Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why Has It Been So Cold This Spring? - Although spring has arrived, it may not feel that way for many in the United States and Canada who have had to put up with UNUSUALLY COLD temperatures.
Last month was a chilly one, ranking as the second-coldest March in the continental United States since 2000. The average temperature across the United States this March was also 13 degrees Fahrenheit (7.2 degrees Celsius) lower than in March 2012, and a late-winter blizzard broke snowfall records in many areas.
So, why has it been so cold? The culprit is a stubborn, stationary mass of warm air over Greenland and the North Atlantic that has blocked the normal flow of air from west to east and south to north. This flow of air, known as the jet stream, usually brings more warm air from the South as the Northern Hemisphere begins to heat up in the spring.
This March, however, the mass of warm air — a high-pressure system that repels incoming weather systems — has redirected air currents and created a pattern of winds coming from the Northwest, blasting the eastern two-thirds of the United States with Arctic air. "This obstinate mass of warm air over Greenland has redirected air currents like a rock in a stream."
However, the spring season hasn't been cold everywhere. In fact, the southwestern United States has been warmer than average, as the region has been unaffected by the blocking system in the North Atlantic. Due, in part, to the cold, there have been fewer than 20 tornadoes in the United States this March. On average, March will see 76 twisters across the United States. Tornadoes depend on warm, moist air, which was scarce this past March.
As cold as March seemed, it was only the 59th coldest March since 1871. This March’s temperatures contrasted sharply with those seen in March 2012, which was the warmest March on record. In 2012, a mass of hot air developed over the middle of the country, causing unusually high temperatures and fueling an outbreak of tornadoes. "They were almost like — no pun intended — polar opposites."
The cold will not stick around forever, though. The high-pressure blocking system over Greenland is already beginning to weaken and looks likely to dissipate by the beginning of next week (April 7). This will bring temperatures back into the average range.

**You have to watch out for frostbite in Minnesota
and the state slogan is
Minnesota: Chances Are You Won't Lose A Toe!**
James Lileks


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
[10 quakes in the 4's today in the first 8 hours]
Aftershocks continue in Iceland - largest so far today 4.2
Continuing cluster in Canary Islands - largest so far today 4.4
Cluster of moderate quakes in DODECANESE ISLANDS -TURKEY BORDER REGION - largest so far today 2.8

Yesterday -
4/2/13 -
Lots of moderate aftershocks in Iceland - largest 4.7
Continuing cluster in Canary Islands - largest 3.0
Small cluster of moderate quakes in DODECANESE ISLANDS -TURKEY BORDER REGION - largest 3.0

Iceland earthquake swarm - 484 earthquakes in less than 48 hours. The swarm continues and the most recently listed earthquakes had a Magnitude of M4.3 and M4.2.
The hypocenter depth is mainly varying in 3 layers, one at only a few hundred meter, another at 1.1 km and the last one at 20 km. Most of the epicenters are located in an area of 15 to 30 km from Grimsey. There have been earthquakes cycles of a similar nature in 1969, 1974, 1980, 1986, 1994 and 2002. The cycles all lasted from a few days up to several weeks.
Update 10:12 UTC : The Icelandic seismological Bureau wrote : At 00:59 an earthquake about 5.5 occurred, 15 km east of Grímsey. the earthquake was felt in substantial part of central north Iceland. Following the this event at 1:13 another earthquake 4.3 was observed 16 km east of Grímsey and at 08:55 an earthquake 4.7 at same location. Substantial aftershock activity has been observed and still continues. More activity can be expected.
This earthquake is part of a strong swarm at a well know location in the Ocean. The location of the swarm is a relatively shallow ridge area (the zigzagging ridge creates the transform-like earthquakes) . A ridge is a location where 2 tectonic plates are pulling away from each other. Fresh magma will have an easier job to reach the seabed and hot volcanic vents are often found on these locations. A new island in such an area is almost a certainty in the geological future.
A Google earth image shows very clearly the many volcanic bubbles at the ocean floor, a result of the separating diverging plates. The 2 tectonic plates are pullling away from each other (left plate to the West, right plate to the East.) This kind of phenomenon is also occurring in the Oceans all over the world. New life (in other words new magma) is added this way to the tectonic plates. (map & list of the largest quakes)

Volcano Webcams

Canary Island earthquake measured 4.9 on Richter scale on Sunday - Volcanologists from the National Geographical Institute believe that another eruption underwater is highly possible nearer to La Frontera this time.
The earthquake once again struck to the west of the island of El Hierro and regional authorities have declared a state of pre-emergency. There is limited circulation on some roads due to the threat of rockfall and landslides.
An hour earlier a quake measuring 4.5 hit the island and there have been over 100 tremours over the weekend. Both quakes were felt by residents. Previously quakes of up to 4.3 were said to be 'nothing to worry about' as they were said to be between 12 and 20 kilometres underground.
Lorca (Murcia) was hit by an earthquake in May 2011 measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale which turned the city to rubble and left nine dead, dozens injured and thousands homeless. Experts said that the severity of it was largely due to the fact that it was only a kilometre underground, which heightened its intensity.

Sicily - Town buried in ash after Mt. Etna volcano eruption Monday. Zafferana Etnea – a small tourist town in the province of Catania with 9,450 residents — was blanketed by thick black volcanic dust after the eruption.
Locals said they heard the explosions and felt violent shaking. They said the air was humid, the sky went dark and there was no visibility. The town’s residents are used to frequent volcanic eruptions – this is the eighth this year alone. The Italian locals now have a massive clearing job to do as roads, gardens and rooftops were covered in up to ten centimetres of ash and stones.
Workers use special equipment to blow away the ash and collect solidified lava. The damage was assessed “incalculable” and the region and the neighbouring municipalities have declared a state of emergency. When the ash gets wet it takes on a cement-like quality and turns waterproof — causing flooding in streets and houses. The ash is moderately toxic if inhaled and has a mild degree of radioactivity. (photos)


No current tropical storms.


Violent storm kills six in Argentina - Six people were killed after torrential rain and powerful winds battered Buenos Aires, knocking out power, downing trees and damaging homes. More than 155 mm (six inches) of rain fell between midnight on Monday and 7am on Tuesday. That is A RECORD FOR RAINFALL IN APRIL in the Argentine capital.
One of the dead was a subway worker electrocuted while trying to pump water out of a flooded station. The other victims were three men and two women killed in flooding and other damage caused by the storm. Flash flooding was worst in northern parts of the city, where widespread construction over the past decade has not been matched by upgrades to the drainage system, environmentalists said. The storm and deluge of water knocked out electricity, sent cars floating down streets, damaged poorly built homes, knocked out power and forced suspension of train service.


March weather was SECOND COOLEST ON RECORD IN THE UNITED KINGDOM. - Snow and plunging temperatures have caused chaos through March.
Freezing temperatures in March made it the UK's joint second coldest since records began more than 100 years ago. The mean temperature was just 2.2C (36F) - more than 3C colder than the long-term monthly average. Last month matched the average temperature in March 1947 - only March 1962 was colder at 1.9C (35F).
March was also much drier than usual with 62.1mm (2.4in) of rain, 65% of the historical average for the month. Scotland was yet more parched with only 35% of its normal downpours. The amount of sunshine was slightly down for the UK with 82.9 hours for the month which is 81% of the average.
Among the UK's nations, average temperatures in March were 2.6 °C in England, 1.3 °C in Scotland, 2.4 °C in Wales and 2.8 °C in Northern Ireland. In what the Met Office described as an UNUSUAL TURN", March 2013 was colder than the three preceding winter months. This last happened in 1975.
Forecasters said the cold, dry conditions were set to continue for the time being - but milder and more unsettled weather was expected next week. Average temperatures across the UK are set to reach 7C to 8C (44F to 46F) on Saturday and 9C (48F) on Sunday. By next week they should be back to normal for April at about 11C (51F).
"What we'll see is temperatures going much closer to the average but we'll see more unsettled weather with it, about with some brighter, drier spells." High pressure to the north of the UK would continue to drag cold wind in from the near continent. In contrast, March last year saw people take to the beach with temperatures in places reaching the low 20s degrees.


The author of an influential 2006 study on climate change has warned that the world could be headed towards warming even more catastrophic than expected but he voiced hope for political action. The British former chief economist for the World Bank said on Tuesday that both emissions of greenhouse gas and the effects of climate change were taking place faster than he forecast seven years ago. Without changes to emission trends, the planet has roughly a 50 per cent chance that temperatures will soar to 5C above pre-industrial averages in a century, he said.
"We haven't been above five degrees Centigrade on this planet for about 30 million years. So you can see that this is radical change way outside human experience. When we were at three degrees Centigrade three million years ago, the sea levels were about 20 some metres above now. On sea level rise of just two metres, probably a couple of hundred million people would have to move."
Other effects would come more quickly including the expansion of deserts and the melting of Himalayan snows that supply rivers on which up to two billion people depend. Even if nations fulfil pledges made in 2010 at a UN-led conference in Cancun, Mexico, the world would be on track to warming of 4C, he said. His 2006 study, considered a landmark in raising public attention on climate change, predicted that warming would shave at least five per cent off gross domestic product each year.
Despite the slow progress in international negotiations, he saw signs for hope as a number of countries move to put a price on greenhouse gases. "My own view is that 2013 is the best possible year to try to work and redouble our efforts to create the political will that hitherto has been much too weak." The French President is keen for nations to meet their goal of sealing an accord in 2015 in Paris. The US President has vowed action on climate change after an earlier bid was thwarted by legislators of the rival Republican Party, many of whom reject the science behind climate change.


Faint 'Red Arcs' Spotted Over Europe - Glowing red arcs invisible to the naked eye have now been detected high above most of Europe using advanced cameras pointed at the sky. When streams of high-energy, charged particles come rushing from the sun to batter Earth, they cause what are called geomagnetic storms. (Red arcs happen when oxygen atoms in the ionosphere emit light, after being excited by electrons heated at greater heights in Earth's magnetosphere.)
These events are disruptions in the magnetosphere, the part of Earth's atmosphere dominated by the planet's magnetic field. The most dramatic effects of these storms are giant, bright auroras in Earth's polar regions, but the tempests result in other striking consequences as well, such as faintly glowing red arcs high up in the ionosphere. This is the electrically charged part of Earth's atmosphere, stretching from about 50 to 370 miles (85 to 600 kilometers) above the Earth.
The arcs give off a very specific wavelength of red light, but are too faint to see with the naked eye. They appear at lower latitudes, unlike auroras, which typically occur over higher latitudes. Scientists had thought there was too much light pollution over Europe for the dim, red arcs to be visible. But now, the new All-Sky Imaging Air-Glow Observatory, located in northern Italy, is using cameras with highly sensitive sensors and a fish-eye lens to observe these red arcs and faint auroral activity over most of the continent.
During a geomagnetic storm that struck Earth in 2011, the researchers found that red arcs could reach all the way down to Europe, stretching from Ireland in the west to Belarus in the east. The fact that scientists can now see these arcs over Europe means that, in combination with similar data from the Americas and the Pacific Ocean, researchers can now see how long the arcs stretch across vast distances over the planet "and thus how long it takes the magnetosphere to be drained of its storm-time energy." Such data could in turn help scientists analyze the effects of space activity on radio communications in real time and support projects aiming to model space weather.


Chinese health officials Tuesday reported that the H7N9 influenza virus has been detected in four more people, all in critical condition, raising the number of patients infected with the new strain to seven.

H5N1 cases dropped in 2012, but fatality rate rose - The world registered fewer human infections with H5N1 avian influenza in 2012, but the fatality rate was a little higher than in previous years.