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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:19 pm 
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Severe heatwave: drought and wildfires destroy Russian harvest

MOSCOW – Russia is currently in the grips of an extremely strong heat wave. City and town residents are suffocating from the sweltering heat. For example, it is about 30 degrees in Moscow with prospects of the thermometer going up in the next few days. The heat wave situation is aggravated by wild fires producing clods of poisonous smoke. The wood rich Siberian taiga near Krasnoyarsk is fighting 83 fires on the territory of 12.130 hectares. As for rural Russia, that only last year was the world’s third-biggest grain producer, it suffers colossal damages. It threats to destroy a significant part of the crops. If last year’s harvest amounted to 94 million tons, this year it is a predicted at 80 to 85 million. Given the situation, earlier in July the Agriculture Ministry had to revise its harvest predictions. As Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes, the hardest hit are the important grain-producing areas including Kuban, Stavropol, Volgograd, Volga, Rostov-on-Don, Lipetsk, Penza, Ulyanovsk, Kurgan and Altai. Nevertheless, Arkady Zlochevsky, president of the Russian Grain Union thinks that “The risks are there, but then there is a chance to avoid them.” Zlochevksy added that there will be 85 million tons of crops and the size of the harvest would depend on the weather. With the leftover stocks from previous harvests, the export potential will then be about 18-20 million tons. Although this is less than last year, when the country exported more than 26 million tons, it is still better than 2010, when the droughts and wild fires in Russia ruined about a third of all the grain harvested and the country had to impose an embargo on grain exports. The area of Russia’s irrigated fields is about 2.5 million hectares, and Russia has 44 million hectares of land under spring crops this year. “The biggest losses are not caused by the weather, it is rather the failure to comply with production rules in bad weather,” said Zlochevsky. On the other hand Oleg Sukhanov, head of the market analysis unit at the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, thinks that Russia may gather in only 77 million tons of grain. And, Sukhanov said, “that is not the worst-case scenario.” His forecast is worrisome as Russia’s annual domestic consumption amounts to 67 million to 72 million tons. As is expected this year Russia may consume up to 68.5 million tons of grain and so, considering the remaining stocks from previous years, Sukhanov’s institute colleagues are putting the Russian grain export potential this year at a mere 13.5 million tons

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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Scores of wild peacocks die in Pakistani desert

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Dozens of wild peacocks have died suddenly in Pakistan, prompting experts to fear an outbreak of the highly contagious Newcastle disease. Officials on Monday confirmed the deaths of at least 60 peacocks in Thar desert, part of southern Sindh province, over the last week. Local media reports say more than 100 of the exotic birds have died. The wildlife ministry said tests were being done to diagnose the cause of death, but said the wild peacocks had been weakened by starvation, deforestation and a lack of safe drinking water blamed on delays to the annual monsoon rains. “Wild peacocks have become susceptible to bacterial and fungal attack, which further suppressed the immunity of the birds that paved the room for viral attack,” it said. Experts are alarmed by the number of deaths, suspecting they may have been afflicted with Newcastle disease, known locally as ranikhet. “We are vaccinating wild peacocks protectively for suspected viral disease, as in 2003 when a few peacocks died from the same symptoms that later proved to be ranikhet,” said Lajpat Sharma, an official in the provincial wildlife ministry. Tahir Qureshi of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also told AFP that he suspected ranikhet was to blame. Newcastle disease is a worldwide problem among birds and sporadic outbreaks can occur frequently. Affected birds suffer from loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing, diarrhoea, and in severe outbreaks a high proportion die.

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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:48 pm 
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Wildfires blaze across drought-plagued Oklahoma


Wildfires burned out of control on Friday in Oklahoma, destroying homes and shutting down highways in a state that has suffered 18 straight days of 100-plus degree temperatures and persistent drought. Emergency officials counted 11 different wildfires around the state, with at least 65 homes destroyed in parched areas north and south of Oklahoma City and south of Tulsa. Oklahoma joins several states that have been plagued by wildfires this summer, including Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska. Fires are being fed by a widespread drought. Nearly two-thirds of the contiguous United States was under some level of drought as of July 31, according to the Drought Monitor, a weekly report compiled by U.S. climate experts. Interstate 44, historic Route 66 and state highways were closed, but no deaths were reported in the Oklahoma fires. Low humidity, strong southerly winds and drought conditions enabled the wildfires to spread quickly across treetops, said Michelann Ooten, deputy director of the state's Office of Emergency Management. “It's just a very difficult situation we're facing that's all weather related,” Ooten said. Governor Mary Fallin, who earlier in the day invoked a statewide ban on outdoor burning after declaring a state of emergency for the state's 77 counties, told Reuters fire conditions may be worse on Saturday. “The fire danger might be even higher,” she said. Oklahoma has contacted neighboring states for help, but they are contending with their own wildfire threats and no out-of-state help is on its way, she said. “There's fires in Arkansas. There's fires in Kansas and Texas. Everybody else is on high heat alert,” she said. The heat in Oklahoma City, the state capital, has reached historic levels. On Friday, Oklahoma City tied its all-time record for the highest temperature ever recorded when the thermometer reached 113 Fahrenheit (45 Celsius), a mark last recorded in the Dust Bowl days in 1936, according to the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma.

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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:59 pm 
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U.S. suffers through hottest July since records were kept in 1895

The July heat wave that wilted crops, shriveled rivers and fueled wildfires officially went into the books Wednesday as the hottest single month on record for the continental United States. The average temperature across the Lower 48 was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 1936, by two-tenths of a degree, NOAA said. In addition, the seven months of 2012 to date are the warmest of any year on record and were drier than average as well, NOAA said. U.S. forecasters started keeping records in 1895.And the past 12 months have been the warmest of any such period on record, topping a mark set between July 2011 and this past June. Every U.S. state except Washington experienced warmer-than-average temperatures, NOAA reported. The high temperatures have contributed to a ‘rapid expansion’ of drought across the central United States, NOAA found. Dozens of cities and towns already have seen the mercury hit record levels this summer, and three states -- Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas -- saw record dry conditions between May and July. That's battered American farmers' corn and soybean crops, driven farmers to sell or slaughter cattle they can't feed and spurred the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate more than half of all U.S. counties as disaster zones.





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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:09 pm 
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Lightning strike kills 13 and wounds 20 in Bangladesh


At least 13 devotees have been killed by lightning outside a mosque in northeastern Bangladesh.

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At least 13 people were killed and 20 wounded when lightning struck a makeshift mosque in a remote village in northeast Bangladesh on Friday, police said. The lightning strike occurred as people gathered for a special evening prayer known as taraweeh that is conducted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Multiple lightning strikes occurred during a storm when nearly 35 people gathered at a house in the village of Saraswati where they turned a tin roof shed into a makeshift mosque for the month of Ramadan as a regular mosque was far away,” Dharmapasha police chief Bayes Alam told CNN. The village Saraswati is some 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital of Dhaka. Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen the Saraswati River, making access to the village difficult. “As boats were the only mode of transport to go out of the village, it took several hours to take the critically wounded people to the hospital,” said Akm Mezanul Haque, the officer-in-charge of the Modhyanagar police station, who joined the rescue operation. Of the 13 killed by the lightning strike, Mohammad Shahabuddin, the imam, and two others died at the mosque, Alam said. Ten others were declared dead at a Dharmapasha area hospital, he said. Area residents and police took the wounded, many in critical condition, to the area hospital.


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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:17 pm 
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Rare snowfall stuns residents of Johannesburg, South Africa


People slowly came outside despite the cold wind Tuesday across South Africa, pointed their mobile phone cameras to the sky and opened their mouths to taste a rare snowfall that fell on much of the country. The snow began Tuesday morning, part of an extreme cold snap now biting into a nation still in its winter months. By mid-afternoon, officials recorded snowfall across most of South Africa. However, forecasters acknowledged snow remains so unusual that they typically aren't prepared to provide details about snowfall in the nation. The snow closed some roads and at least one high-altitude pass. The snowfall also closed several border posts in the country. As the snow fell, workers at offices in Johannesburg rushed outside. Some twirled and danced as the flakes fell. One man rushed to the top of a snow-covered hill and slid down, using a cardboard box as an improvised toboggan. Despite the cold and the snow, beggars who line traffic lights in the city continued to ask passing motorists for cash. The snow grew heavier in the afternoon in Johannesburg, covering rooftops and slicking roads. Snowflakes are a rare commodity in Johannesburg, even during winter. South African Weather Service records show it has snowed in Johannesburg on only 22 other days in the last 103 years. The last snow fell there in June 2007. In Pretoria, the country's capital, flurries filled the sky during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was the first snowfall there since 1968, the weather service said. The cold weather is expected to last a few days


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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:54 pm 
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Hundreds of thousands of dead fish ashore near Galveston, Tx


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Hundreds of thousands of dead fish have washed up on the beach in Galveston, where crews went to work Monday to remove the dead fish. Peter Davis of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol said Sunday the small shad fish likely were killed by low oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico. Davis estimated hundreds of thousands of fish have died. Galveston County health officials said the water is fine for beachgoers. Biologist Steven Mitchell with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said calm conditions and summer heat may have contributed to the fish kill. He said there's a possibility of a dead zone in the water off Galveston. Though testing is expected this week, some officials are already blaming the fish kill on red tide.


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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:56 pm 
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Radiation crisis: ‘Severe abnormalities’ found in Fukushima butterflies

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Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests. Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident. The link between the mutations and the radioactive material was shown by laboratory experiments, they report. The work has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Two months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in March 2011, a team of Japanese researchers collected 144 adult pale grass blue (Zizeeria maha) butterflies from 10 locations in Japan, including the Fukushima area. When the accident occurred, the adult butterflies would have been overwintering as larvae. By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes. “It has been believed that insects are very resistant to radiation,” said lead researcher Joji Otaki from the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa. “In that sense, our results were unexpected,” he told BBC News. The Japanese researchers have been studying the species for more than a decade. Prof Otaki’s team then bred these butterflies within labs 1,750km (1,090 miles) away from the accident, where artificial radiation could hardly be detected. It was by breeding these butterflies that they began noticing a suite of abnormalities that hadn’t been seen in the previous generation – that collected from Fukushima – such as malformed antennae, which the insects use to explore their environment and seek out mates.



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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:11 am 
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62 wildfires blaze through Western U.S. states


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Whipped by high winds, a wildfire in central Washington state has scorched 26,500 acres and destroyed at least 60 homes, officials said Tuesday. The fire raging near Cle Elum is one of several devastating Western states this week. Colorado paid the price earlier this summer. Now, new wildfires are burning through sagebrush, grass and beetle-killed lodgepole pines in California, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and Idaho. In all, 62 fires, including 16 new large fires, were burning as of Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service reported. They have destroyed dozens of homes and are threatening many more. Washington's Taylor Bridge Fire began as a brush fire Monday afternoon. By midnight, it had swallowed up 16,000 acres, and by Tuesday, 16,500 acres, or 41 square miles, were burning. Authorities have already evacuated people near the Taylor Bridge Fire and called for more evacuations Tuesday, according to the Kittitas County Fire & Rescue District 7. CNN affiliate KING reported 400 homes have been evacuated as winds shifted, blowing toward several pockets of homes and subdivisions. In Idaho, a blaze has killed a 20-year-old firefighter. Two other firefighters have been injured in Oregon and California. Anne Veseth died Sunday while fighting the Steep Canyon Fire near Orofino, said Phil Sammon of the Forest Service. He said the death was accidental but could not confirm how it happened. However, CNN affiliate KTVB said Veseth was killed by a falling tree. Residents of Veseth's hometown, Moscow, remembered the young college student as someone who always gave back to community. “This is a stark reminder of how dangerous the business is that we are in,” Sammon said. “We are extremely saddened by this loss.” Residents evacuate as hundreds of fire fighters battle California wildfires. On Tuesday, the fire danger spiked with searing temperatures and single-digit humidity across Western states. In some places, winds were gusting up to 40 miles per hour.



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 Post subject: Re: NATURE GOES NUTS
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 4:20 pm 
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Asia facing another back-to-back typhoon threat



August 21, 2012 – ASIA - If the typhoon turns as forecast, its eye may make landfall on Taiwan's east coast Thursday, according to the weather bureau. As of 8 a.m., the eye of Tembin was located 620 kilometers southeast of Eluanbi, off the southernmost tip of Taiwan, moving at a speed of 8 km per hour in a northerly direction. Tembin, the 14th storm of the Pacific typhoon season, is packing winds of 119 kph, with gusts of up to 155 kph, and has a radius of 150 km, the bureau said. The typhoon is likely to move toward Taiwan on a northwesterly track Tuesday and take a more westerly turn Wednesday, the bureau said. A sea warning for Tembin is likely to be issued Tuesday morning and areas around Taiwan should be prepared for strong winds and heavy rain Wednesday to Friday, the bureau warned. Meanwhile, a tropical depression that formed near Guam on Sunday was still located 2,300 km from Taiwan as of 8 a.m. Monday and it may strengthen into a tropical storm over the next two days, the bureau said. –

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