Illuminating Tweets: Northern Lights Tracked via Twitter

By: Maria Vargas

The northern lights are caused by a mass expulsion from the sun. These solar storms send a stream of charged particles toward Earth. Our planet’s magnetic field deflects these particles creating a wind filled with particles. The different colors of the aurora are caused by the various gasses in the atmosphere. The most common colors seen are green and red aurora lights which are formed from collisions with oxygen.

Spotting the aurora borealis have been getting easier thanks to Twitter. People have been getting so amused by these lights that they stay up all night to track them down. Tweets provide accurate and timely alerts on the appearance on auroras. Many scientists such as one from NASA, monitors the auroral activity through tweets. Another famous tracking website is Auroasaurus.org. Fanatics can download it via the app store and follow up with aurora sightings. There people can post photos and receive real-time aurora alerts. The website also scans tweets that are aurora reports and posts it in the website.

aureo borealis

Source: http://www.livescience.com/50840-mapping-aurora-from-twitter.html

Nearly 200 Whales Stranded on New Zealand Beach

By: Mercedes Pliego

Picture of a worker tending to a whale stranded on Farewell Spit, a famous spot for whale beachings, in Golden Bay on New Zealand's South Island<br />

Rescuers tried to save about 200 pilot whales that were stranded on New Zealand’s South Island. There were at least two dozen whales that were reported dead. Pilot whales are at risk for group standing because they are social animals and they usually live in close-knit family groups. The techniques used to rescue stranded whales depend on the remoteness of the site. These whales are at a huge risk because they are designed to live in water, so when they are stranded on a beach their internal organs which aren’t used to having that weight on them, they sadly start getting crushed.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150213-pilot-whales-stranded-new-zealand/

Two new volcanic islands emerge in Red Sea

By: Emily Himes

Undersea eruptions have formed two volcanic islands in the Red Sea near Yemen, which have been named Sholan and Jadid.  Sholan was created in 2011 by a volcanic eruption that lasted 25 days. Jadid was created in 2013 by a 54 day eruption. These two islands have shed light on the presence of a “magmatically active zone that previously escaped notice.”

Source: CBS News

Santa Barbara Beaches Slicked With Oil After Pipeline Breach

By: Mercedes Pliego

Picture of Santa Barbara oil spill

Mark Tautrim was one of the first witnesses to an oil spill that reached many beaches, and one of California’s most ecological important shorelines. In California a broken pipeline off Goleta, spilled an estimated 21,000 gallons of heavy black oil into the Pacific Ocean. Due to the oil, authorities were forced to shut down the popular state beach and campground as Memorial Day weekend is almost coming. It is near protected nesting grounds of an endangered bird. Authorities aren’t sure what caused the leak in the underground pipeline, but oil bubbled to the surface on land across Highway 101, then poured from a culvert onto Refugio State Beach.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/05/150520-santa-barbara-oil-spill-pipeline-ocean-coast-whale-1969/

Baby Spiders fall from the sky, cover the ground with “angel hair” in Australia

Citizens of Albury in South Wales, Australia, witnessed baby spiders and their webs completely covering the ground. A rare occurrence took place, called “ballooning” in which spiders float down from the sky. This happens during May and August in the outback when “spiders throw their webs up into the air, moving in large formations through the sky.” Keith Basterfield, who has taken great interest in these balloonings, says that you know one has taken place if you see long threads, or “angel hair” covering buildings, telephone poles, and power lines.

Source: Fox News spidersweb.jpg

‘Crazy Craters’ Found in Swiss Lake

By: Maria Vargas

In the muddy floor of one of Switzerland’s largest lakes, four giant craters were found. The biggest crater recorded was 525 feet wide and 100 feet deep. According to a doctoral student, these craters are springs. The team used ship-based sonar to search for sediments within the craters. How the craters were formed is still a mystery, however the pits appear to be spitting mud eruptions violently. These mud eruptions leave behind a layer of sediment that resembles to lava flows. However, the last huge mud eruption in that region happened around 1,600 years ago. Now a days, this crazy crater is filled with wet mud. Scientists believe that there is a connection between the mud eruption and the Jura Mountains.  It is believed that there exists an underground network of limestone caves and cracks.

Crazy crater

Source: http://www.livescience.com/50890-craters-discovered-in-lake-neuchatel.html

Mysterious Sea Lion Die-Off Strikes Again on California Coast

By: Mercedes Pliego

Picture of California sea lion pups recover at SeaWorld San Diego's Animal Rescue Center January 27, 2015 In Sausalito California it has been the third year that starving sea lion pups are washing ashore on California’s beaches.

California sea lions are considered a sentinel species, because they’re seen as detectors to the ocean’s health. Which shows that if sea lions are suffering, then it means that something is wrong offshore. However scientists still don’t really know what is causing the sea lions to starve.

The sea lions weighed less than half of what they should, and the pups were showing up to rehab centers extremely early in the year, which was a time when they should have been relaxing on their Channel Island.

Scientists still don’t know what has cause such an alarming and ongoing struggle; they have been aware of known diseases and environmental toxins, which might be expected to affect more than just pups. Some researchers ask themselves if the sea lion’s population has grown so large that the offshore environment can’t sustain itself.

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150211-sea-lions-pups-stranding-starving-california/