Best Earth Images of the Week Jan. 18, 2013

Shooting space station?

ISS and Full Moon over Yosemite

(Image credit: Scott McGuire | Photography | www.ScottMcGuirePhotography.com)

The International Space Station shoots across the sky as the full moon shines over Half Dome at Yosemite National Park in this beautiful image.

Scott McGuire took this photo on Oct. 28, 2012 from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, Calif. He used a Pentax K-5 camera and a Pentax 15mm Limited lens to capture the photo.

[Full Story: Space Station and Full Moon Glow in Yosemite Night Sky (Photo)]

Value acknowledged

A bird-shaped mound at Louisana's Poverty Point

(Image credit: Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism)

With six vast ridges arcing more than a half-mile, the Poverty Point prehistoric site in Louisiana is one of a kind.

The massive earthworks has now been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural significance.

[Full Story: Ancient Louisiana Earthworks Nominated for World Heritage Site]

Stalled storm

Stalled cold front over the Eastern U.S.

(Image credit: NOAA)

A cold front sweeping across the United States stalled out over the East Coast today (Jan. 17), causing flash floods in the Southeast and bringing heavy snows to the North.

The mass of cold air is dropping snow across the southern Appalachians and into parts of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Accuweather.com reported. Flash floods are hitting parts of eastern Tennessee and the Carolinas.

[Full Story: Stalled Cold Front Spotted from Space]

At risk again

Haleakala silversword

(Image credit: Paul Krushelnycky, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

One of Hawaii's iconic plants is again at risk.

The striking and rare Haleakal? silversword, found only on the high volcanic slopes of Maui, is on the decline, scientists report today (Jan. 15) in the journal Global Change Biology.

[Full Story: Climate Change Threatens Spectacular Hawaiian Plant]

Yak attack back

Yaks a-runnin' in a rugged northwestern area of the Tibetan Plateau.

(Image credit: Tony Lui | Wildlife Conservation Society)

Yaks are coming back. At least they are in a remote reserve on the Tibetan Plateau.

Researchers recently counted nearly 1,000 wild yaks in a rugged northern area of the plateau known as Hoh Xil, which is nearly the size of West Virginia and has very few human residents, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped conduct the census.

[Full Story: Huge Wild Yak Population Found in Tibetan Park ]

Lava levels way up

Halemau'ma'u crater

(Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

The orange glow atop Hawaii's Mount Kilauea was a little stronger yesterday (Jan. 15) than it has been in recent weeks. The volcano's lava lake lapped over the inner ledge of its vent, reaching a new high and bring molten rock closer than ever to the floor of Halema'uma'u crater.

The level was about 80 feet (25 meters) below the crater floor, the highest level reached since the summit vent blasted open in March 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. The lava lake last surged on Oct. 23, 2012, when the high mark was measured at 100 feet (31 m) below the crater floor.

[Full Story: Hawaiian Lava Lake Hits New Record High]

Cold and windy

Colorado and Kansas dust storm

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Just how cold is it in the Southwest? The answer, my friends, is blowin' all the way to Kansas.

NASA's Aqua satellite spotted the bitter cold front now sweeping through the Rocky Mountains on Jan. 11. The descending mass of frigid air drove winds that scooped up dust in the Colorado Front Ranges and carried it through the air to Kansas. Cold, dense air wedging under warmer air can create strong wind gusts.

[Full Story: Bitter Cold Drives Southwest Dust Storm]

A chill in the air

An image of the weather above the West Coast, taken by the NOAA GOES-15 satellite. Notice the lack of moisture over the Southwest, corresponding to cold, dry air.

(Image credit: NOAA )

Known for hot temperatures, Southern California and the rest of the Southwest United States are undergoing a cold snap that has set records in many areas throughout the region.

Los Angeles set a record daily low of 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) this morning (Jan. 14), the coldest it's been in 22 years, according to the National Weather Service. Water pipes also froze and burst in Las Vegas, where the mercury dropped to nearly 17 F (minus 8 C), according to news reports.

[Full Story: Why Is It So Cold in the Southwest? ]

More Awwww! than AAAHHH!

great smoky mountains, black bears, cute animal

(Image credit: Charlie Choc)

There's one word that can make any hiker's blood turn cold: bear.

Deep inside America's most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a photographer caught this candid shot of a black bear napping in a tree. The bear doesn't seem all that impressed by the photographer, barely opening its eyes for the shot. That's not uncommon for black bears, which are more likely to avoid confrontation than grizzlies (or brown bears, as they are sometimes called). Black bears are more interested in food than humans.

[Full Story: Un-bear-ably Cute: Black Bear Caught Napping]