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.

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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**A bend in the road is not the end of the road,
unless you fail to make the turn.

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/27/13 -

Nevada - 4.2 magnitude quake connected to October 2012 swarm. On Monday, across northern Nevada, and even into parts of California, residents were shaken just before 6 o'clock when a 4.2 magnitude earthquake hit outside of Spanish Springs near Reno. Over the weekend there were a few minor quakes, but the activity behind Monday's quake actually goes back almost 11 months to a swarm of more than 100 small earthquakes. "It's in exactly the same place, same depth."
In October, a news station talked to a scientist about the swarm and he said because of the unpredictable nature of earhquakes there was no way to tell if a bigger quake would come. It's too soon to say if it will be the last. "I wouldn't consider this whole sequence to be over. Let's give it a few days and people still should be on guard about larger, potentially larger, events happening." Because we can't predict when another earthquake will hit, people should be prepared just in case.

Italy - new fumarole near Fiumicino airport. What appears to be a new fumarole appeared near Rome's International Fiumicino airport Saturday morning. A vent producing small geyser-like fountains of steam, water and mud was suddenly opened in the ground near a road crossing near Fiumicino.
Geologists are currently examining the phenomenon. It is still a bit unclear whether it is not a man-made accident caused by a broken pipe or similar (which might well be the case). First inspections however indicate that it is in fact a new natural vent. Obviously, there are also already some speculations whether it could be related to volcanic activity.
The nearest possibly still active volcanic system in the area is the Monti Albani, an old but possibly not yet extinct volcanic complex located 20 km SE of the capital. Its last known activity there took place about 20,000 years ago. New volcanic activity in the suburban area of Rome itself is certainly not a completely impossible, but quite unlikely scenario. More data will be needed to shed light on this.

Russia - Eruption begins at Klyuchevskoi, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East. Last time the volcano erupted was in 2010, but its most powerful eruption in the recent years was registered between January and May of 2005.


In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located approximately 275 nm south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan. Forecast to turn and reach Japan on Friday.

Philippines - 'Nando' [Kong-rey] won't make landfall here. The cyclone will continue to move upward via the eastern side of the country and head towards Taiwan by Thursday. Public storm warning signal number 1 has been raised over the Batanes Group of Islands. The cyclone will enhance the southwest monsoon and bring light to moderate rains and thunderstorms over Southern Luzon, Metro Manila and Western Visayas.
"Sea travel is risky over the eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon." The tropical storm rains will not be as heavy as Maring's, which swamped Metro Manila and parts of Luzon last week, leaving at least 25 people dead and thousands displaced.

Drought in South China eases following typhoons - As of Monday, the drought affected 1.7 million hectares of farmland. The drought will further ease as more rain is forecast for the southern regions.




+ "Farmers' Almanac" predicts a "bitterly cold" U.S. winter - The Farmers' Almanac is using words like "piercing cold," "bitterly cold" and "biting cold" to describe the upcoming winter.
The 197-year-old publication that hit newsstands Monday predicts a winter storm will hit the Northeast around the time the Super Bowl is played in New Jersey. It also predicts a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England. "We're using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It's going to be very cold."
Based on planetary positions, sunspots and lunar cycles, the almanac's secret formula is largely unchanged since the first almanac in 1818. Modern scientists don't put much stock in sunspots or tidal action, but the almanac says its forecasts used by readers to plan weddings and plant gardens are correct about 80 percent of the time.
Last year, the forecast called for cold weather for the eastern and central U.S. with milder temperatures west of the Great Lakes. It started just the opposite, but ended up that way. The publication's elusive prognosticator said he was off by only a couple of days on two of the season's biggest storms: a February blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast with 3 feet of snow in some places and a sloppy storm the day before spring's arrival that buried parts of New England.


An UNUSUAL, late-summer heat wave has enveloped much of the Midwest, putting schools and sports events on hold. Schools in Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Illinois let out early on Monday as temperatures crept toward the mid-90s - beyond in some places. After-school sports practices and evening games were canceled in St. Paul, Minnesota, and misting stations kept people cool at the Minnesota State Fair, where about 90 fairgoers had been treated for heat-related illnesses over the weekend.
The heat wave is supposed to last through much of the week. Heat of this magnitude is UNUSUAL for this time of year, but not unprecedented. In Des Moines, Iowa, temperatures on Aug. 26 have reached 100 degrees at least six times since 1881. South Dakota is experiencing its HOTTEST FINAL WEEK OF AUGUST ON RECORD.

Drought making comeback in Minnesota - As drought conditions return to Minnesota, authorities warned Thursday that the wildfire danger is rising throughout much of the state.

Extreme heat, little rainfall for Missouri in coming weeks .


+ Unprecedented U.S. natural disaster is likely coming - The outgoing Homeland Security Secretary has a warning for her successor: A massive and “serious” cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster - the likes of which the nation has never seen - is also likely on its way. So prepare, and bring “a large bottle of Advil,” she told her yet-to-be-named replacement in a farewell address Tuesday morning. “Many things still need tending, and my successor will most certainly have a full plate on his or her hands."
She leaves her post next week after more than four years at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security. She faced “many challenges” during her tenure at DHS, from the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. During her tenure, her department managed 325 federally declared disasters, and issued more than 60 emergency declarations.
Among her pieces of advice for her successor: “You ... will have to prepare for the increasing likelihood of more weather-related events of a more severe nature as a result of climate change, and continue to build the capacity to respond to potential disasters in far-flung regions of the country occurring at the same time."


Broccoli slows arthritis - Eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis, UK researchers believe. Tests on cells and rats showed that a broccoli compound - which humans can also get from Brussels sprouts and cabbage - blocked a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.
A special cruciferous vegetable has been bred to be extra rich in nutrients - it is a cross between standard broccoli and a wild relative from Sicily. Our body takes this glucoraphanin compound and turns it into another, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints.
Volunteers will have two weeks on the diet before going under the knife to have their badly arthritic knees repaired by surgeons. A medical team will look at the tissue that has been removed to see what impact, if any, the broccoli has had. "We're asking patients to eat 100g (3.5oz) every day for two weeks. That's a normal, good-sized serving - about a handful - and it's an amount that most people should be happy to eat every day...I can't imagine it would repair or reverse arthritis... but it might be a way to prevent it."
"Until now research has failed to show that food or diet can play any part in reducing the progression of osteoarthritis, so if these findings can be replicated in humans, it would be quite a breakthrough. We know that exercise and keeping to a healthy weight can improve people's symptoms and reduce the chances of the disease progressing, but this adds another layer in our understanding of how diet could play its part." More than 8.5 million people in the UK have osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease affecting in particular the hands, feet, spine, hips and knees.

+ Die-off of bottlenose dolphins is THE WORST IN 25 YEARS. The widespread die-off of bottlenose dolphins off the mid-Atlantic Coast is almost certainly the work of a virus that killed more than 740 dolphins in the same region in 1987 and 1988, marine scientists said Tuesday.
Since the beginning of July, 357 dead or dying dolphins have washed ashore from New York to North Carolina — 186 of them in Virginia. Authorities have received numerous additional reports of carcasses floating in the ocean. The actual number of deaths is certainly even greater.
The cause is believed to be cetacean morbillivirus, which has been confirmed or is suspected in 32 of 33 dolphins tested so far. Marine officials are looking at the possibility of other factors, including high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and other chemicals in the water, but have not linked the die-off to anything else.
From 2007 to 2012, the average number of yearly strandings — when dead or dying dolphins wash ashore — in the same states was 36. “If, indeed, this plays out the way that die-off occurred, we’re looking at the die-off being higher and the morbillivirus spreading southward." The 1987-88 episode affected 50 percent of the coastal migratory bottlenose dolphins, leading them to be classified as “depleted.”
The virus poses no threat to people, though it is related to the virus that causes measles in humans and distemper in canines. So far, there is no evidence of the virus jumping to other species, but other animals that have washed ashore are being tested. Secondary infections could be dangerous. Authorities urged people to stay away from stranded dolphins. “For people not trained in working with these animals and who don’t understand the risk, it’s much better to stay away from them, particularly if you have open wounds."
It is not clear what started the most recent problem, but a virologist said enough time had probably passed since the last mass die-off that herds of dolphins now lack natural immunity to morbillivirus. It is spread by direct contact between the animals or inhalation of droplets exhaled by infected dolphins above the water’s surface. “When the collective immunity drops below a certain, critical point, which we don’t really know for marine mammals, then the whole population becomes susceptible." Generally the virus causes death by suppressing the immune system, leaving the dolphin vulnerable to pneumonia and other lethal infections. The large number of deaths in Virginia “is really not surprising if you understand how the population of dolphins works."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**Every path hath a puddle.**
George Herbert

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/26/13 -

Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do, seismologists say. The greatest risk of dying during an earthquake comes from collapsing structures and flying debris. Thanks to Japan's stringent seismic building codes, during the 2011 magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake, fewer than 600 people were crushed by falling rubble. More than 90 percent of the country's deaths were from drowning during the ensuing tsunami.
But in China, where seismic building codes are often flouted, the magnitude-8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 killed more than 69,000 people. In 2010, an even smaller quake, a magnitude-7.0, killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti. Japan spends five times more money on reducing its earthquake damage risk than the United States. An international nonprofit called the Global Earthquake Model has an aim to freely provide the same sophisticated earthquake risk-assessment tools used by Japan to poorer countries.
GEM can't predict when or where an earthquake will hit. Instead, the GEM community would create a series of databases and open source software so that anyone could identify areas at risk from future earthquakes and shaking damage. If GEM succeeds, for the first time, the world will have a pooled earthquake resource accessible to all. GEM's massive ambitions include a database of the fragility of every building on Earth, a global earthquake catalog for the past 1,000 years, and a map of every known active fault. Add those up and out pops a rough estimate of dangerous areas to live. In future years, GEM databases will incorporate social vulnerability, or the ability to withstand the losses from an earthquake.
Despite Japan's deep investment in understanding its earthquake hazard, the location and enormous size of its great 2011 earthquake took the country by surprise. And few other countries can match Japan's long written and geologic history of earthquakes, or good monitoring network for current temblors. It won't be long before an earthquake kills 1 million people, experts predict. Megacities are sprawling along major fault lines around the world, often with no thought to earthquake-safe construction. But the deaths can be prevented. In the United States, Chile and Japan, building codes let earthquakes up to magnitude-7 roll through with relatively little damage. Mexico and Japan have earthquake early warning systems.
"The earthquakes aren't going to go away, but it is possible to build metropolitan regions that are far more resilient to earthquakes...GEM is contributing to a global recognition of risk, and one of the things I think is really true is that we've got to recognize the risk to which we're exposed before we change the way we build our cities."


In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located about 324 nm south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan.

Fernand's life as a tropical storm was brief, lasting just 15 hours at tropical storm strength on Sunday evening and Monday morning. But heavy rains from Fernand have caused the greatest death toll from a 2013 Atlantic named storm yet: thirteen people. Fernand dumped more than 150 mm (5.90 inches) over a few isolated regions. The victims all died in in flash floods in Mexico's mountainous terrain west of Veracruz, due to landslides that came down upon houses. Fernand hit Veracruz at 12:45 am EDT Monday morning as a tropical storm with 50 mph winds, and dissipated on Monday evening. The other deaths from this year's named storms include three people killed from floods due to Tropical Storm Barry (two in Mexico and one in El Salvador), and one person killed (in the Dominican Republic) due to flooding rains from Tropical Storm Chantal.

A tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa on Sunday is located about 300 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. This disturbance is moving westward at about 15 mph, has a modest amount of spin, but is relatively thin on heavy thunderstorm activity. It has not yet earned status as an area of interest ("Invest") by NHC, but they are giving the wave a 30% chance of developing by Sunday. The wave could spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the northern 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 would appear to have a high chance of recurvature, though.


Sudan - Four peacekeepers are missing in Sudan's Darfur region after being swept away by floods.The peacekeepers were escorting an aid convoy when a "powerful current" swept them away. Another two peacekeepers were found alive by a rescue team. The peacekeepers were en route to Misterei, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south-west of the regional capital Geneina, when a flash flood hit. "The incident occurred while the peacekeepers attempted to pull out their truck which was stuck in the mud of a river valley."
More than 300,000 people across Sudan have been affected by floods that have killed nearly 50 people in August. The region around the capital Khartoum had been particularly badly hit and was experiencing THE WORST FLOODS IN 25 YEARS. In August last year three peacekeepers from Tanzania drowned after their armoured vehicle became stranded while crossing a swollen river in Sudan. The UN estimates that more than 300,000 people have died in Darfur, mostly from disease, since rebels took up arms in 2003.


The huge wildfire near California's Yosemite National Park has continued to spread and is now showering ash on a reservoir serving San Francisco. The fire now spans more than 250 sq miles (650 sq km).
Fanned by strong winds, the fire is burning at the edge of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which supplies San Francisco with 85% of its water. The Rim Fire is raining ash on the key reservoir that supplies water and hydro-electric power to San Francisco. City officials say they are moving water to lower reservoirs and monitoring supplies for contamination. The blaze is also threatening thousands of homes and some of California's renowned giant sequoia trees.
Officials say the fire is 20% contained after burning for more than a week - up from 2% containment on Friday. Some 3,680 firefighters are tackling the flames in difficult terrain. Visibility in the smoke-ridden area is down to 100ft (30m), but ash reportedly falling on the reservoir like snow has not yet reached the water intake valves. The blaze has become so large that it was reportedly creating its own weather patterns.
The blaze began on 17 August in the Stanislaus National Forest from a still unknown cause. Evacuations, some voluntary and some mandatory, are taking place. Despite the threat to some 5,000 homes, only a few have been destroyed. 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. Lack of rain and snow have made it a bad year, with 5,700 fires being tackled so far.


Doctors highlight danger of breathlessness - People who feel breathless from light exertion should go back to their doctor for an explanation. Unexplained breathlessness is not OK, say a group of doctors who have banded together to tell people about a deadly lung disease. The disease is pulmonary hypertension, which affects thousands of people and can kill quicker than untreated lung cancer if not caught in time. Part of the problem is that doctors have been taught it is "very rare" and often mistake it for asthma or other illnesses. But the disease is far more common than thought.
One form of the disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension, is of particular concern. Although it can affect anyone at any age, most patients are girls and young women and most die or need a lung transplant within four years if not treated. However, if diagnosed and treated in time, many respond well to a simple oral medicine. Time lost because of delayed treatment cannot be regained. Even 12 weeks is significant. Patients must go back to their doctor after a month if the treatment they have received for breathlessness is not working. Go back until you find an answer. Something is not ok if you can't keep up with others walking on the flat or up a gentle slope due to breathlessness."
One of the problems with the disease is that it affects the lungs and the heart, and has fallen between the cracks between different medical specialities. The average person with the disease has five GP visits before being referred to a specialist. They then see three different specialists before they are referred to a centre that understands the condition. "It is taking people too long to have critical tests. Breathlessness can be just as life threatening as chest pain. Doctors must take it seriously....Don't put it down to being overweight or unfit."

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.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable,
but through it all I still know quite certainly
that just to be alive is a grand thing.**
Agatha Christie

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/24/13 -

8/23/13 -

Japan - Contaminated water from earthquake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant could could taint Pacific Ocean. Deep beneath Fukushima's crippled nuclear power station a massive underground reservoir of contaminated water that began spilling from the plant's reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has been creeping slowly toward the sea. Now, two-and-a-half years later, experts fear it is about to reach the Pacific and greatly worsen what is fast becoming a new crisis at Fukushima: the inability to contain vast quantities of radioactive water.
The looming crisis is potentially far greater than the discovery earlier this week of a leak from a tank used to store contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. That 300-ton (80,000 gallon) leak is the fifth and most serious since the disaster of 2011. But experts believe the underground seepage from the reactor and turbine building area is much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions. Many also believe it is another example of how TEPCO has repeatedly failed to acknowledge problems that it could almost certainly have foreseen - and could have taken action to mitigate before they got out of control.
It remains unclear what the impact of the contamination on the environment will be because the radioactivity will be diluted as it spreads further into the sea. Most fishing in the area is already banned. "Nobody knows when this is going to end. We've suspected (leaks into the ocean) from the beginning ... TEPCO is making it very difficult for us to trust them."
To keep the melted nuclear fuel from overheating, TEPCO has rigged a makeshift system of pipes and hoses to funnel water into the broken reactors. The radioactive water is then treated and stored in the aboveground tanks that have developed leaks. But far more leaks into the reactor basements during the cooling process — then through cracks into the surrounding earth and ground water.
Scientists, pointing to stubbornly high radioactive cesium levels in bottom-dwelling fish since the disaster, had for some time suspected the plant was leaking radioactive water into the ocean. TEPCO repeatedly denied that until last month, when it acknowledged contaminated water has been leaking into the ocean from early in the crisis. Even so, the company insists the seepage is coming from part of a network of maintenance tunnels, called trenches, near the coast, rather than underground water coming from the reactor area.
The turbine buildings at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are about 150 meters (500 feet) from the ocean. The contaminated underground water is spreading toward the sea at a rate of about 4 meters (13 feet) a month. At that rate, "the water from that area is just about to reach the coast," if it hasn't already. We must contain the problem as quickly as possible."
TEPCO has been criticized for repeatedly lagging in attempts to tackle leakage problems. As a precautionary step, it has created chemical blockades in the ground along the coast to stop any possible leaks, but experts question their effectiveness. After a nearly two-year delay, construction of an offshore steel wall designed to contain contaminated water has begun.
The utility has also proposed building frozen walls — upside down comb-shaped sticks that refrigerate surrounding soil — into the ground around the reactor areas, but that still has to be tested and won't be ready until 2015 if proved successful. "This is a race against the clock." Some 1,000 steel tanks built across the plant complex contain nearly 300,000 tons (300 million liters, 80 million gallons) of partially treated contaminated water. About 350 of them have rubber seams intended to last for only five years. A company spokesman said it plans to build additional tanks with welded seams that are more watertight, but will have to rely on rubber seams in the meantime. The rubber-seam tanks were mostly built in a rush when the contaminated water problem started, and often lacked adequate quality tests and require close attention. Workers have already spotted two more questionable tanks during inspection Thursday.
"It's like a haunted house, one thing happening after another. But we must take any steps that would reduce risks to avoid a fatal accident." Leaks of highly contaminated water from the above-ground tanks aggravate the groundwater problem. "Any contamination in the groundwater would eventually flow in to the ocean. That is very difficult to stop even with barriers. Radioactive cesium levels in most fish caught off the Fukushima coast hadn't declined in the year following the March 2011 disaster, suggesting that the contaminated water from the reactor-turbine areas is already leaking into the sea. But TEPCO hasn't provided the details scientists need to further assess the situation.

New Zealand - Quake prone cities 'rock like jelly'. New Zealand's most earthquake-prone cities are just like Tokyo, and ''rock like jelly on a dinner plate'' when a quake hits, new research shows.
A University of Canterbury senior hazards lecturer has been studying Tokyo's rivers, which were found to be an area of concern after the 2011 Japanese earthquakes. The research is believed to be of benefit to Christchurch and Wellington. "Tokyo, like Christchurch and the lowland areas of Wellington, is built by the sea on young sediments that have been deposited mostly by rivers or by the sea that has receded. As with Christchurch, most of the city of Tokyo was underwater only a couple of thousands years ago and most of its underground is composed of unconsolidated sediments.
Rivers were seen as an accelerator of earthquake impacts in Tokyo and Christchurch. When rivers moved laterally, they left abandoned channels filled by unconsolidated material. "This unconsolidated sediment left in abandoned channels can dramatically increase ground acceleration during an earthquake, as observed in Christchurch in 2010 and 2011. There is a striking link between the amount of damage to buildings in central Christchurch and the location of abandoned and paleo-channel in the Central Business District area."
Tokyo was an excellent example of rapid urbanisation over coastal land, following its population explosion in the aftermath of World War II. "The city's expansion has rapidly engulfed different types of ground including abandoned channels, rice fields drained from marshlands and mine pits.'' It is important to look at environmental risks in urban areas as in 2010 half the world's population was living in cities. The ratio is projected to rise to 80% by 2050.


In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Ivo is located about 290 mi (465 km) W of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Swells generated by Ivo still are affecting the southern portion of the Baja California peninsula. These swells are expected to subside on Sunday. Ivo is expected to become a remnant low on Sunday.

In the Western Pacific -
Tropical storm Pewa is located approximately 552 nm northward of Wake Island.

Tropical Storm Ivo re-forms in eastern Pacific - Winds and rain from Ivo are spreading across portions of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said early Saturday that Ivo was located about 185 miles (300 kilometers) west of Cabo San Lucas. It had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and was moving north-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Pacific coast of the peninsula from Punta Abreojos to Cabo San Lucas, and for the Gulf of California coast of the peninsula from Loreto to Cabo San Lucas. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Pacific coast of Baja California north of Punta Abreojos to Punta Eugenia. The Hurricane Center called Ivo a large storm and said it would likely bring more rain as well as surf swells.
Ivo expected to bring Arizona rain - Parts of Arizona are expected to be hit with scattered severe storms this weekend, with possible flooding thanks to moisture from Tropical Storm Ivo.

Potential cyclone enters Philippine Area of Responsibility - A new low pressure area entered the Philippine area of responsibility on Friday morning.

10% Chance Tropical Cyclone Forms Off Florida - A low pressure system has a low chance (10%) of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours.


+ Flood kills 76 in northeast China city - A river flood has killed 76 people and another 88 remain missing in Fushun.
+ China flash floods kill 21 workers in Qinghai province - At least 21 construction workers in north-west China have been killed by flash flooding that swept through a remote part of the province of Qinghai. They were "washed away" after a sudden torrential rain storm.
The area lies in high mountains 2,500km (1,500 miles) west of Beijing. Flash floods are a frequent threat both to residents there and to travellers drawn by its mountain scenery. On Monday at least 105 people were killed and 115 were missing after floods and a typhoon hit various parts of north-eastern and southern China. The Chinese government has called for "persistent efforts" to save people in the north-east from what was described as "THE WORST FLOODS IN DECADES".


+ Yemen facing water shortage - (Video). Yemen is facing a severe water crisis with some estimates suggesting the capital, Sanaa, could run dry in 10 years.

+ Wildfire near Yosemite National Park tripled in size overnight - A wildfire in Stanislaus National Forest in the US continued to expand, growing to 164 sq miles (424 sq km) by Friday morning. The Governor of California declared a state of emergency and the fire has forced thousands of residents and tourists to flee.
More than 2,000 firefighters have been tackling the blaze, known as the Rim Fire, which has encroached into Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular tourist attractions in California. "We're in some real trouble here."
+ The California wildfire reached Yosemite National Park swallowing everything in its path. After burning for nearly a week on the edges of Yosemite, the massive wildfire of nearly 200 square miles has now crossed into it, and firefighters have barely begun to contain it.
The governor issued a declaration of emergency late Friday for San Francisco 150 miles away because of the threat the fire posed to utility transmission to the city, and the fire caused smoke warnings and event cancellations in Nevada as smoke blew over the Sierra Nevada and across state lines. Health district officials raised an air quality alert to the "red" unhealthy level, Friday afternoon in Reno, Nevada.
Yosemite stopped issuing backcountry permits to backpackers and had warned those who already had them to stay out of the area. The skies over Yosemite Valley were "crystal clear," however. "We just have to take one day at a time." The blaze did, however, pose a threat to the lines and stations that pipe power to the city of San Francisco. San Francisco gets 85 per cent of its water from the Yosemite-area Hetch Hetchy reservoir that is about 4 miles from the fire, though that had yet to be affected. But it was forced to shut down two of its three hydroelectric power stations in the area. The city has so far been able to buy power on the open market and use existing supplies, but further disruptions or damage could have an effect.
The 196-square-mile blaze was 5 per cent contained and more than 2,000 firefighters were on the lines. It continued to grow in several directions, although "most of the fire activity is pushing to the east right into Yosemite." The fire was threatening about 5,500 residences, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The blaze has destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings in several different areas. It closed a 4-mile stretch of State Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side. Two other western routes and an eastern route were open.
Officials issued voluntary evacuation advisories for two new towns -- Tuolumne City, population 1,800, and Ponderosa Hills, a community of several hundred -- which are about five miles from the fire line. A mandatory evacuation order remained in effect for part of Pine Mountain Lake, a summer gated community a few miles from the fire. "It feels a little bit like a war zone, with helicopters flying overhead, bombers dropping retardant and 10 engine companies stationed on our street."
Officials previously advised voluntary evacuations of more than a thousand other homes, several organized camps and at least two campgrounds in the area outside the park's boundary. More homes, businesses and hotels are threatened in nearby Groveland, a community of 600 about 5 miles from the fire and 25 miles from the entrance of Yosemite. Usually filled with tourists, the streets are now swarming with firefighters, evacuees and news crews.
The fire is raging in the same region where a 1987 blaze killed a firefighter, burned hundreds of thousands of acres and forced several thousand people out of their homes.

Dry weather challenges Iowa and Illinois growers - Ereme weather is taking a toll on crops. UNUSUALLY DRY weather is coming at a bad time for corn and soybean growers.


WEEKEND GEOMAGNETIC STORMS? - NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% to 70% chance of polar geomagnetic storms this weekend. A CME ejected from the sun on Aug. 21 was expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on Aug. 24, with reverberations from the impact continuing through today, Aug. 25.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook

**Even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings.**
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 8/22/13 -

Kizimen volcano (Kamchatka) - The lava dome continues to grow at the top of the volcano and produce incandescent rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows, generating ash plumes.


In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical depression Nine-E is located about 390 mi (630 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Forecast to become a tropical storm on Friday.

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

Philippines - A new potential cyclone or low pressure area (LPA) was sighted some 2,000 km east of Northern Luzon on Thursday morning, August 22; the effects to be felt on the weekend.

Chinese Floods Kill 250 During Past Week - Earth's 4th Deadliest Disaster of 2013. Typhoon Trami hit Southeast China on Wednesday as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds, after dumping torrential rains in the Philippines that killed 17 people. Trami's rains are creating new flooding flooding problems for a Chinese nation already reeling from a week of deadly floods that have left over 250 people dead or missing. Twenty-one of the deaths came on Tuesday evening, due to a flash flood in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
The deadliest incident came earlier this week, when torrential rains caused the Nei River in northeastern Liaoning province to overflow near the city of Fushuan, killing 54 people and leaving 97 missing. It's been a disastrous summer for flooding in China. The 250 people killed in the past week of flooding in China make this disaster Earth's fourth deadliest natural disaster of 2013. The deadliest was the monsoon flood in India and Nepal in June that killed 6,500; the second deadliest was the severe winter weather that hit India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in January, killing 329; the third deadliest was flooding in China in mid-July that left 305 people dead or missing. China had three billion-dollar flooding disasters in July.

The tropical Atlantic is dominated by dry, stable air, and a new outbreak of dust and dry air will exit the coast of Africa this weekend, keeping the Tropical Atlantic dry though at least Thursday, August 29. Dry air coming off the coast of Africa may abate some after that, as the long-range models call for the Azores High to shift more to the northeast.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Depression 9-E has formed, about 390 miles SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Cold waters off the coast of Baja California will likely keep TD 9-E from strengthening into a hurricane, and the storm is not expected to make landfall in Mexico. However, moisture from TD 9-E will stream into Northwest Mexico and possibly the Southwest U.S. 3 - 5 days from now, which could triggering flash flooding. The European and GFS models predict formation of a second tropical storm that will follow a similar path to TD 9-E late next week, along the west coast of the Baja Peninsula.

Much of Hong Kong was shrouded in a haze on Thursday as a continental air stream associated with Tropical Cyclone Trami contributed to the trapping of pollutants in the city’s air. The air pollution index remained a “very high level” for most parts of the city on Thursday as smog and pollutants accumulated.
Roadsides of three busy areas were the worst hit. Mong Kok recorded a roadside air pollution index of 167 at 8am, Causeway Bay hit 184 and Central reached 174. A reading of between 101 and 200 means the pollution level is very high and that people with heart or respiratory illnesses may notice a mild aggravation of their condition. Visibility in Central also dropped to only 1,500 metres between 9am and 10am.
Local winds were stagnant under the influence of Trami, making it difficult for air pollutants to disperse. Trami made a landfall in Fujian early on Thursday, bringing torrential rain and winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour to the province.


Portugal - Firefighter dead, 6 hurt in wildfire in a remote and hilly region. They could not immediately provide more information about what happened to the firefighters sent on Thursday to put out a fire in the municipality of Tondela, in north central Portugal. Numerous fires have broken out in three regions of north central and northern Portugal in recent days, and 700 firefighters are battling the blazes.

Drought Called a Factor in Syria's Uprising - Dara'a is a mostly agricultural community in a region that has suffered an unrelenting drought since 2001. Some experts say it's no accident that Syria's civil war began there. In 2009, the United Nations and other international agencies found that more than 800,000 Syrian farmers and herdsmen had been forced off their lands because of drought, with many crowding into cities like Dara'a. Additionally, thousands of illegal wells were drilled, drastically lowering the nation's ground water supply. Experts estimate that 60 percent of the aquifer has been lost due to illegal drilling, and a total of 177 million-acre feet of water disappeared, the second-largest aquifer loss in the world.
“I actually don't think the aquifer will recover.” Seven years of NASA satellite data show the Tigris-Euphrates region second only to India in the speed of its groundwater loss. “The Middle East is the dry part of the world and now that climate change is expressing itself very clearly, one of the things that we will see is that the dry parts of the world will get drier. Think of it as a persistent prolonged drought.” Because of climate change, the Tigris-Euphrates basin and the underground reservoirs of fresh water that once nurtured this fragile desert climate may not be able to sustain future populations in Syria.
The Syrian uprising was unlike political uprisings in Egypt, Yemen and other Middle East states, all of which started in the major cities. Dara'a was a regional agricultural hub with a pre-war population of 90,000. “Dara'a is the capital of an agricultural province, one of the most significant agricultural areas." Their protests spread from Dara's at Syria's southern border to communities north of Aleppo and across the vast al-Jazira plain that stretches from the banks of the Euphrates to the banks of the Tigris.
The pattern of the protests followed the rural path of the drought. “Even until today it's been a peasant revolt isolated to the rural areas." Assad's economic reforms focused on global trade that benefitted the urban middle classes, thereby worsening the plight of Syria's farmers. The reforms were implemented “at the expense of the population in the rural areas, where they abolished agricultural subsidies. The regime turned its back to the rural population and the result was the revolt.”
Even before climate change threatened less rainfall in the region, water was a hot-button issue. With little or no regional cooperation on water issues, experts fear that the turmoil now wrecking Syria could be a prelude to other conflicts in the region.

Texas - Statewide 89% of the state is considered to be in a drought. That is up from 79% .


There is growing evidence for the benefit of organic food - according to a previously sceptical doctor who says many agricultural pesticides are lethal to good bacteria in the bowel. "Scientists have always said eating organic food is senseless and makes no difference as pesticides don't harm humans. However, the pesticides kill certain species of gut bacteria, not us."
This causes an imbalance that contributes to obesity and poor general health. "This thinking is becoming mainstream, particularly among gastroenterologists. My wife and patients have told me for 20 years that they feel better on an organic diet, but I have said there is no reason why they should." It turns out they are protecting their gut flora, he says.
"For the past 10 years doctors have been looking at gut bacteria as something that makes us healthy. If our gut bacteria is not healthy, we cannot be healthy. A lot of what doctors see in their surgeries is just a consequence of altered bacteria playing up." He says entire families can become obese if something in their environment disrupts their gut. "It's not what they eat or some type of moral corruption of the owner of those bugs."
He is particularly concerned about the high rate of elective caesarean sections, which may leave babies with inadequate gut flora for years after birth, affecting their weight. "More research is needed for a solution, but breastfeeding appears to be a healthy and effective way to encourage a broader diversity of gut bacteria in the infant." As the baby grows, plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetables in season and minimising grains is the key to a gut-healthy diet.

New case of cheese-linked listeriosis - Six people in five states have been infected in an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to cheese from Crave Brothers Farmstead of Waterloo, Wisconsin. This includes 1 new case in Texas since the CDC's previous report in July. Other states with cases are Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio with one each and Minnesota with two. All patients have needed hospitalization, and one of the Minnesota patients died. The illness resulted in miscarriage in a pregnant patient as well. The cheese company voluntarily recalled Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles, the cheeses thought to be the source, on Jul 3. The cheeses were distributed through retail stores and foodservices as well as by mail nationwide.

At least 3 more patients affected by Cyclospora, putting the total at 601. Texas, the state with the most cases, accounts for 250 cases in CDC's current count, but the state's own count lists 274 case. With those additional 24 cases, the national count would stand at 625.The new cases include two in New York City and one in New Jersey, with the latter noted to potentially have been acquired out of state. The number of states affected, 22, is unchanged, as is the number of hospitalizations (40, or 9%, based on 465 cases). The majority of the Texas cases have been in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.