Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Russian volcano activity causes global concern - A string of volcanoes on Russia's eastern seaboard of Kamchatka have been UNUSUALLY active for the last six months. The dust they threw up diverted winds in the Arctic, pushing cold air over Europe and North America and CAUSING THE UNUSUALLY COLD WINTER THIS YEAR, say scientists. The volcanoes (160 in total, of which 29 are active) are still on the go and could create more problems this year, depressing harvests around the world just as global food prices soar and culminating in a second freezing winter next Christmas.
The eruptions have come at the worst possible time. The Pacific Ocean has already been cooled by the so-called La Nina - which contributed to the deluge in Australia and Tropical Cyclones - while at the same time the Atlantic Ocean is warmer than usual. The combination of this means the weather forecast for the first quarter of this year is extreme, which will hit both the agricultural and mining sectors, sending already spiking prices up even faster. "These climatic conditions reduce the outlooks of harvest for agricultural commodities (last year was also bad) and prevent the mining of commodities like coal. The extreme weather will probably culminate in the [first quarter] - this is the reason why the prices of commodities will be influenced by this weather... then an acceleration of consumer inflation... There are also problems for transport due to strong storms."
The combination shifts wind patterns around the world, but the spanner in the works has been the Kamchatka volcanoes, which are throwing massive amounts of dust into the air, causing the Arctic to become even colder and Arctic winds to push farther south, resulting in a very drastic change in patterns. "Kamchatka tends to be somewhat active - but RECENTLY IT HAS BEEN RIDICULOUS! Since late November, Kizimen, Sheveluch, Karymsky, and Kliuchevskoi have been erupting almost constantly."
Volcanic ash screens out the sun, cooling the air below. This lowers air pressures, which in turn changes wind patterns, especially in the Arctic. The upshot is, "the cold air normally trapped around the North Pole surges south." This has caused some bizarre weather. The UK was colder than Russia on Christmas Day, while New York was buried under heavy snow. The cold weather has already impacted agriculture. Australia's wheat crop was down by 10% in December - the WORST FALL IN 100 YEARS - and Russia's agriculture ministry is forecasting a grain harvest of 80m-85m tonnes; better than last year, but still well down on the bumper 2008 crop of 110m tonnes. Coupled with last season's severe drought in Argentina, floods in Brazil and Venezuela, odd weather in the agricultural parts of China, and food prices have already soared. What happens throughout the rest of this year will depend entirely on the volcanic activity, which by its nature is impossible to predict.

**Never make the same mistake twice
or you'll never get around to all of them.**
Author Unknown

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
2/7/11 -

Cyclone ZAKA was 375 nmi NE of Auckland, New Zealand.

Tropical Cyclone Zaka developed over the Pacific Ocean over the weekend and has become a tropical storm. The storm, the latest to develop after Cyclone Yasi pummeled Australia last week, is nearing Raoul Island (also called Sunday Island), the largest and northernmost of the main Kermadec Islands. It's located about 680 miles (1,100 kilometers) north-northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Zaka is expected to track near northeastern New Zealand.
Satellite imagery shows that Zaka has a well-defined center of circulation, and convection (rapidly rising air that forms the thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone) and thunderstorms are wrapping around the storm's eastern side. The reason for more thunderstorms and convection on the east side of the storm is an upper-level low pressure area sitting to the northwest of the storm. That upper-level low is suppressing convection on the western side of Zaka.
New Zealand's Metservice expects Tropical Storm Zaka to bring thunderstorms, gusty winds, rough surf and heavy rainfall to Raoul Island as it passes between 90 and 120 miles (150 to 200 km) west of the island this evening (New Zealand local time). Zaka had maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (64 kph) at 0900 UTC (4 a.m. EST) today. It was still 550 miles (885 km) northeast of Auckland, New Zealand, and was moving south-southwest near 25 mph (40 kph) and kicking up waves 14 feet (4.2 meters) high. Because Zaka is moving into an area with increased wind shear (winds that can weaken and tear a storm apart) it is expected to weaken as it passes northeast of New Zealand's North Island tomorrow.


100,000 sharks mass off Florida's beaches - A mass of more than 100,000 sharks was spotted swimming just 100 yards off Florida's sandy beaches. A long-time fisherman and marine technology expert was cruising 300ft above the clear waters in his helicopter on Sunday when he came across the astonishing scene.
He whipped out his smartphone to capture the masses of deadly predators, which spanned a 20-mile stretch of water. The sharks - believed to be Spinners, between 3ft and 7ft long - were heading north and swimming parallel to the east coast's beaches between Fort Lauderdale and exclusive Jupiter Island.
Small groups of strays were even spotted milling around swimmers who appeared to be blissfully unaware of the danger, although no injuries were reported. Experts say this is the time of year when sharks migrate and head for warmer waters, typically swimming close to the shore while chasing after bait-fish. But the expert was baffled as to the staggering number of sharks gathered in the shallow waters. 'It was an truly amazing sight. 'I've been a fisherman for 20 years...They're prevalent at this time of year but what amazed me was the sheer numbers of them. There were tens of thousands of them - I'd say maybe 100,000. I kept on flying for about 20 miles and they just kept on coming. It's common to see large predatory sharks come in and feed on schools of bait-fish - the odd thing was I didn't see any bait-fish at all!' (photos & video)


INDIA - The 2010 was the hottest year since 1901. But 2011 might break last year's record because of the `warm' winter spell being witnessed for last few days. After first 15 days' record-breaking low temperatures in January, the winter has been keeping warm for past 22 days. And, now for last two days, mercury levels have been UNUSUALLY high in UP. While the day temperatures were 5-8 degrees above normal, night temperatures were 2-4 degrees above normal. The weather normally witnessed towards March end is prevailing at present in February.
The steady stream of western disturbances (WD) hitting the Himalayas are responsible for the weather change in the plains. The forecast is that temperatures will come back to normal levels in next 3-4 days. The cause of worry is lack of winter rains so far. If similar conditions continue for a week, it may hit rabi crops, particularly wheat. On Monday, the maximum temperature in the city was 31 degrees Celsius, seven degrees above normal. The minimum temperature was 12.2 degrees Celsius, four degrees above normal. The normal maximum and minimum temperatures for February are 26 degrees Celsius and 9.3 degrees Celsius respectively. Normal rainfall for January is 21.9 mm and 11.2 mm in February.
Western disturbances are cyclonic circulations which originate from the Mediterranean sea due to pressure variation and travel all the way to India, causing snow/rainfall in the northern hill regions. Untill the time WD prevails, it keeps winds over hills warm. When these winds come to plains, they increase temperatures. The WDs, when they move beyond hills, also cause rains and hail/thunderstorms in the plains. The average temperatures in India have been rising since 1998. The mean annual temperature of the country as a whole in 2010 was 0.93 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average. It was because of high maximum temperatures in March, April and May, while minimum temperatures were high in November.The country's annual average temperature is 24.64 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, farmers fear that high temperatures and absence of rains may harm the wheat crop. Warm winters last year had led to shrivelling of wheat grains. Wheat requires moderate mercury levels (maximum 20-23 degrees Celsius and minimum 4-5 degrees Celsius) in the sowing season in December and light rains in January-February for proper growth.


Will asteroid Apophis hit Earth in 2036? NASA rejects Russian report. In 2004, NASA scientists announced that there was a chance that Apophis, an asteroid larger than two football fields, could smash into Earth in 2029. A few additional observations and some number-crunching later, astronomers noted that the chance of the planet-killer hitting Earth in 2029 was nearly zilch.
Now, reports out of Russia say that scientists there estimate Apophis will collide with Earth on April 13, 2036. These reports conflict on the probability of such a doomsday event, but the question remains: How scared should we be? “Technically, they’re correct, there is a chance in 2036 [that Apophis will hit Earth]." However, that chance is just 1-in-250,000. The Russian scientists are basing their predictions of a collision on the chance that the 900-foot-long (270 meters) Apophis will travel through what’s called a gravitational keyhole as it passes by Earth in 2029. The gravitational keyhole they mention is a precise region in space, only slightly larger than the asteroid itself, in which the effect of Earth's gravity is such that it could tweak Apophis' path. “The situation is that in 2029, April 13, [Apophis] flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time. On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036.' The chances of the asteroid going through the keyhole, which is tiny compared to the asteroid, are “minuscule".
The more likely scenario is this: Apophis will make a fairly close approach to Earth in late 2012 and early 2013, and will be extensively observed with ground-based optical telescopes and radar systems. If it seems to be heading on a destructive path, NASA will devise the scheme and machinery necessary to change the asteroid’s orbit, decreasing the probability of a collision in 2036 to zero. There are several ways to change an asteroid’s orbit, the simplest of which is to run a spacecraft into the hurtling rock. This technology was used on July 4, 2005, when Deep Impact smashed into the comet Tempel 1.