Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pakistan tops 2010 list for weather impact - Pakistan, Guatemala and Colombia topped the league table in 2010 for countries that were worst hit by extreme weather events, according to a “climate risk index” published on Tuesday. But over a 20-year span, the countries that were most vulnerable were Bangladesh, Myanmar and Honduras. The index, compiled by a European NGO called Germanwatch, is an annually-published pointer of which countries are most in need of shoring up defences against floods storms, drought and heatwaves, which UN climate scientists say will worsen this century. It factors in the cost of the event in terms of human lives and absolute losses in dollar terms, but also the relative cost according to the country’s level of prosperity.
Pakistan in 2010 was hit by the worst floods in its history, with 84 of 121 districts affected. Guatemala was rocked by hurricanes and flooding struck Colombia. Russia ranked fourth on the list, after a heatwave in July that caused massive forest and peat fires and led indirectly to 55,000 deaths. Scientists are loath to pin single weather events to the longer-term trends of climate change.
Across the world, more than 710,000 people died from 1991 to 2010 from 14,000 extreme weather events, incurring economic losses in today’s terms of more than 2.3 trillion dollars, it said. When seen across this 20-year period, not a single developed country features in the top 10 for climate risk. Only one – Russia – featured in the top 20, and this was as a result of the 2010 heatwave. “These results underscore the particular vulnerability of poor countries to climatic risks, despite the fact that the absolute monetary damages are much higher in rich countries.'
Meanwhile, 13 of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said on Tuesday. The year 2011 caps a decade that ties the record as the hottest ever measured. “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs and are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2 to 2.4 Celsius rise in average global temperatures.” Scientists believe that any rise above the 2.0 threshold could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth over land and in the seas.

**Follow your heart, and whatever the truth is
you can at least be certain that you have been true to yourself.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/29/11 -

More quakes hit central Vietnam - The Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam is suspected to have triggered off some minor earthquakes in Quang Nam Province. A minor earthquake, the third in a month, shook the central province of Quang Nam Sunday night. There were many aftershocks until early the following morning. Many residents had rushed out of their houses for fear of being crushed by furniture. The magnitude of the earthquake is not known yet.
Also Sunday evening a small quake lasting 30 seconds shook Nam Tra My District in Quang Nam. No damage was reported. On Nov 17 a 3.5-magnitude earthquake accompanied by subterranean noises shook the Bac Tra My District. Terrified residents fled their homes in the middle of the night as the sounds lasted more than six hours until early the following morning. Scientists said the quake could have been caused by the construction of the Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant in the vicinity. The earthquake could have occurred because water from the Song Tranh 2 reservoir had been absorbed into the faultline in the area and caused the seismic waves and the explosions. The local authorities had reported to the Quang Nam Province Department of Science and Technology, but it had yet to arrive at a conclusion about the cause of the earthquakes.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 05a was located approximately 485 nm south-southwest of Karachi, Pakistan.


CANADA - Toronto drenched in RECORD-BREAKING RAINFALL. The city was expected to get 40 millimetres by 7 pm. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement about the potential for heavy rainfall which encompassed a large swath of southern Ontario.

ENGLAND - Woman hurt as 'tornado' hits Greater Manchester. Trees were blown over and a chimney toppled in Heaton Moor. A woman has been taken to hospital after what has been described as a "tornado" struck part of Greater Manchester.
A sudden gust of wind toppled a chimney in Heaton Moor near Stockport at about 14:30 GMT. There are also reports of wind damage in Blackburn, Lancashire. "It went almost pitch black. The wind suddenly turned up about 20 notches to the point when it became quite frightening. It felt like you were in the middle of a hurricane and then it all died down and outside you could just hear car alarms."
"It looked like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. The sky went black and I saw it all whirling around. It was as if you could see the wind itself. It was going around and round. It doesn't surprise me that it was a tornado. It was like something that you've never seen before." Several properties were damaged in Darwen. "Also, a number of chimneys have been reported damaged, one of which collapsed." In Lancashire, the A666 road between Blackburn and Darwen was closed after tiles were "ripped off" the roof of a pub.


Turtle embryos 'talk' egg to egg - How do baby turtles know to hatch at roughly the same time? They communicate with each other while still inside their eggs. A research team based at the University of Western Sydney has found more advanced turtles can signal their developmental status to their less-advanced counterparts. This induces the slower developers to increase their growth rates.
The team believes this is an UNUSUAL PHENOMENON in ectothermic animals such as turtles, whose body temperature depends on their surroundings. "Life in a nest is more complex than many people think. This experiment clearly shows that turtle eggs can manipulate developmental rates somewhat independent of temperature in response to other eggs in the nest." The experiment concluded that the less advanced embryos only increased their metabolic rates late in their development, in response to the more advanced eggs nearby.

Ravens Use 'Hand' Gestures to Communicate - The finding marks the first time researchers have seen gestures used in this way in the wild by animals other than primates. Ravens use their beaks and wings much like humans rely on our hands to make gestures, such as for pointing to an object.
From the age of 9 to 12 months, human infants often use gestures to direct the attention of adults to objects, or to hold up items so that others can take them. These gestures, produced before children speak their first words, are seen as milestones in the development of human speech. Dogs and other animals are known to point out items using gestures, but humans trained these animals, and scientists had suggested the natural development of these gestures was normally confined only to primates. Even then, comparable gestures are rarely seen in the wild in our closest living relatives, the great apes for instance.
Still, ravens and their relatives such as crows and magpies have been found to be remarkably intelligent over the years, surpassing most other birds in terms of smarts and even rivaling great apes on some tests. Researchers saw the ravens use their beaks much like hands to show and offer items such as moss, stones and twigs. These gestures were mostly aimed at members of the opposite sex and often led those gestured at to look at the objects. The ravens then interacted with each other — for example, by touching or clasping their bills together, or by manipulating the item together. As such, these gestures might be used to gauge the interest of a potential partner or strengthen an already existing bond. "Most exciting is how a species, which does not represent the prototype of a 'gesturer' because it has wings instead of hands, a strong beak and can fly, makes use of very sophisticated nonvocal signals." Ravens are known to possess a relatively high degree of cooperation between partners. These findings suggest that gestures evolved in a species that demonstrates a high degree of collaborative abilities, a discovery that might shed light on the origin of gestures within humans.
"Gesture studies have too long focused on communicative skills of primates only. The mystery of the origins of human language, however, can only be solved if we look at the bigger picture and also consider the complexity of the communication systems of other animal groups." As to whether or not these findings suggest that ravens are smarter than dogs, "I am not an advocate of proposing that a given species is smarter than another one. In my view, all species have adapted to distinct social and ecological settings and niches, and thus, a given species might behave in a distinct situation 'smarter' than another one in the same situation and vice versa. In my opinion, it is much more interesting to investigate why one species can solve a given task better than another one and how and why this behavior evolved."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

**I look forward to a great future for America -
a future in which our country will match
its military strength with our moral restraint,
its wealth with our wisdom,
its power with our purpose.**
John F. Kennedy

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/28/11 -
Swarm of 40 quakes in Puerto Rico after one measuring 4.9, with a later one of 5.2

Oklahoma Continues String of Recent Mild Earthquakes - Oklahoma has been hit by nine earthquakes since last Monday, most of them concentrated in the area just east of Oklahoma City.


ECUADOR'S government is urging four villages to evacuate because of increased activity in the Tungurahua volcano not far from the country's capital. About 700 people live in the mainly farming communities on the slopes of the volcano in the Andes. Ecuador's Geophysical Institute says increased activity that began yesterday is billowing columns of ash, sending super-heated clouds of gas down the slopes and cascading hot rocks from the summit. It is recording a gradual accumulation of lava in the mountain. The volcano is in a sparsely populated area about 135km south-east of the capital, Quito. It has been active since 1999.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 05a was located approximately 550 nm south of Karachi, Pakistan.


- Eight killed in Durban floods. A violent storm killed six people in Durban and Pietermaritzburg on Sunday night and destroyed scores of homes. The extreme weather, which struck hours before the opening of the UN climate change conference in Durban, caused flooding and widespread damage. The Sunday night deaths brought the number of people killed by floods in KwaZulul-Natal to 11 in less than two weeks. Last week, five people died in the province due to heavy rains.
Six people were killed in Umlazi and Clermont townships, south and west of the city, on Sunday night. "We have been told they died when their houses collapsed. We have also been told that about 100 homes were flooded and damaged in Isipingo." Homes were flooded in Durban's affluent areas such as Umhlanga and Newlands. "This shows that even the posh areas are not spared of the effects of climate change." Several people, including a one-year-old baby, were rescued from their Durban homes early on Monday after flash floods. Paulpietersburg, Gingindlovu, Nkandla and Eshowe were the most affected during last week's floods. Three people died in Paulpietersburg, and two in the eThekwini municipality. Up to 20,000 delegates from more than 190 countries are gathered in Durban to thrash out a plan to counter global warming and the catastrophic climate change, including extreme weather, it is causing in many parts of the world.


NEW YORK had RECORD-BREAKING WARM WEATHER to be thankful for over the holiday weekend, and those temperatures continued into the work week. The National Weather Service recorded a temperature of 68 degrees on Long Island. The temperature in New York City hit 70 degrees, breaking the record set in 1896, and making New York one of several areas to see record-breaking warm temperatures in the past couple days.
Warm weather in Washington - Temperature Sunday hit RECORD 70 degrees at Dulles. It was UNUSUALLY warm in the Washington area Sunday, warm enough to set a record at one of the area’s airports and warmer than it might get for the rest of the year. Temperatures at all three of the area’s airports reached into the 70s, and at Dulles International Airport, the maximum of 70 was a record. The old record at Dulles was 68, set in 1976. At Reagan National Airport, where Washington’s official readings are made, it was even warmer, 72 degrees. That fell three degrees short of the record of 75, set 115 years ago. According to a National Weather Service analysis of Washington weather data, 2011 has about a 50-50 chance of ending without another day quite so warm or atmospherically amazing as Sunday.
An examination of Washington records going back to 1872 shows that in all the years since then, temperatures from Nov. 28 to Dec. 31 have reached 70 only 70 times. That means that a 70-degree day from now to year’s end occurs, on average, about once every two years. Sunday was Washington’s second-warmest day this month at National, one degree short of the high of 73 reached Nov. 14.

In the past few weeks, Zimbabwe experienced RECORD-BREAKING TEMPERATURES which saw temperatures in some parts of the country soaring to 46 degrees Celsius, pretty extreme than ever in the last half a century. The country was abuzz with talk over the sweltering heat. But does a mere variation in temperature mean that Zimbabwe is now experiencing climate change? People's perception of climate change usually differ from the one held by academics and the scientific community. To most people, the fact that temperatures hit the 46 degree barrier in Chiredzi and Buffalo Range is a sure indicator of climate change in Zimbabwe. But for scientists, it is not enough to conclude that Zimbabwe is now experiencing climate change because of this sudden upsurge in temperature.
"An extreme event is sometimes confused with climate change, although there might be some correlations, but this does not necessarily mean a changed climate. We should not confuse temperature variations with climate change." Climate change can be described as an identifiable statistical change in the state of the climate which persists for an extended period of time. "For example, Harare has an average mean rainfall of 600mm per year and if this mean falls to 550mm then we can conclude that climate change has taken place. If this mean (600mm) does not change over say a 30-year period, then no climate change has taken place."
Zimbabwe is increasingly experiencing temperature changes as a result of global warming or global climate disruption, as some meteorologists would argue. The Zimbabwe average minimum temperatures increased from 13 degrees Celsius in 1962 to 14 degrees Celsius by 2008 while average maximum temperatures went up from 26 degrees Celsius in 1962 to 27,2 degrees Celsius by 2008. "The temperature data base goes back to 1962. Zimbabwe is experiencing a gradual increase in temperatures - year to year variability. It's showing an increasing trend."
A University of Zimbabwe CTDT study report on the perception of smallholder farmers from UMP, Murehwa, Chiredzi and Tsholotsho of climate change indicated that the most prominent feature they identified as a sign of climate change included rainfall distribution change in rainfall patterns in the last 30 years, changes in temperature, changes in forest vegetation, recurrent droughts and very high ambient temperature, drying up of water sources, warm winter season and the extension of the winter season. "In all districts, farmers stated that rainfall amounts, and distribution, have changed in the past ten years. They say there has been a general decline in the rainfall amounts, recurrent droughts, drastic changes in the rainfall distribution - delayed onset dates of the rainy season and increased frequency and length of mid-season dry spells." Farmers stated that the climate had become warmer in recent years with higher than normal day time temperatures, warm nights and warm winter seasons. "Farmers' perceptions of climate change generally agree with findings of analyses of rainfall and temperature data. These show that in the last 20-30 years, there has been an increase in rainfall variability and frequency and severity of droughts." There was an observed delay in the onset dates of the rainy season in Chiredzi and UMP, shortening of the length of the growing period in these districts something that tallied with farmers' perceptions.Findings also suggest that there was general warming of temperatures in all the three districts by about 0.3 to 0.4 Degrees Celsius and that most of the warming occurred during the period after 1980 the period with higher than usual occurrences of droughts.


A line of sunspots stretching across the sun's northern hemisphere appears to be an independent sequence of dark cores. A telescope tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen, however, reveals something different. The sunspots are connected by sinuous filaments of magnetism. "These sunspots writhe and squirm energetically as they rotate away from us!" The connections suggest an interesting possibility. While each sunspot individually poses little threat for strong solar flares, an instability in one could start a chain reaction involving all, leading to a widespread eruption.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wind and waves clobbered the coast of Norway - The “extreme weather system” known as “Berit” hit Norway's northwest coast hard on Friday and through the night into Saturday morning, moving north from Hordaland and Møre og Romsdal up to Lofoten and beyond. Waves as high as 30 meters, hurricane-force winds and RECORD-HIGH TIDES generated plenty of drama but no casualties. Meteorologists opted for the “extreme weather” description instead of just a “storm,” because of the various aspects of “Berit,” which had been forecast since mid-week. Many linked the lack of injuries and casualties to the forecasts that allowed many to take precautions in advance.
Several wooden holiday and fishing cabins known as rorbuer were nonetheless destroyed on Lofoten, and some island communities were left isolated on Saturday. Several yachts and other boats were swamped at Sømna in Nordland, where also homes and businesses were flooded. Oil company Statoil decided to shut down production at several oil fields and send workers home because of the high seas and hurricane conditions. “It was blowing over hurricane strength and the platforms were moving quite a lot. They registered waves over 14 meters and expected that to increase.”
The waves crashed over the historic Kråkenes Fyr (lighthouse), perched on a cliff over the sea just south of Stad, where winds also reached hurricane strength. Lofoten got hit the hardest, though, suffering the most material damage. Seas rising to record high levels were recorded at Bodø (nine centimeters over the last record of 404cm logged in 1979), Kabelvåg (428 centimeters) and Harstad (321 centimeters). “This is UNUSUALLY HIGH.” Many ferry routes were cancelled as were some sailings of the Hurtigruten vessels that ply the coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. The unusually rough seas affected routes between Lofoten and Stad.
By Saturday afternoon, an estimated 2,500 residents along the coast were isolated including those living on the islands of Røst and Værøy, west of Bodø. The extreme weather destroyed both Værøy’s helicopter landing pad and ferry terminal, leaving residents cut off until repairs could be made. Røst was without power and facing food shortages, as supplies ran low in local stores, but island residents are accustomed to rough weather.
Troms and Finnmark counties seemed to be avoiding the worst of the wind and waves, but seas were rising in the far north as well, with coastal areas expected to be reporting record high levels as well. Cellars needed to be pumped out in Harstad, with water levels high also in Tromsø and Honningsvåg.

**Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.**
Mohandas Gandhi

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/27/11 -

Absent Haiti quake panel slows reconstruction - Almost two years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, less than half of the $4.6 billion in pledged aid has been disbursed and political squabbling is threatening to bring coordinated reconstruction efforts to an abrupt halt. An ambitious panel tasked with overseeing efforts to rebuild Haiti, co-chaired by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, was created three months after the January 2010 quake destroyed much of its capital, toppling hundreds of thousands of homes and throwing more than a million homeless into squalid camps.
But the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, or IHRC, disappeared in October after Haitian officials failed to renew its mandate or to create a Haitian-run agency to assume its role of coordinating reconstruction efforts.
Haitian officials say that 120 projects submitted to the disbanded panel remain on hold and experts fear that without the IHRC or a version of it, new donations will stop or dwindle and already pledged money won't come in because donors fear that the money will be squandered. Former board members on the panel also fear that reconstruction efforts will go adrift.
Creating a new commission won't be easy for the same reason the original one's 18-month mandate died: A proposal must go before Parliament for approval. And lawmakers routinely spar with Haitian President Michel Martelly, a pop star-turned-president. International donors say the need for a new commission is urgent.
Modeled after a commission for post-tsunami Indonesia, the reconstruction panel sought to shy away from the haphazard practice of bilateral negotiations in an effort to rebuild the nation from scratch. It also wanted countries including the United States, France and Venezuela to sit literally at the same table with Haitian leaders and avoid a duplication of projects. Board members met every two months or so, the bulk of the meetings taking place at high-end hotels away from the piles of rubble and the hundreds of thousands people still holed up in precarious settlements vulnerable to flooding and stormy weather long after the quake.
Aid groups say hundreds of the quake camps have closed, through a combination of forced removal and payments, but the mountainside shanties ringing Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, seem to be swelling with blue and orange tarp-covered structures. Despite the efforts, the panel drew heaps of criticism. It was sluggish. It was bureaucratic. It had too many foreigners involved.
Some reconstruction work is taking place. This month, they finished clearing out a town square that relief agencies say once housed as many as 11,000 people. It was one of the last projects the IHRC approved before it disbanded. And on Monday, the president and Clinton are scheduled to tour the construction site of a $225 million industrial park in northern Haiti that's supposed to create 20,000 jobs, another IHRC project.
But effective reconstruction is unlikely to happen without the grand master plan as championed by Clinton and the panel. "Donors will give money but they may revert to the same old practices where they unilaterally decide what to do. There will be reconstruction but it will take us 20 years instead of 10."
Questions dog Haiti fund - In the months following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a charity run by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean spent a pittance of the money it took in on disaster relief and doled out millions in questionable contracts.

Trinidad and Tobago on cusp of big earthquake - Trinidad and Tobago requires “serious political will” from Government and an almost equal contribution from civil society to provide funding and resources urgently to pre-finance and prepare for earthquakes and major disasters. “It requires Government and us as a people to make decisions quickly, and to act quickly."
“We have been monitoring seismic hazards for some time and we are exposed to the hazards, and can be impacted by a large magnitude earthquake. As professionals in the field, we don’t think as country or a region we have gotten it right...we think they are moving too slow.” The issue of proper land planning and usage was reinforced by last weekend’s severe flooding in north-west Trinidad, which many attributed to the ill-advised removal of vegetation on hillsides by developers for housing.
Addressing the issue earthquakes, “To get to the stage where we are resilient to seismic hazard, it will take years. We need to start, but we are taking too long to start. An earthquake may occur before anything could be done.” Most Caribbean islands have building codes that may not be up to date, but are regulated in terms of enforcement mechanisms. The earthquake of January 12, 2010, in Haiti, “should have, as a region, made us aware of the problems.” How Chile manages seismic hazards, “should have indicated to us what we should move from and what we should move to in terms of our building stock.” Chile's seismic design code had “tremendous success” in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of 1985 in the central zone of Chile. After this earthquake, the code was updated to include seismic macro zones. The seismic data obtained from the seismic macro zones helped to define the code in use during the 2010 earthquake. “It worked very well,."
“What we put in place now should stand. The resources that we are using to put these things in place are not renewable resources. When we spend that money foolishly investing in something that is going to fall down the next time we have a major earthquake, we must ask ourselves ‘Where are the resources coming from?’”
The priority is to conduct risk assessment in critical facilities and public buildings, such as hospitals and schools, that have high levels of occupancy, and economic installations. “The truth is that no assessment has been done to determine how safe public buildings are.”
Earthquakes in developing countries tend to be quite costly in terms of the amount of repairs that need to be done to infrastructure afterwards, business opportunities lost and the impact on human societies based on lives lost. Some of the preliminary estimates that have been done indicate that an earthquake could wreak damage in the tune of US$6 billion in San Fernando alone. Residential housing stock alone in Port-of-Spain could be in the sum of TT$10 million. The level of shaking of the earthquake and the depth determines the extent of damage, the experts said. A shallow 5.8 magnitude earthquake destroyed Managua in 1972 because it occurred at a depth of seven kilometres right under the Nicaraguan city. “We have a shallow earthquake in the magnitude range of 6.1 to 6.5 on the Richter scale occurring every ten or so years somewhere around Trinidad that could destroy a city within seconds. All of these earthquakes, had they occurred under Port-of-Spain, would have been completely devastating. It is just that they have been slapping at our heels, occurring off the island. It just takes one such earthquake to occur under Port-of-Spain or San Fernando and it would be a completely different story.” In San Fernando, the SRC has uncovered in recent times geologic structures in the Central Range Fault that “may be accumulating strain and could rupture sometime in the future”. These geological structures cut right through some of the most productive regions of the island, including Point Lisas, San Fernando’s residential areas and Point-a-Pierre. In the event of a large earthquake, these communities will suffer strong shaking and are likely to experience huge amount of damage. "We need to take some personal responsibility for our own safety, given that we would be living in structures that may not live up to a massive earthquake. So we need to have our disaster bag, medical kit batteries, torch- lights and have them stocked. Have family plan at every time. Earthquake has no respect for season. They can occur at any time of the year.”

Geologists monitoring Yellowstone's underground shifts - Geologists are getting a better feel for what’s going on beneath Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres of ever-shifting earth thanks to advances in technology. Last week, park officials released Yellowstone’s “vital signs” report, documenting more than 24 natural resource indicators that affect the park’s ecological and environmental stability, from wildlife disease to climate change. The report also noted the park’s geological activity. The ground near the White Lake recording station has swelled 25 centimeters — more than 10 inches — since 2004, while more than 3,200 earthquakes rattled the park in 2010 — the LARGEST CONCENTRATION OF TREMORS RECORDED SINCE 1985. Knowing what it all means, however, remains something of a mystery.
“Yellowstone seems to breathe. That’s the best way to describe it. It goes through cycles of uplift and subsidence. That detailed pattern of ground deformation, well, we’re still in the process of figuring that out.”
Scientists attributed the increase in geological events to improving technology. Scientists can now detect earthquakes that passed unnoticed just 30 years ago. Deformations in the ground can be measured down to the millimeter. To say there are more earthquakes now than before is akin to saying people get more phone calls now than they did 30 years ago. Technology makes the difference. Yellowstone has bulged and shifted in various places over the years. Between 1996 and 2002, an area near Norris Junction lifted 12 centimeters as Yellowstone’s central caldera sank. “There might be a slow inhalation in one area and an exhalation in another. We need more data to really confirm the exact pattern and cause. But there are two great ideas out there that try to explain the deformation.” The deformation may be related to Yellowstone’s vast hydrothermal system. Like a blister under the skin, the park bulges and shifts under pressure. Molten rock underlies the second theory. As the red-hot balloon of magma and gas moves toward the surface it causes the ground to lift. “As an independent scientist, I can say both models have problems. There’s a lot of great work and scientific debate going on to understand what this ground deformation is really telling us.”
The park is not only rising and falling, it’s also moving side to side. Over a four-month period in 2010, Yellowstone endured a swarm of 2,500 earthquakes. The temblors varied up to magnitude 3.8, which was recorded on Jan. 20. “But if you put all the 2010 quakes into a single earthquake, it would only be equal to a magnitude 4.4.” In comparison, the single strongest quake in the 1985 swarm measured 4.5. That swarm of quakes 26 years ago packed more energy than the latest swarm — so much so people began leaving the West Yellowstone area. “They got tired of being rattled. With this 2010 swarm, we had 16 earthquakes felt in the Old Faithful area. Swarms are just a way of life in Yellowstone.” Yellowstone has experienced about 90 swarms since the mid-1990s alone. While some look at the figures and suggest that the world’s largest volcanic feature is beginning to stir, scientists cautioned about jumping to such conclusions. If a big volcanic eruption were coming, geologists would see it coming well in advance. And that’s not what the data is telling them. It’s not impossible that Yellowstone could experience a small eruption with little notice. The elements are there — earthquake swarms, ground deformations, thermal venting and volcanic gases. Yet the events aren’t occurring at the magnitude needed for something big, and they’re not occurring over the same spot. Yellowstone has seen 80 lava flows since the last giant eruption 640,000 years ago, and each of those technically classifies as an eruption. “Those areas of smaller eruptions are the most likely type that would occur. There’s always the possibility of a Hawaiian-type volcano that would only affect a small region of Yellowstone. But it wouldn’t have any regional catastrophic effects.”


Ash from Chile's Puyehue volcano caused flight delays and cancelations Saturday out of Uruguay after a week of frustrations for air travelers in Argentina.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 05a was located approximately 360 nm south-southwest of Mumbai, India.


Quarter of world's farmland degraded - The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet's land resources, finding in a report that a quarter of all farmland is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world's growing population is to be fed. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that farmers will have to produce 70% more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world's expected nine billion-strong population. That amounts to one billion tons more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of cow and other livestock. But as it is, most available farmland is already being farmed, and in ways that actually decrease its productivity through practices that lead to soil erosion and wasting of water. That means that to meet the world's future food needs, a major "sustainable intensification" of agricultural productivity on existing farmland will be necessary."
The report found that climate change coupled with poor farming practices had contributed to a decrease in productivity of the world's farmland following the boon years of the Green Revolution, when crop yields soared thanks to new technologies, pesticides and the introduction of high-yield crops. Thanks to the Green Revolution, the world's cropland grew by just 12 per cent but food productivity increased by 150 per cent between 1961 and 2009. But the UN report found that rates of growth have been slowing down in many areas and today are only half of what they were at the peak of the Green Revolution. It found that 25 per cent of the world's farmland is now "highly degraded", with soil erosion, water degradation and biodiversity loss. Another eight per cent is moderately degraded, while 36 per cent is stable or slightly degraded and 10 per cent is ranked as "improving". The rest of the Earth's surface is either bare or covered by inland water bodies.

Climate set to worsen food crises -Storms and drought that have unleashed dangerous surges in food prices could be a "grim foretaste" of what lies ahead when climate change bites more deeply, Oxfam says. In a report, the British charity pointed to spikes in wheat, corn and sorghum, triggered by extreme weather, that had driven tens of millions into poverty over the past 18 months. "This will only get worse as climate change gathers pace and agriculture feels the heat. When a weather event drives local or regional price spikes, poor people often face a double shock. They have to cope with higher food prices at a time when extreme weather may have also killed their livestock, destroyed their home or farm."
In 2010, a heatwave in Russia and Ukraine sparked a rise of 60 to 80 per cent in global wheat prices in three months, reaching 85 per cent in April 2011. In July 2011, the price of sorghum was 393 per cent higher in Somalia, while corn (maize) in Ethiopia and Kenya was up to 191 and 161 per cent higher respectively compared to the five-year average, reflecting the impact of drought in the Horn of Africa. Rainstorms and typhoons in South-East Asia, meanwhile, have driven up the price of rice in Thailand and Vietnam. In September and October, the cost of this staple was 25-30 per cent higher there than a year earlier. In February, the World Bank estimated that 44 million people in developing economies had fallen into extreme poverty as a result of spiralling food prices.
"For the poorest who spend up to 75 per cent of their income on food, price rises on this scale can have consequences as families are forced into impossible trade-offs in a desperate bid to feed themselves." It pointed to a just-published investigation by the UN's panel of climate scientists, which said man-made global warming had already boosted heatwaves and flood-provoking rainfall and was likely to contribute to future disasters. "More frequent and extreme weather events will compound things further, creating shortages, destabilising markets and precipitating price spikes, which will be felt on top of the structural price rises predicted by the models."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CO2 climate sensitivity 'overestimated' - Global temperatures could be less sensitive to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels than previously thought, a study suggests. The researchers said people should still expect to see "drastic changes" in climate worldwide, but that the risk was a little less imminent. Previous climate models have tended to used meteorological measurements from the past 150 years to estimate the climate's sensitivity to rising CO2. From these models, scientists find it difficult to narrow their projections down to a single figure with any certainty, and instead project a range of temperatures that they expect, given a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from pre-industrial levels.
The new analysis, which incorporates palaeoclimate data into existing models, attempts to project future temperatures with a little more certainty. Looking at surface temperatures during the most recent ice age - 21,000 years ago - when humans were having no impact on global temperatures, show that this period was not as cold as previous estimates suggest. "This implies that the effect of CO2 on climate is less than previously thought."
By incorporating this newly discovered "climate insensitivity" into their models, the international team was able to reduce uncertainty in its future climate projections. The new models predict that given a doubling in CO2 levels from pre-industrial levels, the Earth's surface temperatures will rise by 1.7C to 2.6C (3.1F to 4.7F).
That is a much tighter range than the one produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 report, which suggested a rise of between 2.0C to 4.5C. The new analysis also reduces the expected rise in average surface temperatures to just over 2C, from 3C. The authors stress the results do not mean threat from human-induced climate change should be treated any less seriously. But it does mean that to induce large-scale warming of the planet, leading to widespread catastrophic consequences, we would have to increase CO2 more than we are going to do in the near future. "But we don't want that to happen at any time, right? At least, given that no one is doing very much around the planet [about] mitigating CO2 emissions, we have a bit more time." Whether these results mean that the global temperatures will be less responsive to falling CO2 is unclear. "I don't think we know that, to be honest." This is just one particular climate model, and "future work with a range of models would serve to strengthen the result".
"The results of this paper are the result of the analysis of [a] cold climate during the glacial maximum (the most recent ice age). There is evidence the relationship between CO2 and surface temperatures is likely to be different [during] very cold periods than warmer." Scientists would therefore prefer to analyse periods of the Earth's history that are much warmer than now when making their projections about future temperatures. However, although good data exists for the last million years, temperatures during this time have been either similar to present, or colder. "One should be very careful about using cold climates to [construct] the future."

**We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each
experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face.
We must do that which we think we cannot.**
Eleanor Roosevelt

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
11/26/11 -

11/25/11 -

11/24/11 -

Earthquake swarm hits El Salvador, damaging homes - More than 700 slight to moderate earthquakes hit an area in eastern El Salvador in a 24-hour period, damaging dozens of
homes but hurting no one. The brief quakes, which started Thursday, ranged from 1.8 to 4.6 in magnitude.

Two quakes hit Japan with no major damages - Two earthquakes hit Japan Thursday – a 6.0-magnitude earthquake near the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and a 6.1-magnitude quake in the northern island of Hokkaido.

Chance for big tsunami in eastern Japan within 30 yrs revised up to 30% from 20%
- The Earthquake Research Committee has reexamined its long-term estimate of killer temblors after the March 11 quake and tsunami and found that a quake that triggers a tsunami as powerful as the one caused by the 1896 Meiji-Sanriku Earthquake, which killed more than 20,000 people, is more likely to happen in the sea zone stretching 800 kilometers north-south. The panel stopped short of predicting the magnitude of the possible quake but said past records suggest it would be magnitude 8 or stronger.The tsunami triggered by the 1896 quake reached as high as 38.2 meters, according to the records. The quake's estimated magnitude ranges from 6.8 to 8.5 among experts. Meanwhile, the committee said the likelihood a quake with a magnitude of up to 9 occurs within the next 50 years in a sea area off Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which is closer to the shore than the 800-km zone, is almost zero percent.

50 earthquake aftershocks have hit Louisa, Virginia - More than three months later, Louisa County continues to be rattled by aftershocks from the second-largest earthquake recorded in Virginia.
An aftershock measuring magnitude 2.1 early last Monday morning put the total number of temblors at 50 since the first one — a magnitude-5.8 quake on Aug. 23. The aftershock, recorded at 12:25 a.m. about 9 miles southwest of the town of Louisa, was the fifth in less than three days. The U.S. Geological Survey also measured temblors of magnitude 2.4 and 2.3 last Saturday, and magnitude 1.8 and 1.9 last Sunday. State officials say the aftershocks aren't strong enough to cause extensive damage on their own, but that doesn't mean they aren't having an effect. "It probably makes the existing damage worse."
Continuing damage from aftershocks helped the state persuade the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse its initial decision to deny federal aid to individuals who had suffered damage from the Aug. 23 earthquake. State teams soon may begin looking at evidence of damage in other counties affected by the earthquake, including Spotsylvania, Goochland and Fluvanna. In addition to individual assistance to people in Louisa, FEMA has approved aid for public damage and costs in Louisa and Spotsylvania. The aftershocks haven't affected the North Anna nuclear plant, which is about 11 miles from the epicenter of the first earthquake. The plant's two nuclear reactors just returned to service after shutting down from ground vibrations Aug. 23.

Small quake recorded in central Oklahoma - just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded a 3.7-magnitude quake about 3:11 p.m. Thursday near Prague. The epicenter was 17 miles northeast of Shawnee and 44 miles east of Oklahoma City. There weren't any immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake was described as more of a boom than a rumble. Geologists say earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 to 3.0 are generally the smallest felt by humans.
A 5.6-magnitude earthquake centered close to nearby Sparks shook the state on Nov. 5. That quake, the strongest ever recorded in Oklahoma, damaged more than 40 homes, buckled part of a highway and caused the collapse of a tower at St. Gregory's University in Shawnee. The Governor has requested a federal disaster declaration in the wake of a series of earthquakes that have rumbled through the state in recent weeks.


In the Canary Islands, El Hierro volcano has an increased area of upwelling muddy water and discoloration of sea water, but the eruption is not likely to form an island. The area of upwelling water above the new submarine vent(s) 1 km off the south coast near La Restinga has increased. Muddy water and sometimes foam are visible at the spot, forming larger and smaller circular areas surrounded by greenish water drifting west. The activity occurs in irregular intervals of typically 20-40 minutes. Another possible submarine vent is visible much further out to the SW, forming a separate greenish spot. There are no rock fragments, no pumice and no steam visible.
The new volcanic cone, now roughtly 100 m high and located at 200 m depth, seems to have stopped its growth in height, which occurred in the first 14 days of the eruption. Any new erupted lava from this vent would find its way into submarine valleys around the base of the cone rather than building up at the top. To rise the cone, it needs first to grow in diameter and the volume required to make it grow in height exceeds what is likely to be produced in this eruption, which, despite the occasional presence of rising mud and gasses at the surface, seems to be waning. Tremor is continuing, but the number of earthquakes at depth beneath the El Golfo area has decreased.

COLUMBIA - Galeras volcano alert raised to orange. The Galeras volcano in Colombia's western department of Nariño could erupt within weeks or days, according to authorities. The level of volcanic activity was increased to orange alert Thursday 9PM by the Colombian Geological Service and the Volcanology and Seismology Observatory of Pasto, which are monitoring the activity of Galeras. The institutions stated that in the last 24 hours, tremors have been registered that have similar characteristics to those in the period prior to the majority of eruptions, which occurred between 1992 and 2010. There has been a reduction in the emission of gases, reflected in the low values of sulphur dioxide measured, both coming from craters and fields of volcanic fissures. Some 8,000 people live in the area surrounding the volcano that reawakened in 1988.

Indonesia's Mount Anak Krakatau spews out smoke clouds - Anak Krakatau is continuing to spew out white smoke clouds and authorities have asked people to stay away from the volcano.

In the Pacific -
Tropical cyclone 05a was located approximately 165 nm west-southwest of Cochin, India. 05a will intensify slowly as it moves closer to a subtropical ridge axis until it encounters a trough currently moving east over Saudi Arabia, at which point it is expected to recurve over the northern Arabian Sea.


AUSTRALIA - Rising floodwaters are expected to leave 1800 residents in a northern NSW town stranded for five days as emergency crews prepare to dispatch supplies by helicopter. Heavy rainfall across NSW has already claimed the life of a three-year-old boy, who drowned early on Saturday afternoon (AEDT) when he was swept into a stormwater drain at Bingara. By early Sunday morning, the Namoi River is expected to reach 6.7 metres, which the State Emergency Service says will leave 1800 residents at Wee Waa stranded until Thursday. "This is a very slow flood. Because it's so flat, it stays around for quite a long time." No one had been evacuated from the area, but the SES aircraft crews will change their focus from rescue operations to supplying people with food and essentials.
At Moree, about 90km northeast of Wee Waa, 400 residents have been warned they may be asked to evacuate as swollen rivers gradually inundate the floodplains. About 50 people are already isolated on properties around Moree. The weather bureau is predicting that Gwydir River tributaries, at Mehi River and Yarraman Bridge, will peak at 10 metres on Sunday night, the highest level since January 2001. "They're now assessing what effect that will have and whether that will require a full evacuation." Heavy rain hit the state for 24 hours into the early afternoon on Saturday, also stranding 400 people southwest of Coffs Harbour, on the north coast. Since Thursday, the SES has rescued 10 people trapped in cars as they attempted to drive through floodwaters, with eight of the call-outs in the state's north. Moderate flooding is also expected at Tamworth on the Peel River, and flood warnings are also in place for the Macintyre, Macleay and Bellinger rivers.
Meanwhile, on the NSW South Coast, an evacuation warning has been downgraded for residents of 18 properties below Jerrara dam, inland of Kiama, where there were concerns the dam might overflow if there was any more rain. A ceasing of rain has seen the alert level moved from amber to a less severe white level.


Winter storm 'Berit' barrels toward Sweden - Meteorologists in Sweden are warning people to stay inside this weekend as winter storm dubbed Berit by colleagues in Norway gets set to pummel much of the country with gusty winds and possible snow showers.
"If you're in the mountains, stay indoors." Sweden’s Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, SMHI, has issued a class 2 warning for northwestern Sweden ahead of the extreme weather conditions set to hit Sweden as Berit rolls across the country after wreaking havoc in neighbouring Norway.
A class 2 warning mean there is a "danger to the public, widespread material damage, and significant disruptions to important civic operations". Much of the rest of the country is covered by a lower-grade class 1 warning. The storm is expected to bring winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour. “There will be very strong winds but also a risk of the storm turning into hurricane strength." The snow showers expected to accompany the strong winds are expected to make the storm extra treacherous, especially for anyone in Sweden's mountainous northwest. While conditions may calm down slightly in northern Sweden by the close of Saturday, southern Sweden is set to get hit by strong wind gusts today. "There's a low pressure system that's rushing through. In southern Sweden it's going to be windy tomorrow (Saturday), but then things will really get going. It looks like the worst will come during the day on Sunday." The eye of the storm was set to hit northern Sweden from the Atlantic on Saturday, but most of Sweden will see harsh winds over the weekend and will be likely to be hit by some rain or snow.


The unseasonably high temperatures across much of Sweden had left much of the country free of snow and has put autumn 2011 on track to be ONE OF THE WARMEST EVER RECORDED IN SWEDEN. In Karesuando, considered to be Sweden's northernmost village, the warm autumn temperatures will likely smash the previous autumn high-temperature record by a full degree. With barely a week left in November, the Svealand region in central Sweden and much of Norrland in the north are set to have one of the five warmest autumns ever. Temperatures in Götaland in the south, meanwhile, haven't been quite as high above normal. Nationwide, this year's autumn will likely be among the ten warmest on record and most of Sweden remains free of snow cover. Even up in Karesuando in the far north, snow cover is a mere two centimetres thick and the area around SMHI's northernmost weather station in Naimakka is completely void of any snow.
Colder temperatures and snow may be on the way for villages in Sweden's far north. “Especially during the start of the day on Saturday it's going to get really windy in the mountains. There may be storm force winds combined with snow showers." In Götaland and Svealand, however, more mild temperatures mean that more rain will be on the way in the coming days and there is no sign of snow for most of the country until at least December. So far, only the northernmost regions of Sweden have any snow at all. The lack of snowfall is EXTREMELY UNUSUAL this late in the year.“Usually winter is in full-swing by this time with 15 to 20 centimetres of snow on the ground."

AUSTRALIA - Man uses scuba gear to evade Australia bushfire. A man who stayed behind to defend his home from a bushfire in western Australia used scuba-diving equipment to escape the blaze. While others in the town of Margaret River fled their homes, he got his wife to safety and then went back to fire-proof his home. Seeing houses in the distance going up in flames, he donned wet clothing, an oxygen tank and goggles. When the flames got too close, he jumped into his neighbour's pool.
Before the bushfire arrived, the 53-year-old stuffed rags into gutters and fixed sprinklers on the roof to prepare his house for the flames. "There were spot fires everywhere, the wind was increasing, the smoke was getting thicker and I basically stayed with the house as long as I could." Firefighters were battling to control the bush fire, as he tried to fire-proof his home But when the flames approached, he was forced to submerge himself in his neighbour's pool and use the scuba-diving gear. "It was 3.04 to 3.09, I remember looking at my watch. And just looking up and seeing the red and the black going over the top. I stuck my head up at the end of the lap pool, I had a direct view of our house and I was just absolutely amazed. There were no flames coming from it...Without the clear vision and without a clear source of oxygen, there's no way of staying in a situation like that. But as it turned out, it all worked beautifully and the house is still there and I'm still alive." At least 37 homes were destroyed and some 3,177 hectares (7,850 acres) burned by the bushfire.


RADIATION STORM AND CME ALERT - A solar radiation storm is in progress around Earth. At the moment, the storm is classified as minor, which means it has little effect on Earth other than to disturb HF radio transmissions at high latitudes. Energetic protons, which make up the bulk of the storm, were accelerated in our direction earlier Saturday by shock waves in a CME racing away from the sun at about 1000 km/s (2.2 million mph). The CME itself will reach Earth on Nov. 28th around 14:23 UT (+/- 7 hours). The cloud could triggger geomagnetic storms when it arrives on Monday. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. The forecasting group at Goddard notes that no two spacecraft have yet beamed back concurrent images of the CME. This makes their estimates of the CME's speed and direction necessarily approximate.


Cash crisis hits disease battle - Projects to protect people against diseases including malaria are under threat. Efforts to tackle diseases which kill millions each year could be badly affected by a severe shortfall in donations to a worldwide funding body. The Global Fund to Fight Aids, TB and Malaria will make no new grants until 2014, and there is a threat to some existing projects. It asked international donors for $20bn, but received just $11.5bn. This misses even the fund's "minimum" $13bn target, which it says is needed to maintain programmes until 2014. HIV charities said they were "extremely alarmed" by the decision. This is the first time in its 10 year history that the fund has been forced to cancel its three-yearly funding round. It blames the problem on a combination of "substantial budget challenges" in some of the countries who would normally contribute, and low interest rates cutting returns on its investments. However, in recent years it has faced accusations of failing to make sure money reached those in need, commissioning a review in March after reports of "grave misuse of funds" in four recipient countries. This led to some donors, including Germany and Sweden, holding back their funding temporarily.
The HIV/Aids Alliance, whose member organisations rely heavily on the fund for projects across the world, said that it was the worst possible time for money to be withdrawn. It said that planned projects to tackle high rates of HIV in areas of China and South Sudan might be affected by the funding cut. The fund, which is based in Geneva, said that only "essential" programmes in low or middle-income countries would receive more funding to keep them going until 2014. It says it intends to bring in new management to improve administration.

The spread of an ODD new flu virus that has been jumping from pigs to people in parts of the United States has the World Health Organization gearing up its response planning. The United Nations health body is figuring out what needs to be done if the virus continues to spread and a global response is required. The WHO wants to be ready to make recommendations and issue guidance to countries if the need arises — though it is far from certain there will be the need. “We’re very aware that we don’t want to overplay or underplay. We’re trying to get that right. (We’re) trying to make sure that we’re ready to move quickly, if we have to move quickly, but also trying not to raise alarm bells.”
The WHO’s desire to be prepared without raising alarm is a legacy of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The WHO was heavily criticized for declaring a pandemic when the outbreak turned out to be milder than feared. But what exactly the agency — and the world — might need to prepare for now is unclear. With the public relations problems of the 2009 outbreak fresh in the minds of health officials, no one is using the “p” word these days. Yet in some respects, the parallels are striking. The new swine-origin flu virus is causing sporadic infections in parts of the United States. Since it was first spotted in July, 10 cases have been confirmed in Maine, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Iowa. All have been children under 10, with an exception — a 58-year-old adult. Three of the cases required hospitalization. It is an influenza A virus of the H3N2 subtype, a distant cousin of H3N2 viruses that circulate in humans.
Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say the gene looks like that of H3N2 viruses that used to circulate in the early 1990s. It is sufficiently different from contemporary human viruses that the H3N2 component of the seasonal flu shot is not expected to protect against this virus, though it might boost antibody levels in those who were exposed to the earlier H3N2 viruses. The CDC is still doing serological work — checking stored blood samples for antibodies that react to this virus — to figure out how much vulnerability there is to the new virus. The current thinking is most people over the age of 21 would have had exposure to similar flu viruses and would therefore have some protection against it. “It is important to see the serological data to see how much vulnerability or susceptibility there is in the human population." If a major part of the human population has antibodies that react to the virus, it may not be much of a threat. If there’s a lot of immunity in the population, there probably will not be any kind of extensive spread except maybe in these little clusters where you have little folks who don’t have much immunity to anything."
On the other hand, says further spread cannot be ruled out: “There’s no reason why this virus, if it continues to spread human to human, couldn’t move from country to country among young people.” The first seven infections appeared to have been instances where the virus passed from pigs to people. But the most recent cases, in Iowa, seem to have involved person-to-person spread. There were three confirmed cases in that cluster, but it was likely larger. Two contacts of the first confirmed case were also ill, but not tested. And the people in this cluster said they had no contact with pigs.

-Ocean Spray has taken the precautionary measure of voluntarily recalling certain production lots of its Original Flavor Craisins Dried Cranberries product in 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 48-ounce packages as well as bulk sweetened dried cranberries in 10-pound packages due to the possible presence of very small hair-like metal fragments that are unlikely to cause consumer injury.
-King & Prince Seafood Corp. of Brunswick, GA, is initiating a voluntary recall of Nova Style Cold Smoked Salmon and Sable Fish Lox, Salmon Sushi Fillets, and Salmon Trim because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-Golden Glen Creamery of Bow, WA is voluntarily recalling Raw Cheddar because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
-United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling selected types of FoodMatch, Inc. Divina Stuffed Olives and Tabatchnick Yankee Bean Soup, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
-The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat Turkish pine nuts distributed by Sunrise Commodities, based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, after FDA tests confirmed the presence of Salmonella on the product. Badia Spices, Inc, is recalling approximately 3,800 lbs. of Pinenuts because they may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis.
-United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling selected types of Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
-United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling selected types of FoodMatch, Inc. Divina Stuffed Olives, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
-The J.M. Smucker Company announced a limited voluntary recall on two specific Best-If-Used-By dates of 16 oz. Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter Chunky because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.
-Ready Pac Foods, Inc. of Irwindale, CA is recalling a total of 5,379 cases of bagged salad products containing Romaine lettuce with the Use-by Date of November 18, 2011 because they may be contaminated with E. coli.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

There will be no update on Friday, November 25, due to festivities.

**Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation?
I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires
strength, strength and courage to yield to.**
[Like having a second helping of everything!]
Oscar Wilde

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/23/11 -

- Jaitapur nuclear plant site not immune to earthquake say experts. Two leading geologists have warned that a magnitude 6-plus earthquake cannot be ruled out in Jaitapur - the proposed site of India's largest 9900 MW nuclear power plant on the west coast that has seen protests against it for safety reasons.


NORTH KOREA Establishes New Crisis Law. In light of increasing risks of volcanic eruption or earthquakes at North Korea's Mt. Baekdu the communist regime has enacted a new law for disaster recovery and prevention. The Korea Central News Agency reported on Thursday that the new measure is meant to protect life and property of its citizens. The mountain which straddles the border of North Korea and China last erupted in 1903.


The floating debris dispatched to the Pacific in March by the Japan earthquake and tsunami has likely already arrived on the Washington coast but nobody's discovered it yet, says a Seattle oceanographer. The Japan flotsam field is about the size of California, and most of it will take months to arrive. But bigger objects should already have landed, he says. "No reports as yet, though our model shows the larger debris, like boats and big buoys, on our coast as of October 31."
The former University of Washington oceanographer (featured in a 2008 Seattle Weekly cover story about those floating tennis shoes with human feet that washed up on the shores of British Columbia) says his computer simulation puts the Japan flotsam drift on a collision course with the Northwest. By his calculations, the debris has been hitting the coastal shores from Washington to Alaska for more than three weeks. "This is a lot earlier than government predictions because this simulation applies to flotsam drifting at 20 miles per day which thus cross the Pacific in eight months." He endlessly tracks surface currents and watery curiosities such as floating garbage patches and container spills to determine flow patterns. His notable research efforts include mapping the destination of bath toys and sports shoes whose shipping containers tumbled off deck and into the ocean, later washing ashore. In 2003 he accurately projected the land arrival of 5,500 pairs of Nike sports shoes that went overboard in the Pacific. Moochers stormed the coastal beaches, and many indeed found shoes - but, alas, not necessarily in pairs. He's a go-to guy for the media as well, and helped explain the case of seven sports shoes found on beaches in a short period with their owners' feet still attached: Most likely they were the coincidental resurfacing of decomposed remains from assorted drowning victims, not a mass de-footing.
Now he is getting frequent inquiries from reporters asking where the latest debris flow, adrift from Japan since March 11, has gone. He tells them it's just a matter of time before the news begins washing in from his trusted seashore snoops. "I'm hoping the flurry of media attention will cause beachcombers to be on special alert, and report."

In the Pacific -
Tropical storm Kenneth was located about 880 mi. (1415 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California. Kenneth is forecast to become a tropical depression Thursday night or Friday.


AUSTRALIA - Inland and coastal northern New South Wales is being drenched in its HEAVIEST RAIN IN YEARS with up to 100mm falling in the last 24 hours. More rain is expected today and tomorrow. Warnings of possible flooding have been issued for at least ten areas. "A slow-moving low pressure trough is making the most of a very moist atmosphere, bringing almost constant rain since yesterday morning. The atmosphere hasn't been this moist since at least last summer, it's about as moist as it gets."
Armidale has received 79mm in the last 24 hours, its HIGHEST DAILY TOTAL IN 11 YEARS. Inverell's 56mm is a three-year high. Glen Innes has had its heaviest rain in more than two years, receiving 90mm, which also BREAKS A 130-YEAR NOVEMBER RECORD FOR DAILY RAINFALL. Much of the region missed out on the worst of last summer's flooding which devastated parts of southeast Queensland. Wollomombi gained 108mm in the past 24 hours, its BIGGEST DOWNPOUR IN MORE THAN A DECADE. Further east, Dorrigo also has more than 100mm so far. In the far northeast corner of New South Wales, Murwillumbah received 108mm, a one-year high and its heaviest November rain in 40 years of records. There was a greater than 70% chance of local and main river flooding developing in the Peel and Namoi River Valleys, with moderate to major flooding in the Peel Valley including Nundle and Tamworth, and moderate to major flooding in the Namoi Valley.
"Rain will ease in the region later today as the trough weakens but become heavier again tomorrow as the trough re-intensifies. Further falls in excess of 100mm are highly likely, so the flooding is going to get worse. Some places will record in excess of 200mm by the weekend. People are advised to stay away from creeks and rivers and to be careful on the roads."


ALASKA - Spell of unseasonable cold keeps icy grip on Fairbanks. A RECORD-BREAKING DEEP FREEZE that settled on the Interior city eased a bit Tuesday, but temperatures haven't crept above zero since Nov. 13. The lowest lows came last Thursday, hitting 41 degrees below zero.


Thanksgiving Foods Battered by Extreme Weather in U.S. in 2011 - Extreme weather has caused much suffering for people around the globe this year, but what about the food on your Thanksgiving plate? Even holiday foods didn't escape the storms. Hurricanes, droughts and freak snowstorms have swept through the country over this past year, leaving their mark on the supply of favorite Thanksgiving foods. An "extreme pumpkin shortage" was predicted in New York, following Hurricane Irene. In September, the wholesale price for a bin of 32-45 pumpkins had doubled from last year to $150 - $200. In July, scorching heat waves killed off thousands of poultry -- a Kansas couple lost 4,300 turkeys in just one day. Even a cheap splash of wine could be scarce, as California was delivered a late freeze and early rains this year. However, not all is bleak. As yields are down, the quality is predicted to be high. "Without drastic temperature spikes that cause sugar levels to climb too quickly, clusters are spending more time developing flavor nuances on the vine." Vegetable crops also dwindled this year as more than a foot of rain above normal poured over Pennsylvania during the growing season. This is almost double the normal amounts. Heavy rain in the Pacific Northwest also hit the wheat crop. Hurricane Irene hit the vegetable crop in the Northeast.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Radiation covers 8% of Japan - Japan's science ministry says 8 per cent of the country's surface area has been contaminated by radiation from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant which went into meltdown after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the country in March. More than 30,000 square kilometres of the country has been blanketed by radioactive caesium. Most of the contamination was caused by four large plumes of radiation spewed out by the Fukushima nuclear plant in the first two weeks after meltdowns. The government says some of the radioactive material fell with rain and snow, leaving the affected areas with accumulations of more than 10,000 becquerels of caesium per square metre.
Last week tests found unsafe levels of radioactive contamination in recently harvested rice from the Fukushima region. The levels of radioactive caesium were measured at 630 becquerels per kilogram, above the maximum allowable level of 500 becquerels. Officials from Fukushima prefecture have now asked all rice farmers in the district to suspend shipments. There have been a series of scares over radiation in food in Japan in recent months; in products such as beef, mushrooms and green tea, but never before in the country's staple, rice. Authorities have also begun testing soil in some Tokyo playgrounds and schools for traces of radioactive contamination. Many people in Japan have purchased their own Geiger counters to monitor radiation levels around them.

**With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.**
Eleanor Roosevelt

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/22/11 -


Chile volcano ash disrupts air travel for hours - Flights were cancelled for several hours in Uruguay and Argentina on Tuesday due to volcanic ash from the four-month-long eruption of the Puyehue volcano in Chile.

Researchers in Costa Rica have launched drone flights into volcanic clouds in a groundbreaking bid to help predict major eruptions. The project is sponsored by the US space agency NASA and the University of Costa Rica.

In the Pacific -
Category 4 Hurricane Kenneth was located about 810 mi. (1305 km) SSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Kenneth could weaken to a tropical storm by Thursday.

Hurricane Kenneth is THE STRONGEST LATE-SEASON HURRICANE ON RECORD IN THE EASTERN PACIFIC. Kenneth is weakening some but is still a Category 4 storm. There is no threat to land.


Australian doctors prepare for possible disaster - A summer of global disasters has emergency doctors preparing to cope with possible emergencies when hospitals are already at capacity. A team of six emergency physicians have devised a ready reckoner to help new doctors cope with a sudden influx without having to work it all out themselves. The Christchurch earthquake, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Pakistan's floods, Queensland's floods and cyclone, and Victorian fires and floods have made doctors aware they may have to deal with disaster closer to home. Normal practice is for patients to see a registration clerk or nurse first and eventually a doctor, who assesses them individually. But when a department is overwhelmed doctors will have to learn to make other choices and some privacy, and cups of tea, may have to be sacrificed.


Psychiatric Trouble May Start in Thyroid - In patients with depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems, doctors often find abnormal blood levels of thyroid hormone. Treating the problem, they have found, can lead to improvements in mood, memory and cognition. Now researchers are exploring a somewhat controversial link between minor, or subclinical, thyroid problems and some patients’ psychiatric difficulties. Treating the condition, which affects about 2 percent of Americans, could alleviate some patients’ psychiatric symptoms and might even prevent future cognitive decline. Patients with psychiatric symptoms “tell us that given thyroid hormones, they get better.”
The thyroid, a bow-tie-shaped gland that wraps around the trachea, produces two hormones: thyroxine, or T4, and triiodothyronine, known as T3. These hormones play a role in a surprising range of physical processes, from regulation of body temperature and heartbeat to cognitive functioning. Any number of things can cause the thyroid to malfunction, including exposure to radiation, too much or too little iodine in the diet, medications like lithium, and autoimmune disease. And the incidence of thyroid disease rises with age. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) speeds the metabolism, causing symptoms like sweating, palpitations, weight loss and anxiety. Too little (hypothyroidism) can cause physical fatigue, weight gain and sluggishness, as well as depression, inability to concentrate and memory problems.
“In the early 20th century, the best descriptions of clinical depression were actually in textbooks on thyroid disease, not psychiatric textbooks." It is common for people with thyroid problems to be given a misdiagnosis of psychiatric illness. “Normal” levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, range from 0.4 to 5. (The higher the TSH level, the less active the thyroid.) Most endocrinologists agree that a score of 10 or over requires treatment for hypothyroidism. But for people with scores between, say, 4 and 10, things get murkier, especially for those who experience such vague psychiatric symptoms as fatigue, mild depression or just not feeling like themselves. Some doctors believe these patients should be treated. “If somebody has a mood disorder and subclinical hypothyroidism, that could be significant." Doctors have used thyroid hormones to treat performers with debilitating stage fright; one high-level musician recovered completely.
The idea of treating subclinical hypothyroidism is controversial, especially among endocrinologists. Thyroid hormone treatment can strain the heart and may aggravate osteoporosis in women. On the other hand, failing to treat the condition can also stress the heart, and some studies suggest it may increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. And then there is the misery quotient, which is hard to quantify. “People tend to discount the quality-of-life issues related to residual depression and anxiety." Women are far more likely to develop thyroid problems than men, especially past age 50, and some experts believe that gender accounts for some reluctance to treat subclinical disease. “There’s a terrible bias against women who come in with subtle emotional complaints. These complaints tend to be pushed aside or attributed to stress or anxiety.” Psychiatric symptoms can be vague, subtle and highly individual.
Another complication: It’s not clear to many experts what “normal” thyroid levels really are. “A patient might have a TSH of 5, which many clinicians would say isn’t high enough to be associated with symptoms. But if that person’s set point was around 0.5, that 5 would represent a tenfold increase in TSH, which might very well represent disease for that individual.” “I personally feel patients with TSH between 5 and 10, especially with psychiatric symptoms, warrant a trial of thyroid medication." [Site note - From personal experience, I can't stress enough that if you have any of these symptoms, insist on having your thyroid tested!!]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

**We gain the strength of the temptation we resist.**
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
11/21/11 -

An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale rocked India's northeast, Myanmar and Bangladesh on Monday, triggering panic among the people. The tremor was felt at 8.47am in most parts of Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur, besides in Bangladesh and Myanmar. The epicentre was located in Myanmar, about 130 km east of Manipur capital Imphal. Seven northeastern states - Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur - are considered by seismologists to be the sixth most earthquake-prone belt in the world. The region experienced one of the worst earthquakes, measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, in 1897, that claimed the lives of over 1,600 people. In September, more than 50 people died after a killer quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale shook the region.


MEXICO -Towering Popocatepetl volcano sends ash, steam, gas into air outside Mexico City. Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano has spewed a burst of ash 3 miles (5 kilometers) into the air after breaking through a dome of lava. Mexico's National Disaster Prevention Center says Sunday's explosion continues a series of moderate eruptions from the volcano 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of the Mexican capital. The volcano has been emitting small but steady stream of steam and gas since Friday. There were no reports of danger or of ash falling on nearby communities. The volcano has been erupting intermittently since December 1994.
Volcanic eruption is a constant threat to central Mexico - A loud bang shook the nearby towns, caused by the explosion of Popocatepetl Volcano. The volcano is a constant threat to central mexico and more specifically to the residents of San Pedro Cholula. Sunday at 12:01 there was a dangerous exhalation, with a slight explosive component that generated an ash column reached a height of approximately 2 km above the crater. The column was initially moved north so cold ash could be expected to fall mainly in the areas located north of the volcano. The overall activity of the volcano Popocatepetl has currently recovered its previous levels. The activity did not, for the moment, change the volcanic alert level, thus maintaining the yellow light phase 2.


Higher sea levels will be threat to New Zealand - Rising sea levels will make it riskier to live in New Zealand and render parts of the coast uninhabitable over the next century, a climate scientist says in the wake of an international report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has underscored New Zealand's vulnerability as an island in the Pacific, finding that rising greenhouse gases will contribute towards more extreme weather events like storms, floods and droughts in the 21st century.
Scientists said in the report it was "virtually certain" there would be more hot days than cold days in the future, with more warm temperature extremes worldwide. The frequency and intensity of heatwaves and droughts was set to increase. It was also very likely that rising sea levels would contribute to upward trends in "extreme coastal high water levels" in the future. For New Zealand, where 12 of the country's 15 largest cities are located on the coast, the impact could not be ignored. "Climate change means a riskier future in terms of extreme weather events. So it depends on what level of risk we are prepared to take, and how much we are going to do to prepare for that risk."
In the not-too-distant future, roads and houses would have to be moved, and sea-walls and stormwater drains built to cope with the sea level rises. Cities like Wellington and Auckland with their proximity to harbours, would be increasingly susceptible to flooding in storms and at high tide. And for a lot of the low-lying Pacific Islands, it would be "devastating". "If we want to rein all this in before it gets too overwhelming, then reducing greenhouse gases is the way to go and there really needs to be global political action to see this happen." The scientists also warned that extreme weather events would have increasing economic impacts on industries reliant on the climate – which in New Zealand would include agriculture, horticulture and energy. It took a team of 80 scientists from around the world more than three years to assemble the report, which was written after the analysis of thousands of pages of literature based on observations since the 1950s.

In the Pacific -
Category 2 Hurricane Kenneth was located about 695 mi. (1120 km) S of the southern tip of Baja California. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next day or so and Kenneth could become a major hurricane today. Some weakening is forecast on Wednesday.

2011 Atlantic season suddenly gains a hurricane and a storm - Just like that, the 2011 Atlantic season has become one of the top three busiest on record, as forecasters have added a hurricane and a tropical storm to the list of this year's systems. Thanks to a reanalysis of storms that already have formed this year, the National Hurricane Center has upgraded Tropical Storm Nate to a hurricane. The system emerged in Bay of Campeche and hit Mexico on Sept. 11. The center also has upgraded a short-lived disturbance, which formed between Bermuda and Nova Scotia in early September, to a tropical storm. That system will remain unnamed.
Forecasters at the hurricane center routinely restudy storm data to ensure their initial estimates of a system's strength and status are correct. In perhaps the most high-profile instance, the center upgraded Hurricane Andrew from a Category 4 to a Category 5 in August 2002. That was 10 years after the system walloped south Miami-Dade County in August 1992. With the additional system, 2011 now has seen 19 storms, tying it with 2010, 1995 and 1887 as the third busiest season on record. Nate brings the number of hurricanes to seven this year. Meanwhile, a disturbance in the central Atlantic was given a high chance of growing into a subtropical storm within the next day or two. If so, it would be named Tammy.


ALASKA - Fairbanks hit with RECORD-BREAKING COLD: 41 below. Alaska's second-largest city is used to cold weather, but few residents expected record-breaking cold this early in the season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

**Only one who devotes himself to a cause
with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.
For this reason mastery demands all of a person.**
Albert Einstein

This morning -

Yesterday -
11/20/11 -

In the Pacific -
Tropical storm Kenneth was located about 505 mi. (810 km) SSW of Manzanillo, Mexico. Kenneth could become a hurricane by Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Kenneth is strengthening in the eastern Pacific Ocean, with forecasters calling it a RARE late-season tropical storm. On Sunday, Kenneth had maximum sustained winds near 50 mph (85 kph). The storm was centered about 505 miles (810 kilometers) south of Manzanillo, Mexico, but was moving away from the coast. The storm is forecast to reach hurricane strength with winds of 75 mph on Wednesday before it hits cooler waters and begins to lose its punch. Projections show Kenneth moving west out to sea, away from land, over the next several days. Kenneth was the first tropical depression to form in the Eastern Pacific this late in the season since 1987. The eastern Pacific hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Subtropical Storm Tammy may be brewing in Central Atlantic - The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season may be gearing up for one last encore performance. The National Hurricane Center designated system 99L in the Central Atlantic on Sunday, 550 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands, and said it had a medium chance of becoming Tropical Storm Tammy — or Subtropical Storm Tammy — as it drifts toward the north. If it does become Tammy, the 2011 season will match last year’s total of 19 named storms for the third-busiest hurricane season on record. That also happened two other years: 1887 and 1995.
One big difference between the two seasons is that 2011 is likely to end with just six hurricanes. There were 12 during last year’s hyperactive season. On Sunday morning, 99L was plotted at 1,684 miles to the east of Palm Beach. It was headed into more environmental conditions more favorable for development. All of the major forecasting major models show either a subtropical or tropical system forming. They predict it will move north, and then east. There will be no effect on Bermuda or North America, but It could eventually impact the Azores west of Portugal. If Tammy does form, it would be the first tropical/ subtropical system to be tracked on Thanksgiving since Tropical Storm Delta in 2005. Delta hit the Canary Islands in the far Eastern Atlantic. (forecast path map)


Delayed bird migration in Northern Europe. Geese, ducks and swans that spend winter in wetlands of Northern Europe are changing their migration patterns as temperatures rise, say scientists. Researchers in Finland found some waterfowl delayed migrations by up to a month compared with 30 years ago. Numbers of some very familiar species are decreasing in the UK, as many birds do not fly as far. The tufted duck showed the largest change in its migration. Six species out of the 15 they counted set off significantly later; these included some traditional UK winter visitors, such as the greylag goose and the tufted duck.
This shows just how rapidly waterfowl respond to the changing climate. "One thing that's been found in other studies as well as ours is the temperature of the water has been increasing even more rapidly than the air temperature. This means there's more food available for these species [further north]...In this country, we're at the end of the flyway for birds coming down from Scandinavia, Russia and Siberia. We're almost the last stop, so some species aren't coming at all. They'll just stay further up the flyway." White-fronted geese have declined by about 75% in the UK in the last decade alone. These shrinking flocks could have knock-on effects on the wetland habitat. "These are quite big changes ecologically. If you suddenly lose thousands of geese from a wetland, there are bound to be big effects on that wetland."
More generally, "our sense of the changing seasons is moving underneath our feet. Nature's moving away from us." The study supports "the growing weight of evidence showing that wildlife appears to be responding to climate change". The team in Finland now hope to carry out a more detailed study of the populations of winter waterfowl across northern Europe, in order to find out which species' ranges have shifted northwards and which species are declining globally.

AUSTRALIA - A large bushfire is bearing down on homes in central Queensland. The fast-moving fire was expected to hit homes near Rockhampton by 6.00pm (AEST). The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service is advising residents in the vicinity of Rockyview, north of Rockhampton, to enact their bushfire plans. "Residents are advised that if their plan is to relocate or they do not have a plan then they are advised to relocate now. Leaving well ahead of a fire is the safest option for survival." Fourteen fire crews are battling the blaze.


Hair dye - A British woman has suffered brain damage and has fallen into a coma after she dyed her hair with L'Oreal. She is thought to have suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction to a chemical in the L'Oreal Preference dye. She was rinsing it out when she began to feel unwell. She said 'I don't feel well, I can't breathe,' to her husband. He rushed her to hospital and her heart stopped beating on the way. Her family have been warned that she may never come out of the coma.
She had used the dark-colored L'Oreal Preferences product before. "The hospital have asked for the dye and the gloves she used. They have said she has suffered an allergic reaction." A L'Oreal spokesman said: "L'Oreal was extremely concerned to hear about this serious situation. We are unable to comment further, however we will do everything we can to assist this lady's family and medical team with information they might need to establish what happened."