Tuesday, September 20, 2011

**We are what we repeatedly do.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/19/11 -

GUATEMALA - Four earthquakes struck the southeastern part of Guatemala in less than two hours Monday afternoon, causing at least one death as some walls collapsed. At least three people were reported missing. The temblors were felt across much of the Central American country, the largest a 5.8 magnitude. All were centered in an area about 30 miles southeast of the capital, Guatemala City. "There is no reason to think there will be anything bigger." All four quakes were connected to the same fault running through the area.
Besides Cuilapa, the areas of Santa Maria Inhuatan and Oratorio were most affected. Public buildings were evacuated and school classes canceled. Many people camped out in tents Monday night because of damage to their homes or worries about further quakes. The quakes also caused landslides along the main highway to El Salvador, and at least one car was buried. The largest quake hit about 12:34 local time, a half hour after a 4.8-magnitude temblor. Another 4.8-magnitude quake hit at about 1:20 p.m. A fourth of 4.5-magnitude was reported in an area south of the others at 2:30 p.m. The depths of the quakes varied from 23 miles to 38 miles.


INDONESIA - Farmers flee as world's deadliest volcano rumbles. Bold farmers in Indonesia routinely ignore orders to evacuate the slopes of live volcanoes, but those living on Tambora took no chances when history's deadliest mountain rumbled ominously this month. Villagers have heard since they were young how the mountain they call home once blew apart in the largest eruption ever recorded in an 1815 event, killing 90,000 people and blackening skies on the other side of the globe.
Farmers didn't wait to hear what experts had to say when Mount Tambora started being rocked by a steady stream of quakes. They grabbed their families, packed their belongings and raced down its quivering slopes. Hundreds refused to return to their mountainside villages for several days despite assurances they were safe.
"It was like a horror story, growing up. A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that's what we thought. If we made him angry — were disrespectful to nature, say — he'd wake up spitting flames, destroying all of mankind."
The April 1815 eruption of Tambora left a crater 7 miles (11 kilometers) wide and half a mile (1 kilometer) deep, spewing an estimated 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere and leading to "the year without summer" in the U.S. and Europe. Temperatures worldwide plummeted, causing crops to fail and leading to massive starvation. Farmers on the northeastern coast of the U.S. reported snow well into July. It was several times more powerful than Indonesia's much better-known Krakatoa blast of 1883 — history's second deadliest. But it doesn't share the same international renown, because the only way news spread across the oceans at the time was by slowboat. In contrast, Krakatoa's eruption occurred just as the telegraph became popular, turning it into the first truly global news event.
The reluctance of residents to return to villages less than 6 miles (10 kilometers) from Tambora's crater sounds like simple good sense. But it runs contrary to common practice in the sprawling nation of 240 million — home to more volcanoes than any other in the world. Even as Merapi, Kelut and other famously active mountains shoot out towering pillars of hot ash, farmers cling to their fertile slopes, leaving only when soldiers load them into trucks at gunpoint. They return before it's safe so they can check on their livestock and crops.
People here are jittery because of the mountain's history — and they're not used to feeling the earth move so violently beneath their feet. Aside from a few minor bursts in steam in the 1960s, the mountain has been quiet for much of the last 200 years.
Activity first picked up in April, with the volcanic quakes jumping from less than five a month to more than 200. It also started spewing ash and smoke into the air, sometimes as high as 1,400 meters (4,600 feet). That's something I've never seen it do before." Authorities raised the alert to the second-highest level two weeks ago, but said only villagers within 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the crater needed to evacuate. That didn't stop hundreds of men, women and children living well outside the danger zone from packing their clothes, jewelry and important documents and heading to the homes of family and friends elsewhere on Sumbawa island.
"We've urged them to go back to harvest their crops, get their kids back in school, but we're having a hard time. The new alert awakened fears about 1815." Most people finally trickled back to their homes by Monday.
No one expects a repeat of 1815 just yet — it takes much more than 200 years for that type of huge pressure to build up again. The present activity could be part of the birth of Tambora's so-called child, a process whereby magma still being pushed upward from the original massive blast forms a new volcano in its place.
But that's little consolation for those confronted with the mountain's new burst of activity. In the big eruption, "tens of thousands of peo

Future Iceland Eruptions Could Be Deadly for Europe - A new study suggests that a blast akin to one that devastated Iceland in the 1780s would waft noxious gases southwestward and kill tens of thousands of people in Europe. And in a modern world that is intimately connected by air traffic and international trade, economic activity across much of Europe, including the production and import of food, could plummet. From June of 1783 until February of 1784, the Laki volcano in south-central Iceland erupted. Although the event didn’t produce large amounts of volcanic ash, it did spew an estimated 122 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the sky — a volume slightly higher than human industrial activity today produces in the course of a year.
Historical records suggest that in the 2 years after the Laki eruption, approximately 10,000 Icelanders died — about one-fifth of the population — along with nearly three-quarters of the island’s livestock. Parish records in England reveal that in the summer of 1783, when the event began, death rates were between 10 percent and 20 percent above normal. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy reported episodes of decreased visibility, respiratory difficulties, and increased mortality associated with the eruption. According to one study, an estimated 23,000 people died from exposure to the volcanic aerosols in Britain alone. But elsewhere in Europe, it’s difficult to separate deaths triggered by the air pollution from those caused by starvation or disease, which were prominent causes of death at the time.
In the first 3 months after a hypothetical eruption would begin, the average aerosol concentration over Europe would increase by 120 percent. The number of days during the eruption in which aerosol concentrations exceed air-quality standards would rise to 74, when a normal period that length typically includes only 38. Not surprisingly, the air would become thickest with dangerous particles in areas downwind of the eruption, such as Iceland and northwestern Europe, where aerosol concentrations would more than triple. But aerosol concentrations in southern Europe would also increase dramatically, rising by 60 percent. In the year after the hypothetical eruption commences, the increased air pollution swept from Iceland to Europe would cause massive amounts of heart and lung disease, killing an estimated 142,000 people. Fewer than half that number of Europeans die from seasonal flu each year.
At least four Laki-sized eruptions have occurred in Iceland in the past 1,150 years. So the new figures are cause for concern. Icelandic volcanoes shut down European air traffic for more than a week in April 2010 and for several days in May of this year. But those eruptions are tiny compared with a Laki-sized eruption, which could ground airplanes for 6 months or more. Such an event would have a huge impact on crop yields and, by affecting shipping and air traffic, would also affect Europeans’ ability to import food. It could even have a dramatic effect on daily life. “If there are sulfur dioxide clouds over Europe, people with respiratory problems can’t do much about it except stay indoors.”

ALASKA - Contentious Cleveland Volcano Has A Thermal Anomaly - A thermal anomaly was observed in satellite data over the past day, which is consistent with continued growth of the lava dome at the Cleveland volcano. No ash emissions have been observed during this current eruptive episode that began in mid-July 2011. No other new reports have been received regarding the volcano — however, the aviation color code is orange with the volcano alter level now at watch.
The current episode of dome growth resumed around September 3rd. A growing lava dome in the crater increases the possibility of an explosive eruption, but does not necessarily indicate that one will occur. Short-lived explosions could produce ash clouds that exceed 20,000 ft. above sea level. These events can occur without warning and may go undetected in satellite imagery for hours. If lava dome growth continues, it could overflow the crater rim to produce a lava flow and/or collapse to produce pyroclastic flows. Collapse of a lava flow or dome would likely result in the generation of a volcanic ash cloud. Without a real-time seismic network on the volcano, AVO is unable to track local earthquake activity related to volcanic unrest, provide forecasts of eruptive activity, or confirmation of explosive, ash-producing events. AVO will continue to monitor the volcano using multiple sources of satellite data.


In the Atlantic -
No current tropical storms.

In the Pacific -
-Typhoon 18w (Roke) was located approximately 280 nm south of Sasebo, Japan.

-Tropical Storm 19w (Sonca) was located approximately 650 nm east of Misawa, Japan.


CHINA - Heavy rains and floods across China have left 57 people dead, 29 others are missing and hundreds injured, while more than a million residents have been evacuated from their homes.
UNPRECEDENTED rains during the past week have swamped parts of northern, central and south-west China, and although the affected region is breathing a tentative sigh of relief as the downpours pause, rivers continue to swell.
The rain has forced authorities to evacuate more than 1.2 million people from their homes. "Constant strong rainfall has caused serious flood disasters in Sichuan (southwest), Shaanxi (north) and Henan (central China)."
More than 120,000 houses have collapsed and economic losses from damaged houses, crops and land is estimated to have reached 17.27 billion yuan ($2.65 billion). Authorities have dispatched work teams to help with relief efforts, and plan to distribute thousands of tents, cots, blankets and clothing. One area of the southwestern province of Sichuan, Bazhong, was severely affected, with 13 people left dead, 10 missing and 156 injured. Over the weekend, officials in Sichuan's Dazhou and Guangan regions ordered the evacuation of more than 600,000 people as major tributaries to the Yangtze - China's longest river - exceeded danger levels.
The Jialing river was recorded nearly seven metres above alert levels, and waters were expected to rise to their HIGHEST LEVELS SINCE RECORD-KEEPING BEGAN in 1847. China is hit by big downpours every summer. Last year saw the nation's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4300 people dead or missing.

AUSTRALIA - Strong winds have blown down trees and damaged homes across Victoria. The State Emergency Service had 420 requests for help as a strong cold front moved across the state following a 28.3C day yesterday. The calls were predominantly to clear trees that had fallen on roads, power lines, driveways and in backyards. There were also reports of building damage, mainly to roofs of homes and sheds from fallen trees or roofs being partly blown off. The wind gusts peaked in the alps with 135km/h recorded at Mount Hotham and 130km/h at Mount Buller.


GREENLAND - Leading UK polar scientists say the Times Atlas of the World was wrong to assert that it has had to re-draw its map of Greenland due to climate change. The latest edition of the atlas, launched last week, said warming had turned 15% of Greenland's former ice-covered land "green and ice-free". But scientists from the Scott Polar Research Institute say the figures are wrong; the ice has not shrunk so much. The Atlas costs £150 ($237) and claims to be the world's "most authoritative".
The break-up of some Antarctic ice shelves due to climate change, the shrinking of inland waters such as the Dead and Aral Seas, and the drying up of rivers such as the Colorado River are all documented. But the glossy publicity sheets begin with the contention that "for the first time, the new edition of the (atlas) has had to erase 15% of Greenland's once permanent ice cover - turning an area the size of the United Kingdom and Ireland 'green' and ice-free. "This is concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet forever - and doing so at an alarming and accelerating rate."
The Scott Polar group says the claim of a 15% loss in just 12 years is wrong. The Scott Polar team says treatment of eastern Greenland is of particular concern. "Recent satellite images of Greenland make it clear that there are in fact still numerous glaciers and permanent ice cover where the new Times Atlas shows ice-free conditions and the emergence of new land. We do not know why this error has occurred, but it is regrettable that the claimed drastic reduction in the extent of ice in Greenland has created headline news around the world. There is to our knowledge no support for this claim in the published scientific literature."
Many of the institute's staff are intimately involved in research that documents and analyses the impacts of climate change across the Arctic. As such, they back the contention that rising temperatures are cutting ice cover across the region, including along the fringes of Greenland; but not anything like as fast as the Times Atlas claimed. "It is... crucial to report climate change and its impact accurately and to back bold statements with concrete and correct evidence."
The Times Atlas is published by Times Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, which is in turn owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. A spokesperson for HarperCollins said its new map was based on information provided by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center. "While global warming has played a role in this reduction, it is also as a result of the much more accurate data and in-depth research that is now available. Read as a whole, both the press release and the 13th edition of the Atlas make this clear."

Extreme bushfire risk in eastern Australia - Hot, dry, northerly winds have pushed the chance of a bushfire in eastern Australia to CATASTROPHIC LEVELS. The temperature boost - up to 14C above average - has put regional fire services on high alert. Queensland fire services have already been battling nearly 150 bushfires brought on by the dry conditions.
The hot dry spell has led to catastrophic fire conditions being declared in New South Wales and Victoria. In Queensland fire danger is considered extreme – but could soon be upgraded. “Mildura in Victoria recorded a catastrophic fire danger around noon with a temperature of 31C, winds averaging 57 km/h and humidity just 6 per cent. Across the border Wanaaring also recorded a catastrophic afternoon fire danger while to the north Nyngan in central New South Wales recorded an extreme danger at 3pm with 32C, 59 km/h winds and 12 per cent humidity. In Queensland fire dangers reached severe levels through the southwest with Birdsville recording temperatures of 35C, winds at 40km/h and humidity 12 per cent.”
The hazardous fire dangers were the result of a strengthening northerly air stream which brought a hot, dry, air-mass south from the interior. Firefighters say the news isn’t good for summer. Higher than normal rainfall over eastern Australia this winter has led to substantial grass growth. As the grass begins to dry out, there’s an increased risk of deadly grass fires. "Grass fires can be especially dangerous because they can start quickly and spread rapidly, catching people off-guard. They can be very hot and produce large amounts of heat which can kill anyone caught out in the open.”