Tuesday, March 6, 2012

EARTH CHANGES: Zap - Amazing Lightning Photo Captured Over Ikaria Island in Greece!

A lucky photographer captured an amazing photo of an intense lightning storm over Ikaria Island, Greece.

Photographer Chris Kotsiopoulos had set out to document the total lunar eclipse on June 15, 2011, but he got more than he bargained for.

"This was an extraordinary storm that took place the night of the total lunar eclipse," Kotsiopoulos told OurAmazingPlanet. "The night started ideally as I managed to capture the lunar eclipse and some lightning at the same shot. After the end of the eclipse I noticed that the storm was insisting."

So Kotsiopoulos took a 70-shot sequence, with each shot a 20-second exposure. He stitched these shots together into the photo. The photo shows some 100 lightning strikes over Ikaria, which is near the southwestern coast of Turkey. The majority of the lightning was cloud-to-ground strikes.

The storm had several quirks that allowed Kotsiopoulos to capture the incredible photo. The storm was about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) away from the camera and it wasn't moving, so it was relatively safe to photograph. It wasn't raining, so he could set the camera on a tripod and shoot. The ferocious storm lasted about an hour.

"It was very intense," Kotsiopoulos said. "One lightning every 10-20 seconds." - Our Amazing Planet.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Arctic Warms to Highest Level Yet as Researchers Fear Tipping Points - Major Consequences For the Future of Humanity!

Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. A recent commentary in Nature Climate Change highlighted a number of tipping points that keep scientists awake at night.

Scientists expect that the Arctic will be fully ice-free during summer sometime during this century.
"If set in motion, [tipping points] can generate profound climate change which places the Arctic not at the periphery but at the core of the Earth system," Professor Duarte, a climatologist with the University of Western Australia's Ocean Institute and co-author other paper, said in a press release. "There is evidence that these forces are starting to be set in motion. This has major consequences for the future of human kind as climate change progresses." One of the tipping points is sea ice loss. The Arctic wasn't just relatively hot last year—beating the previous record set in 2010 by 0.17 degrees Celsius (0.3 degrees Fahrenheit)—it also experienced the lowest sea ice volume yet recorded, and the second-lowest extent. Sea ice is essential to many Arctic species, from polar bears to walrus, and narwhals to seals. In just over 30 years, sea ice volume has dropped precipitously, declining by 76 percent from 1979 (16,855 cubic kilometers) to 2011 (4,017 cubic kilometers). This loss of sea ice also leads to greater regional and global warming, as the Arctic's sea reflects the sun's light back into space, cooling not only the region but the world.

Sea ice loss may also be having a direct impact on weather in the mid-latitudes. In fact, recent research has suggested that, perhaps unintuitively, the extreme cold spell experienced by Europe this winter was linked to the sea ice decline in the Arctic. Researchers argue that the Arctic Oscillation, which is partially responsible for weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere in winter, has become unhinged by the sea ice decline, causing more extreme winters, such as Europe's cold spell and the massive blizzards that hit the U.S. in 2009 and 2010. But it's not just sea ice loss that has produced stark concerns: greenhouse gases from thawing permafrost could be just as disastrous. A study published in Nature late last year warned that greenhouse gas emissions due to permafrost thaw could equal the amount currently emitted by deforestation worldwide, a significantly larger estimate than has been put forward before. Moreover, since permafrost thaw emissions include methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon, it could have an impact 2.5 times larger than deforestation overall.  "The larger estimate is due to the inclusion of processes missing from current models and new estimates of the amount of organic carbon stored deep in frozen soils," co-author Benjamin Abbott, a University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student, explained in a press release. "There's more organic carbon in northern soils than there is in all living things combined; it's kind of mind boggling." University of Florida researcher Edward Schuur says he doesn't expect permafrost greenhouse gas emission to trump anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions anytime soon, however they could become "an important amplifier of climate change."
Further tipping points include an input of freshwater into the Atlantic Ocean from melting ice and glaciers, already increased by 30 percent, which Durate says "may affect the whole ocean current system and, as a result, the climate at a regional level." - Mongabay.

WATCH: Temperature Data - 1880-2011.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: More Than 400 Dead Grey Seals Off Cape Breton's Eastern Coastline!

The discovery of more than 400 dead grey seals off Cape Breton’s eastern coastline is no reason for alarm, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The seal carcasses, some without eyes from scavenging seagulls and other wildlife, are on the beaches of Hay Island, a short distance from Scatarie Island.  Federal fisheries department seal biologist Mike Hammill said the mammals showed no sign of physical trauma other than the wounds inflicted by predators after death.

"They weren't killed by people, so it's something else that's come along," he said from Charlottetown following a tour of the island Sunday.   "The majority of them are weaned pups and they look in fairly good shape. They're fat, didn't seem to have any external markings on them." Parts of the seals were taken for testing to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. Hammill said it could be weeks before a possible cause of death is identified. The group of DFO scientists counted about 100 to 200 live adults and about a dozen juvenile seals. Hammill confirmed the approximate number of dead seals that was initially reported by Humane Society International/Canada on Friday. In a release, the group's executive director Rebecca Aldworth said she hadn't seen "this kind of mortality" in apparently healthy grey seals in her five trips to the island's seal colony. 

The estimated number of dead seals grew from approximately 100 that were counted by Aldworth early last week. She said the grey seal hunt should be halted until the cause of death is known and scientists can work out the possible implications that lie ahead for the herd. Viruses can run through a population of seals quickly, she said. The one bright spot, Aldworth added, was that the hunt was unlikely to go ahead this year because most of the young seals have moved away from shore. "Normally about this time there is no opportunity for the sealers to go out to kill the seals simply because the pups are now swimming and have moved away from the island." Hammill said farther south off Canso there were no signs of an unusual number of dead seals. "We should keep our eyes out but there's no concern for anything," he said. "For the moment it's just something that's limited to this colony and it may not be a big deal at least at this stage." Robert Courtney, a spokesman for seal hunters, offered no comment when reached on Sunday about the likelihood of a grey seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year. - Cape Breton Post.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - Robotic Fish Accepted by Real Fish as the Leader; Scientific Experiments Reveals Biomimetic Leads a School of Live Ones!

Probing the largely unexplored question of what characteristics make a leader among schooling fish, researchers have discovered that by mimicking nature, a robotic fish can transform into a leader of live ones.

Through a series of experiments, researchers at NYU-Poly have shown that a biomimetic fish, like
this one pictured, is capable of leading a school of live ones.
Through a series of experiments, researchers from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) aimed to increase understanding of collective animal behavior, including learning how robots might someday steer fish away from environmental disasters. Nature is a growing source of inspiration for engineers, and the researchers were intrigued to find that their biomimetic robotic fish could not only infiltrate and be accepted by the swimmers, but actually assume a leadership role. In a paper published online in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Stefano Marras, at the time a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering at NYU-Poly and currently a researcher at Italy's Institute for the Marine and Coastal Environment-National Research Council, and Maurizio Porfiri, NYU-Poly associate professor of mechanical engineering, found conditions that induced golden shiners to follow in the wake of the biomimetic robot fish, taking advantage of the energy savings generated by the robot.
The researchers designed their bio-inspired robotic fish to mimic the tail propulsion of a swimming fish, and conducted experiments at varying tail beat frequencies and flow speeds. In nature, fish positioned at the front of a school beat their tails with greater frequency, creating a wake in which their followers gather. The followers display a notably slower frequency of tail movement, leading researchers to believe that the followers are enjoying a hydrodynamic advantage from the leaders' efforts. In an attempt to create a robotic leader, Marras and Porfiri placed their robot in a water tunnel with a golden shiner school. First, they allowed the robot to remain still, and unsurprisingly, the "dummy" fish attracted little attention. When the robot simulated the familiar tail movement of a leader fish, however, members of the school assumed the behavior patterns they exhibit in the wild, slowing their tails and following the robotic leader. "These experiments may open up new channels for us to explore the possibilities for robotic interactions with live animals -- an area that is largely untapped," explained Porfiri. "By looking to nature to guide our design, and creating robots that tap into animals' natural cues, we may be able to influence collective animal behavior to aid environmental conservation and disaster recovery efforts." The researchers posit that robotic leaders could help lead fish and other wildlife that behave collectively -- including birds -- away from toxic situations such as oil or chemical spills or human-made dangers such as dams. Other experimenters have found success in prompting wildlife to move using non-living attractants, but the researchers believe this is the first time that anyone has used biomimetics to such effect. - Science Daily.

A NEW NORMAL: Signs of Monumental Earth Changes - Scientific Study See Rise in Tornado-Creating Conditions!

When at least 80 tornadoes rampaged across the United States, from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, last Friday, it was more than is typically observed during the entire month of March, tracking firm AccuWeather.com reported on Monday.

Snow covers a storm-damaged home in Henryville, Indiana, March 5, 2012
According to some climate scientists, such earlier-than-normal outbreaks of tornadoes, which typically peak in the spring, will become the norm as the planet warms. "As spring moves up a week or two, tornado season will start in February instead of waiting for April," said climatologist Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Whether climate change will also affect the frequency or severity of tornadoes, however, remains very much an open question, and one that has received surprisingly little study. "There are only a handful of papers, even to this day," said atmospheric scientist Robert Trapp of Purdue University, who led a pioneering 2007 study of tornadoes and climate change. "Some of us think we should be paying more attention to it," said atmospheric physicist Anthony Del Genio of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, part of NASA.

The scientific challenge is this: the two conditions necessary to spawn a twister are expected to be affected in opposite ways. A warmer climate will likely boost the intensity of thunderstorms but could dampen wind shear, the increase of wind speed at higher altitudes, researchers say. Tomorrow's thunderstorms will pack a bigger wallop, but may strike less frequently than they have historically, explained Del Genio. "As we go to a warmer atmosphere, storms - which transfer energy from one region to another - somehow figure out how to do that more efficiently," he said. As a result, thunderstorms transfer more energy per outbreak, and so have to make such transfers less often. In a 2011 paper, Del Genio calculated that, "especially in the central and eastern United States, we can expect a few more days per month with conditions favorable to severe thunderstorm occurrence" by the latter part of this century if the global climate grows warmer. Indeed, the world has been experiencing more violent storms since 1970, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in its most recent assessment. - News Daily.

EXTREME WEATHER: Avalanche Blankets Afghan Village - Kills At Least 37!

At least 37 people died and hundreds were still trapped in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday when a snow avalanche covered an entire village near the northern border with Tajikistan, local officials said.

Afghan army helicopters descended on the remote village in the north of Badakhshan province to try rescue families, the latest victims to Afghanistan's worse winter in 30 years.

"The way to the village is closed, it is covered in snow," provincial governor spokesman Abdul Marof Rasikh said of the village of around 300 people, located in the Shikai district.

Though avalanches are fairly common in the mountainous north, Tuesday's deaths were seen as particularly painful for a country that has experienced its worse winter in decades, killing dozens in the capital Kabul and creating further food shortages in one of the world's poorest countries.

Before Tuesday, freezing cold and avalanches had claimed the lives of 60 people in Badakhshan province this winter, officials said. - Zee News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Widespread Panic in the Philippines as 5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Masbate City!

A moderately strong earthquake has cracked buildings and knocked televisions and glassware from tables in a central Philippine province, injuring at least five people and sending others rushing outside in panic, officials say.

In this photo released by the Philippine National Red Cross, police officers inspect cracked walls in Masbate city,
central Philippines, Tuesday, March 6, 2012. A moderately strong earthquake cracked buildings and knocked
televisions and glassware from tables in the central Philippine province, injuring at least nine people and sending
others rushing outside in panic, officials
Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the quake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 struck today and was centred just three kilometres north of Masbate City on the island province of Masbate. The quake, which was caused by movement in a local fault, was felt in nearby provinces. Masbate City mayor Socrates Tuason said by telephone that there were no immediate reports of major damage, and power and communications were unaffected by the temblor in his hillside city of 90,000 people. But the quake caused cracks and shattered windows in houses and some buildings, one of which had to be cleared of people while safety officials ensured its stability.

Large numbers of people rushed out of homes, offices, hospitals and schools and stayed in the streets as an aftershock hit less than an hour after the quake. At least five people were slightly injured by falling objects, he said. "I was having breakfast with my wife when everything started to shake. The TV set and glasses fell off the table," Mr Tuason said. "When I got out, I saw all the people in the community were on the streets." Disaster response and first aid teams were deployed across the city, he said, adding that he had sent officials to check a report that an abandoned, three-storey building has collapsed in a downtown residential area. Classes in all schools were suspended as buildings were checked for damage, he said, adding he called an emergency meeting to deal with any contingency. The Philippines is in the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where earthquakes and volcanic activity are common. The damage and casualties are compounded by poor construction in violation of building codes in the impoverished nation.  In 1990, a magnitude-7.7 quake killed nearly 2000 people in northern Luzon region. - Herald Sun.

DEADLY STORM: Tropical Cyclone Irina Kills 65 in Madagascar!

Tropical Storm Irina killed at least 65 people in Madagascar, most of them residents of the Ifanadiana district in the southeast of the Indian Ocean island, weather authorities said today.

Three people were also reported missing, according to the national bureau of natural catastrophes, which did not provide any other details.

Earlier it was reported that only one person had been killed when the storm passed over Madagascar last week before lashing the coasts of South Africa and Mozambique, where at least one person was killed.

"A tree fell on a house and the roof collapsed" killing an elderly man in Mozambique's southern Gaza province, said Rita Almeida, spokeswoman for the national disaster agency.

In the South African city of Durban, beaches were closed as waves reached three metres, municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said. Ships were ordered to remain in port. Irina was the second killer storm of the season. Tropical cyclone Giovanna left 35 people dead and many more injured. - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increasing Activity at the Tungurahua Volcano - Explosions, Ash Fall and Possible Pyroclastic Flow!

Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico (IG) reports an increase of Tunguarahua volcano's activity: Since last night (3 March), 4 explosions have been reported of moderate to large size. An explosion at 07:31 local time today produced an ash columnreaching about 4 km in height and drifting to the west - northwest.

A second explosion took place at 09:11 (local time) and produced a strong shock wave that rattled the ground and windows in nearby areas. CLoud cover has prevented detailed observations, but with the help of thermal sensors, hot fresh deposits were detected on the flanks, suggesting they were the result of a pyroclastic flow.

In the morning, the observatory post at Cusúa reported the presence of hot deposits on the upper flank typical for fresh pyroclastic flow deposits. Ash fall was reported from Choglontús, Manzano and Motilones areas before, and this morning ashfall reached the Yuibug area.

The monitoring system has been recording variable seismicity and powerful tremor episodes lasting minutes to hours (which probably indicate rising magma), interrupted by short moderate to large explosion signals corresponding to the ash eruptions from the growing lava dome. - Volcano Discovery.

SOLAR WATCH: The Sun Wakes Up - Massive Sunspot 1429 Emerges; Nearly 4 Times As Wide As Earth; With "Beta-Gamma" Magnetic Field; Unleashing M3-Class Eruptions! UPDATE: Geomagnetic Storm in Progress - The Sun Produces Earth-Directed X1-Class Eruption! UPDATE: Volcano / Earthquake Watch March 8-12, 2012 - Sunspot 1429 Seethes With Flares!

Solar activity is rapidly picking up, a huge sunspot, 1429, poses a threat for strong M-class solar flares; as solar wind stream from two coronal holes on the sun continues to flow and could reach Earth on March 5-6.

EMERGING SUNSPOT, STRONG FLARE: A big new sunspot is emerging over the sun's northeastern limb. It announced itself on March 2nd at 1746 UT with an M3-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash. Although the blast site was partially eclipsed by the solar limb, the flare nevertheless created waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere. Dave Gradwell of Birr Ireland detected the effect of these waves on the propagation of low-frequency radio signals across Europe. The explosion also hurled a faint CME over the northeastern limb: SOHO movie. The expanding cloud is not Earth-directed.
BIG SUNSPOT: A sunspot almost four times as wide as Earth itself is rotating onto the solar disk. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded its entrance on March 2nd and 3rd. The sunspot has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class solar flares. Indeed, it has already unleashed an M3-class eruption on March 2nd that created mild waves of ionization in the atmosphere over Europe.Earth-effects could become stronger as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55% chance of additional M-class flares and a 5% chance of an X-flare during the next 24 hours. Solar activity is picking up.  Solar flare alerts: text, phone. - Space Weather.

LARGE NEW SUNSPOT 1429: A large and active new Sunspot rotated into view off the northeast limb. This sunspot group was numbered 1429 on Saturday, and was responsible for several C-Class flares and a moderate solar flare on Friday. Sunspot 1429 has a Beta-Gamma magnetic configuration and will remain a threat for isolated M-Class flares on Sunday. - Solar Ham.
WATCH: Sunspot 1429 erupts on the Sun.

UPDATE: Geomagnetic Storm in Progress - The Sun Produces Earth-Directed X1-Class Eruption!
STRONG SOLAR ACTIVITY: Solar activity is now high. Big sunspot AR1429, which emerged on March 2nd, is crackling with strong flares. The strongest so far, an X1-class eruption, occurred just ths morning, March 5th at 0413 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.  The explosion also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space: SOHO movie. The expanding cloud will probably deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on March 6th or 7th. (Stay tuned for updates on this possibility as more data arrive.) When the CME from today's X-flare arrives, a geomagnetic storm might already be in progress. An earlier CME is en route and nearing our planet. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud, which was produced by an M2-class eruption from sunspot AR1429 on March 4th, could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on March 6th at 04:30 UT (+/- 7 hr). See the CME's animated forecast track. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead. Auroras alerts: text, phone. - Space Weather.
WATCH: X 1.1 Solar Flare and CME.

UPDATE: 1429 Sunspot Seething With M and C Class Flares!
1429 SUNSPOT SEETHING WITH M-FLARES: Massive Sunspot 1429 is seething with activity and just produced a short duration M2.1 Solar Flare at 19:16 UTC, followed by an M1.8 at 19:30 UTC. These are in addition to smaller flares today, C5.4, C7.8 and C9.8.  Update: Three more low level M-Class flares have been detected around Sunspot 1429. Each of them are depicted in the X-Ray Flux chart updated below. - Solar Ham
UPDATE: Volcano / Earthquake Watch March 8-12, 2012!
Targeting Coronal Hole (CH506) with associated solar disturbances and earthbound coronal mass ejections indicate a potential of a strong seismic event in the coming days. After analysis I have isolated (28-36°S Latitude). Solar symmetry to earth indicates best fit regions for a possible 6.7-7.0 Magnitude Earthquake are: Coquimbo-Chile, San Juan-Argentina, Bio Bio-Chile or the Kermadec Islands Region. Likely Time Frame March 8-10. Targeting the southern component of Coronal Hole (CH506) which may indicate strong shaking at higher latitudes. Solar observations indicate a possible 5.2-5.5 magnitude earthquake at (44°S and 55°S Latitude). Solar symmetry to earth indicates best fit regions for a possible 5.5 Magnitude Earthquake are: South Island New Zealand, Aisen Chile and the South Sandwich Islands Region. Time Frame March 8 and 11. Outgoing Longwave Radiation Anomalies this week have strong concentrations over these regions: Australia, Hawaii, Samoa, Argentina, Chile, Madagascar, Nicobar Islands and Andaman Islands India region. - Solar Watcher.
WATCH: Volcano and Quake Analysis for March 8-12.

EXTREME WEATHER: Never-Ending Nightmare - Snow Threatens More Misery After Twisters Kill at Least 40!

Snow and even colder weather added to the misery across parts of twister-hit Indiana and Kentucky on Monday, where thousands were still without power, hundreds lost their homes and the cleanup was just beginning.

Several inches had fallen by midday, after a Sunday that included a mix of snow and rain. In Henryville, where a 175 mph tornado ripped through town on a 52-mile-long tear, the snow added "an almost surreal quality to the destruction all around us," NBC's Lester Holt reported. Indiana homeland security spokeswoman Emily Norcross said the snow would likely slow the cleanup effort because it covered debris and concealed potential hazards. "It's slippery and it's hampering visibility on roads, so it's more difficult to see small debris like nails," Norcross said. "It's complicating things." The fast-moving tornadoes that hit on Friday, numbering at least 30, came on top of severe weather earlier in the week in the Midwest and brought the overall death toll from the unseasonably early and violent storms to at least 52 people.

The death toll from Friday's twisters stood at 40 on Monday afternoon. Adding to the despair, a toddler who had become a symbol of hope amid destruction after she was found alive in an Indiana field died of her injuries. The tornado that killed Angel Babcock also claimed the lives of her parents and her two siblings. "Angel has been reunited with her parents," the girl's extended family said in a statement. A neighbor with whom the family had taken shelter told NBC's TODAY show that both his home and their home were obliterated by the twister. In Henryville, about 20 miles area north of Louisville, Ky., school was canceled for the week because of heavy damage to the education complex housing elementary through high school students.

Even so, small signs of normalcy slowly began to emerge. Utility crews replaced downed poles and restrung electrical lines. Portable cell towers went up, and a truck equipped with batteries, cellphone charging stations, computers and even satellite television was headed to Henryville on Monday. "We're going to keep living," said the Rev. Steve Schaftlein during a Sunday service at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, where about 100 people gathered under a patched-up six-foot hole in the church's roof to worship and catch up on news of the tornado. The violent storms raised fears that 2012 would be another bad year for tornadoes after 550 deaths were blamed on twisters last year, the deadliest year in nearly a century, according to the National Weather Service. In hard-hit areas, National Guard troops manned checkpoints on roads and outside towns, and were inspecting identity documents of those seeking to enter damaged areas in Indiana and Kentucky following reports of looting. Long lines of cars waited at the entrances to some towns.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Hawaii Neighborhood's Last Home Destroyed by Lava Flow!

As per recent reports, it has been revealed that a lava flow has full-on ruptured the surviving home in an enormous but sparingly populated surrounding regions in Puna District of Big Island. The reports have been confirmed by a number of media reports as well as local newspapers on Sunday.

Jack Thompson, the last resident of the region, left his house back some hour ahead of plowing down of a hill by the river of molten rock which ended up burning his residence on Friday evening. While expressing his views in this regard, along with mentioning a deep-seated tale of crisis and misfortune, Thompson said: “I got as much stuff out (of) there as was practical, and everything else, had to leave it. The lava was "pretty much coming in the back as we were going out the front. I've been preparing for this for years. You're hoping for the best, but in time expect the inevitable”.

The obliteration of Thompson's residence of around 30 years transpired following years of lava flowing from Kilauea volcano. During the course of time, the lava resulted in destroying a large number of homes and blocked roads to nearby regions. Thompson claimed that the house of his neighbor was destructed earlier in 2008. Ever since 1983, the volcano has been erupting incessantly, but still Hawaiian Volcano Observatory experts warned only a few weeks ago regarding the fact that the lava is rapidly becoming more and more active. Barely 24 hours after losing his home to natural powers, the 61-year-old Jack Thompson, Thompson, an ex-air-conditioning and refrigeration expert who had been there at the subdivision since last 30 years ago, had nothing at hand expect for pondering over some broken dreams and subsequent move.
- French Tribune.
WATCH: Hawaii Neighborhood's Last Home Destroyed by Lava Flow.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Storms - 52 Miles of 'Total Devastation' by Twister!

The search for tornado victims was wrapping up Sunday, but the cleanup was only beginning, especially along a 52-mile-long stretch in Indiana where the scene was best described as "total devastation."

With a light snow and cold temperatures adding to the misery in places like hard-hit Henryville, Indiana officials were able to announce that no one else was still reported missing in the state where 12 died. Kentucky was hardest hit, with 20 deaths. The next phase -- cleanup and providing security -- is just starting, Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Gooden told NBC's TODAY show. "We’ve got about a four or five county area here, about a 50-mile stretch of area … that's total destruction," he said, referring to the fact that a twister with 175 mph winds was on the ground for 52 miles. A second, smaller twister on Friday in the area added to the destruction.

Crews worked to move downed power lines and clear debris, and residents began putting tarps over torn apart homes to prevent further damage. Meanwhile, the more fortunate brought donations including diapers, blankets and food to area churches. "That's what people do. It's no biggie. It's because we care. They are our neighbors," said Brenda Parson as she brought a carload of donations to the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Henryville. In one sign of hope amid the destruction, a 2-year-old girl, orphaned by the tornado, was found alive but badly hurt in a field in southeast Indiana miles from her home after a twister cut through the area. The toddler, who remained in critical condition in a Kentucky hospital, was with members of her extended family. But her parents, a 2-month-old sister and a 3-year-old brother, were all killed, said Cis Gruebbel, a spokeswoman for Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville. The violent storms raised fears that 2012 will be another bad year for tornadoes after 550 deaths were blamed on twisters last year, the deadliest year in nearly a century, according to the National Weather Service. - MSNBC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: The Sinking of Fiji - Seawater Swallows up Coastlines and Lands!

The effects of climate change and rising sea level have seen a daily overflow of seawater into the village of Vunidogoloa in Cakaudrove.
Villagers of Vunidogoloa, Cakaudrove, stand along the coastline, which is being threatened by rising sea level.
In fact, the 40 households have become used to having seawater under their homes or in the compound during high tide. The seawater enters the village through drains within compounds. "It doesn't happen only during heavy rain or natural disaster when the waves come into the village. It happens everyday when there is high tide and we are getting worried," said villager Samuela Banicau.

"I was born in this village and this is the first time I have seen seawater entering the village everyday during high tides." Mr Banicau said the village used to sit at least three metres above sea level when he was a child. "Today the village is at the same level with the sea and when we sit in our houses, we just look straight out to sea which never used to happen. "Before, we used to look down at the sea and I guess what's happening today is all part of climate change," Mr Banicau said.

Government has already prepared the new village site about two kilometres inland from the current site. When The Fiji Times visited the village last week, little ponds of seawater could be seen on the village green. Mr Banicau said the villagers have become used to having a flooded compound every day. - Fiji Times.

EXTREME WEATHER: Heavy Rains, Flooding and Landslides Plague Kauai - Closing Highway and Forcing Evacuations!

Kauai continues to be inundated by rain today, forcing the closure of Kuhio Highway near Kilauea, the evacuation of Anahola residents, and numerous other road closures, floods and landslides. County officials said Kuhio Highway near Kilauea is closed due to a collapsing culvert under the highway. Northbound traffic is being diverted to Kolo Road, while southbound traffic is being redirected to Pili Road.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office announced today that on Friday he signed a disaster proclamation authorizing the state Department of Transportation to start emergency repair work on that stretch of highway because of the partial collapse of the 15-foot culvert. The heavy rain today and over the weekend intensified soil erosion at the culvert foundation from previous rains. County officials also urged Anahola residents who live near the Anahola Bridge and Kikoo Loop to move to higher ground today because of  major flooding in the area. The evacuation comes after several days of steady rain over the Garden Island. Kauai remains under a flash-flood warning at least until mid- afternoon, as the "unsettled weather" that soaked the islands this weekend continues to dump heavy rain, according to the National Weather Service. The rest of the state, except for Hawaii island, are under a flash flood watch through Tuesday. Forecasters expect heavy rain and potential flooding to continue through Tuesday afternoon. The system has moved over Maui and Oahu, where heavy rain, thunder and lightning were seen early this morning. Rain continued to fall on already-soaked Kauai, which took the worst hit of the weekend rains, with flooding, road closures, and power outages.

The weather service has issued a host of bulletins, including:

• A flash flood warning for Kauai through 5:45 p.m. Heavy rainfall has diminished over Kauai, but the Hanalei River remains above flood stage and there are several road closures because of flooding throughout the island.
• A flood advisory for Maui through 3:45 p.m. Radar showed a strong thunderstorm near Ulupalakua moving toward Haleakala National Park. Rain is also falling over Leeward West Maui and more rain may be on the way.
• A flash flood watch for Oahu, Kauai, Niihau, Maui, Molokai Lanai and Kahoolawe through Tuesday afternoon as a weather system continues to bring rain to grounds already saturated with previous rains. A watch means that conditions exist that can cause flooding.

Forecasters advise the public to beware of hazardous driving conditions, and not to try to cross fast-flowing or rising water in a vehicle or on foot. Most of the rain on Oahu fell on the windward side. About 9.9 inches of rain fell in Punaluu Stream during the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. About 8.2 inches fell in the back of Moanalua Valley and 7.8 inches was recorded in Kahana. Rain gauges showed 12.5 inches of rain fell in the Hanalei River in the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. Another 11 inches fell in Wainiha and 9.1 inches was recorded in the Wailua Ditch. Flooding was reported throughout Kauai today and county officials closed Kuhio Highway near Haena Beach Park and at the Hanalei Bridge. The north shore has been cut off since Saturday night with the closure of the bridge. Police report that flooding from the Hanalei River has reached past the Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant. Cars were moved near the Postcards Cafe on Kuhio Highway as a precaution. With the Hanalei Bridge closed, Kauai county opened Waioli Church in Hanalei and Kīlauea gym as "holding areas" for anyone who needs a place to rest on the north shore during the heavy rains.

Landslides closed sections of Kuhio Highway near Powerhouse Road in Lumahai, in Anahola and in Haena Beach Park in the vicinity of Aku Road. A failed culvert closed the highway near mile marker 22.5 in Kilauea, northbound traffic is being diverted to Kolo Road, while southbound traffic is being redirected to Pili Road. On the north shore and Anahola, only one-way traffic is being allowed near mile marker 24.5 near the Kalihiwai Bridge and at mile marker 14 in Anahola. Serious ponding is also reported on the highway near Mailihuna Road, Kaiakea fire station, Papaloa Road, Wailua Golf Course and on Rice Street near the Anchor Cove Shopping Center. In addition, Kamalu Road near Wailua Homesteads Park is closed because of flooding and Olohena Road near the bridge west of Kapaa Middle School. The county is asking motorists to avoid driving in the affected areas. About 12 residents were temporarily displaced from their homes along Wailani Road and Aloha Place in Koloa Sunday morning due to flooding, Kauai officials said. The American Red Cross opened a shelter at the Koloa Neighborhood Center but closed it at 6 p.m. Sunday because there were no residents using it.

Forecasters also have issued the following notices:

• A gale warning for waters from 40 to 240 nautical miles from Hawaii;
• A small craft advisory for waters within 40 nautical miles of Hawaii;
• A wind advisory for Hawaii island summits;
• And a high surf warning for eastern shores of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island, and a high surf advisory for northern shores of Oahu, Maui and Molokai, until Tuesday morning with surf up to 15 feet. - Star Advertiser.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Dangerous Land Subsidence Situation in Azerbaijan - Officials Hold Meeting to Prevent Further Landslide Intensification?!

“Intensive changeability is observed for 3 days in the area of landslide between General Shikhlinski street and Ganja avenue of Khatayi district.

Landslide process is still going on”, chief of Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry’s party studying hydrogeological, engineering geological and hydrogen geological processes, candidate of geological-mineralogical sciences Shaig Niftiyev told APA.

To him, deputy PM Abid Sharifov has today held a conference in connection with it: “Plan of measures has been drafted in relation to landslide. Emergency measures must be taken in order to prevent the landslide process in the area”.

“In order to study the deepening of reinforcement works in the area and determination of landslide’s dynamics, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources will continue engineering geological researches. Appropriate bodies have been tasked in relation to other measures”, added Niftiyev.

He noted that currently, the width of the landslide makes 150 m, length – 230-250 m. the width and length of cracks has grown within the last 2 days, sedimentary processes had intensified and the landslide is developing actively. - APA.