Sunday, March 31, 2013

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Britain's Colder Than The Arctic, With -10 Celsius Freeze Over Easter; Freezing Weather Wipes Out German Flea Circus; Snowstorm In Spring Breaks United States Records; Record Cold Sweeps Moscow After Snowstorm; Scientist Predicts Earth Is Heading For Another Ice Age - Next Year!

March 31, 2013 - EARTH - Britain will be colder than parts of Greenland this Easter with temp­eratures plunging to an Arctic -10C (14F).  Though the clocks go forward tomorrow night, marking the start of British Summer Time, there is no end in sight to the bitter weather. This has already been the coldest March since 1962, the Met Office confirmed yesterday, and the fourth coldest since records began.

Instead of spending the four-day Bank Holiday pottering in the garden or driving to the coast, people are being advised to wrap up warm and stay indoors. Millions have given up hope of spring arriving and are jetting off for some much-needed sun. And some are still digging themselves out after being marooned by 20ft snowdrifts.

Snowploughs battle to clear drifts as the big freeze shows no signs of relenting.© Daily Express.

Britain's Colder Than The Arctic, With -10 Celsius Freeze Over Easter.
Parts of the UK are likely to see a white Easter with wintry showers forecast for eastern areas, though these are likely to be isolated and the snow should be fairly light. By Sunday and Monday much of Britain may look sunny and spring-like but will still feel unseasonably chilly. And the snowdrifts could remain well into April.

Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel, said: "With these sorts of temperatures those drifts aren't going to melt much at all. "Because of the easterly winds there have been drifts that have left areas up to 20ft deep in snow. This is why farmers have really struggled.

"They have lost many of their sheep and there's no good news for them, other than that the winds will die down. The actual drifts will melt only very slowly, even if the temperatures do lift above normal.  "Sea temperatures are now well depressed so temp­eratures are going to struggle to get anywhere near normal.

"There's a risk of severe frost and some places could see temperatures as low as -10C. "Anyone hoping to do a bit of gardening this Easter is out of luck. There's no possibility of putting out early plants. I should think people will need to wait until late April before they can plant anything outside."

The record lowest Easter temperature of -9.8C was set at Lagganlia, Inverness, on Easter Monday 1986. Temperatures hit -8.8C early yesterday in Aonach Mor, Inverness, and -6.7C at Great Dun Fell, Cumbria.

That is much colder than parts of Greenland in the Arctic Circle which will see Easter lows of 1C.
Government cold weather health warnings have been extended until Monday - the first time the system as been used in April.

A farmer hauls bags of coal on a sledge in Cumbria.© Daily Express.
Channel 4 forecaster Liam Dutton said: "BST starts on Saturday night but the weather hasn't noticed. Recent cold is remarkable and even weathermen are sick of it."  Statistics from the Met Office show that from March 1 to 26 the UK mean temperature was 2.5C, which is three degrees below the long-term average. This made it the joint fourth coldest March in the UK since records began in 1910.

Around 1,200 homes in the west of Scotland remained without power for a sixth day yesterday following a problem with mobile generators.  Meanwhile airports were braced for a busy few days as millions of holidaymakers try to escape the coldest start to spring for 50 years. An estimated 1.2 million passengers will fly out from Heathrow this weekend, with 570,000 leaving from Gatwick.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the Abta travel association, said: "After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many people are desperate for some sunshine. We've seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations." Neil Banks, Stansted airport terminal manager, said: "The Easter holidays are traditionally one of the busiest periods and this year is no different as hundreds of thousands jet off to the beach or ski slopes.

"To help cope with the increase in passengers we will have more staff on duty across the Easter holidays." Ferry passengers escaped a weekend of travel chaos when a planned strike at French ports was called off yesterday. The 24-hour stoppage by port control officers would have hit Calais, Dieppe and Cherbourg, severely curtailing cross-Channel services.

Parents Robert and Helen Collingwood have not seen their sons for a week.© Daily Express.

P&O had warned passengers to expect long delays today and there were fears of queues on routes to Dover. A planned strike by London Underground drivers on Tuesday was also called off after talks at the conciliation service Acas.

The weather continues to cause problems for farmers, many of whom have lost animals under the heavy snow or are running low on fuel. The Collingwood family have been separated for more than a week after drifts cut off their remote farm in Stanhope Common, County Durham.

Council workmen have tried every day to clear the road but fresh snow and drifts made it impossible. Robert Collingwood, 44, decided to take his two sons Jake, 11, and Ben, 9, to his aunt's house four miles away in Stanhope before the snow fell so they could get to school. But the deep drifts mean the boys have been unable to get back home.

Robert, who lives with wife Helen, 38, said: "We've got a big chest freezer with plenty of meat, canned food and longlife milk to keep us going."  - Daily Express.

Freezing Weather Wipes Out German Flea Circus.
An entire troupe of performing fleas has fallen victim to the freezing temperatures currently gripping Germany.

Flea circus director Robert Birk says he was shocked to find all of his 300 fleas dead inside their transport box Wednesday morning.

The circus immediately scrambled to find and train a new batch so it could fulfill its engagements at an open-air fair in the western town of Mechernich-Kommern.

Michael Faber, who organizes the fair, told The Associated Press that an insect expert at a nearby university was able to provide 50 fleas in time for the first show Sunday.

Faber says he hopes they'll "get through this without any more fatalities."

Birk said it was the first time his circus had lost all of its fleas to the cold in one go. - AP.

Spring Snowstorm In U.S. Breaks Records.
Salesman John Cartier pushes snow off of cars on display outside at Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis on March 25, 2013. A record snowfall dumped 12.4 inches on the St. Louis area on March 24, 2013. The National Weather Service said the amount that fell beat the one day record set in 1912. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
A spring snowstorm broke records for many cities in the Midwest and eastern United States, meteorologists say.

In St. Louis, the storm dumped 12.4 inches Sunday, breaking both the record accumulation for March 24 and the snowfall for any day in March, said. The previous record was 12.1 inches, set 101 years ago.

Washington, where snow is rare at any time of year, recorded 3.2 inches at Dulles International Airport Monday. The previous record for March 25 was 1.2 inches in 1990.

A total of 3.2 inches was reported in Baltimore Monday, breaking the previous record for the day of 2.5 inches in 1993.

Only a trace of snow fell at Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports in New York City. But that was the first snow ever reported on March 25. - UPI.

Record Cold Sweeps Moscow After Snowstorm.
Construction workers seeming a bit lightly dressed amid the cold Tuesday.
Vladimir Filonov / MT
This week's two-day snowstorm was likely the last this spring, but abnormally cold weather will persist over the next few days, making this March the coldest since the 1950s, weather forecasters said Tuesday.

"According to early forecasts, no significant precipitation is expected in Moscow," the federal weather bureau told Interfax. "Another wave of snow is possible in the Moscow region on Saturday, but this time will be accompanied by slightly warmer temperatures."

More than 70 centimeters of snow has fallen on the city since early March, which is more than double the month's normal precipitation. The two-day snowstorm that ended Monday night dumped about half of March's average precipitation on the city.

Meanwhile, forecasters said the temperatures would slide on Tuesday and Wednesday to minus 15 degrees Celsius. Last week, the temperature dropped to minus 25 degrees, a 50-year low for late March. The temperature is 8 degrees colder than the average for this month.

"Such temperatures were observed in 1942, in the early 1950s, and at the end of the 19th century," top meteorologist Roman Vilfand said on Rossia-24 television. "According to our estimates, such cold weather occurs every 30 to 40 years."

Meteorologists said the unseasonably cold weather was a result of unusually warm temperatures in the Arctic that pushed cold currents toward the Russian mainland.

The abnormally cold spring also has prevented birds from migrating north from their wintering grounds, according to the Union of Bird Conservation in Russia. - The Moscow Times.

Scientist Predicts Earth Is Heading For Another Ice Age - Next Year!
A leading scientist predicted the world was heading for another Ice Age.
As Arctic Britain prepares to shiver for at least another month, a leading scientist today predicted the world was heading for another Ice Age.  Incredibly, British Summer Time officially starts tomorrow but millions of brassed off Brits pining for warmth will have to endure freezing temperatures and biting winds until May. The misery will continue with daytime temperatures struggling to reach a bracing 5C (41F). The only ray of sunshine, forecasters said, is that it will stay dry.

As if the outlook wasn't bleak enough already, meteorologists believe the shivering start to 2013 has been the coldest in more than 200 years. More worryingly, the combination of sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow experienced across much of the country recently could be the prelude to a new Ice Age that will begin next year and last for 200 years.  Russian scientist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov, of the St Petersburg Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, painted the Doomsday scenario saying the recent inclement weather simply proved we were heading towards a frozen planet.

Dr Abdussamatov believes Earth was on an "unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop". The last big freeze, known as the Little Ice Age, was between 1650 and 1850.  Today he said: "The last global decrease of temperature (the most cold phase of the Little Ice Age) was observed in Europe, North America and Greenland.  "All channels in the Netherlands were frozen, glaciers were on the advance in Greenland and people were forced to leave their settlements, inhabited for several centuries.

"The Thames river in London and Seine in Paris were frozen over every year. Humanity has always been prospering during the warm periods and suffering during the cold ones. The climate has never been and will never be stable."  The miserable weather since the turn of the year has been blamed on two episodes of high pressure.  A poorly positioned jet stream means ice cold temperatures and the continuing risk of snow showers across the north and east.  Almost all of the UK can expect a continuation of night frost, which will turn severe at times.

Millions of brassed off Brits are pining for warmth.© Daily Express.

April is forecast to be a drier than average month in the north and east, slightly wetter to the south and west but it is expected to be one of the oldest on record. Forecaster Jonathan Powell, of Vantage Weather Services, said: "My goodness haven't we suffered over the winter, but if people are after sunshine in the next month my advice would be to head for the airport.  "It is going to remain dry at least, but we will all need to remember to pull on an extra layer of clothing before stepping outside.

"May could well be our saving grace because at the moment it's looking a lot better but I am sorry to say after that we are heading down the same route as last year."  Numbing temperatures of -11C (12F) last night broke the previous coldest Easter with some describing the past few months as "Britain's lost spring".

As the clocks go forward the Met Office forecast record lows to of -11C in north Wales, northern England and Scotland.  Met Office forecaster Steven Keates said: ""Nights will stay cold with -10C possible and -11C not out of the question from north Wales northwards to Scotland.  "The weather is exceptional, unusually cold and unusually prolonged - with little change next week.  "Snow showers are certainly an increasing risk in the second half of the week, especially in the south. 

"They are expected to fall more widely than flurries this week, with a slight covering in places - but nothing like the heavy snow last weekend."  British tourism is braced to suffer heavy losses calculated at "tens of millions of pounds" with as many as two million scrapping pre-planned domestic Easter breaks because of the chill.  A fed-up Brighton tourism spokesman said: "We had 100,000 visitors last Easter - but bad weather will hit tourism numbers. We do have indoor attractions however." - Daily Express.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Underground Shifts Now Getting Closer To Surface, Parts Of Well Pad Still Falling In!

March 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An Assumption Parish sinkhole’s edge collapsed following increased underground seismic activity for a third time in 16 days, leaving areas on or near the sinkhole temporarily off limits to response workers, officials said.

An out-of-use sinkhole access ramp, which had been cracked Monday after a previous round of tremors, slumped into the sinkhole Thursday along with trees on either side of the ramp and a corner of the earthen well pad linked to the ramp, parish officials said.

John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the latest tremors were detected about 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Thursday under the sinkhole and near a failed salt cavern suspected of causing the sinkhole.

Aerial image March 28, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP).

The tremors were the same kinds of “very long period” events, linked to fluid and gas movement underground, that had been detected earlier this month, he said.

Work was halted only at the slurry-filled sinkhole’s surface, state Office of Conservation officials said in a news release Thursday.

The nearly eight-month-old and more than 13-acre sinkhole near the Bayou Corne area has remained in this fairly steady pattern since March 13, a condition characterized by tremors, work stoppages and slough-ins, with occasional burps of hydrocarbons and debris.

Experts have known for months that tremors precede edge collapses and other side effects, but the pattern this month appears to be cycling at a faster rate than previously.

Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, said experts think the quickened pace indicates the cavern suspected of causing the sinkhole is getting close to getting full of surrounding earth, causing subsurface shifting movements to occur at shallower depths.

“That’s the theory,” Courreges said.

The Texas Brine Co. LLC cavern was carved between 3,400 feet and 5,650 feet deep, but scientists think the cavern was mined too close horizontally to the outer face of the Napoleonville Dome. The cavern is now known to have had a sidewall failure at a depth of more than 5,000 feet.

Millions of cubic yards of material from strata outside the salt dome appear to have migrated into the cavern. After subsurface fracturing during a period of several months or possibly longer, the slurry-filled sinkhole emerged in early August swamplands between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities, scientists have said.

Aerial image March 28, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP).

Deep underground since August, though, material has continued periodically to enter the remainder of the cavern, a 20-million barrel cavity as tall as the highest buildings in the world.

Scientists and Texas Brine officials believe the sinkhole and surrounding earth will stabilize once the cavern is filled. In the meantime, about 350 residents of Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou remain under evacuation orders issued Aug. 3.

Boudreaux said it will probably be next week before work can be resumed following the latest tremors because small parts of the well pad were still breaking off and falling into the sinkhole as of Thursday afternoon.

Since March 13, authorities ordered two day-long work stoppages at the sinkhole and vicinity. During that span, two post-tremor slough-ins swallowed about 1.25 acres and many trees.

In a separate development, experts and Texas Brine officials have opened discussions on whether to drill one or two new, 2,000-foot wells into the western side of the Napoleonville Dome, officials said.

The wells would be used to create places deep inside the salt dome for installation of a seismic array previously deployed in another Texas Brine cavern.

Some geophones, which pick up underground tremors, were removed from the cavern Wednesday because officials want to focus on monitoring it, Boudreaux said.

Recent tests have shown the cavern, Oxy Geismar No. 1, is closer to the edge of the salt dome than once thought. That has raised worries about its structural integrity, since the cavern that failed, Oxy Geismar No. 3, also was close to the dome’s outer surface.

Though officials have said Oxy 1 is currently stable and the cavern’s internal pressure is being maintained, Boudreaux said the geophones can require adjustments that might involve removing them from the cavern, which could risk dropping the cavity’s pressure.

Sonny Cranch, spokesman for Texas Brine, noted that other elements of the seismic array remain in place, including two sets of geophones deep underground. He said removal of geophones from Oxy 1 had been under discussion for a few weeks.

Cranch added the company has made progress on the early phases of homeowner buyouts, signing up 86 homeowners for talks and conducting pre-appraisal inspections on 40 of their homes. - The Advocate.

Aerial image March 28, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP).

Work at the sinkhole in Bayou Corne has come to a halt again. This comes after the giant sinkhole swallowed an access ramp to a well pad and more trees Thursday morning.

Assumption Parish leaders say seismic monitors have picked up fluid and gas moving beneath the surface.

The monitoring alert status for the Oxy 3 well has been raised to Code 2. This requires all work directly in and over the sinkhole to cease until further notice.

Assumption Parish leaders say "the seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area. The slough-in that consumed the ramp and the trees was on the southeastern side of the sinkhole."

The Assumption Parish Police Jury website says "Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will continue to advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions."

According to the Assumption Parish Police Jury website, the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish swallowed 25 trees Monday night as well.

Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left a nine acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and have been for the past seven months. Most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week. The sinkhole is now about 12 acres in size.

On March 13, Texas-Brine, a Houston based company which owns the salt dome that caused the sinkhole, announced they would begin assessing the homes and offering buyouts and settlements for the 350 people evacuated. - WAFB.

WATCH: Giant Louisiana sinkhole swallows access ramp and more trees.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 3.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming!

March 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A magnitude 3.2 earthquake struck the Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming at 17:41:08 UTC.

USGS earthquake map and location.

Google earthquake map and location.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the tremor was located at 44.812°N 111.010°W with a depth of 13.5km (8.4miles).

USGS earthquake shakemap.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

USGS earthquake shakemap.

The quake had an epicentre of 17km (11miles) northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana; 97km (60miles) south of Bozeman, Montana; 125km (78miles) northeast of Rexburg, Idaho; 166km (103miles) northeast of Ammon, Idaho; and  214km (133miles) southeast of Helena, Montana.

Seismicity of Yellowstone.
Earthquake epicenters in Yellowstone reveal a pattern of intense seismicity related to faults and volcanic features. Plotted here are Yellowstone's 1973-1996 earthquakes on digital topography showing their relation of epicenters to faults and post-caldera (post 631,000 year old) volcanic vents.

Intense swarms of shallow earthquakes and occasional moderate-sized earthquakes as large as the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 near Norris Junction, characterize the seismicity of Yellowstone. Norris also has the highest temperature hydrothemal system in the park. The geophysical evidence suggests that earthquakes of Yellowstone are influenced by the presence of magmas, partial melts, and hydrothermal activity at crustal depths from near surface to depths of ~5 km. Earthquakes occur on faults that form boundaries of small upper-crustal blocks and reflect a combination of deformation caused by local transport of magma and hydrothermal fluids as well as by the regional northeast extension superimposed from the Basin-Range tectonic stress field.

USGS earthquake historic seismicity.

Earthquakes reveal a pattern of seismicity over the Yellowstone-Hebgen Lake region that extends into the Yellowstone caldera along northwesting trending clusters of epicenters. Earthquakes extend ~25 km from Hebgen Lake, Montana, along an east-west trend into Yellowstone National Park where they take on a northwest trend along distinct seismic zones about 25 km long that cross the caldera boundary. Within the caldera, earthquakes have not exceeded magnitude MS = 5.0 and generally have scattered epicenters; in the western part of the caldera, northwest-trending clusters of epicenters, together with aligned volcanic vents, may be related to buried, but still active, Quaternary faults. In several cases, there are good correlations between earthquake swarms and major changes in hydrothermal activity. Local faulting along the west side of Yellowstone Lake has Holocene displacements and appears to be seismically active.

Parts of the Gallatin and Teton normal fault systems, which generally have a northerly trends outside the Yellowstone region, presumably lie beneath the area now covered by the Quaternary volcanics of the Yellowstone Plateau. A broader view of Yellowstone seismicity and that of Teton region is shown here.

Focal depths of earthquakes in Yellowstone reveal notable variations across the caldera that are related to variations in heat flux and rock composition.

Earthquake historic seismicity. University of Utah.

Maximum focal depths outside the caldera are generally less than 15 to 20 km, and mostly less than 5 km beneath the inner caldera. This pattern of earthquake- shallowing suggests a thin seismogenic brittle upper crust beneath the thermally active inner caldera. Rheologic models imply that below about 5 km, the crust is in a quasi-plastic, ductile state at temperatures in excess of 350°C - incapable of supporting large stresses. Note that the MS = 6.1 earthquake in 1975 occurred along the caldera's northwest boundary. On a regional scale, earthquakes are most intense on the west side of Yellowstone National Park. The most seismically active area is associated with the 1959, MS = 7.5, Hebgen Lake main shock that occurred within about 30 km of the northwestern side of the Yellowstone caldera. This large earthquake may have resulted from unusual lithospheric uplift and viscoelastic relaxation associated with the Yellowstone hotspot.

Along the northwest side of the eastern Snake River Plain, earthquakes have a notable northwest alignment of epicenters in central Idaho, which is aftershock activity of the 1983, MS = 7.3, Borah Peak earthquake on the Lost River fault. This pattern contrasts with the scatter of what we have called background seismicity elsewhere in the central ISB. The "turning on" of earthquakes on the Lost River fault emphasizes the relative seismic quiescence of the neighboring Lemhi and Beaverhead faults to the northeast. All three faults are part of a domain of active, latest Quaternary basin-range normal faulting northwest of the SRP. Hence, the paucity of earthquakes between the Lost River fault and the Idaho-Montana border marks an important seismic gap in the central ISB. Seismic surveillance by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory reveals few earthquakes within the Snake River Plain itself. The lack of earthquakes is thought to be related to increased crustal strength resisting earthquakes, to high temperatures that inhibit earthquakes, or to complex stresses related to the Yellowstone hotspot. - The Yellowstone-Teton Epicenter.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: H7N9 Virus - New Strain Of Bird Flu, Which Has Never Been Seen In Humans Before, Kills Two People In China!

March 31, 2013 - CHINA - Two Shanghai men have died from a lesser-known type of bird flu in the first known human deaths from the strain, and Chinese authorities said Sunday that it wasn't clear how they were infected, but that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

A third person, a woman in the nearby province of Anhui, also contracted the H7N9 strain of bird flu and was in critical condition, China's National Health and Family Planning Commission said in a report on its website.

There was no sign that any of the three, who were infected over the past two months, had contracted the disease from each other, and no sign of infection in the 88 people who had closest contact with them, the medical agency said.

H7N9 bird flu is considered a low pathogenic strain that cannot easily be contracted by humans. The overwhelming majority of human deaths from bird flu have been caused by the more virulent H5N1, which decimated poultry stocks across Asia in 2003.

The World Health Organization is "closely monitoring the situation" in China, regional agency spokesman Timothy O'Leary said in Manila.

"There is apparently no evidence of human-to-human transmission, and transmission of the virus appears to be inefficient, therefore the risk to public health would appear to be low," O'Leary said.

One of the two men from Shanghai, who was 87, became ill on Feb. 19 and died on Feb 27. The other man, 27, became ill on Feb. 27 and died on March 4, the Chinese health commission said. A 35-year-old woman in the Anhui city of Chuzhou became ill on March 9 and is being treated.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted tests and confirmed Saturday that all three cases were H7N9, the health commission said.

Scientists have been closely monitoring the H5N1 strain of the virus, fearing that it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic. So far, most human cases have been connected to contact with infected birds. - AP.

China is considered one of the nations most at risk from bird flu.

Two men have died in China after contracting a strain of avian influenza that has never been passed to humans before, the Chinese official news agency has reported.

The men, aged 87 and 27, became sick late last month and died in Shanghai in early March, according to the Xinhua news agency.

The strain of the bird flu virus was identified as H7N9, which had not been transmitted to humans before, Xinhua said, quoting the national health and family planning commission.

There are no known vaccines against the H7N9 virus.

However, the strain does not seem highly contagious because no health abnormalities were detected among 88 of the victims' close contacts, the commission said.

Another woman in nearby Anhui province also contracted the virus in early March and is in a critical condition.

All three cases showed symptoms of fever and coughs that later developed into pneumonia.

It is unclear how the three were infected.

China is considered one of the nations most at risk from bird flu because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.

The World Health Organisation says more than 360 confirmed human deaths from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza have been reported globally from 2003 until March 12 this year. - SKY News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For March 30-31, 2013 - Updates On Stromboli, Etna, Santorini, El Hierro, Long Valley, Grozny, Sakurajima, Batu Tara, Fuego, Paluweh, Colima, Popocatépetl, Santa María, Santiaguito, Pacaya, Telica, Masaya, Reventador And Tungurahua!

March 31, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Small lava overflow from the NE crater of Stromboli (thermal webcam, INGV Catania).

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Activity remains elevated. A small lava overflow has started from the NE crater, accompanied by relatively strong tremor and explosion signals visible on the seismic signal.

Current view of Etna (INGV webcam).

Etna (Sicily, Italy): At the surface, Etna remains calm. The current seismic signal and tremor values at the moment don't suggest a new paroxysm from the New SE crater is be expected very soon (although some paroxysms have shown build-up phases of less than a few hours only).

Interestingly, two weak earthquake swarms have occurred two days ago under the flanks of the volcano at opposite sides of the mountain: the first, weaker one, was at depths around 25 km under Monte Spagnolo on the NW flank, the second occurred shortly after at depths around 15 km under the area of Milo on the SE flank. The largest quake was a magnitude 2 event.

Location of the magnitude 4.9 quake.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): (March 31) IGN places the earthquake that just occurred also at magnitude 4.9, but at the "usual" 20 km depth and in the "usual" area about 10 km west of the island. So far, this has been the strongest quakes during the whole crisis! Fortunately, the earthquake struck at depth and beneath the sea relatively far from the island where it was still widely felt. The risk of rockfalls in areas with steep cliffs (most of the western part of the island) is elevated. People should stay away from cliffs and unstable rock faces!

Current seismic signal (IGN) - the strong black signal is the 4.9 quake at 11:00 GMT.

Location of recent quakes at EL Hierro (IGN).
(March 30) The situation to the west of the island had not changed much and the islanders are in for an uneasy Easter weekend: the seismic swarm continues with frequent and increasingly strong earthquakes and tremor pulses. 15 quakes with magnitudes between 4-4.7 were recorded yesterday alone, the total number of quakes is in the hundreds.

A further migration of the hypocenters to the south can be seen, and most quakes remain in the 18-20 km depth layer, with a few in the upper layer at about 10-12 km depth. Infation has slowed down a bit, but reaches now 12 cm in the western part of the island itself.

Santorini (Cyclades, Greece): Seismic activity has showed a small increase again: a small swarm of earthquakes has occurred just east of the island at depths between 6 and 15 km. The "largest" quake (not felt) was a small magnitude 2.4 event at 12.5 km depth yesterday. For now, this small swarm probably means nothing unusual.

Long Valley (California): Some felt earthquakes have occurred recently along the southern boundary of Long Valley Caldera, the latest a 3.8 magnitude quakes yesterday. This is not unusual for the volcanic system and does not mean any volcanic eruption should be expected in a near future. The alert status remains green (normal).

Grozny (Iturup Island): Tokyo VAAC reported a possible eruption occurred yesterday around 11:00 GMT. A volcanic ash plume was observed at 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude and drifting eastwards.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The frequency of explosions has been comparably low, with 0-2 events recorded per day. Yesterday and today, two stronger ones occurred that produced ash plumes rising up to 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): An ash plume rose to an altitude of 10,000 ft (3 km) earlier today, sign that sometimes strong explosions continue from the volcano, in permanent eruption for more than 6 years now.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The lava dome remains very active and produces ash plumes (by a mix of effusive-explosive activity comprising ash venting, explosions, rockfalls and pyroclastic flows from the dome) on a daily basis. The height of the plumes varies mostly between 8-12,000 ft (2.4-3.6 km) altitude.

Current seismic recording from Colima volcano (Soma station, Univ. Colima).

Colima (Western Mexico): The "Volcano of Fire" has become a tourist attraction with now up to 200 weak to moderate explosions per day, and frequent incandescent rockfalls / small pyroclastic flows that descend the flank of the volcano to a length of up to 1.5 km and are a spectacular view at night.

Melchor Ursua Quiroz, director of the State's Civil Protection unit, said that the Fuego de Colima volcano is currently the most active of the country, and has recently increased its explosive activity. In an article in the El Universal newspaper, he "rules out" any risk for the population. A 8 km exclusion zone is in place around the volcano and the governments of Colima and Jalisco are on permanent alert.

View of Popocatépetl this morning.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): After the period of increased emissions (sometimes near continuous small to moderate explosions) and seismic activity during 28-29 March, the volcano has calmed down again to levels similar to before. During yesterday, the rate of emissions dropped to 1-2 per hour again, and ash plumes and explosions were significantly smaller.
Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity has remained weak. Only few small explosions occurred from the dome and the block lava flows on the flanks of the dome showed little movement recently, in the form of small avalanches from their steep fronts. Light ash fall occurred in the areas of Finca San José and Finca La Quina.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak strombolian activity continues, accompanied by white-bluish degassing (SO2). So far, no new lava flow has appeared.

Typical explosion from Fuego yesterday.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has remained stable, with occasional strombolian explosions ejecting glowing lava bombs to about 100 m height above the crater. Ash plumes rose 600-800 m and drifted about 10 km into southerly directions.
Weak avalanches of blocks were observed rolling down towards the Ceniza and Taniluyá canyons.

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm still continues, accompanied by near continuous tremor, although at reduced intensity.

Masaya (Nicaragua): Periods of elevated volcanic tremor continue to appear regularly at the volcano. At the moment, seismic activity is again relatively calm.

Reventador (Ecuador): IG observed a steam column rising 700 m yesterday and glow at night from the summit, indicating that weak effusive activity continues there. Seismic activity remains elevated with fluctuating intensity, dominated by signals corresponding to internal fluid movements.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Seismic activity, including volcanic-tectonic and long period earthquakes have increased in number and magnitudes during the past 2 days, suggesting new magma might have started to rise within the volcano and could herald a new phase of explosive activity soon. As of yesterday (IG's latest report), no particular surface activity (such as explosions, ash venting) has been observed.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 30, 2013.

Complete Earthquake list (worldwide) for March 31, 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Large gas bubble within the high standing lava of the NE vent exploding and emitting a small grey ash cloud
(top of lava spatter) - Stromboli, 2 January 2013.

Photo of the Day:

Stokkur Geysir - milliseconds before eruption.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: White Nose Syndrome - All But 23 Of 10,000 Bats In Durham Bat Mine In Pennsylvania Have Died?!

March 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Bucks County's largest bat population has met a grim fate.

Scientists have confirmed that nearly all of the 10,000 bats that have hibernated in an abandoned iron ore mine in Upper Bucks for generations have died.

When Pennsylvania Game Commission Biologist Greg Turner recently visited the Durham mine for the first time in two years, he found total devastation.

The Durham bat mine was once the second largest known bat habitat in Pennsylvania, but this winter only 23 were found alive. Of those, half had clear signs of infection.

Pennsylvania Game Commission biologists photographed these bats hibernating in the Durham mine in 2010.
Photo Courtesy of Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Bucks County's bats were wiped out by a disease that has been killing bat colonies across the Northeast at an alarming rate in the last four years.

White nose syndrome causes a white fungus to form around the nose of infected bats. They lose the body fat needed to survive hibernation and ultimately the mammals starve to death during the winter months.

During his visit to Durham's mine on Feb. 21, biologist Turner found three different species of cave bats. Eighteen of the 23 bats were little brown bats. Of those, half of them were crowding at the entrance to the cave or had fungus on their muzzles; both are tell-tale signs of the fatal infection.

"The important thing is that we're still seeing declines at that site," he said.

In January 2011, biologists first discovered signs that the disease had spread to the bats in the Durham mine, and it was too late to save them.

When Turner and his team of state biologists checked on the Upper Bucks bats in March 2011, they found 180 surviving bats, and half of those had fungus around their muzzles. At that time, scientists held scant hope in the ability of about 50 bats to survive and reproduce in order to sustain the colony.

This winter's sad discovery spells the end for the once thriving colony. For fear of spreading the infection, state biologists won't visit the gated mine tucked deep into a wooded hillside for another two years. Turner expects that when he returns he may only find a few surviving bats.

In Pennsylvania, 98 percent of cave-hibernating bats have died, said Turner.

"Going to places where there used to be tens of thousand bats hibernating, and then going in and seeing only a few bats - only a few stragglers left - that's very difficult," said Turner, who has been documenting the rapid decline of the state's bat population and working with a team of scientists to research how it's spread and experiment with a variety of treatments.

Federal scientists are currently in the process of determining if the six species of cave bats will be included in the endangered species list, said Turner.

Though scientists are still uncertain how the disease is spread, they hypothesize that cave explorers inadvertently picked up fungus spores on clothing and gear while exploring European caves, and then used the same, unwashed items to explore caves in the U.S.

There is reportedly no threat to human health.

Often called the "farmer's friend" because of their diet, bats hibernate each winter and spend the spring and summer months feeding on hundreds of tons of nighttime insects. One bat will consume 900,000 insects per year.

With the significant loss of its largest bat population, it will likely be a buggy summer in Upper and Central Bucks County, Turner estimates.

Scientists have not yet begun to formally study the overall impact of bat deaths on the ecology and farmers' crops, or to track the correlation of the spread of insect-bred diseases like West Nile virus. But biologist Turner notes he has been hearing anecdotally of the increase of summertime insects and an uptick of West Nile and similar infections in parts of the country. - Phillyburbs.

DELUGE: Deadly Floods Hit Mauritius Capital Port Louis - Eleven Dead, Widespread Chaos And Traffic Jam!

March 31, 2013 - MAURITIUS - At least 11 people have died after sudden rains caused flooding in the Mauritian capital Port Louis on Saturday, officials have said.

At least eight of the victims were caught in underground areas as the flood waters rose rapidly. Another died of a heart attack.

The island's metereologists said 152mm (6in) of rain fell in less than an hour, 70mm less than the March average.

The floods brought chaos to Port Louis city centre.
Prime Minister Navin Rangoolam declared 1 April a day of mourning.

Speaking on national radio, he said Mauritius was suffering badly from the effects of climate change.

The floods caused chaos in the city, with a huge traffic jam paralysing its centre, L'Express de Maurice newspaper reported.

A BBC reporter in the city says the bodies of six people were recovered from a pedestrian subway and another two from an underground car park.

Resident Ameeksha Dichand told the BBC she had been unable to go outside because it was raining so heavily, though people did venture out on Sunday to inspect the damage.

"The roads are blocked and there is mud everywhere. Trees have fallen all over the place," she said.

"If people couldn't rely on their neighbours so much to help them, then we would have lost more lives. I am so angry at the authorities."

More rain was expected on Sunday, and people were advised to stay at home. - BBC.

WATCH: Deadly flash floods ravage Mauritius.

EXTREME WEATHER: Excessive Fog In Fancy Gap Mountain Leads To Massive 75-Car Pileup Near Virginia, North Carolina Border - Three Dead, Twenty Injured!

March 31, 2013 - UNITED STATES - About 75 vehicles crashed Sunday along a mountainous, foggy stretch of interstate near the Virginia-North Carolina border, killing three people and injuring more than 20 others, police said.

This image provided by WXII Channel 12 news, shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/WXII, William Bottomley) MANDAORY CREDIT: WXII,WILLIAM BOTTOMLEY

Traffic backed up for about 8 miles in the southbound lanes of I-77 in southwest Virginia. Authorities closed the northbound lanes so that fire trucks, ambulances and police could get to the wreck.

A series of crashes began around 1:15 p.m. Sunday in the area of Fancy Gap Mountain. There was heavy fog at the time and photos of the scene after the accident showed poor visibility.

Several vehicles caught fire in the wreck, but the blaze was put out, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

It wasn't immediately clear how bad the injuries were or how long the interstate would be closed. Tow trucks worked to clear some of the wrecked cars and trucks.

Motorists were advised to seek alternate routes. - ABC News.

  Three dead, 25 injured in massive 75-car pileup on I-77 in Carroll County, Virginia.
William Bottomley / WXII

Three people have been were killed and at least 20 injured after a massive 75-car pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia and North Carolina border Sunday afternoon, according to authorities.

The crash began around 1 p.m. in the southbound lane in Carroll County, Virginia, according to Virginia State Police. Excessive fog in the Fancy Gap Mountain area is being blamed for the massive accident.

Both Southebound and Northbound lanes near the Virginia and North Carolina border remain closed, with northbound lanes likely reopening within the next two hours.

Motorists were encouraged to avoid the area. - NBC News.

WATCH: Dozens of vehicles are involved in a pileup on Interstate 77 on Sunday near the Virginia-North Carolina border.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Getting Back To Nature - Researchers Decipher The Language Of Dolphins With Picture Words; Japanese Island Of Toshiba Makes Dolphins Citizens; Pod Of Dolphins Form ‘Life Raft’ To Save Sick Companion From Drowning; Grieving Dolphin Carries Dead Calf Around For Days!

March 30, 2013 - NATURE - “In an important breakthrough in deciphering dolphin language, researchers in Great Britain and the United States have imaged the first high definition imprints that dolphin sounds make in water. The key to this technique is the CymaScope, a new instrument that reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially. Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water. The resulting “CymaGlyphs,” as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin “picture word.”

Left: cymaglyph of adult dolphin voice, Right: cymaglyph of a baby dolphin calling to its mother

Researchers Decipher The Language Of Dolphins With Picture Words.
Certain sounds made by dolphins have long been suspected to represent language but the complexity of the sounds has made their analysis difficult. Previous techniques, using the spectrograph, display cetacean (dolphins, whales and porpoises) sounds only as graphs of frequency and amplitude. The CymaScope captures actual sound vibrations imprinted in the dolphin’s natural environment—water, revealing the intricate visual details of dolphin sounds for the first time.

Within the field of cetacean research, theory states that dolphins have evolved the ability to translate dimensional information from their echolocation sonic beam. The CymaScope has the ability to visualize dimensional structure within sound. CymaGlyph patterns may resemble what the creatures perceive from their own returning sound beams and from the sound beams of other dolphins.

Reid said that the technique has similarities to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs. “Jean-Francois Champollion and Thomas Young used the Rosetta Stone to discover key elements of the primer that allowed the Egyptian language to be deciphered. The CymaGlyphs produced on the CymaScope can be likened to the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta Stone. Now that dolphin chirps, click-trains and whistles can be converted into CymaGlyphs, we have an important tool for deciphering their meaning.”

Kassewitz, of the Florida-based dolphin communication research project said, “There is strong evidence that dolphins are able to ‘see’ with sound, much like humans use ultrasound to see an unborn child in the mother’s womb. The CymaScope provides our first glimpse into what the dolphins might be ‘seeing’ with their sounds.”

The team has recognized that sound does not travel in waves, as is popularly believed, but in expanding holographic bubbles and beams. The holographic aspect stems from the physics theory that even a single molecule of air or water carries all the information that describes the qualities and intensity of a given sound. At frequencies audible to humans (20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz) the sound-bubble form dominates; above 20,000 Hertz the shape of sound becomes increasingly beam shaped, similar to a lighthouse beam in appearance.

Reid explained their novel sound imaging technique: “Whenever sound bubbles or beams interact with a membrane, the sound vibrations imprint onto its surface and form a CymaGlyph, a repeatable pattern of energy. The CymaScope employs the surface tension of water as a membrane because water reacts quickly and is able to reveal intricate architectures within the sound form. These fine details can be captured on camera.”

Kassewitz has planned a series of experiments to record the sounds of dolphins targeting a range of objects. Speaking from Key Largo, Florida, he said, “Dolphins are able to emit complex sounds far above the human range of hearing. Recent advances in high frequency recording techniques have made it possible for us to capture more detail in dolphin sounds than ever before. By recording dolphins as they echolocate on various objects, and also as they communicate with other dolphins about those objects, we will build a library of dolphin sounds, verifying that the same sound is always repeated for the same object. The CymaScope will be used to image the sounds so that each CymaGlyph will represent a dolphin ‘picture word’. Our ultimate aim is to speak to dolphins with a basic vocabulary of dolphin sounds and to understand their responses. This is uncharted territory but it looks very promising.”

Dr. Horace Dobbs, a leading authority on dolphin-assisted therapy, has joined the team as consultant. “I have long held the belief that the dolphin brain, comparable in size with our own, has specialized in processing auditory data in much the same way that the human brain has specialized in processing visual data. Nature tends not to evolve brain mass without a need, so we must ask ourselves what dolphins do with all that brain capacity. The answer appears to lie in the development of brain systems that require huge auditory processing power. There is growing evidence that dolphins can take a sonic ‘snap shot’ of an object and send it to other dolphins, using sound as the transmission medium. We can therefore hypothesize that the dolphin’s primary method of communication is picture based. Thus, the picture-based imaging method, employed by Reid and Kassewitz, seems entirely plausible.”

The CymaGlyphs of dolphin sounds fall into three broad categories, signature whistles, chirps and click trains. There is general agreement among cetacean biologists that signature whistles represent the means by which individual dolphins identify themselves while click trains are involved in echolocation. Chirps are thought to represent components of language. Reid explained the visual form of the various dolphin sounds, “The CymaGlyphs of signature whistles comprise regular concentric bands of energy that resemble aircraft radar screens while chirps are often flower-like in structure, resembling the CymaGlyphs of human vocalizations. Click trains have the most complex structures of all, featuring a combination of tightly packed concentric bands on the periphery with unique central features.”

Regarding the possibility of speaking dolphin, Kassewitz said, “I believe that people around the world would love the opportunity to speak with a dolphin. And I feel certain that dolphins would love the chance to speak with us—if for no other reason than self-preservation. During my times in the water with dolphins, there have been several occasions when they seemed to be very determined to communicate with me. We are getting closer to making that possible.” - Speak Dolphin.

Pod Of Dolphins Form ‘Life Raft’ To Save Sick Companion From Drowning.
They have long been known to be bright, friendly and intelligent creatures.  Now it seems they might also be lifesavers, because for the first time dolphins have been spotted teaming up to try to rescue an injured group member. The amazing footage, filmed at Kyum Park of the Cetacean Research Institute in Ulsan, South Korea, shows 12 dolphins swimming very close together when one of their number gets into difficulty.

Soon the creatures have formed a raft around their stricken pal as they try to keep her above water.

The female long beeked common dolphin wriggles and tips from side to side, turning upside-down while her pectoral flippers seem to be paralysed. Instantly the other dolphins crowd around her, diving beneath as they try to keep her afloat.

Half an hour later and the dolphins have formed into a raft by swimming side by side with the injured female on their backs as they try to stop her from drowning. Karen McComb at the University of Sussex in Brighton told the New Scientist: ‘It does look like quite a sophisticated way of keeping the companion up in the water.

‘It makes a lot of sense in a highly intelligent and social animal for there to be support of an injured animal.’ But Ms McComb said while the images suggested the dolphins understand when others are suffering, and can even empathise, the dolphins could have been trying to keep their group member alive to retain control of their territory.

There have been examples of single dolphins helping others, generally mothers helping their calves, but no cases of groups of dolphins working together to help another. Dolphins are also believed to mourn their dead, after researchers witnessed them interacting with the corpses of dead group members. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Pod of dolphins form 'life raft' to help dying companion.

Japanese Island Of Toshiba Makes Dolphins Citizens.
On a small island 100 miles from Tokyo islanders, mostly fishermen, have declared resident dolphins to be citizens, fully protected while in the island’s waters. On Sept. 1st of this year the annual dolphin slaughter will take place in Taiji Cove, Japan. Japan is a nation where up to 20,000 dolphins are killed yearly. So a new development recently in Japan is wonderful news in stark contrast as to what usually goes on in Japan. On a small island 100 miles from Tokyo islanders, mostly fishermen, have declared resident dolphins to be citizens, fully protected while in the island’s waters.

This tiny island is called Toshima Island. The fishermen there want to show the world how some Japanese revere and protect wild dolphins. A long time Japanese ally, Elsa Nature Conservancy, has pledged to help the Toshima Islanders educate Japan about the wonders of wild dolphins.

The Toshima Dolphin Project as it is known will expand knowledge of this unique island and the relationship between the people of the island and its 16 resident dolphins. The project will provide a vision that will inspire their fellow countrymen and bring to them an understanding of the importance of allowing dolphins to remain free and safe from hunters’ blades.

This is a description of the Toshima Dolphin Project written by Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy. “In 1995 a dolphin came to Toshima waters and remained. In 1998 the dolphin, named Koko, gave birth. The baby was called Piko. The mother and baby were so revered that they were registered as citizens of the island. Around 2010 several dolphins from Mikura island moved to Toshima and several have given birth. As of February 2012, a pod of 16 dolphins swims in the waters of Toshima.”

The Dolphin Project was originally spearheaded by a Mr.Moriyama. Unfortunately the Mr. Moriyama, died in February of this year. But others have picked up the cause because they feel so strongly that this message must get out. Currently funds are urgently needed to finish the project website, send a video team to the island to film the dolphins and fishermen and to make a DVD for release in Japan. They also plan to hold a symposium in Tokyo on dolphins in Japanese waters.

But the main message that The Toshima Dolphin Project wants to portray was expressed by Sakae Hemmi as: “I think it important to have many people learn and experience that wild dolphins are animals that we can make friends with and live together. Toshima is a very important place to raise the Japanese people’s consciousness to protect wild dolphins.”

Hopefully with the efforts of these wonderful fishermen from Toshima Island there may soon come a day when all dolphins can live off the Japanese coast without threat of dying in such a cruel manner as currently takes place in Taiji Cove. - Save Earth's Oceans.

Grieving Dolphin Carries Dead Calf Around For Days.
Whale watchers aboard Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari had an unexpected and heartbreaking encounter with a pod of bottlenose dolphins yesterday. A deceased dolphin calf was being carried by an adult bottlenose dolphin on its back.

"I believe this calf has been dead for many days, possibly weeks," explains Capt. Dave Anderson, "you can see the flesh is decaying. In my nearly twenty years on the water whale watching I have never seen this behavior. Nor have I ever seen anything quite as moving as this mother who refuses to let go of her poor calf."

This video sends a powerful message about how much a dolphin can care. It is a window into a dolphins heart. This animal is laboring under the strain of carrying this dead animal on its back day and night is probably keeping it near the surface so the departed dolphin can breathe. We can assume this because dolphins do not normally swim with their dorsal fins sticking out of the water continuously like this bottlenose did. We can only imagine what happened; over half of all bottlenose calves die from disease and predators before their second birthday, and since we know that the family unit in dolphin pods is the mother and calf, this is almost certainly a mother and calf pair. Did mom start off helping her weak, sick offspring swim to the surface to breathe for days till the tiny dolphin died? When will she give up on her calf? Will she continue carrying her deceased on her back until the carcass begins to disintegrate? This poor grieving mother dolphin takes us, without words, to a place where as one of our passengers said in the video "humans and dolphins are not so different."

The pair were surrounded by other dolphins, almost as if they were being protected, during this profoundly sad time. The dolphin was seen an hour later by another boat still carrying the calf.

Scientists estimate that 308,000 dolphins and whales die every year worldwide because of fishing gear entanglement. Captain Dave organized Orange County's first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has successfully disentangled several gray whales, including Lily, whose disentanglement made national headlines. Capt. Dave authored the award winning book, "Lily, A Gray Whale's Odyssey", a magnificent photographic journey of a gray whale's migration. For more information visit - Dolphin Safari.

WATCH: Grieving Dolphin Carries Dead Calf Around For Days.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Bright Green Object Seen Over Northern Colorado Skies And Spectacular Meteor Captured On Camera Over Winnipeg!

March 30, 2013 - UNITED STATES - What is thought to have been a bright meteor, streaking across the predawn Northern Colorado sky Thursday, sparked reports from dozens of early birds who happened to view it.

Loveland resident Shawn Kraft caught it as he drove northward on U.S. 287, between Owl Canyon and Livermore, on his daily commute to Laramie where he works for the city as an information technologist.

"Here's what I could equate it with," Kraft said. "You know those little sparklers that kids waved around before they were illegal? It was like that. Green. Bright green. Really bright green, in a pitch-black sky. It took about a second or a second and a half."

The "fireball log" maintained by the American Meteor Society, an online gathering spot for amateur observers, contained nearly simultaneous reports of the same sighting -- a bright green meteor seen between 5:46 and 5:50 a.m.

The reports came from Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

"It was good-sized," Kraft said. "It's the biggest thing I've ever seen in the sky like that."

A meteor is the name given to the light emitted by a meteoroid, a small rocky object that enters the earth's atmosphere from space, as it burns in the upper atmosphere.

A rare meteorite is a surviving fragment of a meteoroid that impacts the earth's surface. The vast majority of meteoroids vaporize in the atmosphere. - Reporter Herald.

Spectacular Meteor Captured On Camera Over Winnipeg.
With her camera set to a shutter speed of eight seconds, a local woman managed to capture a spectacular meteor display.

Shannon Bileski caught a meteor on camera while out at Patricia Beach March 29, 2013.© Shannon Bileski

Shannon Bileski was on the east side of Lake Winnipeg late Friday night with her astronomy club.

"We saw a bright flash with green explosions ... it was a meteor!" she wrote in an e-mail.

"(I) managed to capture the entry and explosions (look closely and you can see them)!" she wrote.

Flashes of green in the sky turn out to be meteors less often than you'd think, Planetarium spokesman Scott Young has previously told QMI Agency. Winnipeggers get treated to this kind of spectacular skyward event about once a year, Young said.

"I think people are excited to see things that are outside their normal experience," Young said. "We get a lot of calls about 'that light in the sky' which turn out to be meteors, planets, the Space Station, etc. but people are still excited because they just 'discovered' them themselves.

"Humans love to discover things." - Toronto Sun.

MASS ANIMAL/BIRD DIE-OFF IN CHINA: Animal Apocalypse - Rare Chinese Porpoises Dive Toward Extinction; Hundreds Of Rotting Ducks Foul Chinese Rivers; Five Floating Dead Black Swans Found Dead In Anhui Province?!

March 31, 2013 - CHINA - Giant pandas have become China's poster child for endangered species, but now another iconic animal in the country can claim to be ever rarer than the bears.

There are just 1,000 individual Yangtze finless porpoises left in the wild, according to a new report. That's less than half of what a similar survey of the porpoises found six years ago.

A Yangtze finless porpoise found in Dongting lake, China on April 15 2012. © Xu Dianbo

The rapidly dwindling numbers have conservationists worried that the species could vanish from the wild as early as 2025.

"The species is moving fast toward its extinction," said Wang Ding, head of the expedition to count the porpoises and a professor at the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yangtze finless porpoises, the only freshwater finless porpoise in the world, live mainly in the Yangtze River and China's Dongting and Poyang lakes. They are threatened by shrinking food resources and manmade disturbances like shipping traffic.

The expedition, which took place over 44 days last fall, comes after a similar trek along the Yangtze in 2007 failed to find any surviving Baiji dolphins, a close relative of the finless porpoise that was subsequently declared functionally extinct.

The new report found that some finless porpoises are splintering off into relatively isolated groups, which could hurt their ability to reproduce. The scientists also noted that more of the animals seemed to be flocking to wharf and port areas, perhaps to look for food.

The porpoises lack a dorsal fin.© Gao Baoyan

"They may risk their lives for rich fish bait resources there," Wang said in a statement from the World Wildlife Fund, a conservation group involved in the report. "But busy shipping traffic close to the port areas poses a threat to the survival of finless porpoise."

Other finless porpoises seemed to be avoiding human disturbances and were spotted gathering in dense groups in waters not open to ship traffic. But that strategy could backfire - in these waters, the animals risk getting caught in illegal fishing traps.

As part of its conservation recommendations, the report urges for a year-round fishing ban in all river dolphin reserves, and for new reserves to be established in Poyang Lake and along the Yangtze.

The report, called the 2012 Yangtze Freshwater Dolphin Survey Report, was released Thursday (March 28). - Live Science.

Hundreds Of Rotting Ducks Foul Chinese Rivers.
More than 1,000 dead ducks foul Chinese river. (CCTV/APTN/ABC News)
Having already cleaned up thousands of dead pigs from a river outside Shanghai, Chinese officials are now assuring folks that the hundreds of rotting ducks fished out of a river poses no health danger.

Officials in Sichuan province in southwest China were notified the more than 1,000 dead ducks on Tuesday, county spokesman Liang Weidong told state radio. The duck carcasses with a pungent stench were found in more than 50 plastic woven bags floating on Pengshan section of the Nanhe River.

The government reassured citizens that the duck carcasses had been disinfected and buried and that there was no threat to humans and livestock along the bank of the river since the Nanhe River is not a drinking water source, Liang said.

The local authorities could not identify the cause of death because the corpses too decomposed. The possibility of infectious disease has been excluded.

“We have visited and searched more than 390 duck sheds in the area. There is no sign an epidemic broke out. We believe the large amount of ducks died because the weather suddenly got too warm,” said Shi Qian, the director of Sichuan Animal Health Inspection Bureau.

The livestock bureau in Panshan County is putting extra effort in further investigation on locating the farms and finding the farmers tossed the dead ducks in the river.

“As long as we identify the farmers who tossed the dead ducks, I think they would be heavily punished,” said Liang.

Officials said the toll of dead pigs removed from floating in Shanghai river reached 11,000. - ABC News.

Five Floating Dead Black Swans Join China’s Animal Apocalypse.

At the north-eastern corner of Anhui University’s old campus in Hefei, capital of Anhui province, there’s a scenic pond that’s inhabited by a bevy of black swans. The swans have been there for more than a decade already, and were – as the front page of local newspaper Star News (市场新报) laments today – an object of fondness for locals.

Yet early this morning, five of these black and beautiful swans were found floating lifeless on the surface of the pond. The latest instance of floating dead animals in China – first pigs, then ducks, and now black swans – these mere five black swans became an object of heated discussion on the Internet right after the announcement was made.

How did they die? Was it a natural disaster or another man-made one? As Star News tells us today, upon hearing of the news yesterday it immediately sent a journalist to the scene to find out exactly what happened. What he found was just one more filthy pond filled with oily water and garbage.

The swans are something to behold. The picture above is taken from a photo album that was uploaded to the website 万家热线, or “Ten Thousand Hotline” (a news and information portal focused on Anhui province), in 2011. Now clouded with a sense of sadness, the album shows the then 13 black swans as they appeared last winter. There are now eight swans left.

The black swans at Anhui University in happier times.

The journalist was not impressed by the scene he found the pond. The water had an oily quality to it, and quite a lot of garbage could be seen on the surface. From what he could ascertain from locals, many people often used the pond to rinse cloths, mops, mats and other items containing various chemicals.
The journalist could not see the dead swans anymore, because, as he was informed, they have been preserved and will be studied carefully to determine the cause of death. After this their remains will be used as specimens for academic research.

With the cause of death as yet entirely unknown, the Star News today offers four possible causes of death in a desperate attempt to establish whether it was a natural occurrence or not:

  1. Killed by other animals: According to a witness interviewed by the journalist, on Sunday afternoon a large dog was seen chasing and biting the swans
  2. Poisoned by garbage: Just ten days ago a black swan was born in the pond, and this caused an increase in the number of visitors. Many of these were seen to throw peels, leaves and other things into the pool, and one of these items may have poisoned the swans
  3. Water pollution: In the last few years, the quality of the water in the pond worsened considerably. Incredibly, sewage was pumped into the pond sometime last year, leading to an outbreak of blue-green algae 
  4. Disease or some other natural cause
So what caused these five black swans to go the same way as thousands of pigs and ducks, all discarded into a watery grave? Speaking to the people responsible for the maintenance of the area, the journalist was told that new measures are now to be implemented at the pond, including strengthening patrols by local security, improving the quality of the water, and removing the garbage. But alas, it’s too late for the five black swans, who were preyed on by predators, bombarded with garbage, and left floating lifeless like just some worthless pig. - Danwei.