Monday, January 16, 2012

Schedule change - Updates to the webpage will be made
Monday - Wednesday this week, no updates on Thursday and Friday.

PHOBOS-GRUNT DESTROYED - According to the Russian space agency and the U.S. Space Command, the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere on Jan. 15th shortly before 1 p.m. EST. So far, no photographs of the fireball or other debris have been reported. Initial estimates of the final ground track suggested a re-entry in the south Pacific in the broad vicinity of Australia and New Zealand. The spacecraft's last orbit took it over Japan, and the Solomon Islands, and to the east of Australia and New Zealand. Conflicting reports then had the final re-entry point across a great swathe of the Southern Ocean. Certainly, it seems Phobos-Grunt was down and destroyed before it could have passed over South America. "According to information from mission control of the space forces, the fragments of Phobos-Grunt should have fallen into the Pacific Ocean at 1745 GMT." The timing would have put the debris fall more than 1,000km west of Chile.

**Silence is a source of great strength.**
Lao Tzu

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/15/12 -

Strong quakes rattle remote Antarctica - Two strong earthquakes 40 minutes apart rocked the remote South Orkney Islands in Antarctica on Sunday. The epicenter of the first, a magnitude 6.5 temblor, was at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), some 464 kilometers west of Coronation Island. No destructive tsunami was created. The quake occurred at 1340 GMT, and about 40 minutes later the region was struck by an aftershock measured at 6.2. The South Orkney Islands form a remote archipelago in the Southern Ocean to the northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

No current tropical storms.


PAKISTAN - Sindh experienced WETTEST EVER MONSOON IN 2011. The climate-based data compiled by World Meteorological Organization revealed that the Sindh province experienced wettest monsoon season on record (247% ABOVE NORMAL) with some of its areas receiving more than 1,100mm from mid-August to early September in 2011. “For the second year in succession, Pakistan experienced severe flooding in 2011. The floods were more localised than in 2010, being largely confined to the southern part of the country."
The local data showed that all of a sudden, torrential downpours in 2011 across Sindh caused devastating floods affecting over 7 million people. The floods killed over 200 people, damaged nearly one million houses and destroyed 4.2 million acres of productive lands. The affected people of the flashing floods in Sindh have been continuously struggling to come to terms with the normal as a majority of them still lack proper shelter even in severe winter season.
Referring to flash floods in other areas the report stated that in terms of loss of life, the most extreme single event occurred in Brazil on 11-12 January, when a devastating flood, caused by rainfall that exceeded 200mm in a few hours, in mountainous terrain about 60km north of Rio de Janeiro caused at least 900 deaths. This was one of the worst natural disasters in Brazil ‘s history. The report stated that global climate in 2011 was heavily influenced by the strong La Nina event that developed in the tropical Pacific in the second half of 2010 and continued until May 2011. This event, which on most measures was one of the strongest of at least the last 60 years, was closely associated with many of the year’s notable regional climate events, including drought in east Africa, the central equatorial Pacific and the southern United States, and flooding in southern Africa, eastern Australia and southern Asia. Monsoon rainfall was also well above average in western border areas of India, with some flooding, but below average in the north-east; June-September rainfall for India as a whole was 2% above average.
“Global tropical cyclone activity was again below average in 2011, although not to the same extent as in 2010, which had the lowest number of tropical cyclones since satellite records began in the late 1960s. As of 22 November there had been 69 tropical cyclones in 2011, compared with the long-term full-year average of 84."
It was an exceptionally quiet season in the Southwest Indian Ocean (west of 90°E), with only 2 cyclones in 2011, and 3 in the full 2010-11 season, the second-lowest number of the last 50 years. Over the full South Indian Ocean there were 7 cyclones, about half the average number.


Ultra-Harsh Alaska Winter Prompting Fuel Shortages - Living in Alaska's outer reaches is challenging enough, given the isolation and weather extremes, but at least three remote communities also have experienced weather-related late deliveries of fuel so crucial to their survival during an especially bitter winter. The iced-in town of Nome and the northwest Inupiat Eskimo villages of Noatak and Kobuk faced fuel shortages that illustrate the vulnerability of relying solely on deliveries by sea or air, potentially subjecting communities to the mercy of the elements. The villages, which just received their fuel, are especially vulnerable, unable to afford more additional storage tanks for gasoline and heating oil, which can run as high as $10 a gallon.
Compounding a problem with no easy answers, temperatures dipping as low as minus 60 over the past few weeks means air deliveries are delayed at the same time people are consuming more fuel more quickly. Some people in both villages also use wood-burning stoves for supplemental heat, but diesel is the critical commodity.
Nome missed its pre-winter delivery of fuel by barge when a huge storm swept western Alaska. In a high-profile journey, a Coast Guard icebreaker has cut a path in thick sea ice for a Russian tanker delivering 1.3 million gallons of fuel to the community of 3,500. Without a fuel delivery, Nome would likely run out of certain petroleum products before the end of winter and a barge delivery becomes possible in late spring. Until recently, the situation was much more dire for the smaller communities of Noatak and Kobuk, located farther north above the Arctic Circle, where relentless extreme cold prevented fuel deliveries by plane until this week. Before the new supply of fuel arrived in Noatak, the village store borrowed some heating oil from the village water and sewer plant. But filling the store's two 23,000-gallon tanks has diverted any potential crisis. "We're good for another month and a half."
Residents in Kobuk also were highly relieved by an air shipment of heating oil that arrived Wednesday in the village of 150 people about 175 miles to the east. It's been too cold for people to use their snowmobiles much, so gasoline isn't as much of a concern. Running low on the diesel used to warm homes was another matter.
In Noatak, residents once had fuel shipped by barge on the Noatak River, but that has long been impossible since the river shifted and became shallow there. Two years ago, residents began tapping into another source of fuel, thanks to the Red Dog zinc mine 40 miles to the northeast. The mine in 2009 began a program to sell gasoline and diesel to Noatak and another close neighbor, the village of Kivalina. The latest Red Dog fuel day for Noatak took place on the day the village store ran out of diesel. So villagers formed a convoy of about 30 snowmobiles and freight sleds, and headed out in weather marked by temperatures of 47 below and, for the first 10 miles, dense fog.