Saturday, July 27, 2013

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands Of Dead Eels Wash Ashore In China?!

July 27, 2013 - CHINA - Tens of thousands of dead eels have washed ashore in China over the past few weeks.

Feeding frenzy! Cusk eels, photographed 3.7 miles below the surface of the sea, swarm some tasty treats.© University of Aberdeen

The eel is just the latest animal to die en masse in China's waters.

In March, thousands of dead pigs were dumped by farmers into the Hangpu River in Shanghai, and hundreds of dead ducks and fish have also turned up in Chinese waterways.

Although no one knows the cause yet, some suspect the China National Offshore Oil Company may be responsible, the website Quartz reported.

That company is doubling its crude oil production.

But the company and local administrators say the eels died of natural causes.

The company says ocean currents brought a confluence of low temperatures, low oxygen and high salt content that killed off the eels, the South China Morning Post reported. - Live Science.

DELUGE: Sheets Of Rain Bring Flash-Flooding To Many Parts Of Ireland - Emergency Declared At Letterkenny Hospital; Many Roads Impassable!

July 27, 2013 - IRELAND - An emergency situation has been declared at Letterkenny General Hospital following flooding in a significant section of the hospital.

The emergency unit at Letterkenny General Hospital was opened just this year.

The facility's emergency department; radiology department; outpatient department; pathology and medical records departments; and several wards and kitchens have all been evacuated.

A nearby tributary of the River Swilley overflowed and caused the flooding between 5pm and 5.30pm.

In a statement, the HSE confirmed 11 patients have been moved to the day surgery area, which is not in use over the weekend.

The executive has said there is no risk to patients currently in the hospital and the emergency service continues to function.

However, it is requesting that patients contact their GP out-of-hours service for non-emergency treatment.

Flooding on the Clontarf Road in Dublin 3 (Picture - Ray Kennedy).

A number of patients at the hospital's department of psychiatry have been moved to community residential units, or have gone on leave with their families overnight.

Some patients have remained within the department which is closed to all admissions.

Donegal Mental Health Services said it regrets any inconvenience caused to service users and their families.

A crisis management team has been activated to ensure that resources and facilities are made available to the local management team to address the flooding.

The local authority fire services are on site to pump water from the department.

Sean Murphy, General Manager, LGH, said: "We are doing everything we can to minimise the impact on patients and will work continuously throughout the night to ensure that the area is cleared of water as soon as possible."

The new, 70-bed emergency unit was opened earlier this year by Health Minister James Reilly.

Flash flooding causes disruption in Leinster

Parts of Dublin, Wicklow and Westmeath were affected by flash flooding following extremely heavy rainfall.

In Dublin, Jones's Road near Croke Park was impassable due to flooding. There was also flooding nearby on Griffith Ave and Marino Rd.

Jones's Road near Croke Park following the downpour of rain (Picture - John Courell).

Surface water caused some difficulty on Sheriff St at the Docklands Train Station, at nearby Macken St/Hanover St and on the North Quays before O'Connell Bridge.

Other affected areas included the N1/Swords Rd at Collins Ave, the R132/ Swords Rd at Santry Lane in Santry, the Outer Ring Rd at the Willsbrook Rd Jct and on the Fonthill Rd at the Ronanstown Rd Jct.

The lobby of Dublin City Council's offices at Wood Quay also experienced some flooding during the downpour.

GardaĆ­ say flood waters in the capital have subsided.

Excess surface water was a problem in parts of Co Wicklow and in Mullingar, Co Westmeath following heavy showers.

Luas green line services were suspended for a time between St Stephen's Green and Beachwood following a lightning strike.

A full service has resumed with some delays. - RTE.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: GNS Scientists Say New Zealand's White Island Volcanic Activity Not Related To Quakes!

July 27, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - GNS scientists are confident a rise in activity at White Island is not connected to this week's series of earthquakes in the Cook Strait.

White Island in the Bay of Plenty. - Source: Wikimedia Commons

The volcano alert level on the Bay of Plenty island remains at level one but the aviation colour code has been raised to yellow.

Volcanologist Brad Scott said an increase in tremors prompted a visit to the island where they found two types of eruption activity.

He said the changes were consistent with unrest, which had been going on for more than a year.

"Audible jets of gas were being shot through the small lake and broader expanding bubbles of dark lake sediments and debris were being ejected 20-30 metres vertically," he said. - TVNZ.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Arctic Meltdown - The North Pole Is Now A Lake?!

July 27, 2013 - NORTH POLE - The pictures are dramatic — a camera at the North Pole Environmental Observatory, sitting in the middle of what appears to be either a lake or open ocean, at the height of the summer sea ice melt season. Set against the backdrop of the precipitous decline in sea ice cover in recent decades due in large part to global warming, this would seem to be yet another alarming sign of Arctic climate change.

Image from one of the North Pole Environmental Observatory webcams, taken on Thursday, July 25.
Credit: NSF's North Pole Environmental Observatory.

These images have attracted media attention, such as this AtlanticWire post and this Daily Mail story, both of which portray the images as potential signs of an intensifying Arctic meltdown.

But before concluding that Arctic climate change has entered an even more ominous phase, it’s important to examine the context behind these images.

First, the cameras in question, which are attached to instruments that scientists have deposited on the sea ice at the start of each spring since 2002, may have “North Pole” in their name, but they are no longer located at the North Pole. In fact, as this map below shows, they have drifted well south of the North Pole, since they sit atop sea ice floes that move along with ocean currents. Currently, the waterlogged camera is near the prime meridian, at 85 degrees north latitude.

“It’s moved away from the North Pole region and it will eventually exit Fram Strait,” said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., in an interview. Fram Strait lies between Greenland and Canada, and is one of the main routes for sea ice to get flushed out of the Arctic Ocean.

A picture of a buoy anchored near a remote webcam at the North Pole shows a
meltwater lake surrounding the camera. (North Pole Environmental Observatory)

The second thing to keep in mind is that melting sea ice at or near the North Pole is actually not a rare event. Observations from the webcams dating back to 2002, and from satellite imagery and nuclear-powered submarines that have explored the ice cover since the Cold War era dating back several decades, show that sea ice around the North Pole has formed melt ponds, and even areas of open water, several times in the past.

The webcam depicting what seems like open water is most likely “just sitting in a big melt pond” that has formed on top of the sea ice cover, Serreze said. This melt pond started forming around July 10, and is likely close to its peak depth and extent. The occurrence of a melt pond at or near the North Pole is “just not that unusual,” Serreze said, and is even less rare at a more southern location such as where the camera is now.

“The whole Arctic sea ice cover does show melt during summer even at the North Pole,” he said, speaking of a typical melt season.

Serreze said it’s usually possible to walk through these melt ponds with hip boot waders on, as opposed to having to swim, since there is ice underneath the meltwater.

Annotated map showing the location of the North Pole and the location of the buoys with the webcams.
Credit: NSF's North Pole Environmental Observatory.

James Overland, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Climate Central in an email that the melt pond does seem unusually large compared to what is typically observed in a melt season, though. “We have extensive melt ponds every year, but I do not remember such an extensive lake in previous years. The lake is more a product of how the ice was configured earlier in the year,” he said.

Arctic sea ice cover has been rapidly shrinking and thinning since the start of satellite observations in 1979. Last year, sea ice extent and volume plunged to a record low. When the melt season finally ended in late September, the Arctic Ocean managed to hold onto less than half of the average sea ice extent seen during the 1979-to-2000 period.

WATCH: 2013 North Pole Webcam Animation.

The past six years have had the six smallest sea ice extents since 1979, indicating that the ice has not recovered from the previous record low in 2007. Researchers attribute this to the loss of thicker multiyear ice, which has been replaced by thinner ice that forms in the fall and melts in the spring and summer.

Serreze said the thinness of the ice cover has made it much more susceptible to weather patterns that promote ice transport and melting. So far this summer, sea ice extent has tracked above that of 2012, with a slow rate of ice melt in June followed by much more rapid melting during the first three weeks of July after weather patterns became more favorable for melting, Serreze said.

“I would be extremely surprised if we were not” well below average come September, Serreze said, but the prospect of setting another record low “depends on the vagaries of the weather, and we just can’t predict that.” - Climate Central.