Thursday, January 10 , 2013

**It is the job of thinking people
not to be on the side of the executioners.**
Albert Camus

Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
Continuing aftershocks in the Aegean Sea

Yesterday -
1/9/13 -
5.0 CARLSBERG RIDGE (small cluster of 4.0+)
Continuing aftershocks in the Aegean Sea

U.S. -
Indiana - 1/7/13 - Loud booms were heard by many overnight and so far explained by none. It turns out, the booms were heard not just here, but across the country.
The Vanderburgh Sheriff reports that it was around the area near Green River and Lynch where they received most of these calls about this strange boom. It happened Monday evening, and crews investigated, but authorities and people who heard it are still scratching their heads. "The sound was like a war bomb." "A huge explosion, like definitely knew it wasn't a firecracker going off. I've never heard anything like it, very disturbing."
Evansville Dispatch got several calls between 9:30 and 11 Monday night reporting an explosion. "We obviously dispatched cars. I believe the EFD dispatched crews, the EPD. At the end of the day, we're not able to find anything." Crews scoured the area, but didn't find anything. "It had to be something a little bit different than the typical explosion." But what?
It wasn't an earthquake. The USGS doesn't have reports of any activity in our area. Some people have suggested a nearby mine was firing off explosions. But they said their permit does not allow them to blast from dusk until dawn. The Air Force says it wasn't performing any military drills, either. Authorities say, at least for now, it will remain a mystery.
"We're going to write it off as the unexplained at this point until somebody gives us an explanation." Interestingly, there have been reports of unexplained booms from Arizona to Rhode Island. No one has been able to explain them.
UPDATE - One resident said it happened multiple times over 2 nights in Evansville.
Utah - 1/8/13 - Hundreds of people from Weber County to Utah County, and some as far north as Rock Springs, Wyoming reported that they felt shaking or heard loud booms Tuesday night around 9 p.m.
The cause remains a mystery. Experts at the seismology department at the University of Utah confirmed there was seismic activity measured just behind the Capitol building. “There are low-frequency signals that are usually from the atmosphere. The infra-sound network is most sensitive to signals that come from the atmosphere, so we think this was an above ground even. These can be airplanes that are breaking the sound barrier, they can be explosions or they can be storms.”
Representatives for the University of Utah’s Seismograph stations said there was not an earthquake, ATK said they were not conducting any rocket tests, the Utah National Guard said they were not conducting any weapons or artillery training and Hill Air Force Base said they did not have any planes in the air after 6 p.m. A map of earthquakes over the last day shows no activity in Northern Utah, or anywhere in the state. The closest quake was a relatively small 2.6 magnitude near Bishop, Calif., more than 500 miles from Salt Lake City.
There is also a theory that the heavy inversion layer may have amplified a blast on the ground or in the air, making it seem closer and louder than reality. While that is possible, it is still unclear what caused the noise. “We don’t really know what this was. We don’t have the operational capability to even locate something like this, so we can’t say where it came from. We just don’t know."
One man reported - "I live just south of Big Piney Wyoming and I saw what appeared to be a large metorite at 7 PM. It was dead south at 45 deg elevation. No lateral motion and 10 deg of vertical (dropping). Appears to have been coming in dead on as the vert speed increased and decreased. It was 3 - 4 times as bright as the International Space Station. Could be the brother of what caused the booms later on." Another reported that "these strange noises occurred last year at this time all over the world - it's on u tube."
People in Wyoming, Indiana, Oklahoma and California also reported hearing a boom similar to what was heard in Utah.
UPDATE - The booms heard in Utah have been attributed to bombing flights by Hill Air Force Base, even though they said earlier that they did not have any planes in the air after 6 p.m. Hill Air Force Base said Wednesday that B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, were conducting bombing runs at the Utah Test and Training Range on Tuesday evening. They said the thunder of their bombs is what Utahns heard.
The rumbling, around 9 p.m., caused windows to rattle all over Top of Utah. More bombing runs were expected at the range Wednesday night, weather permitting. The University of Utah seismographic station said its seismographs didn’t detect anything, but its ultra-low frequency listening devices picked up the sounds Tuesday. A research seismologist said the listening posts normally detect noises too low for humans to hear. The technology is too new to quickly tell from what direction the sounds are coming.
South Carolina - 1/6/13 and for two weeks prior - Searching for the cause of booms reported by residents. For the past two weeks, people living in the Red Bank area of Lexington County have reported hearing booms late at night or early in the morning. The WIS newsroom has received a dozen or so reports of booms heard in the neighborhood.
Every so often the peace of Lexington County is shattered by what neighbors describe as an explosion. Sometimes it rattles the windows. The most recent was Sunday evening. The Lexington County Sheriff's Department had widespread reports of a loud boom from West Columbia to Red Bank. It's the hot topic on the Red Bank Happenings Facebook page.
The FAA and the military both say it was not a sonic boom. Others think it could've been Tannerite, explosive targets used on gun ranges. But given the widespread reports, probably not. A year ago a big boom in South Congaree was chalked up to a shallow earthquake. USC seismologists say they have no record of any activity in the area, making the series of sounds far more mysterious. So for now, the mystery of the Red Bank booms remains unsolved.

Volcano Webcams

Nevado del Ruiz volcano (Colombia) activity update: access for tourists reopened. The volcanic activity has remained stable for the moment but seismicity shows low energy earthquakes and long period events reflecting internal fluid movements and the volcano continues to emit a large gas and steam plume.

In the South Indian Ocean -
Tropical Cyclone 08s (Narelle) was located approximately 475 nm north-northeast of Learmonth, Australia.

Narelle batters Bali with strong winds - Strong winds and high waves, the result of the Narelle tropical cyclone, have affected many areas across Bali as, causing the island's ferry ports in Gilimanuk and Padang Bai to stop operations yesterday. Strong winds have also caused severe damage to public facilities, as well as houses and trees in Gianyar, Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan and Bangli.
The head of Bali Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency predicted that the tropical cyclone would now head toward Western Australia. The Narelle tropical cyclone is the eighth tropical cyclone to form during this cyclone season in the southern Indian Ocean. In Indonesia, the cyclone is centered south of Bali’s closest neighbor, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), with winds of up to 40 kilometers per hour. In Selemadeg village in Tabanan regency, a woman reportedly died after a large tree fell on her.
Trees have also damaged a temple, family homes and other buildings in Denpasar. “This is a normal situation for the period between January and February when tropical cyclones frequently occur in the Indian Ocean affecting weather conditions all over Indonesia." They warned people who live in the coastal areas of the southern part of Bali to remain vigilant. “The waves may reach up to 5 meters high, endangering fisherman and those who want to take water transportation."
Tourists who planned to take part in water sports, such as diving, surfing and snorkeling, must be very careful due to the heavy rains, strong winds and high waves. Due to the rough sea, Gilimanuk ferry port in Jembrana (connecting Java and Bali) and Padang Bai ferry port in Karangasem (connecting Bali and NTB) have had to be closed temporarily. Three traditional fishing and crossing ports in Klungkung regency were also closed, forcing hundreds of residents to wait for transport for hours. Local fishermen also stayed home over the last few days because of the high waves.
People living on the remote islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan in Klungkung regency have been isolated as there were no vessels heading to the islets to bring basic food and supplies to the local residents. The peak wet season in Bali will arrive in the middle of January and would intensify in February. “People must be on alert for the possible strong winds, torrential rains and rough seas during this season."

Tropical cyclone Narelle is forecast to strike Australia as an intense tropical cyclone at about 19:00 GMT on 13 January. The weather bureau has predicted that Tropical Cyclone Narelle will become a category four cyclone in the next 24 hours.

Malaysia - Residents told to stay alert for tropical storm tomorrow. Residents in Bintulu, Sibu and Mukah are warned of the high possibility of floods when tropical depression Sonamu makes landfall tomorrow.
Sonamu, developing from the Philippines and blowing across the South China Sea, was yesterday headed towards Mukah at a speed of 60kmh. Although the storm was reduced to a tropical depression, it would still be strong, with big waves and heavy downpour expected. “People in Bintulu, Sibu and Mukah who live in low-lying areas better be on alert and prepare to be evacuated when necessary because it is most likely that their areas will be flooded when the storm makes landfall."
The relevant state agencies had intensified preparations to face any eventuality resulting from the severe weather condition. Personnel from the various agencies had been put on standby. “We just hope that things will change because earlier on, the department had forecasted that the tropical storm Sonamu would strike the east coast states of the peninsula on Tuesday, but it suddenly changed its direction towards the central region of the state."
The state Meterorological Department cautioned that the rain might cause floods in low-lying areas, especially here where the King Tide is expected from 4pm onwards. According to the Sarawak government almanac, the King Tide is expected to reach 5.7m at 3.57pm today, 6m at 4.52pm on Friday, 6.2m at 5.39pm on Saturday, and reaching 6.3m at 6.25pm on Sunday and 8.19pm on Monday.


Indonesia - Mt. Arjuna-Welirang closed due to extreme weather. Mount Arjuna-Welirang twin volcano in East Java has been closed to climbers following rainstorms that have been striking the peaks over the past week. Extreme weather, toppled trees, landslides and sulfuric gas are among threats that could endanger climbers’ safety. “We will open it once the weather returns to normal.” Previously, a 22-year-old student went missing during an expedition on Dec. 25. He was found alive nine days later.


Australia - Second NSW heatwave not catastrophic. The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast another round of extreme heat across the state into the weekend, but without the same fire risks. Heatwave conditions will return to the eastern states while the northwest of the country is being lashed by tropical cyclone winds and rain.
Fires still burn on Bribie Island - Emergency crews have been backburning overnight on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, to protect homes.


'Doomsday Asteroid' Bigger Than Expected - A near-earth asteroid once considered a potential killer is even bigger than expected, but still not a threat to humanity – now or in the future.
When asteroid 99942 Apophis was discovered in June 2004, initial analyses of its trajectory suggested a small chance that it could collide with the Earth in the year 2029, causing an explosion equivalent to 1480 megatons of TNT–nearly 30 times larger than the biggest hydrogen bomb ever detonated. But later observations gave astronomers a better view of the object, and made it clear that the likelihood of a collision was so small as to be negligible.
But scientists have kept an eye on the object for research purposes, and Wednesday morning, officials at the European Space Agency announced that the Herschel Space Observatory has determined Apophis to be even bigger than expected: about 325 meters wide, or 20% larger than previous estimates. Apophis is currently on the part of its journey through the solar system that takes it near Earth; this close encounter gives astronomers a chance to collect additional data about the comet’s path. The ESA now believes that the asteroid will pass within 36,000 km of Earth’s surface in 2029. That’s inside the orbits of geostationary satellites, and close enough to be visible to the naked eye.
“Although Apophis initially caught public interest as a possible Earth impactor, which is now considered highly improbable for the foreseeable future, it is of considerable interest in its own right, and as an example of the class of Near Earth Objects."

Solar Variability and Terrestrial Climate - In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.
There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report, "The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth's Climate," lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.
Understanding the sun-climate connection requires a breadth of expertise in fields such as plasma physics, solar activity, atmospheric chemistry and fluid dynamics, energetic particle physics, and even terrestrial history. No single researcher has the full range of knowledge required to solve the problem. To make progress, the NRC had to assemble dozens of experts from many fields at a single workshop.
While the variations in luminosity over the 11-year solar cycle amount to only a tenth of a percent of the sun's total output, such a small fraction is still important. "Even typical short term variations of 0.1% in incident irradiance exceed all other energy sources (such as natural radioactivity in Earth's core) combined." Of particular importance is the sun's extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation, which peaks during the years around solar maximum. Within the relatively narrow band of EUV wavelengths, the sun’s output varies not by a minuscule 0.1%, but by whopping factors of 10 or more. This can strongly affect the chemistry and thermal structure of the upper atmosphere. Solar activity felt in the upper atmosphere can, through a complicated series of influences, push surface storm tracks off course.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) presented persuasive evidence that solar variability is leaving an imprint on climate, especially in the Pacific. According to the report, when researchers look at sea surface temperature data during sunspot peak years, the tropical Pacific shows a pronounced La Nina-like pattern, with a cooling of almost 1 degree C in the equatorial eastern Pacific. In addition, "there are signs of enhanced precipitation in the Pacific ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone ) and SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) as well as above-normal sea-level pressure in the mid-latitude North and South Pacific," correlated with peaks in the sunspot cycle.
In recent years, researchers have considered the possibility that the sun plays a role in global warming. After all, the sun is the main source of heat for our planet. The NRC report suggests, however, that the influence of solar variability is more regional than global. "When Earth's radiative balance is altered, as in the case of a change in solar cycle forcing, not all locations are affected equally. The equatorial central Pacific is generally cooler, the runoff from rivers in Peru is reduced, and drier conditions affect the western USA." Regional rainfall seems to be more affected than temperature.
Much has been made of the probable connection between the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year deficit of sunspots in the late 17th-early 18th century, and the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. The mechanism for that regional cooling could have been a drop in the sun’s EUV output; this is, however, speculative. The sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years.
Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt The National Solar Observatory predicts that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion. “If the sun really is entering an unfamiliar phase of the solar cycle, then we must redouble our efforts to understand the sun-climate link." (a lot more details at link)


Flu surge triggers Boston public health emergency - Signs of an increasingly severe flu season prompted city officials to declare a public health emergency in Boston, where infections have increased tenfold compared with last season. So far about 700 cases and four deaths, all seniors, have been reported in Boston, which is experiencing its worst flu season since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Among flu infections reported in Boston so far this season, 25% have been severe enough to require hospitalization. The dominant flu strain in the United States so far this season has been H3N2, which has been known to cause more severe infections. The flu season in Boston typically stretches through the end of March.

Cholera has struck more than 6% of Haitians - The death toll in Haiti's cholera epidemic is approaching 8,000, and more than 6% of Haitians have had the disease since it invaded the country in October 2010 after the major earthquake.