Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity' - About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. In western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature. They urge developing countries not to follow the same path. Instead, they say governments should to invest in water management strategies that combine infrastructure with "natural" options such as safeguarding watersheds, wetlands and flood plains.
More people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. "What we're able to outline is a planet-wide pattern of threat, despite the trillions of dollars worth of engineering palliatives that have totally reconfigured the threat landscape." Those "trillions of dollars" are represented by the dams, canals, aqueducts, and pipelines that have been used throughout the developed world to safeguard drinking water supplies. Looking at the "raw threats" to people's water security - the "natural" picture - much of western Europe and North America appears to be under high stress. However, when the impact of the infrastructure that distributes and conserves water is added in - the "managed" picture - most of the serious threat disappears from these regions. Africa, however, moves in the opposite direction.
"The problem is, we know that a large proportion of the world's population cannot afford these investments. In fact we show them benefiting less than a billion people, so we're already excluding a large majority of the world's population. But even in rich parts of the world, it's not a sensible way to proceed. We could continue to build more dams and exploit deeper and deeper aquifers; but even if you can afford it, it's not a cost-effective way of doing things." According to this analysis, and others, the way water has been managed in the west has left a significant legacy of issues for nature. Whereas Western Europe and the US emerge from this analysis with good scores on water stress facing their citizens, wildlife there that depends on water is much less secure, it concludes.
For developed countries and the Bric group - Brazil, Russia, India and China - alone, "$800bn per year will be required by 2015 to cover investments in water infrastructure, a target likely to go unmet." For poorer countries, the outlook is considerably more bleak. "In reality this is a snapshot of the world about five or 10 years ago, because that's the data that's coming on line now. It's not about the future, but we would argue people should be even more worried if you start to account for climate change and population growth. Climate change is going to affect the amount of water that comes in as precipitation; and if you overlay that on an already stressed population, we're rolling the dice." (map)

**Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.**
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - S. T. Coleridge

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/29/10 -

Indonesia on Thursday cancelled a tsunami alert issued after a major quake struck off West Papua. The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measured the earthquake at 7.4 while the US Geological Survey recorded two closely spaced quakes measuring 6.2 and 7.2. "The tsunami alert has been lifted and also the quake had no potential for destruction but it was felt in several areas." There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the remote area. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no warnings were in effect following the quakes in the remote area located between the island of New Guinea and northern Australia. A 7.1-magnitude quake off the north coast of Papua in June killed 17 people and left thousands homeless.

TAIWAN - The Central Weather Bureau on Wednesday welcomed 10 mild earthquakes, including a magnitude 5.1 temblor, that shook eastern Taiwan's Hualien County over 15 hours beginning Tuesday night. No casualties reported. The director of the bureau's Seismology Center said a series of mild quakes in a short period of time helps reduce the likelihood of a powerful temblor in the area as the intense seismological activity releases large accumulations of tectonic pressure. Following a magnitude-4.3 earthquake that occurred at 9: 10 p.m. Tuesday, nine other temblors had hit the area northeast of the Hsiulin seismic observation station in Hualien County as of noon Wednesday. Of the 10 jolts, the greatest one was the magnitude 5.1 temblor. Both the magnitude 4.3 and magnitude 5.1 earthquakes were centered near the Taroko Gorge area.
Eastern Taiwan is located on a juncture between the Philippine Sea and the Eurasian tectonic plates, where underground activity is common and tectonic pressure regularly builds up.Thus the eastern coastal areas, including Hualien, Yilan and Taitung, are quake-prone. "Although it was RARE to have an area hit by 10 earthquakes in one day, it was not unprecedented." Similar incidents occurred in the Hualien area in April 2005 and June 2009, and in Jiasian, Kaohsiung County in March this year.


Drilling into an active volcano doesn't sound like the safest idea, but a plan to do so along a volcano near Naples, Italy, could help protect the city from a potentially catastrophic eruption. Geologists will drill into the volcanic formation, called Campi Flegrei, early next month. The volcano, part of a larger volcanic arc that includes Mount Vesuvius, last erupted in 1538. The ground around the volcano, however, has been swelling for the past 40 years, stoking fears of an eruption that would threaten the roughly 1 million residents of Naples.
The drilling will let scientists pull out rocks that will allow them to trace the volcano's evolution, and predict its future. In early October, drillers will test the waters with a short well, and if everything looks good, the drills will plunge thousands of feet into the volcano in the spring of 2011. The researchers hope to pinpoint the center of the magma simmering beneath the caldera and to lower monitoring equipment into the well to keep tabs on the volcano.
Locals can't help but cast a wary eye on Campi Flegrei these days, due to a phenomenon called bradyseism, or the alternate uplifting and subsiding of the ground over the span of several years. This activity centers on the town of Pozzuoli, which suffered damage from two major uplifts between 1970 and 1972 and between 1982 and 1984. The scientists have not said whether an eruption might occur anytime soon. Critics say the drilling project will be too close to Naples — the caldera is about 9 miles (15 km) west-southwest of the city — and could lead to earthquakes, or an explosion. Their fears aren't just the cries of volcano-drilling not-in-my-backyarders. A similar project in Iceland was halted last year after it unexpectedly found magma at a depth of just 6,900 feet (2,100 meters). Hitting magma close to the surface could, in theory, trigger an explosion in the well or set off small earthquakes. Having a big city nearby makes these dangers even more worrisome. Scientists estimate that magma lies at least 23,000 feet (7,000 m) below the surface of the caldera — nearly twice as deep as they plan to drill.

-Tropical storm NICOLE was 78 nmi SSE of Miami, Florida [Nicole has dissipated. A new low, not considered to be the remnant of Nicole, is forecast to move northward along the east coast of the U.S. as a gale center during the next couple of days. Heavy rainfall associated with the remnants of Nicole are likely to continue affecting portions of eastern Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas during the next day or so.]

Tropical Storm Nicole to Bring Heavy Rain to New York and U.S. East Coast - Tropical Storm Nicole dropped heavy rains that cut roads, washed away bridges and homes and may have killed at least one child as it moved through Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands before dissipating over the Straits of Florida. One child was reported swept away when a house succumbed to flood waters. Cuba’s meteorological institute reported “intense and heavy rains” were falling in its central provinces and warned of flooding in low-lying areas from east of Havana to Guantanamo.
Nicole has since become untrackable, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory at 5 p.m. East Coast time. The disappearance of Nicole doesn’t mean that New York and the rest of the U.S. East Coast will be spared heavy rains starting overnight Wednesday. “The weather forecast hasn’t changed much, you just can’t attach a name to it. Regardless whether Nicole existed or not, the situation was going to remain the same, a tremendous amount of tropical moisture is coming up the East Coast.” Flood watches are now posted from South Carolina to New Hampshire in advance of the storm.
As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain may fall in New York’s five boroughs. Some areas may receive more. The heaviest rain will arrive in two waves, the first will be today from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., followed by a second late tonight. “Torrential rains could be falling from the Carolinas all the way up to New York City."
Washington and Baltimore were forecast to receive as much as 4 inches of rain, as were New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, and Delaware. Some areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware may get 7 inches. In addition, the weather service has issued a high-wind watch for eastern Long Island, parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as eastern Maine. Wind gusts as intense as 60 miles (96 kilometers) per hour may occur through Friday after tomorrow.
Before it dissipated, Nicole was the 14th storm with winds of at least 39 miles per hour of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The average season produces 11 storms. The center is also tracking two tropical waves over the central Atlantic that it says have a 10 & 20 percent chance of becoming tropical cyclones within two days.


MEXICO - A new mudslide has killed 16 people and left four missing in Chiapas, near the southern state of Oaxaca, where 11 people went missing following a previous landslide. The 16 were killed in the village of Reforma, in the town of Amatan in Mexico's southernmost Chiapas state. Another mudlside in Chiapas was reported earlier in the village of Nueva Colombia, where a woman and two children were missing. Mexico's southernmost state -- bordering Guatemala to the south, and Oaxaca to the west -- is among its poorest, and has been among the hardest hit by RECORD RAINFALLS in recent months. Since May, at least 80 people have been killed and more than 810,000 have lost their homes, with the flooding and mudslides causing damage topping four billion dollars.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fake California ‘earthquake warning’ creates confusion, panic on Twitter and Facebook. "80 HOUR MAJOR EARTHQUAKE WARNING; 6.0 to 7.0 earthquake likely in S California in the next 80 hrs," a message from Twitter user "Quakeprediction" said. It was 'retweeted' by more than 1,000 people, causing it to spread quickly over the popular social networking website and leaving people wondering if it is real.
The rumor even forced the California Emergency Management Agency to put out a special statement to say it is a hoax. "Although the broad scientific community has been working relentlessly to give us better information about earthquakes and their behavior, being able to predict when earthquakes will strike is not something they can do at this point." The purpose of the "Quakeprediction" Twitter account and its website appears to be to cause panic and confusion, as the person (or people) behind it have spread numerous false warnings over the past year. It regularly 'predicts' major earthquakes to hit California, but none have turned out to be true. Scientists estimate that over the next 30 years the probability of a major earthquake occurring in the San Francisco Bay area is 67% and 60% in Southern California.

**How long do you listen to someone before your attention wanders?
Someone told me 16 minutes.
In this life, if you can’t explain yourself in 16 minutes you’re in a lot of trouble.**
Tony Bennet

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/28/10 -

Tropical depression 16 was 97 nmi S of Havana, Cuba.

Tropical depression 16 - The low-level center consists of a broad area of light winds and nearly uniform pressure. Indeed, winds were 20KT or less within 100 miles or more of the center. CLEARLY...THIS IS NOT A CLASSICAL TROPICAL CYCLONE and the MAXIMUM WINDS ARE LOCATED SOME 200 N MI SOUTHEAST OF THE CENTER. The system may have been a marginal tropical storm earlier Tuesday. Models show what appears to be a new baroclinic development to the north replacing the former tropical cyclone, so dissipation is expected by 72 hours. Unless the circulation of the cyclone tightens up soon, the exact track of the center across Cuba and Florida will be relatively unimportant since the strongest winds and heaviest rains will occur well removed from the center and over the eastern semicircle.
Tropical depression 16 continues to have a structure more characteristic of a Western North Pacific/North Indian Ocean monsoon depression. The strongest winds and convection are 250-300 miles away from the center in the southeastern quadrant. The center appears to re-form from time to time. Neither the environment nor the current structure are conducive for significant strengthening.

FLORIDA is expecting heavy rain and a tropical storm. South Florida's UNUSUALLY dry wet season is expected to end today as Tropical Storm Nicole dumps as much as eight inches of rain ripped by winds of up to 45 mph. Although a flood watch is in effect for Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, water managers say South Florida is well positioned for the deluge because of this summer's lower than average rainfall. Lake Okeechobee is at 14.02 feet, a few inches below average for this time of year. The heaviest rains - as much as four to eight inches - are expected south and southeast of Lake Okeechobee, especially in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. "The system is right where we want it."
As of 8 p.m.Tuesday, the storm was 325 miles south-southwest of Miami and moving north-northeast at 8 mph. The storm will cross over South Florida this afternoon. However, most of the strong winds and heavy rains are occurring a couple of hundred miles to the east and southeast of the center of the storm. A tropical storm warning remains in effect from Jupiter Inlet south to the Keys and a tropical storm watch north to Sebastian Inlet, as well as for southwest Florida. The National Weather Service is predicting that, at most, sustained winds in Palm Beach County will be in the 25 mph to 35 mph range, with gusts up to 45 mph. The Coast Guard predicts the storm will pass just north of Miami this afternoon, with winds of 35-40 knots.
The biggest unknown - perhaps the most troublesome - is the storm's speed. The speed of the storm is crucial, not only for predicting how much rain will fall but for how well the complex system of locks and canals will handle the water. Storms that quickly dump huge amounts of rain often cause more problems than storms that move slowly with a steady rainfall. "Every storm has its own signature." There is no way to know now if the storm will stall or keep moving when it hits land.


COLUMBIA - A landslide buried about 30 people on a highway in northwestern Colombia. It was unlikely there would be survivors found. "It has been confirmed that about 30 people have been buried in the rubble from this landslide (in Antioquia department), which is quite large." A torrent of 100,000 cubic meters of earth swept onto a highway in the town of Giraldo, which leads to the city of Medellin.

Mexico mudslide toll not as bad as first feared - At least 11 people missing in stricken village. Early reports from officials Tuesday of 300 houses buried in a landslide, with hundreds, possibly thousands of villagers swept away in a landslide appeared by early evening to have been wildly wrong. "The toll is four dead and 12 missing. Three or four houses buried in the mud. There may be more but I don't expect the number to rise much." At a later news conference, 11 people were said to be missing with no confirmed deaths.
State and federal officials had been alerted to the supposed disaster by calls from panicked village official at 4 a.m., who reported the mudslide had buried much of the village. Hundreds of soldiers and rescue workers were dispatched. Network television crews and newspaper teams scrambled by road and air. "It was dark when we got the alert. As long as we couldn't verify the information we had to accept the alarm as real."
Southern Mexico has been drenched in the heaviest rainy season in seven decades. Hurricane Karl last week and Tropical Storm Matthew had dropped a lot of rain on Oaxaca and neighboring states. Swollen rivers have flooded towns and collapsed bridges. Mudslides made other roads impassable. Foul weather prevented helicopters from reaching the village. Everyone expected the worst. "We were all sleeping and all I heard was a loud noise and when I left the house I saw that the hill had fallen. We were left without electricity, without telephone and we couldn't help them. There was no way to move the mud." By midafternoon, soldiers had reached the village by foot. The possible death toll dropped quickly to seven and then to four, with none confirmed. Two houses were completely buried, two other partially buried and 30 more damaged. Officials couldn't explain the discrepancies.
Suffering along with Mexico has been much of Central America, where flooding and landslides in recent months have killed more than 300 people, left tens of thousands homeless and caused billions of dollars in damage.

INDONESIA - Two man-made lakes that have long assisted flood control efforts in Pamulang, South Tangerang, are close to collapse amid the ongoing extreme weather, threatening tens of thousands of residents and their houses in the lower areas from Bambu Apus in Ciputat to Ulujami in Tangerang. Friday, the lake overflowed several times, obstructing parts of the road and paralyzing traffic in the municipality. Residents fleeing the lake’s lower areas called on the South Tangerang administration to pay serious attention to repairing the cracking embankment to prevent it from bursting.
Authorities in Jakarta, South Tangerang municipality and Tangerang regency were urged to coordinate emergency measures to evacuate residents living in lower areas in an anticipation of a possible collapse of the Sasak Tinggi embankment. “If the dike collapses, a flash flood will certainly sweep away thousands of houses and could kill thousands of people living near the Bambu Apus and Ulujami housing areas in Tangerang."
The two lakes were created during the Dutch colonial era to control flooding from the Krukut River, but no measures have since been taken by authorities to convert them into functioning dams. Authorities predicted that the lake’s embankment would collapse soon if it continues to rain heavily over the next few days. People in Pamulang were relatively safe, at least for a short-term, because despite the overflows, the Pamulang lake’s dike has remained strong.
The two lakes have been overflowing because they can no longer intercept water from heavy downpours, partially because of the conversion of 4,200 hectares along Krukut River for housing estates over the past decade. “The 60,000-hectare area along the Krukut River no longer has the open spaces to serve as water catchment areas capable of preventing flooding during the rainy season."


CALIFORNIA - Los Angeles baked in RECORD TEMPERATURES on Monday, bringing sweltering scenes to the US West Coast metropolis nearly a month after the end of the main August heat. As firefighters remained on alert in tinderbox conditions around the outskirts of the city, temperatures hit 45C [113F] in downtown, the HIGHEST SINCE RECORDS BEGAN in 1877. Streets remained unusually empty, as local residents sought the shelter of air-conditioned shops, offices and homes. "There was a spike around noon that bumped temperatures up." The old record of 44C set on June 26, 1990, was beaten shortly after midday. Los Angeles firefighters have been on high alert for days for wildfires which can take hold rapidly in the brush and dry woodlands which surround the city. Although temperatures were high Monday, there was little wind - giving some hope that any blaze would not spread so easily.
The heatwave comes after a cooler-than-usual summer for Los Angeles, which typically enjoys 300 days of sun a year, albeit with summer temperatures more typically between 20C [68F] and 30C. The heatwave, which began at the weekend, is set to last days more.

A decline in pollinating insects in India is resulting in reduced vegetable yields and could limit people's access to a nutritional diet, a study warns. Indian researchers said there was a "clear indication" that pollinator abundance was linked to productivity.
Globally, pollination is estimated to be worth £141bn ($224bn) each year.
Each year, India produces about 7.5 million tonnes of vegetables. This accounts for about 14% of the global total, making the nation second only to China in the world's vegetable production league table. Despite the concern, no study had been done to assess directly the scale of the decline in natural pollinators. "The ideal situation would have been if we were able to compare the overall pollinator abundance over the years, but that kind of data was just not available." Instead, they compared the yields of pollinator-dependent crops with pollinator-independent crops. "Data shows that the yields of pollinator-independent crops have continued to increase. On the other hand, pollinator-dependent crops have levelled off." Certain crops do not depend on insects for pollination, including cereals. Instead, the plants used other mechanism - such as relying on the wind to carry the pollen.
However, many vegetables - such as pumpkin, squash, cucumber and gherkin - were reliant on insects, such as bees.
The fall in yield per hectare was against the backdrop of a greater area being turned over to crop production each year. The exact cause for the decline of pollinators, especially bees, still remains a mystery. In an attempt to identify an underlying cause for the pollinator decline, the team is carrying out a series of field experiments, comparing conventional agriculture with "ecological farming". Defined as "a farming system that aims to develop an integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural production system", ecological farming is almost a hybrid of conventional and organic farming, looking to capitalise on returns from modern farming methods as well as drawing on natural ecological services, such as pollination. "There is an obvious indication that within the ecological farming setting, there is pollinator abundance. This method typically provides the habitats for natural pollinators - this is the way forward." India is facing a decline in natural pollinators, as ecological farming was only practiced on about 10-20% of the country's arable land.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that of the slightly more than 100 crop species that provide 90% of food supplies for 146 countries, 71 are bee-pollinated, primarily by wild bees, and a number of others are pollinated by other insects. "There has been a debate within India about this, but most of the cereal crops are not pollinator dependent, so if there is a pollination crisis it is not going to affect food security as such.
What is going to be affected is nutritional security." Vegetables such as pumpkins, squash, cucumber, and gherkins are "quite substantial" in terms of delivering necessary nutrients to the population. "But there are many other vegetable crops that are eaten by people who are around the poverty level, so-called minor vegetable crops like eggplant, for which is there is no or very little data." In industrialised nations, such as the US and in Europe, many farms employ the services of commercial hives to pollinate fruit trees and food crops, and ensure they harvest adequate yields. But the use of domesticated bees in this context was not widespread in South Asia.
In 2007, about one third of the US domesticated bee population was wiped out as a result of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder, with some commercial hive owners losing up to 90% of their bees. The exact cause remains a mystery, and last year a number of UK agencies began a £10m project to help identify the main threat to bees and other insect pollinators. A number of possible causes have been suggested, including the misuse of pesticides, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the spread of parasites and diseases.
"There are many kinds of natural pollinators. As a result, we - not only in India, but in other parts of the world - do not really know what is happening to natural pollinator populations."


Flu activity is showing a late-season flourish in some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as Chile, where levels in some areas exceed last year's pandemic peak, and in parts of Australia. Flu activity in several of Chile's regions equals or is slightly higher than the country's 2009 winter pandemic wave, with the disease hitting children under age 15 the hardest, followed by those ages 15 to 64. The 2009 H1N1 virus is cocirculating in Chile alongside seasonal flu viruses. However, limited data from neighboring Argentina suggests low levels of flu, mainly influenza B, between June and late August.
Health officials in Australia have reported steady increases in flu activity since late August, though at levels well below the past three influenza season. Activity is widespread in Victoria in South Australia state and West Australia state, where the 2009 H1N1 and influenza B viruses are cocirculating. New Zealand also had a late start to its flu season, but activity, most of it 2009 H1N1 flu, has dipped below seasonal baselines.
India and Thailand continue to report significant flu activity. Though activity in India has been geographically widespread, with 17 states and territories reporting new cases, activity is stable or declining in all but a few states, suggesting that national activity may have peaked. The 2009 H1N1 virus has been India's predominant circulating strain. The country is still reporting many cases and deaths.
Meanwhile, southern China, Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent northern China have reported increased circulation of the seasonal influenza A (H3N1) virus. Officials in Hong Kong have linked increased H3N2 detections with a steady rise in doctor's visits for flulike illness. Thailand is reporting active transmission of mainly the 2009 H1N1 virus, along with some H3N2 and influenza B strains. The rise in flu activity is occurring at a time when increasing flu activity isn't surprising.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

**You will turn over many a futile new leaf till you learn
we must all write on scratched-out pages.**
Mignon McLaughlin

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/27/10 -

IRAN - An earthquake in southern Iran killed at least one person and injured three others Monday. The 5.5-magnitude quake hit Monday afternoon near Kazerun, about 50 miles west of Shiraz and 415 miles south of Tehran. "Some old buildings and homes in two nearby villages were also damaged."

No current tropical cyclones.

PHILIPPINES - As October nears, Filipinos may have to brace for "meaner" cyclones that will likely hit the country instead of just passing through Philippine territory. Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said they expect "three to four" cyclones to pass through the country in October. "This time, we are in a transition from the southwest winds to the northwest winds. Coming cyclones will directly affect the country rather than just pass far from the Philippine territory." While there is no weather disturbance near the country for now, the next cyclone to enter or to form inside Philippine territory will be code-named "Juan."


The world sugar price has risen this year to ONE OF ITS HIGHEST LEVELS IN 30 YEARS: it was roughly 26 cents per pound on Monday. Russian agriculture this year has had unbelievably bad luck. A record breaking heat wave and drought devastated the country’s farms - and in the sugar sector the setback was felt especially hard. The drought has brought a run of improving harvests to a sudden halt. At the height of the drought, the Russian Sugar Producers Union cut its forecast for sugar production this year from an anticipated record of 4m tonnes to 3.2m-3.5m tonnes, enough to meet about half the nation’s needs. But experts have warned the final tally could be much lower. Russian sugar beet production could fall to 2.7m-2.8m tonnes this year. Farm machinery will struggle to collect beets that have dug deep roots to seek moisture in parched land. This comes along with a shortage of rain in Brazil, the world’s largest sugar producer and exporter. To darken the mood in Russia further, when heavy rain fell on some farms in the fertile Black Earth region last week, it turned nearby sugar beet fields into a sea of mud, interrupting the harvest and possibly reducing the final tally by even more. “We must collect all the beets before November when the hard frosts set in.” Modern farming methods had helped swell the size of beets to the size of cricket balls in good years. But the drought had a devastating impact. “It looks more like a carrot."
The damage done by the hot weather is partially offset in financial terms by the fact it increases the sugar content of the beets that survive. And the rain did at least nurture newly-sown winter wheat (and it was the impact of the drought on grain that triggered a Russian export ban in August, pushing world wheat prices to the highest level since the food crisis of 2007-08).


Millions of people who take daily vitamin pills could be putting themselves at risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer. Research has revealed that supplements containing antioxidants and minerals appear to increase the chances of developing a malignant melanoma. Volunteers given pills containing vitamin E, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, selenium and zinc were four times more likely to get cancer than those who took dummy pills. The increased risk virtually disappeared once patients stopped daily supplements. Now scientists behind the research are calling for those most at risk of skin cancer – fair-skinned types or those with a history of excessive sun exposure – to steer clear of supplements. Women may be more at risk than men, possibly because they have more fat around the skin, where antioxidants and vitamins are mainly stored.

Monday, September 27, 2010

INDONESIA - Eruption threat closes Mount Merapi to climbers. Apes and green peafowl were reported to have started to come down the mountain.
Following increased volcanic activity of Central Java’s Mount Merapi, the chief of the national park that surrounds it said on Sunday that routes to the summit had been closed. The volcano, which also extends into Yogyakarta province, has displayed a significant increase in seismic activity over the past week, with multiphase earthquakes increasing from a normal average of five times per day to 38 times per day. Volcanic earthquakes are also up from the normal average of once per day to 11 per day. The alert status had been increased on Friday from “normal” to “beware”, just three rungs below full eruption status, by the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution. “Landslides and mudflows of volcanic material [remaining from previous eruptions] could easily kill someone.” Three sand miners were killed and two others seriously injured on the volcano on Saturday morning after a landslide buried them at an illegal sand mining site near Balerante village, Klaten, Central Java. “We are still investigating the cause of the landslide, but we have banned sand mining activities on the slopes of Mount Merapi. We suspect a landslide due to heavy rain." People were urged not to disturb wild animals who were descending following the volcanic activity.

**Almost everyone with both debts and savings is wasting a fortune.**
Martin Lewis

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/26/10 -

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake has sent tremors across much of New Hampshire and parts of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts. The quake occurred at 11:28 p.m. Saturday, but there were no reports of injuries or damages. The quake, which is considered minor, was centered in Boscawen, N.H., about 10 miles north of Concord.


ICELAND's Bárðarbunga volcano shows more activity over the last few days. Barðarbunga is a powerful stratovolcano in Iceland and is located under the ice cap of Vatnajökull glacier. It is the highest mountain in Iceland and makes for some powerful volanic activity when it erupts. Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano is said to erupt every 250 - 600 years if scientists are correct. Around 8000 years ago, when Bárðarbunga erupted, it caused lava to cover an area of 950 square kilometers. It is believed that Bárðarbunga will erupt sometime in the near future. (map)

A 'failed' volcanic eruption caused a swarm of more than 30,000 earthquakes in a remote region of Saudi Arabia last year. The quakes show that plate boundaries can make their influence felt at far greater distances than researchers had supposed.
Magma rose from the bottom of the crust to within 2 kilometres of the surface. But rather than forming a conventional magma chamber, it forced its way through the rocks in a sheet, known as a dyke, many kilometres wide and as little as a metre thick. The volcanic earthquakes caused by the magma's movement and the subsequent shattering of rocks are very different from those caused by tectonic movements. "They don't have a main shock and aftershock sequence. Instead, there are many thousands of little earthquakes."
Many of the earthquakes measured 2 or less on the Richter scale, and so were detectable only by instruments. But one, on 19 May 2009, had a magnitude of at least 5.4. That was enough to open up an 8-kilometre-long fissure across the desert and to crack walls and foundations in a nearby town, forcing the evacuation of 40,000 people. Scientists watched the surface as it bulged upward by as much as half a metre. The scientists' first job was to determine whether a volcanic eruption was imminent. They concluded that it wasn't. They also had to assess whether larger earthquakes could occur, but this is unlikely for volcanic earthquakes. The near-eruption occurred in an ancient lava field called Harrat Lunayyir in northwest Saudi Arabia. The area has seen many eruptions over the past 20 million years, but no volcanic activity in recorded history. Now the region may be primed for future eruptions, failed or otherwise. "A pathway from the mantle nearly to the surface was established. That's the type of thing that tends to get reactivated."
The volcanic activity in Harrat Lunayyir was of the type associated with the spreading of tectonic plates. But the main rift zone is almost 200 kilometres away, in the middle of the Red Sea. This suggests that bits of hot mantle that are upwelling beneath the Red Sea have leaked out under Saudi Arabia. FOR A RIFT ZONE TO MAKE ITS EFFECTS FELT OVER SUCH A LONG DISTANCE IS UNKNOWN. "We're going to have to go back and revise textbook models to understand why we have active volcanism and active stretching in an area away from a plate boundary. It shows that the simple picture of magmatism is unrealistic."
The finding also has implications for public safety. Most of Saudi Arabia's lava fields are in remote regions, but development near Medina is encroaching on a region known to have had a surface eruption in 1256. And the Kenyan capital Nairobi lies within 100 kilometres of a volcanic region. "We need a reassessment of volcanic hazards throughout East Africa and the Red Sea area."

A better way to pinpoint where volcanic eruptions are likely to occur has been produced by an international team of geophysicists. The scientists investigated volcanic activity occurring in the remote Afar desert of Northern Ethiopia between 2005 and 2009. By studying a RARE SEQUENCE of 13 magmatic events – where hot molten rock was intruded into a crack between the African and Arabian plates – they found that the location of each intrusion was not random. They showed that they were linked because each event changed the amount of tension in the earth's crust.
"It's been known for some time that a large earthquake has a role to play in triggering subsequent earthquakes, but until now, our knowledge of volcanic events has been based on isolated cases. We have demonstrated that volcanic eruptions can influence each other. This will help us predict where future volcanic eruptions are likely to happen."
The team studied the region around a large volcanic dyke – a vertical crack which is created when magma seeps from underground through rifts in the surface of the earth – which erupted in the Afar desert in September 2005. The magma was injected along the dyke between depths of 2 and 9 km, and altered the tension of the earth. The team was able to watch the 12 smaller dykes that subsequently took place in the same region over a four year period. By monitoring levels of tension in the ground near where each dyke was intruded they found that subsequent eruptions were more likely in places where the tension increases. "If you look at this year's eruptions at Ejafjallajokull in Iceland, by estimating the tension in the crust at other volcanoes nearby, you could estimate whether the likelihood of them erupting has increased or decreased. Knowing the state of stress in this way won't tell you when an eruption will happen, but it will give a better idea of where it is most likely to occur."

-Tropical depression LISA was 768 nmi S of Lajes, Azores
- A low pressure system of the west coast of Mexico has a 50% chance of developing into a cyclone in the next 48 hours.

Tropical Depression Matthew weakened sharply over Central America on Sunday and spared Guatemala from major damage, but heavy rain still threatened waterlogged sugar and coffee farms. Guatemalans in the eastern jungle region waded through flooded streets carrying children and belongings on their shoulders and rescue workers worked to open roads blocked by small mudslides, but the storm's impact appeared to be light. "Up to now there have been no reports of deaths or wounded." Rescue workers in Guatemala and the southern Mexican state of Tabasco remained on alert as river levels rose.
Honduran authorities evacuated some 3,660 people from the area around the country's main manufacturing city, San Pedro Sula, which was hit by Matthew as it powered along Honduras' Caribbean coast on Friday. Honduran factories exporting to the United States avoided flooding, but grain and banana crops were damaged as rivers burst their banks. There were few immediate details of the extent of the damage. "The floods are stretching across Sula, reaching towns and grain and banana plantations." The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 25 mph on Sunday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. But it warned of continued heavy rains as Matthew could dump up to 20 inches of rain in some areas of southern Mexico and eastern Guatemala. Sugar losses might be serious because cane fields are still flooded from earlier rains. Coffee trees also risk disease and fungus from too much moisture.

A slow westward moving circulation called a "gyre" was over the western Caribbean Sea Sunday. This circulation is expected to become better organized today south of the Cayman Islands and become a tropical depression over the Cayman Islands tonight. The low will track across Cuba Tuesday night and then cross Florida Wednesday night through Thursday. The low could reach tropical storm strength before reaching the south coast of Florida but the circulation of this system will be very broad. Wind 30 to 40 mph are most likely 30 to 100 miles north and northeast of the low in the tighter pressure gradient, rather than near the low pressure center. What will remain to be seen is whether that in itself will be enough to call it a tropical storm. The main impact on Florida and coastal waters will be gale force wind and rainfall of 3 to 6 inches Wednesday and Thursday. The storm may wind up similar to tropical storm Bonnie, which was overhyped.


BRITAIN saw its first snowfalls yesterday in a clear sign that summer is well and truly on the way out. Hill walkers in Scotland struggled along slippery mountain paths after THE COLDEST SEPTEMBER TEMPERATURES FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS. The Cairngorms, which had enjoyed a RECORD-BREAKING winter sports season that saw slopes stay open until Easter, was hit with ONE OF THE EARLIEST SNOWFALLS IN LIVING MEMORY. The coldest temperatures were recorded at Tyndrum, where the mercury fell to -4.4C (24F) and Tulloch Bridge, which shivered at -4.2C (24.4F). "It was very chilly up there. These are the coldest temperatures recorded at this time of year since the stations opened.” Other cold spots included Exeter airport, at just below freezing, and -1.5C in South Wales.

Snow - New Zealand has been hit by extreme weather and though it has led to big problems for many people, the ski resorts have had more snow. However many have had to remain closed due to high winds. The weather has badly affected farmers and tens of thousands of people have been without electricity as power lines have been brought down. "The spring storm of 2010 is frankly THE WORST IN A GENERATION. The last big dump of snow we had was 14 years ago in the winter of 1996, while the last time we had anything this severe was 38 years ago." Animals have died, the transport system has been hit and many people are suffering.
There's currently no skiing in North America, as Timberline in Oregon is closed until October for its annual maintenance period however the snow is starting to fall big time, especially at the northern end of the continent. In Cananda, Marmot Basin above Jasper and Banff - Lake Louise, all in the Canadian province of Alberta, have reported big snow falls in the past week. Over 20cm of snow blanketed Banff-Lake Louise in one snowfall alone. Jasper's Marmot Basin also received over 10 cm of snow on 20th September with considerably more accumulation at higher elevations. Last winter Marmot opened on November 11, its earliest opening date ever, with ideal snow conditions. So far this fall is shaping up to deliver a repeat performance of last year's early season snowfalls.


The Global Asteriod Shield - Owing to a 2008 law passed by Congress, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has until 15 October to decide which agency will be responsible for protecting the planet from an asteroid strike. Members of the task force say NASA expects to be given part or all of that responsibility. To meet it, the panel discussed the creation of a Planetary Protection Coordination Office within NASA, with an annual budget of $250 million. It would detect and track asteroids — and develop a capability to deflect them. "You want to use a proven capability when you're talking about an actual threat." Even an asteroid just one kilometer in diameter would be enough to cause worldwide crop failures and a shift in the earth's climate. One just a few meters wide could wipe out a major city.
The U.S. currently spends about $5.5 million per year to track NEO's and less than a million on researching ways to counter them, but is falling far short of asteroid-detection goals. Some might say that's already too much, given the more terrestrial problems the U.S. faces. NASA says it needs $1 billion to meet its goal of detecting all potentially dangerous objects by 2020. The PPCO would also challenge other countries to fund defense against asteroids, perhaps through the United Nations. Canada already plans to launch the NEO [near-earth objects] Survey Satellite in 2011, and Germany's AsteroidFinder is slated for launch in 2012, but neither is expected to come close to the NEO-logging goal by 2020.
Scientists have been urging the United Nations to coordinate international asteroid detection efforts for years. But despite coordinating work by the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs, progress seems to be slow-going. There are some promising signs of other powers starting to take the lead. The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference on international asteroid tracing earlier this year. Russia's space agency has also proposed a joint asteroid monitoring project with the European Union. The good news is we probably have some time. An object big enough to wipe out a sizeable portion of the earth's population only hits about twice every million years.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

'Take me to your leader' - The United Nations is set today to appoint a Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth's first contact for any aliens that may come visiting. The head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference. She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

**See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.**
Pope John XXIII

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/25/10 -
9/24/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Cantabrians remain on edge with tremors continuing to rattle the city. A 3.5 aftershock was felt just after midday Saturday, which followed two earlier tremors just after 10am, one registering at 3.5 and the other 3.9. A recent period of relatively little quake activity had given some a false sense of security and the latest jolts came as a shock. The latest aftershocks follow four shakes in a period of 40 minutes Friday night, recorded at magnitudes of between 3.2 and 4.1.The aftershock sequence is continuing but the frequency will drop off in time. Around 290 aftershocks of more than 3.5 have been recorded since the big one three weeks ago.


Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, is showing signs that it is likely going to erupt sometime soon. The volcano has already had an eruptive episode at the end of last year and the beginning of 2010, and just like before those eruptions, the volcano is experiencing high levels of seismicity. This has prompted local officials to raise the alert status near Piton and restrict access to the volcano. There has also been significant deformation noted on the volcanic edifice, suggesting that magma is rising up into the volcano. "A seismic crisis occurred at Piton de la Fournaise Volcano, Reunion on the evening of 23rd September. Several tens of earthquakes were located at the base of the summit area, in Dolomieu crater. The seismic crisis was associated with significant inflation (3 cm) of the volcano, especially near the summit. The data indicates that magma has moved towards the surface and an eruption is imminent." Eruptions at Piton de la Fournaise are quite common - and can be quite the spectacle as well. They are commonly lava flows from fissure vents on the large shield edifice with some fire fountains as well - typical behavior for a Hawaiian-style eruption. The volcano is located in the southeast of the island. Most of the main population centres, including the capital, Saint-Denis, are clustered on the other half of the island.

-Tropical storm LISA was 872 nmi S of Lajes, Azores
-Tropical depression MATTHEW was 146 nmi N of Guatemala City, Guatemala

Tropical Storm Matthew - At least 14 people have been killed by flooding and landslides from heavy rain across the Caribbean basin, as Tropical Storm Matthew lashed water-logged Central America overnight. Central America alone is in the midst of ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE RAINY SEASONS IN THE PAST 60 YEARS. Flooding and landslides have killed more than 300 people, left tens of thousands homeless and caused billions of dollars in damage in recent months.
Matthew made landfall in northern Nicaragua on Friday, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. The storm then dumped heavy rain as it marched across northern Honduras, but weakened overland and overnight broke up into a tropical depression over Belize. "Additional weakening is anticipated and Matthew is forecast to dissipate over Central America in the next day or two."
Yet the storm's torrential rainfall - up to 38cm in isolated areas - will remain a serious threat to Central America even after Matthew sheds its storm status. The rainfall could produce "life-threatening flash floods and mudslides" across the region, including southern Mexico, which has already suffered from historic rainfall and flooding this year. The storm had drenched Nicaragua and Honduras earlier, but there were no initial reports of casualties, though 15 people were reported missing after boarding a sailboat off the coast of Honduras.
Tropical Storm Matthew struck Central America further south than expected on Friday. Matthew could produce 15 to 25cm of rainfall over portions of Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Guatemala, with isolated amounts of 38cm possible.
In Venezuela, the President called on his country to remain on alert after seven members of a family were killed in flooding in a Caracas slum triggered by heavy rain late on Friday. Another person was swept away by a swollen river in the northeastern state of Sucre. More rains are expected today.

Tropical Storm Lisa was upgraded to a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour (120 kph) on Friday but remains far from land. Already weakened back to a tropical storm, it is in the Atlantic Ocean about 385 miles (615 km) northwest of the Cape Verde islands and is moving north.


HAITI - Five Haitian refugees have been killed as a storm overtook the impoverished country still recovering from the January earthquake. The rainstorm passed over the capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday, tearing down houses and power lines. The dead had been in homeless camps which were inundated by rain and devastated by wind. The storm, which passed quickly over the capital, caused panic and terror among the estimated 1.3 million Port-au-Prince residents still homeless eight months after the earthquake. The wind blew away tarps, tent poles and tin roofs, opening family shacks to the elements.

PAKISTAN - Severe flooding is continuing in parts of Pakistan's southern Sindh province. Many families are still marooned on small islands with their livestock. More than 20 million people have been affected by the floods triggered by heavy monsoons which began in July. About 1.9 million houses have been destroyed or damaged. As many people return to their villages, there are concerns over whether they can be supplied with enough food and aid before winter begins. There is also "increased concern" over the spread of malaria, with more than 163,000 suspected cases being reported in the past three weeks. In the Jamshoro and Dadu districts of Sindh, vast areas are still submerged. Aerial surveys show the monsoon floodwaters have created a large number of small islands, on which people are trapped with their livestock. Floodwaters further south in Thatta district are taking longer than expected to recede.

NIGERIA, NIGER - About two million people in northern Nigeria have been displaced after authorities opened the floodgates on two dams. The dams are in Kano state, but about 5,000 villages in neighbouring Jigawa state have been affected. It is not yet clear whether residents received a warning or if anyone was injured or went missing in the flooding. Nigeria's meteorological agency had previously forecast low rainfall in the north, warning that more than 12 million people could face food shortages as a result. The floodgates are normally opened every year during the rainy season. In a normal year, the water released from the dams flows into fields, irrigating crops of corn, rice and vegetables during the brief growing season. Several states in northern Nigeria have been hit by floods this year.
In neighbouring Niger, millions are facing food shortages after a prolonged drought caused crops to fail. That was followed by severe flooding last month. Millions are now facing food shortages.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Solar Storms can Change Directions, Surprising Forecasters - Solar storms don't always travel in a straight line. But once they start heading in our direction, they can accelerate rapidly, gathering steam for a harder hit on Earth's magnetic field. "This really surprised us. Solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can start out going one way - and then turn in a different direction." The result was so strange, at first they thought they'd done something wrong. After double- and triple-checking their work on dozens of eruptions, however, the team knew they were onto something. "Our 3D visualizations clearly show that solar storms can be deflected from high solar latitudes and end up hitting planets they might otherwise have missed."
One of the first things they noticed was how CMEs trying to go "up" — out of the plane of the solar system and away from the planets — are turned back down again. They had to "crack the books" and spend some time at the white board to fully understand the phenomenon. In the end, the explanation was simple: The sun's global magnetic field, which is shaped like a bar magnet, guides the wayward CMEs back toward the sun's equator. When the clouds reach low latitudes, they get caught up in the solar wind and head out toward the planets. Once a CME is embedded in the solar wind, it can experience significant acceleration. "Knowing when a CME will arrive is crucial for predicting the onset of geomagnetic storms." (diagrams)

**You’ve got a lot of choices.
If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore
and you’re not smiling on a regular basis,
try another choice.**
Steven D. Woodhull

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
9/23/10 -


Planchón-Peteroa Volcano emitted a dark gray plume of ash on September 21, continuing an eruption which began on September 6th and intensified on September 18th. Planchón-Peteroa is on the border between Chile and Argentina, and the majority of the ash is blowing southeast into Argentina. Argentine authorities warned residents in the community of Malargüe — 94 kilometers (58 miles) east — to be prepared in case the eruption strengthened further. Most of the surrounding high-altitude landscape is covered in snow. (satellite image)

-Tropical storm LISA was 1240 nmi S of Lajes, Azores.
-Tropical storm MATTHEW was 255 nmi SSW of Kingston, Jamaica

-Typhoon MALAKAS was 670 nmi S of Tokyo, Japan

A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast of Belize as Tropical Storm Matthew in the southwestern Caribbean quickly moves toward Central America. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Friday that Matthew has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph). It was moving west at 17 mph (28 kph) and was about 275 miles (445 kilometers) east of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. A hurricane watch and a tropical storm warning also have been issued for parts of Nicaragua and Honduras. The governments of Nicaragua and Honduras issued the alerts for the stretch from Puerto Cabezas to Limon, Honduras, including offshore islands.

Tropical Storm Malakas has strengthened as it tracks north over the Pacific Ocean on course to brush past the east coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu in two days. The forecast shows the typhoon churning toward the islands of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima before turning north- northeast, indicating it won’t make landfall on Japan’s main islands. The storm is estimated to make its closest approach about 390 kilometers (242 miles) off Hachijojima island, south of Tokyo, at around 9 a.m. on Sept. 25.
Malakas is expected to gain strength in the coming two days to maximum winds of 55 meters per second (123 miles per hour) from 40 meters per second, with a storm warning area extending about 440 kilometers. The storm’s intensity will probably weaken to an extra-tropical cyclone by 9 a.m. on Sept. 26. Malakas is the 13th storm of the northwest Pacific season.

Submarines - 'Use them to bust typhoons'. A Japanese engineering firm says it believes a fleet of 20 underwater submarines could draw the sting from a typhoon at sea by cooling the temperature of the ocean directly beneath it. The thousands affected across Asia by Typhoon Fanapi this week will likely have mixed reactions when they hear of the off-the-wall scheme designed to prevent further disasters by sucking the power from devastating storms before they can make landfall. Although the plan comes too late for Fanapi’s victims, if activated could change the way future typhoons are approached if there’s any merit at all in its somewhat James Bond approach to storm-busting.
It would do so by pumping cold water from 30 meters below the surface to sea level and depriving the storm of the water temperature needed to drive it onward, potentially towards land. The company says, rather specifically, that its fleet could cool 57,600 square meters of ocean by three degrees, thereby effectively downgrading any typhoon and making it a lot less threatening. While the underwater storm defense mechanism is still on the drawing board, the hydraulic pipe specialist is actively looking for help in developing a seagoing prototype.


A massive low-pressure system pelted southern Minnesota and central Wisconsin with torrential rainfall Thursday as high winds pummeled Lake Superior and the Twin Ports. Parts of southern Minnesota received more than 10 inches of rain, with flooding, road closures and evacuations reported. Flood watches were dropped for northern Minnesota as the big storm skirted farther south than some forecasters had expected. Meanwhile, strong winds pelted Lake Superior, with steady 30-knot winds and 10-12 foot waves. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management activated its emergency operations center Thursday afternoon in response to widespread flooding in southern Minnesota. Nearly 10 inches of rain had fallen in Martin and Faribault counties by noon Thursday with more rain in the forecast. Dodge, Waseca and Rice Counties have asked the state for 75,000 sandbags.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported multiple road closures in the Mankato and Rochester districts Thursday afternoon, including U.S. Highway 52, the main route from the Twin Cities to Rochester. In Windom, early Thursday, a basement collapsed from the flooding and severed a gas line, prompting the evacuation of about 30 families. “We are having considerable water issues, that is for sure." The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety reported that 300 natural gas meters in the city of Truman were shut off because of heavy flooding in the area. Approximately 80 homes in the city of Owatonna were reported underwater Thursday, and had natural gas and electricity shut off. In Zumbrota, about 25 miles south of Red Wing, high school students loaded sandbags Thursday morning to protect businesses and homes from the rising Zumbro River, which had reached major flood stage.The Zumbro River is a Mississippi River tributary. To the south, on another branch of the Zumbro, flooding had effectively closed the city of Pine Island. Nonresidents found in the city will be subject to arrest.
In Wisconsin, a state of emergency was declared and the National Guard ordered to Trempealeau County. Heavy rains there sparked mandatory evacuations for as many as 1,500 residents of Arcadia, a town of about 2,400 people 100 miles southeast of Minneapolis.
Hundreds of Minnesotans were besieged by water after a FREAKISH early autumn rain knocked residents out of homes, closed schools and businesses, flooded countless rural roads and overwhelmed municipal sewer systems from Truman in southwestern Minnesota to Zumbro Falls, 150 miles to the northeast.
Weather officials noted that the Minneapolis - St. Paul metro area will share in the impact next week, when stormwater flowing down the Minnesota River should reach the Twin Cities. It appears "very likely" that river crossings along the Minnesota from Jordan to Savage could be closed. Some bridges could be closed as soon as Saturday. River monitors on Thursday were projecting that the Minnesota would rise 15 feet by Tuesday, to a point close to its fifth-highest level on record. "The south metro is going to be a problem. This is EXTRAORDINARILY UNUSUAL for this time of year."
(photos & video)
BEFORE Thursday's rain storms, there was already a wet and worrisome flood outlook for Minnesota. Heavy rains this summer echo the last two years, when wet autumns set up serious spring flooding. Fall began Wednesday, bringing with it a wet and worrisome outlook for spring. Saturated ground and high rivers in the fall have set up serious spring flooding for the past two years, and this season isn't looking any different. "This'll be the third year in a row like this. It doesn't make any sense."
"What it's all going to do in the spring ... it's not very good." The Otter Tail River, which meets the Bois de Sioux at Breckenridge to form the Red River of the North, was carrying EIGHT TIMES its expected flow for the date on Monday. Across Minnesota, summer rain seemed to reach a crescendo in September, when it's usually slacking off. 10 inches had fallen at Swan Lake Resort so far this month. Even the fish seem confused; the resort owners can no longer tell people where on the lake they're biting. Areas just north of there have received nearly twice the normal rainfall since April 1, and some parts of western and southwestern Minnesota are approaching triple their normal rainfall for the past 30 days. Across Otter Tail County, high water has forced restrictions on a handful of county roads and some construction projects have been abandoned. At Redwood Falls, the Redwood River was within inches of flood stage Monday, not a serious situation but UNUSUAL at the beginning of autumn. At Fargo, N.D., the Red River's median historic flow for Sept. 20 is 200 cubic feet per second; Monday it was 2,740. The Minnesota River at Jordan and the Mississippi at Anoka were also both swollen several times beyond their normal size for this time of year.
Because farm crops have stopped using rainwater by now, precipitation this time of year either runs off into rivers or stays in the soil, where it freezes until spring. That means the spring snowmelt can't seep into the ground, but runs into streams and rivers. That's precisely what occurred in spring of 2009, when the Red at Fargo reached its record height. Also, below-normal temperatures so far in September across the state have slowed down the rate at which water might also evaporate.
Short-term, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is painting a mixed precipitation picture for Minnesota for October: above-normal precipitation in the northwest, but below-normal in the southeast.

Surprise torrential downpours drenched Seoul, Korea on Tuesday with THE HIGHEST AMOUNT OF RAINFALL THE CAPITAL HAD SEEN SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1908. The Gangseo region in southwestern Seoul and Gangnam area in the southern part saw 293 mm of rainfall, while 18 out of 25 districts received more than 200 mm of rain. Seven districts in the city, including Dobong and Nowon, received a lower amount but were still pelted with between 95.5 mm to 194 mm of rain.
But the Korea Meteorological Administration failed to predict the extreme weather, forecasting between 20 mm and 60 mm of rain until 11 a.m. on Tuesday only two to three hours before the skies opened. Not until 2 p.m. when the Gangseo district had already seen 100 mm of rain per hour and Jongno was being drenched with 70 mm of rain that the KMA issued a weather advisory forecasting more than 200 mm precipitation. The main reason was a clash between two different air masses near Seoul. "A cold and dry high pressure front from Mongolia and other northern regions and a warm and moist high pressure front from the northern Pacific formed a narrow band centering on Seoul. As a result, a huge rain cloud formed in Seoul and neighboring regions." The culprit was typhoon Malakas. Typically during this time of the year, the north Pacific high pressure front is pushed south by a cold high pressure front from the north, but the typhoon, which was located near the equator, prevented the north Pacific high pressure front from traveling south and caused it to clash with a high pressure front from the north, resulting in the heavy rains.
The downpours overloaded Seoul's drainage systems. The Gwanghwamun intersection in central Seoul was flooded, as were thousands of homes at lower elevations. "The main drainage pipes and pump stations in Seoul are designed to handle 75 mm of rain an hour, which happens once every 10 years, and were therefore unable to handle the record amount of rainfall in the metropolitan area." Experts say Seoul officials must take another look at the city's drainage systems since heavy rains have become frequent due to the effects of climate change.
11,919 people were left homeless.
This summer was ONE OF THE WETTEST EVER in Korea, with Seoul seeing the most frequent rain in its history and the third highest amount of precipitation in its history. "Seoul had 32 days with over 0.1 mm of rain from the beginning of August to the second week of September, the most since such data began to be compiled in 1908." Seoul wasn't the only wet region this summer. The nation had 44.2 days of rain from June through August, 7.4 days more than the average of 36.8. August alone had 18.7 days of rain, the most since 1973, for a total of 374.5 mm of precipitation, more than the 304.2 mm recorded in the rainy season which lasted for about four weeks from late June this year. The UNUSUAL amount of rain was due to low atmospheric pressures and typhoons in August.
Meanwhile, Korea saw an average 464.4 hours of daily sunlight this summer, a mere 87 percent of the average of 533.8 hours. For the first eight months of this year, the nation recorded an average of 1,290.4 hours of daily sunlight, the third lowest after 1,195.8 in 2003 and 1,263.1 in 1998.


MINNESOTA - Monday's 80-degree high temperature in the Twin Cities was a brief step into the FREAK section of the weather records.
• The HIGH temperature for the day occurred at 11:37 p.m. - just before midnight - culminating a rapid evening warmup on the next-to-last day of summer. It was 27 degrees warmer than the low for the day, recorded at 10 a.m.
• It was the first 80-degree reading in the entire month of September. It may turn out to be the only one.
• It was the third-latest 80+ temperature on record.
• The warmup fell off quickly. By 3 a.m. the temperature had dropped 13 degrees to 67 as heavy thunderstorms moved across the metro area.

The surfaces of the oceans went through a short period of rapid temperature change 40 years ago, scientists have found - but the cause is known. Top layers of Northern Hemisphere water cooled by about 0.3C; the south saw roughly the same degree of warming. Air pollution cannot be responsible for the changes, as has been suggested for mid-century cooling.
Researchers do not suggest a cause. It is not clear what could link all the oceans.
However, events called Great Salinity Anomalies have been recorded in the last few decades in the North Atlantic Ocean - including one around 1970. The 1970s global temperature record shows a period where the Earth's surface cooled in the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere saw warming. It has been suggested that this difference could be accounted for by greater production of aerosols - tiny dust and soot particles - in the north, where the vast majority of the world's industry is found. But the suddenness of the changes seen in the new research suggests that the explanation could lie elsewhere, as aerosols would be expected to take effect more gradually. "We can't rule them out - they could be of absolutely fundamental importance - the point is the abruptness in the observed difference time series is hard to reconcile with what you'd expect aerosol loadings to do."
The causes of the Great Salinity Anomalies (GSAs) are not clear; and they may not all have the same cause, or progress in the same pattern. In the 1970s event, fresh water appears to have entered the North Atlantic and lowered the salinity of water in the region. In large enough quantities, this freshening can slow the Atlantic portion of the global pattern of currents known as the thermohaline circulation - in popular parlance, "turning off the Gulf Stream", as in the movie The Day After Tomorrow. The temperature shifts found may have been fairly fast, taking place over just five years, but they were glacial compared to the speed of Hollywood imagination, which had New York ice-bound within a day. If the 1970s GSA were the root cause of these rapid changes, there has to be another step in the chain that explains how the effects penetrated to other oceans, because the northern Pacfiic also cooled. In addition, later GSAs do not appear to have co-incided with global changes in ocean heat distribution.
"It's certainly not the first time that people have noticed decadal variability in the sea surface temperatures, but I think the abruptness of the changes has been under-appreciated. That's because there's often smoothing done on the data; you may draw out the signal of decadal variability that way, but by smoothing you lose information about more rapid, short-term changes." One of the scientists who first identified a major ocean temperature cycle on decadal scales - the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation - remains uncovinced about the value of the new research. "You have a slight cooling in one hemisphere and a slight warming in the other, and you subtract one from the other and find something - but are we going to do this for every bump and jump on the datasets? I'm not sure it tells us a lot."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

U.S. warned of threat worse than Katrina, plague, WWII - Millions could die. Financially it could make the Katrina repairs look like a pocketful of change. And it's not a matter of if, but when. That's the alarming warning being issued by an expert of the dangers of electromagnetic pulse damage to modern society. The issue of EMP dangers to the Earth, either from a CME, a coronal mass ejection, which basically is an eruption of power from the sun, or from a nuclear-triggered EMP wave that truly is intended to destroy a society, have been the subject of multiple reports in recent months.
The U.S. House in Agust had authorized plans to defend America's power grid against such dangers, but the members of the Senate left citizens to fend for themselves, eliminating the contingency plans.
"The severity of the storm we're talking about here [could produce] widespread massive damage to the power grid,.That could cause maybe a 4-10 year sort of damage to the power grid … and an inability to restore that power grid. This is clearly not something you ever want to experience firsthand, it could lead to millions of casualties...Within a matter of just a few hours, you'd worry about the loss of potable water for major metro areas. You'd lose the ability to pump and treat sewage. Within a matter of a day or so you'd be concerned about the loss of perishable foods. With a few days, you would have exhausted the food supplies available. Then within matter of three days you have probably lost total ability to maintain any sort of telecommunication infrastructure. We could be looking at a scenario here that far exceeds the casualties of any war, any natural disaster that humanity has ever experienced. And it may not be limited to North America." Further, the social unrest from diminishing and unstable food and water supplies also could be catastrophic. "The fallout from that would be in a category … we have difficulty thinking about."
Solar events recorded in 1859, and again in 1921, are not only probable to repeat, but inevitable. "There is nothing that has changed in the physics of the sun … that will preclude a large storm from occurring again in the future. These are a certainty to occur in the future."
In addition, "several potential adversaries have the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear-weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse, and others appear to be pursuing efforts to obtain that capability. A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication...Such an attack could be launched from a freighter off the U.S. coast using a short- or medium-range missile to loft a nuclear warhead to high altitude...Iran has practiced launching a mobile ballistic missile from a vessel in the Caspian Sea. Iran has also tested high-altitude explosions of the Shahab-III, a test mode consistent with EMP attack, and described the tests as successful. Iranian military writings explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States." [see SPACE WEATHER section below for yesterday's wild solar eruptions]

**Seek freedom and become captive of your desires.
Seek discipline and find your liberty.**
Frank Herbert

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/22/10 -

-Tropical depression GEORGETTE was 155 nmi NNW of La Paz, Mexico

-Tropical storm LISA was 1701 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados
-High chance (60%) of a low pressure area in the Caribbean becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours.

-Tropical storm MALAKAS was 435 nmi NNW of Agana, Guam

Tropical Storm Lisa continues to meander around the far eastern Atlantic, where it might spend the rest of its life without threatening any land. At 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Lisa was about 390 miles northwest of the Cape Verde Islands, creeping east at 5 mph with sustained winds of 40 mph. The long range forecast calls for the system drift northwest over the next five days. It is then expected to encounter strong wind shear and weaken into a tropical depression.
Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center gives a disturbance in the Caribbean near Venezuela a 60 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression or storm over the next two days. The next named storm will be Matthew. However, a hurricane hunter flight to investigate the system was canceled on Wednesday because "it just wasn't organized enough to warrant the plane." The aircraft is on standby to fly into the disturbance on Thursday. Models indicate the system will aim toward Central America over the next two days and then possibly turn north toward the Gulf of Mexico.

CANADA - Workers have begun cleaning up after Hurricane Igor battered Newfoundland and Labrador province, causing flooding and power cuts. A tropical storm warning was lifted early on Wednesday after Igor was downgraded to a post-tropical storm. Residents in some areas of the province saw more than 200mm (8in) of rain in just a few hours. Winds from Igor hit Canada's east coast at 90mph (145km/h), ripping the roof off a hospital in the town of Holyrood. The heavy rains, flooding and high winds of hurricane Igor have knocked out roads and bridges in the province, precipitating states of emergency in several communities. Forecasters warn the Atlantic coast may see another big hurricane this autumn.


Asia struggles to cope as storms spread destruction - Severe storms and floods sweeping Asia this week have killed dozens of people and displaced hundreds of thousands across large swathes of the continent, with more storms forecast. RECORD MONSOON RAIN and the onslaught of tropical storm Fanapi wreaked devastation from South Korea to India, triggering landslides, washing away thousands of homes and tearing through roads and railways.
Thirty-three people have died and 42 are missing after Fanapi churned through southern China, while 65 people were killed in monsoon rain in India and 100,000 displaced after a lake burst in southern Pakistan. Fanapi made landfall on mainland China on Monday, one day after slamming Taiwan with heavy rain, killing two people and leaving more than 100 injured on the island. All of China's deaths occurred in the southern province of Guangdong, which saw its WORST RAIN IN A CENTURY. Over 78,000 people in Guangdong have been evacuated due to the storm, which destroyed some 1,400 homes. At its strongest point, when it hit Taiwan on Sunday, Fanapi was packing winds of up to 220 kilometres an hour and dumped up to 1,000 millimetres (39 inches) of rain in the south of the island. The storm caused damage estimated at around five billion Taiwan dollars (158 million US).
Two people went missing and thousands of homes flooded when a RECORD RAINSTORM hit parts of South Korea. The storm on Tuesday - the start of the three-day Chuseok harvest festival - dumped almost 300 millimetres of rain on parts of Seoul, an ALL-TIME HIGH FOR LATE SEPTEMBER SINCE RECORDS BEGAN IN 1907. Some 11,800 people were briefly made homeless by the deluge, which flooded roads and subway lines.
Two fishermen were missing in the northeastern province of Gangwon and were feared to have been swept away when a river swelled.
In northern India at least 65 people have died after heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding. The mountainous northern state of Uttarakhand was worst affected, with 65 people killed over three days. Elsewhere, in the impoverished northern state of Bihar, the river Gandhak burst its banks and displaced thousands of people, destroying paddy crops and houses. "Floods have left thousands of people, mostly the poorest of the poor, homeless in the last 48 hours." In New Delhi, the city experienced iITS WETTEST MONSOON IN MORE THAN THREE DECADES.
Some 100,000 more people have been displaced after a lake burst in southern Pakistan where massive floods have already affected millions of people. The Manchar lake in southern Sindh province overflowed on Friday, forcing people living in the area to seek refuge elsewhere. "More than a hundred thousand (have) been displaced. Not only houses, but boats were also found in pieces, crops are completely washed away." Some 21 million people have been affected by floods that have ravaged Pakistan, including 12 million who need emergency food aid.


BRITAIN - So far 2010 has been a year of extremes - the COLDEST WINTER IN 30 YEARS, the FIRST LATE SPRING SINCE 1976, a heatwave in late June and THE COLDEST AUGUST IN 17 YEARS. The upside is that now, in time for today's autumnal equinox, the nation's trees and hedgerows are bursting with fruit, berries and nuts. Not only is this good news for orchard owners, home gardeners and foragers alike, it means birds, insects and other animals can stock up before winter's chill descends. "This relates back to the wonderful late spring and - incredibly by modern standards - the long period of settled weather we had until mid-July, when the wheels fell off somewhat." Throughout August an area of low pressure sat over or near to the UK, making it a cloudy, cool and wet month. "But we had nothing nasty all the way through May, June and early July - no gales, no late frosts, nothing. In this 10 to 12-week period free from foul and abusive weather, the trees had time to flower profusely, be amply pollinated and then set well with fruit." While early blackberries suffered in August's rains, those ripening now are in plentiful supply.
Also abundant are apples, pears and the last of the plums - albeit perhaps a little weather damaged from the inclement turn last month - along with hazelnuts, rosehips and sloe berries. Some may worry that plentiful holly berries signal vicious weather come Christmas, but this is a myth. "It reflects the good spring we had, it's not prophesying anything."
Some plants suffered when summer took a turn for the worst, including sweet chestnuts. "And oak trees - acorn crops aren't as good as I'd thought." Meanwhile, experts at the National Arboretum in Gloucestershire say Britain could be in line for a prolonged display of autumn colours. Its log books show the weather patterns this year most closely resemble those of 1929, which had vivid leaves on the trees until November. While the professional forecasters at the Met Office are reluctant to predict what the coming winter will be like, signs are that September's weather will continue to be relatively pleasant. "We haven't had a wet September since 2000. At its worst, this one is going to be mixed."

Businesses should use climate risk data to plan for disruption to their supply chains caused by the results of global warming, UK government advisers have said. The Committee on Climate Change’s adaption sub-committee, a body that advises government on coping with global warming, found that although some progress had been made in raising awareness of climate change, “very little tangible action” had taken.
In a report the committee argues that extreme weather such as floods, heatwaves and droughts are likely to become more frequent as a result of future climate change.
By 2080, sea levels could rise by around 25cm near Edinburgh and Belfast and by around 40cm near London and Cardiff, if the world does not mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Organisations should develop “business continuity plans based on high-quality climate risk information so that businesses can cope better with disruptions to their supply chains during floods and damage to assets from severe weather." The UK needs to ensure there is resilience to cope with climate change by focusing on five key areas: land use planning, infrastructure, buildings, natural resources and emergency planning. “The UK must start acting now to prepare for climate change. If we wait, it will be too late. It is not necessarily about spending more but about spending smart and investing to save. If we get it right, we can save money in the short term and avoid large extra costs in the future.”


GLOBAL ERUPTION - Wednesday morning between 0230 UT and 0600 UT, the northern hemisphere of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. At least two dark magnetic filaments became unstable and lifted off the stellar surface, a B8-class solar flare flashed from sunspot 1109, and a bright coronal mass ejection billowed into space. The eruption is reminiscent of the global event of August 1st, which hurled a CME toward Earth and sparked Northern Lights in the United States as far south as Iowa. This time, however, the CME will miss Earth (unless it veers off course) so there should be no resulting geostorms. (photo)

SOUTHWESTERN U.S. FIREBALL - 9/21/10 - Tuesday night around 09:01 pm MDT, a dazzling fireball glided across the skies of New Mexico and west Texas. "We’ve been getting a lot of calls in the newsroom about an object – maybe a meteorite – falling from the sky." An all-sky camera outside Santa Fe caught the object in flight. "It took 23 seconds to cross the sky and was nearly as bright as the full Moon. The fireball made a sonic boom loud enough to be heard inside above fan noise and household din. At first I thought it was thunder." After passing over New Mexico, the fireball apparently continued on to Texas. And then a second fireball appeared: "About 7 or 8 min later we saw another fireball moving in the same direction directly over Amarillo. It was bright white and shedding white sparks." US Space Command reports no satellites or pieces of space junk decaying at the time of the sightings. This was probably a random meteoroid -- and maybe two -- disintegrating in Earth's atmosphere. ( video)


Certain Similac-brand powder infant formulas in Guam, Puerto Rico, the USA and some parts of the Caribbean are being recalled by Abbot Labs because there is a "remote" possibility of contamination with a small common beetle.

-Hallmark Fisheries, Charleston, Ore., is recalling several packaged crab meat products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RECORD WARM SEAS - The four major Atlantic hurricanes that spun toward the Caribbean in the past month were fueled by RECORD WARM SEAS and FORMED IN AN UNPRECEDENTED 20 DAYS. With 10 weeks left in the hurricane season, more may be coming. The storms that were born off west Africa gathered strength by absorbing the ocean's heat and swelled into Category 4-level hurricanes on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale. While none hit land at full speed, each packed winds of at least 131 miles an hour, stronger than Hurricane Katrina's Category 3 winds when it devastated New Orleans at the end of August in 2005. While the six-month season is past its statistical peak, forecasters and insurers said warmer seas can lengthen the danger period to property. "The hotter the water, the higher the octane level, and there is going to be far more Category 4 and 5 hurricanes." The season may be busy for another month. "All the ingredients" were in place for major hurricanes to form this year. "The nightmare scenario for industry losses is a Miami hit, closely followed by a New York hurricane. Gulf oil is a huge issue for the insurance industry. There's a feeling that if something big happens, there's going to be some hard times." The Weather Research Center in Houston has created a model that shows a storm with the strength of Katrina or Rita would damage or destroy about 10 percent of all the oil platforms it passed over.
The National Hurricane Center predicts 2010 will have as many as 20 storms of at least 39 mile-an-hour winds, meaning they'll be named, compared with 11 in a typical year. Lisa's formation Tuesday brought this year's tally to 12. The Miami center has identified five major hurricanes in 2010 compared with two in an average season when waters are cooler.
The season runs June through November, peaking around Sept. 10. After that, major storms can and do still form. In 2005, Hurricane Rita's winds peaked at 178 miles per hour on Sept. 22. The Atlantic has had RECORD TEMPERATURES SINCE MARCH and by the end of August a swath of the ocean was 3 degrees Fahrenheit above average. The records date to 1854.

**Good for the body is the work of the body,
and good for the soul is the work of the soul,
and good for either is the work of the other.**
Henry David Thoreau

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/21/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Almost 75 whales have stranded themselves on a beach at the top of New Zealand's North Island, the second mass beaching in the region in as many months. [Does this signal another large quake in New Zealand could hit within two weeks? See the second article below.] The Department of Conservation were alerted to the stranding at 11.30am (9.30am AEST) today after a local spotted the pilot whales on the sand at Spirits Bay, about 90 kilometres north of Kaitaia, in Northland. Staff counted 74 whales spread across two kilometres of the beach, 49 were alive, 25 had already died and another 50 were swimming just off-shore.
Volunteers from Far North Whale Rescue, DoC officers and members of the local Maori community were preparing to stay overnight at the beach and will battle a strong swell and high winds in an effort to refloat the animals tomorrow. "We need as many volunteers as possible, as it will be at least until tomorrow before we can look at refloating them, which means caring for them over the next two days." In August, a pod of 58 pilot whales stranded themselves at a remote beach at the top of NZ's North Island. Upon discovery, 43 were already dead. A further six died during the rescue attempt, with nine successfully refloated. In 2007, 101 pilot whales were stranded on the same beach.

Whale deaths linked to earthquakes? - An academic's prediction of natural disaster, following whale deaths at New Zealand on August 20, has apparently come true. Over the years, Dr Arunachalam Kumar had espoused the theory that unexplained whale deaths are linked to natural disasters. After whale deaths of the New Zealand coast, he had received an e-mail query regarding the possible outcome of this event. He had said the incident was prelude to the eruption of a volcano in Indonesia within seven days and an earthquake would follow within two weeks. On August 29, Mt Sinabung, a long dormant volcano in Sumatra erupted suddenly. On September 4, Christchurch, New Zealand, was rocked by one of the most powerful earthquakes in its history. In early December 2004, the doctor is said to have predicted the coming of the titanic Asian tsunami a full three weeks before it struck.
A different perspective on the strandings - Data spanning 1920–2002, involving a total of 639 stranding events from southeast Australia, were found to demonstrate a clear 11–13 year periodicity in the number of events through time. These data positively correlated with the regional persistence of both zonal (westerly) and meridional (southerly) winds, reflecting general long-term and large-scale shifts in sea-level pressure gradients. Periods of persistent zonal and meridional winds result in colder and presumably nutrient-rich waters being driven closer to southern Australia, resulting in increased biological activity in the water column during the spring months. These observations suggest that large-scale climatic events provide a powerful influence on the propensity for whales to strand in this region. These patterns provide a powerful framework for testing hypotheses regarding environmental links to strandings and provide managers with a potential predictive tool to prepare for years of peak stranding activity.


ITALY - Plans are being made to drill 3962-meters into an active volcano [Campi Flegrei] in Italy to predict when it will erupt. Recent seismic activity at Campi Flegrei has created concern the 13-kilometer wide volcanic formation, or "caldera," could explode, endangering the city of Naples. Campi Flegrei is located under the city’s western outskirts and the Bay of Naples. It last erupted in 1538 and is made up of 24 craters and volcanic fissures.
The drilling operation will measure rock temperature and seismic activity at different depths to work out how stable, or unstable, the volcano is. Scientists working on the project will be dealing with molten rock between 500-600 Celsius. "Calderas are the only volcanoes that can cause truly catastrophic eruptions with global consequences, yet they are still poorly understood." Potential dangers have been raised, though, that the drilling could trigger an eruption or an earthquake, endangering 1.5 million people in and near Naples. A similar project in Iceland had to be stopped when magma was unexpectedly found during the operation.
Also endangering Naples, Europe's largest undersea volcano could disintegrate and unleash a tsunami that would engulf southern Italy "at any time", a prominent vulcanologist has warned. The Marsili volcano, which is bursting with magma, has "fragile walls" that could collapse. "It could even happen tomorrow. Our latest research shows that the volcano is not structurally solid, its walls are fragile, the magma chamber is of sizeable dimensions. All that tells us that the volcano is active and could begin erupting at any time." The event would result in "a strong tsunami that could strike the coasts of Campania, Calabria and Sicily."
The undersea Marsili, 3000m tall and located some 150km south-west of Naples, has not erupted since the start of recorded history. It is 70km long and 30km wide, and its crater is some 450m below the surface of the Tyrrhenian Sea. "A rupture of the walls would let loose millions of cubic metres of material capable of generating a very powerful wave. While the indications that have been collected are precise, it is impossible to make predictions. The risk is real but hard to evaluate."

-Tropical depression GEORGETTE was 21 nmi NNE of La Paz, Mexico

-Hurricane IGOR was 463 nmi ENE of Halifax, Nova Scotia [apparently going to stall as a hurricane near the Arctic Circle]
-Tropical storm LISA was 1662 nmi ENE of Bridgetown, Barbados

-Tropical storm MALAKAS was 384 nmi NNW of Agana, Guam

Tropical Storm Malakas strengthened as it churned over the Pacific Ocean toward the Japanese islands of Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima. The official forecast shows the storm tracking north near Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima before turning north-northeast, indicating it won’t make landfall on Japan’s main islands. The storm’s eye is forecast to remain about 500 kilometers (310 miles) off Japan’s coast, with Tokyo and surrounding prefectures within range of the path’s forecast margin of error on Sept. 25.
Malakas is expected to become a typhoon tomorrow and may have sustained winds of 157 kilometers per hour by Sept. 25. That would make it a Category 2 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, capable of “extensive damage."

Typhoon Fanapi, the 12th storm of the season, swept across Taiwan on Sept. 19, downing electric lines, forcing evacuations and closing airports. Two people were killed and 107 were hurt. Fanapi then brought THE HEAVIEST RAINS IN A CENTURY to China’s southern province of Guangdong. A dam built to hold tin-mining waste collapsed in Guangdong after about 60 centimeters (24 inches) of rain from Typhoon Fanapi triggered mud and rock slides. Flooding and landslides from Fanapi killed 13 people in southern China and left at least 33 missing. Thousands of people have died this year in China as torrential rain and floods inundated the country in July and August.

A new tropical storm has hit the Baja California peninsula on Mexico's northern Pacific coast, bringing torrential rains and pounding waves. Tropical Storm Georgette made landfall near the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of the peninsula.
It struck days after Hurricane Karl swept across south-eastern Mexico, flooding large areas and killing at least 15 people. Parts of the country are enduring their worst rainy season on record.
Heavy downpours have continued to drench southern and central Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Karl, causing floods and landslides. On Monday night a hillside collapsed on a bus near the town of Villa Guerrero, 60km (35 miles) south-west of Mexico City, killing at least seven people. Rescuers have been digging through the mud in search of others who are missing. In the eastern state of Veracruz, which bore the brunt of Hurricane Karl, around 40,000 people were still living in emergency shelters on Tuesday. "Nearly half the state is under water." The southern states of Oaxaca and Tabasco have also suffered severe floods.


RECORD malaria outbreak - INDIA has drafted in health workers from Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders] to help tackle what they said on Friday was a record number of malaria cases in the country's financial capital, Mumbai. It was responding to a request from the local health ministry 'to reinforce the supply of treatment", including for the most deadly form of the disease, which has struck 10 to 15 per cent of victims. The first six months of this year saw more than 14,700 cases of malaria - nearly as many as for the whole of 2009 - while a sharp rise in patients since the start of the monsoon rains in July has left hospitals struggling to cope.