Australia

sydney-dust-storm

Sydney 6am, 23 September 2009 – photo by Merbabu (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Many of you have probably already heard about the dust storms that plagued Australia in September, coating the states of Queensland and New South Wales – including the cities of Sydney and Brisbane – in a haze of red Outback clay. Well, they’re back again. The Sydney Morning Herald reports today (October 13th) that the dust has returned, albeit to a lesser extent than the storms three weeks ago. Rains are hoped for by Christmas, but more dust storms are feared. This latest storm is the third in three weeks for western Queensland, according to another article in the Herald.

Read more about Australia’s September dust storm – caused by ‘the worst draught on record’ – and watch an accompanying video report from National Geographic here.

Italy

Swimmers and divers in the Mediterranean may find themselves coming in contact with giant blobs of mucus-like material known as mucilages as they enjoy the warm waters of the sea. Mucilages are naturally occurring and normally form during the summer when temperatures are higher, but now due to warmer temperatures, they are lasting longer and also being found during the winter.

The mucilages are actually collections of both dead and living matter that bond together, forming a kind of drifting colony of small crustaceans, living and dead microscopic organisms and other debris. Traditionally thought of as nothing more than an unpleasant inconvenience, mucilages have recently been found to harbor bacteria and viruses, which is causing some concern among scientists. Examples have been found to be up to 200 km (124 miles) long, which is a lot of goop.

Read the entire article from National Geographic here and watch a short video report about the blobs below.

Additional resources:
National Geographic News
Dust storm hits Brisbane leading to airline chaos