Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Global Disaster Watch - daily natural disaster updates.

**I do not like that man. Then I must get to know him better.**
Abraham Lincoln

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 7/28/15 -

7/27/15 -

7/26/15 -

7/25/15 -

7/24/15 -

Indonesia earthquake: Magnitude 7.0 quake - Teenager killed, buildings damaged. A powerful earthquake rocked remote eastern Indonesia on Tuesday, damaging several buildings and killing a teenage boy who drowned after he fell into a river as he fished. A 50m crack also appeared in a road.
The 7.0-magnitude quake struck inland in a mountainous area of Papua in the early hours, almost 250km west of the province's capital Jayapura. "The quake was felt very strongly for four seconds. Residents panicked and rushed out of their homes." Rescuers were still trying to reach the area closest to the epicentre in Memberamo district.
One house collapsed and another was partially damaged in Kasonaweja city, not far from the epicentre, while patients were evacuated from a hospital after its walls cracked. The quake was 32.8 miles deep and was centred 154 miles west of Jayapura. There was no threat of any tsunami.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. A huge undersea quake in 2004 triggered the tsunami that engulfed Aceh province on western Sumatra island, killing more than 170,000 people in Indonesia and tens of thousands more in other countries with coasts on the Indian Ocean.

Alaska's Aleutian Islands hit by 6.9 magnitude quake - The quake struck 60 miles south-west of the village of Nikolski in islands Tuesday at around 9pm local time, at a depth of 14 miles.

Children miss school, fear abuse after Nepal quake - Inadequate shelter, school closures and a lack of safe water and sanitation are the three biggest concerns of Nepali children affected by two huge earthquakes, said a major survey published on Saturday, the three month anniversary of the first quake.
Children interviewed by aid agencies in the aftermath of the disaster also expressed worry about the lack of privacy and space, with younger children fearing attacks by wild animals, and girls feeling vulnerable to sexual harassment. At least 2.8 million people, around 10 percent of Nepal's population, need urgent help according to a U.N. report published earlier this month. Almost 9,000 people were killed by the quakes on April 25 and May 12.
Nearly 2,000 children were interviewed by four charities, in what they described as one of the largest ever child consultations ever undertaken following a disaster. "Tens of thousands of children are living in inadequate shelters." "It is still a race against time to provide basic needs of shelter, sanitation and protection."
Separate research carried out by Oxfam in Dhading district to the west of capital Kathmandhu found that women and adolescent girls feel at risk of physical and sexual abuse in temporary shelters which are often overcrowded. The situation is particularly bad for single women, often widows and divorcees, who tend to be isolated and receive little in the way of community support. "After living through two massive earthquakes, this situation is only compounding their trauma."

Mega-quake: The 'big one' could happen soon, but probably not where you think - instead the Pacific Northwest might be where the next huge tremors happen, say seismologists. Alarmingly, seismologists now predict that the odds of a mega-quake hitting the Cascadia subduction zone in the next 50 years are roughly one in three. The big one is coming, inevitably.
If you believe what you see in the movies, you probably think that "the big one" — a mega- earthquake in a major North American city — will inevitably hit Los Angeles or San Francisco along the San Andreas Fault. But while these cities are certainly prone to devastating earthquakes, many experts now suspect that the site of the next really, really big one will be somewhere else entirely.
It may happen in the Pacific Northwest, and possibly be the most ruinous, destructive earthquake to hit North America in modern times. The characterization might seem unlikely to current residents — the Pacific Northwest rarely experiences large tremors — but the region sits at the crux of a major fault line called the Cascadia subduction zone, a tectonic plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California.
Earthquakes along subduction zones, or plate boundaries where one plate is sinking dramatically underneath the other, are the most powerful earthquakes known to occur, capable of exceeding 9.0 on the Richter Scale. It was movement along this same kind of tectonic boundary that caused the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The scale of earthquakes along these types of zones can often be proportional to the length of the fault, and as faults go, the Cascadia subduction zone is a particularly lengthy one. In other words, the entire region essentially sits upon (and, in fact, has been fundamentally shaped by) a perfect storm for mega-quakes.
So then, why are large earthquakes so uncommon in the Pacific Northwest? They're actually not, at least not if you think in terms of geological timescales. Scientists now know that mega-quakes have occurred along this plate boundary once every 243 years on average.
The last big one occurred 315 years ago, in the year 1700. That is more than 100 years before explorers Lewis and Clark had even first traversed the region. When a quake in excess of 9.0 in magnitude does occur along the entire length of the Cascadia zone, the resultant tremor will likely level much of the architecture in cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Salem and Eugene, which is not designed to withstand such a violent shake. Structures that do survive the trembling could be inundated by a 20- to 100-foot tsunami wave that could be triggered up and down the coast.
The entire map of the Pacific Northwest west of the I-5 corridor may need to be redrawn by the end of the disaster. It's a terrifying scenario, especially considering how woefully unprepared the region is for handling such a disaster. The best that can be hoped for is that such a mega-quake occurs late along its typical interval, and that developers in the region wise up to the possibility of such a catastrophe and have plenty of time to up their preparedness.

Grenada reports decreased activity at underwater volcano — An underwater volcano north of Grenada is showing a decline in seismic activity, authorities on the eastern Caribbean island said Saturday.
Grenada's National Disaster Management Agency said it expects to lower the alert level from orange to yellow if that pattern continues. Seismic activity recently increased at the Kick 'em Jenny volcano, with authorities warning on Thursday that an eruption could occur within 24 hours. But there had been fewer than 20 earthquakes associated with the volcano between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
"This represents a significant decline in the level of earthquakes associated with the activity so far." The volcano's recent heightened activity prompted authorities in the Caribbean region to issue alerts, but officials at the center said there was no risk of a destructive tsunami. "There is no need for panic. People should go about their daily lives as normal."
At Grenada's disaster management agency, officials were upgrading equipment to better monitor the volcano and provide more precise data. The volcano has erupted beneath the Caribbean Sea at least 12 times without causing any deaths or injuries. The last eruption occurred in 2001. Kick 'em Jenny was discovered in the 1930s and rises 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the seafloor on a steep slope of the Lesser Antilles ridge.


*In the North Indian Ocean -
- Tropical cyclone 02b is located approximately 64 nm south-southwest of Chittagong, Bangladesh.

*In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical depression Eight-E is located bout 1325 mi (2135 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours, but the depression could still become a tropical storm today.

Quiet in the Atlantic - Two Disturbances for Hawaii to Watch. On Monday, the tropics had fallen silent the past two days, with no named storms anywhere on the planet. It's not unusual to see a quiet period for tropical cyclones in July, which lies before the climatological peak months of August, September, and October in the Northern Hemisphere (a tropical cyclone is the generic term for all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes/typhoons).
The tropical cyclone-free period will likely be short lived, though, as Invest 90E, located in the Eastern Pacific about 1,050 miles southwest of the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula on Monday morning, may develop into a tropical depression by Wednesday. This system is something residents of Hawaii should keep an eye on. Satellite loops show the disturbance has good degree of spin, but heavy thunderstorm activity is limited due to dry air and moderate wind shear of 10 - 20 knots.
The system is on a trajectory that will likely take it within 300 miles of Hawaii this weekend, but the latest SHIPS model forecast shows that late this week 90E will encounter higher wind shear, cooler ocean temperatures, and drier, more stable air. These conditions should cause significant weakening as 90E approaches Hawaii.
In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave 90E 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 40% and 70%, respectively. Hawaii should also watch a tropical wave located several hundred miles south of the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. This wave was moving westwards, and should arrive in the vicinity of Hawaii by Tuesday next week. In their 8 am EDT Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave this disturbance 2-day and 5-day odds of development of 0% and 40%, respectively.

In the Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is issuing advisories on Tropical Depression 2, which is bringing heavy rains to portions of India and Bangladesh along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Tropical depressions embedded within India's monsoon rarely grow into strong tropical storms, but can be prodigious rain makers.
India's monsoon has been 12% below normal in rainfall as of July 22, so the country could use more rainfall - though perhaps not in the concentrated manner a monsoon tropical depression typically delivers, causing dangerous flooding rains. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center is not classifying this system as a tropical depression yet.

In the Western Pacific, all looks to be quiet until at least this Saturday, when both the European and GFS models predict a new tropical depression could form about 500 miles east of the Philippines.

African tropical wave-watching season has begun - In the Atlantic, it's the time of year when we need to start watching the regular procession of tropical waves coming off the coast of Africa. About 85% of all major hurricanes in the Atlantic get their start as an African tropical wave, so these potential trouble-makers are important to track and monitor.
We do have several solid tropical waves with decent spin and moisture that have pushed off the coast of Africa over the past few days, but these tropical waves face a rugged path ahead of them if they want to develop into tropical depressions. Wind shear off the coast of Africa is not prohibitive - a moderate 10 - 20 knots - but a massive area of dry, dusty air - a Saharan Air Layer (SAL) outbreak common for this time of year - is dominating most of the tropical Atlantic, from the coast of Africa into the Central Caribbean.
This dry air will make it difficult for any tropical waves to spin up into tropical depressions over the Eastern Atlantic. If something does manage to form, it will likely be short-lived, if it attempts to move very far west. High wind shear of 20 - 40 knots dominates the Caribbean, and is expected to stay strong for at least the next five days. The ensemble runs of the GFS and European models - done by running the models at lower resolution and varying the initial atmospheric conditions slightly to generate an "ensemble" of twenty potential weather situations (fifty for the European model) - do have a few of their 20 - 50 runs that develop a tropical depression from one of these African tropical waves later this week.
However, none of these solutions have the storm that develops making it as far west as the Lesser Antilles Islands, and the operational high-resolution versions of our three top models for predicting genesis of tropical cyclones - the GFS, European, and UKMET models - do not show anything developing this week. NHC did not highlight any suspected areas of development over the next five days in their 8 am Monday Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlook.

Heavy rains in Florida from Gulf of Mexico low. A low pressure system has formed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, and will drift toward the Florida coast, bringing 1 - 3" of rain with a few high spots of 3 - 5" over Central Florida over the next few days. The Tampa radar is estimating that this low has already brought 6+ inches of rain to the coast near Tampa, Fort Myers, and Naples.
High wind shear of 20 - 30 knots is keeping this system from developing. While a number of members of the GFS and European ensemble model forecast do show this system developing, none of the operational versions of our reliable models for predicting genesis of tropical cyclones show development over the next five days.

Super typhoon Haiyan: what happened to the survivors? - In the Philippines,candles lit up the streets of the central Philippine city of Tacloban worst-hit by the strongest storm to make landfall as thousands remembered more than 6,300 people who died a year ago when typhoon Haiyan smashed into the country.
Before dawn on Saturday, more than 5,000 people holding white balloons and candles mournfully walked around the regional capital Tacloban City, passing through areas flattened by Haiyan's 250 kph (155 mph) winds and seven-metre high storm surge. Typhoon Haiyan wiped out or damaged practically everything in its path as it swept ashore on Nov. 8, 2013, destroying around 90 percent of the city of Tacloban in Leyte province.
More than 14.5 million people were affected by the storm in six regions and 44 provinces. More than four million people still remain homeless. Hundreds of people, most of them fishermen, staged protests in the city on Saturday, demanding the government provide new homes and jobs, and accusing officials of diverting aid and reconstruction funds.
"We have felt a year's worth of the government's vicious abandonment, corruption, deceit, and repression, and have seen a year's worth of news and studies that confirm this situation (multiple additional Haiyan typhoon stories at the link)


Pakistan - Flash flooding caused by torrential monsoon rains has killed at least 28 in Pakistan and affected hundreds of thousands of people, with further downpours expected in the coming days.
In Chitral in the northwest, roads, bridges and crops were badly damaged, with more than a quarter of a million affected. Pakistan's poorest province, Baluchistan in the southwest, was also badly hit. "Some villages have been cut off from the rest of the district." People in flood-prone areas have been shifted to safer ground.
Heavy rains are expected over the weekend, which may cause more flash flooding and could trigger landslides in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which includes Chitral. The heavy rains started falling on July 15, and continued over the next week throughout the country, causing some urban flooding in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Deadly flooding is common in Pakistan's monsoon season, which runs from June to September. Last September dozens of people in Punjab and Kashmir were killed when flash floods caused their homes to collapse. In 2010, the worst floods in memory affected killed more than 2,000 people in Pakistan, with damage to infrastructure running into billions of dollars, and huge swathes of crops destroyed as a fifth of the country was inundated.


RECORD OCEAN TEMPERATURES Threaten Hawaii's Coral Reefs - Record warm sea surface temperatures in Hawaii's waters threaten to bring a second consecutive year of RECORD CORAL BLEACHING to their precious coral reefs this summer.
Ocean temperatures in the waters near and to the south of the Hawaiian Islands were 1 - 2°C (1.8 - 3.6°F) above average in June, which was the WARMEST THESE WATERS HAVE BEEN SINCE RECORD KEEPING BEGAN OVER A CENTURY AGO. With the waters surrounding Hawaii expected to warm to their highest values of the summer by September, and likely remain 1 - 2°C above average, NOAA's Coral Reef Watch has placed the islands under a Coral Bleach Watch, and their experimental coral bleaching forecast gives a 50 - 90% chance that Hawaii will experience "Level 2" thermal stress this summer - the highest category of danger, likely to result in widespread coral bleaching and mortality.
The record warm ocean temperatures are due to a strong El Niño event that is pushing large amounts of record-warm water into the Central Pacific, in combination with the steady rise in ocean temperatures due to global warming. Mass coral die-offs commonly occur during strong El Niño events; 16% of the worlds coral reefs were effectively lost during a nine-month coral bleaching episode associated with the 1997 - 1998 record-strength El Niño event. With this year's El Niño event likely to be almost as strong as the 1997 - 1998 one, coral reefs are going to take a beating again.
El Niño conditions have produced an extremely warm band of water from the central equatorial Pacific to the South American coast, and Level 2 thermal stress has already been reached in the Gilbert, Phoenix, and Northern Line Islands in Kiribati, as well as in Micronesia, the Howland and Baker Islands, and to the east in the Galápagos. UNUSUALLY WARM WATERS are also in place along the northern coast of Cuba and in the Bahamas, and NOAA's experimental coral bleaching forecast gives about a 70% chance coral reefs in these waters will experience Satellite Bleaching Alert Level 2 thermal stress this summer - the highest category of danger, likely to result in widespread coral bleaching and mortality.
Second consecutive year of severe coral bleaching in Hawaii - Hawaii's reefs are already reeling from their worst coral bleaching event in recorded history in 2014, when record warm ocean temperatures caused 50 - 70% of the corals sampled in Northeast Oahu's Kaneohe Bay to bleach. When the sea surface temperature is 1°C warmer than the highest monthly mean temperature corals usually experience, coral polyps will expel the symbiotic algae that live in their tissues, exposing the white skeleton underneath, resulting in a white "bleached" appearance.
Death can result if the stress is high and long-lived. In Hawaii's waters, corals cannot tolerate water temperatures above 83°F (28.3°C) for multi-week periods without suffering bleaching. Corals typically recover from mild bleaching, gradually recovering their color by repopulating their algae. However, if the bleaching is severe or prolonged, individual polyps or whole colonies will die. With Hawaii likely to undergo a second consecutive year of record warm waters and coral bleaching in 2015, widespread mortality in many of Hawaii's coral reefs is possible, particularly around the Big Island.
Could a hurricane help? When hurricanes and tropical storms churn the waters, they upwell large amounts of cooler waters from the depths that can cool the surface waters, potentially reducing the thermal stress on coral reefs. The heavy rains from the storm can also potentially cause cooling. This occurred in the Virgin Islands in 2010, when Hurricane Earl and Hurricane Otto helped relieve a potentially dangerous coral bleaching episode.
So, should Hawaii hope for a hurricane this September to help save its coral reefs? Well, be careful what you wish for. Hurricanes cause damage to reefs. Following Tropical Storm Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014, with 60 mph winds, researchers at the University of Hawaii, Hilo documented that one coral reef on the Big Island (the Wai`opae tide pools) suffered physical damage from pounding waves that broke up to 18% of the coral colonies of one species of coral with long slender branches - cauliflower coral. Other corals suffered lesser damage, 0 - 10% breakage. In addition, these corals were subjected to sewage contamination due to damage of cesspools and septic tanks.
The large amount of carbon dioxide humans have put into the air in recent decades has done more than just raise Earth's global temperature - it has also increased the acidity of the oceans, since carbon dioxide dissolves in sea water to form carbonic acid. The oceans are acidifying faster than at any time in the past 300 million years. Corals have trouble growing in acidic sea water, and the combined effects of increasing ocean temperatures, increasing acidity, pollution, and overfishing have reduced coral reefs globally by 19 percent between 1950 - 2008.
Another 35 percent could disappear in the next 40 years, even without the impact of climate change, according to a report released in October 2010 by the World Meteorological Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity. (excellent maps at link)

Spain wildfires: Firefighters battle huge blaze in Catalonia - video. The Catalonia region of Spain has seen its biggest forest fire this year, with more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) burned in less than 24 hours. Helicopters have been used to contain the fire, which broke out on Sunday. Some 400 people were forced to leave their homes, but authorities said there had been no reports of injuries.

Last week, July 17 - Video - Greece forest fires threaten homes in Athens and in the south. Firefighters tackling forest fires in the Kareas district of north-east Athens and the southern Peloponnese peninsula. Helicopters and planes dropping water onto the flames in both regions, and soldiers drafted in to help. Three villages and two summer camps evacuated in the Peloponnese area.

Fires in U.S. West threaten thousands of structures - Fires burning in drought-parched California on Tuesday menaced thousands of structures as firefighters struggled to corral the blazes there and elsewhere in the U.S. West.
The so-called Lowell Fire north of the state capital Sacramento has injured four of the 2,277 firefighters battling it. One firefighter was hospitalized with serious burns. Roughly a third of the 2,233-acre blaze was contained as of Tuesday morning, with low humidity and high heat expected throughout the day. Roads were closed and evacuation warnings were in place around the fire, which was threatening about 1,800 structures.
To the south, a 1,739-acre fire forced the evacuation of campgrounds in the Sierra National Forest and threatened some 450 structures, including homes and vacation cabins. The so-called Willow Fire, north of the central California city of Fresno, was only 5 percent contained as of Tuesday morning. Experts have PREDICTED AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE WILDFIRE SEASON IN CALIFORNIA as the state grapples with a fourth year of crippling drought.

In northwestern Montana's Glacier National Park, firefighters managed to draw containment lines around roughly half of the 3,170-acre Reynolds Creek fire. Firefighters were aided overnight by cooler temperatures and rain in the area. The blaze broke out last Tuesday, forcing the closure of campgrounds, a motor inn and several trails, as well as the picturesque Going-to-the-Sun Road that bisects the park. Most of the park, which straddles the Canadian border, was unaffected by the fire and remained open to the public.

Last week - Video of cars on fire as California brush fires spread - 18 July. A fast-moving brush fire in the Los Angeles area shut down a major freeway and set cars on fire. The flames, swept by desert winds, burned on both sides of Interstate 15, the main connecting road between southern California and Las Vegas. Dozens of vehicles were abandoned as drivers ran to safety.

California seeing more wildfires, but sustaining less damage - The number of California wildfires so far this year is up, but the acreage burned is smaller, the result of favorable weather and more firefighters who can quickly be dispatched to corral flames, fire officials say.

Half of Columbia River sockeye salmon dying due to hot water - More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries due to warming water temperatures.
Federal and state fisheries biologists say the warm water is lethal for the cold-water species and is wiping out at least half of this year's return of 500,000 fish. "We had a really big migration of sockeye. The thing that really hurts is we're going to lose a majority of those fish." Up to 80 percent of the population could ultimately perish.
Elsewhere in the region, more than 100 spring chinook died earlier this month in the Middle Fork of the John Day River when water temperatures hit the mid-70s. Oregon and Washington state have both enacted sport fishing closures due to warm water, and sturgeon fishing in the Columbia River upstream of Bonneville Dam has been halted after some of the large, bottom dwelling fish started turning up dead.
Efforts by management teams to cool flows below 70 degrees by releasing cold water from selected reservoirs are continuing in an attempt to prevent similar fish kills among chinook salmon and steelhead, which migrate later in the summer from the Pacific Ocean. The fish become stressed at temperatures above 68 degrees and stop migrating at 74 degrees. Much of the basin is at or over 70 degrees due to a combination that experts attribute to drought and RECORD HEAT IN JUNE. "The tributaries are running hot. A lot of those are in the 76-degree range."
In Idaho, an emergency declaration earlier this month allowed state fisheries managers to capture endangered Snake River sockeye destined for central Idaho and take them to a hatchery to recover in cooler water. Of the 4,000 fish that passed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, less than a fourth made it to Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. An average year is 70 percent.
"Right now it's grim for adult sockeye." Sockeye will often pull into tributary rivers in search of cooler water, but aren't finding much relief. "They're running out of energy reserves, and we're getting a lot of reports of fish dead and dying." Thirteen species of salmon and steelhead are listed as endangered or threatened in the Columbia River basin.
Fish congregating in confined areas trying to find cool water makes them a target for pathogens. "When temperatures get warm, it does stress the fish out and they become susceptible to disease." This year's flow in the Columbia River is among the lowest in the last 60 years. But the system has experienced similar low flows without the lethal water temperatures. The difference this year has been prolonged hot temperatures, sometimes more than 100 degrees, in the interior part of the basin. "The flow is abnormally low, but on top of that we've had superhot temperatures for a really long time."


Extinction events linked to prehuman global warming - Rapid warming killed many mammoths and other large beasts before humans arrived on the scene, new research shows.
The lead author found extinction events “staggered through time” across the northern hemisphere coincided with short, rapid warming events. Temperatures increased 4C to 16C over just a few decades and “lasted for hundreds to thousands of years”, causing “dramatic shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns”. Animals struggled to cope and dispersed or died out, disappearing from regions such as Europe and North America, or Alaska and the Yukon, northwest Canada.
These warming events occurred throughout the late Pleistocene, 60,000 to 12,000 years ago, before the climate settled down. Then humans arrived and made the “final hit”. “But it was climate change that had done all the damage, reduced the populations down to small sizes and in many cases wiped out the species from most of the planet, even before humans turned up.”
The Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA said rather than being totally responsible for megafauna extinctions, humans had a “synergistic role”, exacerbating the impacts of climate change. “Humans are certainly having an impact when they turn up. What we suggest is they are disrupting the ways in which populations are connected, so that when a population in an area becomes extinct, due to the climate shifts, it’s not possible for that population to be refounded by neighbouring populations, by individuals moving back into the vacant space."
“Humans are having their impacts by interrupting that process and stopping areas that have become vacant for climatic reasons from being filled back up. That way these vacant areas can start getting bigger and bigger and start causing whole ecosystem changes.” He warned current human-induced global warming would be even worse for animals because in most cases “moving is no longer an option”. “When you add the modern addition of human pressures and fragmenting of the environment to the rapid changes brought by global warming, it raises serious concerns about the future of our environment."

This lake in Canada's North is literally about to fall off a cliff - In the coming months, a lake in the Northwest Territories is expected to breach the earthen embankment containing it and flow over a cliff, sending tens of thousands of cubic meters of water crashing into a neighboring valley.
An advisory updated this week by the Northwest Territories Geological Survey warns that the small lake near the Gwich'in community of Fort McPherson is expected "to drain catastrophically during 2015, resulting in a flash flood and possibly a debris flow." Although the hamlet is not threatened by the anticipated flood, scientists say the destruction of the nameless lake is one example of the climate change that is expected to continue to alter the environment of Alaska, Siberia, and Canada's Far North.
"It's just another piece in the puzzle showing how the climate is changing in regions that are especially sensitive to even small changes. As we change the atmosphere and alter the way systems operate, these events are going to become more and more frequent."
The destruction of the lake, which is expected in late summer or early fall, will be the result of increased heavy rainfall and temperatures, which have risen several degrees since recording began in the 1940s. These forces are gradually melting arctic permafrost, which in much of the NWT is contained in ice headwalls, sometimes as much as 30 meters thick. Heat and rain are melting headwall ice, exposing soil and sediment, which is in turn washed away, revealing more ice, in a process that creates large slumps in the landscape. One of these slumps is eroding backwards into the land around the doomed lake, eating away at what now may be fewer than five meters of soil and sediment holding back the water.
"Sometime, probably this summer, it's just going to erode so far back that it's just going to catastrophically drain." The ensuing floodwaters are expected to flow into another larger lake in the Mackenzie Valley, leaving the nearby community unscathed.
But the slumping permafrost is causing other problems. The runoff and sediment from the melting headwalls creates pools of sucking mud that moose sometimes get stuck in and residents take care to avoid. The displaced sediment also runs into previously clear mountain streams and lakes, choking the gills of fish. There is also concern that a slump bordering the Dempster Highway — the only land route in and out of Fort McPherson — may eventually damage or destroy a section of the road. These worries are part of how life at the northern edges of the Northwest Territories is increasingly colored by the changing environment. "We're seeing more of it, because of the temperatures."

Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away - In California, they're counting on it to end an historic drought; in Peru, they've already declared a pre-emptive emergency to prepare for devastating flooding. It's both an economic stimulus and a recession-maker. And it's likely to increase the price of coffee, chocolate and sugar.
This El Nino is most likely to be the largest in well over a decade, forecasters say. A lot more than mere weather, it affects lives and pocketbooks in different ways in different places. Every few years, the winds shift and the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual. That water sloshes back and forth around the equator in the Pacific, interacts with the winds above and then changes weather worldwide. This is El Nino. Droughts are triggered in places like Australia and India, but elsewhere, droughts are quenched and floods replace them. The Pacific gets more hurricanes; the Atlantic fewer. Winter gets milder and wetter in much of the United States. The world warms.
An El Nino means the Pacific Ocean off Peru's coast is warm, especially a huge patch 330 feet (100 meters) below the surface, and as it gets warmer and close to the surface, the weather "is just going to be a river falling from the sky." Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts.
"El Nino is not the end of the world so you don't have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing." This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998.
California mudslides notwithstanding, the U.S. economy benefited by nearly $22 billion from that El Nino, according to a 1999 study. That study found that 189 people were killed in the U.S, mainly from tornadoes linked to El Nino, but an estimated 850 lives were saved due to a milder winter. A United Nations-backed study said that El Nino cost Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela nearly $11 billion. Flooding in Peru destroyed bridges, homes, hospitals and crops and left 354 dead and 112 missing. The mining industry in Peru and Chile was hammered as flooding hindered exports.
Though this year's El Nino is likely to be weaker than the 1997-1998 version, the economic impact may be greater because the world's interconnected economy has changed with more vulnerable supply chains. Economic winners include the U.S., China, Mexico and Europe while India, Australia and Peru are among El Nino's biggest losers.
On average, a healthy El Nino can boost the U.S. economy by about 0.55 percent of Gross Domestic Product, which would translate more than $90 billion this year, an International Monetary Fund study calculated this spring. But it could also slice an entire percentage point off Indonesia's GDP. Indonesia gets hit particularly hard because an expected El Nino drought affects the country's mining, power, cocoa, and coffee industries. The expected El Nino drought in parts of Australia has started and may trim as much as 1 percent off of the country's GDP.
But the lead El Nino forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University cautioned that while El Nino has predictable effects and this one is strong, what happens next is not exactly certain. But Peruvians are worried. Important export crops such as mangos and asparagus that grow in coastal valleys are already being adversely affected by the UNSEASONABLY HIGH TEMPERATURES. "The export mango crop has not yet flowered. And if we don't have flowers we don't have fruit."
And then there's the flooding. Peru declared a pre-emptive state of emergency this month for 14 of its 25 states, appropriating some $70 million to prepare. Authorities are clearing river beds of debris, reinforcing river banks with rock and fortifying reservoir walls. Sandbags and rocks are also being piled on some river banks. "If the sea stays this hot at the end of August I'm afraid we're doomed."

What to Expect from El Niño: North America - We’re now well into the ramp-up phase of what promises to be one of the top three El Niño events of the last 60-plus years. Sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Niño3.4 region - an area straddling the eastern tropical Pacific - are the most widely accepted index for the oceanic evolution of El Niño.
NOAA announced in its weekly ENSO update on Monday that Niño 3.4 SSTs were running 1.6°C degrees above the seasonal average for the week ending Monday. While this is down slightly from a peak of 1.7°C the week before, minor weekly variations aren’t worth getting too worked up about. The latest value still keeps the current El Niño in the “strong” category (Niño 3.4 SSTs at least 1.5°C above average). Unusually warm waters now extend from the South America coast westward to the International Date Line in a classic El Niño signature With widespread above-average SSTs at least partially related to El Niño extending northward across much of the northeast Pacific.
For much of 2014, the atmosphere failed to respond to several brief warmings of the eastern tropical Pacific, but now both ocean and air are locked into the synchrony that builds and sustains the strongest El Niño events. Westerly winds bursts continue to kick up across the tropical Pacific, pushing warm water downward and eastward in the form of lumbering, downwelling Kelvin waves that push toward the shores of South America, where they act to suppress the normal upwelling of cooler water.
The only El Niño events in NOAA's 1950-2015 database comparable in strength to the one now developing occurred in 1982-83 and 1997-98. A single pair of cases is a thin framework on which to build any projections of what El Niño may bring across North America this winter. However, three other episodes since 1950 are rated as “strong” (Niño3.4 readings topping the SST threshold of +1.5°C for at least three overlapping three-month periods). Many of the far-flung atmospheric responses to El Niño become more reliable the stronger the event, so it’s wise to look especially closely at these cases, rather than simply averaging across all El Niño events.
North America has some of the world’s clearest tie-ins to El Niño - not surprisingly, since we’re located just north of the oceanic heart of the phenomenon. Drought-easing rains for California likely, but not certain. Some of the keenest interest in El Niño lies with Californians, who are suffering through Year 4 of an extreme drought that’s left Sierra snowpack in tatters and pushed statewide average temperatures far above anything on record over the last few months.
The state needs a very wet winter just to get soil moisture back to near-normal levels, and a good deal more than that to bring California’s reservoirs and groundwater close to their long-term average. "It takes years to get into a drought of this severity, and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it."
Like other strong El Niño events, this one will almost certainly last just one winter. But at least for the coming wet season, it holds encouraging odds of well-above average precipitation for California. During a strong El Niño, the subtropical jet stream is energized across the southern U.S., while the polar jet stream tends to stay north of its usual winter position or else consolidate with the subtropical jet.
This gives warm, wet Pacific systems a better chance to push northeast into California. During 1997-98, downtown San Francisco scored its largest number of days with measurable rain (119) and its second wettest rainfall season (47.22”) since records began in 1849, coming in behind only 1861-62 (49.27”). The 1982-83 event was the fifth wettest in San Francisco annals, with a wet-season total of 38.17”. In downtown Los Angeles, the 1982-83 and 1997-98 seasons came in as fifth and sixth wettest, respectively, with 31.25” and 31.01”. Records began in L.A. in 1877.
Californians will need to be patient, as the biggest drenchings from a strong El Niño can take until the midwinter peak of the wet season to arrive (December can actually be drier than average). The 1997-98 season didn’t produce much more than sporadic storms until January in northern California and February over the state as a whole. The story was similar in 1982 -83, which brought California its biggest storms after New Year's.
This was before regular monitoring of El Niño, so scientists and the public didn't even know that a wet winter was in the cards. Things were different in 1997-98, when ocean monitoring systems caught the development of El Niño months ahead of its U.S. impact and word spread widely through traditional media and the burgeoning World Wide Web (and via Chris Farley in a brief but unforgettable “Saturday Night Live” skit).
With hopes for drought relief running so high in California, it can’t be stressed enough that El Niño shifts the odds but doesn’t guarantee the roll of the meteorological dice in any particular winter. On the plus side, the heavy rains that often accompany a strong El Niño don’t necessarily translate into major flooding damage. That threat hinges largely on the timing, intensity, and location of individual storm systems, which can cause problems during La Niña or El Niño alike.
Milder and drier a good bet for Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, western Canada The altering of the polar and subtropical jet stream tracks fostered by El Niño can leave a big chunk of North America in the lurch, with relatively tranquil weather that tends to be warmer and drier than average. Unusually mild weather can overspread most of Canada - 1998 was the nation’s warmest year on record, though 2014 didn’t pan out that way) - and the mildness often extends across the northern tier of US states from Washington to the Great Lakes. (The winter of 1997-98 was the second warmest in U.S. history.)
It won’t necessarily be bone-dry in normally damp places like Washington or British Columbia, but anything less than average precipitation wouldn’t be good news for that region, which has seen wildfires taking advantage of a warm winter with little snowpack followed by a very dry spring. One potential benefit to the Pacific Northwest this winter: “Big windstorms avoid strong El Niño years.”
Rockies snowfall: The south usually wins out. Thanks to the jet-shifting effects noted above, snowfall tends to be below average in the Northern Rockies and above average in the Southern Rockies during strong El Niños. The north-south split extends to Colorado, where northern resorts such as Steamboat Springs typically lose out to areas like the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo ranges across the southern part of the state. Along the populous Front Range from Denver to Fort Collins, El Niño hikes the odds of a big snowstorm, especially in the spring and autumn. About half of Boulder’s 12” – 14” storms occur during El Niño, and the odds of a 20” or greater storm are quadrupled during El Niño as opposed to La Niña. .
Rainy and cool across the Gulf Coast - According to NOAA, the single most reliable El Niño outcome in the United States, occurring in more than 80% of El Niño events over the last century, is the tendency for wet wintertime conditions along and near the Gulf Coast, thanks to the juiced-up subtropical jet stream. (The same upper-level jet also tends to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity by fostering subsidence and stable air and boosting the upper- level wind shear that inhibits tropical cyclone formation).
Severe weather is often associated with El Niño during the winter months across the southeast fringes of the nation, a finding reinforced in a 2015 study. The study found that the risk of tornadoes across south Texas and Florida is roughly doubled during El Niño. Florida's worst outbreak on record occurred on February 22-23, 1998, during the intense 1997-98 El Niño. A total of 12 tornadoes killed 42 people, mainly in a swath running along Interstate 4 through central Florida.
A dry pocket in the Midwest - One fairly localized but distinct product of El Niño is a tendency for drier-than-usual winters across the lower Midwest, especially in the Ohio Valley. A typical winter brings a stream of low-pressure centers approaching the lower Midwest from either the southwest or northwest. The split stream favored by El Niño tends to push these lows either well north or well south of the Ohio Valley, leaving the area with better-than-usual odds of relatively mild temperatures and light precipitation during the core of winter.
What about the Northeast US? Some of the bigger snowstorms on record for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast have accompanied El Niño events, but the influence of El Niño is highly conditional on other factors. The blockbuster El Niño events of 1982-83 and 1997-98 pushed temperatures across the entire Midwest and Northeast well above average, yet the ”Megapolitan” snowstorm of February 10-12, 1983, pummeled big cities along the East Coast with widespread 1-to-2-foot amounts.
The most destructive winter weather event of 1997-98 was actually a multiday ice storm that paralyzed Montreal and parts of far northern New York and New England for days. And the infamous Snowmageddon of 2009-10 occurred during a moderate El Niño. One crucial element is the state of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), a semi-cyclic atmospheric pattern that describes whether the flow from eastern North America to Europe is a strong, west-to-east channel (a positive NAO) or a more wavy, variable path (a negative NAO).
Heavy snow during El Niño becomes much more likely along the eastern seaboard when a negative NAO predominates. Winter hasn’t been especially kind to the northeast U.S. and eastern Canada over the last few years, with frequent negative NAO periods leading to major winter storms and intense cold buffeting the region more than one might expect in a warming climate.
Villain or welcome guest? When all is said and done, a strong El Niño can actually be a net benefit to the US economy. A detailed analysis estimated that U.S. weather associated with the big 1997-98 El Niño event led to direct losses of about $4 billion but direct gains of around $19 billion. Moreover, hundreds more lives were saved by the lack of intense winter cold than were taken by El Niño-related storminess. The United States is one of the largest beneficaries of El Niño relative to other parts of the globe.

Scientists Identify 'Triple Threat' Endangering US Coastal Cities - The 'meteorological double whammy' of heavy rainfall and storm surges is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels, scientists say. The trio of phenomena attributed at least in part to climate change—sea-level rise, storm surges, and heavy rainfall — poses an increasing risk to residents of major U.S. cities including Boston, New York, Houston, San Diego, and San Francisco, according to new research. "Call it a triple threat."
Using historical data on rainfall, tide gauge readings, and extreme weather occurrences, the scientists explored the combined risks that endanger broad stretches of the U.S. coasts. Specifically, they looked at scenarios in which heavy rainfall combines with so-called "storm surges"—the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm—to create "compound flooding."
"The wall of ocean water that the winds of a storm system, such as a hurricane, can push in front of it can combine with heavy rains to exacerbate flooding in two ways: Either the rainfall inland can ramp up the severity of the surge-driven flooding, or the surge can elevate water levels to the point that gravity-driven flow of rainwater is impeded, causing that water to collect in streets and seep into homes."
That "meteorological double whammy," is only further exacerbated by rising sea levels. Experts have linked climate change to both extreme weather and rising oceans. Nor surprisingly, the risks of compound flooding are getting worse over time, the study shows.
They found that "along large coastline stretches around the U.S. a systematic linkage exists between the two important drivers for coastal flooding, making it more likely that the two occur in tandem. Our analysis showed that over the past century, the number of compound flood events for many U.S. coastal cities has increased." In New York City, for example, the weather conditions that typically cause the combined conditions are twice as likely to occur today than in the mid-20th century.
With nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population residing in coastal counties, the paper warns, "impacts of flooding in these usually low-lying, densely populated, and highly developed regions, can be devastating with wide-ranging social, economic, and environmental consequences."
"Between 2010 and 2014, the average flood claim was almost $42,000. And that doesn't even take into account the number of people that are displaced following a severe flooding event. That's why researchers are trying to figure out which factors contribute to flooding; it's the kind of information that can really come in handy when rebuilding a city, for instance."
Indeed, that is precisely the researchers' goal. "Gaining more insight into the frequency and likelihood of compound floods can help planners better assess risk from flooding to critical infrastructure."


ALPHA CAPRICORNID METEOR SHOWER - Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet 169P/NEAT, source of the annual alpha Capricornid meteor shower. Over the weekend, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded more than a dozen alpha Capricornid fireballs over the USA.
This is an annual shower, which peaks every year between the 25th and 30th of July. Peak rates are typically no higher than 5 to 10 meteors per hour. Every year, however, the alpha Capricornids are improving. The debris stream is slowly drifting across Earth's orbit, so that each year our planet passes a little closer to its heart. The bulk of the dust will not be in Earth's path until the 24th century. If their predictions are correct, the Alpha Capricornids will become a major annual storm in 2200 - 2400 A.D., one that will be "stronger than ANY current annual shower."


Nasty brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana drinking water - Last week, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning to St. Bernard Parish residents about the presence of Naegleria fowleri in the drinking water. According to a report from The Examiner, the amoeba was discovered in two locations and has been known to feast on the brains of any host that contracts it.
The local water authority has received orders from the state to conduct a chlorine “burn,” increasing the level of chlorine in the drinking water to remove the amoeba. Naegleria fowleri lives in warm, fresh water and is responsible for meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rare yet deadly infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that the disease is usually contracted when a patient has water up their nose from swimming or other water activities. While PAM cannot be caught by drinking water, it is nearly always fatal.
A study from 2003 shows that two children died from PAM in Arizona after the amoeba was found in areas where the plumbing was warm enough for them to survive. A recent 2015 study showed that a four-year-old boy in Louisiana died from PAM that he contracted not through swimming, but from playing on a water slide at his home.
The brain-eating amoeba is still relatively rare – the CDC reports that only 133 cases of PAM were reported between 1962 and 2014. While children make up 84 percent of these cases, anyone can contract the disease if infected water makes its way into the nose.
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