Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NEW ZEALAND - The size of the tropical belt has expanded by two to three degrees latitude, which means the tropics are coming a bit closer. "This is causing more humid air and downscaled tropical cyclones in the Auckland and gulf island region."
A senior scientist says climate change will continue to influence the severe weather events affecting Waiheke. He is the principal scientist of climate variability and change at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. The institute's advice to government and local councils is to "expect more extreme rainfall and increasing risks of floods, slips, storm surges and coastal inundation".
"We have been having unpredictable, extreme weather - over 200 slips in the past year, two houses severely damaged, an increase in temperatures, higher potential for drought, king tides and storm surges throwing millions of horse mussels on to our shores.'' A rise in sea levels is part of the equation, with an increase from an average of 1.7mm per year to 3mm per year in New Zealand in the past 10 to 15 years, and an expectation it will double again in the next 10 to 15 years. And if sea ice melts faster than this, ''we could expect a sea level rise of up to one metre in the next century. There is also some evidence to support the idea that increased pressure on tectonic plates by melting ice may be causing earthquakes, such as the one in Christchurch." Increased community resilience is key. ''We need to be prepared for any emergency.''

**Human history becomes more and more a race
between education and catastrophe.**
H. G. Wells

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
3/1/11 -

NEW ZEALAND - Quake dead may never be found. The bodies of some victims of the Christchurch earthquake may never be recovered because they were pulverised by collapsed buildings.
Strong winds and dust storms are hampering recovery work as the search for the bodies of those killed by last week's devastating earthquake in Christchurch continues. The death toll now stands at 159, but could climb up to 240. Rebuilding costs are put at billions of dollars. Residents have been using face masks as strong winds - up to 70km/h (44mph) - have whipped up the silt and debris coating the streets of the city, the centre of which remains unstable. Loose bricks, planks and masonry are in danger of being blown around, creating new hazards, rescue officials say. Scores of foreign students - from Japan, China, Thailand and elsewhere - have not yet been found in the rubble of the Canterbury TV (CTV) Building.
Last Tuesday's quake brought an estimated 200,000 tonnes of silt to the surface of the city, more than half of which has been cleared away. However, the strengthening north-westerly winds have been drying the silt and kicking up clouds of dust. Student volunteers and about 600 farmers - calling themselves the Farmy Army - were on the streets helping clear away more of the silt. A massive steel frame designed to brace the front wall of the Christchurch Cathedral has been put in place. It is hoped this will enable rescue workers to enter the site.
Rescuers at the Grand Chancellor hotel, which is visibly listing, have so far reached the 10th of 26 floors searching for bodies. In the outlying district of Sumner, at least 60 homes have been pronounced unsafe because of fears the cliff they are on will fall away; the residents have been told to leave. Business leaders have begun raising questions about the future of the city centre. "The longer the city is closed off, the more people will leave it, the more businesses will relocate, they'll set up in other areas, and they may like those areas and never come back to the city." It is estimated that up to a third of the city's buildings have been, or will have to be, demolished.


NEW ZEALAND - Fears that Lyttelton's extinct volcano could come back to life following last week's devasting earthquake in Christchurch are unfounded, experts say.

PHILIPPINES - 9 rockfall incidents, mudflow recorded at Bulusan. Restive Bulusan Volcano in Sorsogon continued to show activity as state volcanologists recorded at least nine rockfall events there in the last 24 hours.

ICELAND - A professor of geology unexpectedly found molten magma flowing in a geothermal well at the Krafla volcano in Iceland. Geologists were on an exploratory drilling expedition and intended upon drilling 4.5 kilometers (15,000 feet) deep for geothermal energy sources. However, at 2.1 kilometers (6,900) depth they encountered the molten rock. What makes the unexpected discovery unique is the RARITY in which such findings have occurred. "To the best of our knowledge, only one previous instance of magma flowing into a geothermal well while drilling has been documented...In the future, these (magma-filled, geothermal wells) could become attractive sources of high-grade energy." The project plans to drill a second deep hole in southwest Iceland in 2013.

No current tropical cyclones.


U.S. - Rain and snowmelt trigger Midwest flooding. Rivers and streams swollen by rain and melting snow spilled flood waters into communities across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on Tuesday, killing one woman whose vehicle was swept into a river. There were also four storm-related deaths in Tennessee, and flash floods struck in the mountainous eastern part of the state.
Strong storms lashed the region with high winds and up to five inches of rain beginning on Sunday, adding to run-off from melting snow and ice to push rivers out of their banks. Dozens of people had to be rescued in and around Findlay, Ohio, as flood waters from the cresting Blanchard River inundated residential neighborhoods and part of downtown. The fast-flowing river crested early on Tuesday and was gradually receding, and the city of 37,000 was spared compared to the worst of five floods experienced in 2007 and 2008. "We've bought a lot of properties up and tore a lot of homes down" that in the past would have been in the path of the waters.
Overflowing rivers and creeks across northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio flooded roads, golf courses, farmland and some homes. The National Weather Service issued dozens of flood warnings, noting some rivers had yet to crest. Across northern Ohio, 700 people were evacuated from their homes.

GUYANA - The South American nation of Guyana has two rainy seasons: May to August, and November to January. February typically experiences much drier conditions. In late February 2011, however, the country received roughly 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in a 24-hour period. It was more than what Guyana usually receives in the ENTIRE MONTH, and rice farmers worried that their crops might be lost. On February 23, the soils in the region reportedly were already saturated by heavy rains. Authorities linked the heavy rains to La Niña.


GEOMAGNETIC STORM: A solar wind stream hit Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of March 1st, sparking a day-long magnetic storm that is subsiding but perhaps not over yet. In recent hours, spotters have reported auroras over Northern Ireland, Scotland, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden. "This is the most obvious and accessible evidence of the connectivity that Earth has with our star the sun."

A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole should reach Earth on March 3rd or 4th.

Every day about 100 tons of meteoroids - fragments of dust and gravel and sometimes even big rocks – enter the Earth's atmosphere. Stand out under the stars for more than a half an hour on a clear night and you'll likely see a few of the meteors produced by the onslaught. But where does all this stuff come from? Surprisingly, the answer is not well known. Did that meteor blazing through the sky last night come from the asteroid belt? Was it created in a comet's death throes? Or was it a piece of space junk meeting a fiery demise?
Now NASA is deploying a network of smart cameras across the United States to answer the question, What's Hitting Earth? The cameras will be deployed in clusters of 5. One group will be spread over the Southeast US, another in the Ohio and Kentucky area (to overlap with the Southern Ontario Meteor Network, or SOMN), and another along the Atlantic coast in the NorthEast. "Our hope is that at least one of the three regions will have clear skies at any given time." Groups of smart cameras in the new meteor network triangulate the fireballs' paths, and special software uses the data to compute their orbits.
"If someone calls me and asks 'What was that?' I'll be able to tell them. We'll have a record of every big meteoroid that enters the atmosphere over the certain parts of the U.S. Nothing will burn up in those skies without me knowing about it!" In other U.S. meteor networks, someone has to manually look at all the cameras' data and calculate the orbits – a painstaking process. "With our network, our computers do it for us – and fast."
The network's first three cameras, each about the size of a gumball machine, are already up and running. The team will soon have 15 cameras deployed east of the Mississippi River, with plans to expand nationwide. They are actively seeking schools, science centers, and planetaria willing to host the cameras. "It provides data on meteor speed as a function of size – and this is critical to calibrating the models we use in designing spacecraft."
Meteorite hunters will reap benefits too. By determining a bright fireball's trajectory through the atmosphere, the network's software can calculate whether it will plunge to Earth and pinpoint the impact location fairly precisely.
Opportunities like that, however, will be rare. "Most meteorites fall in the ocean, lakes, forests, farmer's fields, or the Antarctic. And the majority of those meteorites will never be found. But our system will help us track down more of them." All cameras in the network send their fireball information to Cooke and to a public website,

A telescope high atop a volcano peak in Hawaii has set a NEW ASTEROID HUNTING RECORD: 19 SPACE ROCKS DISCOVERED IN ONE NIGHT, the MOST EVER BY A SINGLE TELESCOPE. The Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope, located at the summit of Maui's Haleakala volcano, set the mark on Jan. 29, discovering 19 near-Earth asteroids. Two of the space rocks have orbits that will bring them extremely close to our planet in the next 100 years, so scientists will be keeping an eye on them. "NASA and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's support of this project illustrates how seriously they are taking the threat from near-Earth asteroids."
Scientists discover asteroids by tracking their movement against the relatively static background of stars. To confirm their finds, researchers must make multiple observations within a few days or so to define the asteroids' orbits. Otherwise, the asteroids are likely to be "lost". Pan-STARRS astronomers picked up 30 potential asteroids on the night of Jan. 29. "Usually there are several mainland observatories that would help us confirm our discoveries, but widespread snowstorms there closed down many of them, so we had to scramble to confirm many of the discoveries ourselves." They were able to confirm 12 of the space rocks, and other telescopes around the world confirmed another seven, bringing the total to 19. The other 11 candidates got away, moving too far to be found.
Two of the newly discovered space rocks will zip pretty close to Earth in the relatively near future. They pose no immediate danger, but a collision in the next century or so cannot be ruled out, researchers said. The Pan-STARRS PS1 telescope ("PanSTARRS" is short for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) was designed specifically to hunt for potentially threatening asteroids. PS1 began searching for asteroids in May 2010. The telescope takes more than 500 photos of the sky every night. A NASA team and other dedicated astronomers routinely search for near-Earth asteroids that could pose a potential impact risk to Earth.