Thursday, March 20, 2014

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster reports.

**We all live under the same sky,
but we don't all have the same horizon.**
Konrad Adenauer

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday, 3/19/14 -

Any chance that Monday's magnitude 4.4 temblor was a prelude to a larger, more powerful earthquake was reduced to 1% Tuesday morning.
Big California Quake Likely Within 25 Years - Scientists say Monday's magnitude 4.4 earthquake in Southern California, and last week's quakes near the North Coast were simply business as usual. The predawn earthquake rolled across the Los Angeles basin Monday, rattling nerves and shaking buildings along a 150-mile stretch.

Current tropical storms - maps and details.

* In the Southwestern Pacific -
- Tropical cyclone Mike is located approximately 618 nm southwest of Papeete, Tahiti. The final advisory has already been issued on this system.


SOLAR 'SUPERSTORM' NARROWLY MISSED EARTH - The heliophysics communitty is buzzing in response to an article which describes an intense solar storm that narrowly missed Earth almost two years ago. On July 23, 2012, a CME rocketed away from the sun at 2000 km/s, almost four times faster than a typical eruption.
The storm tore through Earth orbit, but fortunately Earth wasn't in that position yet. Instead it hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, which experienced the most intense solar proton storm since 1976. Researchers have been analyzing the data ever since, and they have concluded that the storm was akin to the Carrington Event of 1859.
"Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859. The effect today [on] our modern technologies would have been tremendous."
The Carrington Event was a series of powerful CMEs that hit Earth head-on, sparking Northern Lights as far south as Tahiti. Intense geomagnetic storms caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and disabling the 'Victorian Internet." A similar storm today would have a catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunication networks.
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers fried by such a storm could take years to repair.
What gave the July 2012 storm Carrington-like potency - For one thing, the CME was actually two CMEs separated by only 10 to 15 minutes. Plus the CMEs traveled through a region of space that had been cleared out by another CME four days earlier. As a result, they were not decelerated as much as usual by their transit through the interplanetary medium.
The storm clouds crossed Earth's orbit in a place where Earth itself would be about 1 week later, so it was a relatively narrow escape. The whole episode highlights the perils of space weather. Many observers have noted that the current solar cycle is weak, perhaps the weakest in 100 years.
Now we see that even a weak solar cycle can produce a very strong storm. Earth is not safe from these kind of events, so it's time to be prepared.


Lost sleep leads to loss of brain cells, study suggests - Sleep loss may be more serious than previously thought, causing a permanent loss of brain cells. In mice, prolonged lack of sleep led to 25% of certain brain cells dying. If the same is true in humans, it may be futile to try to catch up on missed sleep, say US scientists.
The study looked at lab mice that were kept awake to replicate the kind of sleep loss common in modern life, through night shifts or long hours in the office. A team studied certain brain cells which are involved in keeping the brain alert. After several days of sleep patterns similar to those followed by night workers - three days of night shifts with only four to five hours sleep in 24 hours - the mice lost 25% of the brain cells, in part of the brain stem. The researchers say this is the first evidence that sleep loss can lead to a loss of brain cells.
But they add that more work needs to be done to find out if people who miss out on sleep might also be at risk of permanent damage. "We now have evidence that sleep loss can lead to irreversible injury. This might be in a simple animal but this suggests to us that we are going to have to look very carefully in humans." The next step was to examine the brains of shift workers after death for evidence of any loss of brain cells.
"The authors draw parallels with night shift work in humans and suggest how chronic sleep deprivation could adversely affect not only our physical, but also our mental health. This possibility will need to be tested by a lot more research. Nonetheless, it is consistent with many recent reports of importance of circadian clocks and sleep cycles for optimal well-being." In the long-term, they think it might be possible to develop a medicine that protects brain cells, by boosting a natural chemical involved in sleep recovery.

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