Friday, December 13, 2013

Global Disaster Watch - the latest earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms, wildfires and record-breaking weather.

Little news to report today.

**Talent does what it can;
genius does what it must.**
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 12/12/13 -

'Imagine America Without Los Angeles' - Expert Warns Southern ‘California Isn’t Ready For Major Quake. A leading earthquake expert has issued a dire warning to Californians about the expected impact of a major disruption to the San Andreas fault line.
When the “Big One” hits Southern California, the damage could be much greater, and could last much longer, than most of us ever imagined. “Loss of shelter, loss of schools, loss of jobs and emotional hardship. We are risking the ends of our cities.”
According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report,” when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collapsed buildings and freeways seen in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. For example, LA-area supermarkets now depend on Internet systems for warehousing and shipping food to stores, and the food is stored on the other side of the San Andreas fault.
“With the development of the Internet and the new just-in-time economy, none of them store food on the Los Angeles side of the San Andreas anymore. So this is one more place where the development of the complexity of our modern society is creating new vulnerabilities as we face the big earthquakes.”
Fiber-optics could also be cut off when a disastrous earthquake hits the San Andreas fault. Two-thirds of the connectivity from Los Angeles to the rest of the world go through fiber-optic cables crossing the San Andreas fault. So we expect at the time of the earthquake when the fault moves, we will break these fiber-optic cables and two-thirds of the data capacity between LA and everyone else will disappear.”
Natural gas pipelines also cross the San Andreas fault, so gas for cooking and heating would be in short supply. And the area’s aging water pipes, which seem to break with great regularity even without a temblor, are not expected to stand up well when the big earthquake hits. “The water pipes - remember the first thing you put in in a city is the water pipes. That means our water pipes are some of the oldest parts of our infrastructure. Seventy percent of the water pipes in Southern California are AC pipes and many of them will be breaking when this earthquake happens.”
Much of the high-tech damage could hinder the recovery effort in the weeks and months after the earthquake. Getting Southern California back on its feet could be a wrenching process. “The World Wide Web wasn’t in existence at the time of the Northridge earthquake. Right now think of how much both your personal life, but also our economic system, depends on having cell phone communications and internet connectivity.”
The “Shakeout Report” from the USGS estimates it could take six months for the broken water pipes to be replaced across Southern California after the earthquake. And they say while the Northridge quake directly affected about a half a million people, a maximum credible earthquake on the San Andreas fault could affect 10 million Californians.

Researchers find evidence of ancient super-volcanoes in Utah - researchers analyzed evidence of a recently discovered super volcano in Utah that erupted 25-30 million years ago and preserved a host of species not usually associated with the northwest United States, including camels, rhinoceroses, and palm trees.
The eruption -- more than 5,000 times as powerful as Mt. Saint Helen's in 1980 -- expelled 5,500 cubic kilometers of magma over the course of one prehistoric week. "In southern Utah, deposits from this single eruption are 13,000 feet thick. Imagine the devastation - it would have been catastrophic to anything living within hundreds of miles."
Though super volcanoes are capable of the most powerful, far-reaching eruptions (thus the adjective, "super"), they are much less physically conspicuous than more traditionally-sculpted volcanoes and their "high cones." "Supervolcanoes as we've seen are some of earth's largest volcanic edifices, and yet they don't stand as high cones. At the heart of a supervolcano instead, is a large collapse."
The aftermath of Uta's super volcano extended from the Wah Wah Valley in central Utah north to Central Nevada and south towards Cedar City. Parts of the explosion even reached Nebraska. Few living things survived in its wake.The volcano's geographical reach and eventual degradation were the primary reasons researchers took several years to analyze its eruptive course.
"The ravages of erosion and later deformation have largely erased them from the landscape, but our careful work has revealed their details. The sheer magnitude of this required years of work and involvement of dozens of students in putting this story together." A super volcano approximately the size of Wah Wah Valley's exists in Yellowstone National Park.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

No current tropical storms.

Arctic Cyclones 40 Percent More Frequent Than Previously Believed - Researchers observed more ice-melting arctic cyclones than they were expecting. Between the years of 2000 and 2010 about 1,900 cyclones ripped through the Arctic leaving behind warm air and water. This number is about 40 percent higher than researchers previously thought it would be. Many of the cyclones have been overlooked in the past because of their small size or short duration.
"Extreme Arctic cyclones" are of high interest to the scientists because they contribute to the dangerous melting of sea ice. "When a cyclone goes over water, it mixes the water up. In the tropical latitudes, surface water is warm, and hurricanes churn cold water from the deep up to the surface. In the Arctic, it's the exact opposite: there's warmer water below, and the cyclone churns that warm water up to the surface, so the ice melts." A behemoth cyclone that tore across the Arctic in 2012 is believed to have made a significant contribution to record sea ice melt that year.
The finding could help researchers gain insight into future weather patterns and climate change. "We now know there were more cyclones than previously thought, simply because we've gotten better at detecting them." The research team will need to better-observe the number of cyclones in the future in order to get an idea if their frequency is increasing or decreasing.
"Since 2000, there have been a lot of rapid changes in the Arctic-Greenland ice melting, tundra thawing - so we can say that we're capturing a good view of what's happening in the Arctic during the current time of rapid changes." The researchers are using computer algorithms and statistics from a number of sources in order to get a clearer idea of what the cyclone pattern has looked like in the past.
"There is actually so much information, it's hard to know what to do with it all. Each piece of data tells a different part of the story-temperature, air pressure, wind, precipitation-and we try to take all of these data and blend them together in a coherent way."

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