A 5.1-magnitude earthquake hit the Kutahya province in western Turkey, the Istanbul-based Kandilli seismology center reported.
The quake occurred at 6:20 pm local time with its epicenter in Tokat village of Hiharcik town in Kutahya, according to the seismology center affiliated to Bogazici University. The epicenter, with a depth of 3.1 km, was felt in some towns near Hiharcik and many citizens ran out of their houses in the province with panic. (News agencies)
The surprising threat from Mexico’s awakened volcano
Geologists warn that powerful mudflows spawned by Popocatepetl could wreak havoc
North America’s second-tallest volcano recently rumbled to life, putting authorities on edge. Big eruptions of Mexico’s massive Popocatepetl volcano are “few and far between,” as one geologist says. Yet even without any dramatic fireworks, 17,800-foot (5,425-meter) “Popo” has the power to wreak havoc.
Geologist Mike Sheridan, a professor emeritus at the University at Buffalo, said that Popo and, in fact, many other volcanoes around the world harbor a means of destruction that many people may not associate with volcanoes: mudflows.
“And they don’t even require an eruption, so they are less predictable,” Sheridan told OurAmazingPlanet.
Popocatepetl lies about 40 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. The mountain reawakened in December 1994 after five decades of silence. Yet in the nearly 20 years since, the volcano has rarely exhibited the kind of vigorous activity that began the week of April 12.
The mountain has the potential to erupt magnificently once every 2,000 or 3,000 years. “It has big eruptions, but they are so few and far between,” Sheridan said. “But they have been pretty big. So that is the scary part.”
Mudflows, also called debris flows and lahars (an Indonesian word), occur when water suddenly mixes with volcanic ash near a volcano’s summit. The water can come from a multitude of sources — an explosive eruption that melts a mountaintop glacier, a sudden deluge of rain — with equally devastating results.
They are a big ongoing hazard, said Ben Andrews, a research geologist at the Smithsonian’s Global Vulcanism Program.
“Thinking about them as mud is technically accurate, but conceptually it’s more like a wall of cement flowing,” he told OurAmazingPlanet, “and it destroys pretty much everything in its path.”
As a flow rushes down a mountainside, it typically picks up large boulders and anything else that lies in its way.
Sheridan and colleagues mapped out possible scenarios for debris flows from snow-topped Popo the last time the mountain rumbled in its sleep, in 2000. They showed that flows could affect surrounding population centers.
Popocatepetl’s current activity has triggered a few small debris flows, but it isn’t likely to produce any large ones, Sheridan said. However, it has done so in the past.
USGS photo by R.J. Janda.
In one large eruption about 11,000 years ago, Popocatepetl produced mudflows that inundated surrounding valleys, wiping out towns and villages, Sheridan said.
Both Sheridan and Andrews pointed to a 1985 eruption of Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano to illustrate the insidious danger posed by debris flows.
“That eruption was fairly small,” Andrews said. Yet it melted glaciers atop the mountain, producing a moving wall of debris that thundered down. The town of Armero — a full 45 miles (74 km) from Nevado del Ruiz — was essentially wiped away a full two hours after the eruption.
One girl’s horrific case came to symbolize the tragedy. Thirteen-year-old Omayra Sanchez was buried up to her neck and hands in muck. For three days, volunteers struggled to free her as water slowly rose, but Sanchez died, held fast by the debris around her. In total, the 1985 mudflow killed more than 23,000 people.
A way out
Such tragedies are avoidable. “Mudflows can be detected and there can be a warning of up to a half-hour in advance,” Sheridan said.
“It’s definitely an escapable hazard if there’s a warning,” Andrews said. “These flows will knock down pretty much everything in their path, but they’re restricted to valleys. And they’re not moving at hundreds of miles per hour, they’re moving at tens of miles per hour.”
If warnings come in time and people move up to high ground, they can stay safe. The important thing is maintaining an accurate warning system so that people heed them, the scientists said.
“By the time you see it coming at you, it’s probably too late,” Andrews said.
Reach Andrea Mustain at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AndreaMustain. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.
by Staff Writers
Santa Barbara CA (SPX) May 04, 2012
This March 2010 photograph of the beach at Punta Lavapie reveals the extent of the uplift – these former subtidal rocky bottoms were completely submerged in water – at all times – prior to the Maule earthquake and tsunami. Credit: Eduardo Jaramillo.
The reappearance of long-forgotten habitats and the resurgence of species unseen for years may not be among the expected effects of a natural disaster. Yet that’s exactly what researchers have found on the sandy beaches of south central Chile, after an 8.8-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami in 2010. Their study also revealed a preview of the problems wrought by sea level rise – a major symptom of climate change.
In a scientific first, researchers from Universidad Austral de Chile and UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute (MSI) were able to document the before-and-after ecological impacts of such cataclysmic occurrences.
A new paper appearing in the journal PLoS ONE elucidates the surprising results of their collaborative study, pointing to the potential effects of natural disasters on sandy beaches worldwide.
“So often you think of earthquakes as causing total devastation, and adding a tsunami on top of that is a major catastrophe for coastal ecosystems. As expected, we saw high mortality of intertidal life on beaches and rocky shores, but the ecological recovery at some of our sandy beach sites was remarkable,” said Jenifer Dugan, an associate research biologist at MSI.
“Dune plants are coming back in places there haven’t been plants, as far as we know, for a very long time. The earthquake created sandy beach habitat where it had been lost. This is not the initial ecological response you might expect from a major earthquake and tsunami.”
Their findings owe a debt to serendipity. With joint support from Chile’s Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Cientifico y Tecnologico and the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research program, the scientists were already knee-deep in a collaborative study of how sandy beaches in Santa Barbara and south central Chile respond, ecologically, to man-made armoring such as seawalls and rocky revetments.
As part of that project, the Chilean team surveyed nine sandy beaches along the coasts of Maule and Biobio in late January, 2010. The earthquake hit in February.
Realizing their unique opportunity, the scientists quickly changed gears and within days were back on the beaches to reassess their study sites in the catastrophe’s aftermath. They have returned many times since, diligently documenting the ecological recovery and long-term effects of the earthquake and tsunami on these coastlines, in both natural and human-altered settings.
The magnitude and direction of land-level change brought the greatest impact, drowning beaches especially where the tsunami exacerbated earthquake-induced subsidence – and widening and flattening beaches where the earthquake brought uplift. The drowned beach areas suffered mortality of intertidal life; the widened beaches quickly saw the return of plants and animals that had vanished due to the effects of coastal armoring.
“With the study in California and our study here, we knew that building coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, decreases beach area, and that a seawall results in the decline of intertidal diversity,” said lead author Eduardo Jaramillo, of Universidad Austral de Chile.
“But after the earthquake, where significant continental uplift occurred, the beach area that had been lost due to coastal armoring has now been restored. And the re-colonization of the mobile beach fauna was under way just weeks after.”
With responses varying so widely depending on land-level changes, mobility of flora and fauna, and shore type, the findings show not only that the interactions of extreme events with armored beaches can produce surprising ecological outcomes – but also suggest that landscape alteration, including armoring, can leave lasting footprints in coastal ecosystems.
“When someone builds a seawall, not only is beach habitat covered up with the wall itself, but, over time, sand is lost in front of the wall until the beach eventually drowns,” Dugan said.
“The semi-dry and damp sand zones of the upper and mid intertidal are lost first, leaving only the wet lower beach zones. This causes the beach to lose diversity, including birds, and to lose ecological function. This is an underappreciated human impact on coastlines around the world, and with climate change squeezing beaches further, it’s a very serious issue to consider.”
Jaramillo elaborated, “This is very important because sandy beaches represent about 80 percent of the open coastlines globally. Also, sandy beaches are very good barriers against the sea level rise we are seeing around the world. It is essential to take care of sandy beaches. They are not only important for recreation, but also for conservation.”
The study is said to be the first-ever quantification of earthquake and tsunami effects on sandy beach ecosystems along a tectonically active coastal zone.
Overview map. (Source: JRC)
This Volcanic eruption of Pago in New Britain-SW Pac is expected to have a medium humanitarian impact based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.
Current volcano eruption
- Source: VAAC Darwin
- Location (latitude/longitude): -5.583, 150.517
- Date: 03/05/2012 to 03/05/2012
Volcano Ash Advisories for air traffic
Although Volcano Ash Advisories (VAAC) are not intended for assessing humanitarian impact, the observations of the plume are relevant for understanding local impact. The actual impact (like ash fall) depends on the type of eruption and is not known.
Timeline of eruptions
For accessing reports of previous advisories, please click on the advisory number in the table below.
|1||5/3/2012 5:30:00 AM||DARWIN||82||1||5/3/2012 5:30:00 AM||1||VO||Red||automatic||3||New Britain-SW Pac||Pago||0||0||Population affected||0||DARWIN||1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM||POINT (150.517 -5.583)|
|2||5/3/2012 6:00:00 AM||DARWIN||82||2||5/3/2012 6:00:00 AM||1||VO||Red||automatic||3||New Britain-SW Pac||Pago||0||0||Population affected||0||DARWIN||1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM||POINT (150.517 -5.583)|
|3||5/3/2012 7:15:00 AM||DARWIN||82||3||5/3/2012 7:15:00 AM||1||VO||Orange||automatic||2||New Britain-SW Pac||Pago||0||0||Population affected||0||DARWIN||1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM||POINT (150.517 -5.583)|
For a full list of available products related to this event, please refer to the GDACS Data Resources page.
About the data
Information related to the volcano eruption has been collected from official reports published by the Global Volcanism Program and/or Volcano Ash Advisories published by one of the Volcano Ash Advisory Centres.
While we try everything to ensure accuracy, this information is purely indicative and should not be used for any decision making without alternate sources of information. The JRC is not responsible for any damage or loss resulting from the use of the information presented on this website.
Citing the rise of the surface temperature of Mt. Baekdu, geologists predict its eruption in a couple of years. / Korea Times file
Mt. Baekdu has been carefully observed since 1999 when a volcanic observatory was built in China, and since 2002, there have been some symptoms of an eruption.
By Park Chang-seok
Yes, one! There’s only one thing about which they think in a same way – a concern about possible eruption of Mt. Baekdu. The two Koreas remain at odds in everything. But they are one in voicing how to counter the possible volcanic explosion of the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula
Inter-Korean anxiety is mounting, with growing apocalyptic predictions on the dormant volcano. A South Korean geological expert has warned that the volcano could erupt sometime around 2014 and 2015.
Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly said people in some regions of Yanggang and North Hamgyeong Provinces were feeling anxiety over a volcanic eruption of Mt. Baekdu. Kim called for quick countermeasures by the North Korean authorities.
If a volcano, located on the border between North Korea and China erupts, damage could be 10 to 100 times greater than that caused by the April 2010 eruptions in Iceland. Experts predict that the ashes would not only hit the neighboring area but damage agriculture and cause serious disruptions in industrial activities and air flights. The Korean Peninsula, China, Japan and Russia would be severely damaged.
A volcanic eruption begins when pressure on a magma chamber forces magma up through the conduit and out the volcano’s vents. When the magma chamber is completely filled, the type of eruption partly depends on the amount of gas and silica in the magma. The amount of silica determines how sticky (level of viscosity) the magma is and water provides the explosive potential of steam.
The 2010 Iceland eruption caused enormous disruption to air travel across Western and Northern Europe, although relatively small in size for volcanic eruptions. About 20 countries closed their airspace and it affected hundreds of thousands of travelers. A very high proportion of flights within, to, and from Europe were cancelled, creating the highest level of air travel disruption since the World War II.
Fears of a Mt. Baekdu eruption loom large with ensuing warnings based on a series of geological studies from experts. A growing number of scholars have not ruled out the possibility of another eruption, linking the collapse of Korea’s ancient kingdom, Balhae, with the previous one.
One theory comes from professor Hiroshi Machida of Tokyo Metropolitan University. Machida first presented a view in 1992 that the eruption of Mt. Baekdu (Mt. Changbai in Chinese) led to the fall of Balhae, which had expanded its sovereignty to the vast Manchuria territory. His theory was based on volcanic ash found in Tomakomai, a port city in southern Hokkaido, in 1981. The ash was named “Baekdu-Tomakomai volcanic ash” (B-Tm) after Mt. Baekdu and Tomakakomi city where it was found, according to So Won-ju who wrote the book “Secret of Mt. Baekdu’s Great Eruption.”
Machida’s theory has gained momentum as an increasing number of geologists and climate change researchers have presented views that the ash was produced in the eruption of the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula in the 10th century. The eruption of the 2,744 meter-high mountain was billed as the largest in the history of mankind and was about 50 times stronger than that of Mt. Vesuvius of Italy in 79 A.D. which led to the burying and destruction of the Roman city Pompeii.
Balhae (Bohai in Chinese) was established by Dae Jo-yeong, a former Goguryeo general, in 698 after the fall of Goguryeo. Dae Jo-yeong took the helm of Jin (Zhen in Chinese), founded by his father Dae Jung-sang in 696, and renamed the country Balhae, declaring it as the successor state of Goguryeo (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.).
Balhae occupied the southern parts of Manchuria and Primorsky Krai (now Russia’s Far East), and the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It was defeated by the Khitans in 926, and most of its northern territories were absorbed into the Liao Dynasty, also known as the Khitan Empire, founded in 907 while the southern parts were absorbed into Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392).
A dominant view related to Balhae’s decline had been Khitans’ 926 invasion. Some conventional historians believed that the rampancy of ethnic conflicts between the ruling Koreans and underclass Mohe (Malgal) caused its fall. But some refute these allegations, giving more weight on the catastrophic explosion of Mt. Baekdu as a primary cause for Balhae’s ruin rather than Khitans’ attack.
Balhae had been engaged in a war with the Khitans for about two weeks and then collapsed immediately. How could Balhae with a long 200-year history fall so easily in such a short period of battle? Some historians raised doubts about the early collapse, pointing to Mt. Baekdu erupting as a cause for Balhae’s ruin.
The massive explosion was believed to have created a tremendous amount of volcanic ash, damaging agriculture and even societal integrity. The Khitans were believed to have taken advantage of this natural disaster in putting the volcano-stricken Balhae under their complete control. The eruption might have prevented Balhae survivors from rebuilding their nation in consideration of the catastrophe.
A variety of indicators, suggested by geologists and Balhae dynasty researchers who have monitored the change of Baekdu’s geographical features, are backing a scenario of the recurrence of the Mt. Baekdu eruption. Some experts say that an eruption is imminent. Geologist Yoon Sung-hyo at Pusan National University strongly believes Mt. Baekdu could erupt anytime soon.”
According to historical records, major activity on the mountain in the 940s created a caldera on its peak, whose circumference is nearly 14 kilometers with an average depth of 213 meters and a maximum of 384 meters. Atop the mountain is Cheonji, literally meaning “heavenly lake,” the largest caldera in the world.
Volcanic ash from Mt. Baekdu eruption has been found as far away as the southern part of Hokkaido, Japan. Geologists predict the occurrence of great Mt. Baekdu eruptions every 1,000 years and that of minor ones every 200 to 300 years. Minor eruptions were recorded in 1413, 1597, 1668 and 1702 with the last activity being recorded in 1903.
Among other indicators backing the scenario of a future eruption is the height of Mt. Baekdu, which has grown nearly 10 centimeters since 2002. Experts say an expanding magma pool, a precondition for an eruption, is gradually pushing up the height of the mountain as well as the temperature on the surface. On Oct. 1, 2006, a Russian satellite found the surface temperature of the mountain notably higher than before. The finding came just days after North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in its northern territory, which could have been a catalyst reactivating magma flows, according to analysts.
Mt. Baekdu has been carefully observed since 1999 when a volcanic observatory was built in China, and since 2002, there have been some symptoms of an eruption. Seismic activity near the mountain has increased dramatically, and the concentration of hydrogen and helium emissions, both of which are volcanic gases have risen 10-fold. And there’s ample possibility that Mt. Baekdu may erupt in the near future.
If Mt. Baekdu erupts, it would no doubt bring about grave consequences for the two Koreas as well as the surrounding states, including China, Japan and Russia. The biggest immediate threat is the 2 billion tons of water in the lake on top of the crater. An eruption would likely cause severe flood damage, engulfing roads and homes within a 30-kilometer radius in just 3 hours and 20 minutes, a geological report found recently.
Mt. Baekdu’s caldera
The greatest victim of a Mt. Baekdu explosion may be North Korea, especially Yanggang and Hamgyeong Provinces. The two regions, located on the tip of the Korean Peninsula, may be covered with ash in just two hours.
In about eight hours, ash may reach Ulleungdo and Dokdo, two far eastern islands of South Korea, and in 12 hours, land on Tottori Prefecture, Japan. After 18 hours, volcanic ash would likely spread beyond Japan.
The National Institute for Disaster Prevention conducted a simulation in 2010 to test how far volcanic ash can spread if Mt. Baekdu erupts. According to the results, the effects can be different depending on the timing. If it happens in winter, Japan is expected to be more affected due to the northwest monsoon. On the other hand, a summer eruption would affect South Korea more.
Mt. Baekdu’s caldera has nearly two billion tons of water. If volcanic heat evaporates the water and is mixed suddenly with volcanic ashes, it would be strong enough to engulf even Vladivostok in Russia and Hokkaido in northern Japan, according to experts. The construction of nuclear power plants by North Korea and China in the neighborhood may certainly pose a grave threat to all Northeast Asians, with the view that Mt. Baekdu’s explosion would for sure cause subsequent nuclear catastrophes, as seen in Japan’s 2011 tsunami disaster. A volcanic explosion is the most terrible natural disaster which cannot be easily avoided by human wisdom and knowledge.
With unrelenting outbreaks of record-breaking natural disasters around the world and especially in the wake of Japan’s massive earthquake that is now estimated to have killed nearly 10,000, the world’s eyes are drawn to Mt. Baekdu. Multinational and regional cooperative monitoring systems are needed beyond ideological barriers to take preemptive measures against a possible eruption.
By all indications, Mt. Baekdu is a real danger and it’s not clear how long it will stay inactive. A Mt. Baekdu eruption, if it takes place, will not be a matter for a certain country but a global concern to determine the future of Northeast Asian civilization.
An important measure of eruptive strength is the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), a magnitudic scale ranging from 0 to 8 that often correlates to eruptive types.
During a volcanic eruption, lava, tephra (ash, lapilli tuff, volcanic bombs and blocks), and various gases are expelled from a volcanic vent or fissure.
Several types of volcanic eruptions have been distinguished by volcanologists. These are often named after famous volcanoes where that type of behavior has been observed.
Some volcanoes may exhibit only one characteristic type of eruption during a period of activity, while others may display an entire sequence of types all in one eruptive series.
Park Chang-seok is currently a resident research fellow of the Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA). Park, a former Korea Times managing editor and a Kyung Hee University media professor, is the author of “The History of Korean English Newspaper” and “News English.” He is the editor of KIPA’s two English books “Korea: From Rags to Riches” and “Discover Korea in Public Administration.”
The Yomiuri Shimbun
An underwater volcanic eruption may have occurred near Iwoto island, the Japan Meteorological Agency has said.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force confirmed a change in the color of the water northeast of Iwoto–about 1,250 kilometers south of Tokyo–at about 3:40 p.m. on Sunday after volcanic tremors–lasting about half an hour–were observed in the early morning on the island, according to the agency.
A moderate earthquake jolted a small town in western Iran near the Iraqi border on Thursday, injuring eight people and damaging buildings, Iranian media reported.
The magnitude 5.5 quake hit the sparsely populated area near the town of Mourmouri, about 300 miles (480 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, at 2:39 p.m., said the semiofficial Mehr news agency.
The report said the quake sent people rushing out of their homes in Mourmouri and that scores of buildings were damaged in nearby towns of Abdanan and Dehloran.
The area has experienced dozens of moderate earthquakes over the past few weeks.
Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes, experiencing at least one slight quake a day on average.
In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam.
Extreme Temperatures/ Weather
Wed, 02 May 2012 21:49 CDT
After a mini heatwave and the wettest April on record, now parts of Britain are braced for a taste of some wintry weather.Forecasters say it will be turning much colder as we head towards the weekend, with some areas seeing unseasonable frost and sub-zero temperatures.Sky weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said: “It’s all thanks to a cold front slowly moving southwards across the UK on Friday. This will bring with it colder air into northern areas.
It’ll be chilly for Scotland and Northern Ireland and northern Scotland could see a few wintry showers.
“On Saturday again some wintry showers are likely over the hills of Scotland.”
Flood warnings and alerts remain in place after the recent heavy rainfall, with some rivers set to reach their peaks.
The Environment Agency is urging people to keep away from swollen rivers and not attempt to walk or drive through flood waters.
On Monday, a mental health tribunal judge died when his car was swept away by 5ft of fast-flowing water at a ford in Headley, Hampshire.
Although the wettest April on record has started to restore water levels below ground, experts say it will take a lot more time and rain to undo the effects of two dry winters and bring swathes of England out of drought.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has even raised the possibility of standpipes returning to UK streets if the country is hit by a third dry winter in a row.
“Whereas it’s most unlikely we would have standpipes this year, if we have another dry winter that becomes more likely.
“We really do need a wet winter to get back to normal conditions,” Mrs Spelman said.
One in four Britons have been using their hosepipes in spite of the ban, a survey claims.
A poll of more than 1,000 people living in drought-affected areas for Gardeners’ World magazine found that 25% had been totally or partially ignoring the ban imposed by seven water companies on April 5.
FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE
GRAND JUNCTION CO
SALT LAKE CITY UT
DES MOINES IA
QUAD CITIES IA IL
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KANSAS CITY/PLEASANT HILL MO
SAN JUAN PR
DES MOINES IA
QUAD CITIES IA IL
GRAND RAPIDS MI
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LOS ANGELES/OXNARD CA
Gannett Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Predicting the weather is tricky enough. Now a new government-sponsored report warns that America’s ability to track tornadoes, forecast hurricanes and study climate change is about to diminish.
The number and capability of weather satellites circling the planet “is beginning a rapid decline” and tight budgets have significantly delayed or eliminated missions to replace them, according to a National Research Council analysis released Wednesday.
The number of in-orbit and planned Earth observation missions by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is projected to drop “precipitously” from 23 this year to only six by 2020 based on information provided by both agencies, the report found. As a result, the number of satellites and other instruments monitoring Earth’s activity is expected to decline from a peak of about 110 in 2011 to fewer than 30 by the end of the decade.
“Right now, when society is asking us the hardest questions and the most meaningful questions, we’re going to be even more challenged to answer them,” said Stacey W. Boland, a senior systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and a member of the committee that wrote the report. “We’ll slowly become data-starved here.”
The report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey, credits NASA with finding creative ways to prolong the life of existing satellites and working with international partners to fill in forecasting gaps.
But, the authors said, glue and scissors only go so far.
When a similar analysis was issued five years ago, eight satellites were expected to be in space by 2012 tracking a variety of conditions, such as global precipitation, ocean topography and carbon emissions. Only three are now in orbit. Of the remaining five, two failed, one was canceled and two others are not expected to launch until at least next year.
The pipeline looks emptier over the next decade.
Of the 18 missions recommended in the 2007 report through 2020, only two are close enough to completion to register launch dates.
Dennis Hartmann, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, and chair of the committee, warned that the loss of capacity will have “profound consequences on science and society, from weather forecasting to responding to natural hazards.”
NASA and NOAA are facing what all other government agencies are confronting: a record federal debt that has most in Congress talking about ways to cut programs, not expand them. The debt is approaching $15.7 trillion, or more than $50,000 per U.S. citizen, and even military leaders say the government’s spiralling sea of red ink poses a huge threat to the nation’s economic stability.
Lawmakers and the Obama administration have treated NASA better than most agencies. Its budget for the fiscal 2013 year is proposed to be relatively flat, a small victory given that many other agencies are facing deep cuts.
As a way to improve the efficiency of the nation’s civilian satellite program, a key Senate panel voted last month to shift the acquisition — but not operation — of weather satellites from the NOAA to NASA.
But even if Congress changed course today and decided to fund these missions, there would still be a lag because of the time it takes to build a satellite, Boland said.
“Once you’re even in implementation, it still takes several years to get from there to a launch pad,” she said.
by Staff Writers
San Diego CA (SPX) May 04, 2012
Long-term historical records show that many plant species have shifted their leafing and flowering earlier, in step with warming temperatures over recent decades.
Experiments may dramatically underestimate how plants will respond to climate change in the future. That’s the conclusion of an analysis of 50 plant studies on four continents, published this week in an advance online issue of the journal Nature, which found that shifts in the timing of flowering and leafing in plants due to global warming appear to be much greater than estimated by warming experiments.
“This suggests that predicted ecosystem changes-including continuing advances in the start of spring across much of the globe-may be far greater than current estimates based on data from experiments,” said Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists that conducted the study while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego.
“These findings have extensive consequences for predictions of species diversity, ecosystem services and global models of future change,” said Elsa Cleland, an assistant professor of biology at UC San Diego and senior author of the study, which involved 22 institutions in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S.
“Long-term records appear to be converging on a consistent average response to climate change, but future plant and ecosystem responses to warming may be much higher than previously estimated from experimental data.”
Predicting plant responses to climate change has important consequences for human water supply, pollination of crops and the overall health of ecosystems. Shifts in the timing of annual plant events-which biologists call “phenology”-are some of the most consistent and visible responses to climate change.
Long-term historical records show that many plant species have shifted their leafing and flowering earlier, in step with warming temperatures over recent decades.
Because historical records are not available in most locations and climate change may produce temperatures higher than previously recorded, however, ecologists often rely on experiments that warm small field plots to estimate plant responses to temperature and project future conditions.
With support from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a research center funded by the National Science Foundation, the State of California and the University of California, Santa Barbara, the scientists created new global databases of plant phenology to compare the sensitivity of plants to temperature- that is, how much plants shift their timing of leafing and flowering with warming. These were calculated from experiments and then compared to long-term monitoring records.
Wolkovich and her colleagues found that experiments underpredicted plant phenological responses to temperature by at least fourfold compared to long-term records. Long-term historical records consistently showed that leafing and flowering will advance, on average, 5 to 6 days per degree Celsius-a finding that was strikingly consistent across species and datasets.
“These results are important because we rely heavily on these experiments to predict what will happen to communities and ecosystems in the future,” said Ben Cook, a climatologist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, who helped bring together the research team.
Wolkovich said a number of factors could explain this discrepancy-including additional effects of climate change not mirrored by warming experiments, or specific aspects of the experimental design such as the degree of warming.
But her team’s analyses found that within the range of temperature increases considered, responses were not noticeably affected by the degree of warming or the number of years the study spanned. Instead, the discrepancy may be driven by exactly how researchers manipulate temperatures and how accurately they measure them.
“Researchers use a variety of methods to increase temperatures in the field-including heating cables in the soil, small greenhouse-like structures and heating above plants,” explains Wolkovich. “We found that plant sensitivities to temperature vary with the design of the experiment, with above plant warming producing consistent advances in flowering.”
Additionally, because the comparison was based on a metric that considered plant responses per degree Celsius of temperature change, experiments that overestimate their temperature increases could underestimate the change in leafing and flowering per degree of warming.
The difference in estimated responses from experiments versus long-term records has important consequences for predictions of species diversity, ecosystem services and global models of future change.
“Continuing efforts to improve the design of warming experiments while maintaining and extending long-term historical monitoring will be critical to pinpointing the cause of the mismatch,” said Wolkovich.
“These efforts will yield a more accurate picture of future plant communities and ecosystems with continuing climate change.”
2MIN News May3: Yellowstone, Climate, Solar/Planetary Update
Published on May 3, 2012 by Suspicious0bservers
VENUS IS NOT ALONE: When the sun sets tonight, go outside and look west. The Evening Star, Venus, is not alone. Second-magnitude star El Nath is less than a degree away. Marek Nikodem photographed the pair on May 2nd from the countryside near Niedźwiady, Poland:
The planet and the star are converging. At closest approach on May 6th, they will be 0.8 degrees apart, a gap so small you can hide it behind the outstreched tip of your index finger.
If you have a telescope, point it at Venus. The planet is at its brightest for all of 2012, and backyard optics easily resolve it into a 27% crescent. Swing over to El Nath for a different experience. The star, which lies 130 light years away, is a pinprick of light unresolved by the most powerful telescopes on Earth.
The fish pond covered with dead fish, located near a building site in the Mai Ke industrial area of Shenzhen, on May 1, 2012. [Photo: CRI online]
Over 50 thousand fish in a pond near an industrial area in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen died overnight on Monday, CRI Online reports.
The dead fish are mostly concentrated in the northern corner of the pond, and half of the body of water is now covered with rotting fish.
Located in the Qiangxiaxin Village at the junction of the Guangming New District and Dongguan in Shenzhen, the fish pond is larger than two basketball courts in area.
“We have invested a total of 350 thousand yuan (about 56 thousand USD) in the form of 60 thousand fish; now it’s all over,” said Ms. Liu, the fish pond owner. “These fish have been raised for one year, and could have been sold at market three months later.”
Liu said she will not sell the dead fish at market despite suffering great financial losses as a result. She also suspects that heavy rain may have led to the pond being contaminated by toxic and harmful substances from a nearby building site in the Maike industrial area.
A manager surnamed Wen at the building site said that he is willing to cover any losses but stated that he is unaware of the presence of toxic materials at the site.
The Guangming New District environmental protection office has already begun investigating the case.
Articles of Interest
MessageToEagle.com – Red blood cells have been discovered in Ötzi, the 5,000-year-old glacier mummy, found twenty years ago in the Ötzal Alps in South Tyrol.
It’s the oldest blood known to modern science.
Ötzi’s DNA has been decoded; samples from his stomach and intestines have allowed us to reconstruct his very last meal. The circumstances of his violent death appear to have been explained. However, what had, at least thus far, eluded the scientists, was identifying any traces of blood in Ötzi, the 5,000 year old glacier mummy. Examination of his aorta had yielded no results.
Yet recently, a team of scientists from Italy and Germany, using nanotechnology, succeeded in locating red blood cells in Ötzi’s wounds, thereby discovering the oldest traces of blood to have been found anywhere in the world.
|“Up to now there had been uncertainty about how long blood could survive – let alone what human blood cells from the Chalcolithic period, the Copper Stone Age, might look like.”This is how Albert Zink, Head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy, Bozen-Bolzano (EURAC) explains the starting point for the investigations which he undertook with Marek Janko and Robert Stark, materials scientists at the Center of Smart Interfaces at Darmstadt Technical University. Even in modern forensic medicine it has so far been almost impossible to determine how long a trace of blood had been present at a crime scene.|
Scientists Zink, Janko and Stark are convinced that the nanotechnological methods which they tested out on Ötzi’s blood to analyse the microstructure of blood cells and minute blood clots might possibly lead to a break-through in this area.
The team of scientists used an atomic force microscope to investigate thin tissue sections from the wound where the arrow entered Ötzi’s back and from the laceration on his right hand.
This nanotechnology instrument scans the surface of the tissue sections using a very fine probe.
Ötzi the Iceman, now housed at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy
As the probe moves over the surface, sensors measure every tiny deflection of the probe, line by line and point by point, building up a three-dimensional image of the surface. What emerged was an image of red blood cells with the classic “doughnut shape”, exactly as we find them in healthy people today.
“To be absolutely sure that we were not dealing with pollen, bacteria or even a negative imprint of a blood cell, but indeed with actual blood cells, we used a second analytical method, the so-called Raman spectroscopy method”, report Marek Janko and Robert Stark, who, with Albert Zink, are also members of the Center for NanoSciences in Munich.
Using nanotechnology, researchers from Italy and Germany have succeeded in locating red blood cells in the wounds of the 5,000-year-old glacier mummy – Ötzi. Photo Credits: European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano
In Raman spectroscopy the tissue sample is illuminated by a laser beam and analysis of the spectrum of the scattered light allows one to identify various molecules.
According to the scientists, the images derived from this process corresponded to present-day samples of human blood. Whilst examining the wound at the point where the arrow entered the body, the team of scientists also identified fibrin, a protein involved in the clotting of blood.
“Because fibrin is present in fresh wounds and then degrades, the theory that Ötzi died some days after he had been injured by the arrow, as had once been mooted, can no longer be upheld,” explains Albert Zink.
@ MessageToEagle.com via eurac
Family’s terror as their Florida house is nearly engulfed by 100ft wide sinkhole
A massive sinkhole opened up in a residential neighborhood in Windermere, Florida today that was 100 feet across and nearly 50 feet deep.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the freak accident, though the massive hole displaced a family of six, which had to be evacuated with aid of the fire department.
The cause of the sinkhole is unknown, but officials believe the dry weather conditions experienced in parts of the south could have contributed to the hole.
The hole ends a mere three feet from the family’s two-storey house, WESH reported.
One of the homeowners discovered the pit in their backyard around 7am this morning when they let the dog out.
Ice Age Now
Tue, 01 May 2012 21:44 CDT
Residents of Morro Grande, São José dos Missing, reported that at 10am on Monday there was rain for about a minute of white ice grains (granular snow).This was verified by the MetSul Meteorology, whose survey indicated freezing rain in Bento Goncalves, Caxias do Sul, San Marcos High Happy, Cinnamon, Capon Beautiful South, Ipe and Vacaria, San Joaquin in Santa Catarina, and possibly in Aparados and Serra Gaucho.In the case of freezing rain, which looks like a kid sleet, precipitation leaves the cloud like snowflakes on a cold portion of the atmosphere. Then it goes through an intermediate layer of warmer air, but because it is not thick enough, it just melts part of the flakes. Before reaching the surface, however, the flakes are melted by a new layer of cooler air and they freeze yet again, precipitating in the form of ice.The conditions were thus very conducive to the occurrence of winter precipitation (snow or freezing rain) with cold air temperatures and negative between 1500 and 2000 meters altitude, and the presence of a trough (an area of lower pressure) on the River Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. It is one of the classic models for snow in southern Brazil: a continental high-pressure trough or cyclone ensuring moisture flow.
Source: Metsul Blog (In Portuguese)
Toronto, Canada (SPX) May 03, 2012
As the Earth’s climate warms, a melting ice sheet produces a distinct and highly non-uniform pattern of sea-level change, with sea level falling close to the melting ice sheet and rising progressively farther away. The pattern for each ice sheet is unique and is known as its sea level fingerprint.
Now, a group of geophysicists from the University of Toronto, Harvard and Rutgers Universities have found a way to identify the sea level fingerprint left by a particular ice sheet, and possibly enable a more precise estimate of its impact on global sea levels.
“Our findings provide a new method to distinguish sea-level fingerprints in historical records of sea levels, from other processes such as ocean waves, tides, changes in ocean circulation, and thermal expansion of the ocean,” says Carling Hay, a Ph D candidate in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto and lead author of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“It may indeed allow us to estimate the contributions of individual ice sheets to rising global sea levels.”
Scientists around the world are trying to estimate both the current rate of sea level rise and the rates of ice sheet melting, and yet little work has been done to combine the two problems and answer these questions simultaneously.
Hay and colleagues Jerry Mitrovica and Eric Morow of Harvard University, and Robert E. Kopp of Rutgers University sought out statistical techniques that had not previously been applied to this problem, and began developing the new method using data analysis techniques common in other fields such as engineering science, economics, and meteorology.
The researchers then tested and refined the method by applying it to synthetic data sets – i.e., data sets with the same amount of noise as real data, but with known melting signals. The tests provide important guidance for the application of the method to actual sea-level records.
“We are now applying our methodology to historical sea level records to provide a new estimate of total sea level rise and the melt rates of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, over the 20th century,” says Hay.
“Preliminary results show intriguing evidence for acceleration of globally averaged sea-level rise in the second half of the period, along with a simultaneous rise in temperature. Once our study of historical records is complete, the next step will be to incorporate satellite-based measurements of sea-level changes.”
The findings are reported in the paper “Estimating the sources of global sea level rise with data assimilation techniques.” The research is supported by funding from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Harvard University, and the US Department of Energy American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellowship Program.
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