Thursday, August 26, 2010

This year, RECORD HEAT has occurred in 17 countries, including Pakistan, where on May 26, the mercury hit 53.5° C - suffocating four people to death. Since then, the heat has given way to the unthinkable: catastrophic floods, which have killed at least 1,600 Pakistanis and ruined the homes and livelihoods of more than 20 million others. There are concerns of a cholera outbreak, and the country is now facing a shortage of drinking water. The UN, which has appealed for $460 million in immediate international aid, has called this the greatest humanitarian crisis in history - more devastating than the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake combined. Worse still, there is no end in sight: forecasters warn more floods are coming, and urge “all the concerned authorities to take necessary precautionary measures to avoid/minimize loss of lives and infrastructure.”
On the spectrum of extreme weather, Pakistan and Russia are obviously the worst effected. But new data shows that the whole world is experiencing UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS OF RADICAL WEATHER. In June, the global land and ocean average surface temperature was the HOTTEST IT'S BEEN SINCE 1880, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States began keeping records. And July was the 305th consecutive month that the global temperature was above average, meaning the last time the mercury dipped unusually low was in February 1985. Even Canada’s distinction as a moderate country hasn’t safeguarded them from outrageous weather patterns: heat waves in Ontario and Quebec have caused power outages this summer and sent a record 158 people to one Ottawa ER in a single day. Hundreds of wildfires are engulfing portions of British Columbia. And after severe droughts in the spring, the Prairies have been flooded.
If this strange and severe weather was once hard to imagine, it’s now hard to ignore. “Extreme events are becoming more common." What is happening in Russia and Pakistan may not feel like a real threat to North America, but “it should feel real.” As the Earth continues to heat up, “who is to say that couldn’t happen in Canada or the United States? It will happen eventually.” “We will see more extremes, and they’ll last longer and be very strong.” In other words, in the future “anything is possible.”

**Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind.
If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you,
as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox.
Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.**
The Buddha

This morning -
Back in time

Yesterday -
8/25/10 -

BAJA - A magnitude 4.2 earthquake occurred at 2:43 p.m. in northern Baja California, at a point roughly 20 miles south-southeast of Mexicali. The quake, which began 3 miles deep, is an apparent aftershock of the 7.2 Easter Sunday shaker. It produced seismic energy that was lightly felt in San Diego, San Marcos, La Jolla, and Escondido.
Such aftershocks are a normal consequence of major quakes, and in some instances they occur, on-and-off, for years. The quake does not appear to be related to the 4.0 shaker that occurred beneath the seafloor, 38 miles south-southwest of Malibu, at 10:42 a.m. That quake happened on an unidentified fault located west of the Santa Cruz-Santa Catalina Island ridge system.

Southern California warned to prepare now for major earthquake - A major earthquake on the San Andreas fault northwest of Los Angeles is likely to happen "soon" warn scientists who have charted quakes there dating back 700 years. Large ruptures have occurred on the Carrizo Plain partion of the fault, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, as often as every 45 to 144 years. The accepted scientific wisdom has predicted major earthquakes along this part of the San Andreas fault every 250 to 450 years. The new study found big quakes occurred much more often - every 88 years, on average. The last major earthquake was the magnitude 7.8 Fort Tejon quake in 1857, more than 150 years ago. "If you're waiting for somebody to tell you when we're close to the next San Andreas earthquake, just look at the data." "While earthquakes may be more frequent, they may also be smaller. That's a bit of good news to offset the bad."

WEST VIRGINIA - Earthquakes may be tied to gas drilling activity. It was early in April when a 3.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the ground in southern Braxton County. Since then, about a half dozen earthquakes have hit the area this year. It's a pattern that's caught the attention of the state geologist. "The main area where earthquake risk is a little bit above the rest of the state is more in the southeastern part, which made us notice when earthquakes started occurring in Braxton County; that's generally a quiet area as far as seismic activity." The earthquakes at first puzzled local residents.
The Department of Environmental Protection has permitted Chesapeake Energy to use a nearby well to dispose of the drilling fluid. The agency is now in discussion with Chesapeake Energy to try to determine whether the injection well is causing the earthquakes. "We don't have any conclusive evidence to connect the two as of this point. The only thing we have to go on is there have been incidents similar to this in other states related to underground injection wells, one in Texas and one in Arkansas." Local wells have also not been tested to see if the earthquakes have caused the disposal well to crack or leak fluid.
The company has already injected about ten million gallons of drilling fluid into the well since spring of 2009. "They can put as much water in the ground in Frametown, West Virginia as it will hold, as long as the static pressure at the well head does not exceed 2100 pounds; that could be astronomical. Both of the geologists I have talked with at length say Frametown is vulnerable because that site sits directly on top of a fault." Although it's unusual, normally static faults and fractures deep below the earth's surface can move when liquid is injected underground. "It's more than just lubricating the fault face, but it has a similar effect of essentially making it possible for the earthquake to take place, for the fault to move slightly." If this is what's happening in Braxton County, then other areas should take notice. As our nation's huge energy appetite continues and natural gas helps to feed it, much more drilling in the Marcellus shale formation is expected. "Tapping that Marcellus shale for that benefit for our society is a great thing, but when you start putting millions of gallons of water under pressure in the ground, I don't think you have to be a geologist to think something's going to happen."


COLUMBIA raised Wednesday the alert status of its most active volcano to its highest level and ordered the evacuation of 8,000 people after it began spewing smoke and ash. Although the pre-dawn eruption at 4:00 am local time (0900 GMT) was not considered major, officials placed the Galeras volcano in the western department of Narino near the border with Ecuador on red alert. "The volcano is in a very unstable phase." It was "emitting ash, and lava has been detected in the crater."
Galeras is the country's most active volcano with a half dozen eruptions over the past two years and officials said it was difficult to know what to expect. "There's no way of knowing if it's going to be the same or worse than earlier ones." So far, some 332 people have moved to shelters in the area. Officials from Colombia's Institute of Geology and Mining say the once-dormant volcano reactivated in 2004. Most recently, the mountain rumbled back to life briefly last January.

ALASKA - A secluded island in the Aleutian chain is revealing secrets of how land and marine ecosystems react to and recover from a catastrophic volcanic eruption that appeared at first glance to destroy all life on the island. Little by little – a wingless beetle here, a tuft of grass there - Kasatochi, an island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, rarely studied by scientists before its Aug. 7, 2008, volcanic eruption, is showing signs of recovery. After the eruption, other than sea lions loafing on a newly formed beach, the island appeared to be completely devoid of life. The entire island and neighboring seafloor were covered with thick layers of volcanic ash and deposits from the eruption. Thousands of seabirds returned to the island that first summer, although none nested successfully.

Category 2 Hurricane DANIELLE was 613 nmi NE of Fort de France, Martinique. [ It is a little surprising that the hurricane has been intensifying with this wind shear. But the shear is forecast to abate by late today and Danielle is expected to near major hurricane strength on Friday.]
Tropical storm EARL was 1484 nmi SSW of Lajes, Azores. [expected to become a hurricane]
Hurricane FRANK was 212 nmi WSW of Manzanillo, Mexico. [may approach Baja California]


AUSTRALIA - RECORD SNOWFALLS in Victoria's alps have set the scene for some magnificent spring skiing. In Victoria's largest ski resort, Falls Creek, 54cm of snow has fallen in the past 24 hours, taking accumulated snowfall to 226cm this month - the best since 1992. "The resort's natural snow depth is now a whopping 177cm...powderhounds are going to be relishing THE MOST AMAZING LAST WINTER SNOW CONDITIONS IN NEARLY TWO DECADES." Mt Hotham received 47cm of fresh snow overnight - the most since 2003. It has received a total of 202cm of snowfall to date this month - the best August since 1992. Another 30cm is due to fall on the weekend.


German grain harvest slumps with Russia’s due to weather - Germany, the European Union’s second-biggest wheat grower, will likely follow Russia in reporting a slump in grain harvests this year after crops were stricken by both drought and flooding. Grain harvests will fall to 43.9 million tons in 2010 from 49.7 million tons last yeart. Prices for some grains have increased, including wheat for making bread, which has risen to 181 euros ($230) a ton from 107 euros in March.
Like many European countries, Germany experienced RECORD TEMPERATURES of almost 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) accompanied by drought in June and July, followed by heavy rains in August. Russia declared a drought emergency in 32 crop-producing regions this month and slashed its grain crop forecast to 60 million to 65 million metric tons because of water scarcity. Russia’s ban on shipments helped drive wheat to a 23-month high on Aug. 6. This year’s harvest in Germany is also affected by “losses in quality” because grains ripened too early and then were drenched by rains. Most farmers won’t benefit from the higher prices because they signed contracts before the price increases.

Wheat for December delivery declined, reversing earlier gains, on speculation that rains forecast in Russia may help the sowing of winter crops after the worst drought in at least 50 years slashed output and prompted a ban on grain exports. Showers are expected in Russia, Kazakhstan and East Ukraine in the five days from Aug. 24, helping to replenish soil moisture for planting winter wheat in northern areas. Russian farmers began sowing some winter crops after rain fell in central regions last week, though planting conditions will mostly stay worse than usual in the next 10 days. The government was forced to lower its forecast for the national grain crop by 38 percent to as little as 60 million metric tons after the drought parched crops. Farmers have delayed sowing winter grains because of the drought and may have to boost the area planted with lower-yielding spring grains.

Study predicts massive impact of drought tolerant maize in Africa - As climate change intensifies drought conditions in Africa and sparks fears of a new cycle of crippling food shortages, a study found widespread adoption of recently developed drought-tolerant varieties of maize could boost harvests in 13 African countries by 10 to 34 percent and generate up to 1.5 billion in benefits for producers and consumers. ""We need to move deliberately, but with urgency, to get these new varieties from the breeders to the farmers, because their potential to avert crises is considerable. Our analysis shows that with high rates of adoption, more than four million producers and consumers would see their poverty level drop significantly by 2016." Farmers and consumers in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe would see the greatest benefits, the authors note, because maize dominates local diets and livelihoods, and farmers in these countries have a history of rapidly adopting improved maize varieties. A study published last year warned that by 2050, growing conditions in most African countries will be hotter than any year on record and that many varieties of maize now under cultivation will no longer be viable.


AUSTRALIA - Meteor explosion wows community. Many residents heard the loud rumble, and some were even lucky enough to see something in the sky, but simply everyone is talking about the supposed meteor that exploded over the Tombong area last Tuesday afternoon. A huge number of locals report having heard a loud unexplained “thundering” noise on Tuesday at around 2pm, while others tell of seeing a light falling through the sky at around the same time. No one got quite as close as a local Country Energy worker who was preparing to climb a power pole to make repairs. He suddenly noticed a light in the sky, which started travelling straight towards him in an east to west direction. He knew the bright object was travelling far too quickly to be an aircraft, and he watched in astonishment for over 20 seconds as it flew over the top of him, making a loud hissing or “swooshing” sound. He said the initially bright object dulled and broke up into four or five pieces, with a huge roar to be heard.
“Everything shook. I’ve never been in an earthquake, but it was that kind of a thing.”
Two reports had been registered on the Sydney Observatory ‘Lights in the Sky’ blog page that most likely related to the occurrence. The reports tell of sightings of a daytime meteor between 1.50pm and 2pm on the Tuesday. “A meteor bright enough to be seen during the day may well be sufficiently large to survive the journey through the atmosphere and become a meteorite on the ground. However, unless it was seen to land we are unlikely to ever find out.”



States affected by egg recall grow to 23.