Friday, January 16, 2015

ICE AGE NOW: Great Lakes Ice Makes A Leap After January Cold Snap - 34.1 PERCENT Covered In Ice, Up From 5.6 On January 1; 13 PERCENT Higher Than The Same Date Last Year!

Animation of ice cover on the Great Lakes from Jan. 7 to Jan. 14 (NOAA)

- Ice cover on the Great Lakes has made quite a leap after the first, week-long cold snap of the season.

As of Thursday, ice covered 34.1 percent of the Great Lakes, up from just 5.6 percent on Jan. 1, and 10.8 percent on Jan. 5 — the first day of a polar plunge that gripped most of the eastern U.S. for days to come.

“Last year, the Great Lakes were 21.2 percent ice-covered on Jan. 14, making this year’s ice cover 13 percent higher to date,” writes “If you recall, below-average temperatures were persistent from mid-January onward in the winter of 2014, leading to the second highest ice coverage on record at 92.2 percent on March 6, 2014.”

Amazing shot from our Life on Photo Contest: Fortress of Solitude by @LakeErieSurfer

Satellite image of Lake Erie on Jan. 9, 2015 shows the lake’s mostly ice-free water peeking through the clouds. (NASA)

By Jan. 14, Lake Erie had iced over. Thin ice can be seen in the eastern half of the lake, while thicker ice had formed over the western half. (NASA)

The ice breaking tug Breaker cuts through Lake Erie this morning.

Cool shot of Lake Erie in winter on approach to Buffalo post attending

Lake Erie : Ice - Sunset

This year’s January cold snap set off an upward spiral in ice cover over the lakes, particularly for Erie, the shallowest lake in the network.

Lake Erie’s ice cover has sky-rocketed this month, and is now about 88 percent covered in ice. Just a couple weeks ago, it was ice-free. Last year, Erie’s climb was slightly more gradual, starting in December and then shooting up twice after Polar Vortex I and II in January. It seems this year Erie is getting it done in one shot.

Long-term outlooks suggest more chilly blasts are on the way, which means ice cover records could be in play this year.

According to our winter weather expert Wes Junker, more cold might be in store behind a potent winter storm late next week. “After the storm pushes through, colder weather is expected to filter in,” Junker writes.

“By the end of the two week period, temperatures could take a plunge as a strong upper level ridge develops over Alaska and northwestern Canada.” - Washington Post.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Mass Mammal And Fish Die-Off - Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says!

 A dead whale in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2011. As container ships multiply, more whales are being harmed, a study said.
Credit Marco De Swart/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

January 16, 2015 - EARTH
- A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science.

But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.

“We’re lucky in many ways,” said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. “The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them.”

Scientific assessments of the oceans’ health are dogged by uncertainty: It’s much harder for researchers to judge the well-being of a species living underwater, over thousands of miles, than to track the health of a species on land. And changes that scientists observe in particular ocean ecosystems may not reflect trends across the planet.

Dr. Pinsky, Dr. McCauley and their colleagues sought a clearer picture of the oceans’ health by pulling together data from an enormous range of sources, from discoveries in the fossil record to statistics on modern container shipping, fish catches and seabed mining. While many of the findings already existed, they had never been juxtaposed in such a way.

A number of experts said the result was a remarkable synthesis, along with a nuanced and encouraging prognosis.

“I see this as a call for action to close the gap between conservation on land and in the sea,” said Loren McClenachan of Colby College, who was not involved in the study.

There are clear signs already that humans are harming the oceans to a remarkable degree, the scientists found. Some ocean species are certainly overharvested, but even greater damage results from large-scale habitat loss, which is likely to accelerate as technology advances the human footprint, the scientists reported.

Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.

Some fish are migrating to cooler waters already. Black sea bass, once most common off the coast of Virginia, have moved up to New Jersey. Less fortunate species may not be able to find new ranges. At the same time, carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic.

“If you cranked up the aquarium heater and dumped some acid in the water, your fish would not be very happy,” Dr. Pinsky said. “In effect, that’s what we’re doing to the oceans.”

Fragile ecosystems like mangroves are being replaced by fish farms, which are projected to provide most of the fish we consume within 20 years. Bottom trawlers scraping large nets across the sea floor have already affected 20 million square miles of ocean, turning parts of the continental shelf to rubble. Whales may no longer be widely hunted, the analysis noted, but they are now colliding more often as the number of container ships rises.

Mining operations, too, are poised to transform the ocean. Contracts for seabed mining now cover 460,000 square miles underwater, the researchers found, up from zero in 2000. Seabed mining has the potential to tear up unique ecosystems and introduce pollution into the deep sea.

The oceans are so vast that their ecosystems may seem impervious to change. But Dr. McClenachan warned that the fossil record shows that global disasters have wrecked the seas before. “Marine species are not immune to extinction on a large scale,” she said.

Until now, the seas largely have been spared the carnage visited on terrestrial species, the new analysis also found.

The fossil record indicates that a number of large animal species became extinct as humans arrived on continents and islands. For example, the moa, a giant bird that once lived on New Zealand, was wiped out by arriving Polynesians in the 1300s, probably within a century.

But it was only after 1800, with the Industrial Revolution, that extinctions on land really accelerated.

Humans began to alter the habitat that wildlife depended on, wiping out forests for timber, plowing under prairie for farmland, and laying down roads and railroads across continents.

Species began going extinct at a much faster pace. Over the past five centuries, researchers have recorded 514 animal extinctions on land. But the authors of the new study found that documented extinctions are far rarer in the ocean.

Before 1500, a few species of seabirds are known to have vanished. Since then, scientists have documented only 15 ocean extinctions, including animals such as the Caribbean monk seal and the Steller’s sea cow.

While these figures are likely underestimates, Dr. McCauley said that the difference was nonetheless revealing.

“Fundamentally, we’re a terrestrial predator,” he said. “It’s hard for an ape to drive something in the ocean extinct.”

Many marine species that have become extinct or are endangered depend on land — seabirds that nest on cliffs, for example, or sea turtles that lay eggs on beaches.

Still, there is time for humans to halt the damage, Dr. McCauley said, with effective programs limiting the exploitation of the oceans. The tiger may not be salvageable in the wild — but the tiger shark may well be, he said.

“There are a lot of tools we can use,” he said. “We better pick them up and use them seriously.”

Dr. McCauley and his colleagues argue that limiting the industrialization of the oceans to some regions could allow threatened species to recover in other ones. “I fervently believe that our best partner in saving the ocean is the ocean itself,” said Stephen R. Palumbi of Stanford University, an author of the new study.

The scientists also argued that these reserves had to be designed with climate change in mind, so that species escaping high temperatures or low pH would be able to find refuge.

“It’s creating a hopscotch pattern up and down the coasts to help these species adapt,” Dr. Pinsky said.

Ultimately, Dr. Palumbi warned, slowing extinctions in the oceans will mean cutting back on carbon emissions, not just adapting to them.

“If by the end of the century we’re not off the business-as-usual curve we are now, I honestly feel there’s not much hope for normal ecosystems in the ocean,” he said. “But in the meantime, we do have a chance to do what we can. We have a couple decades more than we thought we had, so let’s please not waste it.” - NY Times.

ICE AGE NOW: Scientists Balk At "Hottest Year" Claims - Says NOAA And NASA Ignored Satellites Showing 18 Year "PAUSE"; "We Are Arguing Over The Significance Of Hundredths Of A Degree"; The "PAUSE" Continues!

January 16, 2015 - EARTH
- Scientist across the globe are balking at recent claims by NOAA and NASA that 2014 was the warmest year on record. Here are  a few quotes from them, undermining global warming theories as well as dispelling warnings about runaway emissions:

The global warming establishment and the media are crowing about 2010 being in a tie for the “hottest year” ever. The UK Guardian headline sums up the media’s promotion:

UK Guardian: ‘Hottest Year’ Claim: 2014 officially the ‘hottest year’ on record US government scientists say
‘NASA and NOAA scientists report 2014 was 0.07F (0.04C) higher than previous records…The global average temperatures over land and sea surface for the year was 1.24F (0.69C) above the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA reported. The scientists said 2014 was 0.07F (0.04C) higher than the previous records set in 2005 and 2010.’

But scientists and climate skeptics are countering that the claims of “hottest year” are based on immeasurable temperature differences that are based on hundredths of a degree differences.

Climate Depot’s Marc Morano issued this statement
: “There are dueling global datasets — surface temperature records and satellite records — and they disagree. The satellites show an 18 year plus global warming ‘standstill and the satellite was set up to be “more accurate” than the surface records. See: Flashback: 1990 NASA Report: ‘Satellite analysis of upper atmosphere is more accurate, & should be adopted as the standard way to monitor temp change.’

Any temperature claim of “hottest  year” based on surface data is based on hundredths of a degree hotter than previous “hottest years”. This immeasurable difference is not even within the margin of error of temperature gauges. The claim of the “hottest year” is simply a political statement not based on temperature facts. “Hottest year” claims are based on minute fractions of a degree while ignoring satellite data showing Earth is continuing the 18 plus year ‘pause’ or ‘standstill’. See: The Great Pause lengthens again: Global temperature update: The Pause is now 18 years 3 months (219 months)

Claiming 2014 is the “hottest year” on record based on hundredths of a degree temperature difference is a fancy way of saying the global warming ‘pause’ is continuing.”

End Morano statement. (Morano was former staff of U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and producer of upcoming documentary Climate Hustle. He also testified in West VA on the climate school curriculum. )

Even former NASA global warming chief scientist  James Hansen, the leading proponent of man-made global warming in the U.S., conceded in 2011 that the “hottest year” rankings are essentially meaningless. Hansen explained that 2010 differed from 2005 by less than 2 hundredths of a degree F (that’s 0.018F). “It’s not particularly important whether 2010, 2005, or 1998 was the hottest year on record,” Hansen admitted on January 13.

Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry, former chair of the school of earth and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology
, had this to say about 2014 being the ‘hottest year’: “The ‘warmest year’ is noticeably missing in the satellite data sets of lower atmospheric temperatures,” Curry wrote on January 16.

Curry predicts another decade of a global warming ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’. “I’ve made my projection – global surface temperatures will remain mostly flat for at least another decade,” she eexplained

“With 2014 essentially tied with 2005 and 2010 for hottest year, this implies that there has been essentially no trend in warming over the past decade. This ‘almost’ record year does not help the growing discrepancy between the climate model projections and the surface temperature observations,” Curry told the Washington Post.

Curry continued: “Berkeley Earth (temperature analysis) sums it up well with this statement: ‘That is, of course, an indication that the Earth’s average temperature for the last decade has changed very little.’

Climatologist Dr. Pat Michaels, mocked the notion of the “hottest year.”  
“Whether or not a given year is a hundredth of a degree or so above a previous record is not the issue. What IS the issue is how observed temperatures compare to what has been forecast to happen,” Michaels said.

Michaels continued: “John Christy and Richard McNider, from University of Alabama (Huntsville) recently compared climate model projections to observed lower atmospheric temperatures as measured by two independent sources: satellites and weather balloons. They found that the average warming predicted to have occurred since 1979 (when the satellite data starts) is approximately three times larger than what is being observed.”

Climatologist Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric sciences, University of Alabama-Huntsville
, noted satellites do not agree with “warmest year” claims. “The satellite and balloon data of the deep atmosphere have 2014 in a cluster of warmish years well below the hottest two of 1998 and 2010″, Christy said.

Christy continued: “With the government agencies reporting that the surface temperature as highest ever, we have a puzzle. The puzzle is even more puzzling because theory (i.e. models) indicate the opposite should be occurring – greater warmth in the deep atmosphere than the surface. So, there are just many very basic and fundamental aspects of the global climate we have yet to comprehend.”

Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., professor of atmospheric science, Colorado State University,
downplayed the accuracy of the surface temperature record. “There remain significant uncertainties in the accuracy of the land portion of the surface temperature data, where we have found a significant warm bias. Thus, the reported global average surface temperature anomaly is also too warm.”

“More generally, we need to move beyond just assessing global warming, but examine how (and if) key atmospheric and ocean circulations, such as El Nino, La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc. are changing in their intensity, structure and frequency. These are the climate features that determine if a region has drought, floods, and so forth, not a global average surface temperature anomaly,” Pielke added.

Astrophysicist Dr. Dr David Whitehouse
declared “talk of a record is scientifically and statistically meaningless.’ “The addition of 2014 global temperature data confirms that the post-1997 standstill seen in global annual average surface temperature has continued,” Whitehouse wrote on January 16.

“According to the NASA global temperature database 2014 was technically a record ‘beating’ 2010 by the small margin of 0.02 deg C. The NASA press release is highly misleading saying that 2014 is a record without giving the actual 2014 figure, or any other year, or its associated error.”

“In reality of course it is no record at all as the error of the measurements is about +/- 0.1 deg C showing NASAGiss’ statement to go against the normal treatment of observational data and its errors. Talk of a record is therefore scientifically and statistically meaningless,” Whitehouse added.

“It is clear beyond doubt by now that there is a growing discrepancy between computer climate projections and real-world data that questions their ability to produce meaningful projections about future climatic conditions,” Whitehouse concluded.

Another analysis noted: NASA Hottest Year Claims Not Supported By The Data: NASA admitted in 2011 that “hottest year” differences were “smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years.”

 the website ‘Not A Lot Of People Know That: “Nowhere does their (NASA 2015) press release tell us that it only beat the previous record by a tiny, effectively unmeasurable 0.02C. Nor do they mention that the error bars are many times greater, or even tell us what they are. This is all very strange because in their (NASA) report on 2010 Global Temperatures, NASA said:

“Global surface temperatures in 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest on record, according to an analysis released Wednesday by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The two years differed by less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit. The difference is smaller than the uncertainty in comparing the temperatures of recent years, putting them into a statistical tie.”

Meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue of Florida State University
ridiculed the same “hottest year” rankings in 2010 and NASA’s Hansen’s admission that it “was not particularly important” which year was declared the “hottest.” “Well, then stop issuing press releases which tout the rankings, which are subject to change ex post facto,” Maue demanded in a January 14, 2011 commentary at

Other prominent scientists have said that temperature rise since 1850 has been very small.

See: Top Swedish Climate Scientist Says Warming Not Noticeable: ‘The warming we have had last a 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all’ – Award-Winning Dr. Lennart Bengtsson, formerly of UN IPCC: ‘We Are Creating Great Anxiety Without It Being Justified’. Dr. Bengtsson announced his skeptical climate views in 2014.

Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist Dr. Ivar Giaever
declared his dissent on global warming and noted that the temperature rise over the 20th century was “so little. It is not even fever.”  Giaever won a Nobel Prize for physics.

“.8 degrees we will be discussing in global warming. .8 degrees if you ask people in general they will think it is 4 or 5 degrees they don’t know it is so little. It is not even fever,” Giaever said.

“I am amazed that the temperature can be so stable,” Giaever explained. ‘The temperature (of the Earth) has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.’

“I don’t see that co2 is the cause of all this problem,” he added.

Related Links: 

It’s Official – There are now 66 excuses for Temp ‘pause’ – Updated list of 66 excuses for the 18-26 year ‘pause’ in global warming Eco-Activists Warn 2014 Could Be Hottest Year On Record – Satellites Disagree
‘Hottest Year’ Update: NASA & NOAA ignore satellite data which reveal 2014 ‘well below’ hottest claims
Even ignoring satellite data Year-to-date ‘record’ temps are 0.21C *below* climate model projections
New paper finds excuse #66 for the ‘pause’: There’s no pause if you look at only at the warmest & coldest day of the year – Published in Environmental Research Letters
2014 might be 0.01C warmer than 2010!

No Record Temperatures According To Satellites
 – BBC put up a deliberately apocalyptic picture while telling us the world is on course for the warmest year on record. What they failed to tell us was that the more accurate satellites, which monitor atmospheric temperatures over nearly all of the globe, say no such thing.  Figures from UAH are out for November, and these show a drop from the  October anomaly of 0.27C to 0.33C. This means that at the end of November, this year is only in a tie for 3rd with 2005, and well below the record year of 1998, and 2010.

Flashback: 1990 NASA Report: ‘Satellite analysis of upper atmosphere is more accurate, & should be adopted as the standard way to monitor temp change.’

2014 ‘Warmest ever’? ‘Conflicting Reports’ – Surface temps show it may be warmer by ‘a couple hundredths of a degree Celsius’ — A Fancy Ways of Saying Temp Standstill Continues!
 - ‘As a result of data and computational uncertainty,  none of the surface compilations will 2014 be statistically different from 2010′ – ‘The three major groups calculating the average surface temperature of the earth (land and ocean combined) all are currently indicating that 2014 will likely nudge out 2010 (by a couple hundredths of a degree Celsius) to become the warmest year in each dataset (which begin in mid-to-late 1800s).’ – ‘The two satellite datasets ‘show that 2014 is nowhere near the warmest (in data which starts in 1979), trailing 1998 by several tenths of a degree Celsius. This difference is so great that it statistically clear that 2014 will not be a record year…The super El Niño of 1998 set a high temperature mark that will likely stand for many years to come, or at least until another huge El Niño occurs.’ – ‘If you want 2014 to be the “warmest year ever recorded” you can find data to back you up, and if you prefer it not be, well, you can find data to back up that position as well. In all cases, the former will make headlines.’

Study using dozens of models Claims: ‘Warming Climate Can Be Slowed in a Decade’ by cutting CO2

Climate Depot Note
: If future temps continue to flatline or even cool, warmists can claim climate policy is responsible. They are already doing it! See: It’s Official — Temperature ‘Pause’ Caused By Climate Policies?! Medieval witchcraft lives! UK Energy Minister: Government policies ‘may have slowed down global warming’
AP’s Seth Borenstein publishes pure propaganda: Climate change has made Earth ‘hotter, weirder…downright wilder’

Climate Depot’s Morano comment
: ‘AP’s Borenstein can be trusted to shill for UN’s climate summit in Lima Peru, which I will be attending and speaking at. Borenstein relies on Michael Oppenheimer (who is the UN scientists on the payroll of Hollywood stars) and Climategate’s Michael Mann. Borenstein ignores tide gauges on sea level  showing deceleration of sea level rise and ignores satellite temperatures which show the Earth in an 18 year ‘pause’ or ‘standstill’ of global warming. Borenstein tortures data in order to claim more weather extremes. We are currently at or near historic lows in tornadoes and hurricanes. Even droughts are on long term declines and floods show no trend. We know not to expect more from Borenstein.’ See: ‘Long sad history of AP reporter Seth Borenstein’s woeful global warming reporting’

- Climate Depot.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Unprecedented Earthquake In Playa del Carmen And Tulum, Mexico - Areas Not Known For Seismic Activity?!

January 16, 2015 - MEXICO
- An earthquake was registered on the evening of Sunday January 10th, with an epicenter near Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, an area traditionally considered non seismic.

According to Margarita Vidal Amaro of the National Seismological Service, an earthquake of magnitude 4.2 on the Richter scale occurred at 9:49 pm on Sunday January 10th 2015. The epicenter was located exactly 67 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo.

Several Twitter users such as @FerDelor, @arnulfo_26, @CarlosQuikeYam and @linachapa among others, posted comments regarding this unusual event in this part of the country.

The government of Quintana Roo requested support from national institutions on Monday January 12th, to help determine the causes of this earthquake that occurred off the coast of Tulum.

But the National Seismological Service in Mexico City officially confirmed the event since Sunday January 11th.

Vidal Amaro explained that the quake occurred on the mainland and so there was no danger of a tsunami in the area. She added that even though earthquakes are unprecedented in the area, there are tectonic plates all over Mexico, which can lead to earthquakes. The quake was felt with greater magnitude in the town of Tulum, according to reports on social networks.

- The Yucatan Times.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The Globe - Massive Sinkhole Swallows Car Just Moments After Driver Makes Dramatic Last-Gasp Exit In China; Sinkhole Opens Up On Golf Course In Scotland; Sinkhole Swallows Plow Truck In Cleveland, United States!

January 16, 2015 - EARTH - The following constitutes several of the latest reports of sinkholes across the planet.

Massive sinkhole swallows car just moments after driver makes dramatic last-gasp exit, China

Hole: Sheng's car tipped inside this massive crater. © CEN

Lucky motorist Sheng Hsu was driving in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou when his car was pulled into the hole

These incredible pictures show the moment a massive sinkhole swallowed a car just moments after the driver was able to escape in the nick of time.

Sheng Hsu, 43, was on his way to work when the huge chasm appeared in the road.

Luckily, he was able to make a dramatic, last-gasp exit from the vehicle.

He said: "I had just slowed down because there was a bit of a queue and leaned in to switch the radio on.
Rumbling: He originally thought the vibrations were his car's speakers.


 © CEN

"When I leaned back I felt a vibration that I thought was something to do with the speakers at first.

"When the car started to move I stupidly pulled on the handbrake thinking I was rolling backwards, but then I realised I was the tipping over to the side."

Looking out the window, Sheng saw a huge hole appearing in the road as the tarmac vanished into the ground.

Acting instinctively, he crashed open the door and managed to scramble out before the car tipped inside.
He said: "I dread to think what would have happened if the traffic had been speeding along at the usual rate. It's pretty busy at all times of day here."

Engineers said the hole in Guangzhou had been caused because a sewage pipe had broken, leaking water into the soil under the road and washing it away.

But it is not the first time a huge sinkhole has appeared under a road or indeed a building in the region.

Council officials have ordered an enquiry to see what can be done to prevent similar problems in the future. - Daily Mirror.

Sinkhole opens up on golf course in Scotland

The sinkhole at Traigh Golf Club

That 16-foot putt for birdie just got a whole lot easier. Scotland's Traigh Golf Club woke up one morning to find a large sinkhole had developed on the course.

The 14-foot hole was created by erosion from a broken drainpipe underground. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But the golf course's troubles are far from over: The hole will cost about 20,000 British pounds, or more than $13,000 USD.

That's a huge cost that the golf course, which has been used for more than 100 years, cannot afford. And since insurance isn't likely to cover the cost of the hole, it could spell the end of the beautiful course.

"Without repairing this pipe about half of the golf course will revert to bog and this would effectively be the end of our golf course," said Traigh Golf Club spokesman Alec Stewart to

Even if the sinkhole is repaired, the erosion could be a harbinger for similar problems elsewhere on the course. The club is urgently seeking out any sources of funding to stay afloat. - The Post Game.

Sinkhole swallows plow truck in Cleveland, United States

A plow truck was on its route in Cleveland when it hit a steel plate on the road, displacing the plate and sending the truck falling into the sinkhole.

The steel plate was from the Cleveland Water Department and was not marked properly. The sinkhole was in place so the property owner's plumber could make repairs to the home.

After the truck fell, it was removed from the hole shortly after. The plate has since been replaced.

The driver was taken to the hospital as a precaution and there were no other injuries. - FOX 8.

ICE AGE NOW: Overwhelming Evidence Of Global Cooling, Despite NOAA And NASA Claims About Global Warming - Temperatures Forecast To Plummet To -15C In Scotland; "Siberian" Winter Temperatures Predicted To Hit Denmark; Grand Rapids Sets New Record Low Temperature; Lake Erie Is Freezing Up Extremely Fast!

January 16, 2015 - EARTH - Despite claims by NOAA and NASA that Earth just experienced it's hottest year on record in 2014, evidence is mounting that the planet is actually undergoing an overwhelming period of global cooling.

Temperatures forecast to plummet to -15C in Scotland

A car buried under 4-6 inches of snow in Tyndrum, Stirlingshire. © Getty

Weather Channel UK meteorologist Liam Brown warned: "We should prepare for freezing temperatures and very icy conditions for the coming days, and probably much of next week too.

Blizzards swept across the country yesterday - as Scots were warned that the worst of the wintry weather was yet to come.

The Met Office have issued "be aware" warnings for wind, ice and rain for much of central and southern Scotland for today.

Travel chaos is set to continue as severe gales of up to 80mph hit the country, while heavy rain and a thaw caused by slightly milder temperatures could lead to localised flooding.

Snow is forecast to return from tomorrow, when the mercury will fall again - and by early next week temperatures could plummet to a teeth-chattering -15C.

Weather Channel UK meteorologist Liam Brown warned: "We should prepare for freezing temperatures and very icy conditions for the coming days, and probably much of next week too.

"There is a risk of some more widespread snow early next week. We can also expect some of the lowest temperatures of the winter so far.

"Temperatures below -10C are quite likely in Scotland, perhaps as low as -15C."

Yesterday's snow, ice and fierce winds forced schools to close and caused widespread travel disruption.

Commuters across the country faced difficult journeys to work - even though gritters had been out in force throughout the night.

There were long delays on the A9 after two lorries got stuck in heavy snow at Blair Atholl, Perthshire.

And the A82 was closed at Invergarry, Inverness-shire, after a lorry and a car collided.

The snowgates on the A82 were closed for a time at Tyndrum, Perthshire, and in Aberdeenshire the A93 Glenshee to Braemar, B974 Banchory to Fettercairn and A939 Ballater to Corgarff roads were shut.

More than 20 minor collisions were reported in the Highlands.

The weather warnings prompted ScotRail to cancel all trains from Glasgow to Fort William, Mallaig and Oban, between Helensburgh and Dumbarton Central, from Kilwinning to Largs and Ardrossan, and between Kyle and Dingwall from 6pm last night to 6pm today.

Flights at Aberdeen and Orkney airports were delayed or cancelled and CalMac had to cancel ferries on many routes.

But there was some good news for residents of Coll when they finally received a delivery of vital supplies after being cut off by raging seas for a week.

Paula Smalley, who runs Tigh na Mara guesthouse on the island, said: "The ferry finally got in around 10am and brought bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. We were lucky as by the afternoon the weather had worsened again."

Nearly 100 schools and nurseries in the Highlands and Moray were closed after the area was badly affected by overnight snow. Eight schools in Perth and Kinross, five in Shetland and three in Stirlingshire were also shut by the weather.

Meanwhile, 1100 households in Shetland were left without power after lightning struck a main line.

The rest of the UK also suffered severe weather, with "thundersnow" reported in south Wales and homes being damaged by mini-tornadoes in London, Cornwall and Wales.

In Northern Ireland, more than 100 schools were closed.

The AA had been called out to 8200 breakdowns across the UK by mid-afternoon yesterday and patrol officers rescued 57 motorists whose cars got stuck.  - The Daily Record.

'Siberian' winter temperatures predicted to hit Denmark

Wednesday offered "blink and you'll miss it" snow, but the real winter wallop may be coming as early as this weekend. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Scanpix

Storm-strength winds are once again hammering parts of Denmark on Thursday and winter is set to truly make its presence felt next week.

After a beautiful blanket of snow hit parts of Denmark on Wednesday and then disappeared again in about an hour, many were left wondering if and when true winter conditions will set in.

Meteorology institute DMI predicts that winter will truly make its presence felt as early as this weekend, with temperatures falling below the freezing point Saturday night and then remaining there for much of the next week.

The national forecast calls for rain to turn to snow on Sunday, with small amounts predicted through the middle of next week. By late next week, DMI's forecast is short and to the point: "Cold, windy and snow showers."

But those who might welcome some snow and cold should perhaps be careful what they wish for.

DMI warns that cold biting temps might stick around all the way until April due to conditions in the stratosphere that a senior researcher says could bring lingering "Siberian temperatures" to Denmark.

"What's happening in the stratosphere right now is a strong indicator that in the coming period we will primarily experience winds from the east bring low, Siberian temperatures,"
Bo Christensen told Jyllands-Posten.

So yes, it seems that winter is coming to Denmark after all.  - The Local.

Grand Rapids sets new record low temperature

If you were up and outside at 5:30 this morning, you experienced the coldest temperature in 18 years for Grand Rapids.

The temperature briefly dipped to -13 in Grand Rapids at 5:25am. That's the coldest temperature in Grand Rapids since February 4, 1996 when the temperature fell to -17.

Kent City thermometer (Photo: Robert)

This is the second day in a row with record cold temperatures. The previous record for today was -6. The average low this time of year is 18... above. 

WATCH: Records set in West Michigan.

- WZZM13.

Lake Erie's sudden freeze of January 2015

NASA/NOAA satellite image from above the Great Lakes taken just after 1:30 p.m. Monday

Lake Erie was less than six percent frozen last Tuesday with ice covering only a sliver of the lake's western basin.

But, after a week with frigid temperatures in the single digits, heavy lake-effect snows and high winds, Lake Erie is freezing up fast.

Nearly 60 percent of the lake waters were frozen today, according to graphs by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).

Most of the western half of the lake is already under ice coverage.

In some areas - the western basin, along the U.S. and Canadian shorelines, near Long Point, Ont. and close to Buffalo - it's nearly 100 percent iced over, according to GLERL charts.

As Lake Erie iced, so too have the Great Lakes at large.

Just a week ago, more than eight percent of the surface area of all of the lakes was frozen.

But by Monday, nearly one-quarter of the Great Lakes were under ice.

Iced-covered lakes generally choke off the possibility of lake-effect snow such as the events that pummeled areas of Western New York last week at rates of three inches or more of snow per hour.

When the lakes freeze, it robs opportunity for cold unstable air masses to suck up lake waters through evaporation and then drop the moisture, usually in the form of heavy snowfall, over land areas east of the lakes.

The middle of Lake Erie from just east of Cleveland to about Sturgeon Point remains wide open this morning, according to data from GLERL.

Here's a look at how the cold snap of the last week has helped accelerate the average ice concentration on both lakes Erie and Ontario as well as a look at figures for the entire Great Lakes since New Year's Day:

DAY HI/LO @ Buffalo Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes

Jan. 1 32/20 0.7% 0.5% 5.7%
Jan. 2 33/22 1.4% 1.1% 6.9%
Jan. 3 48/22 2.7% 1.3% 8.8%
Jan. 4 55/28 0.8% 0.9% 8.3%
Jan. 5 28/9 3.6% 0.9% 10.8%
Jan. 6 18/10 5.6% 1.0% 11.6%
Jan. 7 17/2 17.1% 1.9% 14.2%
Jan. 8 15/5 25.9% 3.3% 18.7%
Jan. 9 19/9 31.2% 3.4% 15.2%
Jan. 10 18/5 51.5% 4.2% 19.8%
Jan. 11 31/14 55.9% 12.3% 22.5%
Jan. 12 31/15 57.6% 12.2% 25.2%

On Jan. 13, 2014, Lake Erie was 63 percent frozen and Lake Ontario was just 5.9 percent covered in ice. The Great Lakes, as a whole, was 19.6 frozen.

Last winter, the Great Lakes started taking on significant ice buildup in December 2013 but the coverage waxed and waned until the middle of January when it quickly accelerated its freezing.

By March 6, the Great Lakes were 92.2 percent ice covered - the highest concentration since 1979. - The Buffalo News.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Another Day, Another Plane Crash As Transportation Upheavals Continue - Plane Crashes In Peach County, Georgia; One Person Killed, Another Rushed To Hospital!

One dies in Peach plane crash

January 16, 2015 - GEORGIA, UNITED STATES
- One man died and a second one injured in a plane crash Friday morning in Peach County.

That's according to Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.

It happened around 11 a.m., about a mile south of Lane Southern Orchards, off Highway 96 outside Fort Valley.

The crash happened near a landing strip at the intersection of Borders and Buckeye Road. The landing strip, Cameron Field, services a nearby fly-in community, the Plane Living Skypark.

Deese said the plane was attempting to land and apparently came in too low.

He described it as an older-model, single-engine plane, but declined to name the model.

He said FAA investigators are en route from Atlanta and should be here after 4 p.m.

WATCH: Man killed during crash landing in Peach Co.

Deese said the two men are both "local," and witnesses to the crash knew one or both.

He declined to identify the two men until family are notified.

The owner of Cameron Field, David Murphy, declined comment.

Rescue crews removed the victim's body from the scene around 1 p.m.

A second man was rushed to a hospital and was reportedly conscious and alert after the crash. - 13WMAZ.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Seismic Activity Visible Around Sinkhole!

- The following constitutes the latest update from the Assumption Parish Police Jury on the giant Louisiana sinkhole:

An increase in Seismic Activity has been observed in past weeks around the Sinkhole.

Activity occurred sometime last night that indicates water movement as well as a drop in water level within the contained area of the sinkhole.

Increased activity from the Helicorders. Image courtesy of the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) at the University of Memphis

Monitor locations as of October 18, 2013.

There has been no noticeable changes to the trees or surface anywhere around the Sinkhole.

LDOTD has reported no changes being observed in any of the instrumentation placed along Highway 70.

- Assumption Parish Police Jury.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Global Volcanism And Geological Upheavals - Tongan Underwater Volcano Creates SUBSTANTIAL NEW ISLAND!

Smoke rises from a volcano, some 65 kilometres southwest of the South Pacific nation Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa, is shown in this image from
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on January 15, 2015 (AFP Photo/MFAT)

January 16, 2015 - TONGA
- A Tongan volcano has created a substantial new island since it began erupting last month, spewing out huge volumes of rock and dense ash that has killed nearby vegetation, officials said Friday.

The volcano, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of the South Pacific nation's capital Nuku'alofa, rumbled to life on December 20 for the first time in five years, the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry said.

It said the volcano was erupting from two vents, one on the uninhabited island of Hunga Ha'apai and the other underwater about 100 metres offshore.

The ministry said experts took a boat trip to view the eruption on Thursday and confirmed it had transformed the local landscape.

"The new island is more than one kilometre wide, two kilometres long and about 100 metres high," it said in a statement.

Smoke rises from a volcano, some 65 kilometres southwest of the South Pacific nation Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa, is shown in this image from
New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on January 15, 2015 (AFP Photo/MFAT)

"During our observations the volcano was erupting about every five minutes to a height of about 400 metres, accompanied by some large rocks... as the ash is very wet, most is being deposited close to the vent, building up the new island."

It said ash and acidic rain was deluging an area 10 kilometres around the volcano, adding: "Leaves on trees on Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai have died, probably caused by volcanic ash and gases."

WATCH: Underwater volcano continues to spew ash high into the air off Tonga.

A number of international flights were cancelled earlier this week amid concerns about the volcano's ash plume but they resumed on Wednesday, with authorities saying debris from the eruption was not being thrown high into the atmosphere.

Tonga, which is almost 2,000 kilometres northeast of New Zealand, lies on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where continental plates collide causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity. - Yahoo.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: NOAA And NASA Experts - 2014 Was The Warmest Year ON RECORD; Global Average Is The Highest Since 1880; Average Temperature Up 1.24 Degrees Fahrenheit?!

January 16, 2015 - EARTH
- 2014 was the hottest year on record across the globe, US scientists have confirmed.

Last year ranked as the Earth's warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The ten warmest years on record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000, said scientists.

A sculpture called "We're fryin' out here" at a beach in Sydney

Parts of the world experienced record temperatures, including most of Europe and some of Australia, and the US.

The Met Office has already announced that 2014 was the hottest year for the UK in records dating back to 1910.

Data from the US released in November suggested 2014 was on course for record temperatures

In November, preliminary data from the US suggested that 2014 was likely to break temperature records. - BBC.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Retail Industry Collapsing; Target To Shut 133 Canada Stores And Cut Over 17,000 Employees To Stem Massive Losses!

Shopper Laura Steele leaves a Target store in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. More than 17,600 Target employees will eventually lose their jobs when the
U.S. discount retailer closes its 133 Canadian stores after only about two years to end financial losses that went as high as a billion dollars a year. (AP
Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

January 16, 2015 - CANADA
- Target is giving up on its money-losing foray into Canada after just two years, closing 133 stores and cutting loose more than 17,000 employees.

Target said it didn't see how it could stop losing money before at least 2021 on its first international expansion. The closing links Target with a series of other retailers who have learned the hard way that the northern border is tough to cross.

During a call with investors Thursday, CEO Brian Cornell, who took the helm last August and has been charged with turning around the company, described the decision as "very tough."

What went wrong? Cracking the Canadian retail market, about one-tenth the size of the U.S. and right next door, looks simple. Target's difficulties show it's not.

There are costly regulations. In addition, most Canadians live near the U.S. border, compare prices religiously and are willing to shop in the U.S. to save money.

There's also increasing competition. Canadian standbys like Dollarama and Canadian Tire are formidable rivals. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc., already the biggest retailer in Canada, cut prices to fend off Target.

Other retailers have had similar problems in Canada. Big Lots Inc. and Best Buy Co. have closed stores there and Wal-Mart has seen its sales in Canada weaken. Sears Holding Corp. is selling most of its stake in its Canadian unit.

And just on Thursday, Sony Corp. said it is closing all 14 of its stores in Canada.

The well-publicized woes of Target have made Nordstrom take a conservative approach to Canadian expansion. The upscale chain opened its first store last September and plans to have a total of six by 2017.

Only a few years ago, exporting Target's "cheap chic" seemed like a no-brainer because droves of Canadians crossed the border to shop at its U.S. stores.

But problems cropped up almost immediately when it opened more than 100 stores in the first year of its Canadian expansion. Shoppers complained of shortages of basic goods and complained that prices were too high. They also didn't find the brands that they'd seen and liked in U.S. stores. As a result, Target racked up losses as high as a billion dollars a year.

"We missed the mark from the beginning by taking on too much too fast," Cornell said on the Target blog.

A weak holiday season at its Canadian stores was the last straw. To fix the Canadian business, Target told investors Thursday, it would have to invest billions more.

"Target underestimated that the Canadian consumer is a highly sophisticated consumer who cross-border shops," said Antony Karabus, president of Hilco Retail Consulting in Toronto. "It also underestimated the fiercely competitive landscape."

Canadian shoppers were more blunt in their assessment.

"Shame on them for opening here with exorbitant prices compared to the U.S.," said Lauren Tinto, 35, of Toronto. "They think we're idiots or something."

Jeff Barr, a 63-year-old teacher from Thornhill, Ontario, said he wasn't impressed on his visit to a Canadian Target after often shopping at Targets in the U.S.

"The shelves were empty," he said.

Target said Thursday that it expects about $5.4 billion in fourth-quarter losses from discontinued operations in Canada.

Target expects cash costs for the exit to be between $500 million and $600 million. The retailer said it has enough money to fund the costs.

The company said it received court approval to voluntarily make about $59 million in cash contributions into an employee trust to pay for at least 16 weeks of compensation for almost all the Canadian workers.

Target Canada stores will stay open during liquidation.

Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of employment, said the government would assist Target workers with information sessions to ensure they know what services are available to them and what types of jobs are in demand.

Cornell said that the company can now focus on improving its U.S. business and is doubling down on areas like fashion and home furnishings. It's also expanding smaller-format stores and bolstering its online business. Target executives will offer an update to investors in March.

Cornell's predecessor, Gregg Steinhafel, was pushed out last May after a string of problems, from the theft of millions of customers' data to sales woes in the U.S., as well as the failure in Canada.

The company's stock gained $1.34, or nearly 2 percent, to close at $75.67 Thursday.

But employees were feeling the pain at a Target store just east of downtown Toronto.

"It's so sad for us," said Adelle Layon, a Target worker at the Canadian store. "We've been here since the start. We built these shelves. All of us here right now, helped to build it. "

Layon said she and her fellow workers heard the news from managers and after they went into the lunch room, they saw the news on TV.

"No one is happy about it." - AP.

The US Retail Industry is Collapsing: Here’s Why You’re in Trouble

Shopping malls across America are going to look a whole lot emptier soon. An exodus of giant retailers is beginning with the announcement of hundreds of store closures and thousands of people newly unemployed.
The first of January, I broke with my usual tradition and wrote not about positive resolutions, but about the impending rockslide of the US economy. And “rockslide” is an apt word: as one thing starts rolling down the mountain, it will pick up other things until a veritable avalanche of other businesses and people are affected and rolling pell-mell right alongside.

Last year, we saw announcements of the expected closure of some retail giants. In February of 2013, Michael Snyder wrote on The Economic Collapse Blog that we would see the following:
Best Buy
Forecast store closings: 200 to 250
Sears Holding Corp.
Forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
J.C. Penney
Forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Office Depot
Forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble
Forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Forecast store closings: 500 to 600
Forecast store closings: 150 to 175
Forecast store closings: 450 to 550
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. This morning, a World News Daily report announced:
Macy’s is closing 14 of its 790 stores across the country.

JCPenney is closing 39 of its stores and laying off 2,250 workers.

Sears has been around for 122 years, but it, too, is closing 235 under-performing stores.

C. Wonder, the preppy retailer, is going out of business, closing all 11 of its U.S. stores in the next few weeks.

Wet Seal is closing 338 retail stores while dealing with bankruptcy proceedings. Nearly 3,700 full- and part-time workers will be unemployed.

Aeropostale, suffering from declining sales, closed 75 stores during the holiday season, which runs from November through January. And in 2015, they expect to close an additional 50 to 75 stores.

RadioShack, which is negotiating with lenders to gain approval to shutter 1,100 stores, said last month that it closed 175 locations in 2014. (source)
Even holiday sales, normally high, plummeted this Christmas.

How does this affect you?

You may not work in retail yourself, but never doubt that the mass closure of these businesses will directly affect you..

Maybe you are wondering how.  You aren’t much of a shopper. You aren’t a retail worker. Perhaps you believe you can compartmentalize this information, pack it away, and go on with your life as you always have.

The thing is, it’s not just the patrons and employees of these stores who are affected. This is going to be catastrophic on a variety of levels.

Let’s go a little bit deeper.

Think about the people who worked in these stores. Now, they’re without jobs. There will be more competition for the smaller number of jobs in America, and many people will not be able to find work.

They’ll survive by going on assistance, draining the US coffers even more. As formerly employed people search for work that just isn’t there, we’ll see an increase in foreclosures, repossessions, and welfare.

Think about those who provided the inventory for these stores. Yes, I know a lot of it was made in other countries. But, it was imported here and distributed here. Most businesses work on a “Net-30″ basis, meaning the inventory is delivered, and the payment for that inventory is due in 30 days. And guess what? The companies that imported the merchandise aren’t going to get paid. This will ripple through and cause other businesses to go under, which means still more people are unemployed.

Think about those who transport the inventory. Trucking companies and the independent operators who drive the trucks won’t get money owed to them either. As companies struggle to keep trucks on the road, transport costs will go up, which will cause future inventory in stores to be priced higher.

This is how we’ll be affected:

  • The price of everything is going to go up because wary distributors are going to try to recoup what they’ve lost from these companies that went under, while transporters increase prices to try to cover losses.
  • Jobs will be even harder to get than they were previously – and looking at the unemployment rates, it was pretty darned difficult before.
  • When people have no jobs, they spend no money, crushing the manufacturer’s and retailer’s economy even more.
  • As financial desperation increases, so will crime. And it won’t just be property crime – expect an uptick in violence as property owners fight back.
If you don’t live in an entirely self-sufficient bubble, you can bet you’ll be affected in one way or another. - The Daily Sheeple.

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS & NEW WORLD DISORDER: Societal Collapse And Civilizations Unraveling - Heightened Terror Alert Grips The West; Gunman Armed With Kalashnikov Takes Hostages At Post Office Near Paris; 2 Suspects Killed, I Captured In Belgium Raid; Germany Arrests ISIS Fighter; Ohio Man Arrested For Alleged ISIS-Inspired Plot On US Capitol!

January 16, 2015 - UNITED STATES & EUROPE - The United States and European countries are on heightened terror alert, following the Paris shootings that claimed the lives of 17 people.

Gunman armed with Kalashnikov takes hostages at post office near Paris

A suspect in a hostage taking situation raises his arms in the air as he is detained by members of special French RAID forces outside
the post offices in Colombes outside Paris, January 16, 2015.(Reuters / Philippe Wojazer)

Several people were taken hostage by an unknown gunman at a post office in Colombes, a northwest suburb of Paris, French media reported. After negotiations, the assailant handed himself over to police.

The gunman was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, a gun and numerous grenades, French RTL radio reports.

From two to five people were taken hostage, say police sources. The incident took place at about 12:00 GMT.

WATCH: Scenes from new hostage situation in Paris.

After negotiations with the assailant began, reports emerged that an unknown number of hostages was released and the gunman eventually surrendered to police.

BFM TV says no one was injured in the incident.

The hostage-taker “is disappointed in love”, local prefecture told Liberation newspaper, adding that the hostage taker is a customer “who lost his head” and speaks of “heartbreak.”

Sources told AFP that the man was "speaking incoherently".

The gunman is known to police as a petty crime suspect. The officers have secured the perimeter and a helicopter has been deployed to the area of Charles-de-Gaulle boulevard where the post office is situated.

It is not yet clear if the incident is connected with last week’s Paris shootings that left 17 people dead, including journalists and police officers. However, police sources indicate it may be an attempt of armed robbery.

A suspect in a hostage taking situation is detained by members of special French RAID forces outside
the post offices in Colombes outside Paris, January 16, 2015.(Reuters / Philippe Wojazer)

Alexis Bachelay, the deputy of Hauts-de-Seine's first constituency where Colombes commune is located, confirmed the hostage-taking situation.

I am going to the Petit-Colombes [or just Colombes commune] where police have sealed the area after a robbery at Aragon Post Office. There are hostages,” he said on Twitter.

EU anti-terror alert: 2 suspects killed, 1 captured in Belgium raid

Belgian special forces police block a street in central Verviers, a town between Liege and the German border, in the east of Belgium January 15, 2015.
(Reuters / Stringer)

Belgian police have killed two suspects and arrested a third in a raid on a terror cell in Verviers. They were allegedly planning a serious and “imminent” attack. The anti-terror operation is ongoing as Europe is on high alert following attacks in France.

The suspects, all Belgian nationals who are believed to have recently returned from Syria, opened fire at police officers with automatic weapons in an attempted escape.

“They were planning to commit serious terrorist attacks, and to do so imminently,”
Eric Van Der Sypt, a spokesman for the country’s federal prosecutor, said at a briefing in Brussels. "The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised."

“They didn’t even know who was at the door,”
he added. No police or civilians were injured in the shootout.

Belgian TV stations are reporting that the third suspect was wounded and may have died. Meanwhile AFP has quoted a source in the mayor’s office as stating the raid was “jihadist-related.”

"We've averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo,"
an unidentified police officer told La Meuse.

The anti-terrorist operation continues in Belgium as officials raised the threat level to three out of four. Overall, police have searched about a dozen locations across the nation.

Van Der Sypt said that so far the investigations have found no links with the Paris assaults, but said the investigation leading to the raid began before the Paris attacks. Law enforcement allegedly learned of a planned attack through intercepted phone conversations.

“The searches were carried out as part of an investigation into an operational cell, some of whose members had returned from Syria,”
he said. “For the time being, there is no connection with the attacks in Paris.”

Belgian authorities alleged that the cell was planning attacks on police buildings within “hours or days.”

Earlier in the day, authorities said they arrested a suspect in southern Belgium who is believed to have supplied weapons to Amédy Coulibaly, the man who took hostages at a Paris Jewish grocery store following the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Many European countries are on high alert, boosting security measures in the wake of last week’s deadly terror attacks in Paris.

The Italian capital of Rome has become the latest to increase security at local media outlets following the attack on Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. Rome’s prosecutor announced that security measures have been increased at and around other “sensitive places” – including the Vatican, embassies, and tourist attractions, the Local reports. Up to 20 people in Italy are being investigated for their alleged links to extremist cells in Iraq and Syria, according to Italian media reports.

WATCH: Heightened terror alert grips Europe, 2 suspected jihadists killed in Belgium raid.

In Germany, federal prosecutors have confirmed the arrest of a suspected jihadist militant. According to reports, the suspect could be part of a wider cell of Islamic State sympathizers allegedly planning attacks in Germany.

Denmark and Norway are also on alert after a threat was reportedly posted against two Scandinavian countries on a French website.

Following the recent developments, Austria and Spain also are on “high alert,” relying on a general threat level. Transportation hubs – such as airports, seaports, and train stations – as well as energy networks and nuclear power plants have tightened up security.

UK security services are also taking precautionary measures and have increased security after counter-terrorism officials reportedly uncovered a plot to abduct a serving police officer or soldier on UK soil and broadcast their brutal murder on the web.

Germany arrests suspected ISIS fighter amid investigation into wider group

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Reuters / Stringer)

Authorities in Lower Saxony have confirmed the arrest of a suspected jihadist militant. According to reports, the suspect could be part of a wider cell of Islamic State sympathizers allegedly planning attacks in Germany.

Federal prosecutors in Germany have confirmed that the State Criminal Investigation Department has arrested a suspect in the city of Wolfsburg. However, they denied a threat of “serious subversive violence” in Germany.

The arrested suspect, named as a 26-year-old German-Tunisian Ayoub B, has undergone “combat training for the militant jihad” and “recruited more fighters for the association” during a nearly three-month stay in Syria between late May and mid-August 2014, the prosecutors announced, according to Welt.

He is allegedly one of the seven members of a 50-member cell which traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State, Bild reported earlier.

The President of the Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA), Uwe Kolmey, confirmed the investigation into the suspect's extremist activities is ongoing, but said there is no evidence that the suspect had planned attacks in Germany.

German former ISIS fighter Ayoub B. from Wolfsburg arrested by a special police unit. Charged for terror plans.

In total, there are 12 ongoing investigations into the Islamist “group” in Baden-Wuerttemberg state, Kolmey added, emphasizing that it is not a “terror cell,” according to NDR.

Meanwhile, LKA officials reportedly searched several homes of Islamists in Pforzheim, a town of nearly 120,000 inhabitants in Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany, on Thursday morning.

The head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Maren Brandenburger, pointed out that their authority has "no concrete evidence” of threats to Germany. "So we now have no real fear," she said. The activities of Salafists in Wolfsburg are well known and are observed by the intelligence community, Brandenburger told German N-TV.

A spokesman for the Lower Saxony branch of BfV told the station that authorities are currently aware of some 40 people from Lower Saxony that "have left the country in the direction of Syria" to become involved with ISIS.

Meanwhile, Wolfsburg Mayor Klaus Mohr has warned the public against panic. Although there are some known IS sympathizers in the city, he emphasized that most of the Muslim community is strongly opposed to any extremism.

"The overwhelming large number of Muslim citizens also thinks and acts completely differently [than IS sympathizers],"
Mohr said, according to Welt.

Overall, German officials believe around 550 nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Islamic State, raising fears of possible attacks on home soil when they return.

Ohio man arrested for ‘plotting’ ISIS-inspired attack on Capitol

Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was arrested on charges of attempting to kill a U.S. government official in an alleged plot to attack.

The FBI has arrested an Ohio man for allegedly planning to detonate a series of bombs aimed at lawmakers and public officials in Washington, DC, according to an ABC News report. The plan was reportedly inspired by the Islamic State.

Little is currently known about Christopher Lee Cornell, who also goes by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, but officials told ABC that he viewed American lawmakers as enemies. He has been charged with attempting to kill a US public official.

Specifically, Cornell is accused of planning an assault on the US Capitol that included setting off pipe bombs and using firearms to shoot officials and others after those explosives were detonated.

Prior to his arrest, 20-year-old Cornell was allegedly taking the “final steps” in his plan – setting up travel arrangements to DC, buying two semi-automatic weapons and 600 rounds of ammunition. Court documents also stated that he made contact with an FBI informant, meeting twice in person last year. During these meetings, Cornell told the informant of his intention to attack the Capitol.

The same informant originally told the FBI about Cornell after noticing posts on Twitter expressing support for the Islamic State (also known as ISIS/ISIL). Cornell also allegedly posted similar thoughts on message boards.

“I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything,”
Cornell allegedly wrote online, the FBI said. “I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves."

Following Cornell’s arrest, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security alerted law enforcement about the case.

"The alleged activities of Cornell highlight the continued interest of US-based violent extremists to support designated foreign terrorist organizations overseas, such as ISIL, by committing terrorist acts in the United States,"
the notification reads. "Terrorist group members and supporters will almost certainly continue to use social media platforms to disseminate English language violent extremist messages."

- RT.