Friday, August 30, 2013

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**Bad is never good until worse happens.**
Danish Proverb

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/29/13 -

+ Scientist Claims That Devastating Earthquake Will Hit Mexico City Before Year's End - A Mexico City-based seismologist has predicted an earthquake of devastating magnitude in that city that could potentially occur before December. According to the Mexican Engineer, an earthquake of at least 8 points in the Richter scale is slated to occur before year's end in accordance to a theory he has developed off of records of past seismic activity which predicts future tectonic plate movements.
He runs a website called in which he posts the basis of his predictions and explains a theory he developed which he has called "Theory Of Gravitational Forces." According to him, the theory helped him accurately predict the earthquake that shook Japan in March.
The theory, which has yet to be peer reviewed and approved by other members of the scientific community, states that earthquakes and other tectonic movements are in fact events that can be predicted and prepared for before they actually occur. Longstanding scientific consensus is that earthquakes are complex events that stem from a number of variable occurrences along earth's tectonic plates and therefore are too complex to predict accurately.
His website has gone viral in Mexico among Twitter users due to a recent surge in earthquake activity that included a 4.5 magnitude movement. Some users have embraced the theory while others question the scientific validity of it. In his website, he usually addresses his posts directly to the Mexican President in an open letter format urging him to take action against what he believes is an imminent disaster that would devastate a city that he claims is "largely unprepared" for an earthquake of a severe magnitude. His claim stems from the fact that several central neighborhoods in Mexico City still host old buildings, which are seen as having poor structural support and that could be in danger in a severe earthquake scenario.
He states that he has already met with senior level officials of several government offices that are already aware of his theory but have yet to act upon it. He has also approached the Geological Society of America who redirected him towards submitting his paper to the peer-reviewed publication GSA Today. Mexico City is no stranger to large magnitude earthquakes. In September 1985, a 8.1 magnitude earthquake stuck Mexico City to devastating effect. The death toll from that event was estimated at around 10,000 casualties.

+ Japan - Vulcanologists warn that the magma chamber beneath Japan's Sakurajima volcano is about 90-percent full which means a large lava eruption cannot be ruled out.
It's been erupting constantly for nearly 60 years, spewing out smoke and ash and sending shivers through the more than half a million people who live nearby. Japan's Sakurajima volcano recently blasted 100,000 tonnes of ash more than five kilometres into the sky, reminding surrounding communities of its power and volatility.
Just across the water from the city of Kagoshima, it is both a tourist drawcard and a troublesome neighbour. Sakurajima is one of the world's most active volcanos. Some years it belches into life or erupts over 1,000 times. And recently Sakurajima showered this city with 100,000 tonnes of ash, turning day into night and sending people scrambling for cover. Its 500th eruption of the year sent plumes more than five kilometres into the sky and reminded everyone here just how vulnerable they are to the vagaries of this volcano. But mostly, Sakurajima is just a daily inconvenience.
" The most annoying thing is the falling ash. We cannot hang laundry outside. The clothes we wear get filthy and the ash gets in our eyes. People have to sweep it from the front of their houses almost every day."
Sakurajima's 1914 eruption was the biggest in 20th Century Japan, generating a large lava flow as well as a tsunami and leaving about 60 dead. A vulcanologist who has been studying Sakurajima for more than 30 years is not worried just yet about another big eruption, but he does warn that pressure underneath the volcano is rising. "The magma level deep within the volcano is back to about 90 per cent of what it was before the 1914 eruption so we do have to worry about a big eruption in the long-term."

+ Molten magma can survive in Earth's upper crust for hundreds of millennia - Silica-rich magma reservoirs can persist in Earth's upper crust for hundreds of thousands of years without causing an eruption, according to a new research. An area known to have experienced a massive volcanic eruption in the past, like Yellowstone National Park, could have a large pool of magma festering beneath it and still not be close to going off as it did 600,000 years ago.
Previously it was thought that reservoirs of silica-rich magma, or molten rock, form on and survive for geologically short time scales - in the tens of thousands of years - in the Earth's cold upper crust before they solidify. They also suggested that the magma had to be injected into the Earth's crust at a high rate to reach a large enough volume and pressure to cause an eruption. But recently scientists took the models further, incorporating changes in the crystallization behavior of silica-rich magma in the upper crust and temperature-dependent heat conductivity.
They found that the magma could accumulate more slowly and remain molten for a much longer period than the models previously suggested. There are two different kinds of magma and their relationship to one another is unclear. Plutonic magma freezes in the Earth's crust and never erupts, but rather becomes a craggy granite formation like those commonly seen in Yosemite National Park. Volcanic magma is associated with eruptions, whether continuous "oozing" types of eruption such as Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano or more explosive eruptions such as Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines or Mount St. Helens in Washington state.


In the Eastern Pacific -
Post-Tropical cyclone Juliette is located about 205 mi (330 km) NW of Cabo San Lazaro, Mexico. The final advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located about 410 nm southwest of Sasebo, Japan.

Tropical Storm Juliette blew through the Pacific Mexican tourist resort of Cabo San Lucas early on Thursday, killing one man. Juliette blew down trees and power lines as it blasted across the tourist resorts at the tip of Mexico's Baja California Peninsula.
The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased to near 40 mph (65 kph) near midday Thursday after hitting 50 mph (85 kph) overnight. It was centered about 95 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Cabo San Lazaro, but it was projected to weaken and curve away from land, into the Pacific. The storm flooded low-lying areas and collapsed at least one house.
Much of the area is without power, including the communities of Todos Santos and Pescadero, as well as parts of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Firefighters reported helping various people trapped in their cars on flooded streets. One man died because of an electrical shock in a neighborhood where people commonly draw power with jury-rigged, illegal taps into electricity lines. Emergency workers went door to door urging people in high-risk areas to go to shelters, but many refused.

Kong-rey - Three people in Taiwan perished as a result of heavy rains spawned by a destructive tropical storm. Tropical Storm Kong-Rey battered the island Thursday, dumping more than 500 millimeters (19 inches) of rain on the heavily populated west coast and causing widespread flooding.
One of the fatalities occurred when a man in Pingtung county in Taiwan's far south drowned after being thrown into a river from his skidding motorbike. Farther to the north in Yunlin country, one woman was electrocuted in her home after heavy flooding and another woman drowned. Kong-Rey skirted the island's east coast on Thursday before heading north toward Japan.
Particularly hard hit in Taiwan were the large west coast cities of Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung, where FLOODING IN SOME AREAS REACHED SECOND-STORY LEVELS. Officials evacuated a total of 3,600 residents and cancelled some train services. Kong-Rey is the second major storm to hit Taiwan this month. Last week, a severe tropical storm dumped up to a meter (39 inches) of rain on the southern part of the island. High winds caused the cancellation of scores of international flights and in conjunction with the rain led to the disruption of high speed rail service between the capital of Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Medium chance of cyclone off the west coast of Africa - A broad area of low pressure associated with a tropical wave moving off the west coast of Africa has a medium 30% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone.


+ India - This monsoon, rains have been swinging between the extremes in Odisha. It is either deficient or excessive. Long periods of dry conditions have been followed by deluge and vice-versa.
The overall rainfall estimate may not show a clear picture, but a detailed analysis shows that farmers have been left clutching their heads because of the extreme conditions. In the last eight weeks, the State has reported at least four weeks of either deficient or scanty rainfall. By the week ending August 21, the State received 875.1 mm rain, reporting an 8 per cent higher rainfall than the normal of 810 mm.
A closer look, however, suggests that as many as 15 districts have reported at least five weeks of deficient rainfall out of a total 11 weeks this rainy season. Similarly, 10 districts have reported excess rainfall during the period June 1-August 21. The result is bad news for the farm sector, though overall crop coverage stands at a healthy 48.51 lakh hectare against a target of 61.5 lakh hectare this season. Since there is another five weeks to go for the monsoon season to end, the crop coverage will further improve, but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Balasore district exemplifies what has hit the farm sector this monsoon. In the five weeks of July, it recorded a series of severe deficiency - the week ending July 3 reported a deficiency of -89 per cent followed by -99 per cent in the next week. Heavy showers led to a sudden turnaround in the situation and rainfall position jumped to excess of 45 per cent in the week ending July 17.
The next week was deficient again (- 48 per cent) and was followed by an excess rainfall of 66 per cent. The month of August saw two weeks of huge deficiency - ranging from -34 per cent to -55 per cent - followed by a deluge in the week ending August 21 when the rainfall figure showed an excess of 136 per cent.
Another northern district Mayurbhanj, which reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall, saw three weeks of deficient rainfall in July which ended with a whopping excess shower of 336 per cent. The first two weeks of August saw deficient rainfall of -73 per cent and -53 per cent, while the week ending August 21 saw an excess rainfall of 171 per cent.
This pattern of extreme weather has been the mark of the monsoon across the State. In Western Odisha, the rain shadow region of the State, Kalahandi started off the rainy season with excess rains - 72 per cent (June 12), 295 per cent (June 19) and 181 per cent (June 26). The month of August also saw deficiency, just like Sambalpur district which reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall and two weeks of excess ones this season. Southern districts like Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Malkangiri have faced similar scenarios - excess rainfall or dry periods.
Coastal Odisha has been witness to this pattern in no less than other regions. Kendrapara district has reported at least six weeks of deficient rainfall and five weeks of excess showers, ending with a -14 per cent rainfall by August 21. Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur districts have been witness to eight and seven weeks of deficient rainfall, respectively, leaving the farm sector in the lurch.

+ Antarctica - The world's thickest ice sheet may be at greater risk from variations in the climate than previously believed. Scientists found that glaciers on the East Antarctic Ice Sheet advance and retreat in synch with changes in temperature. Since it contains enough water to raise global sea levels by over 50m, there is an urgent need to study the threat the researchers said.
Scientists have long been worried about the threat to sea levels from the prospect of melting in Greenland and in West Antarctica. Greenland has had an annual loss of 140 billion tonnes over the past 20 years. Recent studies have indicated that Greenland will be much greener by 2100 thanks to global warming.
Researchers are also concerned about West Antarctica, where scientists have recently concluded that warming waters are causing a loss of ice from the shelf glaciers. But most scientists have dismissed concerns over East Antarctica, the world's biggest ice sheet. Temperatures there can get down to minus 30C, meaning that it was essentially impervious to small, cyclical changes. Now a new analysis questions that assumption.
Researchers looked at declassified spy satellite imagery dating from 1963 to 2012. They used the pictures to detect changes in 175 glaciers as they flow into the sea along the 5,400km of coastline. They found a strong pattern of ebb and flow. In the 1970s and 80s, when temperatures were rising they found that 63% of glaciers were retreating. During the 1990s, when temperatures decreased, 72% of the glaciers advanced.
"It is the first study to show that there is acute sensitivity in this particular ice sheet to climate variation. When we found these clear trends of advance and retreat, it was quite unexpected. But when we looked at the climate records it wasn't unexpected at all because they were just doing what the climate told them to do."
The researchers say that there is no immediate threat to global sea levels from their findings - but they are urging further investigation. "People have thought because it is so big and so cold, it must be some way off a threshold of showing a reaction to climate but actually it is quite sensitive and we can see melt water ponds forming along the margin of this part of the ice sheet. In the next 100 years or so we could be looking at similar changes as we've seen in Greenland and West Antarctica. We are seeing a very sensitive reaction which we've never really seen before."
The scientists say there is no clear trend of warming in this part of Antarctica unlike the rest of the of world. The situation is complicated by the hole in the ozone layer that is changing wind directions and speeds.


Swine study suggests flu vaccination may sometimes backfire - During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, Canadian researchers identified a greater risk of infection in those who had been vaccinated against seasonal flu, a puzzling finding that researchers are still unraveling, including a group that revealed more about a mechanism for the process through experiments on pigs. Researchers found that some piglets vaccinated against H1N2 flu got severe pneumonia and lung damage after they were infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus, suggesting that cross-reactive antibodies triggered by the vaccine made symptoms worse.
The heightened risk identified during the 2009 pandemic threatened to disrupt vaccination efforts in Canada, and the findings raised tough issues for policymakers, especially when studies in the United States and other countries contradicted the Canadian findings. However, in 2010 a large study by a Canadian team put an exclamation point on the earlier findings, reporting that the risk of needing treatment for pandemic flu was 1.4 to 2.4 times greater in those who had been vaccinated against seasonal flu in the previous year.
In the new study, researchers explored the phenomenon in pigs that were infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus after receiving a vaccine against H1N2 influenza. The results raise concerns about an approach eyed for developing next-generation vaccines, including a "universal" version targeting multiple strains with one vaccine. The interaction between the vaccine and respiratory disease has been seen before.
The new findings show why health leaders should consider the principle, "First, do no harm" when pursuing new ways to battle flu epidemics and pandemics. Achieving a flu vaccine that would provoke lasting protection across a range of virus subtypes would be a major medical achievement, but eagerness to move forward with next-generation flu vaccines should be tempered with a focus on safety and minimizing risk.