Thursday, August 29, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**When life gives you lemons,
please don't squirt them in other people's eyes.**

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 8/28/13 -

China - 5.1 quake jolts parts of China's Yunnan, Sichuan provinces on Wednesday, toppling several houses. [Listed as 4.7 magnitude elsewhere.] No casualties have been reported, although the quake has destroyed dozens of houses and cut off road traffic and telecommunications
The quake has toppled 36 houses and damaged 36 others in Shangri-la County and affected nearly 4,000 people. The quake was also felt in five townships in Rongxian County in Sichuan. The county government has dispatched 100 tents for the disaster.

Japan - Power finally restored in quake-hit region two years after disaster. It took two years and five months, but all the lights are finally back on here after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastal city on March 11, 2011.
Power was restored to 13 houses in the Nagatsura and Onozaki districts of Ishinomaki on Aug. 25, the last areas to remain without electricity in the nation, other than those immediately adjacent to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. “I used to take electricity for granted before the disaster, but the lack of it has shown me the importance of power."
The Nagatsura and Onozaki districts have also been designated special “disaster danger” zones, allowing the local government to ban residents from new construction or expanding their houses there. About 150 workers from Tohoku Electric Power Co. and its subsidiaries installed a total of four kilometers of wire to restore power to the districts.


In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Juliette is located about 95 mi. (150 km) NW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. On the forecast track, the center of Juliette will continue to move near or along the West Coast of the southern Baja California peninsula early today. Juliette is expected to weaken to a depression tonight.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located approximately 49 nm east of Taipei, Taiwan.

In the Atlantic -
Tropical wave midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles downgraded - A tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa on Sunday is midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. This disturbance is moving westward at 10 - 15 mph, has a modest amount of spin, but has lost nearly all of the limited heavy thunderstorm activity it had. Wednesday the National Hurricane Center downgraded the 5-day odds of formation of this disturbance from 30% to 20%. The wave could spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Sunday.

A tropical wave expected to emerge from the coast of Africa on Friday and track over the Cape Verde Islands is developed by some models. This wave is expected to take a northwesterly track, and would likely not be able to make the long trek across the Atlantic to threaten North America or the Caribbean Islands.

Tropical Storm Juliette formed in the Pacific Ocean about 130 miles (210 kilometers) southeast of the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The outlook now calls for Kong-rey to deviate farther south than earlier forecast, skimming the east coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu islands in Japan before exiting the Kanto Plain and dissipating Monday in the western Pacific. Kong-rey will weaken as it interacts with land and moves over cooler northern waters, passing 16 miles south of Yokosuka Naval Base at 5 p.m. Sunday, packing tropical depression-strength 35-mph sustained winds and 46-mph gusts.


California wildfire - 23% containment of the fire as of 9:20 am EDT on Wednesday. The Rim Fire has burned 187,000 acres. This ranks as the 7th largest fire in state history, and LARGEST FIRE ON RECORD IN THE CALIFORNIA SIERRA MOUNTAINS.
The Rim Fire will likely climb to be the 5th biggest fire in California's history by this weekend, but will have difficultly surpassing California's largest fire on record -- the Cedar Fire in San Diego County of October 2003. That fire burned 273,246 acres (430 square miles), destroyed 2,820 buildings, and killed 15 people.
California has had its DRIEST YEAR-TO-DATE PERIOD, so it is no surprise that the state is experiencing an UNUSUALLY LARGE FIRE this summer. It would also not be a surprise if the state sees another huge fire this year, as peak California fire activity usually comes in September and October, during the end of the six month-long dry season, and when the hot, dry Santa Ana winds tend to blow.
Weather conditions over the next five days where the Rim Fire is burning are expected to near average, with high temperatures in the upper 80s to low 90s and moderate winds. Air quality alerts for smoke have been posted over portions of California and Nevada, and Reno, Nevada is under a dense smoke advisory. Travel may be difficult due to reduced visibility less than five miles on some area highways.

China - It's been ONE OF THE HOTTEST SUMMERS in many parts of China. RECORD TEMPERATURES have baked vast areas of the east with Shanghai hitting the 40-degree mark.


+ Global warming slowdown linked to cooler Pacific waters - Scientists say the slow down in global warming since 1998 can be explained by a natural cooling in part of the Pacific ocean. Although they cover just 8% of the Earth, these colder waters counteracted some of the effect of increased carbon dioxide say the researchers. But temperatures will rise again when the Pacific swings back to a warmer state, they argue.
Climate sceptics and some scientists have argued that since 1998, there has been no significant global warming despite ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted. For supporters of the idea that man made emissions are driving up temperatures, the pause has become increasingly difficult to ignore.
Scientists have tried to explain it using a number of different theories but so far there is no general agreement on the cause. "For people on the street it is very confusing as to which story is closer to the truth. We felt a similar contradiction and that's why we started doing these modelling studies."
There are two possible reasons why the continuing flow of CO2 has not driven the mercury higher. The first is that water vapour, soot and other aerosols in the atmosphere have reflected sunlight back into space and thereby had a cooling effect on the Earth. The second is natural variability in the climate, especially the impact of cooling waters in the tropical Pacific ocean.
Although it only covers 8.2% of the planet, the region is sometimes called the engine room of the world's climate system and atmospheric circulation. Researchers already know that a naturally occurring cycle in this area, called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, has a major impact on global climate. But a different cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation lasts for a much longer period of time.
"Only when we input equatorial Pacific ocean temperatures into our model, were we able to reproduce the flattening of the temperature record." This model also explains some of the other contradictions seen since temperatures flat lined. There have been major heat waves in Europe in 2003, Russia in 2010 and in the US in 2012. Arctic sea ice also dropped to its lowest recorded level in 2012. All these are indications that the climate is continuing to warm, but the global average temperature has remained below the figure for 1998.
"The solution to this contradiction is that temperature has behaved differently between winter and summer seasons. The influence of the equatorial Pacific ocean is strongest in winter but weakest during the summer, so CO2 can keep working on the temperature and sea ice in the Arctic over the summer."
The last time the Pacific was in a relatively cold state was in the 30 year period from the 1940s to 1970s and that coincides with the last hiatus in climate warming. But the researchers warn that the impact of this multi-decadal cool trend will come to an end and will be replaced by a warming one. Global temperatures will rise once again.
"We're pretty confident that the swing up will come some time in the future, but the current science can't predict when that will be." Other scientists have welcomed the study saying it offers a coherent explanation of the slowdown.
"The new simulation accurately reproduces the timing and pattern of changes that have occurred over the last four decades with remarkable skill. This clearly shows that the recent slowdown is a consequence of a natural oscillation." Other researchers believe the new work supports the idea that the heat in the atmosphere has gone into the oceans.
"Over the period that the authors analysed, observations showed a continued trapping of heat in the Earth's climate system, despite the temporary slowdown in surface warming, and an important question that the paper does not address is where this energy has gone. Almost certainly it is in the deep ocean."


+ More Than Half of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins May Be Deaf - In waters from Florida to the Caribbean, dolphins are showing up stranded or entangled in fishing gear with an UNUSUAL PROBLEM: They can’t hear.
More than half of stranded bottlenose dolphins are deaf, one study suggests. The causes of hearing loss in dolphins aren’t always clear, but aging, shipping noise and side effects from antibiotics could play roles.
“We’re at a stage right now where we’re determining the extent of hearing loss [in dolphins], and figuring out all the potential causes. “The better we understand that, the better we have a sense of what we should be doing [about it].” Whether the hearing loss is causing the dolphin strandings — for instance, by steering the marine mammals in the wrong direction or preventing them from finding food — is also still an open question.
Dolphins use echolocation to orient themselves by bouncing high-pitched sound waves off of objects in their environment. They also “speak” to one another in a language of clicks and buzzing sounds. Because hearing is so fundamental to dolphins’ survival, losing it can be detrimental.
A 2010 study found that more than half of stranded bottlenose dolphins and more than a third of stranded rough-toothed dolphins had severe hearing loss. The animals’ hearing impairment may have been a critical factor in their strandings, and all rescued cetaceans should be tested, the researchers said in the study.
Dolphins can become deaf for a variety of reasons. The most common cause is age-related hearing loss. Like humans, dolphins tend to lose their high-pitch hearing first, and males tend to go deaf more often than females. Other causes are chronic exposure to noise (such as from shipping), or exposure to short-lived intense noise (such as explosions).
Many studies have investigated the effects of military sonar on dolphin hearing. “There’s mounting evidence that midfrequency sonar may be impacting dolphins and whales." The animals may lose hearing for a short time and then recover — the so-called rock-concert effect. But they’d have to be pretty close to the source of the sonar and be exposed to it repeatedly.
Studies have shown temporary hearing loss from sonar, but less is known about its long-term effects. The bigger concern is how sonar could disrupt the dolphins’ behavior. For example, the high-frequency pings can mask the calls of dolphins and whales and scare them away from their habitats. Researchers are still trying to get a handle on the problem’s prevalence.