Tuesday, July 17, 2012

**The family is a unit composed, not only of children,
but of men, women, an occasional pet, and the common cold.**
Ogden Nash

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday -
7/16/12 -

Japan - One of the most-watched YouTube videos related to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is a Russia Today clip (viewed 20 million times and counting) that used footage taken by a camera at Sendai airport.

Volcano Webcams

Russia - The Kamchatka Peninsula, the northwestern edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is one of the most volcanically active regions on Earth. At least 114 Kamchatkan volcanoes have erupted in the past 12,000 years. Four of these volcanoes - Shiveluch, Klyuchevskaya, Bezymianny, and Karymskyâ - are erupting currently.

In the Pacific -
- Tropical Storm Fabio was located about 700 mi [1125 km] WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Fabio is expected to become a depression today and degenerate into a remnant low pressure system by Wednesday.

- Tropical storm 08w (Khanun) was located approximately 186 nm east of Kadena AB, Okinawa.

After early start, Atlantic hurricane season quiet in July - In each decade, on average, one Atlantic tropical storm forms in July in seven of the years, with zero formed in the other three years. An Atlantic hurricane forms in July in three years out of every ten years.


Video story on Japan's rain and flooding (1 minute long). A massive quarter million people have been evacuated in Japan due to torrential rains and massive landslides.

Canada landslide caught on video (32 seconds long).

United Kingdom - The UK public has already endured the WETTEST APRIL FOR OVER A CENTURY and the WETTEST JUNE SINCE RECORDS BEGAN and more bad weather is forecast. More showers were expected to dampen the nation's spirits over the coming seven days with heavy, thundery rainstorms in the middle of the week. But the relentless rain that resulted in record-breaking weather conditions has vanished for the time being.
This summer's RECORD-BREAKING grim weather has been caused by the jet stream settling UNUSUALLY far south. Now experts believe it is on its way back north, restoring a "more usual summer pattern".


The US is currently suffering its widest drought since 1956. On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that by the end of June 55% of the continental US was in a moderate to extreme drought. Crops including corn and soybeans have been hit by the dry conditions, and several states have seen wildfires. High temperatures across much of the country in June contributed to the spread of the drought. As much as 80% of the US is abnormally dry, the report said, noting that the drought expanded in the West, Great Plains and Midwest areas. June was the 14th warmest and 10th driest since records began. Agriculture officials estimated that 30% of the corn crops planted in the 18 high-production states were in poor or very poor condition by last week. "Topsoil has dried out and crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years." Over 1,000 counties in 26 states have been declared disaster areas because of drought. Earlier, NOAA said that the last year in the continental US has been the country's hottest since modern record-keeping began in 1895.
Midwest Drought Forecast Shows Dry Weather Will Get Worse, Not Better - Commodity Weather Group on Monday said more than one-half of the Midwest would still be too dry and warm for at least the next two weeks and the most persistent heat was expected for the western Midwest.
The Great American Drought: Climate Change? The New Dust Bowl? It’s difficult to deny that large areas of the US are undergoing drought conditions at the moment. But should we be assuming that this is a portent of climate change? Or even that it is a harbinger of a new Dust Bowl, as in the 1930? We cannot completely rule out either of those possibilities but the correct answers as yet are no and no.
That there are drought conditions in many places is not in doubt: This year’s drought now ranks among the ten largest drought areas in the past century. Since 1895, only the extraordinary droughts of the 1930s and 1950s have covered more land area than the current drought. Note that we’ve only really had accurate rainfall and drought measurements for much of the US since that 1895 date. So, leaving aside specific years and looking at groupings, we’ve got the third worst drought conditions in just over a century. No, this isn’t to be ascribed to climate change then, obviously. It could be of course, but we’ve had it worse, twice, before in periods when we really were not worried about anthropogenically caused climate change. Occam’s Razor would so far lead us to the thought that it’s just one of those things that happens in a the normal variations of something like weather.
The second worry is that even if it is just variation, might it still lead to Dust Bowl conditions? The thought of 95% of the topsoil in the mid-West landing on the Ozarks (I might be exaggerating a touch) isn’t all that pleasant a one. This seems most, most unlikely. That being said, differences in land use and farming practices since the Dust Bowl make the comparison of real-world impacts more complicated. Erosion-control practices and drought-resistant crop hybrids are just two examples of ways in which modern agriculture attempts to mitigate the impacts of severe drought. But the genetically engineered crops planted this year aren’t engineered to deal with this much drought.
The thing is, last time around, when we did get the Dust Bowl, we were really only just beginning to understand about the effects of ploughing with tractors on the stability of that topsoil. We have rather learnt some things in the intervening 80 odd years. Don’t plough so deep, don’t leave the earth uncovered, use no till methods if you can, plough around contours not up and down them and so on. So, again, it is possible that we’ll have a new Dust Bowl - maybe the things we’ve learned aren’t enough, but that isn’t the way that anyone’s actually betting at this point.