**The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.**
Ralph Waldo Emerson
LARGEST QUAKES so far today -
5.2 KYUSHU, JAPAN
5.3 BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
Yesterday, 8/16/15 -
5.2 BOUGAINVILLE REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 PACIFIC-ANTARCTIC RIDGE
5.5 ANDREANOF ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN IS.
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA
6.5 SOLOMON ISLANDS
6.6 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.3 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.1 KEP. TANIMBAR REGION, INDONESIA
5.6 NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.4 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.2 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.6 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION
5.0 PAPUA, INDONESIA
5.0 NORTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.2 HOKKAIDO, JAPAN REGION
5.1 NEAR EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
5.0 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA
5.0 OFFSHORE BIO-BIO, CHILE
5.4 SOUTH OF KERMADEC ISLANDS
5.1 IZU ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION
5.5 TAIWAN REGION
5.6 NEW IRELAND REGION, P.N.G.
5.0 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
6.0 MID-INDIAN RIDGE
6.5 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.4 SOLOMON ISLANDS
5.1 FIJI REGION
5.2 OFFSHORE COQUIMBO, CHI
Japan raises warning level on volcano not far from nuclear plant - Japan warned on Saturday that a volcano 50 km (31 miles) from a just-restarted nuclear reactor is showing signs of increased activity, and said nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.
Sakurajima, a mountain on the southern island of Kyushu, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes and erupts almost constantly. But a larger than usual eruption could be in the offing, an official at the Japan Meteorological Agency said. "There is the danger that stones could rain down on areas near the mountain's base, so we are warning residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate if needed."
The agency also said it had raised the warning level on the peak, 990 km southwest of Tokyo, to an UNPRECEDENTED 4, for prepare to evacuate, from 3. Roughly 100 people could be affected. Japan on Tuesday restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, some 50 km from Sakurajima. It is the first reactor to be restarted under new safety standards put in place after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Critics have long pointed out that the plant is also located near five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, with the closest one some 40 km away. Still, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said the chance of major volcanic activity during the lifespan of the Sendai plant is negligible.
Two years ago, Sakurajima shot ash some 5,000 meters into the air. Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean - and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes. Last year, Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted unexpectedly, killing 63, the worst volcanic disaster for nearly 90 years. In May, a remote island south of Kyushu was evacuated due to another eruption.
Ecuador declares a state of emergency over massive Cotopaxi volcano - Cotopaxi is one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes. The president of Ecuador declared a state of emergency Saturday in response to volcano activity 30 miles away from the country’s capital.
A few hundred people were evacuated from two residential areas as the volcano began to spew ash. Officials will continue to monitor the situation and urged the public to remain calm. The Cotopaxi volcano has been under active watch since June when increased activity was detected by the Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute. The institute says that the volcano’s frequency and style of eruptions make it one of the world’s most dangerous.
The volcano’s last major eruptive period occurred in the late 19th century. That incident led to intense economic losses in the region. The President declared a state of emergency following increased activity in the Cotopaxi volcano near the capital, Quito, the day before. The decision, which comes in the wake of two minor explosions at Cotopaxi on Friday and led to a precautionary evacuation of small towns in the central part of the country, gives authorities greater flexibility to move government funds in the event of an eruption.
Mexico's Colima volcano - Colima volcano has been firing out plumes of smoke and hot ash in a series of small eruptions. The most recnt eruption is the latest in a summer of volcanic activity, with the last eruption just four days ago.
What's with all the volcanoes these days? - Volcanic activity in Cotopaxi, near the capital of Ecuador, is the latest incident in recent months, during which a number of volcanoes have come to life. Cotopaxi is the latest to reflect a recent series of volcanic activity around the world, including ash emissions from Raung volcano in East Java, Indonesia which led to the closing of airports in Bali and shallow explosions at Sakurajima volcano in Kyushu, Japan. In 2014, volcanoes in Hawaii, Alaska, Italy, and Iceland, among other places, showed signs of activity.
What’s causing these volcanoes to come to life? One cause could be shifts in the Earth’s rate of rotation. Since the late 19th century, relatively large changes in the velocity of the Earth’s spin tended to be followed by an increase in volcanic activity, a 2014 study found.
Altering the spin of a planet, even by a small amount, requires a huge amount of energy. It has been estimated that changes in the Earth’s rotation rate dissipate around 120,000 petajoules of energy each year – enough to power the United States for the same length of time. This energy is transferred into the Earth’s atmosphere and subsurface. And it is this second consequence that could affect volcanoes.
Another cause, scientists say, is climate change. Over the last few years, “new evidence suggests that the volcano-climate relationship can go the other way, too: Periods of warming after ice ages can lead to volcanic eruptions.' When glaciers melt as a result of rising temperatures, pressure on continents start to drop, while the rise in sea level increases pressures on portions of the Earth’s crust beneath the ocean. The changing pressures could cause increases in volcanic activity, although it was unclear whether human-caused climate change could lead to the same impact.
A more recent study, conducted in geologically active Iceland, found that less pressure on the Earth’s surface could result in a “softer, more molten subsurface,” which makes it easier for magma chambers to reach the surface and lead to volcanic eruptions. “As the glaciers melt, the pressure on the underlying rocks decreases. Rocks at very high temperatures may stay in their solid phase if the pressure is high enough. As you reduce the pressure, you effectively lower the melting temperature.”
As yet, there’s no solid evidence connecting these findings and the volcanic activity occurring in the world today. “The link between climate change and volcanism is still poorly understood.” Still, “this strange effect is a reminder that our planet can respond to change in unforeseen ways. Contrary to their brutish reputation, volcanoes are helping scientists understand just how sensitive our planet can be.”
TROPICAL STORMS -
*In the Eastern Pacific -
- Tropical Depression Eleven-E was moving quickly northwestward away from land. Located about 490 mi (790 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja California.
* In the Western Pacific -
- Typhoon 16w (Goni) is located approximately 140 nm northwest of Andersen AFB,
- Typhoon 17w (Atsani) is located approximately 239 nm northwest of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands.
Tropical disturbance in Atlantic shows signs of development - A disturbance in the eastern Atlantic could grow into a tropical depression by midweek. The tropical disturbance is being given a 60% chance of developing over the next 5 days.
Although it popped up on the National Hurricane Center's radar Sunday morning, the tropical disturbance in the far eastern Atlantic already is showing signs of development. "Environmental conditions are expected to be conducive for further development, and a tropical depression could form by midweek." For now the system is aiming generally west. It's far too early to say where it might go. The next storm will be named Danny.
The system currently is in a moist environment, which should allow it to organize and strengthen. But as it moves farther west across the Atlantic, it likely will encounter dry air and wind shear. Normally, four tropical systems develop in August. The last time August went without seeing any storms was in 1997 - and before that in 1961.
Experts say there are signs that the Atlantic hurricane season, traditionally the biggest driver of global insured losses, may have entered a relatively quiet period that could last for ten to 15 years. Insured losses fall as hurricane cycle cools - Global insured losses for the first half of this year have plunged to $16.5 billion, which is close to half the ten-year average of $29 billion. That is the finding of Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, in its preliminary estimates for the first six months of 2015.
This is the third consecutive year that insured losses from natural catastrophes during the first six months of the year have been below the average for the 2005-2014 period. A lack of disasters and catastrophes in regions with strong insurance market penetration has resulted in declining levels of insured losses since 2011, the year that saw the double disaster of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
It has been a record-equalling ten years since a major hurricane (Category 3 or above) made landfall in the US. The last was Wilma in 2005. “Should current trends from the first half of the year continue, there are currently no regions of the world on pace to surpass their ten-year average in 2015.”
Florida is the US state that has historically been most affected by hurricanes and tropical storms. Since 1871 there have been only five occasions, including the current one, when a ten-year period has elapsed between Category 3 hurricane landfalls. Mid-August traditionally marks the start of the peak hurricane season in the Atlantic, but this year has yet to see its first Atlantic hurricane.
The big insured losses tend to come from hurricanes striking the southeast US. “The hurricane cycle tends to be a good indicator for the industry. There has been nothing significant in Florida since 2005. In terms of hurricanes it has been a fallow time. The hurricane forecasters are starting to think we are moving into a period of lower hurricane activity that could last for the next ten to 15 years. That’s what they are thinking at the moment, although the science is not exact.
“There is a cyclical pattern and we were in the peak period during the past ten years.” The hurricane cycle is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO, and is influenced by the sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. When the sea temperatures are cooler there tends to be less hurricane activity. Since 2012 the AMO has been negative, with cooler sea temperatures.
Insured losses attributed to hurricanes have waned for most of the past decade, with the exception of Hurricane Sandy, which caused $65 billion of damage when it hit the northeastern US in 2012. That said, natural disasters have not gone away. They have shown up in places with much lower levels of insurance penetration. The earthquakes in Nepal, in April and May, claimed more than 9,000 lives and caused economic losses of at least $5 billion, of which only $160 million were insured losses. “The tragic events in Nepal are a reminder of the utility of insurance,” said Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, in a note on the company’s preliminary sigma estimates for the first-half of this year.
“Insurance cover does not lessen the emotional trauma that natural catastrophes inflict, but it can help people better manage the financial fallout from disasters so they can start to rebuild their lives.” Insurance penetration rates were low in the Nepal earthquake region, and in the Philippines where some large typhoons have struck this year. The insurance industry was looking at how to increase coverage in those markets.
There is a wave of mergers and acquisitions among insurers and reinsurers. “What is driving that, more than a lack of catastrophes, is the emergence of new capital. You have collateralised reinsurance and cat bonds. And when the companies are booking profits they have to find ways to deploy that capital."
Philippines - Extreme northern Luzon will be directly hit by an incoming typhoon by the weekend, according to the state weather bureau.
GIGANTIC JETS ABOVE HURRICANE HILDA - Gigantic jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the tops of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere more than 50 miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.
"Gigantic jets are much more rare than sprites...it was not until 2001-2002 that gigantic jets were first recorded from Puerto Rico and Taiwan." Only a few dozen gigantic jets have ever been seen, mostly over open ocean.
Because gigantic jets are so rare, researchers are paying special attention to Hurricane Hilda. "Observations in recent years suggest that large thunderstorm clusters embedded in tropical cyclones harbor favorable conditions for gigantic jets. Hilda seems to confirm this. Extreme turbulent mixing in the storm top may assist in triggering these events."
Gigantic jets, and their cousins the sprites, reach all the way up to the edge of space alongside meteors, noctilucent clouds, and some auroras. This means they are a true space weather phenomenon. Indeed, some researchers believe cosmic rays help trigger these exotic forms of lightning, but the link is controversial.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Britain - Mancunian Way hole: Warning not to approach road collapse. Members of the public are being told not to cross a safety cordon around a large hole that appeared in a busy Manchester road on Friday. The warning came as United Utilities said a section of the Mancunian Way could be shut for at least two weeks. About two weeks' worth of rain fell in about six hours in Manchester on Friday.
Engineers reported work to stabilise the site was "hindered" by people crossing the cordon. The hole, which appeared after heavy rain, was "unsafe". "It's too dangerous at the moment to approach and assess properly." The hole was being monitored for any further collapse. "A full assessment won't be carried out until we are satisfied it is safe for inspection."
The Mancunian Way is one of the city's busiest roads, especially during rush hour A United Utilities spokesman said the collapse was "not caused by any aspect" of the water company's operations. Its engineers were part of an emergency operation to fix the damaged sewer under the hole, but it would take "the best part of two weeks" before they could hand over to the Highways Agency and Manchester City Council to oversee repairs to the hole itself.
A decision could be made on Monday with regard to how long the road section between the MacDonald Hotel and Fairfield Street would be closed. A council spokesman said the size of the hole could not be confirmed, adding: "We haven't measured the hole - we aren't keen on letting anyone get that close until we're confident the area around it is stable."
Witnesses on Friday said the hole was increasing and part of the pavement had eroded. Motorists continue to be diverted. The hole was potentially caused because soft sediment under the road had become weaker due to the wet weather. "[The water] can wash away sand and you end up with a small cavity opening up, particularly if there is a broken sewer."
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
Brace yourselves: Old Farmer's Almanac predicts super cold, slew of snow for much of U.S. - Just when you thought you had gotten over last winter, be warned: The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts it will be super cold with a slew of snow for much of the country, even in places that don't see too much of it, like the Pacific Northwest.
Look for above-normal snow and below-normal temperatures for much of New England; icy conditions in parts of the South; and frigid weather in the Midwest. The snowiest periods in the Pacific Northwest will be in mid-December, early to mid-January and mid- to late February. The 224-year-old almanac is 26 years older than its closest competitor, "The Farmers' Almanac."
EXTREME HEAT & DROUGHT / WILDFIRES -
Montana declares state of emergency as U.S. Northwest battles blazes - Montana declared a state of emergency on Sunday to battle more than a dozen wildfires as blazes, fueled by drought and winds, also raged in Oregon, Idaho and the California wine region north of San Francisco. Wildfires have destroyed 50 homes in north central Idaho while a fire in north-central Washington nearly doubled in size, almost encircling the town of Chelan and forcing the evacuation of some 1,500.
The Reach fire, sparked on Friday by lightning strikes and high winds, had doubled to 55,000 acres (22,250 hectares) by Sunday. The fire also had started other smaller blazes further north. Better weather was helping to fight the blaze - the temperature was down 10 degrees Fahrenheit from the upper 90s (mid 30s Celsius) on Friday and winds were low. Power in Chelan has been restored.
There were about 727 firefighters tackling the blaze and the National Guard would be adding more troops on Sunday night or Monday. A Blackhawk helicopter was dropping water on the fire. More than a dozen wildfires have threatened homes and prompted authorities to advise residents to be prepared to flee should conditions worsen.
In Idaho, the fast-moving Clearwater Complex fire was 15-percent contained early on Sunday after burning 50 houses and 75 outbuildings on the outskirts of the community of Kamiah. Dozens of people in neighborhoods outlying the tiny logging town were told last week to flee in the face of the blazes, among more than 100 burning across the northern, southwestern and east-central parts of the state and in neighboring Oregon and Washington.
More than 770 fire personnel have been assigned to fight the blazes that make up the Clearwater Complex, which has scorched almost 53,000 acres (21,500 hectares) of dense spruce forests criss-crossed by river valleys containing rural communities. One of the fires in the complex was blamed last week for destroying a house and triggering the evacuation of several homes near Wieppe, the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office. On Sunday, residents of Greer, Idaho, were told they might have to evacuate. It was not clear how many people would be affected.
Temperatures soar as Israel hit with ‘extreme’ heat wave - Forecasters say high humidity levels to intensify heat; Jordan Valley gears up for temperatures up to 48º. A punishing heat wave wracking Israel was set to peak on Sunday, with temperatures projected to rise above 40°C (104°F) in some areas.
The heat wave, THE THIRD OF ITS KIND IN UNDER A MONTH, was expected to bring temperatures up to 37°C (99°F) in Jerusalem and 35°C (95ºF) in Tel Aviv. Forecasters at Israel’s Meteorological Service said most regions nationwide would experience “very high to extreme heat stress,” coupled with high levels of humidity, making temperatures feel even hotter than reported.
In the southern resort city of Eilat, vacationers were expected to brave a sweltering 46ºC (115ºF), while cities and towns in the Jordan Valley will endure a combination of high humidity and blazing heat, with temperatures up to 48ºC (118ºF). In Tiberias, temperatures are expected to climb to 45°C (113ºF). But with 35 percent humidity in the afternoon hours, it will feel more like 58° (136ºF). Meanwhile, at the Dead Sea, the 44ºC weather (111º F) will feel more like 48°C (119ºF) when factoring in humidity.
Tel Aviv’s relatively benign 35°C (95ºF) will feel more like 45°C (113ºF), given a whopping 60% humidity rate. Elsewhere in Israel, temperatures were predicted to climb to 42ºC (108º F) in Beersheba, 39ºC (102º F) on the Golan Heights and 35ºC (95º F) in Haifa.
The Health Ministry has urged the public, in particular the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, to avoid exposure to the sun and heat as much as possible, avoid physical exercise, and drink plenty of water. Monday is expected to see a “slight drop in temperatures,” the weather service said, but warned that “there will still be very high heat stress and unseasonably high temperatures.” The weather will begin to drop on Tuesday, although it will also remain “unseasonably warm.”
The Meteorological Service also warned of the possibility of brush fires breaking out due to the high temperatures. The heat wave comes after searing temperatures earlier this month led to two deaths. A one-year-old baby died after she was hospitalized for heatstroke. Her father was also hospitalized with heatstroke and dehydration after the family hiked in the northern Hula Valley two weeks ago. Also two weeks ago, 18-year-old an IDF soldier died of heatstroke after collapsing in Jerusalem’s Old City.
SPACE WEATHER -
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics.
On Aug. 15, the network reported 55 fireballs. (33 Perseids, 21 sporadics, 1 kappa Cygnid)
On Aug. 16, the network reported 54 fireballs. (40 sporadics, 12 Perseids, 1 Southern iota Aquariid, 1 Southern delta Aquariid)
HEALTH THREATS -
RECALLS & ALERTS
Few minutes of Tetris can block cravings - Playing popular block-stacking game Tetris for a few minutes can help people control their cravings. The research experiment showcased that the impact on cravings was long lasting.
Can fish oil prevent schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders? - In what is to be believed the first study of its kind, new research has revealed the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be effective for reducing the risk of psychosis.
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