Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Fountains' of methane bubbling to surface in Arctic - Russian research team shocked and astonished as retreat of Arctic sea ice releases deadly greenhouse gas. Dramatic and UNPRECEDENTED plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.
The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. He said that he HAS NEVER BEFORE WITNESSED THE SCALE AND FORCE OF THE METHANE BEING RELEASED from beneath the Arctic seabed. "Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing. I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."
Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.
The team published a study in 2010 estimating that the methane emissions from this region were about eight million tonnes a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon. "In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed. We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal."

**Because your own strength is unequal to the task,
do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man;
but if anything is within the powers and province of man,
believe that it is within your own also.**
Marcus Aurelius

This morning -

Yesterday -
12/19/11 -


El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain) - The submarine eruption south of El Hierro is still going on, but there are signs that the magma supply has dropped significantly. Most likely, the eruption which now has lasted over 2 months is approaching its end. Volcanic tremor has decreased a lot.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical depression 27w (Washi) was located approximately 235 nm east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The final warning on this system has been issued.

As the death toll from flash floods produced by Tropical Storm Washi rose Monday to 927, officials in the southern Philippines turned their attention to survivors and the threat of disease in crowded evacuation centers. Tropical storm Washi MAY BE THE DEADLIEST STORM TO STRIKE THE GLOBE IN 2011. With funeral parlors overwhelmed, authorities in a flood-stricken southern Philippine city organized the first mass burial of unidentified victims who were swept to their deaths in ONE OF THE WORST CALAMITIES TO STRIKE THE REGION IN DECADES.
On Friday night, the compact but deadly tropical storm Washi swept across the central and southern Philippines killing hundreds. Scores of people are unaccounted for and thousands homeless. Although Washi was not an especially intense storm with peak winds of just 45-55 mph, the torrential rains and resulting mudslides caught the especially vulnerable region offguard. "Since the rains fell on regions where the natural forest had been illegally logged or converted to pineapple plantations, the heavy rains were able to run off quickly on the relatively barren soils and create devastating flash floods. Since the storm hit in the middle of the night, and affected an unprepared population that had no flood warning system in place, the death toll was tragically high."
The storm struck a region unaccustomed to tropical storms and rain of that intensity. "The areas hit hardest in the Philippines HAD NEVER SEEN SUCH WIDESPREAD DAMAGE OR HEAVY RAIN IN THEIR LIFETIME. Thousands of people had to climb up on the roofs of their houses as flood waters rose nearly three feet in one hour. People were swept out to sea while others were buried alive in mudslides due to the higher elevation in the area. The mayor of Iligan said, “It’s THE WORST FLOOD IN THE HISTORY OF OUR CITY. It happened so fast.” The region received 7-8 inches of rain from the quick-hitting storm, compared to an average of about 2” for the entire month of December. In addition to the lives lost, 7,000 houses were swept away, destroyed or damaged. About 40,000 people on the island of Mindanao (in the southern Philippines) are living in evacuation centres.
Washi, known in the Philippines as Sendong, may be the deadliest storm to strike any place in the world in 2011. Until Washi, the deadliest global weather disaster had been Brazil’s flash flood in January, which claimed 902 lives.