Thursday, September 15, 2011

Scientists to create artificial volcano for climate change experiment - Scientists will attempt to pump water up a hose suspended one kilometre off the ground beneath a helium-filled balloon. The test will provide valuable data that could pave the way to a giant geoengineering project in decades to come. The long-term vision is to tether 20 kilometre-long pipes to balloons the size of Wembley stadium.
Light-scattering particles would be pumped high into the atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays and cool the earth. The effect would be similar to that of a volcanic eruption spewing out clouds of sulphate droplets which can have an impact on the climate.
The leader of the three year, £1.6 million Spice project (Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering) project, said: ''This is a controversial and potentially alarming subject. 'We're going to try to pump tap water to a height of one kilometre through a pipe as a test of the technology.'' The test will take place on a disused airfield at Sculthorpe, north Norfolk, using a dirigible ''blimp'' balloon of the type commonly used to carry adverts or take photos. Water will be forced up the pipe using an ordinary pressure pump available from hardware stores. After spouting from the top the water will evaporate or fall to the ground as light ''rain''. Measurements and recordings made by the scientists will help shape the next stages of the research.
Constructing artificial volcanoes to alter climate is seen as a ''last resort'' if it proves impossible to bring carbon emissions under control. Pouring 10 million tonnes of material into the stratosphere each using 10 to 20 giant balloons could achieve a 2C global drop in temperature, the scientists believe. Sulphate emissions from the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines in June 1991 reduced world temperature by 0.5C for two years.
Experts believe particles of clay, salts or metallic oxides suspended in liquid would prove more effective than the sulphates produced by real volcanoes. The aerodynamically designed suspended pipes would probably be sited far out to sea.
A full-scale geoengineering project would involve enormous engineering challenges, a careful analysis of the risks, and the co-operation of governments around the world. Possible hazards included depletion of the ozone layer and unpredictable effects on rainfall. ''We are still decades away from doing this and it's not simply a science decision. There are ethical and governmental decisions around this that are huge. Just because we can do it doesn't mean that we have the right to do it.'' Despite the hurdles the scientists believe the advanced technology needed to make such a project possible is not far away. ''It's tantalisingly close in quite a number of technologies."

**A goal is not always meant to be reached,
it often serves simply as something to aim at.**
Bruce Lee

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/14/11 -

9/13/11 -


Dust Drifts Across Iceland As Earthquake Swarms Rattle The Reykjanes Ridge. Parts of southern Iceland have been shrouded in a thick haze of dust in recent days as a result of soil erosion and airborne ash particles from recent volcanic eruptions. Satellite imagery on Tuesday showed the dust plume emanating from the southwestern edge of the Vatnajoekull National Park, close to the Grímsvötn volcano which erupted earlier this year. The ash drift is also located a short distance east of Eyjafjallajökul and Katla volcanoes.
Local officials said on Tuesday that a considerable volume of volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajökul (2010) and Grímsvötn (2011) eruptions, combined with soil erosion, is being carried by strong winds toward the sparsely populated south central coastline. Air pollution levels in the Icelandic capital Reykjavík well exceeded the accepted health limit during Sunday. Meanwhile, scores of earthquakes have been recorded in the Reykjanes ridge region of south-western Iceland during 24 hours. Two earthquake swarms, one on Monday evening and the other early on Tuesday, were recorded by the Icelandic Met Office. Seismic activity is also continuing in the immediate vicinity of Katla. While officials have said that there is no evidence that an eruption is imminent they have acknowledged an UNUSUAL SPIKE in harmonic tremor activity in the area during the past fortnight.

In the Atlantic -
Tropical storm Maria was located about 325 mi. (535 km) SW of Bermuda. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Bermuda.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical storm 18w (Roke) was located approximately 245 nm east-southeast of Kadena AB, Japan.

-Tropical depression 19w was located approximately 740 nm east-southeast of chichi jima, Japan.


MINNESOTA - On August 18, a lightning strike in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness region of northeastern Minnesota sparked a forest fire. On September 12, the Incident Information System reported that the Pagami Creek Fire had “made an UNPRECEDENTED 16 MILE run to the east. The fire became a plume-driven event and reached in excess of 60,000 acres.” [over 100,000 acres now.]
NASA’s Terra satellite captured the rapid expansion of the fire in just a matter of hours. The photos also show the development of a plume above the fire. Just after noon, the cauliflower-textured plume rises well above the gray-beige smoke plume that blows toward the north-northeast. Not quite two hours later, the cloudy plume has fanned out to the east and northeast, thick enough to completely hide the land and water surfaces below.
Large fires can do more than scorch vegetation and clog the skies with smoke. They can actually create their own weather. By heating the air overhead, fires push the warmed air upward. Mixed with smoke, the air rises high enough for its water vapor to condense and form clouds. If the air rises fast enough, the water vapor forms ice crystals that charge the cloud with electricity, and lightning often results. These fire-provoked thunderstorm clouds are known as pyrocumulonimbus clouds. The EXTREME BEHAVIOR of the fire prompted evacuations in the region. More than 100 firefighters were battling the blaze as of September 13. (satellite photo)
Residents flee as wildfire fight intensifies - Dozens of officials summoned to help subdue the blaze that has consumed more than 100,000 acres of forest crowded into a small conference center to discuss the difficult task facing 500 firefighters. It's complex and dangerous work. The vast landscape means it can take hours for firefighters to reach the flames. Many teams have to paddle canoes to the front lines, then set up makeshift campsites. "We have a challenging situation." The blaze has become MINNESOTA'S BIGGEST BURN IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS.
Many people were packing up their homes, some loading televisions, couches and overstuffed boxes onto trailers designed for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. As they pulled out, they passed a growing brigade of water tankers and support trucks coming in to aid the fight. Others staying behind combed news reports for any new details on a fire that HAS DEFIED PREDICTIONS. The speed of the fire was "pretty much UNPRECEDENTED." Models indicated the fire had only a 0.2% probability of reaching its current size. "What we've had happen DOESN'T FIT ANYTHING WE'VE SEEN HISTORICALLY."
Relief, perhaps only temporary, arrived Wednesday when a hint of winter helped slow the fire. Snow and sleet fell across the region, with temperatures more than 40 degrees lower than last weekend reducing the fire's advance to a crawl, despite continuing strong northwest winds. But the forecast calls for a return of warmer, drier weather into the weekend, with winds coming from the south. That could push the blaze northward, where it would be back into the wilderness area. This morning, the operation to bring the blaze under control will be turned over to an elite group of firefighting managers.
Authorities said that a lightning strike on Aug. 18 started the fire at Pagami Creek, and that the U.S. Forest Service didn't anticipate the high winds and warm weather that spread it south and east early this week.
The Forest Service and the U.S. Weather Service spent part of Wednesday defending their performance in the weeks after the lightning strike. The Forest Service has complained that forecasts since the fire began last month wrongly predicted days of rain that never materialized. The wind forecast was "completely wrong."
But the meteorologist in charge of the Duluth office of the National Weather Service said the rain predictions after the lightning strike called for 30- to 40-percent chances of widespread showers. Such a prediction, means "a lot of areas are not going to get rain." A wind shift on Sunday that helped spread the fire was predicted -- it just occurred about two or three hours earlier than forecast.
The Forest Service in turn defended its decision to conduct a burning operation on forest land between the fire at Pagami Creek and two lakes a couple of miles to the east. They said they conducted the operation after the fire was started by the lightning strike to prevent it from moving northeast and out of the wilderness into an area with cabins. "If they had not done the burnout the fire would most likely be even larger than it is."
Several dozen homes were in a mandatory evacuation area northeast of Isabella, but only 10 had residents living in them this week. Owners of hundreds of seasonal and year-round residences have been advised to leave. Despite the fire's spread, no injuries or serious property damage have been reported. Forest Service workers have been calling people with Boundary Waters entry permits and telling them about the fire and closures. But few have canceled trips. Those who do show up with permits to entry through now-closed access points are directed to entries to the east and northwest of the fire, which are still open. The fire sent a smoky odor and ash hundreds of miles away into parts of northern Michigan and Chicago, Illinois. Ash was falling form the sky in Marquette. The fire also sent ash and smoke to large parts of Wisocnsin.
Firefighters were alo closely watching the eastern edge of the fire, which reached a small portion of the forest knocked down by a major windstorm in 1999. The blowdown left miles of dry timber in its path. "Already severe and erratic fire behavior going to be more severe and more erratic if it's in the blowdown." It will take a "season-ending" rain or snowfall to put the fire completely out.

The Return Of La Niña Is Bad News For Drought Stricken Southern USA - La Niña, one of the primary contributing actors to extreme weather around the globe during the first
half of 2011, has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter. The strong 2010-11 La Niña contributed to record winter snowfall, spring flooding and drought across the United States, as well as other extreme weather events throughout the world, such as heavy rain in Australia and an extremely dry equatorial eastern Africa. “La Niña also often brings colder winters to the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains, and warmer temperatures to the southern states. This means drought is likely to continue in the drought-stricken states of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico”.
Seasonal hurricane forecasters factored the potential return of La Niña into NOAA’s updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, issued in August, which called for an active hurricane season. With the development of tropical storm Nate last week, the number of tropical cyclones entered the predicted range of 14-19 named storms.


Listeria outbreak sickens 15 in four states - warning at-risk groups to avoid eating cantaloupe from Colorado's Rocky Ford region. So far the outbreak has sickened 15 people, 1 fatally, in four states: Colorado (11 cases), Nebraska (1), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (2). Cases in other states are under investigation to determine if they are connected.
Trace-back investigations suggest the cantaloupes suspected as the source of the outbreak are from southeastern Colorado's Rocky Ford region, which are harvested in August and September and distributed widely to grocery stores. So far no cantaloupe recalls have been issued. People at risk for severe complications from Listeria infection include older people, those with underlying medical conditions, and pregnant women. Many of the people sickened in the outbreak so far are in the high-risk groups. Among patients with available information, the illnesses began after Aug 15. Most of the sick people are older than 60 and have health conditions that compromise the immune system.
UPDATE - An Indiana resident has been sickened in the multistate Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Colorado-grown cantaloupe, raising the number of cases to 16 and the number of affected states to five.

Some victims of 2001 anthrax attacks still have symptoms - Nearly 10 years after the anthrax letter attacks of 2001, some of those who were sickened are still experiencing symptoms. 22 people were sickened and 5 killed. A 1-year follow-up study of 15 survivors by the CDC, released in 2004, found that 8 of the survivors didn't return to work for more than a year after the attacks, all were under psychiatric care, and most had symptoms such as chronic cough, memory problems, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and hostility. The survivors who were sickest in 2001 are still having problems, including memory trouble and chronic fatigue. Those survivors either had inhalational anthrax or had the pathogen in their bloodstream after contracting a cutaneous infection.