Thursday, August 22, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**Don’t worry too much about people who don’t worry about you.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 8/21/13 -

Mexico - Magnitude 6.1 earthquake shakes Mexico City; minor damage reported, no casualties. The moderately strong earthquake struck near Mexico's Pacific coast resort of Acapulco on Wednesday, causing cracks in some buildings and knocking bricks and plaster off other structures.

New Zealand - White Island eruption sparks heightened alert. GNS raised its volcanic alert level from one to two and the aviation colour code from green to red following the eruption at 10.23am. The eruption sent a plume of steam 4km into the sky. The activity at White Island has now returned to that before the eruption.
The eruption originated in the active crater area that has been experiencing "very small mud eruptions" in recent weeks. The eruption threw mud and rocks a short distance from the source, and produced large volumes of white steam. Weather radar observations show that a small proportion of volcanic ash was carried with the steam. White Island has been experiencing low level activity since August 2012 so an eruption like this was not completely unexpected. The hazards posed by an eruption like this are restricted to anyone on White Island or possibly anchored nearby in a boat. Anyone living in the Bay of Plenty is not at risk.
It is too soon for any kind of prediction of activity in the next few days. "Given the low level of activity over the last year we are watching carefully and would not be surprised if there were further eruptions in the next few days." A large mushroom-shaped cloud is hanging over the island, according to an eyewitness.
On July 25, GNS volcanologists issued a low level volcanic alert following an increase in volcanic tremor levels. They found two types of activity. "Audible jets of gas were being shot through the small lake and broader expanding bubbles of dark lake sediments and debris were being ejected 20-30 metres vertically." It was similar to the volcanic activity that happened earlier in February, when the volcano spewed ash into the air and the volcanic alert level was raised to two.

Indonesia - Mount Hobalt, an underwater volcano off the coast of Lembata island, East Nusa Tenggara, briefly erupted on Tuesday but did not cause any damage.


In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Pewa is located approximately 242 nm northeastward of Wake Island.

Tropical storm Trami is located approximately 107 nm west-northwestward of Taipei, Taiwan.

Severe Tropical Storm Trami has struck a heavily populated northern Taiwan, prompting schools and offices to close down as heavy rains - up to 2 feet - triggered landslides. A deadly combination of monsoon rains and heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Trami swamped the northern Philippines on Monday and Tuesday.
Typhoon Trami batters China - Packing winds of 126 km/h, the 12th tropical storm to hit China this year made landfall in the coastal areas of Fuqing City early on Thursday. Trami has slammed into China, bringing more rain and threatening to worsen severe flooding that has so far left 575 dead and 340 missing.
The heavy rains that may be triggered are feared to exacerbate THE WORST FLOODS IN YEARS in China, which have already affected nearly 80 million people. We will prepare for the worst-case scenario." The deluges have caused economic losses of up to 162 billion yuan ($A29 billion).
Across the north-eastern border in Russia, up to 40,000 people are at risk as waters in the Amur River rise to new levels near the city of Khabarovsk. "There've NEVER BEEN ANY WATER RISES OF THIS KIND THROUGHOUT THE 120 YEARS of hydrometeorology observations in the Amur area." About 25,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in Khabarovsk.
Trami left 17 people dead and affected more than 1.2 million in the Philippines, where flood waters up to 2 metres high shut down the capital Manila for three days. The floods caused damages to infrastructure and agriculture worth an estimated $US1.83 million. Before crossing to the Chinese mainland, Trami brought torrential rain to northern Taiwan, causing landslides, mudflows and accidents that injured 10 people. At least 6171 people were forced to evacuate homes, including more than 2600 staying in emergency shelters. Taiwanese weather authorities lifted sea and land warnings on Thursday as Trami blew away from the island.


Global sea level rise temporarily dampened by 2010-11 Australia floods - Three atmospheric patterns came together above the Indian and Pacific Oceans in 2010 and 2011. When they did, they drove so much precipitation over Australia that the world's ocean levels dropped measurably.
Unlike other continents, the soils and topography of Australia prevent almost all its precipitation from flowing into the ocean. The 2010-11 event temporarily halted a long-term trend of rising sea levels caused by higher temperatures and melting ice sheets. Now that the atmosphere's circulation has returned to its previous patterns, the seas are again rising.
"The scientists conclude that the Outback region in Australia played a crucial role in trapping a large amount of rainfall when widespread floods occurred over the continent. It's a beautiful illustration of how complicated our climate system is. The smallest continent in the world can affect sea level worldwide. Its influence is so strong that it can temporarily overcome the background trend of rising sea levels we see with climate change."
As the climate warms, the world's oceans have been rising in recent decades by just over three millimeters annually. This is partly because heat causes water to expand, and partly because runoff from retreating glaciers and ice sheets is making its way into the oceans. But for an 18-month period beginning in 2010, the oceans mysteriously dropped by about seven millimeters, more than offsetting the annual rise. The reason was related to the increased rainfall over tropical continents.
They also showed that the drop coincided with the atmospheric oscillation known as La Niña, which cooled tropical surface waters in the eastern Pacific and suppressed rainfall there--while enhancing it over portions of the tropical Pacific, Africa, South America and Australia. However, an analysis of the historical record showed that past La Niña events only rarely accompanied such a pronounced drop in sea level. The new study finds that the picture in 2010-11 was uniquely complex.
In addition to La Nina, a rare combination of two other semi-cyclic climate modes came together. They drove such large amounts of rain over Australia that the continent received almost one foot (300 millimeters) of rain more than average. The initial effects of La Niña were to cool surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean and push moisture to the west. A climate pattern known as the Southern Annular Mode then coaxed the moisture into Australia's interior, causing widespread flooding across the continent.
Later in the event, high levels of moisture from the Indian Ocean driven by what's known as the Indian Ocean Dipole collided with La Niña-borne moisture in the Pacific, pushing even more moisture into the continent's interior. These influences spurred one of the wettest periods in Australia's recorded history. Australia's vast interior, called the Outback, is ringed by coastal mountains and is often quite dry.
Because of the low-lying nature of the continent's eastern interior, and the lack of river runoff in its western dry environment, most of the heavy rainfall of 2010-11 remained inland rather than flowing to the oceans. While some of it evaporated in the desert sun, much of it sank into the dry, granular soil of the Western Plateau or filled the Lake Eyre basin in the east. "No other continent has this combination of atmospheric set-up and topography. Only in Australia could the atmosphere carry such heavy tropical rains to such a large area, only to have those rains fail to make their way to the ocean."
For example, the Great Basin in the southwestern United States could trap water much like Australia - but atmospheric patterns don't transport such a large amount of moisture from the ocean to that arid region. The researchers found that the land mass in Australia and, to a lesser extent, South America began to increase in 2010 as the continents experienced heavy and persistent rain. At the same time, sea levels began to drop.
Since 2011, when the atmospheric patterns shifted out of their unusual combination, sea levels have been rising at a faster pace of about 10 millimeters per year. Scientists are uncertain how often the three atmospheric events come together to cause such heavy rains over Australia. There may have been a similar event in 1973-74, which was another time of record flooding. But modern observing instruments did not exist then, making it impossible to determine what took place in the atmosphere and whether it affected sea level rise.