Sunday, February 6, 2011

Extreme weather could create a global food crisis - 2010 was among THE HOTTEST AND WETTEST YEARS ON RECORD – we are entering a period of climate and food insecurity (says Munich Re, one of the world's leading reinsurers).
"There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events nowadays because there is more water vapour lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be, say, 30 years ago. It's about a 4% extra amount, provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it's unfortunate that the public is not associating this with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get worse in the future."
Globally, 2010 saw 19 nations – a RECORD NUMBER – SET TEMPERATURE RECORDS including Pakistan, which hit 53.5C, the HOTTEST TEMPERATURE EVER RELIABLY MEASURED IN ASIA'S HISTORY. From mid-December to mid-January of this year, parts of north-eastern Canada were 21C above average, "which are very large values to be sustained for an entire month". In mid-December, Greenland experienced THE MOST EXTREME HIGH-PRESSURE SYSTEM OF ITS KIND EVER RECORDED ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET. Last year saw THE GREATEST ICE MELT ON RECORD for Greenland.
In America, Tennessee was devastated by a ONCE-IN-A-1,000-YEAR rain storm leading to what some called Nashville's Katrina. In October, the STRONGEST STORM EVERY RECORDED IN THE MIDWEST BROKE PRESSURE RECORDS. "The term '100-year event' really lost its meaning this year." The Moscow heatwave this summer was so severe that the Russian Meteorological Centre reported: "There was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the LAST 1,000 years in regard to the heat."
Pakistan was inundated by a deluge that seemed beyond imagination – until an area the size of Germany and France combined was inundated by "biblical" floods in Australia. In Carnarvon, MORE THAN A YEAR'S WORTH OF RAIN FELL IN JUST 24 HOURS. In one city in Queensland, six inches fell in just 30 minutes. Very warm sea surface temperatures contributed to the record rainfall and very high humidity across eastern Australia during winter and spring. The most recent decade (2001-10) was also the warmest decade on record for sea surface temperatures following the pattern observed over land. In January, more than 300mm fell in just a few hours in many regions of Brazil, causing their deadliest natural disaster in history. Again, a key contributor was the second warmest sea surface temperatures on record for the moisture source region.
Individually, these climate-driven extreme events were disasters, but collectively they contributed to a global food crisis. In early January, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's food price index, "a basket tracking the wholesale cost of wheat, corn, rice, oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and meats" had jumped to a RECORD HIGH. When the real food instability comes – if, for instance, the US or Chinese breadbasket gets hit by the type of heatwave Russia just did – the big grain producers will ban exports, to make sure their people are fed. In this scenario, if you don't have your own food supplies or an important export item to barter – particularly oil – your country is going to have big, big problems feeding its people.
"Given the association of extreme weather and climate events with rising global temperature, the EXPECTATION OF NEW RECORD HGIH TEMPERATURES IN 2012 also suggests that the frequency and magnitude of extreme events could reach a high level in 2012. Extreme events include not only high temperatures, but also indirect effects of a warming atmosphere including the impact of higher temperature on extreme rainfall and droughts. The greater water vapour content of a warmer atmosphere allows larger rainfall anomalies and provides the fuel for stronger storms driven by latent heat." Barring a major volcano, half the years this decade are likely to be warmer than 2010. That means wetter and more extreme weather. And that means more food insecurity.

**The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.**
German Proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/5/11 -

2/4/11 -

NORTH CAROLINA - 2/5/11 - Something is shaking the southeast and has been for quite some time. A Carolina Beach resident was enjoying a Saturday morning when she felt and heard a 'boom.' Many people in her neighborhood ran outside in hopes of finding the source of the noise. "It feels like a Mack truck driving by and it just shakes your whole house."
"It's a shaking feeling. More than thunder and more than a truck going by. Initially that is what it sounded like but it turned into something more than that and I guess more movement. I went to Facebook and I asked, 'Did anyone else just feel a small earthquake?' And within minutes people were posting from all over town saying, 'I felt it in Mayfaire,' 'I felt it in Pine Valley.'" Dozens posted on her wall and thousands have reported the noises up and down the coast on various websites from Georgia to Virginia. With speculative explanations ranging from the ordinary, like military aircraft to the outrageous like ghosts and aliens.
"I don't think it's ghosts, and I don't think it's aliens," said a geophysicist with the United States Geological Service in Menlo Park, California. "I think it's likely to be small earthquakes." An earthquake produces audible sound by making the "ground around the person listening seem like they are in a big woofer. The ground is vibrating and that sound is transmitted up into the atmosphere and you hear a low rumbling sound."
But on the east coast another prominent Geophysicist says earthquakes have nothing to do with it. "There are earthquakes occurring all around the world that we are recording here in North Carolina,. If we had a local earthquake it would be impossible for us not to record that." Of all the loud booms heard, recorded and studied there has never been any direct relationship discovered between any seismic activity. "It's just very unlikely that we could have humans observe this and not have our very sensitive instruments making these observations."
But the California scientist strongly disagrees saying, "Magnitude twos and smaller could produce an audible sound that and shaking that wouldn't be recorded on the seismic stations."
There are a number of aircraft and submarine testing and bombing ranges off the coast stretching from Florida to New Jersey, with more than a dozen off the Carolina coastline. And supersonic flight can certainly make a boom. But no military instillation is taking credit for the booms, and no exercises were scheduled at the time.
"We know that these things were reported long before people were flying around at the speed of sound." In fact the term Seneca Guns, which is often used to describe these sounds comes from a James Fenimore Cooper story explaining the same phenomenon published in 1851, 50 years before man even learned to fly.
"It just doesn't make sense how nothing could show up. How could nothing at all show up if all these people definitely felt and heard something that wasn't thunder, that wasn't a plane, and wasn't a truck driving by the house?" Rven the most experienced scientists can't agree on an answer. You could eliminate some theories by installing a seismometer and sensitive microphones along the Carolina coastline. But, since the booms do little more than rattle windows finding someone to foot the $10,000 to $20,000 bill in our current economy will likely keep the public guessing as to what is causing the mysterious booms. It's just bizarre."


JAPAN - Kyushu volcano to continue eruptions over next two weeks. Mount Shinmoedake straddling Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures will continue its explosive eruptions over the next couple of weeks, according to a report by the government's Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruption. "Over the next one to two weeks, the volcano is expected to repeat its explosive eruptions, emitting as much lava as it is at the moment." The committee, however, did not make any long-term predictions about what the volcano will do. The panel of volcanologists and other experts will intensify observations and analyses of subterranean magma activities using seismometers and angle meters.
Shinmoedake's magma chambers are estimated to have shrunk by a volume of 5.5 million cubic meters between the first eruption and Jan. 28, with a slowing of that contraction since Jan. 31 indicating a decrease in subterranean magma. . As to the ongoing eruptions, there has likely been a continued supply of magma corresponding to the scale of the explosions. They ruled out the possibility of massive eruptions on the scale of those on Jan. 26 and 27 over the next two weeks. Some experts fear that a massive eruption could blow off the lava cap and cause pyroclastic flows. But "that would take place only after the volcano has resumed its upthrust to some extent, and that is not likely to occur in the next month considering the current state of the mountain."
The extraordinary executive meeting was held for the first time since December 2004, when it discussed volcanic activity on Miyakejima Island south of Tokyo.

No current tropical cyclones.

Cyclone Yasi, which pounded northeastern Australia Friday, moved south as a tropical depression Saturday, bringing downpours and flash floods to the Melbourne region. More than 175 millimeters of rain fell in parts of Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, while powerful winds downed trees and power lines. 2,000 kilometers to the north, the coastal communities of Cardwell, Tully and Mission Beach bore the full brunt of Cyclone Yasi, which made landfall early Thursday carrying winds as high as 300 kilometers an hour.
Authorities on Friday confirmed the first death from the storm. Two other people who were missing turned up safe. One damage assessment firm said losses from the storm could total as much as $5 billion. The storm tore the tops off hundreds of homes and buildings in the most affected areas, and downed trees and power lines, leaving nearly 200,000 residents without electricity. It also caused significant damage to Queensland's crucial sugar and banana crops. Cyclone Yasi is just the latest natural disaster to hit Queensland. Several weeks of heavy rains and flash flooding has killed 35 people and caused billions of dollars in damages.
A huge mop-up is underway at Mildura in Victoria's north-west, with homes awash, crops inundated and sewage posing a health risk. The border city is counting the cost of an estimated YEAR'S WORTH OF RAIN IN A DAY - the drenching started on Friday evening and spilled over into Saturday. "I've never seen a dump like this across the whole district. This is just the biggest thing."
By today, some 200 homes had been flooded, but the number was growing as word got around. All eyes were on a large drainage basin at Irymple, six kilometres south of Mildura, which was struggling to cope with massive inflows. Pumps were being used to take water from the basin to avoid more homes being flooded. "A lot of the vines are underwater. All the table grapes are covered in white plastic." Many roads in and around Mildura remain impassable. The Bureau of Meteorology today cancelled its severe weather warning for the state's northern regions as well as for the Gippsland and East Gippsland areas in the state's south-east.
AUSTRALIA - Alice Springs is bracing for potential flash flooding from the after effects of Cyclone Yasi that has lashed Queensland.

Tropical cyclone Yasi not only felled vast numbers of trees in some of Australia's most spectacular and precious rainforest, but its might will have been felt underwater, too. Yasi will almost certainly have left a trail of destruction across a section of the Great Barrier Reef, hundreds of kilometres long. Many people do not realise that hundreds of kilometres offshore large parts of the Great Barrier Reef rise almost to the ocean surface, making it extremely vulnerable to wave action. A cyclone generates massive waves that pulverise coral, leaving a trail of rubble and smashed life. The damage can extend tens of metres below the surface.
The Great Barrier Reef has adapted to deal with the effects of cyclones and fierce storms - along its entire 2300 kilometres length there have always been areas recovering from some kind of disturbance or another, creating a mosaic of healthy and damaged reef. But scientists fear that as the grip of climate change tightens, the frequency and intensity of the disturbances will increase, leaving the reef too little time to recuperate between disasters.

Cyclone Wilma was THE FIRST TROPICAL CYCLONE IN RECORDED HISTORY TO EVER HIT NEW ZEALAND and it topped off a month that saw the tropics quite literally move into the upper North Island. While many remember cyclones Drena, Fergus and Bola - or even Giselle (causing the 1968 Wahine disaster) - those storms were "extra tropical". They started off as tropical cyclones but changed when they lost their tropical characteristics. Sounds like a minor technicality but it is a significant change in the power and energy inside the storm.
Most of the storms in New Zealand are lows - deep and stormy, but with a different structure to tropical cyclones, which are far more aggressive. The closeness of the isobars in cyclones makes them so dangerous. Like an ice figure skater pulling their arms into spin faster, the tighter the isobars get the faster a cyclone spins. The more spread out the isobars are, the more spread out the winds are - and the air doesn't spin as fast. Extra-tropical is when the skater opens her arms and the winds spread out and generally become weaker.
So Wilma was a tropical cyclone when she arrived but Zelia and Vania were not. Incredible after so many years of no cyclones they had three named storms in just three weeks. Some parts of the North Island had 400% OF THEIR JANUARY RAINFALL, which included Auckland, eastern Northland, the Firth of Thames, Coromandel and western Bay of Plenty - with many new records set. In contrast, it was dry for parts of inland south Canterbury and the Nelson Ranges. The weather pattern has now shifted into a "spring-like" westerly. It's created huge temperatures - Gisborne reached 36C on Wednesday while that same morning Timaru started the day at 29C at 5am.


AUSTRALIA - More than 100 people have fled their homes in Perth's east where a bushfire is burning out of control.
SYDNEY'S RECORD HEATWAVE has continued for a seventh day but the city can breathe a sigh of relief as a break is set to come. A new overnight record was set with temperatures only lowering to 27.6C at Sydney's Observatory Hill by 6.10am (AEDT) today - one degree higher than the previous record set in 1973. The heat record had extended into the seventh straight day that the Sydney area experienced 30C-plus temperatures. Since records were first kept in 1858, Sydney HAS NEVER EXPERIENCED SUCH CONSISTENTLY HIGH TEMPERATURES. Sydney Airport set an overnight record high of 26.4C at 7.11am (AEDT), topping the previous mark set in 1929. Homebush in the city's west recorded an overnight high of 27.3C. Relief though is on its way with a change in the weather expected this afternoon.
Temperatures are expected to drop to the mid 20s and are predicted to stay there until Wednesday.