Friday, April 2, 2010

He who has seen present things has seen all,
both everything which has taken place from all eternity
and everything which will be for time without end;
for all things are of one kin and of one form.
Marcus Aurelius

This morning -

Yesterday -
4/1/10 -


Unusual Killer Eruptions Offer No Warning - Some volcanoes can blast sideways and kill without the usual seismic warning signals. In 2007, a strange eruption almost killed two climbers on Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand. The climbers' hut was just 500 meters from a lake, which covered a volcanic vent which suddenly belched a lot of ashy gas into the lake, creating a mini tsunami and a rain of rocks. "So as these guys were being inundated with water, they essentially started drowning in the acidic waters." One climber had about 10 seconds when he thought about how strange it was to be drowning at the top of a mountain. Only the collapse of the floor, which drained the water into the hut's basement, saved them. The entire bizarre outburst lasted less than a minute. Instead of rumbling a lot before exploding hot gas and ash skywards, the volcano had skipped a step and let loose a very peculiar sideways blast from its water-filled crater, without any warning at all.
Something very similar happened on March 17, 2006 on Raoul Island in the Kermadec chain. A sudden burst of gas and debris exploded from the crater called Green Lake, killing a New Zealand Department of Conservation ranger. Geologists now suspect that both eruptions are the result of the same process in which the vent of a simmering volcano can get gradually sealed by minerals, then build up gas pressure until the seal suddenly and unexpectedly rips open like a very large, bottle of hot, boulder-loaded champagne. What's more, there is no reason to believe this sealing process is exclusive to these two volcanoes. "If the chemistry processes are focused appropriately, these things can form in pretty much any volcano-tectonic environment." "The real problem is that they are almost impossible to predict."

No current tropical cyclones.


China on Thursday started ramping up preparations for typhoons, dust storms and other extreme weather disasters as part of a 10-year plan to predict and prevent the worst impacts of climate change. Improved warning systems, new emergency drills and bolstered infrastructure will form the backbone of the new regulations, which are the country's most advanced measures yet to deal with natural disaster. China has a long history of devastating floods and droughts, but officials said the problems were intensifying. In recent years, disasters were characterised by "sudden occurrence, wider variety, greater intensity and higher frequency in the context of global warming". Officials warn this poses a threat to human life and a huge challenge to China's sustainable development.
Natural disasters cause economic losses each year of up to 300bn yuan (£29bn), equivalent to about 2% of the country's gross domestic product. Unusually severe snow storms engulfed southern China in 2008 and the worst drought in a century is now afflicting Yunnan, Guangxi and Sichuan provinces. The new regulations for the prevention of and preparedness for meteorological disasters will establish a legal framework for disaster response, risk assessment, evacuation measures and public education. They will cover terrestrial phenomena – such as extreme temperatures, dust and sand storms, lightning strikes, fog, typhoons – and "space weather", such as solar storms.
Despite its developing nation status, China has an advanced meteorological monitoring system, using weather satellites and a global network of 158 radar stations. The government has invested 10bn yuan in the system in recent years, with the budget rising 15% annually. "The large sums that China invests in its meteorological infrastructure are rarely seen in the world."


CDC estimates 24% of Americans received the H1N1 vaccine.

Less than 40% of healthcare workers have received the pandemic flu vaccine. Almost 62% of healthcare workers received the seasonal flu vaccine but just 37% received the pandemic vaccine. Healthcare workers were more likely to believe that the seasonal flu vaccine was safe when compared to the pandemic vaccine. More workers believed the seasonal flu vaccine was more worth the time and expense than the pandemic vaccine counterpart. Though healthcare workers were the top priority group to receive the first doses in early October, most of those doses were the inhaled version, which was contra-indicated for some people with underlying conditions and those aged 50 and over, both of whom make up a sizable segment of the healthcare workforce.