more difficult to work out when autumn falls because there are more complex factors than just temperature, such as rainfall and high winds. Ultimately the leaves will turn as the days get shorter, meaning plants and trees photosynthesise to a lesser extent and produce less chlorophyll – which provides the green colouring seen in leaves. Sudden drops in temperature at night also destroy the chlorophyll, all of which leads to the appearance of the yellows, reds and browns of the season. Data recorded by the charity over the past decade suggests that trees across the UK will on average be showing the first signs of autumn colour during late September, with so-called 'full tinting' appearing by late October. reds, golds and browns. The benchmark date for the UK's most symbolic tree – the oak – to show the first signs of autumn colour is September 25th2, with full tinting appearing by October 30th. The Woodland Trust has only been recording the onset of autumn for ten years so it is too early to find a trend due to climate change. The public are not only asked to look for the turning of leaves but the departure of summer migrants like swallows and the arrival of winter migrants like fieldfare.
- Telegraph.

GREAT DELUGE: 57 Dead & 1.2 Million Displaced in China Floods!

Flooding across China has claimed 57 lives as more than a million people are evacuated from their homes.

Heavy record rains for more than a week have swamped several provinces in northern, central and southwest China, also injuring dozens of people, Newscore reports. The Ministry of Civil Affairs said in a statement that the rain had forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.2 million people from their homes, BBC reports. Landslides and mudslides have toppled homes and blocked roads in the area, and the National Meteorological Center forecast that the torrential rains that caused them will last for another three days, AFP reports. "Constant strong rainfall has caused serious flood disasters in Sichuan [southwest], Shaanxi [north] and Henan [central] - 12.3 million people were affected, 57 died and 29 are missing," it said. One area of the southwestern province of Sichuan, Bazhong, was severely affected, with 13 people killed, 10 missing and 156 injured, a spokesman for the local government told the official China Daily newspaper. Parts of China's longest river, the Yangtze, recorded reaching seven meters above dangerous levels and was expected to rise to the highest level since 1847, the Herald Sun reports. Last year saw China's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4300 people dead or missing. The floods have caused nearly $3 million in damage and submerged 29,000 houses across the three provinces, according to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs.
- Global Post.
WATCH: Severe floods in China force residents to flee.

THE GREAT DELUGE: Flash Floods Wreak Havoc in Pakistan!

Floods caused by torrential rain brought havoc in Esa Khel Tehsil, damaging around 300 houses, infrastructure and sweeping away standing crops.

According to local people, torrential rain followed by flash floods on Sunday night played havoc in villages Naseer Abad, Saghar Khel, Checho Khel, Khatisar and Kutal Khel. An estimated 30,000 people are badly affected and looking for provincial authorities to start relief work. They said that flood also swept away cattle heads and their other valuable items. The residents demanded Chief Minister Punjab to declare Esa Khel a calamity hit area and sought compensation for damages. Sakhi Badshah a resident of Naseer Abad said that this hilly areas was prone to flash floods and demanded of timely preventative measures to secure area from further devastation. He said that flash flood also affected the area last year and the residents had also appealed to the concerned authorities for help but no heed was given in this regard. He said that Esa Khel is a remote and poor area where people do not have resources to built their houses. Another resident, Attaullah said that the local administration has not launched any relief works as it already pre-occupied in anti-dengue drive. - Pakistan Observer.
WATCH: Floods return in Pakistan, displacing 5 million so far.

WATCH: Pakistan floods ravage livestock.

GREAT DELUGE: 4 Killed as Typhoon Roke Approaches Japan!

Four people in Japan have been killed amid heavy rain from a powerful typhoon that is expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon, authorities there said.  The powerful typhoon is bearing down on Japan's tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast, approaching a nuclear power plant crippled in that disaster and prompting calls for the evacuation of more than a million people.

The center of Typhoon Roke, which had sustained winds of up to 167 kph (103 mph) Wednesday morning, could hit Japan's Tokai region, which includes Nagoya city -- or the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo -- in the afternoon, Japan Meteorological Agency chief forecaster Yutaka Kanda said at a news conference. At of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, Roke's center was 280 kilometers southwest of Nagoya, where about 1 million people had been urged to evacuate. An evacuation order for about 80,000 residents of Nagoya was lifted, according to local media reports. Heavy rain fell in central and western Japan from the typhoon's outer bands on Tuesday and Wednesday. Some downpours came at up to 50 millimeters (2 inches) an hour, and some parts received more than 450 millimeters (17 inches) over a day, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. Four people have died in Nagoya, including a 66-year-old man who fell from a roof Tuesday while trying to fix a stuck duct, city authorities said. Two other people -- a fourth-grade boy and an 84-year-old man -- were missing in Gifu prefecture, authorities said. People in the Tokai and Kanto regions should be prepared for heavy rain Wednesday, Kanda said, adding that the Kanto region may be most affected Wednesday evening. No airports were closed Wednesday, but several flights toward the Kyushu and Shikoku areas were canceled, transportation officials said. Several passenger trains were not running Wednesday in central and southern Japan, railway officials said. - CNN.

: Raw Video: Typhoon headed to Japan's Disaster Zone.

: Typhoon Roke looks to Make Landfall near Nagoya City.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.3 Magnitude Quake Strikes Vanuatu!

Click on the image for a larger view.
A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Vanuatu at a depth of 209.9 km (130.4 miles), the quake hit at 21:28:28 UTC Tuesday 20th September 2011 and was located at 18.824°S, 169.175°E. The epicentre was 81 km (50 miles) north of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu; 151 km (93 miles) southeast of Port-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu; 1911 km (1187 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
11986 km (7447 miles) southwest of Granada, Nicaragua.

No tsunami warning was issued and there are no reports of any damage at this time.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Guatemala Quakes Trigger Landslides!

Three successive earthquakes hit Guatemala on Monday, shaking buildings as far as 30 miles away, triggering landslides and inciting public panic. The earthquakes happened within 90 minutes of one another in the southeast part of the country, centered near Cuilapa Santa Rosa. The largest was the second quake, which registered a 5.8 magnitude. It hit at 12:30 p.m. local time. The other two earthquakes both measured 4.8 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A landslide in western Guatemala killed at least three people and 10 are missing, officials said Tuesday. Guatemala's National Coordinator for the Reduction of Disasters, known as CONRED, reported that the landslide happened early Tuesday morning in Barillas, Huehuetenango, a department in western Guatemala. The wall of mud and rock killed three people and 10 are missing, said David De Leon Villeda, a CONRED spokesman. The victims were children, ages 4, 6 and 7, he said. They were siblings. Rescue personnel are on the scene searching for survivors. The landslide buried four houses, CONRED said. - CNN.
A landslide in northern Guatemala on Tuesday killed three children and another 12 people buried in the disaster are believed dead, a local official said. Heavy predawn rains caused the disaster that buried four homes while families slept. "They have been trapped under heavy mud. It's unlikely that anyone is still alive," Sergio Cabanas, director of civil defense, told Reuters. Rain and unstable terrain prevented rescue teams from reaching the landslide on foot and crews have been removing dirt with heavy machinery. Rescuers will continue to search for victims through Thursday, Cabanas said. Authorities by Tuesday evening had removed from the rubble the bodies of two young boys - four and six years old - and a seven-year-old girl. - L.A. Times.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Mysterious Fish Kill in Arkansas River!

It's not the 83,000 fish that were found dead back in December, but another fish kill is being looked at along the Arkansas River.

This time the kill is much closer to the capitol city. In fact, the dead fish are being spotted along a newly opened pedestrian bridge. Investigators with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission worked Tuesday afternoon  to estimate the size of this latest fish kill. They, along with the Department of Environmental Quality are also looking for a cause. The natural beauty of the area around the newly opened Two Rivers Bridge attracts artists as well as fitness enthusiasts from bicyclists to strollers. But this week there is another, less aesthetic sight capturing the attention of sightseers. Dead fish. And lots of them. Some on the shoreline, others floating in the river. Investigators were on the scene to determine the species affected, estimate the number of fish affected, and gather samples and information to help determine a cause. It appears only one type of fish, white bass, is dead or dying.  Other species appear fine, which suggests the cause of the kill is not chemicals or toxins. Last month discharge from a paper mill caused a major kill in Louisiana and Mississippi (Pearl River). Back in June it was hot weather that killed off fish in a Virginia lake (Smith Mountain Lake). Bacteria was to blame for a major Georgia fish kill in May (Ogeechee River). And last winter cold weather killed two million fish in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. Many months after 83,000 freshwater drum fish went belly-up in the Arkansas River it was determined that ten spillways opened at Ozark Dam for ten hours caused gas bubble trauma in the dead fish. Now investigators are working to solve another dead fish mystery. The most common cause of major fish kills is oxygen depletion, but oxygen levels in the river tested normal on Tuesday. Infectious diseases, parasites, pollution, temperature changes and underwater explosions are other possibilities. - KATV.
Wildlife officials have discovered thousands of dead fish along the Arkansas River in Little Rock and were still counting carcasses on Tuesday, a day after an angler reported seeing dozens of dead white bass. "We are on the river trying to determine the extent of the fish kill," said Keith Stephens, public information coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Wildlife investigators said the dead fish were mainly white bass, which are common in the river, and were between 5 and 8 inches long. Most were found near the foot of the Two Rivers Bridge, an 80-foot pedestrian bridge that opened in July. An Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology official said toxins had not been eliminated as a potential cause and that oxygen levels had tested normal so far. Other test results for disease and parasites could take a month to conclude. In late December, thousands of freshwater drum and yellow bass died in the Arkansas River. A month later, 500 more drum died. Officials later determined that the fish kills were likely caused by increases in atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen in the water after spillway gates were opened. - Reuters.