Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A plume of sulfur dioxide from Indonesia's deadly Mount Merapi volcano is swirling through the upper atmosphere over western Australia. It could soon swirl across the entire continent. Sky watchers in Australia should be alert for volcanic sunsets. (Video)

**What a strange narrowness of mind now is that,
to think the things we have not known
are better than the things we have known.**
Samuel Johnson

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/9/10 -

INDONESIA - An earthquake measuring 5.4 degrees caused panic on Tuesday in the Merapi volcano area, but there were no fatalities or major damage. The epicenter was located 94 kilometers southwest of Yogyakarta, a city located 30 kilometers from the volcano in central Java island. Merapi volcano continues to emit ash clouds, but the eruption has decreased from days past. The eruption, the strongest since 1870, so far has killed at least 151 people. The number of victims housed in special centers is 320,000 people. Intervention teams are trying to bring together members of the same family, who in most cases are in different centers. (photo)


Scientist says research of mysterious booms at a standstill. - A series of mysterious booms over the weekend has some folks in the Cape Fear, North Carolina, a little rattled, but they're nothing new. It's been ten years since a former Duke University professor started searching for an answer as to what exactly is causing the booms.
"It's one of those controversies that's been going on for more than a century now, and what one wants is solid evidence not hearsay. I don't think my opinion would weigh any more than the hundreds of people that have heard them, or thousands of people that have heard them at this point, until there was actually some hard record of where one particular event that everybody heard was coming from."
He invested his time and money into building an observation well at Fort Fisher. A cable runs down through the well, and the equipment can tell if the booms are coming from the air or the ground. But there's one problem: there's no recording device to document the booms. He didn't get enough interest or financial support, so a recording device was never purchased. "Whether or not they're coming from the ground or whether they're coming from the air, it makes an enormous difference in providing a natural explanation for them. If they're coming from the ground, it's indicative of some kind of very small earthquake activity or ground motion. If they're coming from the air, they're indicative of something completely different in terms of whether it's cloud physics or sheet lightning or these kinds of things that would be enormously useful to determine these. They're actually a very interesting scientific phenomena."


PHILIPPINE authorities today issued aviation alerts and warned nearby residents of possible mudflows as restive Bulusan volcano ejected more ash. Booming sounds accompanied two ash explosions from the Bulusan volcano yesterday, showering nearby communities with gray ash. Bulusan, 160 miles (250km) southeast of the capital Manila on the main island of Luzon, is one of the country's 23 active volcanoes. The Government has not ordered any evacuation, but said up to 75,000 people from the nearby towns of Irosin and Juban could be at risk if the currently mild eruption increases. Bulusan has erupted 16 times in recorded history, the last time in 2006. It began emitting ash again on November 6. This is the third blast since Saturday.

INDONESIA - The crater of Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait has expanded to a diameter of 25-26 meters, an Indonesian volcanologist says. The news comes as the frequency of eruptions of the volcano increases. On Friday there were 615 eruptions, on Saturday there were 623 and on Sunday 668. The latest eruptions changed the shape of the crater. Banten's Governor said Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) did not pose a threat and the eruptions, which can be seen from the western tip of Java, were spectacular to watch. Krakatoa exploded in 1883, with the resulting tsunamis killing an estimated 40,000 people, though some estimates put the death toll much higher. The explosion is still considered to be THE LOUDEST SOUND EVER HEARD IN MODERN HISTORY, with reports of it being heard nearly 4,800 kilometers away. The shock wave from the explosion was recorded on barographs around the globe. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, named Anak Krakatau.
“The volcanic activity in Anak Krakatau is indeed increasing. However, it’s all within normal level." Experts said the lava and molten rocks were unlikely to reach the closest residential areas, 42 kilometers from the peak. However, the public has been warned to remain at least two kilometers away as a precaution. The volcano has thin magma that could easily be spewed out. "The temperature of the material spewed from the volcano can reach 1,000 degrees Celsius. Even a small rock can cause serious injury.” Authorities have warned that several other volcanoes are showing increased signs of activity. They include Mount Karangetang on Siau Island in North Sulawesi and Mount Ibu on Halmahera Island in North Maluku. There is no connection between the Merapi eruption that has killed more than 140 people and forced tens of thousands of others to flee, or the heightened status of other volcanoes throughout the country.

No current tropical cyclones.

The leftovers of what was Tropical Cyclone Jal may not be ready to die just yet. The low pressure area formerly known as Topical Cyclone Jal has emerged into the warm waters of the Arabian Sea after crossing India this past weekend, as seen by infrared and visible imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite. Tuesday's imagery hints that Jal's remnants are still circulating. The circulation was particularly apparent in the visible image and the infrared satellite image showed that the strongest convection and thunderstorms are now occurring to the west of the center of circulation and over the open waters of the Arabian Sea. Relative to land and the nearest city in India, Jal's remnant low was about 70 miles (113 kilometers) east-southeast of Mumbai. Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra and is located on India's west coast. It is the most populous city in India with 14 million residents. The forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center at the Naval Maritime Forecast Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii were monitoring Jal's remnants for possible regeneration late Tuesday. (satellite photos)

Is it a wrap for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season? - Judging from the recent cold snap in Florida - almost 4 degrees in the minus column compared to average for the first week of November - it’s tempting to conclude that the tropical weather season is over. The season officially ends Nov. 30. But forecasting models that were showing development of tropical systems a week ago now predict quiet weather over the next 10 to 15 days. And wind shear, which prevents storms from developing, is already hitting high levels north of the Caribbean.
Conditions are still fairly ripe in the southern and central Caribbean, according to a hurricane expert at Weather Underground. He predicts there will be no more dangerous storms this year like we saw with Hurricane Tomas. But he believes there’s a 30 percent chance we’ll see “one more inconsequential named storm” before 2010 goes into the books. In fact, the National Hurricane Center is tracking a low pressure system about 100 miles north of Aruba, which is designated 93L. Forecasters gave it a low chance of development over the next two days. Even if it does become Tropical Storm Virginie, computer models show it zipping off to the northeast so it wouldn’t have any impact on Puerto Rico, Hispaniola or Cuba. It would, however, put the season firmly in third place behind 2005 and 1933 in terms of the highest number of named storms. We’re currently tied with 1995 and 1887 for third place.
Speaking of hurricanes, some interesting new research concludes that global warming may not have much impact on the number of tropical storms. The reason is that as sea temperatures continue to increase, so does the threshold for tropical development. Over the last 30 years, it has taken more and more heat to trigger rainfall over the tropical oceans, the precursor to storm development. “The correspondence between the two time series is rather remarkable. The convective threshold and average sea surface temperatures are so closely linked because of their relation with temperatures in the atmosphere extending several miles above the surface.” Tropical ocean temperatures, and the threshold for development of convection, have both been rising by about a tenth of a degree centigrade per decade.


New Comet Ikeya-Murakami (C/2010 V1) is definitely undergoing an outburst event. A November 4-9 sequence clearly shows an explosion in progress. "Only Nov. 7th is missing, because of rare cloudy skies over New Mexico, where the remotely-controlled telescope we used is located." Another New Mexico observer estimates the size of comet's expanding atmosphere as 4x6 arcminutes. "There is also some evidence of two symmetrical jets emerging from the nucleus of the comet."
The behavior of this comet reminds many onlookers of exploding Comet Holmes in 2007. Researchers believe Holmes exploded when an icy cavern in the comet's nucleus collapsed. Perhaps something similar has happened to Comet Ikeya-Murakami. The icy visitor from the outer solar system made its closest approach to the Sun in late October, so it has just received a dose of solar heating that could trigger such an event. The comet is invisible to the naked eye but an easy target for telescopes. It's easy to find, too, little more than a degree from Saturn in the eastern sky before dawn.