Monday, October 3, 2011

Arctic ozone loss at RECORD LEVEL - Ozone loss over the Arctic this year was so severe that for the first time it could be called an "ozone hole" like the Antarctic one, scientists report. About 20km (13 miles) above the ground, 80% of the ozone was lost. The cause was an UNUSUALLY long spell of cold weather at altitude. In cold conditions, the chlorine chemicals that destroy ozone are at their most active. It is currently impossible to predict if such losses will occur again. "Winter in the Arctic stratosphere is highly variable - some are warm, some are cold. But over the last few decades, the winters that are cold have been getting colder. "So given that trend and the high variability, we'd anticipate that we'll have other cold ones, and if that happens while chlorine levels are high, we'd anticipate that we'd have severe ozone loss."
The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet-B rays from the Sun, which can cause skin cancer and other medical conditions. Winter temperatures in the Arctic stratosphere do not generally fall as low as at the southern end of the world.No records for low temperature were set this year, but the air remained at its coldest for an UNUSUALLY long period of time, and covered an UNUSUALLY large area. In addition, the polar vortex was stronger than usual. Here, winds circulate around the edge of the Arctic region, somewhat isolating it from the main world weather systems. "Why [all this] occurred will take years of detailed study. It was continuously cold from December through April, and that HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN THE ARCTIC IN THE INSTRUMENTAL RECORD." The size and position of the ozone hole changed over time, as the vortex moved northwards or southwards over different regions. Some monitoring stations in northern Europe and Russia recorded enhanced levels of ultraviolet-B penetration, though it is not clear that this posed any risk to human health. While the Arctic was setting records, the Antarctic ozone hole is relatively stable from year to year. This year has seen ozone-depleting conditions extending a little later into the southern hemisphere spring than usual - again, as a result of UNUSUAL weather conditions.
Ozone-destroying chemicals originate in substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that came into use late last century in appliances including refrigerators and fire extinguishers. Their destructive effects were first documented in the Antarctic, which now sees severe ozone depletion in each of its winters. Their use was progressively restricted and then eliminated by the 1987 Montreal Protocol and its successors. Chlorine compounds persist for decades in the upper atmosphere, meaning that it will probably be mid-century before the ozone layer is restored to its pre-industrial health. (map)

**It does not matter how slowly you go
as long as you do not stop.**

This morning -
CANARY ISLANDS - (17 so far) 2.5, 3.1, 2.8, 3.0, 2.9, 2.7, 2.5, 2.5, 2.6, 2.5, 3.1, 3.1, 2.6, 2.7, 3.5, 3.1, 2.5

Yesterday -
CANARY ISLANDS - (26 total) 2.8, 2.7. 2.9, 3.0, 2.8, 2.7, 2.8, 2.5, 2.9, 2.9, 2.6, 3.7, 3.3, 2.7, 2.6, 2.5, 2.5, 2.9, 2.9, 2.6, 3.1, 2.6, 2.8, 2.9, 2.9, 3.1

El Hierro (The Canary Islands) Earthquake Count Reaches 8850 - The number of earthquakes recorded since July 17 on El Hierro, the smallest of The Canary Islands (Spain), exceeded 8,850 on Saturday. The number of earthquakes felt by the local population has reached 55. The strongest of the tremors, which have been recorded at depths between 10km and 15km, measured 3.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale.
The surge in the number and intensity of earthquakes in the past week has prompted officials from the Instituto Geografico Nacional and The Canary Islands Government to raise the alert level for the Hierro volcano to ‘Yellow’, the highest alert status since the unprecedented earthquake swarm commenced in mid-July.
Hierro, a shield volcano, has had a single historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted approximately one month and produced lava flows.
Spain’s national seismological agency warned the local population to be prepared for any possible future increase in volcanic activity. The agency noted, however, that the majority of earthquakes recorded during recent days have been centred to the south of the island in Las Calmas Sea. Previous to this, the vast majority of the tremors were recorded in the northwest of the 278.5-square-kilometre island at El Golfo. Over 150 earthquakes were recorded on the smallest of the Canary Islands during Tuesday prompting officials to evacuate some local residents, shut El Hierro’s main tunnel, and close local schools. An imminent eruption is said to be unlikely.


A giant underground reservoir of molten rock has been discovered under the deserts of Ethiopia by British geologists. They targeted the Afar region in the Horn of Africa after a recent surge in volcanic activity and earthquakes plus the appearance of giant cracks in the rocky surface. Tectonic plates in the area are pulling apart and gradually creating a new ocean.
Now, the scientists have mapped the colossal underground lake of magma that lies up to 32km below the earth's surface. "We estimate that there is 3000 cubic kilometres of molten rock under Afar - enough to cover all of London ... with around a kilometre of rock." The reservoir is under such pressure that it has forced tongues of molten rock up towards the surface, producing eruptions and earthquakes. In 2005, a 7.6m wide tongue of lava spread 64km under Afar in 10 days and solidified, and many more followed.
Afar lies in east Africa's Great Rift Valley at a point where three tectonic plates are pulling apart from each other. Such movement creates gaps, or rifts, in the Earth's crust, which allows molten rock to well up from deep below. There are thousands of kilometres of these rifts around the world but almost all lie deep below the ocean. East Africa and Iceland are the only places where they emerge on to land. Much of Afar is already below sea level but is protected from flooding by a barrier of low hills in Eritrea. Geologists believe the protective barrier will be overcome in about one million years, allowing the Red Sea to inundate the whole area. "Over geological time parts of southern Ethiopia and Somalia will split off and form a new island that moves out into the Indian Ocean."

In the Atlantic -
-Category 1 Hurricane Ophelia was located about 330 mi. (530 km) SW of Cape Race, Newfoundland. Ophelia is expected to pass near the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland early today.

-Tropical storm Philippe was located about 785 mi (1260 km) ESE of Bermuda.

In the Pacific -
-Tropical Storm 22w (Nalgae) was located 495 nm east-southeast of Hanoi, Vietnam.

BRITAIN - North braces for Hurricane Ophelia as south basks in record-breaking heat. The north of England is no stranger to grim weather. As the south enjoyed the HOTTEST OCTOBER 2ND FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS, northerners were forced to wrap up warm and put up their umbrellas. as millions of southerners basked in the brilliant sunshine, rain fell across the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with temperatures hovering around 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15C).
The Met Office said that temperatures will have fallen below average for the time of year by the end of the week, and the rain currently lashing the north will move southwards. "There will be a much more autumnal feel, even quite wintery, especially across Scotland. From Wednesday it could get quite windy with outbreaks of rain." The news will come as a relief to shop-owners, as retailers had been left in “disarray” as soaring temperatures disrupted seasonal sales and left stores scrambling to fill their shelves with summer stock.
Supermarkets were more able to react to the unseasonable weather, ordering in millions of pounds’ worth of burgers, salad and ice cream to cope with soaring demand for summery foods. Wintery foods such as soups and steak-and-kidney pies were left on the shelf, with sales plummeting.

Vermont gold rush - Tropical Storm Irene caused what may add up to billions of dollars in damage to Vermont. But some residents are making the best of a difficult situation thanks to a modern day gold rush in the Green Mountains. Some people may be surprised to hear there’s gold in Vermont but othershave been panning for gold for years. “There is one family ...It’s a mom, dad and the children and they pack lunch every weekend and go to a local river and last year from April to October, they found enough gold to pay their property taxes,” While the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene is still being tabulated and communities struggle with repairs, all the erosion has opened up new places to pan. “The devastation of the flood goes without saying, that is an awful awful thing. On the good side as far as looking for gold it moved the gold, it moved a lot of dirt, it cleaned a lot of places where you would have to dig before. So there is a lot more out there than there used to be as far as finding it is concerned." Gold is about 19 times heavier than water so those searching for gold let the water wash over the rocks and the gold will stay behind.


Heavy rain triggers deadly Algeria floods - Flooding in Algeria has killed at least 10 people and destroyed hundreds of homes. Eight people were killed in the town of el-Bayadh, 700km (435 miles) south of the capital Algiers. The dead include three children swept away by an overflowing river. A mother and her infant child are missing. Bridges and roads have been badly damaged. Several days of heavy rain triggered the floods and officials say another storm is due. Algeria is often hit by heavy rains and flooding in October.


The heatwave is set to continue well into next week in parts of Britain, following a weekend of RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES. The mercury peaked at 30C (86F) in parts of the country yesterday, making it not only the hottest day recorded in October, but the third hottest of 2011. And the unseasonably warm weather will carry on until Tuesday in the South East, forecasters said, when the highest temperature will be a cooler 20C (68F). Yesterday's scorching weather saw the UK top temperatures in the holiday hotspot islands of Ibiza and Majorca and the Spanish capital Madrid. Madrid was at 26C (78.8F) and s Ibiza and Majorca were both reading 27C (80.6F) at 3pm. Yorkshire recorded a sweltering 30C (86F) at 3pm. The previous October record of 29.4C (85F) was set in March, Cambridgeshire in 1985.
Wales also broke its October record, which had stood since 1985, when Hawarden reached 28.2C (80.6F) shortly after 2pm. The UK's hottest day of 2011 was June 27 when a temperature of 33.3C (91.9F) was recorded at the Olympic Park in London. The previous day, St Helier on the island of Jersey reached 30.8C (87.4F) - leaving Sunday's high of 30C in third place.
Meanwhile, CONFUSED PLANTS ARE FLOWERING AGAIN due to the unseasonably warm weather, according to experts. The Royal Horticultural Society said strawberries and rhododendrons were among the plants seen blooming at its flagship garden in Surrey when they WERE NOT EXPECTED TO FLOWER AGAIN UNTIL NEXT SPRING.


Solar storm throws up plasma bursts bigger than our entire planet - A plasma eruption from sunspot group AR 1302 is the most recent solar storm to wreak havoc on Earth's magnetic field. The havoc has pretty much been limited to some especially spectacular auroras. But there's some seriously insane turbulence going down on the Sun's surface. "One of the most active sunspot groups in years is currently crossing the Sun. AR 1302 first came around the Sun's edge last week and is so large it can be seen without a telescope. Coronal Mass Ejections from AR 1302 have already caused strong geomagnetic storms including notable aurora activity around both of Earth's poles. Plasma was left magnetically hanging above the Sun's surface after AR 1302 emitted an X-class solar flare last Thursday...Although another X-class flare was emitted on Saturday, no flares from AR 1302 have been aimed directly at the Earth, as yet. The AR 1302 sunspot group will continue to evolve but likely remain visible on the Sun for the next week." (photo)