Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: MYSTERIUM - Innumerable Amounts of Dead Herring Washes Up on the Shores of a Beach in Troms, Norway; Local Community is Stunned at the Overnight Mass Death of Tens of Tons of Fish?! UPDATE: Tons of Dead Fish Mysteriously Vanish From Norwegian Beach?!

The inhabitants of Resin in Troms could hardly believe his eyes on the morning of New Year's Eve, the beach was a large amount, an estimated tens of tons, dead herring, writes Northern Lights.

No one knows for sure what's happened in the popular hiking area in Nordreisa municipality. However, various theories have been tossed around, explains Jan-Petter Jorgensen (44), who took mass death in sight on the beach with his dog Molly. People say that something similar happened in the 80s, and there is speculation among others on the river which flows into the ocean behind a promontory on the site, may have had something to say. Maybe the fish have been caught in the long due, and then died of fresh water? Jorgensen says to Dagbladet. He estimates each individual fish to be of 100-150 grams, and that the total might be about up to 20 tons. Now he's worried about what might happen if no one comes and removing carcasses. When we talk about an environmental problem, the fish are in full resolution.

It's hard to say Bastant what's happened here, but the first thing that occurred to me, is that herring may have been frightened upwards of saithe, says Jens Christian Holst, senior researcher at the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. Holst emphasizes that fresh water or currents at the site also may have played a role, if necessary. storm that recently collapsed, the fish may have been downright washed ashore. Or it could be a combination. Whatever we want to have samples, if someone has taken care of a fresh sample and frozen it down, we would like to have ruled on the case of illness or not, says the researcher. How common is it with such mass death? It does not happen often. Yet there is something we see from time to time, and it is anyway a big event. Should mass death prove to be repeated several times in the same place, we are even more interested in getting the matter investigated, says Holst. - Dagbladet [Translated].
UPDATE: Tons of Dead Fish Mysteriously Vanish From Norwegian Beach?!
Tons of dead herring that washed up on a Norwegian beach on New Year's Eve are now gone, and no one is sure how they got there or where they went. Local resident Jan-Petter Jorgensen told Norway's TV2 he went to look at the thousands and thousands of fish after seeing a Facebook posting about them, according to a report on The Foreigner. Joregensen said it was fortunate the icy cold prevented the mass of dead fish from raising a stink. “It is 15 degrees below zero today, so the cold means they don’t smell. Nevertheless, the smell will be pretty intense in the long run,” he said, according to The Foreigner report.

Turns out that wasn't a problem. Views and News from Norway reports that as of Tuesday, most of the dead fish were gone, perhaps pushed out to sea by tides and winds. The local mayor said they'll likely sink in the ocean, according to the report. Why they came to be on the shore remains a mystery. Jens Christian Holst of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway told Norwegian Broadcasting the herring may have been chased ashore by predators, the Views and News report said. “In this area, we know there is a lot of (pollock) that graze on (herring),” he said. Seems like a reasonable explanation. Of course, on the Web there are always more troubling theories around, including that the deaths could be the first sign the end of the world is coming in 2012, as some believe ancient Mayan prophecy predicts. - CNN.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: 500 to 600 Hundred Black Turkey Vultures Mysteriously Invades Lee County in Georgia - Birds Descends on Neighborhood Every Morning and Afternoon!

Residents say hundreds of black turkey vultures have invaded their south Georgia neighborhood. They say the birds have taken over the trees behind their homes, their rooftops, fences and back yards along Pelham Drive in Lee County.

The homeowners on Pelham Drive in Lee County, Georgia, are frustrated by the sudden influx of new residents to their neighborhood: hundreds of vultures that appear on their street every morning and afternoon. Chan Sellers told WALB that about 500 or 600 vultures appear every morning around 8:30. The birds, turkey and black vultures, stick around for a few hours before they go out hunting. They return in the afternoon. "When I got out to work in the morning, they're right there on my roof, when I open my door, [it] scares the crap out of me," Ryan Williams told the station. Williams says he is afraid to let his 6-week-old puppy out into his yard for fear the vultures will "scoop him up." So far, all attempts to shoo the birds away from the southwest Georgia community — including noisy shotgun blasts — have been useless. Hundreds of vultures live in south Georgia, but winter migration patterns tend to swell their numbers this time of year.

"I just think that, that many in one place has got to be a health hazard I would think," said Sellers. The residents have appealed to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for help, but DNR's hands are tied. Both the turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) and the black vulture (Coragyps atratus) are federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, under which a permit is required to "trap, kill, relocate or otherwise handle a vulture or its eggs," according to a fact sheet on vulture damage from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Black vultures are the more aggressive of the two species, but the two species commonly flock together, with turkey vultures feeding on carrion left behind by black vultures. In fact, it's this cleanup characteristic — though distasteful — that gives these maligned birds a much-needed role in the ecosystem, according to DNR.
The fact sheet says that populations of both species are on the rise, resulting in an accumulation of feces and the possible contamination of public water supplies. Vultures resting on electrical transmission towers have caused power arcs and outages. Other damage — more closely associated with black vultures — includes tearing and consuming of asphalt, rubber, latex and leather products, such as roofing materials or car parts. Black vultures also can attack and eat young livestock. According to the Turkey Vulture Society, feces from that species are not a threat because of the birds' strong digestive acids, which kills most bacteria. The group says vultures prefer to roost in large colonies in areas with lots of tree cover. The group's website suggests shaking trees or using noise, shiny objects, or common lawn sprinklers to discourage turkey vultures from roosting. - MNN.
WATCH: WALB report on the strange vulture invasion.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Enormous Landslide in Switzerland - Four Million Cubic Meters of Rock Crumbled in the Piz Cengalo Area of the Canton of Graubunden!

Several days ago, I told you about a massive landslide in the rural area outside of Trondheim in Norway, which extended over half-a-kilometre of farmland. Today, three astonishing reports out of Switzerland of an enormous geological upheaval.

An enormous landslide came down a week ago in the Swiss Alps. It’s estimated up to four million cubic meters of rock crumbled in the Piz Cengalo area of the canton of Graubünden. That’s about equivalent to 4,000 houses put together. The nearest homes are in the Val Bregaglia, a few kilometers away, so local authorities didn’t think to report the incident right away. They say the mountain had been making ominous rumbles for months before the big crack. - WRS.
It 'caved the top of the north wall of Pizzo Cengalo a week ago. The Swiss side of the peak of 3369 meters, near the border between the Valmasino Bondasca and Val, a branch of the Bergell, had suffered a collapse in July 2011. Then on December 27 last year she's been another, larger, which damaged several routes up the mountain. The separation occurred on the Swiss side in the area over the Capanna Sciora December 27 afternoon, at around 18. It is not yet known the amount of material dropped by the north-northeast, but many routes of ascent would be damaged. Among these would be the way "Cocoa wondered," the "Pillars Kasper", over two thirds of the classic "Bourgeois" and "Attilio-like them." The collapse of last Tuesday is not the first Cengalo Pizzo. Only five months ago, in July 2011, had been a first, always on the northeast wall. This time the landslide had reached and passed the path of the Avenue, which connects Sciora the hut, located at 2,336 meters, the Sasco Fura Hut, located at 1,904 meters above sea level. - Montagna [Translated].
"It's continuing. Those mountains which crown Valle Bondasca were formerly believed to be solid giants of compact, quality granite. But once again a rockfall has taken place on Cengalo, this time from the upper reaches of the NNE Face Tuesday 27 December 2011 and this even invaded part of the NW Face. The debris reached the valley floor and stopped just short of the path which leads to the Sciora Hut at Plan Marene, close to Monte Laret, and the rockfall is estimated at being several million cubic meters large. Fortunately this all happened without injuring anyone and little damage was caused to the few buildings in the area.

Here's a brief history: a first rockfall took place 19 July 2011 at around 6.00am on the NE Face of Cengalo and the debris which exploded during the fall came to rest on the scree slope, falling beyond the Viale path (which connects the Sciora hut to Sasc Fura). After numerous surveys with experts (geologists) the Bregaglia town council decided to close the path. This decision proved excellent because during the entire tourist season Piz Cengalo made herself heard on a daily basis with rockfall of various dimensions which often fell across the path. Towards the end of September things calmed down, that is until last Tuesday's massive rockfall. With regards to rock climbs which have been damaged, the rockfall involved - and in part rendered those routes unclimbable - which are located on the NNW Face such as Via Classica, Via Attilio Piacco, the eastern pillars, the Kasper - Koch and the route Cacao Meravigliao on the NE Face." - Planet Mountain.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Melting Glaciers - Water Flows From Peru's Cordillera Blanca, Which Has the Most Glaciers of Any Tropical Mountain Range in the World, Are in a State of Permanent Decline, 20 to 30 Years Sooner Than Forecasted!

The water supplied by the glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca, vital to a huge region of northwest Peru, is decreasing 20 years sooner than expected, according to a new study.

Water flows from the region's melting glaciers have already peaked and are in decline, Michel Baraer, a glaciologist at Canada's McGill University, told Tierramérica. This is happening 20 to 30 years earlier than forecasted.  "Our study reveals that the glaciers feeding the Río Santa watershed are now too small to maintain past water flows. There will be less water, as much as 30 percent less during the dry season," said Baraer, lead author of the study "Glacier Recession and Water Resources in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca", published Dec. 22 in the Journal of Glaciology. When glaciers begin to shrink in size, they generate "a transitory increase in runoff as they lose mass," the study notes. However, Baraer explained, the water flowing from a glacier eventually hits a plateau and from this point onwards there is a decrease in the discharge of melt water. "The decline is permanent. There is no going back."

Part of the South American Andes Mountain chain, the Cordillera Blanca is a series of snow-covered peaks running north to south, parallel to the Cordillera Negra, located further west. Between the two ranges lies the Callejón de Huaylas, through which the Río Santa runs, eventually emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The tropical glaciers of the Andes Mountains are in rapid decline, losing 30 to 50 percent of their ice in the last 30 years, according to French Institute for Research and Development (IRD). Most of the decline has been since 1976, IRD reported, due to rising temperatures in the region as a result of climate change. In Bolivia, the Chacaltaya glacier disappeared in 2009. Even in the colder regions of the Andes glaciers are in full retreat. Chile's Center for Scientific Studies reported this month that the Jorge Montt Glacier in the vast Patagonian Ice Fields receded one entire km in just one year. Historically glacial retreat is extremely slow: one or two km per 100 years.

Melting glaciers around the world present some of the strongest evidence that global climate change is underway, said Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, the world's foremost glaciologist. Thompson warns that without sharp reductions in the use of fossil fuels, the impacts of climate change could come faster and beyond what humanity can adapt to. Warmer temperatures not only melt ice but also have major effects on snowfall. As cool seasons become warmer and snow turns to rain, the amount and duration of snow packs decrease and the permanent snow line moves upslope, according to the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), an intergovernmental science organization based in São José dos Campos, Brazil. These changes have significant effects on the seasonality of stream flows, increasing winter flow rates while the availability of water during the summer declines when water in streams and rivers comes mainly from snow and ice melt.

In many High Andean tropical and subtropical valleys, spring and summer snow and glacier melt are critical for crops, livestock and human consumption. Several major Andean cities rely heavily on glacier and snow melt for their water supply, such as La Paz and Lima, with demand increasingly outstripping the supply, according to a 2010 IAI communiqué. The Cordillera Blanca has the most glaciers of any tropical mountain range in the world. In the 1930s glaciers covered up to 850 sq km of the region and now they cover less than 600 sq km, reports Baraer and the eight other study authors from McGill University, Ohio State University, the University of California, the IRD and the glaciology unit of the Peruvian National Water Authority. Most of the melt water from these glaciers drains into the Río Santa watershed. The researchers compared detailed water flow measurements from the 1950s to water flows in recent years, and determined that of the nine sub-watersheds of the Río Santa, seven have passed their peak water flow and are in decline, and almost all of the decline is during the dry summer months.

Changes in precipitation and the effects of La Niña and El Niño were also assessed and were not responsible for the declines, Baraer said. Until now it was widely believed that such declines would take place 20 to 30 years from now, allowing time to adapt to a future with less water. "Those years don't exist," said Baraer. The region is extremely dry, and the Callejón de Huaylas and especially the agriculturally important province of Carhuaz are completely dependent on water from the Río Santa to irrigate the extensive fruit and vegetable fields, he said. The Río Santa is also the main source of drinking water for cities in the area, as is the case of many rivers in the Andean region. For instance, Lima, the world's second largest desert city after Cairo, depends on water from the Río Rímac watershed, also in the Andes. "The northern Andes (in Peru) are close to being a desert. It is the water from the glaciers that has allowed people to survive here," Baraer said.

Last summer, researchers took measurements of the Río Santa's water volume from the estuary where it reaches the Pacific all the way up to its sources in the Andes. They found that less than 20 percent of the water reaches the ocean now. "Eighty percent of the water from the Santa is already being used," he said. Projections into the future reveal that in the coming decades some Río Santa sub-watersheds will have 30 percent less water - a serious challenge to the entire region when 80 percent of current volumes are already being used, Baraer stressed. "This water decline is guaranteed. The only question is how much and how quickly," he said. There is already so much carbon in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels that it is "already too late for most of the glaciers in the Andes," he concluded. - Tierra America.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The El Hierro Anomaly - Scientist and Geologist Are "Surprised" by the Volcanic Activity in the Canary Islands!

The underwater volcano off the small Canary Island of El Hierro became active in July 2011 and has continued to be active on and off ever since, something described as 'surprising' by scientists.

In a regular press conference on Jan 3, Nemesio Pérez, Director of the Department of Environment of the Institute of Technology and Renewable energy (ITER) said that it was 'surprising' that the volcano was continuing in its erupting phase. He told the press that historically, the average eruption of a Canary island volcano has been around thirty days although a document found dating from the seventeenth century speaks of an ancient eruption that lasted six years. The volcano, which has been active in the sea ( Mar de las Calmas) near the southern town of La Restinga has led to severe disruption for the people of the island with regular tremors rumbling almost every day. Three large tremors were noted by the National Geographical Institute (IGN) between Dec 26 and Dec 28 but the latest earthquakes listed by the Institute show daily activity in the Canary Island region.

A report in the ABC newspaper said that new activity such as bubbles, steam and fine materials have been seen in recent days following a period of quiet. The island continues to be on yellow alert. Guardia Civil helicopters and research aircraft continue to fly over the ever increasing stain in the sea, keeping watch on developments. Regular updates, videos and pictures can be seen here.
The Canary Islands are a popular holiday destination, especially at this time of year, because of its pleasant year round climate and sandy beaches. El Hierro is the smallest of the seven islands that make up the archipelago, lying to the west. It is the closest to the shore of North Africa. The island has a population or around ten thousand people. Scientists are unsure of exactly what will happen with the volcano and are monitoring developments closely. Some unusual activity such as a sudden increase in the population of jellyfish in the area have been seen.Emergency plans have been in place since the volcano started erupting in case an emergency evacuation of the island becomes necessary. - Digital Journal.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Gladstone Fish Kill Spreads Upriver - Queensland Government Investigates the Mysterious Discovery?!

The Queensland Government in Australia is investigating the discovery of more dead fish in a Gladstone waterway. The Department of Environment and Resource Management imposed a local fishing ban when sick fish were found in Gladstone Harbour in recent months.

A Gladstone fisherman claims he discovered about 15 barramundi with skin lesions in the Boyne River.
Barramundi and other fish turned up with cloudy eyes and discolouration, and the ban forced a number of commercial fishing operators out of business. Now local fisherman Chris Sipp says he has found 15 dead barramundi in the upper Boyne River in recent days. "There was one there that had a very severe lesion and the other one definitely had the red infection disease with the pop eye," he said. "Probably about six or seven were deteriorated pretty bad." Many blame a large-scale dredging operation, but the Queensland Government pins the blame on last summer's floods.

Acting Queensland Premier Andrew Fraser says it is difficult to link the two incidents. He says the fish Mr Sipp found had been dead for a couple of days and tests to determine their cause of death have been inconclusive. "We're talking here about a site that's 12 kilometres upstream," Mr Fraser said. "Anyone who wants to rush to judgment about linking this to activities relating to dredging of course needs to observe that plain geographical fact in the first place. "The geography here shows that this is an incident which on first assessments appears to be isolated and not connected to other broader issues."

The Queensland Greens say Gladstone Ports Corporation data shows turbidity levels in the harbour were above normal for four days over the Christmas period. While it is not linking the latest fish kill to the harbour, the party wants the corporation to have stricter reporting conditions. Mr Fraser said the Greens were having "a bet each way" by not accepting the work underlying the dredging's environmental approvals. "If it's good enough to accept the science on climate change then it's good enough to observe the science on issues around Gladstone Harbour," he said. Gladstone Ports Corporation has approvals to dredge 46 million cubic metres from the harbour in order to expand for gas exports. It wants the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area to be redrawn to exclude the harbour. Mr Fraser expects an independent scientific panel's report on the harbour's sick fish - expected to be released last month - will be available to the Government and the public within a week. - Yahoo Australia.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The "Monster", the Laacher See Volcano - Is A Super-Volcano Just 390 Miles From London About To Erupt?!

Fresh activity near a dormant 'super volcano' in Germany has left experts worried about a possible eruption. Britain's Daily Mail wrote the eruption from the 'monster' underneath Laacher See lake near Bonn, could eject billions of tons of magma which in turn could cause widespead devastation in Europe and even 'short-term global cooling'. The mountain last erupted 12,900 years ago. Volcanologists have estimated the mountain's size to be similar to that of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines - responsible for the biggest ejection of the 20th century. Pinatubo threw up '10 billion tons of magma, 20 billion tons of sulphur dioxide 16 cubic kilometres of ash and caused a 0.5C drop in global temperatures'. Experts near the Laacher See site have detected carbon dioxide bubbles on the lake's surface and believe the mountain in Germany could be active again.

If the Laacher See eruption is as powerful as the last one, volcanic material could land over 600 miles away.
A sleeping super-volcano in Germany is showing worrying signs of waking up. It's lurking just 390 miles away underneath the tranquil Laacher See lake near Bonn and is capable of ejecting billions of tons of magma. This monster erupts every 10 to 12,000 years and last went off 12,900 years ago, so it could blow at any time. It covered 620 square miles of land with ash and rocks and several small earthquakes in the region last year indicate that it could be awakening from its deep sleep.Experts believe that if it did go off, it could lead to widespread devastation, mass evacuations and even short-term global cooling from the resulting ash cloud blocking the sun. The effect on the UK is hard to predict but it’s possible that large parts of southern England could be covered ash.
Monster: The Laacher See volcano is similar in size to Mount Pinatubo, which
caused a 0.5C drop in global temperatures when it erupted in 1991.
It’s thought that the volcano is similar in size and power to Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which blew in 1991 and became the biggest eruption of the 20th century. It ejected 10 billion tons of magma, 20 billion tons of sulphur dioxide 16 cubic kilometres of ash and caused a 0.5C drop in global temperatures. Volcanologists believe that the Laacher See volcano is still active as carbon dioxide is bubbling up to the lake’s surface, which indicates that the magma chamber below is 'degassing'. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Carbon dioxide bubbles on the lake's surface.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: European Airline Prepares for Next Major Volcano Eruption - Conducts Measuring Flight Near Italy's Mount Etna?!

The 2010 eruption of an Icelandic volcano stranded millions of travelers and caused billions in damages. A new volcanic ash sensor has since been developed that could soon be tested on Airbus aircraft operated by budget carrier Easyjet. Officials hope for a "comprehensive safeguard" for Europe.

The April 2010 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano caused the greatest closure of European airspace since World War II, stranding millions of passengers and leading to the cancellation of most flights across the continent for nearly a week. Total damages and lost revenues were estimated at €5 billion. The situation sparked a massive debate over the concentration at which volcanic ash could become a safety hazard for jets and other aircraft. Later in 2010 and again last year, a second Icelandic volcano, Grímsvötn, also caused air traffic disruptions.

But a new type of ash cloud sensor could be ready by 2012 to be installed on commercial passenger planes. The infrared system is called "Avoid," and can currently be installed on an aircraft's wings in the form of a carbon tube that warn pilots if they are about to encounter dangerous ash particles from volcanic eruptions. The sensor has been developed by Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research in Kjeller, Norway.

At the beginning of Dec. 2011, the technology was put to a practical test near Italy's Mount Etna. Konradin Weber, a professor of physics and environmental engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, Germany, participated in the tests with his team on board a propeller plane that flew into an ash cloud to analyze the particles with its laser spectrometer. They matched the results with those generated by Avoid and its two infrared cameras, which have been programmed to detect silicate, the main component of volcanic ash that can severely damage aircraft and lead to an engine stall.

"From a distance of 20 kilometers and at a flight altitude of four kilometers, the system can differentiate between rain clouds and ash clouds," Weber said. This summer he plans to conduct further tests with Avoid, but those will be contingent on when and where a volcanic eruption takes place. Candidate volcanoes have already been identified in Guatemala, Japan and Indonesia.

Budget airline Easyjet has been the first to support the technology. The company says it plans to equip 20 aircraft in its fleet with the technology as soon as next year. "If 100 aircraft were equipped with the Avoid system, then we would achieve a comprehensive safeguard for Europe," a company spokesperson said.

Many airlines in Europe are concerned that Eyjafjallajökull's larger neighbor, Katla, might erupt, but active volcanoes in other parts of Europe including Italy and Spain could also pose problems in the future. Scientists believe that Katla is overdue for another eruption that is likely to be massive when compared to Eyjafjallajökull or Grímsvötn -- and could be even more disruptive for European and trans-Atlantic air traffic. - Spiegel.