Friday, August 13, 2010

Turbo-charged monsoon confounds forecasters - Normally the jet stream is a giant loop of high speed winds that whip round the upper atmosphere. The jet stream isn't involved in day to day weather - it's too high up - but because it pushes the atmosphere around it's very important in steering large scale weather patterns below.
The stream has split in two. One arm has gone north, another south. The patch in the middle is Russia's drought. A circulating pattern of air has been sitting over Russia for far longer than normal, causing the extreme temperatures and wildfires they've had there. But what's happening over Pakistan is even stranger. The southern arm of the Jet stream has looped down so far it has crossed over the Himalayas into north western Pakistan. Experts at the Met Office say this is VERY UNUSUAL. And the result is that the fast moving jets stream winds high up have helped suck the warm, wet, monsoon air even faster and higher into the atmosphere - and that has caused rains like no one can remember. It has turbo charged the monsoon if you like. They're NOT SURE THAT'S EVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

**In my life nothing goes wrong.
When things seem to not meet my expectations,
I let go of how I think things should be.
It’s a matter of not having any attachment to any fixed outcome.
Deepak Chopra

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/12/10 -

Haiti quake reveals previously unknown fault - The devastating quake that slammed Haiti on January 12 occurred on a previously unrecognized fault zone, report scientists who are still trying to determine the implications for the region’s long-term seismic risk.The newly discovered fault hasn’t been officially named yet but is informally known as the Léogane fault, after one of the Haitian cities that sits directly atop it.
Just after the magnitude-7 temblor struck, scientists presumed that the epicenter of the quake was located on the well-known Enriquillo faul. But data collected after the quake didn’t jibe with the notion of an Enriquillo-spawned quake.. For one thing, the edges of that fault are vertical and the two sides slide past each other horizontally, but comparisons of space-based images taken before and after the quake revealed that the area north of the fault had been forced substantially upward, as well as southward, during the event. During a post-quake field survey along the coastline west of Port-au-Prince, scientists also found that formerly submerged corals died when the quake lifted them above the tides by as much as 60 centimeters. Altogether, these data point to a different culprit and suggest that this previously unknown fault is about 30 kilometers long. Unlike the Enriquillo fault, which extends vertically into the ground, the newly discovered fault dips steeply northward into the earth at an angle of about 60 degrees.
“This is part of a whole system of faults that we hadn’t recognized before." During the January quake, deep parts of the Léogane fault slipped past each other as much as 5 meters. Despite the significant slippage that occurred at depths between 5 and 20 kilometers, there was - UNUSUALLY - no rupture of the ground at Earth’s surface.

No current tropical cyclones.


Heavy rain in north-west China is disrupting rescue efforts in Zhouqu county, which was hit by a landslide on Sunday killing more than 1,000 people. Hundreds more are still missing, with hopes of finding survivors fading. Fresh mudslides have blocked a road being used to bring in supplies as well as blocking the Bailong river, forcing the water level to rise by 3m (10ft). Emergency shelters have been flooded. Forecasters predict heavier downpours for the next two days. 1,117 people are confirmed dead and more than 627 missing, 45,000 people in Zhouqu county evacuated, 300 buildings buried under mud and 66% of the county is without power. As much as 90mm (3.5in) of rain was forecast for today.
Thunderstorms overnight triggered mudslides that swept away six houses in a village near Zhouqu town, leaving three people missing. The rains have made the mud more unstable and the authorities face a dilemma: should they continue the search for survivors or concentrate on clearing the debris? The continuing rain means that unless the sludge is cleared quickly there is risk of further disaster.
The affected area is mountainous and has few roads. Some have been blocked by landslides, while others are congested with heavy traffic.The authorities also face a growing problem of where to house survivors. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed and another 3,000 flooded. More than 4,000 tents have been sent to Zhouqu county but the mountainous terrain means there is little open space to set up camps.
'Hundreds trapped' in mud as rains spread to Sichaun, China. The toll is rising in northern and western China and rains in Sichaun have killed five.
500 people are trapped by mudslides in Mianzhu, close to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Rescue teams have now been sent to Sichuan as well as to Gansu province. Rains started near Chengdu on Thursday evening and have now cut off communications and road links. Many people had left the area, which was scarred by the huge earthquake of 2008 and so could be more vulnerable to land slips.
As recue work continues further north, questioning has begun over what could have caused the landslide in Zhouqu, Gansu, to be so devastating. People are asking if heavy logging in the area and poor urban planning is to blame for the disaster. The Chinese media say studies carried out by researchers in the 1970s and again in the 1990s concluded the area was vulnerable to natural disasters. Logging - both legal and illegal - made the problem worse. The area is extremely poor. Logging was banned there 12 years ago but people continued to cut down and sell trees on the mountainside to make a living. A recent drought and the Sichuan earthquake two years ago may have weakened the rock face above the town but protective measures and warning systems could have saved lives.
Whatever the cause, survivors of the Gansu landslide are now huddled in tents, which are drenched through, pitched on unstable slopes. Fresh mudslides have blocked a road being used to bring in supplies as well as blocking the Bailong river, forcing the water level to rise by 3m (10ft). Emergency shelters have been flooded. Forecasters predict heavier downpours for the next two days. As much as 90mm (3.5in) of rain was forecast for today.
The floods have spread from the northwest of the country, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area, through Punjab and then down to the more southerly Sindh province. "You have to imagine the length and breadth of Pakistan, areas along the Indus river and other tributaries. Those people living alongside these rivers, many people tenant farmers and others, have lost their homes, have seen their homes damaged or even if their homes are intact, all their possessions – fans, clothing, quilts, bedding, other items – are completely awash with mud and unusable. These people are not wealthy people, they have lost everything and most of all they have lost all their food stocks, and this is very dangerous for a population that’s impoverished already."

IOWA - Ames has been inundated - Wednesday the college town in central Iowa was turned into an island, surrounded by water, no travel on I-35 or Highway 30. Hundreds have been forced from their homes after 3 consecutive nights of torrential thunderstorms. The flooding may turn out to be even worse then the record floods of 1993. As of late night the city's water supply had been shut down, local residents forced to boil water for drinking and washing. Iowa State University has been shut down today because of the flooding. (link to YouTube video clip)
4 hours to the north, much of the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, metro area picked up nearly a MONTH'S worth of rain in about 4-6 hours Tuesday. There were 3 separate storms on Tuesday, early morning, late afternoon, again late evening. This is the first time meterologists can recall 3 separate outbreaks of storms in one afternoon/evening. When there's this much water in the air (and the atmosphere is this unstable with UNUSALLY cold air floating 5-7 miles overhead) it doesn't take much to turn otherwise tame updrafts into full-blown thunderheads, towering "cumulonimbus" clouds sprouting 50,000 to 60,000 feet into the sky, a wall of water.


RUSSIA - Moscow 'hiding heatstroke cases' after death rate jumps. Doctors in Moscow are being told not to diagnose heatstroke as a cause of death after a jump in the mortality rate during the heatwave. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one doctor said the unofficial instruction being passed down was to use diagnoses that "sound less frightening". The emergencies ministry reported that as of Thursday morning 66 major fires continued to burn across Russia, 40 of them in peat bogs, which are notoriously difficult to extinguish. While wildfires continued to burn up to 100km (60 miles) away from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine, experts said there was little danger of serious radioactive contamination. The fires have destroyed a quarter of the agricultural land where cereals are grown. Russia has already suspended exports of wheat.
The number of people said to have been killed by the fires directly stands at 54 after two security personnel died fighting flames near the Sarov nuclear research centre in Nizhny Novgorod. Little has been revealed officially about the number of people who succumbed to temperatures approaching 40C (104F) and choking smog from the fires.
National mortality figures for the summer have not been reported and when the city of Moscow revealed on Monday that its daily death rate had more than doubled, the federal government swiftly challenged the figures. A doctor said,
"We were told that the figures for heatstroke in Moscow had gone off the scale." "Even though the heatwave is now abating, the informal instruction is in force until 1 September."
Upper temperatures in Moscow are forecast to fall just below 30C at the weekend, though this is still well above the August average of 22C. The sky above the city was clear of smog on Thursday thanks to favourable winds and some success in fighting the wildfires.

AUSTRALIA'S fish are on the move - and climate change has been blamed. Researchers have found about a third of coastal fish species in the country's southeast are moving territory. Warm-water species like the rock blackfish are thriving, extending their range and becoming more abundant. Queensland tiger sharks are making their way south.
But some cool-water fish are struggling, with 19 Tasmanian fish species in serious decline or becoming extinct.
"The problem is that in southern Tasmania, shallow cold-water species have nowhere to escape warmer conditions in the sea." The researchers said the changes are partly due to climate change. Southeast Australia was a "climate change hotspot" with water temperatures in some areas rising by almost two degrees.


One quarter of Russia's crops have been lost amid a record heatwave. President Medvedev warned that many farms were on the verge on bankruptcy. "We have a very complicated situation because as a whole in the country around a quarter of the grain crops have been burned." Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier this week sliced the leading wheat producer's grain harvest forecast due to a RECORD DROUGHT, saying it would produce 10 million tonnes less grain than planned. Mr Putin last week shocked international markets by announcing that from Sunday Russia would ban exports to keep prices down at home and ensure there was enough feed grain for its cattle herd.

Global wheat supply forecast cut - The USDA cut the forecast for global production in 2010-11 by 2.3% after revising down its crop forecast for Russia. Global production would be 15.3m tonnes lower at 645.7m tons, it said. The production outlook for Russia, which has seen its crops devastated by drought and extreme heat, was lowered by 15% to 45m tonnes. Neighbouring Kazakhstan also had its forecast cut. But world wheat stocks still remain above crisis levels seen in 2007-08. The USDA said stocks would fall from just under 194m tonnes to 174.8m tonnes.
The cut to production forecasts was bigger than analysts had expected. But it was offset somewhat by increases in production forecast in the US, India, Australia and Uzbekistan. The USDA report also predicted that reduced supplies and higher prices would reduce global consumption of wheat. Earlier this month, fears about production levels lifted wheat prices on the futures markets to their highest levels for two years. But the USDA sought to play down concerns that wheat prices would continue to rise to levels last seen during the food price crisis three years ago.
"Expectations that prices in the next few months will hit the record levels of 2007-08 are not substantiated by the reality of the global supply situation." Last year, Russia was the world's third largest wheat exporter, behind the US and Canada, according to the USDA. The USDA cut its wheat production forecasts for Kazakhstan by 18%. It is suffering the same conditions as Russia. Ukraine had its forecast cut by 15%. "The FSU [Former Soviet Union] NUMBERS WERE BREATHTAKING. We haven't seen USDA make an adjustment like that for some time."

Pakistan floods cause 'huge losses' to crops - Significant amounts of the grain, sugarcane and rice harvests have been washed away. Floodwater triggered by heavy monsoon rains is still surging south along the Indus River, forcing people from their homes.
Grain stocks had been destroyed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier) province, but some remained in southern Punjab province. "We have losses in cotton, in sugarcane, in rice, in pulses and in tobacco - these are huge losses for the future. These are the nation's cash crops which will really affect the economy of Pakistan." Aid workers are reportedly being attacked by desperate, starving people. "Their crops have gone, their livestock has gone, the infrastructure, the roads are gone. Right now our land link with the rest of the country is gone." In a statement this week, the Pakistani Taliban described the floods as God's punishment on the country for accepting secular leaders. They urged Pakistanis to boycott foreign aid.

Australian vegetable production falls. - A 5.9 percent drop in Australian vegetable production has compounded the pressure local growers are feeling from imports. The drop in production was worrying, as it came as consumers were paying the lowest winter prices in more than five years, and competition from imports increased. Production of capsicums was down most, by 16.7 per cent, potatoes by 15.8 per cent and watermelons by 13.8 per cent on the previous year. The area planted for vegetables fell by about 4 per cent in 2008/09.


A monster fish has been terrorising swimers at a popular Darwin city beach. Witnesses say the 1m-long beast - dubbed The Sucker Fish - chases, head butts, slaps and nibbles on anyone near it at the recreation lagoon at the waterfront. "He's very territorial. Once you go through its territory it chases you for about 100m all the way back to shore. He either hits you with his finn or tries to head butt you. It's quite eerie when he first does it." Experts are puzzled as to the kind of species the beast may be, speculating a queenfish or trevally may be behind the attacks. The behaviour is UNUSUAL. "I don't think it would be dangerous."
The sightings came a year after a rogue cod bit a woman on the toe while standing in shallow water at Lake Alexander, in Fannie Bay. Darwin City Council closed the lake and used nets and traps for days before catching the fish and releasing it in the ocean.

Hundreds of tourists stung as 'invisible' jellyfish invade Spain's beaches. A flotilla of almost undetectable jellyfish has invaded the beaches of Spain, stinging hundreds of swimmers in days. Thousands of the sea jellies have congregated on the beaches of the Costa Blanca, one of the country’s most popular vacation hotspots, stinging 700 people since Sunday. On an average day only four or five people would fall victim to the creatures.
The invading invertebrates are even more dangerous because they are transparent - prompting authorities in some areas to raise the red flag to stop swimmers entering the waters. “In the five or six years I have been in this job I have never seen anything like this." Officials blamed a combination of strong currents, northerly winds and warm waters - which the creatures enjoy.Experts also blamed over-fishing, which has cut stocks of tuna and swordfish, which are predators of jellyfish. Last month a giant dead jellyfish was responsible for 150 US beachgoers being stung on a beach in New Hampshire, near Boston.


India trashes 'superbug' report, says it's doctored - A day after the Lancet report on drug-resistant 'superbug' NDM-1 created a global scare, India has hit out at the study, which it said was funded by pharma companies that make antibiotics to treat such cases.
AUSTRALIA has recorded three cases of the same new class of superbug - the most resistant to antibiotics yet seen - that is on the rise in Britain.

China examines milk powder 'premature puberty' reports. - China's government is investigating reports that a brand of powdered milk caused infant girls to grow breasts. It is being alleged that hormone-tainted milk from Synutra International caused several cases of premature puberty in Hubei province. A food safety expert for the World Health Organization said China's test results were expected within days and that the agency would then examine them. "At first look, it looks very surprising," he said, adding that this was the first time he had ever heard of such a case. Food safety problems involving milk powder and other products have alarmed Chinese consumers in recent years.
Two years ago, the chemical compound melamine was found in milk products made by 22 Chinese firms. Hundreds of thousands of children were poisoned and six died.