Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jelly-like blue balls fall from the sky - Mysterious blue balls that fell from the sky on to a yard in southern England are to be analysed by scientists, as theories abound as to exactly what the strange objects are. The jelly-like spheres, which are about 3cm in diameter, and rained down on a backyard last Friday during a brief hailstorm. "They were almost impossible to pick up, they were very jelly-like. I had to get a spoon and flick them into a jam jar. They had an exterior shell with a soft inside. They only landed in our garden in an area of a couple of hundred square metres. It is the most peculiar thing I have ever seen - there must be about 20 complete spheres. They don't smell and they don't float. I've been an aircraft engineer for many years and I've never seen anything like it." Theories have sprung up ever since the mysterious find was reported, with some suggesting the balls were crystals that are used in floral displays and others claiming they were ammunition for a toy gun. The UK Meteorological Office has said the transparent, marble-sized objects were "not meteorological". He is keeping the balls in his fridge and has accepted an offer from local university scientists to analyse them. "I think it is some kind of atmospheric pollution. Pollution forms into spheres and fell like the hailstones". ( Researchers at Bournemouth University have speculated that the small blue balls may be marine invertebrate eggs which could be transferred from the feet of birds. Photos )

**In politics you must always keep running with the pack.
The moment that you falter and they sense that you are injured,
the rest will turn on you like wolves.**
R.A. Butler

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
1/30/12 -

More than 100 reported injured as magnitude-6.3 quake strikes central Peru - The powerful earthquake has injured scores of people, buckled buildings and caused power outages on the coast south of Lima. The quake struck at 11 minutes after midnight (0511 GMT), nine miles (15 kilometers) southeast of Ica. The city was badly damaged by a magnitude-8 earthquake in August 2007.

Haiti, DR may be facing big quake period - Haiti and the neighbouring Dominican Republic could be in for a period of periodic powerful earthquakes, according to a scientific study released Thursday. The study says Haiti's 7.0-magnitude earthquake two years ago is likely to be the first of several quakes of a similarly powerful magnitude. The Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake caused widespread damage in the Haitian capital and surrounding cities. The disaster killed 314,000 people and toppled thousands of crudely built homes.
"The 2010 Haiti earthquake may mark the beginning of a new cycle of large earthquakes on the Enriquillo fault system after 240 years of seismic quiescence. The entire Enriquillo fault system appears to be seismically active; Haiti and the Dominican Republic should prepare for future devastating earthquakes."
A series of four major earthquakes of magnitude 6.6 and higher struck Hispaniola, the Caribbean island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The phase began in 1701, near the site of the 2010 quake, and ended in 1770. There was no evidence of significant earthquake activity on the Enriquillo fault system in the 240 years from 1770 until the 2010 disaster, except for an earthquake in 1860 that likely occurred offshore. Moderate quakes have struck the Dominican Republic in recent weeks but there were no reports of damage.


ICELAND - Glacial Outburst Flood from Grímsvötn Volcano. It is believed that a glacial outburst flood (jökulhlaup) occurred in the Grímsvötn volcano in Vatnajökull Sunday as the river Gígjukvísl was dark in color in the afternoon and commuters smelled sulfur in the air by the bridge across the Ring Road in south Iceland. However, the glacial outburst is not considered to be a matter of concern. Heavy rain and high temperatures in the past days after excessive snowfall caused snow to melt, damaging parts of the Ring Road between Núpsvötn and Gígjukvísl in Skeiðarársandur, as well as to the east of Gígjukvísl.

GREECE - Santorini volcano strong seismic swarm continues. The highly unusual swarm of earthquakes SW of Santorini on the main fault zone that also defines the volcanic vents of the region continues with about 10 quakes larger than magnitude 2 during the past 24 hours. 2 of the quakes were magnitude 4 and 4.7, respectively. Greek media start to pick up the story and become increasingly interested.
From 1993 until 2010 there was deflation in the caldera of about 1cm/year. Since the beginning of 2011 that has changed to inflationon the north part of the caldera, rapid episodes of inflation have been recorded at intervals that coincide with bursts in seismic activity. Since August the intensity of the phenomenon warranted a rise to alert level 4 (red), where it has remained ever since. A displacement of 10 million cubic meters has been located 1km north of the central island of Nea Kameni at a depth of 4 km, it is hypothesized that it is a magma intrusion, located right at the center of the most seismicity active part of the caldera. Co2 levels have jumped to 39 tonnes/day along with the emission of other gasses, a rising gas column has been observed outside the port of Thirassia in the caldera (the island on the west rim). The rise in sea water temperature in the caldera has been confirmed.
Most of the Greek scientists have brushed any concerns saying that conditions are normal and that has happened before. A geologist from Athens University even said on TV that there is no danger even of a large earthquake in the vicinity of the island - the next day there were 3 earthquakes magnitude 5 and above, 50 km to the SW at the other end of the fault line. Foreign geologists have a very different opinion. A geologist from Oxford mentioned that the evidence points to something important, there is volcanic activity and the volcano is now potentially active at depth.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 09s (Iggy) was located approximately 260 nm west of Learmonth, Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Iggy triggered Indonesian tornadoes - An area of developing low pressure, which eventually developed into Tropical Cyclone Iggy, triggered tornadoes across the islands of Java and Bali in Indonesia. The tornadoes damaged nearly 1000 houses.

Tropical cyclone Iggy is forecast to strike Australia as a tropical storm at about 08:00 GMT on February 3.

Flood-hit Fiji braces for cyclone - Fiji is bracing for a cyclone which could reignite the country's flood crisis, as the clean-up from last week's flooding continues. A tropical depression is heading towards Fiji and meteorologists say it could become a cyclone.


Deaths in Ukraine and Poland in freezing Europe weather - Emergency shelters have been set up in the Bulgarian capital Sofia after days of freezing weather At least 18 people have died in Ukraine and 10 in Poland after heavy snow fall and a sudden drop in temperatures across east Europe. Three deaths were also reported in Serbia and one in Bulgaria.
Ukrainian officials said nearly 500 people had sought treatment for frostbite and hypothermia in just three days. And over that time, more than 17,000 people had sought refuge in some 1,500 shelters. Temperatures have plunged to -16C (3F) during the day and -23C (-10F) at night.
Poland had been having a relatively mild winter, until temperatures dropped last Friday from just below freezing to -26C (-15F). Polish forecasters have warned that temperatures could fall further during the week, to below -20C during the day and -30C at night. In Serbia, police reported that the snowy conditions had led to the deaths of a woman and two elderly men. Two other men, in their 70s, are believed to be missing in the south of the country. The freezing conditions also claimed a life in neighbouring Bulgaria. Emergency shelters offering food and heat are being set up in the Bulgarian capital Sofia and the Czech capital Prague.

Quake efforts blamed for rise in snow mishaps in Japan - This winter's heavier snowfall in Japan has seen more than 500 people across seven prefectures die or be injured in snow-related accidents, including cases in which they had been trying to remove snow. People are trying to remove snow themselves using shovels and other tools because of delays in municipal-led snow removal. The delays have been caused by a shortage of dump trucks - many of which are being used in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake for reconstruction work - to transport snow. The death toll from such snow-related accidents had reached 31 as of Wednesday, while 479 people had sustained injuries. In Aomori City, the municipal government recently conducted intensive snow removal in residential areas. But the snow removal was five days behind schedule and much of the snow had compacted. Construction companies have reduced the number of dump trucks in their fleets to save costs due to downsized public works projects. Many dump trucks, mainly from independent truckers, are also being used in the disaster-hit Tohoku region. Thus fewer trucks remain in other areas of the nation.Snow dumping sites measuring about 11,250 square-meters in Akita City have reached capacity 15 days earlier than the previous year. The municipal government has decided to create a new snow dumping site next to the original sites.


New USDA plant zones clearly show climate change.

Australia - Extreme weather hits east and west. Australia's two largest states are being challenged by remarkably different
weather patterns, with summer storms flooding parts of Queensland as the hot and dry conditions in Western Australia fuel dangerous bushfires.


Forget global warming - it's Solar Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again). Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years. The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new United Kingdom temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years. The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century. Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
Meanwhile, leading climate scientists said that after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food. Solar output goes through 11-year cycles, with high numbers of sunspots seen at their peak. We are now at what should be the peak of what scientists call ‘Cycle 24’ – which is why last week’s solar storm resulted in sightings of the aurora borealis further south than usual. But sunspot numbers are running at less than half those seen during cycle peaks in the 20th Century. Analysis by experts at NASA and the University of Arizona – derived from magnetic-field measurements 120,000 miles beneath the sun’s surface – suggest that Cycle 25, whose peak is due in 2022, will be a great deal weaker still.
There is a 92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C. However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid. Yet, in its paper, the Met Office claimed that the consequences now would be negligible – because the impact of the sun on climate is far less than man-made carbon dioxide. Although the sun’s output is likely to decrease until 2100, ‘This would only cause a reduction in global temperatures of 0.08C. Our findings suggest a reduction of solar activity to levels not seen in hundreds of years would be insufficient to offset the dominant influence of greenhouse gases.’ These findings are fiercely disputed by other solar experts.
In 2007, the Met Office claimed that global warming was about to ‘come roaring back’. It said that between 2004 and 2014 there would be an overall increase of 0.3C. In 2009, it predicted that at least three of the years 2009 to 2014 would break the previous temperature record set in 1998. So far there is no sign of any of this happening. ‘If temperatures continue to stay flat or start to cool again, the divergence between the models and recorded data will eventually become so great that the whole scientific community will question the current theories." As the Met Office model attaches much greater significance to CO2 than to the sun, it was bound to conclude that there would not be cooling. ‘The real issue is whether the model itself is accurate." It is becoming evident that factors other than CO2 play an important role in rising or falling warmth, such as the 60-year water temperature cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific cycle ‘flipped’ back from warm to cold mode in 2008 and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip in the next few years . Some scientists found the importance of water cycles difficult to accept, because doing so means admitting that the oceans – not CO2 – caused much of the global warming between 1970 and 1997. The same goes for the impact of the sun – which was highly active for much of the 20th Century.
‘Nature is about to carry out a very interesting experiment. Ten or 15 years from now, we will be able to determine much better whether the warming of the late 20th Century really was caused by man-made CO2, or by natural variability.’ Meanwhile, since the end of last year, world temperatures have fallen by more than half a degree, as the cold ‘La Nina’ effect has re-emerged in the South Pacific. ‘We’re now well into the second decade of the pause. If we don’t see convincing evidence of global warming by 2015, it will start to become clear whether the models are bunk. And, if they are, the implications for some scientists could be very serious.’

Monday, January 30, 2012

**Inventions are wont to be pretty toys
which distract our attention from serious things.
They are but improved means to an unimproved end."
Henry David Thoreau

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/29/12 -

1/28/12 -

1/27/12 -

1/26/12 -
5.3 DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE (many aftershocks continuing)


A new vent has opened on one of Costa Rica's active volcanoes, the latest activity following a series of small eruptions beginning in 2010.

Increased activity of Sangay volcano, Ecuador - There has been an intensification of Sangay volcano's activity, as indicated by reports from pilots who reported the presence of ash from the volcano drifting S-SE.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 09s (Iggy) was located approximately 240 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia.

Indonesia - Tropical Cyclone Iggy Leaves 16 Dead and Trail of Destruction. More than 2300 houses in 35 districts and cities across Java and Bali have been damaged in the last four days due to heavy winds and rain whipped up by Tropical Cyclone Iggy, churning just south of Bali and the Nusa Tenggara island chain. Many victims were crushed by falling trees. 60 people were injured.

The tropical cyclone which closed some offshore Western Australia oil fields and threatened the region's rich iron ore mining region has weakened and is expected to head away from the coast.

Fiji on alert for cyclone - Fiji is on alert as a tropical depression that forecasters say could become a cyclone heads for the Pacific island state. Reports from the capital Suva today said flood warnings were in force as more heavy rain was predicted over the next 24 hours.

Mozambique - At least 26 people died and other 125,000 were affected when tropical storm “Dando” and cyclone “Funso” hit the southern, central and northern regions of Mozambique in the last few days.


Florida - Bush fire. Ten people have been killed in a multi-vehicle crash on a highway in the American state of Florida. The pile-up occurred before dawn on Interstate 75 near Gainesville. Reports say it involved at least 12 cars and six trucks. The road was shrouded in a cloud of thick smoke caused by a bush fire. At least 18 people were taken to hospital and wreckage was strewn for nearly a mile (1.6km) along the road. One driver said that he was travelling home early in the morning when he ran into a bank of thick fog and smoke. "You could hear cars hitting each other. People were crying. People were screaming. It was crazy. If I could give you an idea of what it looked like, I would say it looked like the end of the world."


A string of massive solar storms have unleashed their fury on the Earth in the last 48 hours, just the first set of strong solar storms expected to hit our planet in the coming months. NASA scientists report that the most recent solar flare — the strongest one to date this year — erupted Friday from the same active region of the sun that triggered a raging solar tempest earlier this week.
The latest coronal mass ejection (CME) was moving at almost 1,553 miles per second, and it could cause a number of disruptions. The solar storm, which is just the latest to bombard Earth, has put on a show for stargazers and astronomers alike. The solar storms have also caused a bit of havoc for NASA, which had to take into consideration astronauts working on the International Space Station. The mass of energy poses problems to astronauts and spacecraft, which do not have the added protection of the Earth’s magnetic field. The solar storms have also caused problems for airlines, which as a safety precaution have rerouted flights flying over the North Pole. The resulting streams of radiation that bounce across the Earth’s magnetic field are able to cause long lasting radiation storms that could also impact satellite and ground communications systems.
Although the Sun’s corona has been observed during total eclipses of the Sun for thousands of years, the existence of coronal mass ejections was unrealized until the space age. NASA scientists announced in late 2011 that they expect 2012 and 2013 to be one of the most active times in recent memory for increased solar activity. “I would expect that we will see more storms like this one or even bigger as we get closer to solar maximum."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

No update tomorrow.

Obama Orders Strategy for Protecting Nation’s Supply Chain - Obama is directing the Departments of State and Homeland Security to develop a plan to protect the $14.6 trillion U.S. economy from interruptions in the international supply chain. A National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security that gives officials from those departments six months to make recommendations on how to spot risks and make commercial infrastructure more resilient. “Disruptions to supply chains caused by natural disasters -- earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions -- and from criminal and terrorist networks seeking to exploit the system or use it as a means of attack can adversely impact global economic growth and productivity. As a nation, we must address the challenges posed by these threats and strengthen our national and international policies accordingly."
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 threatened or disrupted the U.S. oil and refining industry. The 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland led to flight cancellations on almost a global scale. The Japan earthquake and tsunami last year interrupted imports and exports and hurt the U.S. auto and other industries, costing jobs.
“We must continue to strengthen global supply chains to ensure that they operate effectively in time of crisis, recover quickly from disruptions and facilitate international trade and travel." Obama directed department officials to confer with state, federal and international government agencies and private industry to identify areas that are most at risk and come up with layered defenses and tightened security steps to guard against disruptions, the strategy says.

**Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.
Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank god that it can go.**
Brooks Atkinson

This morning -
5.2 DODECANESE ISLANDS, GREECE (many aftershocks continuing)

Yesterday -
1/25/12 -

INDIA - Delhi's high-rises vulnerable to Himalayan quake. Tall buildings in Delhi will come crashing down if a strong earthquake occurs in the northwest region of the Himalayas, warns a research seismologist who had predicted the Sumatran quake that caused the deadly tsunami in 2004. Buildings taller than 17 metres in the nation’s capital are vulnerable even though the city is more than 300 km away from the Uttarakhand-Himachal region where scientists expect the next high magnitude earthquake. Bapat, formerly head of the earthquake engineering department at the Central Water and Power Research Station, says his warning is based on a careful analysis of damage caused by the 7.9 magnitude Gujarat earthquake that occurred Jan 26, 2001, with its epicentre near Bhuj.
“Maximum destruction from an earthquake is normally confined to an area of 20 to 30 km radius from the epicentre. However, in the case of the Bhuj quake, extensive damage was caused in Ahmedabad, which is about 320 km from Bhuj.” While tall buildings in Ahmedabad collapsed, the damage was minimal to buildings that had only two or three floors. The “distance effect” – where the damage is felt far away from the epicentre — is characteristic of “Rayleigh waves” produced during an earthquake. There are about 100 tall buildings in the Delhi municipal area and an equal number in the nearby areas, all of which need strengthening to protect against Rayleigh waves. Unlike the “P” and “S” waves that travel through the body of the earth and cause damage close to the epicentre, the Rayleigh waves roll along the surface of the earth just like waves on the ocean and cause damage at a distance — typically between 150 to 550 km from the epicentre. The damage due to Rayleigh waves occur at a distance because the “amplitude” or strength of these waves is higher far away from the epicentre than closer to it.
A situation similar to what happened in Ahmedabad during the Bhuj earthquake will be repeated in Delhi if an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 or more occurs in Himachal or Uttarakhand. “Rayleigh waves from such an earthquake would definitely cause heavy damage to tall structures in Delhi and the entire National Capital Region (NCR)." . During the 8.1 magnitude Mexican earthquake on Sep 19, 1985, Mexico City suffered extensive damage although the epicentre of this earthquake was located at a distance of about 530 km on the Pacific coast. Again the 8.0 magnitude earthquake witnessed by Pakistan Oct 8, 2005, destroyed the tall buildings in Islamabad although the epicentre of this quake was about 150 km from the Pakistani capital.
Mexico revised its seismic code after the 1985 earthquake damage and many countries including the United States, China and Japan have taken steps to protect the tall structures from possible damage due to Rayleigh waves. “But the BIS is yet to initiate any action about revision of the seismic code in India,” he said. “If no action is taken immediately, it is quite possible that the scenarios at Mexico City and Ahmedabad may be repeated in the NCR of Delhi.” Not only Delhi but all cities located at a vulnerable distance from potential epicentres of large magnitude earthquakes should make suitable provisions in the seismic codes, he said. Other vulnerable cities which could see damage to tall structures from large magnitude earthquakes in northeast India are Kolkata as well as Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. “Lahore and Islamabad in Pakistan could suffer from large magnitude earthquakes in the Himalayas and Hindukush while Mumbai and Karachi could possibly suffer damage due to a tsunami produced by an earthquake in the Makran coast.”
Delhi ignores own quake peril warnings - The Delhi government's own estimates say nine out of every 10 buildings in the city are at risk of moderate or significant quake damage, yet the basic disaster response plan it had promised to complete nearly three years ago remains unfinished. If a major earthquake were to strike India's seismically vulnerable capital, these neighborhoods — India's most crowded — would collapse into an apocalyptic nightmare. Waters from the nearby Yamuna River would turn the water-soaked subsoil to jelly.


CHILE & ARGENTINA - The Chilean airline LAN has canceled 39 flights in Argentina and Chile due to a giant ash cloud emitted by the Cordon Caulle volcano.

ARGENTINA - First volcanic ash - now no snow. The Argentine ski resorts were affected by the eruption of a volcano in Chile, now there is a lack of snow. The main resort of Cerro Catedrale has once again delayed its opening. It hasn't been a great start to the winter
ski season in South America. At the beginning of June the Puyehue volcano chain in the Chilean Andres erupted spewing ash over the surrounding areas. The actual ski resorts were relatively unscathed, but the town of Bariloche and, most importantly its airport and airspace, were badly affected. The airport was closed and has only just re-opened. It is the gateway airport to the main ski areas. The surrounding area has been covered in thick ash and it is stilll affecting many areas.
Cerro Catedrale, the largest ski area in South American has also suffered from a lack of snow. There was some a few weeks ago but it quickly melted. Meanwhile in neighbouring Chile Valle Nevado has also delayed its opening to the beginning of July. Portillo says it will open shortly but only a few runs will be open.

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone 08s (Funso) was located approximately 377 nm east-northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.
- Tropical cyclone 09s (Iiggy) was located approximately 485 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Iggy - A cyclone watch has been issued for category one Iggy, which formed on the Indian Ocean this morning and is moving southeast towards the west Pilbara Coast of Australia. A flood watch is in place as well. No community alerts have been issued as it remains well away from shore.

Tropical Cyclone Funso is now a dangerous Category 4 cyclone in the Mozambique Channel, moving southward between Mozambique on the African mainland and the island nation of Madagascar. As Funso became a major cyclone two NASA satellites were providing forecasters with valuable storm information. The cloud cover extends from Mozambique on the African mainland, east to the coast of the island nation of Madagascar. MODIS imagery also revealed a clear 11 mile-wide eye. Thunderstorm cloud tops surround the entire center of circulation, colder than -63 Fahrenheit (-52.7 Celsius) indicating strong storms, dropping heavy rainfall.
The TRMM satellite also had a good view of powerful tropical cyclone Funso battering the Mozambique coast when it flew over on January 24. TRMM data showed that Funso was dropping moderate to heavy rainfall in bands covering the Mozambique Channel from eastern Mozambique to western Madagascar.On January 25, Major Tropical Cyclone Funso had maximum sustained winds of 120 knots (138 mph/222 kph). Hurricane-force winds extend out 40 miles (64 km) from the center. Cyclone Funso continues to track the over open waters of the southern Mozambique Channel and forecasts take it out into the Southern Indian Ocean over the next three days without any danger of a direct landfall. (photos & map)


Fiji declares parts of main island a disaster zone as six confirmed dead in bad weather. Parts of Fiji's main island Viti Levu continued to be battered by flooding and heavy rain. About 60 percent of the nation's 850,000 people live on Viti Levu, which is the hub of the island chain and the site of the nation's capital Suva. A family of four, including two children, were killed in a landslide Wednesday after becoming trapped in their home at a village in the island's western Ba region. Earlier this week, two farmers were killed in separate incidents as they tried to protect their livestock from rising waters.
Almost 3500 people have been forced from their homes by the torrential downpour that has continued since the weekend. 74 evacuations centers had been opened across the Pacific nation. The government said roads had been cut and some communities were without power and water supplies, advising people to avoid low-lying areas and take precautions against water-borne illnesses. The tropical low over Fiji was the same one causing flooding today in Queensland, Australia.

CALIFORNIA - Extreme Weather - Boulders came tumbling down rain soaked telegraph hill Tuesday morning in San Francisco. The rocks crushed a car and caused the partial evacuation of an apartment building. The public works department plans to put up a concrete barrier in case loose debris continues to cause problems.
Winds this weekend raged through the desert leaving behind a huge mess in Palm Springs California. The city is so understaffed that the fire chief says they had to send for additional resources from across the state. The wind knocked down about 500 trees, snapped power poles and even started some fires.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chinese dragon dances into 2012, Indian astrologers warn of earthquakes - As the unpredictable but volatile year of the rabbit hopped into the sunset, the water dragon enters 2012 in what astrologers predict to be a “smooth” but potential year for natural disasters. Steeped in Chinese mythology, the dragon would dominate 2012 beginning Feb 4, and arrive with a ‘mixed bag’, said Indian experts in Chinese astrology which is touted as the world’s oldest horoscope system, besides the Indian Vedic astrology.
“The Year of the Dragon is usually associated with new good beginnings and good fortune." The mightiest of creatures represents a powerful sign in the 12-zodiac 12-year-cycle in Chinese astrology. Since it is related to water, experts warn of water-related troubles. “The dragon, once settled, will cool its fiery nature, though 2012 might see some major disasters. Illnesses and epidemics would be much more rampant than in the previous years. It will be a better year than 2011, many of the problems of last year will also be seen this year, but many changes will be happening later this year, like in the financial market. But since it’s heavily related to water, we can see some water-related natural calamities like tsunami, earthquakes and even water-borne diseases." On January 23 in 1556 (also a dragon year), a massive earthquake struck Central China, killing over 800,000 people.

**The strength and power of despotism
consists wholly in the fear of resistance.**
Thomas Paine

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/24/12 -


California's Death Valley volcano could come back to life - Geologists have discovered that Death Valley's Ubehebe Crater, formed by a volcanic explosion, was created much more recently than thought — and that it could go off again any time. The half-mile-wide, 600-foot deep crater, was formed when a rising plume of magma hit a pocket of underground water, creating an explosion. But until now, the date was unknown. The most common estimate was about 6,000 years, based partly on Native American artifacts found under debris.
Now, though, a team has used isotopes in rocks blown out of the crater to show that it formed just 800 years ago, around the year 1200. That means it probably still has some strength left in it - and, the scientists believe, there's probably still enough groundwater and magma around for another reaction. Ubehebe is the largest of a dozen craters, clustered over about three square kilometers of Death Valley National Park, but had been poorly studied until now. When it exploded, nothing within two miles would have survived. "It would be fun to witness — but I'd want to be 10 miles away." The eruption dates revealed by the isotopes clustered from 2,100 to 800 years ago. The team beleives this indicates a series of smaller explosions, culminating in the big one that created the main crater around 1200.
As a result, magma is probably still lurking somewhere below - and other researchers have spotted what look like magma bodies under other parts of Death Valley. "Additional small bodies may exist in the region, even if they are sufficiently small not to show up geophysically." The dates indicate an eruption frequency of about every thousand years or less, which puts the current day within the realm of possibility. "There is no basis for thinking that Ubehebe is done." Any eruption would almost certainly be preceded by warning signs such as shallow earthquakes and opening of steam vents, giving several years' warning, so park officials aren't worried. "We've typically viewed Ubehebe as a static feature, but of course we're aware it could come back. This certainly adds another dimension to what we tell the public. Right now, we're not planning to issue an orange alert or anything like that."

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 08s (Funso) was located approximately 400 nm northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.

Powerful, dangerous Tropical Cyclone Funso has continued to lash central Mozambique with flooding rain and damaging winds. The region is staggering from last week's swipe by Tropical Storms Dando, a Category One storm.

Cyclone-hit Indians will take "years" to rebuild livelihoods - It could take "years" for hundreds of thousands of people in southeastern India to rebuild their livelihoods after a devastating cyclone wiped out their entire plantations of cash crops last month.


PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Dozens reported dead in PNG landslide. Up to 60 people are feared killed in a massive landslide which hit villages near the ExxonMobil-led LNG project in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands. The landslide struck at 7am (AEDT) yesterday near the Nogoli base for the liquefied natural gas plant site, northwest of Port Moresby. ExxonMobil says all its staff have been accounted for. There are settlements close to the otherwise remote site near Mendi, in the centre of the country, and there are fears lives have been lost. "At this time it is hard to say. Most likely lives have been lost, we cannot tell how many. There were villages - settlements - where the landslide covered." Media reports of deaths are between 40 and 60. "The land is covered and quite extensively. Those little hamlets ... they may not have escaped."
PNG media are reporting 40 bodies have been recovered and another 20 people are still missing, with the damage spreading for two kilometres, leaving roads to nearby villages cut off. One local MP said the landslide completely covered two villages while people slept. "There are people buried underneath and a number of them are, from what I have heard, children." ExxonMobil said the company is in close contact with authorities to help deal with the landslide, which is not expected to hinder the project's completion in 2014. The $16 billion LNG project is due to begin production in 2014 and will see PNG's natural gas sold across Asia for the next 30 years - a plan projected to double PNG's gross domestic product.

Extreme weather threat across Australia - Heavy flooding in the eastern states, tropical activity in the north and a heatwave in the west. This week has turned into one of extreme weather across the Australian continent. There is a growing flood threat across eastern Australia this week, while in Western Australia, Perth is experiencing heatwave conditions for at least another week. In the north of Western Australia, coastal communities will be on alert due to the potential for a tropical cyclone to form.
Widespread rainfall of 50-150mm has caused major flooding in parts of NSW and minor flooding in south-east Queensland. Bellingen in NSW has had a bucket-full, with 167mm in the 24 hours to 9am today, while Upper Darkwood to the west gained 178mm. Dorrigo was inundated with as much as 100mm in just one hour and 209mm during the past 24 hours, their heaviest rain since May 2009. These very high rain totals have led to major flooding on the Bellinger River at Thora, with river levels continuing to rise this morning. In Queensland, Bribie Island received some of the heaviest falls with a daily total of 130mm to 9am today. Hotham Creek to the north of Coomera was drenched with 125mm in the 24-hour period. The scattered persistent rain led to minor flooding on the Paynter River at Diddlibah, inland of Maroochydore. Several severe weather alerts and storm warnings have been issued for NSW and Queensland due to flash flooding. The recent rainfall has saturated the land along the coast and nearby inland and so the bulk of the water has nowhere to go but along the surface. The outlook is for the wet weather to continue for the eastern seaboard over the next several days, particularly along the coast and adjacent ranges.
"Some towns will see even higher rain totals in the 300-400mm range over the next six days, bringing a significant threat of both flash flooding and river flooding. We have a stationary high pressure system in place over the Tasman Sea, which is going to send a persistent flow of moisture-laden air into both Queensland and New South Wales. The entire lower portion of the atmosphere is going to become saturated during the first half of this week, setting the scene for torrential rainfall when a deepening low pressure trough forms along the eastern seaboard."
For the west coast of Western Australia, weather conditions will be in stark contrast, with extended heatwave conditions. Heatwaves can have the greatest toll on human life of any weather phenomena, with the very young and elderly at greatest risk. "Using the most widely accepted heatwave definition of at least five days in a row with maximum temperatures of five or more degrees above average, Perth is certainly going to qualify. Perth's average maximum temperature in January is 30.9 degrees and the forecast is for temperatures near 40 degrees between Tuesday and Sunday. Perth is forecast to face the highest consecutive number of days of high temperatures since 1965.
While Perth is sweltering through an extended run of heat, communities along the north-west coastline of Western Australia will be monitoring the formation of a tropical low over the Indian Ocean. "A monsoonal low over the Indian Ocean is expected to intensify into a tropical cyclone by mid to late week (likely to be named Iggy), with the potential for a coastal impact towards the weekend. There is still uncertainty around the future movement and strength of this system, although the Pilbara coastline would be the area singled out for being most at risk."
Mass evacuations are underway on NSW's north coast, with rivers overflowing from days of heavy rain inundating homes and isolating communities. Almost 2000 people were ordered out of caravan parks and homes along the Tweed River, south of Tweed Heads, after the swollen waterway burst its banks. Residents at eight caravan parks were told to head to an evacuation centre at Kingscliff at 1.30pm (AEDT), followed by the evacuation of 400 people from homes at nearby Fingal Head. "The Bureau of Meteorology advises me that the rain will continue at this intensity for the next 24 to 48 hours. Then there might be a small reprieve on Friday, but back again with a vengeance on the weekend, possibly through to Tuesday."
Flood warnings were issued for EVERY MAJOR RIVER SYSTEM between Taree and the Queensland border - a 500km stretch taking in dozens of towns. Parts of Bellingen remain cut off after the Bellinger River burst its banks on Tuesday. About 500 people remained isolated in Darkwood, upstream of Bellingen, with the SES now carrying out supply runs. Emergency services were concerned about the safety of motorists and holidaymakers on Australia Day, particularly at trouble spots on the Pacific Highway.

Quakes Not the Only Concern California Locals Face, Says Seismologist - While most of the country braces for the big quake to hit California, there is another natural danger that has not only already impacted the state and Loma Linda twice, it's become a growing in risk due to climate change. The public should be equally prepared for the ARkStorm, which describes a scenario of intense rain that leads to catastrophic flooding. The storm could be similar to the one experienced in California in 1862, and four larger such events in the past 100 years.
"The ARkStorm scenario is a complete picture of what that storm would do to the social and economic systems of California. We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes.” The storm could cause landslides, debris flows, coastal inundation and flooding, USGS officials said. The result could be infrastructure damage and pollution. The scenario is plausible. In fact a smaller version hit Loma Linda in December of 2010. Several days of pounding rain brought down mud and debris from the south facing hills, overwhelming San Timoteo Creek which breached its banks flooding homes and damaging businesses. The damage to city property alone cost more than $1 million. In 1969, the city was devastated by a similar ARkStorm-like storm. That flood in 1969 covered about two-thirds of the town. The ARkStorm Scenario explores the resulting impacts to the social structure and can be used to understand how California’s “other” Big One can be more expensive than a large San Andreas earthquake.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Massive solar eruption to send radiation storm toward Earth - An immense blast of plasma spewing from the sun is to bombard Earth with THE STRONGEST RADIATION STORM SINCE 2005, prompting a RARE warning from US weather officials and even a plan to redirect certain high-flying airplanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency issued a watch for a geomagnetic storm, expected to reach our planet today, after a satellite witnessed an ultraviolet flash from Sunday night's massive solar eruption.
The storm poses no risk to Earth-dwellers. But as a rare precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed. Eruptions on the sun shoot tremendous streams of charged particles away from the star - in this case directly towards us. "There is little doubt that the cloud is heading in the general direction of Earth. The blast from the immense solar radiation storm let loose with a so called coronal mass ejection (CME) that will hit the atmosphere Tuesday morning, something NASA and NOAA monitor for as it could cause problems for astronauts, communications satellites, and even rocket launches." It could also affect navigation and the power grid.
The solar flare that spat out on Sunday at 10.59pm local time was rated an M9-class eruption - nearly an X-class flare, the most powerful type of solar storm. NOAA measures geomagnetic storms on a five-point scale from 1 to 5. G1 storms are minor, leading to weak power grid fluctuations and having only minor impact on satellites. G5 storms are extreme, leading to widespread voltage control problems, damage to transformers, radio outages and satellite problems. Geomagnetic storms today may be as strong as G3, causing intermittent navigation issues and problems with low-Earth satellites.

**Healing is a matter of time,
but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/23/12 -

Japan - Major Tokyo quake far more likely than government says. There is a 70% chance a magnitude 7 quake will jolt the southern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area in the next four YEARS, the university's Earthquake Research Institute said on Monday, warning companies and individuals to be prepared for such an event. In contrast, the government estimates a 70% probability of such an event in the next three DECADES.
A government survey says a magnitude 7.3 quake centered in the north of Tokyo Bay would cause about 11,000 casualties and destroy around 850,000 buildings, though one of the University of Tokyo team said it was hard to predict the impact of a major quake on the city. "The chance that a magnitude 7 earthquake will happen (in the area) has increased since the March quake. At this time, the government, individuals and corporations should prepare for that." A government official said the Tokyo University estimate was based on a different model from the one it uses. The university calculations take account of the greater seismic activity since March, while the government uses older data. There has been a fivefold increase in the number of quakes in the Tokyo metropolitan area since the March disaster, the research team said.
A magnitude 7.3 quake hit central Japan in 1995, devastating the port city of Kobe. It killed more than 6,400 people and caused an estimated $100 billion in damage. The Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area. Seismologists have said another such quake could strike the city at any time.

5.8 Offshore Quake Causes Panic, No Tsunami in Chile - Monday's quake was centered 31 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Concepcion, and was relatively shallow at 12 miles (20 kilometers) under sea level. But Chile's navy announced that it wasn't the kind of quake to generate a deadly tsunami.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 08s (Funso) was located approximately 550 nm northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.

Cyclone Funso kills 12 in Mozambique - At least 12 people have been killed and thousands displaced when cyclone Funso hit central Mozambique at the weekend.
Tropical Cyclone Funso Still a Danger to Mozambique - Powerful, dangerous Tropical Cyclone Funso has continued to lash central Mozambique with flooding rain and damaging winds, even as it drifts away from the immediate coast. At least 12 people in Mozambique have been killed, and thousands of people have been driven from their homes, owing to a series of storms that began early last week. In an incident related to the early stages of Funso's development, there were apparently no survivors from ferry carrying 54 people that sunk on Jan. 18 off the Comoros Islands.
The Category 2 to Category 3 storm hovered nearly stationary within 50 to 100 miles the coast between the towns of Angoche and Quelimane between Friday and Sunday, when its center began to pull slowly away to the southeast. Highest sustained winds since Friday have ranged mostly from 105 to 115 mph. Owing to the long duration of high winds and torrential rain, reaches of the coast near the storm's offshore center may have suffered severe damage. High waves and storm tides undoubtedly battered the coast. Monday morning, top winds were reckoned by the JTWC to be about 115 mph, or those of a Category 3 hurricane. Drifting southeastward at less than 5 mph, the storm's eye had slipped to more than 100 miles off the mid coast of Mozambique.
Official forecasts have Funso remaining a powerful, dangerous cyclone over water for much of the week. Intensity is expected to reach Category 4 status. Movement is forecast to be mostly towards the east between Mozambique and Madagascar. The most likely path would steer the worst of the storm's potentially catastrophic winds away from land. Even so there is at least a small chance for a turn towards land.

Killer Fiji storm
- Central Nadi swamped yesterday by floodwaters. Heavy flooding struck the Fijian tourist hub of Nadi and the northern city of Ba as a large tropical depression hit the region. By last night, more than 20 evacuation centres had been set up in Nadi while Ba was under nearly 2m of water. The flooding has already claimed one life after a 30-year-old farmer trying to save his pigs in Dogoru River, Labasa, was caught in the rushing waters and became trapped in branches. In Ba alone, 133 evacuees are at a kindergarten while five more families have taken shelter in a school. The heavy rain in Fiji also caused the worst floods on the northern island of Vanua Levu in three years. The Fiji Meteorological Service said heavy rain would continue to fall over much of Fiji until tomorrow, causing more flooding in low-lying areas throughout the country. In 2009, hundreds of tourists from New Zealand and Australia were stranded by flooding in the same areas that have been hit this week. At that time, authorities declared a state of emergency in areas struck by a tropical storm, which killed eight people and left more than 9000 displaced.

Australia - A tropical cyclone could develop off the Northern Territory coast later this week, with a severe weather warning already in place. The Bureau of Meteorology predicted heavy rain, damaging winds and ABNORMALLY high tides off the north coast as a strengthening monsoon trough develops. There is a moderate chance a cyclone could form tomorrow or Thursday.
Heavy rains resulting in flash flooding are expected today over the northern Darwin, Daly and Arnhem areas, including the Tiwi Islands and the Cobourg Peninsula. Monsoon squalls with damaging winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour are also forecast, with northwesterly winds likely to cause tides to exceed the normal high tide zone in coastal areas between Cape Don and Cape Shield. Between 9pm (CST) on Monday and 3am (CST) today, 59 millimetres of rain fell at Black Point on the Cobourg Peninsula, while the Tiwi Islands copped a battering of 50mm. "Isolated storms are continuing in those areas, with a very strong squall line expected to keep moving along the coast throughout the day."
Twin tropical lows could combine to form monster cyclone system - Multiple tropical lows are threatening to form into cyclones by Australia Day bringing wind and rain to North Western Australia.


United Arab Emirates - Country continues to shiver as Met department records sub-zero temperatures at Jebel Jais area of Ras Al Khaimah. The UAE will wake up to the 'chilling' news that the cold snap that has enveloped the country will continue through the week.
Unaccustomed to the chill, UAE residents are putting up a brave front as a cold wave continues to spread across the length and breadth of the country, with extreme weather conditions sweeping mountainous regions and the country recording its lowest temperatures for the year yesterday. Minimum temperatures are set to dip to 0°C in the UAE’s mountainous regions while internal areas could see temperatures dipping to a nippy 5°C and coastal areas could see minimum temperatures of 13°C. Rough weather has prompted a warning to beachgoers across the UAE to refrain from venturing into the sea. The UAE’s met department has predicted that the rough weather will continue until Friday. Strong winds have been buffeting Dubai since early morning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Does enduring extreme weather make you vote liberal? - On the heels of a disastrous weather year in the USA, and with the long presidential campaign season looming, a new study finds that people who have endured extreme weather events are more likely to support environmental legislation, even if it means restricting individual freedoms. Additionally, the authors write in the study that "our results are consistent with the idea that experiencing extreme weather causes individuals to become more aware of the issue of global warming, and increases their perception of the risk of global warming."
Although the survey focused mainly on heat waves and droughts, and was conducted in the summer, their findings can be extrapolated to any type of severe weather event, including blizzards and tropical storms. The study authors report that potentially, weather disasters may hurt conservative candidates more than liberal candidates, because of their positions on environmental policy. Other findings from the study include:
•People who believe that global warming is an important issue are more willing to support regulation that might restrict individual freedom.
•People who consult more news sources and environmentalists are less likely to have their attitudes toward global warming changed by current weather conditions.
•Experiencing extreme weather has the greatest impact on respondents who are less aware or knowledgeable about global warming.

**Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg.**
Dwight D. Eisenhower

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/22/12 -

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone 08s (Funco) was located approximately 610 nm northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.
-Tropical cyclone 07s (Ethel) was located approximately 635 nm southeast of Port Louis. Now a cold core cyclone, the system is forecast to continue accelerating and weakening as it recurves into the mid-latitudes. This is the final warning on this system by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The system will be closely monitored for signs of regeneration.


U.S. - Tornado touches down in Arkansas as storms menace U.S. A twister touched down 70 miles south of the Arkansas state capital late Sunday, as forecasters warned that tornadoes and heavy storms could mete out punishment to several southeast states into Monday. The tornado tore into an area outside of Fordyce, in Dallas County, Ark, around 8:00 p.m. local time, damaging houses and felling trees and power lines as it moved. The potential for severe storms overnight and into Monday stretched from the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi to southern Indiana and Ohio. "A few destructive, long-track tornadoes are quite possible." The severe storms created "an especially dangerous situation given the veil of night."
Heavy rain fell on state capital Little Rock, while parts of the state were pelted by golf-ball sized hailstones and buffeted by winds gusting up to 70 miles per hour. Funnel clouds were spotted within 20 miles of state capital Little Rock. Roughly 11,600 homes were without power across Arkansas as the storms intensified. Roughly one third of Arkansas tornadoes occur at night and are difficult to see in the darkness.
In Alabama, residents were bracing for storms that could hit after dark on Sunday or overnight with a strong cold front from the west combining with warm moist air flowing up from the Gulf of Mexico. The weather service said thunderstorms could bring wind gusts up to 80 mph, tornadoes or gulf ball-sized hail in Mississippi. Farther west, the weather service warned of a high fire danger in Texas with wind gusts of up to 50 mph.
A second stormfront expected to hit California late Sunday night will bring significant snowfall to the mountain regions, before rolling into the southern United States later in the week. Parts of central and southern California were under a winter weather warning as a storm system was expected to sweep into the area late Sunday into Monday morning, with the weather service predicting 6 to 12 inches of snow. The Sierras and the Rockies may accumulate as much as 3 feet of snow, the weather service said, and driving in mountain passes will be "very hazardous" due to low visibility, gusting winds and heavy snowfall. In Reno, Nevada, meanwhile, snowfall provided welcome relief to firefighters who were monitoring remaining hotspots from a blaze that raged near the outskirts of the city beginning Thursday, destroying 30 houses and prompting thousands of people to flee their homes. "As long as we keep on getting snow instead of rain, it looks like we'll be okay, at least for the next couple of days." Rain had threatened the area with flash flooding on Friday night. Emergency responders had the blaze 100 percent contained as of Saturday, and all residents have been allowed to return to their homes.
In the upper Midwest, freezing drizzle was expected to make roads and sidewalks slippery from southeastern Minnesota into Wisconsin, changing to snow later Sunday. Up to 4 inches of snow was expected farther north in southeast North Dakota and west central Minnesota. In the northeast United States, a fast-moving storm from central Pennsylvania eastward dropped up to a foot of snow in parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on Saturday.

AUSTRALIA - Cyclone-strength winds rock Queensland town. Cyclone-strength wind gusts have battered a remote north Queensland township, damaging several homes. Gusts of 170km/h and 70mm of rain lashed Hughenden, about 400 kilometres west of Townsville, yesterday. "We had a few wind gusts, but that was easily the strongest of all of them. Hughenden rocked everyone else. You can compare them to cyclones, but cyclones last for a sustained period of time and these winds lasted about an hour or so. We classify them as a destructive wind." One woman had to be taken to hospital, there were half a dozen calls for help and about three homes were damaged. More storms in the area were possible, but it was unlikely they would again generate such strong winds. "It's QUITE RARE. Usually the range it reaches is 90 to 100km per hour. Getting up to 170 is at the high end of the scale."


Sri Lanka - Nuwara Eliya torn between extreme weather patterns. Warm days and freezing nights play havoc with the lives of girls, boys, fruits, flowers and veggies. The UNUSUAL drop in temperature in Nuwara Eliya has had widespread repercussions, with people finding it difficult to cope with the extreme weather, damage to crops and drop in water levels. Last Monday (16), the temperature in Nuwara Eliya dropped to 2.7 Celsius accompanied by ground frost. In 2009, the temperature dropped to 2.6 Celsius. Similar temperatures were experienced in 1929 and 1953. However, the lowest recorded temperature was on June 30, 1914, when it went down to -3.7 Celsius. Such low temperatures were due to the usual passage of wind through the North-East border during the North-East monsoon, which deviated to a more northerly route, passing over the Himalayas, across the Indian Ocean. This results in cold weather in the morning and night. Though the city seems picturesque, the climatic patterns have severely disrupted the lives of the people in Nuwara-Eliya due to the cold weather. “Due to such extreme weather, crops such as beetroot, potatoes and lettuce were damaged. During the day, the sunlight is very bright and strong, and the streams have dried up." Many foreigners and local tourists are visiting the city to witness the scene. The Wildlife Department staff at Horton Plains said that they were finding it very difficult to carry out their duties in such extreme weather, with last Monday the temperature dropping to 1.5 Celsius at Horton Plains. Extreme weather changes in the district had damaged crops in certain areas in the Ragala-Nuwara Eliya area. “Within four days – January 16 to 19, 50 acres of leeks, beetroot, carrot, potatoes and lettuce cultivation were affected in Kandapola, Galpalama and Aluthpara due to the cold and warm weather fluctuation." Crops covered with frost get burnt when exposed to strong sunlight. Though there was no immediate increase in weather related illnesses, it will take some time for the outcome to manifest itself.“In a short period, the difference in the cases would not be obvious. At least a week’s time is needed to study the consequences. As of now, we don’t see an increase in asthmatic or heart disease cases due to the cold weather." Usually, low temperatures affect asthmatic and elderly heart patients. If the temperature drops below freezing, blood related diseases, headaches and muscle cramps will also occur.
“In such a situation, the elderly should stay indoors very early, before sunset. They should have a wood-fire burning to maintain a warm environment. They should wear warm clothes, gloves and socks. It is advisable to take warm drinks."


Top climate change stories of 2011 - For Earth’s climate system, 2011 was an extraordinarily turbulent year. The United States saw A SERIES OF RECORD-BUSTING EXTREMES, from a devastating tornado season to an epic drought in a vital agricultural region. The fusillade of extreme events kept global warming in the public conversation even as it slipped to the bottom of the public’s list of concerns in the face of a grim economy, and as “climate” became a four-letter word in Washington.
Scientists made tangible progress in the emerging area of extreme event attribution, which aims to answer whether extreme weather events can be attributed to climate change, with two studies that shed new light on how a warmer world is already shifting the odds in favor of heavy precipitation events. These studies, and the push to develop the capabilities necessary to rapidly distinguish global warming’s role in extreme events soon after they occur, top the list of the top climate change stories of 2011:
1. Advances in understanding global warming and extreme weather
Two studies published in February made it a lot clearer that manmade global warming is already playing a tangible role in influencing some types of extreme weather events. One study, led by researchers with Environment Canada, analyzed heavy rainfall events recorded at more than 6,000 sites across the Northern Hemisphere, and found that the growing amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere have likely increased the frequency of heavy precipitation events across this region.
The second study demonstrated a new way of analyzing how manmade global warming may have increased the chances for a particular flood that occurred in the U.K. in 2000. The high-resolution computer model used for the study showed that global warming increased the risk of the 2000 flood event by at least 20 percent, with two-thirds of the computer model simulations showing a much larger increase in flood risk, by up to 90 percent.
Climate scientists are moving forward with plans to form an international extreme events attribution group, which will focus on advancing this type of work. Also on the extreme events front, in November, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.” The report by the United Nations Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change makes clear that warm weather extremes and heavy precipitation events have increased, most likely as a result of manmade climate change. And it projects with a high degree of confidence increasing hot weather and heavy downpours in the future.
2. Surface temperature record holds up to (another) review
For years, global warming skeptics sought to cast doubt on the surface temperature record. Some said warming was an artifact of the urban heat island effect - which can raise temperatures in urban areas compared to rural locations - rather than increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Others pointed to inconsistencies in correcting for gaps or biases in the data. A web-based movement formed, with a small army of volunteers documenting the locations and setup of official weather stations. In response to numerous questions about the surface temperature record, a blue-ribbon panel was organized to find out once and for all if the Earth is really warming, and by how much. The panel was led by a physicist who had expressed skepticism about mainstream climate science findings in the past, and some of the money for the panel came from politically conservative-leaning groups. In the end, though, the Berkeley Earth Study, confirmed what most climate scientists already knew - the surface temperature data is correct in showing a pronounced warming trend. To be specific, the analysis found there has been 0.911 degrees Celsius of land warming (+/- 0.042 C) since the 1950s, or about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The team’s analysis strongly refutes claims that the urban heat island effect causes a warm temperature bias in the surface data. The researchers also found that despite the skeptics’ assertions, readings from networks of temperature stations are not compromised by poor data quality from many of the individual stations.
3. “Climategate 2” falls flat
For the thousands of experts who study the climate, 2011 was something of a rebuilding year - a chance to regroup from the turbulence caused by the so-called “climategate” emails scandal. After multiple investigations cleared climate scientists of the most serious allegations of wrongdoing, more emails between a few top climate researchers were released, again purporting to show climate scientists doctoring scientific evidence and conspiring to keep out dissenting voices from peer-reviewed journals. This time, however, the damage to climate science’s street cred was minimal, as the media and the scientific community quickly found the emails to lack much evidence of anything scientifically significant. The unauthorized release of the new batch of emails may have jump-started what seemed to be a dormant investigation into who obtained the emails and posted them on several websites, with actions by law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Britain.
4. Congress Nixes National Climate Service
The 2010 midterm elections brought into power a surge of House lawmakers who either strongly questioned or flat out denied the existence of manmade climate change. As a result, the gap between climate scientists and politicians became wide enough to swallow what were once thought of as common sense, bipartisan ideas - such as creating a National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to complement the National Weather Service. Under the proposal, which was originally put forward by the Bush administration, the Climate Service would serve as a one-stop shop for climate info, from El Nino forecasts to projections of what the climate may be like 50 years from now.
The proposal called for realigning NOAA’s offices and functions to meet the increasing demand for climate information from farmers, businesses, investors and others who currently must navigate an alphabet soup of NOAA organizations to find the information they’re looking for, and to develop new climate analysis products and tools. NOAA requested no new money for the move, instead seeking congressional approval to restructure itself. House Republicans blocked the move, and even sought to investigate whether NOAA was moving forward with the plan against its wishes. The death of the Climate Service proposal was presaged by a vote last spring that put House members on record about whether they agree with the scientific evidence showing that the globe is warming, likely due in part to human activities.
The amendment, which was offered to a bill aimed at halting proposed U.S. EPA greenhouse gas regulations, stated: “Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate changes is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.”
The fact that it failed by a vote of 184 to 240 (three Democrats were among those who rejected the amendment; one Republican supported it) signals the depth of the problem that scientists, environmental policy advocates, environmentalists, and others face in pushing for climate change action at the federal level. A majority of one chamber of the Congress just does not agree with the conclusions of most publishing climate scientists. This is a remarkable turn of events, considering that the last Congress narrowly passed a sweeping greenhouse gas regulation bill, which died in the Senate.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The world in 2011 was not quite as warm as it has been for most of the past decade, US government scientists said. The average global temperature was 14.4C, making 2011 the 11th hottest on record. That's 0.5C warmer than the 20th century average. In fact, it was hotter than every year last century except 1998. One reason 2011 was milder than recent years was the La Nina cooling of the central Pacific Ocean. La Ninas occur every few years and generally cause global temperatures to drop, but this was THE WARMEST LA NINA YEAR ON RECORD. And 2011 also was THE WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD for Spain and Norway, and the second warmest for the United Kingdom. In the United States, it was only .05C above normal, which made it the 23rd warmest on record. But 17 cities - including Houston, Miami, Trenton and Austin - had their WARMEST YEARS.
This marks the 35th straight year that global temperatures were warmer than normal. NOAA's records for world average temperatures date back to 1880. "It would be premature to make any conclusion that we would see any hiatus of the longer-term warming trend. Global temperatures are continuing to increase." NASA, which calculates global temperatures in a slightly different way, announced essentially the same temperature for the year. But NASA's record-keeping calls it the ninth warmest ever. They expect that in the next few years the world will set yet a new record high temperature. 2010 tied for the hottest on record.
NOAA also released new figures for extreme weather. The agency recalculated the number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the US, bumping the total from 12 to 14. Officials added Tropical Storm Lee, which dumped rain from Maryland to New England in September, and a July hail and wind storm in Colorado to the list. The 14 extreme events SMASH THE OLD RECORD of nine billion-dollar disasters in 2008. "America has endured an UNUSUALLY large number of extreme events, totaling damages of more than $55 billion." For the year, a record 58% of the US had either extreme rainfall or severe drought, about triple what is normal for the country. Seven states - New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Indiana and Kentucky - had their WETTEST YEARS SINCE THOSE RECORDS WERE KEPT beginning in 1895. Texas had its DRIEST YEAR EVER.

**Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble,
attempts what is above its strength,
pleads no excuse of impossibility;
for it thinks all things lawful for itself,
and all things possible.**
Thomas Kempis

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/21/12 -

1/20/12 -

1/19/12 -

IRAN - More than 200 people were injured on late Thursday afternoon when a moderate earthquake struck near a city in northeastern Iran. A number of buildings in the region collapsed. The 5.5-magnitude earthquake at 4.05 p.m. local time (1235 GMT) was centered about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) northeast of Nishapur, a city in the province of Razavi Khorasan near the border with Turkmenistan. It struck about 8 kilometers (4.9 miles) deep, making it a very shallow earthquake. Some 268,000 people may have experienced strong shaking. An estimated 2.7 million others may have felt light to moderate shaking. "The population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and unreinforced brick with timber floor construction." Officials said a number of buildings in nearby towns and cities had been damaged or collapsed, causing injuries. About 30 people had to be hospitalized.
On December 20, 2010, at least seven people were killed and hundreds more were injured when a strong 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) from the town of Hosein abad in Kerman Province, located in southeastern Iran. And on August 27, 2010, two young children were killed and more than a dozen others were injured when a moderate 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck 76 kilometers (47 miles) from Damghan, a city in the country's Semnan Province. Before that, in November 2009, a light 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, injuring more than 700 people. In December 2003, around 31,000 people were killed and more than 30,000 others were injured when a strong 6-magnitude earthquake struck near Bam. It left the area devastated with 85 percent of buildings damaged or destroyed in the city.
Iran quake injured up to 238 - Eight villages and towns were affected by the quake. At least 85 aftershocks have hit the area since then. Some buildings had been damaged and windows shattered in villages near Neyshabur. The quake lasted seven seconds and was THE STRONGEST FELT IN THE REGION IN 10 YEARS.

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, shattering windows and sending frightened residents into the streets. The quake struck in the Pacific Ocean about 35 miles (55km) south-west of the city of Mapastepec, near Mexico's border with Guatemala. The tremor was felt hundreds of miles away in El Salvador's capital, San Salvador. There were no early reports of major damage or casualties. The quake struck at 12:27 local time (18:47 GMT) at a depth of 40 miles. Residents reported feeling the impact of the quake all across the region.

NEW ZEALAND - The Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa and Taupo regions on New Zealand's North Island were shaken by earthquakes on Saturday and Sunday while scientists continue to record aftershocks in Canterbury. A magnitude 4.3 earthquake was recorded 30km southeast of Hastings at a depth of 30km at 8.49am (6.49 AEDT). A magnitude 3.6 earthquake struck 30km east of Masterton at a depth of 40km at 11.11pm (9.11pm AEDT) Saturday night and Taupo felt a 2.9 earthquake at 3.07am (1.07am AEDT) this morning. On February 3, 1931, an earthquake measuring 7.8 killed 256 people in Hawke's Bay.
Meanwhile there was no relief for people in Canterbury nearly a year after Christchurch was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. GNS Science reported earthquakes measuring 4.2, 4, 3.8, 3.7, 3.5 and 3.2 in Canterbury so far this weekend.

Small, Migrating Quakes Preceded Japan Megaquake - The devastating earthquake that struck Japan in early 2011 was apparently preceded by small, repeating quakes that migrated slowly to where the disaster eventually took place, scientists now find. The magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Oki temblor in March was the most powerful earthquake known to ever hit Japan and the fifth-most powerful quake ever recorded.
In the month before the Tohoku-Oki "megathrust" quake, researchers found more than a thousand quakes migrated toward its hypocenter, the point where the quake's energy was released, at the rate of 1.2 to 62 miles (2 to 10 kilometers) per day. Their analysis suggests two sequences of faults slowly grinding against each other led to the initial rupture point of the disaster. The second of these sequences may have contributed enough stress to set off the main earthquake.


COSTA RICA - Turrialba Volcano Still Active and Keeping Neighbours On Edge. The fear of an enormous eruption fills the residents near the Turrialba Volcano, located southwest of Cartago and a stone's throw from San José, as the colossus continues to emit ash, sometimes with greater force as it did earlier this week, spewing stones and gases. Experts of the Red Sismológica Nacional and the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico assure area residents that the volcano has calmed down since and there is no cause for further alarm. However, on Thursday afternoon a new emission of ash from the new gap formed last week, accompanied by a slight seismic activity. Experts said that this is normal for an "active" volcano and the residents of the areas of Turrialba, Alvarado and Jimenex should not be overly alarmed. The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias - national emergency commission is maintaining a "green" alert for the area. (photo)

In the Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone 08s (Funso) was located approximately 565 nm north-northeast of Maputo, Mozambique.
- Tropical cyclone 07s (Ethel) was located approximately 475 nm southeast of Port Louis.

Mozambique and Madagascar - The tropical cyclone in the Mozambique Channel menaced the southeastern coast of Africa with potentially damaging winds and flooding rain this weekend and heading into next week. The compact system is displaying a well-defined, low-level circulation, and has sustained winds of over 115 mph. The showers and thunderstorms from Funso have already triggered localized flooding downpours on both sides of the Channel. Funso is expected to turn away from land and continue to strengthen as it gains some distance from land.
The area has already seen significant adverse tropical weather this month. Tropical Cyclone Chandra made landfall in western Madagascar early in the month. Next, Tropical Depression Dando landed in southern Mozambique near Maputo. Almost 500 people were left homeless in Maputo, the nation's capital, in the aftermath of Dando's flooding rain and damaging winds. Torrential rain triggered by Dando also reached into northeastern South Africa.
Tropical Storm Dando - An estimated five lives were lost, while thousands more have been severely affected by the FIRST TROPICAL STORM SINCE 1984 TO HIT southern Mozambique. Tropical storm Dando hit the region last Sunday leaving behind destruction and flooding. It has since dissipated. In South Africa they are continuing disaster relief to the flood stricken communities in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. As many as two hundred people were rescued from the rising waters. The Kruger National Park was also monitoring water levels after torrential rains this week swept bridges and roads away.

Tropical storm Ethel kills one on Indian Ocean island - The tropical storm killed a teenager in the Mauritian island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, with authorities issuing a category three cyclone alert Friday. The 14-year-old was electrocuted as tropical storm Ethel swept the islands.


CANADA - Extreme and wacky weather continues as RECORD LOWS hit parts of Canada. Coast-to-coast, Canadians continue to deal with 'weird and wacky' weather. Freezing rain, severe wind chills and mild temperatures persist across the country, with temperatures dropping in the West and winter storm warnings hitting much of the East. Bitterly cold weather has helped Alberta has set a new record for electricity demand. On Monday around the supper hour, demand peaked at an all-time high of 10,609 megawatts, which beat the previous record set Sunday.
On Wednesday, record lows hit Alberta as arctic air moved east. Edmonton faced a severe wind chill of about -43 C while Calgary expected a chill of -35 C. Bitterly cold air combined with a westerly wind of 15 to 30 km/h will produce wind chill values in the -40 to -49 C range in southern Saskatchewan throughout Wednesday and into Thursday. Winnipeg also got a blast of winter as temperatures were set to hit -36 C. At these extreme values, frostbite on exposed skin can occur in less than 10 minutes.


Salmonella sickened 68 in multistate outbreak tied to Mexican restaurant chain - Salmonella Enteritidis infections linked to eating at an unnamed Mexican restaurant chain in 10 states in October and November 2011. Investigators were unable to implicate a specific food but said the epidemiologic curve of cases resembled those of past outbreaks in produce. The report also said ground beef was unlikely to blame because of the handling and cooking processes used. It also said contamination likely occurred before the product reached the restaurants. Twenty-one patients (31%) were hospitalized, but no deaths were reported. The median age was 25, and 54% of patients were women. Texas had 43 cases, Oklahoma 16, and Kansas 2, while seven states had 1 case each: Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No updates Thursday and Friday this week.

**Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage.**
Lao Tzu

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/17/12 -

Small quake shakes Southern Illinois - Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey confirm a small earthquake rattled an ares of Southern Illinois early Tuesday morning. A magnitude-2.2 tremor was recorded at 5:10 a.m. No damage was reported. Researchers said the quake's epicenter was about four miles east of Troy, Illinois, or around 25 miles east of St. Louis. The quake originated from an estimated depth of 1.8 miles. The quake was believed to have related to a series of faults associated with the New Madrid Fault Zone. The last major earthquake recorded in Southern Illinois was a 5.2 tremor recorded on April 18, 2008 and was centered near Bellmont, Ill. A 2.7 tremor was noted on September 13, 2011 east of Cisne, Ill.


Ash closes Argentina airport days after its re-opening - A cloud of ash caused by a volcano in Chile has closed an airport in neighbouring Argentina just days after it had re-opened. The closure of the airport in Bariloche comes three days after flights had resumed following a seven-month suspension due to ash.

No current tropical storms.


U.S. north-west braces for record snowfall - A potentially historic winter storm is forecast to dump heavy snow across the Pacific Northwest today, probably wreaking travel havoc in areas not used to so much of the white stuff. States in the US Pacific Northwest are bracing for ONE OF THE WORST SNOWSTORMS THE REGION HAS SEEN IN A GENERATION. A westerly storm is expected to engulf the state of Washington, bringing up to 2ft (61cm) of snow. Mountainous areas already hit by a weekend storm will be hardest hit, with areas of Oregon also seeing deep snow. Seattle officials fear the storm could bring the heaviest snow at the city's airport since 1985.
Travel could become dangerous or impossible in the region.
The NWS described the upcoming snow storm as a "classic overrunning scenario" seeing an approaching warm front drawing cool air down from British Columbia, across the border in Canada. Most of the Washington lowlands will receive 5-10in (13-25cm) of snow overnight on Tuesday and into today - equivalent to the city's ANNUAL SNOWFALL IN ONE DAY. Other forecasters suggested the snow levels could be even higher.
Weather officials in Canada were keeping their eye on the storm front. Vancouver has already seen snow and ice, with concerns that Wednesday's heavy snow could head over the border and into British Columbia.

INDIA - Cold wave in the North. After keeping its date with the Sun for a few days, Bangalore's weather has swung to extreme cold conditions. Monday saw THE COLDEST MORNING IN THE STATE IN DECADES. The harsh cold weather broke records in many places, with Madikeri registering its LOWEST IN 132 YEARS at 4.8 degrees Celsius, Mysore's coldest day in 120 years at 7.7 degrees Celsius and Bangalore's coldest day of January in the past 19 years with minimum temperature touching 12 degrees Celsius. The outskirts of Bangalore like HAL airport area touched below 10 degrees Celsius and GKVK was freezing at 8.4 degrees Celsius. Maximum temperature across the state remained around 26 degrees Celsius. Bijapur recorded THE LOWEST EVER MINIMUM TEMPERATURE at 8.4 degrees Celsius.
"The severe cold wave from the North and North-East, combined with clear skies, has appreciably brought down the minimum temperatures across the state. Also the shorter day time and longer nights have reduced the radiation on Earth's surface." "The severity of cold also depends on the air-moss strip passing through the co-ordinates of Karnataka. This strip keeps shifting and the area which falls under this strip gets affected by the cold wave. Also the prolonged north-east monsoon has contributed to the cold spell.''


China report spells out "grim" climate change risks - More chaotic weather could cut China's grain production. More provinces to face severe water shortages. Extra steps needed to protect cities from rising seas. Global warming threatens China's march to prosperity by cutting crops, shrinking rivers and unleashing more droughts and floods, says the government's latest assessment of climate change, projecting big shifts in how the nation feeds itself.
The warnings are carried in the government's "Second National Assessment Report on Climate Change," which sums up advancing scientific knowledge about the consequences and costs of global warming for China - the world's second biggest economy and the biggest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution. With China's economy likely to rival the United States' in size in coming decades, that will trigger wider consequences. "China faces extremely grim ecological and environmental conditions under the impact of continued global warming and changes to China's regional environment."


Tuberculosis which appears to be totally resistant to antibiotic treatment has been reported for the first time by Indian doctors. Concern over drug-resistant strains of TB is growing, with similar 'incurable' TB emerging in Italy and Iran. Doctors in Mumbai said 12 patients had a "totally drug resistant" form of the infection, and three have died. TB is one of the world's biggest killers, second only to HIV among infectious diseases. Normally a patient with TB is given a six to nine month course of antibiotics to eradicate it. However, new strains of the bacterium have developed which are increasingly resistant to the antibiotics most commonly used to treat it. Partially drug-resistant TB can now found in countries across the world, and "multi-drug resistant" strains affect countries such as Russia and China.
The Indian reports will fuel concerns over the ability of doctors to contain the disease in years to come. The new cases represent a "serious threat" to global efforts to control TB. "What we're seeing is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We don't know how widespread this is because so few people are tested for drug resistance." The high prevalence of TB in India, coupled with high population density within its cities, means that the new type of TB could be a bigger problem than previous "totally resistant" strains. "It's going to take a massive effort and change in political will to get to grips with this - not just from the Indian government but from everyone else. This is a global problem, not just an Indian one."