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.