Friday, March 19, 2010

You never know what is enough, until you know
what is more than enough.
William Blake

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
3/18/10 -

CHILE - The high-magnitude earthquake of February 27 in southern Central Chile closed one of the two remaining seismic gaps at the South American plate boundary. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences has been monitoring this gap since 2006. The remaining gap in the north of Chile now holds potential for a comparable strong quake. Approximately one-third of the world-wide seismic energy has been discharged during the last century in earthquakes with magnitudes of over 8 along the South American-Pacific plate boundary. The repeat-time between two large earthquakes is shorter here than almost anywhere else on our planet. This last non-ruptured segment of the Earth's crust off the Chilean west coast is in the area around Iquique on the South American Nazca Plate Boundary. A strong quake in this region can have consequences for the global economy: the earthquakes here develop through the subduction of the Pacific-floor under South America. The same process also leads to the formation of ore deposits in the Earth's crust. Thus, the largest copper deposit of the world is to be found on the western boundary of the Central Andes. A strong quake could interrupt or even endanger the global supply of copper and lithium. (photo)

CALIFORNIA - The moderate earthquake that struck the Los Angeles area Tuesday likely occurred a long a fault that could generate a much stronger, major quake in the future. "This is the fault that could eat L.A." Seismologists say the Puente Hills thrust system could touch off earthquakes up to MAGNITUDE 7.5 DIRECTLY UNDERNEATH DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES. Such temblors would prove larger than any in the modern history of the Los Angeles Basin. The Puente Hills fault, which winds through the area's fractured underbelly for about 25 miles - from northern Orange County to Beverly Hills - has generated at least four earthquakes ranging from magnitude 7.2 to 7.5 in the last 11,000 years. "The bad news is that when the Puente Hills thrust fault ruptures in an earthquake, it tends to do so in a very big way." Tuesday's magnitude-4.4 quake struck at 4:04 a.m. and was centered 1 mile east-northeast of Pico Rivera.

Cyclone ULUI was 592 nmi ENE of Townsville, Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Ului is expected to become stronger as it approaches the Queensland coast. The cyclone, which was downgraded to category three Wednesday, was expected to re-intensify to category four last night or today, with wind gusts of 230 kilometers to 280 kilometers. The cyclone is expected to hit the Queensland coast between Cardwell and St. Lawrence over the weekend.


HAITI - Second "catastrophe"? Despite billions of US dollars in pledges and an unprecedented humanitarian drive, it is likely too late to avert a second disaster in quake-hit Haiti, a top US aid co-ordinator has warned. Tents and tarpaulins are simply not enough to protect tens of thousands of Haitians from the coming rains and hurricanes, and a new wave of quake survivors could perish in a second "catastrophe".
"Having observed camps on very steep slopes and that you cannot simply relocate hundreds of thousands of people easily, we anticipate that the rainy season will lead, to a certain degree, to another catastrophe that despite the hard work of the international community will be hard to avoid. Deaths, landslides and so forth. What we can do is work with the UN to create shelters that people can find refuge in, but there simply isn't the time." Some 218,000 Haitians are deemed to be in "red camps", those considered at gravest flood risk, and the race is on to find them alternative shelter before the rain and possibly calamitous landslides. There have already been a few nights of torrential downpours in the past week and sustained rains could spell disaster in Port-au-Prince where countless people subsist in wretched conditions perched on treacherous slopes. "Unfortunately, many of the camps are in areas that have no drainage whatsoever and many of the shelters are on slopes that are 20 degrees or steeper."
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti as dusk fell on January 12 was one of the worst natural disasters of modern times, if not the worst.

A third of U.S. at risk for historic floods this Spring - Weather forecasters issued an urgent message to millions of Americans Wednesday: get ready for potentially historic flooding. From the East, to the upper Midwest, and across the South from Texas to Florida, parts of 35 states could be in danger this Spring.

AUSTRALIA - Melbourne's run of warm weather has SMASHED CLIMATE RECORDS, with 100 days in a row over 20C (68 degrees Fahrenheit). The previous longest run was 78 days over summer in 2000 and 2001. And THE NEW RECORD ISN'T STOPPING ANYTIME SOON, with Melbourne's weather forecast to be over 20C for the next week. Accurate and complete records first started in 1855, making this THE LONGEST WARM STRETCH IN MORE THAN 150 YEARS. The last day below 20C was December 8, which hit 19.8. "The world is getting hotter and we're getting more of these hot days."

RUSSIA - The Russian Security Council was due to meet in the Kremlin Wednesday to take up threats posed by global climate change. President Medvedev will preside over the meeting that will focus on action on Russia’s climate doctrine, which was approved in December last year. The Russian leader has repeatedly pointed out that by the year 2020 Russia will have cut down on greenhouse gas discharges by 25% of the 1990 amount, via structural change in the economy. Medvedev is also certain that the Kyoto Protocol should be succeeded by a more legally perfect document to regulate international cooperation.

CANADA - Canadian government 'hiding truth about climate change', report claims. Canada's climate researchers are being muzzled, their funding slashed, research stations closed, findings ignored and advice on the critical issue of the century unsought by Prime Minister Harper's government, according to a 40-page report by a coalition of 60 non-governmental organisations. "This government says they take climate change seriously but they do nothing and try to hide the truth about climate change." Climate change is not an abstract concept. It already results in the deaths of 300,000 people a year, virtually all in the world's poorest countries. Some 325 million people are being seriously affected, with economic losses averaging 125 billion dollars a year. Released last fall by the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, the report notes that these deaths and losses are not just from the rise in severe weather events but mainly from the gradual environmental degradation due to climate change. "People everywhere deserve to have leaders who find the courage to achieve a solution to this crisis."
Canadians are unlikely to know any of this. "Media coverage of climate change science, our most high-profile issue, has been reduced by over 80 percent," says internal government documents obtained by Climate Action Network. The dramatic decline results from a 2007 Harper government-imposed prohibition on government scientists speaking to reporters. While climate experts were being muzzled, known climate change deniers were put in key positions on scientific funding bodies. Last week, scientists who study climate change from a remote polar science research base on Ellesmere Island said they have run out of funding and will shut down this year. Earlier this month, the new federal budget failed to provide any funding for Canada's main climate science initiative, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmosphere Sciences. Funding everything from global climate models, to the melting of polar ice and frequency of Arctic storms, to droughts and water supply, the foundation will run out of cash early next year. Previous governments have always consulted with scientists prior to funding and policy decisions related to science, but the current government does not even consult its own scientists. "Almost all of the money this government claims is climate change work is about getting more oil out of the ground. Canadian climate science is falling behind and the world is not getting information about what is happening in the Canadian Arctic." The Harper government sees climate change as a communications problem and is eliminating government-funded climate research so there won't be any "bad news" about what is happening. "This government is doing nothing on climate but they always make sure to sound like they're doing something to fool Canadians."


Astronomers have discovered that a star is on course to collide with the outskirts of our solar system with potentially catastrophic consequences. The good news is that the star is not expected to arrive for a million or more years. New calculations show that the orange dwarf, called Gliese 710, will crash through the Oort Cloud that surrounds the Sun. The disruption to this shell of many billions of icy fragments would launch a shower of comets into the inner solar system, threatening the planets with devastating impacts. Some believe it could lead to a repeat of the Late Heavy Bombardment that left the Moon covered with craters around 4 billion years ago. The threat from Gliese 710, a star with about half the mass of the sun, 63 light-years away in the constellation of the Serpent, is rated as 86 per cent likely. That is nearly as good as a certainty. Some astronomers are suggesting that Gliese 710 might be circled by its own Oort Cloud, which could produce a double shower of hazardous comets.
The new alert comes days after a NASA astrobiology site reported that an invisible brown dwarf star nicknamed Nemesis may be circling the sun and causing mass extinctions of life on Earth every 26 million years. There are hopes that if Nemesis exists, it will be detected by NASA's heat-sensitive Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer satellite, WISE, which is currently scanning the sky for brown dwarfs.

A CME that was supposed to hit Earth's magnetic field on March 18th didn't. Either it missed, or the cloud is approaching so slowly that the ultimate impact could be negligible.


Many lower-risk people got first H1N1 shots - An investigation by the Associated Press using government documents tendered under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that, though the first wave of H1N1 shots were designated for high-risk groups, many were diverted to lower-risk healthy adults in firms, refineries, jails, and other sites. Last fall, as swine flu cases mounted and parents desperately sought to protect their kids, the hard-to-get vaccine was handed out in some surprising places: the Royal Caribbean cruise line, the headquarters of drug giant Merck, the Johnson Space Center and a Department of Energy office in Idaho. In some cases, financial institutions and other recipients got doses before some county health departments and doctors' offices. Also, even though the federal government spent more than $1.6 billion to manufacture and distribute the vaccine, there is no complete record of where it went. That's "a big deal" — the absence of complete data makes it hard to spot waste and other problems.

Hong Kong is detecting rising numbers of flu cases during its traditional flu-season peak, with half the isolates turning out to be H1N1 pandemic flu. The remainder of isolates are influenza B, not other seasonal influenza A strains. The centre said that it recorded 268 new flu cases last week, compared with 177 the week before, and added that visits to doctors for flu-like illnesses are rising.

Blood may transmit H1N1 - the blood service of the Japanese Red Cross Society has expressed concern that blood transfusion may transmit pandemic H1N1 flu. Forty out of 96 people who gave blood last fall were diagnosed with H1N1 within 2 days of donation. Testing of retained segments did not reveal H1N1 nucleic acids; the researchers say flu viremia may be too brief to be detectable.