Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Volcano Activity Rises -
Growing Fears in Japan As 2 Volcanoes Erupt Again - Two volcanoes on Japan's southern island of Kyushu erupted on Tuesday. A volcano at Sakurajima, the Minamidake crater, erupted early Tuesday followed by an eruption at Shinmoedake in the afternoon. Shinmoedake erupted for the first time in 52 years last month and has erupted more than ten times since. Amid growing fears that a massive eruption could still be on its way, the latest eruptions covered nearby villages with rocks and ash. The two volcanoes spewed plumes of smoke and ash up to 2-thousand meters into the air resulting in multiple injuries and destroyed homes. A resident said, "This is crazy! Strong winds suddenly came and blew everything away."
A lava dome in the Shinmoedake crater is growing and could spill out creating a lava flow. Authorities therefore are maintaining a restricted zone of four kilometers around the volcano. A level 3 alert is being maintained for both regions with 5 being the highest level when evacuations are carried out. And volcanic experts are warning that the recent eruptions on Shinmoedake and other peaks in Japan resemble the highly destructive blasts that occurred 300 years ago which killed more than 30 people.

Another Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt' - Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event. Geologists detected the high risk of a new eruption after evaluating an increased swarm of earthquakes around the island's second largest volcano. The area around Bárdarbunga is showing signs of increased activity, which provides "good reason to worry". A low number of seismometer measuring devices in the area is making it more difficult to determine the scale and likely outcome of the current shifts. But there was "every reason to worry" as the sustained earthquake tremors to the north east of the remote volcano range are THE STRONGEST RECORDED IN RECENT TIMES and there was "no doubt" the lava was rising. The lack of coverage from measuring devices means they cannot accurately detect the depth and exact location of the increased number of localised earth movements and much of the area is covered with glaciers. "This is the most active area of the country if we look at the whole country together. There is no doubt that lava there is slowly growing, and the seismicity of the last few days is a sign of it."
The Icelandic Met Office had on Sunday warned of the increased risk of a eruption in north-west side of Vatnajökull glacier due to the high earthquake activity in the area, and added: "It is clear that only time is going to tell us if there is going to be a eruption in this area soon or not."
The last recorded eruption of Bárdarbunga was in 1910, although volcanologists believe its last major eruption occurred in 1477 when it produced a large ash and pumice fallout. It also produced the largest known lava flow during the past 10,000 years on earth. It is the second largest volcano on Iceland and is directly above the mantle plume of molten rock. By comparison, Bárdarbunga dwarves the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which shut down most of Europe's airspace last year after its ash cloud drifted across the continent's skies.

**The practice of violence, like all action,
changes the world,
but the most probable change
is to a more violent world.**
Hannah Arendt

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/8/11 -


TAIWAN - The National Science Council will set up a station to monitor volcanic activity in the Datun mountain group north of Taipei this year. Volcanic observation must be carried out continually to provide a basis for comparison. Taiwan has no such volcano observatory at present. The measurements necessary for monitoring volcanic activity are chemical analysis of the gases and water emitted from the underground magma, and observation of changes in seismic activity and topographical transformations.
The Datun group lies on the edge of the Taipei Basin and is thought to be the only potentially extant volcano on Taiwan proper. Whether or not the Datun volcano group is capable of becoming active again was a scientific question worthy of further study. “The observatory's most important objective will be to connect with existing observation facilities through the Internet to establish a real-time monitoring system. Whenever there is seismic or volcanic activity in the Datun Mountains, we will be able to assess it immediately.” At present the Datun volcano has not reached the eruption stage, so there is no need for concern.

No current tropical cyclones.

Cyclone Zaka weakens off the east coast of New Zealand. Tropical cyclone Zaka - the latest storm to develop over the Pacific Ocean after cyclone Yasi pummelled Queensland last week - was last night passing the East Coast as a small storm. After passing west of Raoul Island, the largest and northernmost of New Zealand's main Kermadec Islands, Zaka headed for New Zealand in a weakened state as it entered cooler waters. "Despite the centre being just 200km away from land, the system may not even bring cloud to the eastern tip of the North Island. The system is so small it may only bring a period of easterly winds for an hour or two this evening north of Gisborne." But the "low" could drive in some rough seas over the next 12 to 24 hours around East Cape, Gisborne and Mahia Peninsula. Swells near the centre of the low will be around 5m high with waves reaching 2m to 3m around East Cape and Gisborne.

High chance of cyclone developing off Pilbara coast on Thursday - A low pressure system is expected to develop off the north west Kimberley coast in Australia today and is expected to move west south-west and develop into a tropical cyclone. "Well off the coast though by the looks of things and the expected track is further west or south west. So, it doesn't look like it will do much for us, most of the rain associated with it will be off the coast."

Outback floods give way to muddy mess - Floodwaters which lapped at outback homesteads and communities across northern South Australia have started to ease. The waters still cover much of the northern grazing lands but buildings are now drying out. "We're in the process of cleaning everything up and just trying to again salvage what we can." Torrential rain and storms across a wide area of SA were a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Yasi heading inland.
The flood recovery will take time. "This is going to be a bit of a marathon for us....Once we can get access to the roads of course the problem is if we get another storm like we did the other day it's just going to turn into another river again and we're just going to have to go through the whole thing all over again."
Queensland towns remain cut off after Cyclone Yasi - More than five days after a category five cyclone battered northern Australia, help has still not reached some remote communities in Queensland. While loss of life has been minimal, Cyclone Yasi caused widespread damage to homes, roads, bridges and crops. The army has been cutting its way through mountains of debris to reach smaller townships and farms. Essential services are slowly being restored but some smaller communities have yet to receive the help they need. The task - after the state's worst storm in a century - is immense. The coastal town of Cardwell, south of Cairns, was very badly damaged. "The lifeblood of this place is the highway out front of us and my fear is that if they don't get this highway going, up and going again that our future, we won't have one." The Australian government says that the impact of Cyclone Yasi and recent flooding in Queensland will affect economic growth during the first quarter of the year.


AUSTRALIA - More Queensland extreme rainfall events expected. Queensland's summer of 2010-2011 will be long remembered for its widespread flooding and the impact of Cyclone Yasi, but it may not be an isolated occurrence for the state. Research from the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows the frequency of extreme rainfall events has been increasing since the late 19th century.
Some latest research supports predictions that tropical rainfall will become more variable in a warming world. Scientists at AIMS have investigated several long coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef and that has allowed them to reconstruct northeast Queensland summer rainfall back to the late 17th century, providing more than 300 years of records to examine past climate variability and change. The 1973-1974 summer wet season, when Brisbane experienced its previous major flood, was the wettest in at least the past three centuries. Extreme wet and dry events had always occurred in Queensland, but the cores provided evidence that they are happening more frequently now than they did in earlier centuries. "The fact that extreme wet and extreme dry weather will happen more often and can potentially impact on thousands of people and millions of dollars worth of property, is something that the community will have to consider."


US snow melts leaving mess, and bodies - The mountains of snow that have covered the northeastern US landscape for the past month and a half are finally melting, revealing oozing lumps of garbage, gaping potholes, bicycles, rat-infested sofas, discarded Christmas trees - and even bodies. More than 145 centimetres of snow has fallen on New York City this winter, ITS SNOWIEST JANUARY EVER, and the story is similar elsewhere around the northeast. Residents welcomed warmer weather this week before an expected plunge back into the freezer, but they weren't so thrilled about the side effects. "This is disgusting. I can't tell if it's snow or garbage or some sick other thing," said one resident, finding discarded bills, paper cups and sludge in the shrinking mound of snow and ice covering her car. "This stinks."
Since a post-Christmas blizzard dumped more than 0.6 metres of snow on parts of the city, the snow piles have forced pedestrians to weave single-file through snow-packed footpaths. Two bodies were found in vehicles last week. In both cases, a passer-by spotted someone slumped over the wheel after snow melted away from the windows. One man was found dead on February 1 of an apparent gunshot wound; he had been reported missing a week earlier. And on Friday, a day after he was reported missing, a body was found in the driver's seat of a BMW. Authorities believe he may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. At least one other body was discovered in the New York area in late January, in a parking lot. The man had been dead of hypothermia for several days before anyone noticed.
After complaining for weeks about the city's failure to plough enough snow, many New Yorkers are now griping about the garbage piles and big pieces of furniture, some crawling with rats. During the many snowstorms to hit the city, the Sanitation Department suspended garbage collection for days at a time in order to use trucks for snow removal, which meant about 11,000 tons of rubbish per day didn't get collected. Some of it got buried by the succeeding storms. Garbage collection has since resumed, but it's not proceeding fast enough for some New Yorkers. "It's like we've replaced the snow walls with garbage walls. Even the parks are covered in mud and filthy snow."


Newly-discovered asteroid 2011 CA7 is flying past Earth today only 63,000 miles away, or 1/4TH THE DISTANCE TO THE MOON. At closest approach around 1700 UT on Feb. 9th, the VW-Bug-sized space rock will zip through the constellation Orion glowing like a 17th magnitude star.
[Several small asteroids passed close to earth in the last few days.
The 1 meter-sized 2011 CQ1 came closest and on 2/4 passed only 0.03 lunar distances from earth. Asteroid 2011 CQ1 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on February 4 and made a RECORD CLOSE EARTH APPROACH 14 hours later at 19:39 UT (14:39 EST). It passed to within 0.85 Earth radii (5480 km) of the Earth's surface over a region in the mid-Pacific. This object is the closest non-impacting object in our asteroid catalog to date. Prior to the Earth close approach, this object was in an orbit that was mostly outside the Earth's orbit. Following the close approach, the Earth's gravitational attraction modified the object's orbit to an orbit where the asteroid spends almost all of its time inside the Earth's orbit. The close Earth approach changed the asteroid's flight path by about 60 degrees. Because of their small size, objects of this size are difficult to discover but there are likely to be nearly a billion objects of this size and larger in near-Earth space and one would expect one to strike Earth's atmosphere every few weeks on average. Upon striking the atmosphere, small objects of this size create visually impressive fireball events but only rarely do even a few small fragments reach the ground.
The 3 meter-sized 2011 CF22 on 2/6 passed only 0.1 LD (one tenth the distance to the moon).
The 4 meter-sized (VW Bug sized above) 2011 CA7 on 2/9 will pass only 0.3 LD (1/4 the distance to the moon).
The 23 meter-sized 2011 CZ3 on 2/10 will pass 2.5 LD (Two and a half times farther away than the moon.)]

Formerly quiet sunspot 1153 is suddenly crackling with C- and M-class solar flares. Because sunspot 1153 is rounding the sun's western horizon, these eruptions are not Earth-directed. They are, however, Venus-directed. The second planet from the sun could receive glancing blows from solar plasma clouds in the days ahead.