SUMMARY - Thursday, March 13, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**A man is but the product of his thoughts;
what he thinks, he becomes.**
Mahatma Gandhi

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 3/12/14 -

Japan - A Magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off Japan's southern island of Kyushu near the city of Oita. The quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.4, struck at 2:06 a.m. on Friday (1706 GMT on Thursday). It was 53.4 miles deep and was centered 31 miles northeast of Oita.

Indonesia - Mt. Slamet activity remains normal, expert says. "The volcanic activity is normal and there is no connection to [recent separate] volcanic eruptions."

* In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone Lusi is located approximately 418 nm east of Noumea, New Caledonia.
New Zealand - City braces for storm's deluge. Forecasters say the remains of Tropical Cyclone Lusi could dump 60mm to 100mm of rain on Christchurch this Sunday. The city is already saturated. (see article below)


’ONCE IN A HUNDRED YEAR' STORM Pounds Christchurch, New Zealand - A powerful extra-tropical storm sideswiped the coast of New Zealand’s South Island bringing gales and flooding to the city of Christchurch and the HEAVIEST RAINFALL SEEN IN ALMOST 40 YEARS.
The powerful storm pounded the Christchurch area between March 3-5 with wind gusts up to 119 km/h (74 mph) and rainfall of 151.6 mm (5.97”). Of this amount 100 mm (3.94”) fell in just a single 24-hour period on March 4-5. The suburb of Lytelton received 160 mm (6.30”) in 24 hours and other suburbs reported storm totals of 170 mm (6.70”).
The normal monthly rainfall for Christchurch in March is just 45 mm (1.77”). Hundreds of homes and business’s were flooded and 5000 customers lost power in the city and suburbs (Christchurch’s population is around 360,000). The worst affected suburbs were St. Albans, Avondale, New Brighton, and Woolston.
An earthquake devastated Christchurch just three years ago on February 22, 2011 that resulted in the deaths of 185. Apparently some of the city’s streets dropped 50 cm (20”) during the quake and this, some residents claim, has exacerbated some of the recent flooding in some neighborhoods. (photos and map at link)

England - A series of cliff collapses at Birling Gap in East Sussex has prompted a warning to visitors to keep away from the edge. More tourists are expected this weekend because of the warm weather and the hope of seeing further erosion. On Tuesday, the high tide caused a severe fall in the cliffs after a 30ft crack appeared, resulting in a row of cottages ending up closer to the edge. The cliffs have already suffered seven years' worth of erosion, since January.
The coastguard has also reminded visitors there is currently no access to Birling Gap via the steps from the beach at the Seven Sisters Country Park. Two people had to be rescued by lifeboat on consecutive days earlier in the week after becoming cut off by the incoming tide. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency urged walkers to take note of the warning signs in place. "Some sections of the coast are particularly vulnerable to cliff falls and landslips. We are advising the public to take great care when walking on cliff paths or along beaches."(photo)


U. S. - Late winter storm hits Midwest, Northeast.


+ Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty - Alfalfa, grown for Asian cattle, is worsening California’s drought. Who knew that it took 5.4 gallons to produce a head of broccoli, or 3.3 gallons to grow a single tomato? This information about the water footprint of food products — that is, the amount of water required to produce them — is important to understand, especially for the state of California which dedicates about 80 percent of its water to agriculture.
But those numbers pale next to the water required to fatten livestock. Beef turns out to have an overall water footprint of roughly four million gallons per ton produced. By contrast, the water footprint for “sugar crops” like sugar beets is about 52,000 gallons per ton; for vegetables it’s 85,000 gallons per ton; and for starchy roots it’s about 102,200 gallons per ton.
Yet a single plant is leading California’s water consumption. It’s a plant that’s not generally cultivated for humans: alfalfa. Grown on over a million acres in California, alfalfa sucks up more water than any other crop in the state. And it has one primary destination: cattle. Increasingly popular grass-fed beef operations typically rely on alfalfa as a supplement to pasture grass. Alfalfa hay is also an integral feed source for factory-farmed cows, especially those involved in dairy production.
If Californians were eating all the beef they produced, one might write off alfalfa’s water footprint as the cost of nurturing local food systems. But that’s not what’s happening. Californians are sending their alfalfa, and thus their water, to Asia. Alfalfa growers are now exporting some 100 billion gallons of water a year from this drought-ridden region to the other side of the world in the form of alfalfa. All as more Asians are embracing the American-style, meat-hungry diet.
Further intensifying this ecological injustice are incidents such as the Rancho Feeding Corporation’s recent recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef because the meat lacked a full federal inspection. That equals 631.6 million gallons of water wasted by an industry with a far more complex and resource-intensive supply chain than the systems that move strawberries from farm to fork. And the slaughtering process demands 132 gallons of water per animal carcass, contributing even more to livestock’s expanding water footprint.
It’s understandable for concerned consumers to feel helpless in the face of these complex industrial and global realities. But in the case of agriculture and drought, there’s a clear and accessible action most citizens can take: reducing or, ideally, eliminating the consumption of animal products. Changing one’s diet to replace 50 percent of animal products with edible plants like legumes, nuts and tubers results in a 30 percent reduction in an individual’s food-related water footprint. Going vegetarian, a better option in many respects, reduces that water footprint by almost 60 percent.

Climate change is shutting down some of the most important ocean currents. The Weddell Sea polynya, a massive area of open water in Antarctic waters, was the most productive source of cold Antarctic Bottom Water until the late '70s. These currents carry oxygen, carbon and nutrients down to the deepest parts of the ocean. The recent freshening of water on the top layer of the ocean, caused by increasing glacial melting and increasing precipitation has stopped the formation of the polynya, and therefore the current.


+ The third of the back- to-back-to-back asteroid flybys over 24 hours, occurred last Thursday. A tiny space rock barely missed Earth, coming six times closer than the orbit of the moon. The 25-foot-wide (8 meters) asteroid 2014 EC came within 38,300 miles (61,600 kilometers) of our planet at 4:21 p.m. ET (2121 GMT). For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles (385,000 km).
"This is not an unusual event. Objects of this size pass this close to the Earth several times every year." But the close encounter was special in one sense — it came just one day after two other space-rock flybys. On Wednesday afternoon (March 5), the 100-foot-wide (30 m) asteroid 2014 DX110 zipped within 217,000 miles (350,000 km) of Earth. "A third asteroid, 2014 EF, which is closer in size to today's 2014 EC, passed Earth at about 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST) Wednesday, with closest approach about twice as far from Earth as 2014 EC's closest approach."
There was never any danger of an impact by the asteroids during these flybys, researchers said. The odds that 2014 EC will ever hit Earth are currently estimated to be 1 in 2.7 million. 2014 EC was just discovered on Tuesday night (March 4). It's about half as wide as the space rock that exploded without warning over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, generating a powerful shock wave that injured 1,500 people. (Most of the wounds were caused by shards of flying glass from broken windows.)
The Russian meteor got worldwide attention, alerting the public and policymakers to the very real dangers posed by asteroid strikes. Many researchers are pushing for more money and new instruments to aid the hunt for near-Earth asteroids; just 10,660 have been detected to date, out of a total population thought to number in the millions.

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