Tuesday, February 28, 2012

**To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love.
But then one suffers from not loving.
Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer.
To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love.
To be happy then is to suffer.
But suffering makes one unhappy.
Therefore, to be unhappy one must love,
or love to suffer,
or suffer from too much happiness.
I hope you're getting this down.**
Woody Allen

This morning -

Yesterday -
2/27/12 -

Russia - People evacuated from quake epicenter in Siberia. The powerful earthquake hit Tuva, a region in Siberia, on Sunday. The magnitude was 6 to 7 points, but no casualties have been reported. The quake was felt in some other Siberian regions as well.
After the quake, 550 facilities in Tuva have been found potentially dangerous, including houses in the area where the quake was most powerful. People were being evacuated from the most dangerous houses and placed in shelters. The personnel of Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant in Tuva stopped the power-producing aggregate immediately after the first shocks were felt. 40 minutes after, the aggregate was launched again. Underground shocks are still continuing in Tuva.

No current tropical storms.

Thailand - Northern provinces warned of tropical storm. The Meteorological Department Monday warned people living in lower northern provinces and northeastern provinces to brace themselves for a possible tropical storm. The department said a moderate high pressure area has covered the upper Thailand and the the South China Sea, and its influence could cause a tropical storm Monday or Tuesday. The high pressure area will also cause the temperature in the North and Northeast to drop by two degrees.


Australia - Perth has recorded its second hottest summer on record, its HOTTEST SUMMER IN 34 YEARS and its WETTEST SUMMER IN 12 YEARS. The last time temperatures were so consistently high in Perth was in 1978 and the last time the city had so much rain was in 2000. The heat was mostly due to RECORD WARM surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. "Our overall average was 25.5C, still 0.6 degrees below the 1978 record mark of 26.C."
Perth's summer rainfall of 118.2mm was nearly four times above the average of 31.3mm, and more than double the 48mm received last summer. "This was primarily due to a wet December when two separate thunderstorm events produced heavy falls across the area." Heading into autumn, Perth was expected to have above average temperatures, but below average rainfall, particularly over the southwest districts, with close to average totals over most other parts of the state.


Melting Arctic link to cold, snowy UK winters - This winter brought snow as far south as Greece. The progressive shrinking of Arctic sea ice is bringing colder, snowier winters to the UK and other areas of Europe, North America and China, a study shows. As global temperatures have risen, the area of Arctic Ocean covered by ice in summer and autumn has been falling. A US/China-based team says this affects the jet stream and brings cold, snowy weather. Whether conditions will get colder still as ice melts further is unclear.
There was a marked deterioration in ice cover between the summers of 2006 and 2007, which still holds the record for the lowest extent on record; and it has not recovered since. The current winter is roughly tracking the graph of 2007.
The new study is not the first to propose a causal relationship between low Arctic ice in autumn and Europe's winter weather. But it has gone further than others in assessing the strength of the link. "For the past four winters, for much of the northern US, east Asia and Europe, we had this persistent above-normal snow cover. We don't see a predictive relationship with any of the other factors that have been proposed, such as El Nino; but for sea ice, we do see a predictive relationship." If less of the ocean is ice-covered in autumn, it releases more heat, warming the atmosphere. This reduces the air temperature difference between the Arctic and latitudes further south, over the Atlantic Ocean. In turn, this reduces the strength of the northern jet stream, which usually brings milder, wetter weather to Europe from the west. It is these "blocking" conditions that keep the UK and the other affected regions supplied with cold air. The researchers also found that the extra evaporation from the Arctic Ocean makes the air more humid, with some of the additional water content falling out as snow. "Declining Arctic sea ice can drive easterly winds and produce colder winters over Europe."
Small, natural changes in the Sun's output can also affect winter weather. And the declining Arctic ice cover is just one of several factors that could increase blocking. "This is no bigger than the solar effect or the El Nino effect. But they vary, whereas Arctic ice is on a pretty consistent downward trend." The picture is further complicated by the involvement of the Arctic Oscillation, a natural variation of air pressure that also changes northern weather. The oscillation is not understood well enough to predict - and even if it were, any pattern it has may be changing due to escalating greenhouse gas concentrations. Nevertheless, the research suggests that on average, winters in the UK and the rest of the affected region will be colder in years to come than they have been in recent decades.
Various computer simulations have generated a range of dates by which the Arctic might be completely ice-free in summer and autumn, ranging from 2016 to about 2060. A few years ago, one projection even showed 2013 was possible, though this now appears unlikely. "It's possible that future winters will be colder and snowier, but there are some uncertainties." The team's next research project is to feed Arctic ice projections and the mechanisms they have deciphered into various computer models of climate, and see whether they do forecast a growing winter chill.


Bird flu, pig flu, now bat flu - FOR THE FIRST TIME, scientists have found evidence of flu in bats, reporting a NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN VIRUS whose risk to humans is unclear. The surprising discovery of genetic fragments of a flu virus is the first well-documented report of it in the winged mammals. So far, scientists haven't been able to grow it, and it's not clear if - or how well - it spreads.
Flu bugs are common in humans, birds and pigs and have even been seen in dogs, horses, seals and whales, among others. About five years ago, Russian virologists claimed finding flu in bats, but they never offered evidence. "Most people are fairly convinced we had already discovered flu in all the possible" animals, said a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who co-authored the new study. Scientists suspect that some bats caught flu centuries ago and that the virus mutated within the bat population into this new variety. Scientists haven't even been able to grow the new virus in chicken eggs or in human cell culture, as they do with more conventional flu strains.
But it still could pose a threat to humans. For example, if it mingled with more common forms of influenza, it could swap genes and mutate into something more dangerous, a scenario at the heart of the global flu epidemic movie Contagion. Guatemala is where scientists stumbled upon the new virus. It was in the intestines of little yellow-shouldered bats. These bats eat fruit and insects but don't bite people. Yet it's possible they could leave the virus on produce and a human could get infected by taking a bite. It's conceivable some people were infected with the virus in the past. Now that scientists know what it looks like, they are looking for it in other bats as well as humans and other animals.
At least one expert said CDC researchers need to do more to establish they've actually found a flu virus. Technically, what the CDC officials found was genetic material of a flu virus. They used a lab technique to find genes for the virus and amplify it. All they found was a segment of genetic material, said a bird disease researcher. What they should do is draw blood from more bats, try to infect other bats and take other steps to establish that the virus is spreading among the animals. "In my mind, if you can't grow the virus, how do you know that the virus is there?" Work is going on to try to infect healthy bats, but there are other viruses that were discovered by genetic sequencing but are hard to grow in a lab, including hepatitis C.