July 13, 2013 – TOKYO – A severe heat-wave that hit Japan a week ago has claimed at least a dozen lives, reports said Friday. The mercury has topped 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in areas right across the country for several days, with no immediate end to the misery in sight, forecasters say. Thousands of people have been taken to hospital suffering from heatstroke or exhaustion, with at least 12 of them dying, Jiji Press and other media reported. Most of those affected are over 65, but there have also been groups of schoolchildren who were participating in school activities outside. One recent death was that of a 90-year-old man whose body was discovered by his son inside an apartment. The air conditioner was turned off, Jiji said. On Friday, the day’s highest temperature was 38.3 degrees Celsius (101 F) in Kawanehon town in Shizuoka prefecture. More than 40 other spots recorded highs of 35 degrees or more, Japan’s meteorological agency said. News reports feature frequent reminders to drink plenty of fluids and avoid prolonged periods outdoors, in what has become a regular feature of Japan’s sticky summer months. –Space Daily
July 11, 2013 – CLIMATE – Floods that caused billions of dollars in losses were the world’s most expensive natural disasters so far this year, with central Europe being hit hardest, re-insurers Munich Re said on Tuesday. Altogether, natural catastrophes — also including earthquakes, tornadoes and heat waves — caused $45 billion in losses in the first half of 2013, well below the 10-year average of $85 billion. Insured losses worldwide totaled about $13 billion, said Munich Re. Inland flooding that affected parts of Europe, Asia, Canada and Australia caused about 47 percent of overall global losses and 45 percent of insured losses, said the leading reinsurance company based in Munich, Germany. The deadliest disaster out of 460 recorded “natural hazard events” worldwide was a series of flash floods in northern India and Nepal that killed more than 1,000 people in June after early and exceptionally heavy monsoon rains. By far the most expensive natural disaster was the river flooding that hit southern and eastern Germany and neighboring countries in May and June, causing more than $16 billion in damage, most of it in Germany. “The frequency of flood events in Germany and central Europe has increased by a factor of two since 1980,” said Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek. In some places, 400 liters of rain per square meter fell within a few days. With the ground already saturated from the rainiest spring in half a century, this led to rapid swelling of the Danube and Elbe river systems. Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, said in a statement that “it is evident that days with weather conditions that lead to such flooding are becoming more frequent.” As weather systems tend to remain stationary for longer, he said there was a higher chance for heavy and long-lasting rains, and for summer heat-waves and droughts. “Debate in climate research is currently focusing on what the causes of such changes in weather patterns could be and what role climate change might play in this,” he said. “But it is naturally not possible to explain single events on this basis.” –News Discovery
May 25, 2013 – COLORADO – What is life going to look like as our precious water resources become increasingly strained and the western half of the United States becomes bone dry? Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century in the western half of the country in 1000 years, and now things appear to be reverting to their normal historical patterns. But we have built teeming cities in the desert such as Phoenix and Las Vegas that support millions of people. Cities all over the Southwest continue to grow even as the Colorado River, Lake Mead and the High Plains Aquifer system run dry. So what are we going to do when there isn’t enough water to irrigate our crops or run through our water systems? Already we are seeing some ominous signs that Dust Bowl conditions are starting to return to the region. In the past couple of years we have seen giant dust storms known as “haboobs” roll through Phoenix, and 6 of the 10 worst years for wildfires ever recorded in the United States have all come since the year 2000. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, “the average number of fires larger than 1,000 acres in a year has nearly quadrupled in Arizona and Idaho and has doubled in every other Western state” since the 1970s. But scientists are warning that they expect the western United States to become much drier than it is now. What will the western half of the country look like once that happens? In a recent National Geographic article contained the following chilling statement…The wet 20th century, the wettest of the past millennium, the century when Americans built an incredible civilization in the desert, is over. Much of the western half of the country has historically been a desolate wasteland. We were very blessed to enjoy very wet conditions for most of the last century, but now that era appears to be over. To compensate, we are putting a tremendous burden on our fresh water resources. In particular, the Colorado River is becoming increasingly strained.
Ecosystem crash: Without the Colorado River, many of our largest cities simply would not be able to function. The following is from a recent Stratfor article: “The Colorado River provides water for irrigation of roughly 15 percent of the crops in the United States, including vegetables, fruits, cotton, alfalfa and hay. It also provides municipal water supplies for large cities, such as Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, accounting for more than half of the water supply in many of these areas.” In particular, water levels in Lake Mead (which supplies most of the water for Las Vegas) have fallen dramatically over the past decade or so. The following is an excerpt from an article posted on Smithsonian: “And boaters still roar across Nevada and Arizona’s Lake Mead, 110 miles long and formed by the Hoover Dam. But at the lake’s edge they can see lines in the rock walls, distinct as bathtub rings, showing the water level far lower than it once was—some 130 feet lower, as it happens, since 2000. Water resource officials say some of the reservoirs fed by the river will never be full again.” Today, Lake Mead supplies approximately 85 percent of the water that Las Vegas uses, and since 1998 the water level in Lake Mead has dropped by about 5.6 trillion gallons. –TECB
May 20, 2013 – KANSAS – Tornadoes touched down in three states on Sunday, ripping roofs off homes and turning trees to matchsticks, as severe weather swept the region. A large “violent and extremely dangerous” tornado was spotted on the southwest side of Wichita, Kansas, the National Weather Service said. A second confirmed tornado was seen near Edmond, Oklahoma, said the weather service. Another tornado was spotted in nearby Luther, Oklahoma, but it was not immediately clear whether that was the same twister. A third tornado touched down near Wellston, Oklahoma, taking out power lines and damaging several homes, according to video from CNN affiliate KFOR. The affiliate’s helicopter pilot estimated the funnel cloud to be about a half-mile wide. “It’s tearing up everything,” the pilot said. “Just ripping everything up in its sight.” Aerial video from KFOR and CNN affiliate KOCO showed severe damage near Wellston and near Carney, Oklahoma. Roofs were ripped from homes, branches stripped from trees and roads were filled with debris. Tornadoes were also reported east of Dale, west of Paden, and near Prague in Oklahoma. Part of Interstate 40 in Shawnee, Oklahoma, was shut down in both directions Sunday night after a tornado touched down, overturning multiple tractor-trailers. Still more tornadoes were spotted in Iowa, near Earlham, Huxley and east of Dallas Center, according to the weather service. It did not mince words, telling people to take cover there, as elsewhere. “You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter. Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals,” it said in its Kansas advisory. Incredibly, given the severe nature of the weather, there have been no immediate reports of injuries or death, said Randy Duncan, director of emergency management in Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located. “I’m very pleased to say there are no fatalities or injuries … and actually only relatively minor reports of property damage,” he told CNN. “Overall, I would say we escaped relatively unscathed.” The twisters are part of a severe weather outbreak that is sweeping through parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Missouri as the storms sweep east. Baseball-sized hail, wind gusts and tornadoes are threatening to pummel parts of the central Plains and Midwest through Monday. Beyond the Midwest, other areas were already seeing severe weather on Sunday. In Atlanta, serious flooding was reported amid storms producing heavy rainfall. –CNN
May 20, 2013 – ALASKA – 232 days – it took over 30 years for Anchorage to set a new record for the longest snow season on record. The National Weather Service measured 2/10ths of an inch just after 9 p.m. Friday and 1/10th Saturday morning – breaking the old record of 230 days set in 1981-1982. Anchorage police responded to 22 crashes, 4 with injuries and 37 vehicles in distress between midnight and noon Saturday. Police say roads were wet and not icy midday and “motorists should use caution if the temperatures drop below freezing. Other parts of the city had much higher amounts of snow, however official measurements must be consistent and observed at the Sand Lake forecast office. The recent snowfall also broke the daily record for liquid precipitation, lowest maximum temperature for May 17, and a host of other records. NWS says Saturday evening’s forecast calls for “mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers in the evening…then partly cloudy after midnight – lows in the upper teens to mid 20s and north wind to 15 mph.” For Sunday, the forecast will be mostly sunny, highs in the 40s, and light winds, according to NWS. –NBC
February 3, 2013 – AUSTRALIA – The Bureau of Meteorology said both the average mean temperature of 29.68 degrees Celsius (85.42 degrees Fahrenheit) and the average mean maximum temperature of 36.92 Celsius surpassed previous records set in January 1932. The nation’s central outback sweltered under a “dome” of heat for much of the month, with the Northern Territory posting its hottest mean temperature on record for January of 31.93 Celsius, the bureau said. “The heat-wave in the first half of January was exceptional in its extent and duration,” it said in a statement released Friday. “The national average maximum temperature on 7 January was the highest on record. Numerous stations set records for the most days in succession above 40 degrees Celsius, including Alice Springs (17 days) and Birdsville (31 days).” The bureau said a large number of weather stations set all-time record high temperatures during the heat-wave, including Sydney (45.8 Celsius on January 18) and Hobart (41.8 Celsius on January 4). The highest temperature recorded during the heat-wave was at Moomba in South Australia, which hit a scorching 49.6 Celsius on 12 January. The bureau said the heat-wave, which aided bushfires in the eastern states, was followed by extreme rainfall and flooding for some coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald. The rain caused extensive flooding in the Queensland towns of Bundaberg, where some houses were washed away and roads destroyed, and Gladstone among others. “Gladstone received 820 millimeters (32 inches) of rainfall in four days, which exceeded its previous record for a whole month, and more than the annual rainfall recorded in 2011 or 2012,” the bureau said. –Physics
Thu, 01 Sep 2011 09:27 CDT
Dazzling life at a coral reef near Florida’s Key West. The state’s coral reefs have suffered steep declines in recent decades.
Temperature extremes and the destruction they cause have been big news this year, with large swaths of the southern United States in the grip of record-breaking heat waves that devastated flora and fauna.
Yet temperature extremes also take a toll on life that dwells in the ocean, where the results are far less accessible to TV news crews than the bone-dry landscapes and wildfires on display in Texasthis year.
Last year in Florida, it was the unusual cold that wreaked havoc. Researchers have begun to unravel the effects of the frigid weather on some of the Sunshine State’s most vulnerable inhabitants. The damage apparently included one of the worst coral die-offs ever recorded in the United States.
In January 2010, Florida was hit with the coldest 12-day period since 1940, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures hovered around the freezing point, destroying millions of dollars of crops; at least two people in the state died from cold exposure.
Beneath the waves off the coast, Florida’s coral reefs, some of the largest in the United States, were hit especially hard by water temperatures that, in some areas, plunged to 51 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius).
Overall, some of the largest reef-building species suffered a 40 percent death rate. At some specific reefs, that number was 100 percent.
Dead colonies of the threatened coral species Acropora cervicornis at a reef close to shore. Inshore reefs were the most hard-hit during the cold snap.
“It looked more dramatic than anything we’d seen in the past,” said coastal ecologist Diego Lirman, an associate professor at the University of Miami and lead author of a study published this month in PLoS One.
Lirman, joined by an army of colleagues and volunteers, spent four weeks during and immediately after the severe weather surveying the aftermath along the Florida Reef Tract, a dotted line of reefs that curves for 160 miles (260 kilometers) from Miami to the Dry Tortugas.
Lirman said the dive teams were met with eerie scenes. “We saw dead corals all around, dead sponges, soft corals that were either completely dead or on their way out,” he said. Although the study didn’t include them in the count, Lirman said that even fish, which make the reefs their home, were far more sparse than usual.
“It really looked like a major bleaching event had just happened, but the water was cold,” Lirman told OurAmazingPlanet.
Coral stress, coral death
Bleaching, a phenomenon generally associated with overly warm water, is the term used to describe what happens to stressed corals that eject the symbiotic algae that dwell within them. In normal conditions, the two organisms share a cozy life together. The algae get a nice, safe place to live and photosynthesize; in return, they provide life-giving sugars to their coral hosts and infuse them with color.
However, when corals feel environmental stress, whether from temperature extremes or ocean acidification, the algae are expelled. Without the algae, the coral begins to starve. The tissue turns transparent, allowing the bone-white skeleton beneath to show through.
Bleaching is not always fatal. “Bleaching is not death,” Lirman said, “bleaching is the stress response.” However, Florida’s coral reefs weren’t able to recover.
“This went from quickly bleaching to mortality within days. I’d say within less than a week,” Lirman said, adding that the event was far more deadly than past warm-water bleaching events in the region.
Before and after the 2010 cold snap. All the corals on the right are dead, except for the Siderastrea siderea pictured in the bottom photo. Research revealed the species can survive frigid conditions better than other corals.
Lirman’s study documented the magnitude and scale of the damage; temperature gauges in place since 2005, coupled with satellite data, confirmed that the cold waters were associated with the high coral death rates. Another study, published in the August edition of the journal Global Change Biology, took a look at the physiological effects of the cold temperatures.
Hot ‘n’ cold coral
Researchers at the University of Georgia, armed with the temperature data from the Florida cold spell, put three different coral species through the rigors of cold-water living in lab conditions that mirrored the chilly temperature changes that unfolded along the Florida reefs in early 2010.
“We found the response to be very similar to warm-water bleaching,” said Dustin Kemp, a coral eco-physiologist and post-doctoral research associate who led the research.
Below 55.5 F (12 C), none of the corals could photosynthesize, Kemp said.
As to whether hot- or cold-water bleaching is more deadly for coral reefs, Kemp said it’s all a matter of scale.
“One degree Celsius [1.8 F] above the normal summer temperatures will cause bleaching; usually the temperature goes back down and that’s when recovery occurs,” Kemp told OurAmazingPlanet.
In contrast, the Florida waters were a full 14 degrees F (8 C) below normal. If summer temperatures veered so far above the warmest norm, “I’m sure it would be catastrophic as well,” Kemp said.
A large colony of Monatstraea coral, likely over a century old, killed off by the 2010 cold snap.
Ancient ocean giants
Some of the corals hardest hit in the die-off were from the genus Montastraea – large, boulder-size corals. Many colonies were centuries old, and, having survived past hurricanes and bleaching events, formed the hardy backbones of the reef ecosystem.
September 1, 2011 – GREENLAND – New photographs taken of a vast glacier in northern Greenland have revealed the astonishing rate of its breakup, with one scientist saying he was rendered “speechless.” In August 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier about four times the size of Manhattan island broke off , prompting a hearing in Congress. Researcher Alun Hubbard, of the Centre for Glaciology at Aberystwyth University, U.K., told msnbc.com by phone that another section, about twice the size of Manhattan, appeared close to breaking off. In 2009, scientists installed GPS masts on the glacier to track its movement. Taken nearly two years after the picture above, this photo shows the extent of the ice loss. The channel is about ten miles wide. But when they returned in July this year, they found the ice had been melting so quickly — at an unexpected 16-and-a-half feet in two years — that some of the masts stuck into the glacier were no longer in position. Hubbard, who has been working with Jason Box, of Ohio State University, and others, said in a statement issued by the Byrd Polar Research Center that scientists were still trying to work out how fast the glacier was moving and the effect on the ice sheet feeding the glacier. But he said he was taken aback by the difference between 2009 and 2011 when he visited the glacier in late July. “Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the break-up, which rendered me speechless,” he said in the statement. “I’m very familiar with the glacier. It’s very hard to sort of envisage something so big not being there … to come back and basically see an ice shelf has disappeared, which is 20 kilometers across (about 12 miles) … I was speechless and started laughing because I couldn’t sort of believe it,” Hubbard added, speaking to msnbc.com. –MSNBC
The very disturbing part about this natural disaster is that it was so powerful it virtually destroyed everything in it’s path, which makes me think that many of these people who are hoarding food and ammo may be wasting their time and money.
Here’s some excellent coverage from Japanese television inside the heart of the devastated areas, with Japanese reporters talking to their own people offering a more honest perspective on this crisis than through the eyes of foreigners.
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:29 PM on 11th March 2011
The powerful tsunami that today slammed into Japan’s eastern coast comes just two days after warnings that the movement of the moon could trigger unpredictable events on Earth.
Astrologers predicted that on March 19 – a week tomorrow – the so-called ‘supermoon’ will be closer to Earth than at any time since 1992, just 221,567 miles away, and that its gravitational pull will bring chaos to Earth.
Others on the Internet have predicted it will cause further catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Coming just three weeks after the quake which devastated Christchurch in New Zealand killing hundreds, this latest disaster will only add fuel to their fire.
Scroll down for video
SEISMICALLY ACTIVE – JAPAN’S LONG HISTORY OF EARTHQUAKES
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas.
The country accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
Several continental and oceanic plates – the Pacific Plate, Philippine Plate, Eurasian Plate and North American Plate – meet in the Japan area, which is why there are so many volcanoes and hot springs across the nation.
Located in a volcanic zone so active it is nicknamed the Pacific Ring of Fire, catastrophic earthquakes occur several times each century.
Japan has suffered an estimated 200 recorded tsunamis in its history due to earthquakes that take place below or close to the Pacific Ocean.
In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.
That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor hit the city of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,400.
However the ‘supermoon’ date is still eight days away. But those that adhere to this particular belief could claim that this was still close enough for there to be some kind of effect.
Two days ago, in an interview with ABC radio discussing the potential impact of the March 19 supermoon, astrologer Richard Nolle, who first coined the term in 1979, said he was convinced that lunar perigees cause natural disasters on Earth.
‘Supermoons have a historical association with strong storms, very high tides, extreme tides and also earthquakes,’ he said.
However, scientists dismiss this as utter nonsense and that although it makes a good photo opportunity for astronomers it has no impact on Earth.
Dr David Harland, space historian and author, said: ‘It’s possible that the moon may be a kilometre or two closer to Earth than normal at a perigee, but it’s an utterly insignificant event.’
Professor George Helffrich, a seismologist at the University of Bristol was equally dismissive.
‘Complete nonsense. The moon has no significant effect on earthquake triggering.
‘If the moon triggers “big” earthquakes, it would trigger the many of millions of times more “small” earthquakes that happen daily. There is no time dependence of those; hence no moon effect.’
The moon’s orbit around Earth is not a circle, but an ellipse. At its closest approach – the perigee – the moon appears brighter and larger in the sky. When it is furthest away – the apogee – it is smaller and dimmer.
WHAT CAUSED THE EARTHQUAKE?
Dr Roger Musson, of the British Geological Survey (BGS), explained that the devastating earthquake occurred because the Pacific Plate is plunging underneath Japan.
He said: ‘The cause of this earthquake is that the Pacific Plate, which is one of the largest of the tectonic plates that makes up the crust of the Earth, is plunging deep underneath Japan.
‘It’s being pushed down and it can’t slide down smoothly so it sticks.
‘It sticks for tens of years and then eventually it breaks and moves very suddenly down and as it does so it buckles and gives the seabed a sudden kick over areas of hundreds of square kilometres and that displaces an enormous volume of water.
‘That water just races away in the form of this enormous wave in all directions.’
Last month’s New Zealand quake was caused by the Pacific Plate being forced under the Indo-Australian Plate.
A lunar perigee occurs once a month. However, next week’s perigee coincides with a full moon – a combination of events that happen just once every two or three years.
John S Whalley, geoscience programme manager at the University of Portsmouth, agreed there was no correlation.
‘There is no established correlation between variations in the orbit of the moon and either the number or magnitude of earthquakes.
‘It is all too easy, with hindsight, to link major earthquakes to variations in all sort of parameters.
‘The real test is to look at the vast numbers of earthquakes of all magnitudes that occur on a daily basis worldwide.
‘Any correlation with the lunar orbit would have to be established on the basis of this population of earthquakes, not on individual high magnitude events. In need hardly add that no such correlation has been established.’
However, despite this wall of doubt there is a small and vocal minority of astrologers that insist a supermoon or ‘lunar perigee’ does exist.
In his ABC interview Mr Nolle added: ‘Supermoons are like eclipses. We have roughly five to six per year and so it can be very close to Earth but we don’t have to have one at the maximum close approach to have a notable effect.’
Published: 25 Feb 11 10:43 CET
Following another extended stretch of sub-zero temperatures, ice coverage on the Baltic Sea is greater than it’s been in nearly a quarter century, Sweden’s meteorological agency reports.
About 250,000 square kilometres of the Baltic Sea are now covered in ice according to the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI).
The last time so much of the Baltic was frozen was the winter of 1986-87, when ice covered nearly 400,000 square kilometres of the sea’s surface.
SMHI warns that ice coverage on the Baltic could expand further in the coming days, possibly setting a new record.
“The surface water is cold and if winter-like temperatures continue in the region a few more weeks, we’ll probably get an icy winter on par with 1984-85, one of the toughest winters in the 1980s,” SMHI oceanographer Amund E. B. Lindberg said in a statement.
According to SMHI’s estimates, ice may eventually connect the Swedish mainland all the way out to the Baltic island of Gotland, which lies about 90 kilometres off of Sweden’s eastern coast.
Baltic ice cover is not only unusually wide this winter, but also unusually thick, especially in Gulf of Bothnia off Sweden’s northeastern coast, where air temperatures have consistently hovered around -30 degrees Celsius in recent months.
– March 3, 2011
Connecticut , along with all of our friends over on the east coast (US), have been hit hard over the past few months…. snow storm after snow storm.. literally BLIZZARD after BLIZZARD…
FEMA DELCARLATION for CT:
link to collapsed rink video in the north east.. maine..