Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Climate is warming despite recent weather - Snow storms in the northern hemisphere and torrential rainfall in parts of drought stricken Australia could have you wondering whether there's been a permanent shift in average temperatures. According to the CSIRO, the recent extreme weather in both northern and southern hemispheres reflect short-term variability's in climate. They say periodic short-term cooling in global temperatures should not be misinterpreted as signalling an end to global warming. "Despite 2010 being a very warm year globally, the severity of the 2009-2010 northern winter and a wetter and cooler Australia in 2010 relative to the past few years have been misinterpreted by some to imply that climate change is not occurring. Recent wet conditions in eastern Australia mainly reflect short-term climate variability and weather events, not longer-term climate change trends. Conclusions that climate is not changing are based on a misunderstanding of the roles of climatic change caused by increasing greenhouse gases and climatic variability due to natural processes in the climatic system." In addition to climate change being linked to human activity, natural variability produces periods where the global climate can be either cooler or warmer than usual.

**I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man.**
Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
12/28/10 -

NEW ZEALAND - Latest shaking worse than the big quake. As engineers continue to assess the damage caused by the latest swarm of aftershocks to hit Christchurch, it has been revealed that shaking in the central city caused by the biggest tremor in the swarm exceeded the devastating September 4 quake. The largest aftershock measuring magnitude 4.9 shook the city at 10.30am on Sunday, causing Boxing Day shoppers to flee as bricks and mortar crashed from buildings. Around two dozen aftershocks were felt within the space of 36 hours.
Strong motion sensors at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. showed that peak ground movements - from side to side or up and down - during Sunday's quake reached 48% of the acceleration of gravity. This compares with the shaking recorded during the magnitude 7.1 quake on September 4, where peak ground acceleration levels recorded in the cental city reached between 15% and 20%. The reason there had been more damage in the September 4 quake was because the shaking lasted longer.

Southern California quake swarm increasing - Earthquakes are increasing again near the Salton Sea. The area has had a lull in quakes for quite a while, however it is becoming active again. Two near magnitude four quake struck the area on Monday. These quakes were in a known seismic zone, near the San Andreas Fault. (map)

No current tropical cyclones.


AUSTRALIA - More Queenslanders are fleeing their homes as the state's flood crisis continues, with two new disaster areas declared today. Evacuations are underway in the inland town of Emerald, west of Rockhampton, and in the coastal city of Bundaberg. While the rain has eased, river levels continue to rise in many locations as the deluge that's hit southern and central Queensland makes its way towards the sea.
Downstream communities, particularly Bundaberg and Rockhampton, face days of uncertainty. Many residents have already left low lying areas as the city braces for the HIGHEST FLOOD PEAK IN 50 YEARS. The Burnett River is expected to reach 7.5 metres later today, well above the 1954 record of 7.2m.
Residents are also being evacuated from low lying parts of Emerald after the Department of Community Safety said flood levels would equal or exceed those seen in 2008. The January 2008 floods saw 2700 people evacuated and left a damage bill of more than $50 million. The Nogoa River, which flows through Emerald, is at major flood levels and is expected to peak on Friday about 0.3 metres higher than the 2008 flood, which reached 15.36 metres. Fairbairn Dam was expected to peak overnight tomorrow. "In 2008, the water was coming over the spillway at Fairbairn Dam at 4.4 metres. This time you're looking at five metres. But it can handle 10 to 12 metres. So there's no risk to the dam itself." The area around the town resembled a huge inland delta. "All the river systems are full, the farmland has all been washed away and the crops have all been destroyed...I've never seen water laying in that country like it is now - never. It's like a delta system draining, and you've got to see it to believe it."
Meanwhile, evacuations are continuing in the devastated town of Theodore, with authorities hopeful the town will be empty come nightfall. Theodore, which has been completely inundated, will be hit again when water at nearby Taroom flows downstream. The Dawson River had reached a record height of 10.28 metres at Taroom this morning - a metre higher than the 1956 record of 9.27m. "This is way out of the scheme of thing." The river at Taroom was still rising. To the south, the town of Dalby has just two days of drinking water left after its water treatment plant was damaged. The likely damage bill is in excess of $1 billion. "Rockhampton experiences the flooding from the weather events usually about a week after the rain stops falling in the catchment. Even just one of the tributaries of the Fitzroy system is 5000 square kilometres...A lot of that (crop damage) we won't know until the water has gone down and receded."


RUSSIA - Thousands of passengers remain stranded at the Moscow major airports of Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo following an ice storm that hit the entire territory of Central Russia over the weekend. Hundreds of flights have been canceled and delayed as severe freezing rain caused serious power outages. Some 20,000 passengers have been affected by the weather. Lawyers of the stranded passengers are preparing a multimillion-ruble class action suit against the airports. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has warned of possible emergency situations as another snow cyclone is approaching the country’s central and Volga regions. The cyclone that was due to come from the south on December 28 through 30 will bring heavy snows, sleet, rains and fog that might cause ground surface icing, ice crusting, and snowdrifts.

FLORIDA - RECORD-BREAKING LOW TEMPERATURES across central Florida are threatening crops in the region.

NEW YORK struggles to dig out; passengers still stranded - Hundreds of airline passengers were stranded for up to 10 hours on the tarmac at overworked Kennedy Airport. Ambulances struggled to get patients through unplowed streets.

IRELAND - This year was a RECORD-BREAKER FOR COLD. As 2010 draws to a close, figures show that Ireland experienced NEW LOWS of temperature over the past 12 months. But surprisingly it was also one of the DRIEST AND SUNNIEST YEARS IN MODERN TIMES. Although there are still a number of days left, this DECEMBER WILL GO DOWN AS THE COLDEST MONTH SINCE MODERN TEMPERATURE DATA WAS FIRST COLLECTED in Ireland 130 years ago. 2010 was the COLDEST YEAR ON RECORD in Dublin, Mullingar and Knock. And records were set elsewhere - in Co Mayo, a temperature of -17.2C was recorded on December 20, the coldest ever experienced in Ireland during the month of December. Even forecasters were surprised with the conditions. "I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it. We've had almost 30 years of relatively mild runs up to Christmas. We saw this cold snap coming in the middle of the month but you can't tell people how cold it's going to be, they wouldn't believe you."
This year was also one of the driest ever, with new minimum rainfall values being recorded at weather stations in Cork and Knock airports. "A cold winter is a dry winter. Basically, you need heat to retain moisture as a rule of thumb, so a mild winter is a wet winter. We've had 90% of our rainfall totals for the year, it's also been a very sunny year." The reason for the UNPRECEDENTED weather has been a change in the behaviour of the jet stream. "The jet stream is the carrier of weather to much of Europe and across Ireland. Conventionally, it brings us mild and moist Atlantic weather - 2010 has been characterised by a jet stream which is much more loopy and wave-like and when that happens we tend to get a lot of anomalies so we've been having EXTREMELY STRANGE CONDITIONS. It really just depends on which side of the jet stream loop you're located at and we've been located unfortunately at a place which has enabled Arctic air to dominate this month."
Looking back at 2010, the year began with a big freeze similar to the one just ending now. The first 10 days of January were the COLDEST SPELL Ireland had experienced in almost 40 years and things scarcely improved the following month, with February also BREAKING RECORDS. Summer 2010 was actually better than average. June and July were both sunnier and warmer than normal but August was a disappointment as temperatures failed to rise above 20C at all in the west and southwest.


GEOMAGNETIC STORM: High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. During the early hours of Dec. 28th, the sun's magnetic field near Earth tipped south, opening a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured and sparked a G1-class (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm. Observers are reporting ground currents and intensifying Northern Lights in Scandinavia.

GIANT STORM ON SATURN: A giant storm even brighter than Saturn's rings is raging through the planet's cloudtops. "I've never seen anything like this. It's possible that this is tTHE BIGGEST STORM ON SATURN IN MANY DECADES." Instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft are picking up strong bursts of radio static. Apparently, lightning is being generated in multiple cells across the storm front. (photo at above link)


Pastries blamed for 100 staph cases in 2 states - An outbreak of about 100 illness cases in Illinois and Wisconsin has been attributed to pastries from an Illinois bakery that were tainted with Staphylococcus aureus. The outbreak prompted Rolf's Patisserie, a European-style bakery in Lincolnwood, Ill., to recall all desserts made after Nov 1. The illnesses stemmed from four events in November and December, including a company function, a catered party, restaurant dining, and a holiday party. Three events accounting for 30 cases were in Illinois and one event blamed for 70 cases was in Wisconsin. Rolf's Patisserie is recalling tiramisu, cakes, cobblers, decorated cookies, tarts, pastries, and pies. Because the business sells to retail and wholesale outlets, institutions, and online customers, the products may not carry a company label when they reach consumers. The outbreak also caused the national retail chain Whole Foods Market to recall gingerbread houses from Rolf's Patisserie. The houses were sold in 22 states.
Foods that are made by hand and require no cooking are at highest risk for S aureus contamination, according to the CDC. Examples of foods linked to S aureus cases include sliced meats, puddings, pastries, and sandwiches. Sick people are not contagious, as staphylococcal toxins don't spread from person to person. Although S aureus is not known primarily as a foodborne pathogen, food-related outbreaks are fairly common. 21 outbreaks of illness from foodborne staphylococcal toxins were reported in 2007, with 286 cases. The average annual number of such cases from 2002 through 2006 was 554.