Monday, August 26, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**The problem is not that there are problems.
The problem is expecting otherwise and
thinking that having problems is a problem. **
Theodore Rubin

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/25/13 -

+ Irish Sea quake aftershocks warning - Aftershocks from two earthquakes that struck in the Irish Sea may be felt for days to come, it has been claimed. The Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) said the quakes, which occurred Sunday morning off the north west coast of England, were probably caused by stresses built up from the weight of glaciers covering land during the Ice Age.
It was UNUSUAL that the earthquakes - measuring 2.4 and then a stronger 3.3 on the Richter scale - happened in the Irish Sea. "It is impossible to tell if stronger earthquakes will occur in the coming days and weeks, but aftershocks can be expected even if most, if not all, will be too weak to be felt."
Social media users took to Twitter saying they felt the ground move beneath them - particularly in the north west of England. The strongest quake, at a depth of 5km, was recorded by the British Geological Survey shortly before 10am. The earlier and smaller quake was recorded at around 5.30am. Its epicentre was about 25km west of Fleetwood in Lancashire at a depth of 3km.
The larger earthquake was also recorded by INSN seismometers as far away as Donegal and Wexford in Ireland. Their cause was probably no different from other earthquakes in Britain and Ireland. "Although Britain and Ireland are far from any plate boundaries, much of the region is still experiencing quakes due to the removal of the weight of ice sheets that once covered the land. Occasionally this post-glacial isostatic rebound - the phenomenon of the land surface gradually returning to its pre-glacial contours - results in earthquakes of this magnitude, particularly in the northern half of the islands."
A slightly larger earthquake was recorded in the Irish Sea back in May, which was felt in parts of Ireland and North Wales. The 3.8 magnitude tremor occurred 15km away from Abersoch in Gwynedd, Wales.

The loudest explosion in recorded history struck 130 years ago today when Perbuatan volcano on Krakatoa Island erupted on August 26, 1883.


In the Atlantic Ocean -
Tropical storm Fernand is located about 5 mi (10 km) N of Veracruz, Mexico. Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Gulf Coast of Mexico from Veracruz northward to Barra de Nautla. Some additional strengthening is possible before Fernand makes landfall along the Gulf Coast of Mexico early this morning.

In the Eastern Pacific -
Post-Tropical storm Ivo is located about 190 mi (310 km) WNW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The remnants of Ivo are expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 1 to 3 inches, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches, across the central and northern portions of the Baja California peninsula. Moisture from this system will also spread into the southwestern United States during the next day or so, bringing a threat of heavy rain and flash flooding. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical Depression Fourteen is located approximately 300 nm east-northeastward of Manila, Philippines.

+ It looks like it might be knuckle-gnawing time for residents of the Atlantic's hurricane alley next week, as an active pattern moves into place for the climatological peak two-week period of the Atlantic hurricane season. Tropical storm Fernand has formed in the southwestern Bay of Campeche. Tropical Storm Warning issued for portions of Gulf Coast of Mexico. It is a small storm, and heavy rainfall will be the main threat.
The tropical wave that crossed over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and entered the Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche over the weekend rapidly spun up into Tropical Depression Six. The depression had precious little time to develop before moving inland over Mexico near Veracruz early this morning.
Tropical Storm Fernand - Heavy rains and strong winds caused some power failures.

Philippines - Cyclone develops near Surigao, named 'Nando'. "Nando" is the 14th cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this year and the fourth this August.


+ Philippines - Floods leave 22 dead. The Philippines is bracing for more rain as a tropical depression moved towards it one week after severe floods killed 22 people and affected nearly three million people.
The storm, packing maximum winds of 45km/h, was moving 13km/h north-northwest and would bring heavy rain over the north-eastern Philippines. The national disaster risk management agency ordered local precautionary measures including pre-emptive evacuations of low-lying and mountainous areas.
Last week's typhoon dropped heavy rain that flooded Manila and forced the closure of schools, government offices and financial markets. Floods in some northern provinces were still rising as rivers and dams overflowed, affecting 2.8 million people, including 94,215 staying in evacuation centres. Damage to agriculture and infrastructure has been estimated at 14.72 million dollars.


Extreme Heat Across Minnesota - On Sunday, the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning through Tuesday for much of Minnesota. With the excessive heat warning in effect, Minneapolis SET A NEW RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE Sunday as the temperature hit 96 degrees at 3 p.m. The previous record high of 94 degrees was set Aug. 25, 1948. There is a threat of severe thunderstorms developing overnight Sunday in the metro. The storms could bring heavy rain, hail and high winds to the area. Monday is expected to be hot and humid, with high temperatures around 96 degrees. Severe thunderstorms are possible once again late Monday afternoon and evening after a hot day.

Montana - High temperatures, gusty winds make fire conditions extreme. Extreme fire conditions are predicted for several counties in the NWS Hazardous Weather Outlook.

+ Yosemite boundary burns in California Rim Fire - California wildfire threatening a major reservoir providing 85% of San Francisco's water. The fire is burning some four miles away from the reservoir which serves some 2.6 million customers. More than 5000 homes in danger. Only 7% contained. So far it is the 16th-largest wildfire on record in California. The blaze is also threatening power lines that bring electricity to San Francisco. The "Rim" fire is one of 50 major wildfires burning in the western US.
Firefighters in California are struggling to gain control of the huge wildfire which has reached the edge of Yosemite National Park. Known as the Rim Fire, it covers an area of nearly 203 sq miles (526 sq km) and threatens a major reservoir serving San Francisco. More than 5,000 homes are endangered by the blaze, which began on 17 August in the Stanislaus National Forest. The fire is now 7% contained, officials say, up from 2% on Friday. More than 2,700 firefighters are tackling the flames in difficult terrain. So far it is the 16th-largest wildfire on record in California.
Evacuations, some voluntary and some mandatory, are taking place. Despite the threat to thousands of homes, only a few have been destroyed. A state of emergency for San Francisco 150 miles (220km) away as the blaze is threatening power lines that bring electricity to the city. The city's water supplies could be affected if the blaze reaches Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which supplies San Francisco with 85% of its water. The fire is burning some four miles away from the reservoir. Two of three hydroelectric power stations serving the city were shut down.
The blaze, which continued for a week on the edges of Yosemite, reached the park's backcountry at Lake Eleanor on Friday. But it remains some 20 miles away from Yosemite's main tourist area. The "Rim" fire is one of 50 major wildfires burning in the western US. Lack of rain and snow have made it a bad year, with 5,700 fires being tackled so far.
The "Beaver Creek" fire in Idaho has destroyed some 45,000 hectares near the ski resort of Sun Valley. Meanwhile, five wildfires in Yellowstone National Park have scorched about 18 square miles of mostly remote areas.

+ Alaska 'firenado' video - from August 16.


Historic fluctuations in the populations of penguins have been linked to changes in climate. Researchers analysed ancient bird droppings to determine when penguin numbers went up or down. The patterns weren't easily predictable but colder weather seemed to benefit birds l who were living further south.
Adélie penguin populations in the high Antarctic were at their peak during a cold period which began in 1490. But populations further north are thought to have declined in this period. "Adélie penguins nest on land instead of ice like the Emperor penguin, so they leave behind a record. And that record can be hundreds to thousands of years old depending on the preservation of the sediments and it's usually pretty good in the Antarctic. And it preserves organic remains very well."
The Little Ice Age happened in the Antarctic between 1500 and 1800 AD, when the average summer temperature was roughly 2°C colder than centuries before and after this period. During this time, the present research found evidence that Adélie penguin numbers on Ross Island went up. Conversely, previous research conducted at sites further north has found the opposite pattern, with Adélie penguin populations declining in these periods.
The authors suggest there are reasons for the differences in penguin population fluctuations between higher and lower latitudes in the Antarctic. A slightly warmer Antarctic climate allows more snow to fall, which means the Adélie penguins have to wait until later in the summer to build their nests, once the snow has melted.
However, there are some negative consequences of a colder climate. The authors mention more sea ice during colder periods, meaning the penguins have to travel further to find food. But, algae grow on the underside of sea ice. Algae are a food source for krill, which themselves are a food source for penguins.
The authors note that wind also increased during the Little Ice Age, in the area they took their samples from. This wind has been known to cause the ice to crack, creating areas of open water, which can make it easier for penguins to hunt. This, the authors suggest, could possibly explain why penguin populations fell further north, but went up in this region. "It's really complex what controls penguin populations either increasing or decreasing in the Antarctic. It's not as simple as climate change and global warming is causing a decline.
"Penguin populations are currently declining in some areas, but remaining steady in others: "The implication is that we have to take any general trends that we're seeing in the Antarctic today with warming trends, and we have to apply our knowledge on how complex the situation is. In 2010 ... at Cape Bird, there was a lot of meltwater coming down through the colony that didn't used to occur. It was affecting the nests because the nests were getting inundated with meltwater coming down from the glacier, and that's definitely going to affect the breeding success of the nests that are in that area. So that might be the start of a negative period now as the warming trend continues to increase. But we don't have the data yet to show that, so that's just observation right now."


+ Cocaine increases the brain’s ability to learn new information and make decisions, but only in ways which fuel addiction. Taking the Class A drug boosts the circuits in the frontal cortex, leading to rapid growth of the brain’s structure. Within two hours of injection, the mice's brains started growing neuron connections in the part of the brain which controls higher functions, such as planning and decision-making. It coincided with a dramatic change in the rodents' behaviour. Given the choice of two environments, mice switched preferences to the one where they had received the cocaine shot.
‘This gives us a possible mechanism for how drug use fuels further drug-seeking behaviour. It's been observed that long-term drug users show decreased function in the frontal cortex in connection with mundane cues or tasks, and increased function in response to drug-related activity or information. This research suggests how the brains of drug users might shift towards those drug-related associations.’
The neurons directly affected by cocaine use had the ‘potential to bias decision-making’. ‘When given the choice, most of the mice preferred to explore where they had the cocaine, which indicated that they were looking for more cocaine. Their change in preference for the cocaine side correlated with gains in new persistent spines that appeared on the day they experienced cocaine.
‘The animals that showed the highest quantity of robust dendritic spines showed the greatest change in preference towards the chamber where they received the cocaine. This suggests that the new spines might be material for the association that these mice have learned to make between the chamber and the drug.’ Previous post-mortem studies of human brains have shown changes in dendritic spine density after weeks of repeated cocaine use.
Earlier this month a study was published which showed that as well as supressing appetite, cocaine reduces the body’s ability to store fat. The increase in weight when a user stops taking the drug is thought to trigger relapses as it adds further psychological effects to withdrawal symptoms.