Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Solar flare may affect power, communication - Explosions on the sun on Tuesday morning produced THE LARGEST SOLAR FLARE IN 5 YEARS and sent a 10 billion-ton storm cloud hurtling through space at up to 5 million mph. The giant cloud of charged particles will likely pass by Earth this week, though it could deliver a "glancing blow" that disrupts radio and satellite communications and electrical power grids. Three similar events occurred last week, though no major disruptions were reported. "It's a big deal, because it really heralds the increase in solar activity that we're going to see over the next three to five years."
The sun goes through 11-year cycles marked by periods of high and low activity when events like the recent ones occur. The so-called solar maximum, or period of highest activity, is expected in 2013. "I don't expect the world to come to an end because of a solar explosion, but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be prepared."
The solar storm clouds - known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs for short - present the biggest concern. If they strike Earth's electromagnetic magnetosphere, it's a "punch in the nose" that causes the magnetic field to wobble, shake and send electromagnetic currents everywhere. It can wreak havoc on satellites used for communications and global positioning systems; knock out high-frequency radio communications, which airplanes use to fly polar routes; and overload electrical grids and blow out transformers. A solar storm in 1989 knocked out power across Quebec for nine hours and damaged transformers in the Canadian province, New Jersey and Great Britain. Service problems occurred across the United States. An 1859 storm, the most powerful on record, was considered three times more powerful than the 1989 storm. It knocked out telegraph wires, shocked telegraph workers and started fires.
Unlike the mid-19th century, almost every aspect of modern-day life is in some way tied to electrical power. A National Academy of Sciences report released two years ago said a storm of the magnitude of the one in 1859 could cause up to $2 trillion in damage and take up to 10 years to fix. "This is one of the classic low-probability, high-risk events. There are a lot of proposals out there to safeguard the transmission system, but only so much money we can spend. And by we, I mean the customers. They're the ones that foot the bill."

**When a pine needle falls in the forest,
the eagle sees it,
the deer hears it,
and the bear smells it.**
Native American saying

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/9/11 -

More on the Japan quake - Antarctica link - The tsunami caused by the 11 March Tohoku earthquake in Japan crossed the Pacific and broke off large chunks of ice from Antarctica. Satellite photos show huge icebergs were created when the tsunami hit West Antarctica's Sulzberger Ice Shelf. This caused 125 sq km of ice to break off - or calve - from a shelf front that has remained stable for the past 46 years.
The waves generated by the 9.0 Magnitude earthquake in Japan travelled about 13,000km across the Pacific Ocean before reaching the Sulzenberger Ice Shelf, causing ice to break off and float into the sea. The largest of the icebergs measured 6.5km by 9.5km, (almost the size of Manhattan) and 80m in thickness. The swell was estimated to have been just 30cm high when it reached the Sulzberger shelf. But the researchers say that over a period of hours to days, the dispersed waves caused repeated flexing of the ice, "fatiguing" the shelf and causing it to fracture. "The impact of the tsunami and its train of following dispersed waves... in combination with the ice-shelf and sea-ice conditions provided the fracture mechanism needed to trigger the first calving event from the ice shelf in 46 years." (Satellite photos )


Eruption of undersea Oregon volcano was predicted - US scientists say they have for the first time successfully predicted the eruption of one of the world's most active undersea volcanoes off the coast of the western state of Oregon. Scientists have been monitoring Axial Seamount, 400km out to sea, since it last erupted in 1998, and predicted it would again before 2014.
On an expedition to the area on July 29, researchers using a remotely operated robot discovered a lava flow that was not there the year before, and began noticing that the entire area looked unfamiliar. "When we first arrived on the seafloor, we thought we were in the wrong place, because it looked so completely different. We couldn't find our markers or monitoring instruments or other distinctive features on the bottom." The team was using bottom pressure sensors, the same tools used to monitor the sea floor for potential tsunamis after an earthquake. A couple of their recording instruments soon turned up, and scientists determined that the eruption happened on April 6.
The team was excited at the discovery, but cautioned that most volcanoes remain highly volatile. "Forecasting the eruption of most land volcanoes is normally very difficult at best, and the behaviour of most is complex and variable. We now have evidence that Axial Seamount behaves in a more predictable way than many other volcanoes." Researchers were watching the level of the volcanic crater, or caldera, rise after its last eruption at a rate of about 15cm per year as it inflated with accumulating magma, and predicted it would erupt again when it reached its 1998 level. "The acid test in science - whether or not you understand a process in nature - is to try to predict what will happen based on your observations. Now we can build on that knowledge and look to apply it to other undersea volcanoes - and perhaps even volcanoes on land."

ALASKA - Watch Group Ups Caution Level for Aleutian Chain Volcano. Last Wednesday, the Alaska Volcano Observatory upped the caution level for the Mt. Cleveland volcano after noticing an increase in activity. The group is keeping the aviation color code at “orange” and the alert level at “watch” in response to a new lava dome growing in the summit crater. That dome has grown more than 30 feet in the past week, which increases the likelihood of an explosive eruption. It's unlikely that any explosion would affect air travel. The organization will continue to closely monitor and track the volcano’s activity.

Tropical depression 13w was located approximately 250 nm west-southwest of Iwo To, Japan.

MUIFA - Tropical storm kills 10 in North Korea, 4 in South Korea. People were watching rough seas caused by Tropical Storm Muifa in Dalian, in north China's Liaoning province on Wednesday. Tropical Storm Muifa destroyed houses and damaged crops ( an estimated 2400 acres of of farmland.)


Weather services warn of potential La Nina return - A new round of the extreme weather patterns that devastated production of iron ore, coal and agricultural crops such as wheat in Australia, South America and the US in late 2010 could be poised to return this autumn and hit prices in the process.

KOREA - Extreme Weather Damages Fruit Harvests. Over 10 percent of pear producers saw their fruit fall prematurely due to extreme weather, with some farms losing up to 70 percent.

Jumping coffee bean prices give roasters a headache - Extreme weather, rising demand in emerging markets such as Indonesia and China and an influx in speculative trading in the futures market have driven the price of coffee beans so high that roasters are reaching a breaking point.

Texas HEAT RECORDS TO BE BROKEN ALL WEEK - Tuesday became a record-breaking 24th day in a row with temperatures of 100 degrees or hotter in the Texas capital, and the streak is forecast to continue for at least the next seven days - and likely longer.

Arkansas heat hits farmers, counties already reeling from year of extreme weather - The RECORD-BREAKING HEAT that blanketed Arkansas in recent days has put more strain on farmers and counties already struggling with months of severe weather conditions.