Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are volcanic eruptions on the rise? - Not according to the director of the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. Charged with documenting, analyzing and disseminating information about Earth's active volcanoes, the GVP boasts 40 years of data to indicate it's business as usual under the crust. "If you plot data from the last 200 years, there's a clear increase in the number of eruptions over time, but that's not a function of the actual number of eruptions but rather due to reporting effects."
Specifically, the GVP found that the increase in volcanic eruptions paralleled the rise in global population. It paralleled human encroachment of volcanic areas and improvements in communication technologies. Think of it as the "if a tree falls in the forest" effect. With more people around, and better technology, it became harder for a volcanic eruption to go unnoticed. Observation bias aside, global volcanism has remained steady throughout recorded history. You have to view the planet from a geologic perspective, spanning millions and billions of years, to glimpse any major changes - or pinpoint an eruption higher than a seven on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. "Those are the Yellowstone-type eruptions, sometimes referred to as 'supervolcanoes. None of those have occurred in historical time."
So what typically causes global volcanism to increase? Nothing short of titanic movements in the planet's crust.
"The tectonic plates are driving volcanism for the most part. And over geologic time, those processes are turning on and off. Subduction zones begin and end. Hot spots are generated and thrive for millions of years and then just stop. So as a result of those effects, you get increased volcanism or decreased volcanism in certain areas and even globally." The formation and melting of glacier ice can also theoretically affect volcanism. But to find a possible example of this you'll have to look back to the beginning of the Holocene epoch 10,000 years ago. Still, the relationship between melting glacier ice and increased volcanism is far from cut-and-dry. "It's a lot more complicated because ice is melting in one place, and the water is going somewhere else. So you might have a decrease in pressure in the northern latitudes as a result of ice melting, but you also might have an increase in the ocean depths in the south that might keep magma from erupting. And even then, it's not a simple relationship between increased pressure and decreased volcanism." Several other factors also influence the planet's volcanism, some of which scientists don't fully understand. So while a few studies predict future climate change may generate a rebound effect, climate typically plays an indirect role. "Volcanism typically influences climate, not the other way around."

**While seeking revenge, dig two graves - one for yourself.**
Doug Horton

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/30/10 -


COLUMBIA - Galeras Volcano erupted last Wednesday, forcing authorities to order the evacuation of thousands, but only a few residents trickled from nearby villages to shelters. Seated in Colombia's Andes near the frontier with Ecuador, Galeras coughed ash over neighboring towns. Authorities reported no injuries or damage after the latest eruption. Around 8,000 people live in risky areas, but often refuse to leave because they are used to frequent activity at the volcano and fear their homes will be ransacked. The volcano erupted ten times last year, mostly with little impact on surrounding areas. In previous eruptions, local residents reported large columns of smoke billowing over the volcano and towns have been covered with layers of ash. The National Geological Institute said it would keep monitoring the volcano's activity before deciding whether to lift the warning it issued after the dawn eruption. "The ash has slowed though it is still coming out,. The area is normal except for the areas where ash hit earlier in the day." The nearest large town, Pasto, has a population of 400,000 but is away from the area considered at risk from an eruption of Galeras.

-Tropical storm DANIELLE was 610 nmi ESE of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 833 nmi NE of Hamilton, Bermuda.
-Category 4 Hurricane EARL was 87 nmi NNE of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
-Tropical storm FIONA 526 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados. [Only a slow increase in strength is forecast for the next day or so. After that, the increasing shear may halt any further develpment, plus the cyclone could be moving over cooler waters that were upwelled by Earl.]

-Typhoon KOMPASU was 116 nmi SE of Kadena AB, Okinawa.
-Tropical storm LIONROCK was 230 nmi SE of Hong Kong.
-Tropical storm NAMTHEUN was 32 nmi WNW of Taipei, Taiwan.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - In the midst of hurricane Earl, the Governor on Monday (August 30) evening said that officials will not take down their guard as hurricane Earl passes through the BVI. The Governor was at the time preparing for a meeting in preparation for Tropical Storm Fiona which is expected to reach the BVI within the next 48 hours.
"We are just about to meet now and have a further discussion and to see what our steps are, and what we will do tomorrow (Tuesday). But we have been getting indications of a further storm on the heels of Earl. Its tropical storm Fiona and that is moving on a broadly similar course to Earl and it could be with us here in the next 40 to 48 hours."
This, the Governor lamented is worrying, "We are at level four at the moment and might reduce to that over the next few hours, but with Fiona around the corner we certainly want to keep that under constant review." Level five would be when there is no warning, for example in the event of an earthquake, while for an impacting hurricane , "we would be at the level four because remember you would have had a warning...So it´s really the highest level for hurricane impact." Fiona is moving toward the west near 24 mph and a turn toward the west-northwest is expected on Tuesday followed by a turn toward the northwest and a decrease in forward speed on Wednesday. On This track Fiona could be near or just to the northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands by early Wednesday. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles to the northeast of the center. Estimated minimum central pressure is 1007 MB.

Tropical storm Kompasu strengthened to a typhoon as it approached Okinawa, while another storm is forecast to intensify off China’s southern coast. Kompasu, the eighth storm of the northwest Pacific season, was 528 kilometers southeast of Naha in Okinawa. Kompasu had sustained winds of 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and is forecast to cross the main island of Okinawa today.
About 1,500 kilometers west of Kompasu, Tropical Storm Lionrock is forecast to strengthen as it approaches China’s southern coast. Lionrock, the seventh storm of the season, was 256 kilometers south of the city of Shantou in southeastern China. Lionrock has maximum sustained winds of 83 kilometers per hour and was moving northeast at 4 kph. The storm’s winds are forecast to strengthen to 102 kph today and Lionrock may cross the coast near Shantou on Sept. 1. The storm may bring more heavy rain to China, where thousands of people have died in floods and mudslides as downpours inundated many parts of the country.

Namtheun - Taiwan officials issued land and sea warnings on Tuesday for a severe tropical storm, the island's first this year, with heavy rain and wind gusts up to 90 kph (60 mph) expected before it heads to China. Although the storm falls one level short of a full-blown typhoon, Taiwan authorities are especially on guard after the island's worst typhoon in 50 years, also forecast as a relatively weak storm, killed about 700 people in August 2009. That prompted a cabinet reshuffle as citizens accused the government of reacting too slowly.
The storm dubbed Namtheun, centred 50 km (31 miles) north of Taiwan at 2015 GMT, was expected to reach northern areas of the island by early Wednesday with sustained winds up to 65 kph. Namtheun will pass over the capital Taipei and the island's major northern port city Keelung. The weather bureau warned of mudslides, rockfalls and sudden swelling of rivers. The storm could grow to a category 1 typhoon, the mildest on a 1-5 scale, and reach the coast of southeast China. Typhoons regularly hit China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Japan in the second half of the year, gathering strength from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea.


FDA reports show multiple biosecurity gaps at two egg farms - Federal officials released their initial inspection reports of the two Iowa companies linked to the nation's biggest egg recall, which reveal multiple biosecurity breaches, such as rodent infestation, wild birds in poultry barns, and instances in which chicken manure could have contaminated egg-laying areas. Both companies failed to follow and implement their written Salmonella Enteritidis prevention programs. The national outbreak has sickened nearly 1,500 people so far and led to the recall of about 550 million eggs.
Live mice were found inside laying houses at four sites, and numerous live and dead flies were observed in egg-laying houses at three locations. Evidence of wild birds, including pigeons, was found at two locations.
Chicken manure accumulated 4 to 8 feet high underneath the cages at two locations. The weight of the manure at the two locations pushed out access doors, allowing open access for wildlife and other farm animals. At one location, uncaged birds were using tall manure piles to access egg-laying areas. The federal inspectors also saw employees not changing or not wearing protective clothing when moving from laying house to laying house.
The inspection at three Hillandale Farms locations revealed unsealed rodent holes with evidence of live rodents at one of the facilities, with gaps in walls and doors at other sites. Standing water was observed near a manure pit at one of the locations, and liquid manure leaks were noted at two sites. As at Wright County Egg, uncaged chickens were observed tracking manure into the caged hen areas.
The FDA has received one more positive lab result that matches the outbreak strain from spent egg wash water from a facility at Hillandale Farms. Federal officials didn't comment on what further action they may take, which could include seizure, injunction, or even criminal prosecution, based on the inspection findings. Though the FDA has no reason to believe the practices that investigators turned up are common at all egg-producing facilities, inspectors will be inspecting about 600 large egg producers, those that have 50,000 or more laying hens, over the next several months starting in September with what it believes may be the highest-risk facilities.
The food safety watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest called the FDA's 483 inspection report "stomach churning." "Equally troubling is that the inspections occurred the month following the date that the new egg-safety regulation went into effect. Both companies involved had been on notice that they needed to meet requirements of the new egg-safety rule for over a year." The "decrepit" conditions in the hen houses suggests that the companies assumed that FDA inspections are so rare, despite the new egg safety rules, that they saw no urgency to fix their buildings to ensure compliance with the new requirements.
In other developments, Sparboe Farms, based in Lichfield, Minnesota, recalled eggs that it received from both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. The eggs were distributed to grocery stores and foodservice companies in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota under the following five brand names: Albertson, Sparboe Farms, Liborio Market, Shamrock Foods, and Glenview Farms.