Tuesday, December 23, 2014

ICE AGE NOW: Monumental Weather Anomalies - Japan And India Hit By Snowfall Crisis During "Hottest Year On Record"?!

December 23, 2014 - ASIA
- Climate scientists are saying 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record. But tell that to people living in Japan and India who are suffering through heavy snowfall now hammering communities.

India’s famed tourist destination Kullu-Manali has seen heavy snowfall that has disrupted the area’s electricity, telecommunications lines and transportation. According to the Indian Express, Kullu-Manali has seen “roads blocked by snow and fallen trees/electricity poles and hoteliers facing huge cancellations ahead of the Christmas and New Year eve rush.”

All this from the area’s first snowfall of the year. But for six days the tourist towns had no power supply and thousands of visitors were forced to cancel their stay this holiday season. Some 6,000 tourists were stuck in Manali last weekend, suffering through two feet of snow and subzero temperatures on Sunday night.

But that’s a small price to pay compared to some Japanese towns that got around six feet of snow last week, according to news reports. As of Friday, 11 people had died in traffic accidents or weather-related deaths during the record snowfall, according to Arirang News.

“Japan’s weather agency had advised residents against venturing outdoors as the snowstorm shuttered schools and public transportation and grounded hundreds of flights,” Arirang News reported.

In the Niigata Prefecture, the town of Tsunan saw about six feet, eight inches of snow. The town of Nagano Nozawaonsen got about six feet of snow and Gunma Minakami got about five feet, seven inches of snow last week.

Last month, U.S. cities and town across the Midwest and Northeast got hit with record low temperatures and record levels of snowfall.

Record snowfall around Buffalo, N.Y. killed 14 people last month as more than six feet of snow buried some communities. The snowfall was so thick there were even flood warnings and driving bans imposed to keep people of the roads and safe.

The Weather Channel noted that Caribou, Maine saw its earliest-in-season double-digit snowfall on record at 10.1 inches on Nov. 2. St. Cloud, Minn. saw the highest level of snow for a single day in November at 13.2 inches.

“After Winter Storm Bozeman dumped the heaviest November snowstorm of record in Boise, Idaho (7.6 inches on Nov. 13-14), heavy snow clobbered many of the lake-effect snowbelts, particularly western New York, northern Lower Michigan, and the state’s Upper Peninsula,” the Weather Channel reported.

All this during a year that climate scientists are saying will be the hottest on record based on surface temperature readings.

“The first ten months of 2014 (January–October) were the warmest such period since record keeping began in 1880,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. “2014 is currently on track to be the warmest year on record.”

Satellite records show that 2014 will not be the warmest year on record, but satellites are not used by government weather and climate agencies to make their average global temperature estimates.

Antarctic sea ice coverage also beat scientists expectations this year. South pole sea ice broke 7.7 million square miles of coverage in October for the first time since records began in 1979.

“It’s not expected,” John Turner, a climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey, told The Guardian. “The world’s best 50 models were run and 95% of them have Antarctic sea ice decreasing over the past 30 years.” - Daily Caller.

WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: "They Just Would Stagger Around The Yard, And They'd End Up Dying" - Birds In Central Michigan Are Dying Due To Decades-Old DDT Pollution!

American robin found in Kniffen's neighbor's yard in 2014. Volunteers collect the birds to have them tested for neurotoxicity.  © Teri Kniffen's video

December 23, 2014 - MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES
- All this week we're bringing you stories about the chemical company responsible for the PBB tragedy in Michigan. Michigan Chemical accidentally contaminated the state's food supply in the 1970s, but the legacy of that company is still very much with us today.

Michigan Chemical - which later became Velsicol Chemical - made more than just PBB, and it left these toxic chemicals behind in St. Louis, Michigan.

One woman insists something is wrong with the birds

Teri Kniffen and her family moved to St. Louis in 1994. She had heard about Velsicol Chemical and the PBB tragedy in Michigan, but when they bought their house, they didn't realize they were moving right next to where the old plant site was buried.

In 2001, she started noticing dying robins in her yard.

"When I'd go out in the backyard, and get near them, they wouldn't move," says Kniffen. "They just would stagger around the yard, and they'd end up dying."

Kniffen said she would find around 10 to 12 dead birds a year - mostly American robins. She said she tried to get officials from the MDEQ and the EPA to test the birds, but they mostly ignored her. An MDEQ official told her to collect the dead birds in her freezer, but she says by the time they came to collect them four years later, she was told the birds could not be tested.

So two years ago, Kniffen had the birds tested herself at MSU, and the birds tested positive for acute DDT and DDE poisoning.

Kniffen videotaped the birds as well. Here's what she and her neighbors would see (this video might be disturbing for some viewers):

WATCH: Robins dying of DDT poisoning in St. Louis, Michigan.

Velsicol Chemical leaves its mess behind

For more than 40 years until it closed in 1978, Velsicol Chemical made all kinds of chemicals - including DDT. The company is long gone. The story is a familiar one. It was bought out, and then the company that bought it, Fruit of the Loom, went bankrupt.

So the old company ceased to exist, but its chemicals are still here in this small town
in the center of the Lower Peninsula.

Air deposition is one way people believe the chemicals spread. People who lived in St. Louis at the time the plant was in operation often describe a white dust that would settle on the neighborhood at times. That could be one way the chemicals from the plant got into the ground. Others tell stories of the company offering free fill dirt to neighbors.

Birds tell a story of what's underground

Matt Zwiernik is a wildlife toxicologist at Michigan State University. He tested the two birds Kniffen first brought to MSU in 2012. Then in 2013, his team studied the birds and their nests in and around St. Louis.

All the adult birds they collected in a nine-block area around the old chemical plant had also been poisoned.

"These concentrations from my literature search are the greatest ever reported in wild birds," says Zwiernik. "When they arrive in May and by June they're dying of convulsions, and they've got ten times the concentration in their brain that causes death in laboratory animals, you can assume that DDT caused it."

More interesting, Zwiernik notes, are their findings on the birds' nests. They monitored 60 nests in the nearby neighborhood, and downstream from the chemical plant.

The team found low hatchling success rates, meaning the robins had a hard time reproducing in these areas.

Zwiernik recently presented his findings at a conference. He said people were shocked that this was happening in 2014.

"I was shocked as well. I've been doing this for 15 years now.... Many, many studies over seven years, trying to find subtle differences ... and in this one it really just hits you over your head. You don't need a giant study design to get your answer. You can test your hypothesis in one year with 29 samples. It's nothing like I've seen in my career."

An ailing robin fledging in Teri Kniffen's yard in St. Louis, Michigan in June of 2013. Some of the highest levels of DDT ever recorded
in bird livers and brains were found in this neighborhood. © Teri Kniffen

Cleanup was planned, but bird study helped score funding

Zwiernik's study was paid for by a community group pushing for more cleanup in St. Louis. The Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force gave Zwiernik $15,000 for his study.

The EPA and the state have known about the nasty chemicals in the neighborhood since around 2006. Some areas had been fenced off because the DDT levels were unsafe for people.

And before MSU's bird study, officials had decided that the yards in the nine-block area should be cleaned.

But federal Superfund money is tight. What money there is goes to the worst sites first. News of the dying robins helped build the case that this place needed the money.

Contaminated yards in a nine-block area in St. Louis, Michigan are being dug up. After the soil is removed, new sod is brought in.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The EPA is cleaning up the yards now. It will likely spend around $12 million to excavate and replace soil in the affected areas.

Fifty-two homes had their soil excavated and replaced this year. The EPA hopes to complete another 45 homes next year.

The EPA believes, through its soil testing, that most of the contamination sits in this nine-block area, but it's beginning to test the soil outside of this neighborhood.

Searching for the boundary of pollution in St. Louis

In the meantime, volunteers in the community continue to collect the birds they find. The 2013 study found a couple of robins outside the nine-block area that had elevated levels of DDT. Those birds were collected by a mailman in St. Louis.

Zwiernik doesn't have the funding to continue his study, so the birds that are collected now are tested by the state.

Last July, I went out with Terry Jelenek to collect a dead robin.

Terry Jelenek is one of the volunteers who collects dead robins in St. Louis. The community wants to know whether birds outside the nine-block area they know about are being affected by DDT. Terry Jelenek is one of the volunteers who collects dead robins in St. Louis. The community wants to know whether birds outside the nine-block area they know about are being affected by DDT.

Terry Jelenek is one of the volunteers who collects dead robins in St. Louis. The community wants to know whether birds outside the
nine-block area they know about are being affected by DDT.  Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The robin that he was collecting was young, a fledgling. It sat outside the nine-block area, but less than a mile from the old chemical plant.

Jelenek put the bird in a sterilized bottle, and recorded all kinds of data. He and other volunteers were trained by Zwiernik in how to collect the samples.

Then, the bird goes in a freezer so it can later be tested. In 2014, three birds were collected. One inside the nine-block area likely died of neurotoxicity from DDT. One was too decayed to do analysis on, and the one collected in the photo showed signs of DDT exposure, but likely did not die from the chemical.

"This study has been great for St. Louis, cleaning it up," says Jelenek.

The EPA and the state will be here for a long time trying to clean things up, and the robins arriving in the spring could help pinpoint where the problems are. - Michigan Radio.

ICE AGE NOW: "Ice Is Everywhere" On The Yellow River - One Of China's Largest Waterfalls Freezes Over In "Incredibly Cold Weather"!

China's recent cold snap as given some added icy glamour to an old landmark

December 23, 2014 - CHINA
- Tourists have been flocking to a section of China's Yellow River in far greater numbers recently as part of the Hukou Waterfall has frozen over in the incredibly cold weather.

With temperatures dropping to as low as -12° Celsius, part of China's second-largest waterfall has become a wall of ice, making it seem like someone has emptied the contents of a fire extinguisher over the entire scene.

The Hukou Waterfall is situated where the provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi meet and it is roughly 66-ft high.

Located on China's Yellow River - the third-longest on the continent - the waterfall is hugely popular among tourists and the recent cold snap in the area has not deterred many visitors now keen to see the natural phenomenon in its new guise as an ice palace.

WATCH: Waterfall freezes over.

One tourist told reporters, "Ice is everywhere. Icicles on the waterfall; everywhere. I did not know the Yellow River could be frozen so it's surprising. I came here specifically for the stunning view of the Yellow River."

While some may be in a hurry to see "Hukou on ice", temperatures in the far west of China may drop even further. Two years ago, the mercury fell to -40° Celsius, so the waterfall could freeze over entirely by the onset of Spring. - Independent.

ICE AGE NOW: Excessive Snow Removed From Ski Slopes In Norway - "More Snow In The Last Two Days Than We Had In The Last Two Years Altogether"!

December 23, 2014 - NORWAY
- Too much snow around the ski lifts.

"During the last two days we've got more snow than we had in the last two years together," says a victorious Vegar Sårheim. "I had never believed we would experience this."

Late Saturday night he worked together with the trail crew in Breimsbygda Ski Centre Utvikfjellet feverishly removing the snow around the ski lifts.

We face the greatest challenges around the lifts, because for security reasons there must be two feet clearance.

So we need shoveling away large amounts of snow, says Sårheim.

We have received about 1.5 meters of snow in a short period of time.

And the forecast until Christmas is that there will come much more.

So once we have cleared away this snow, we will face a fantastic Christmas.

Sårheim sees the humor in that slopes actually need to remove snow. Yes, this I had never imagined that I would experience that.

Thanks to Argiris Diamantis for this link

- Ice Age Now.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Comet 15P/Finlay Explodes In Brightness - Will Pass By Planet Mars On December 23rd And 24th!

December 23, 2014 - SPACE
- Last week, faint Comet 15P/Finlay exploded in brightness.

You still can't see it with the naked eye, but the comet's surge from magnitude +11 to +8.7 suddenly makes it an attractive target for medium to large backyard telescopes.

UK astrophotographer Damian Peach took this picture (above) using 20-inch optics on Dec. 19th.

"There were some nice jets present following the outburst," he says.

Consider this perfect timing: The outburst occurred just as the comet is passing by Mars. On Dec. 23rd and 24th, 15P/Finlay will be 1/6th of a degree from the Red Planet.

Astrophotographers interested in a photo-op can find the pair in he southwestern sky just after sunset. - Space Weather.

ICE AGE NOW: Mini-Ice Age 2015-2035 - How The Media Mis-Directs You From Natural Influences On The Climate!

December 23, 2014 - EARTH
- Many stories in media outlets seem to purposely misdirect and cloud the possibility of natural influences that drive Earth's climate.

Our Sun does have a major influence on heating and cooling as it has had over the last several million years, but now every event seems to have a Man-Made stamp on it.

I have dissected this Guardian Unlimited article to what the authors claim and what observed science says. The graphs and information should open your eyes even further to the misdirection that is taking place.

WATCH: How Media Mis-directs You From Natural Influences on Climate.

- Adapt 2030.

WAR ON MOTHER NATURE: Wind Company PacifiCorp Energy Convicted In The Deaths Of Eagles And Other Birds - Company Recently Sued Federal Government To Keep Its Bird Death Data Secret!

Wind turbines near Medicine Bow, Wyoming | Photo: Wyoming Jackrabbit/Flickr/Creative Commons License

December 23, 2014 - UNITED STATES
- A Portland-based wind energy company that recently sued the federal government to keep its bird death data secret has been convicted in federal court over deaths of protected birds at two of its wind facilities in Wyoming.

The carcasses of 38 golden eagles were found at PacifiCorp Energy's "Seven Mile Hill" and "Glenrock/Rolling Hills" installations in Carbon and Converse counties between 2009 and this year, along with 336 other birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, PacificCorp disregarded risk to eagles and other birds when it built its turbines at the two facilities.

"PacifiCorp Energy built two of its Wyoming wind projects in a manner it knew would likely result in the deaths of eagles and other protected birds," said Sam Hirsch, the U.S Department of Justice's Acting Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources.

Earlier this year PacifiCorp filed suit in Federal District Court in Utah to keep USFWS from releasing data on bird mortalities at its 13 wind facilities, claiming the information was proprietary. Energy produced by the 237 wind turbines at Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills is consumed by customers of PacifiCorp's affiliated utility Pacific Power, including Californians in Del Norte, Modoc, Shasta, and Siskiyou counties.

USFWS officials say that PacificCorp, which pled guilty Friday to charges of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, has been cooperating with investigators. The company has agreed to apply for eagle take permits under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and will be paying $2.5 million in fines and "community service" mitigation payments.

The company will also be obliged to draft a mitigation plan to reduce the risk to birds from Seven Mile Hill, Glenrock/Rolling Hills, and two other Wyoming wind facilities.

"Improperly sited and operated wind energy facilities can kill significant numbers of federally protected birds and other species," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, urging developers to follow the Service's Land-based Wind Energy Guidelines. "That's why it's imperative that wind energy developers work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to minimize these impacts at every stage in the process."  - KCET.

ICE AGE NOW: Chicago On Track To Break Sunshine Shortage Record - No Direct Sunshine For 15 DAYS; Only 33 MINUTES Since December 12!

December 23, 2014 - CHICAGO, UNITED STATES
- If the thought of entering another Chicago winter isn't depressing enough, meteorologists say the city is on track to have one of the gloomiest Decembers in its history.

There has been no direct sunshine recorded in Chicago for 15 days this month, according to Frank Wachowski, who mans the official North West Side Midway Airport sunlight observatory.

Since Dec. 12, the city has seen only 33 minutes of sunshine, which peeked through the clouds Thursday.

That puts December 2014 on track to break the record for darkest December since 1975, when the National Weather Service recorded 19 percent sun exposure. As of Monday, Wachowski had recorded 16 percent sun exposure this month.

The record for darkest month ever in Chicago was November 1985, when sunlight hit the city for 16 percent of the month.

Percentages are determined by dividing the total number of hours between sunrise and sunset by the minutes of exposed sunshine recorded with monitoring equipment, Wachowski said.

Wachowski, 77, is a retired meteorologist, but since 1980 he has recorded sunshine data with official transistor sensors mounted atop his home in southwest suburban Burbank. He set up his home operation after the National Weather Service abandoned sunshine monitoring in the early 1980s, allowing him to keep the equipment and monitor data independently.

Wachowski said that in part, the lack of snowfall could be to blame. If a snowstorm blows through Chicago, the tightly packed cloud cover might dissipate. In the meantime, the clouds have been locked between a layer of cold air close to the ground with warmer air above the clouds.

"When you have an inversion, you have low clouds that stick around," Wachowski said. "Lack of wind contributes to giving us this situation," he said, along with unseasonably high temperatures, which this year have been 2 degrees to 2.5 degrees above average for December.

Essentially, "winds blew clouds in early in the month, and they stayed there," said Bill Nelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service who monitors the Chicago area.

Meteorologist Frank Wachowski and the National Weather Service graphed this month's sunshine exposure data in the Chicago area.

Wachowski said there's an interest in tracking the sunshine shortage in part because of how extended periods of darkness can effect people.

"When it's cloudy like this, it does have an effect on people," he said. "It is kind of gloomy, you feel tired all the time."

Limited exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D common during the winter months can trigger a subtype of depression called seasonal affective disorder, according to a statement from Northwestern Medicine psychiatrist Pedro Dago, who studies the effects of sunlight deprivation at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"SAD is not just a case of the winter blues, but a serious problem for many people, and it can be treated," he said.

Dago said treatments include sleeping more, eating healthily and exercising, and increasing exposure to sunlight, which might be tricky this month.

Wachowski also hypothesized that the temperature inversion - warm air below the clouds with cold air above them - could be contributing to the flu outbreak that's sickened Chicagoans and especially CPS students in large numbers this season.

"There seems to be a correlation, because when you have temps in the teens, you kill all the viruses and germs. Here, we have more moisture in the air," making it easier for germs to linger and spread, he said.

Weather patterns suggest that if any sunlight does peek out this month, it would be on Christmas Day, when a storm system might pass through Chicago, breaking up some of the cloud cover.

Still, Wachowski said it's "quite conceivable" that December 2014 will break the record set in 1975. So we've got that going for us, which is nice. - DNA Info.