Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Could the Japanese Earthquake Affect World Weather? - The simple answer is no. Much has been made in the news of the shift in the Earth's axis by half a foot as a result of the Japanese earthquake. The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University's Earth Institute has answered that question in a press release. What seems like such a big shift in the Earth’s axis is, in fact, not so big after all; or that uncommon. While earthquakes do unleash a large amount of energy, especially large earthquakes like the Sendai earthquake, they do not release enough energy to shift the Earth’s axis enough to affect the weather.
In fact, larger shifts of Earth’s axis happen each year as a result of the fluctuating mass of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, and these don’t affect the weather at all. These natural variations can see shifts in the Earth’s axis of up to 39 inches, which far outstrip the 6.5 inch shift of the Japanese earthquake, not to mention the comparatively tiny 2.8-inch shift of the Chile earthquake in 2010.
Even these shifts, which seem massive when you consider the object being moved, are nothing in comparison to the long-term cyclical shifts of our planet’s movement that can change temperature and climate. Earth currently leans at an angle of 23.5 degrees as it makes its way around the sun, which causes the seasons to act as they do. But variations in the Earth’s tilt over longer timescales can have a massive effect on the seasons. And every 41,000 years or so, our planet’s tilt shifts about a degree in either direction, a shift which is the equivalent of 70 miles. At its highest tilt — 24.5 degrees — more sunlight falls on the poles; at its lowest — 22.1 degrees — more light falls on the equator.
There are two other astronomical cycles which affect our planet’s climate; the changing shape of its elliptical path around the sun every 100,000 years or so, and the shifting wobble of its axis — much like a spinning top — on average, every 21,000 years. Each of the above natural variances is caused by the gravitational effect on our planet by our moon and the other planets in our solar system.

A man said to the Universe: "Sir, I exist!"
The Universe replied, "However,
that fact has not created in me a sense of obligation."
Stephen Crane

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
5/2/11 -

Global reinsurance firm PartnerRe Ltd. has increased its estimate of expected losses from Japan's earthquake and tsunami to $730 million, up from $500 million nearly three weeks ago.

No current tropical storms.


NEW ZEALAND - Two New Zealanders dead and others injured in a tornado which has hit Auckland's North Shore. The tornado hit around 3pm (1pm AEST) today. "Numerous" people were injured when a freak tornado cut a path of devastation through Auckland's northern suburbs. A roof collapsed at a mall in the Auckland suburb of Albany. According to reports, the "mass of black clouds" tossed aside cars in its path and sent shoppers running. Emergency services were fielding dozens of calls from the public, with reports of damage to homes and cars.
The tornado was "simply unbelievable. It was huge. I could see pieces of iron flying through the air, 100 metres up." One man mistook the tornado for an aeroplane. "I thought, 'geez that plane is low' but when I looked outside it was this giant big black cloud." Auckland's Harbour Bridge has been closed as Metservice weather officials warned the tornado was moving slowly towards the city centre.
New Zealand is hit by 20 tornado events each year, but they are typically very narrow and short-lived. The worst of them hit the North Island city of Hamilton in 1948, killing three people, injuring 80 others and destroyed more the 200 homes and businesses. Major tornadoes are RARE in New Zealand, but there have been several deadly ones in recent history. In August 2004, 2 people were killed with a tornado struck the Taranaki town of Motunui, north of Waitara. New Zealand tornadoes tend to be less deadly than those in other countries. (photos & video)

U.S. - A land and air search was launched Monday for a missing Boy Scout troop in the storm-ravaged state of Arkansas after they were reportedly stranded by rising floodwaters. The six Scouts and two troop leaders from Lafayette, Louisiana, have not been heard from since Thursday.
The members were thought to be on a trail in the Ouachita National Forest, just north of Langley, Arkansas, when they became stranded between two flooded areas. They had been due to return to Lafayette on Sunday. A search operation has been hampered by rain and bad weather. Arkansas State Police said a helicopter was forced to stop operations due to excessive cloud cover. "The scout leaders are very experienced backpackers." The group is thought to be isolated near the Albert Pike Recreation Area, where flash flooding killed 20 campers last June.


Contaminated soap dispensers pose disease spread risk - Refillable bulk-soap dispensers can become contaminated, and washing hands with soap from contaminated units can spread disease-causing pathogens in public settings. To gauge the risk, investigators conducted two lab-based hand washing studies, then corroborated their findings with a field study at an elementary school, where they identified 14 contaminated soap dispensers. The team asked staff and students to wash their hands with soap from the dispensers, then measured bacterial levels before and after hand washing. They found that gram-negative bacteria on the subjects' hands increased 26-fold after using the contaminated soap. They also found that students transferred significantly more bacteria to secondary surfaces after washing their hands using soap from contaminated dispensers. After testing, study participants decontaminated their hands by washing with uncontaminated soap and using hand sanitizer. The contaminated dispensers were replaced with those that used sealed-soap refills, and after 1 year, the researchers found no contaminated dispensers.

Submission portal for consumer comments for leafy greens safety proposal - The US Department of Agriculture has opened the comment period on a proposed voluntary National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, which is designed to spell out best practices for preventing bacterial contamination of leafy greens and establish an audit-based verification program. The comment period is open for 90 days, with comments due by Jul 28.

-Quinault Tribal Enterprise of Taholah, WA is recalling all canned seafood products including all Salmons, smoked and non- smoked; Tuna, smoked and non-smoked; Smoked Sturgeon; Minced Razor Clams; smoked Razor Clams; and smoked Steelhead. The canned seafood products are being recalled because they were not adequately processed.
-Woodsmoke Provisions, LLC is voluntarily recalling forty pounds (40 lbs.) / 160 packages of the The Fresh Market Signature Collection Atlantic Smoked Salmon in 4 oz. retail packages because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-Satur Farms of Cutchogue, NY is recalling 88.5 pounds of Satur Farms Cilantro, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Jonathans Sprouts of Rochester, MA is upgrading its recall of conventional alfalfa sprout products with a specific sell-by date to include all of its alfalfa products, conventional and organic, with all sell-by dates, as a precaution, because it has the potential to be contaminated with "Salmonella".
- L&M Companies, Inc. of Raleigh, NC is issuing a voluntary recall of one lot (1590 cartons) of whole cucumbers because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.