Thursday, October 18, 2012

Biggest Earthquake Drill Ever - More than 13 million people from Los Angeles to southern Italy today are being asked to crouch under desks and tables in an earthquake readiness drill that organizers say is the biggest ever.

**A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.**
Frank Zappa

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -

Yesterday -
10/17/12 -

Volcano Webcams

Hawaii - Kilauea Volcano has been putting on quite a show lately as the lava lake within the Halemaumau Crater has reached its HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE 2008 when the summit eruption began. The lava lake at KÄ«lauea’s summit was only about 150 feet below the floor of Halemaumau crater on Sunday — the highest it has reached.
For the past several months, lava within the summit vent has been slowly rising. As of October 5, lava reached a level that covered the previous high-lava “bathtub” ring within the vent. It was around this time that the bangs and booms of the volcano began to be heard as far away as the Jaggar Museum Overlook in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, thrilling crowds day and night.
Video shows the heat from the high lava lake level in the overlook vent, causing the walls of the vent above the lava surface to expand and fracture. Scientists say this is the source of the cracking and booming noises emanating from the vent in recent days. You can see small fragments of rock exploding from the wall and scattering onto the lake surface.
The HVO says the rise in lava level within the vent is associated with a modest uplift and expansion of Kilauea’s summit area. The root cause for this expansion isn’t clear. Scientists don’t believe there’s an increase in magma supply from below. They do believe there could be a connection in the volcanic plumbing system between the summit magma reservoir and the active Pu`u `O`o eruptive vent on Kilauea’s east rift zone.
On at least three occasions between March and September 2011, the level of the lava lake within the summit vent was unusually elevated. This condition caused increased pressure within the east rift plumbing system, resulting in notable eruptive outbreaks: the short-lived Kamoamoa fissure eruption just uprift of Pu`u `O`o and two subsequent events in which Pu`u `O`o was split open along its flanks.
This time, however, it appears that the associated high summit pressure has not significantly transmitted down the volcano’s east rift. The lava level within Pu`u `O`o crater, while elevated, is not extraordinarily so. And even though lava is flowing through a tube near the base of the Pu`u `O`o cone, flows haven’t reached the ocean in nearly a year. According to the HVO, a steady decrease in Kilauea’s east rift zone gas emissions since August 2012 also suggests a decrease in magma flow between the summit and east rift zone.
Scientists say one possible outcome of continued summit expansion and lava level rise could be an eventual outpouring of lava on the floor of Halema`uma`u Crater. Alternatively, the increased pressure might overcome the apparent constriction, resulting in an outbreak somewhere between the summit and Pu`u `O`o, akin to the March 2011 Kamoamoa fissure eruption. Only time will tell what happens next. For now, the show – and the symphony of bangs and booms – at Kilauea’s summit continues on. (video)

Volcano's scale may hinge on first bubbles - Whether a volcano's eruption will be a big boom or slow fizzle may depend on the first 10 seconds of bubble growth in magma, research suggests.

In the Atlantic -
- Post-Tropical storm Rafael was located about 475 mi [760 km] SE of Halifax Nova Scotia. There are no coastal watches or warnings in effect. However, the cyclone is expected to remain a strong extratropical low over the North Atlantic during the next couple of days. Swells generated by the cyclone are expected to affect the coast of eastern Canada during the next day or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip currents. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Eastern Pacific -
- Post-Tropical storm Paul was located approximately 15 mi [25 km] WSW of Punta Eugenia, Mexico. The cyclone is expected to dissipate completely today or tonight. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 22w (Prapiroon) was located approximately 660 nm southwest of Tokyo, Japan.
- Tropical storm 23w, Maria, was located about 575 nm east-southeast of Tokyo,Japan.

In the South Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone Anais was located approximately 310 nm north of La Reunion. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

Prapiroon to Make Its Move - The long-lived, slow-moving tropical cyclone will accelerate towards the north and east, skirting Japan and reaching the open North Pacific Ocean late in the week. Along the way, Prapiroon brushed Okinawa and nearby Ryukyu Islands at midweek.

Atlantic Hurricane Season - October 16th was the date that we are 75% of the way through this hurricane season. The official hurricane season for the Atlantic basin is from June 1 to November 30; and we’re slowly making our way out of the season’s peak, which is from mid-August to late October.
The first 2012 tropical cyclone of the 2012 season shot out of the cannon on May 19th, which was a jump on the official start of the season. So far, this season has produced an above average amount of cyclones: 17 depressions; 17 storms; 9 hurricanes, and 1 major (cat 3+) hurricane. This season has been responsible for 73 deaths and just over $2.5 billion dollars in damage.
Dry air, wind shear, and warmer temps in the Pacific Ocean have been suppressants for much of the season, keeping cyclone intensification at bay. Based on history, we should see less tropical activity in the month of November. And, this season should end on time and quietly.

Pacific cyclone season set to run as predicted - This year's Pacific cyclone season starting next month is predicted to run as per usual. Forecasting centres predict the number of tropical cyclones in the 2012 to 2013 season will be near or just above the average of 10.


Peru - 11 people have been killed and 10 are still missing after a village in Peru was hit by a mudslide.


Drought, hail, cold conspire to ruin European wine harvest - The European Union's farmers' union is warning that drought, cold and hail have conspired to produce THE WORST WINE HARVEST FOR THE REGION IN UP TO HALF A CENTURY.

Madagascar palm trees at risk of extinction - Madagascar's rain forests have shrunk to less than a quarter of their original size. A majority of Madagascar's palms face extinction due to land clearing, an environment protection group says.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said 83% of the 192 tree varieties had been added to its threatened species list. The group called the figures "terrifying", saying the tree loss also endangered animals and put people's livelihoods at risk. The findings bring the global number of species at risk of dying out to 20,219.
The latest study showed the situation could no longer be ignored. "The figures on Madagascar's palms are truly terrifying, especially as the loss of palms impacts both the unique biodiversity of the island and its people." Madagascar is the world's fourth biggest island after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. Because of its isolation most of its mammals, half its birds, and most of its plants exist nowhere else on Earth. Palm trees represent an integral part of the island's biodiversity, with many of its poorest communities relying on the trees to provide housing and food. The raw materials are used to build houses, utensils and crafts, as well as to produce food, drinks and medicine.
But forests have been rapidly shrinking as land is being cleared for agriculture and logging. Excessive palm heart harvesting has also put the trees at risk. "The majority of Madagascar's palms grow in the island's eastern rain forests, which have already been reduced to less than one quarter of their original size and which continue to disappear." Animals like the lemur have fallen victim to the domino effect of deforestation, which destroys essential habitat. "The high extinction risk faced by Madagascar's palms reflects the decline in these forests, which threatens all of the remarkable wildlife that occurs there." The worldwide number of animals and plants on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species is now 65,518.