Friday, December 19, 2014

SOLAR WATCH: Chance Of Magnetic Storms Today, Coronal Mass Ejection Will Deliver Glancing Blow To Earth's Magnetic Field - Plus, Sunspot 2241 Erupts With M6.9 Solar Flare, Produces CME For Potential Impact On December 21!



December 19, 2014 - SPACE - A CME is heading in the general direction of Earth, and it could deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field later today.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of polar geomagnetic storms. The cloud was hurled into space two days ago by an M9-class explosion in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2242. Although the bulk of the CME flew south of the sun-Earth line, a collision is still possible. Computer models suggest a glancing impact on Dec. 19th with magnetic reverberations lasting until the 20th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

Space Weather Message Code: WATA30
Serial Number: 118
Issue Time: 2014 Dec 19 1315 UTC

WATCH: Geomagnetic Storm Category G2 Predicted

Highest Storm Level Predicted by Day:
Dec 20:  G1 (Minor)   Dec 21:  G2 (Moderate)   Dec 22:  G1 (Minor)

THIS SUPERSEDES ANY/ALL PRIOR WATCHES IN EFFECT

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/noaa-scales-explanation

Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 55 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power grid fluctuations can occur. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms.
Spacecraft - Satellite orientation irregularities may occur; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites is possible.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state.

M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Big sunspot AR2241 erupted on Dec. 18th (21:58 UT), producing a strong M6-class solar flare. Extreme UV radiation from the blast ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere and briefly blacked out HF radio communications over the Pacific Ocean.




Although coronagraph imagery still needs to be backfilled, new photos released by LASCO C3 show a coronal mass ejection (CME) leaving the sun with a potential Earth directed component.

An updated CME prediction model released by the Goddard Space Flight Center is calling for a potential impact to our geomagnetic field by December 21.

WATCH: M6.9 Solar Flare - December 18, 2014.




Sunspots

Below is an updated look at the visible solar disk on Friday. Solar activity increased once again to high levels.




Region 2241 was responsible for the largest event of the period, an M6.9 solar flare at 21:58 UTC (Dec 18). Coronagraph imagery reveals a faint halo coronal mass ejection (CME) with a potential Earth directed component. Prediction models are calling for an impact to our geomagnetic field by December 21. This could lead to a potential geomagnetic storm if an impact does materialize.

Sky watchers at middle to high latitudes should be alert this weekend. Region 2242, along with interaction between regions 2235 and 2237, produced a moderate M1.3 flare peaking at 09:44 UTC (Dec 19).

All other visible regions remained stable. A new sunspot is forming in the southeast quadrant and could be assigned a number later today.

- Space Weather | Solar Ham | NOAA SWPC.


ICE AGE NOW: New Study Shows 2,000-Year Downward Trend Of Northern European Summer Temperatures - A Cooling Trend Of -0.30°C Per 1,000 Years Over The Common Era!

Northern Europe summer (June, July, August) temperature reconstruction. Data shown in°C with respect to the 1961-1990 mean. 
© Adapted from Esper et al. (2014).

December 19, 2014 - EUROPE
- In a paper published in the Journal of Quaternary Science, Esper et al. (2014) write that tree-ring chronologies of maximum latewood density (MXD) "are most suitable to reconstruct annually resolved summer temperature variations of the late Holocene."

And working with what they call "the world's two longest MXD-based climate reconstructions" - those of Melvin et al. (2013) and Esper et al. (2012) - they combined portions of each to produce a new-and-improved summer temperature history for northern Europe that stretches all the way "from 17 BC to the present." And what did they thereby learn?

As the international team of researchers from the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Sweden and Switzerland describes it, this history depicts "a long-term cooling trend of -0.30°C per 1,000 years over the Common Era in northern Europe" (see figure above).

Most important of all, however, they note that their temperature reconstruction "has centennial-scale variations superimposed on this trend," which indicate that "conditions during Medieval and Roman times were probably warmer than in the late 20th century," when the previously-rising post-Little Ice Age mean global air temperature hit a ceiling of sorts above which it has yet to penetrate.

And so we continue to collect ever more real-world evidence for the fact that there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about the Earth's current level of warmth.

Paper Reviewed
Esper, J., Duthorn, E., Krusic, P.J., Timonen, M. and Buntgen, U. 2014. Northern European summer temperature variations over the Common Era from integrated tree-ring density records. Journal of Quaternary Science 29: 487-494.

Full paper PDF

References:
Esper, J., Frank, D.C., Timonen, M., Zorita, E., Wilson, R.J.S., Luterbacher, J., Holzkamper, S., Fischer, N., Wagner, S., Nievergelt, D., Verstege, A. and Buntgen, U. 2012. Orbital forcing of tree-ring data. Nature Climate Change 2: 862-866.

Melvin, T.M., Grudd, H. and Briffa, K.R. 2013. Potential bias in 'updating' tree-ring chronologies using Regional Curve Standardization: reprocessing the Tornetrask maximum-latewood-density data. The Holocene 23: 364-373.

- WUWT.


WATCH: European Ice Storms and Zonal Media Censorship.




HUMAN DEVOLUTION: Mass Stabbing Tragedy In Australia - EIGHT CHILDREN Stabbed To Death, 34-Year-Old Mother In Serious Condition?!

Police comfort a distressed woman at the scene where eight children aged between 18 months and 15 years were found
dead at a home in the northern Australian city of Cairns.  Isaac Egan / AFP/Getty Images

December 19, 2014 - AUSTRALIA
- Eight children aged from 18 months to 15 years have been found stabbed to death inside a house in Manoora suburb of the city of Cairns in far north Queensland, police have confirmed.

Authorities were initially called in the scene after reports of a woman with serious injuries around 11.20am local time.

“During an examination of the residence police located the bodies of the children, all aged between 18 months and 15 years,” police said in a statement.

WATCH: 8 children stabbed to death in Cairns, Australia.




A 34-year-old woman who was injured in the mass stabbing has been taken to hospital.

Police have cordoned off the house and closed traffic on Murray St. while detectives are searching through the property. Ambulances also remain on scene.


People believed to be relatives and friends of the victims grieve at the scene after eight children have been found stabbed to
death at a house in Manoora near Cairns, Australia.  Romy Bullerjahn / EPA

The children were apparently all siblings and the 34-year-old was their mother, a cousin of the injured woman told AAP. According to Lisa Thaiday, another 20-year-old sibling was the one who found his brothers and sisters dead inside the house.

"I'm going to see him now, he needs comforting. We're a big family ... I just can't believe it. We just found out [about] those poor babies," Thaiday said, as quoted by AFP.

Police could not initially confirm the relationship between the children and the injured woman. She is in stable condition and assisting the investigation, Cairns Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said.

Police said the situation is under control and there is no need for the public to be concerned about safety.There is no reason to believe that the incident was terrorism related, authorities say.

“Nobody goes in there until our forensic people go in there. Until we have done that, we're not going to be able to clearly establish any relationships,” Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said, adding that the scene might be locked down for several days, according to ABC news.

Officers from the Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch, Child Protection and Investigation Unit, Scenes of Crime and Scientific section are conducting an investigation of the scene, AAP reports.


Police cordon off the scene where eight children aged between 18 months and 15 years were found dead at a home in the
northern Australia.  Isaac Egan / AFP/Getty Images

Cairns Post reporter Scott Forbes stressed that the local area has a large indigenous population.

"All of the people here are actually related to the people who were involved in this incident," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation of those who live on the same street.

"So they're all reeling at the moment. But telling us that she was a very, very protective, very proud mother who loved her children dearly," he added.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the latest news as “heartbreaking.”

"All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened. This is an unspeakable crime. These are trying days for our country," Abbott stated.

The tragedy comes as Australia is still in shock following a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe on Monday. It resulted in two hostages being killed along with the gunman after police stormed the cafe some 16 hours into the stand-off. - RT.



CYBER WARS: The New Cold War - The White House Says Sony Hack Is A Serious National Security Matter; Cancellation Of "The Interview" Movie Sets Worrying New Precedent For Cyber Terror!

Sony Pictures has canceled the Dec. 25 release of "The Interview" after hackers threatened terrorists attacks and the largest
multiplex chains in North America pulled the film from its screens. (AP)

December 19, 2014 - TECHNOLOGY
- The suspected North Korea computer attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is a “serious national security matter,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday, as officials said the Obama administration is preparing to announce who it believes is behind the devastating hack.

Earnest said that the White House is weighing options for a “proportional” response to the attack whose ramifications President Obama is monitoring “very closely himself.”

Public attribution of the attack could come as early as this week, one national security official said. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the government of Kim Jong Un is behind the attack. North Korea has publicly denied involvement.

WATCH: White House - Sony hack a 'serious national security matter'.





“There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor,” Earnest said, characterizing the hack discovered last month that resulted in the theft of massive troves of executives’ e-mails and sensitive internal documents, and the deletion of data on hard drives. That activity, he said, “merits an appropriate response.”

The attack came in apparent retaliation for Sony's planned Christmas Day release of a comedy built around the assassination of the North Korean leader.

Earnest’s remarks indicate the White House has elevated a case of hacking a Hollywood movie studio to a government-to-government level, signalling to the North Koreans that there probably will be a U.S. response of some sort.

On Wednesday, bowing to threats of violence this week from the hackers against theaters that ran “The Interview,” Sony canceled the movie’s release. It was, analysts said, a stunning capitulation to the hackers’ demands and sets a worrying new precedent for cyberterrorism that could encourage more attacks.

The hack also throws into relief North Korea’s burgeoning cyberwarfare capabilities and its increased willingness to use a tool that can be wielded to disproportionate effect against countries with much larger and more powerful militaries and economies.

The administration has made clear for several years that it has a range of diplomatic, economic, legal and military options at its disposal in response to cyberattacks.

It is unlikely, however, that officials will announce the responses it is considering or the one it chooses. “There’s a lot of options,” the official said. “They likely won’t be discussed publicly anytime soon.”

Intelligence officials “know very specifically who the attackers are,” said one individual familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. They are North Korean government personnel, the individual said. The hackers were able to root around for three weeks in Sony’s network before being detected, the source said.

Some analysts say that although North Korea poses a challenge because it is not tied into the global economy, lacks trade or diplomatic relations with the United States and is under international sanctions for its nuclear program, it is important for the United States to respond. Steps might include indicting the individuals it believes conducted the hack, asking like-minded states to join in condemning the action, and if North Korea persists, undertaking a covert action to dismantle the computer systems used in the operation.

The attack marks the first known intrusion by North Korea into private U.S. computer networks and was improbably effective: Not only were the hackers able to penetrate Sony’s system and expose embarrassing internal emails, but they cowed one of Hollywood’s biggest entertainment firms into pulling a movie — while official Washington struggles to figure out an appropriate response.

“This is a master stroke,” said Ken Gause, director of international affairs at CNA Corp., a federally funded think tank. “North Korea has always been very good at brinksmanship and provocation. We underestimate their guile and their ability to conduct a strategy like this.”

The reclusive government apparently has been able to pull off something no other nation’s military has been able to, said Dmitri Alperovitch, cofounder of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm. “Despite all the cyber actions from Russia, China, Iran and everyone else, this is the first time a country has forced a target — through a cyber attack — to change its behavior against its will.”

North Korea had a fledgling computer attack capability in the late 1980s, but it did not begin to develop until the late 1990s, when Kim Jong Il’s oldest son, Kim Jong Nam, was given the responsibility of developing a computer center in Pyongyang. Cyber was seen as a way to help close the gap in military capability with countries such as the United States and its ally South Korea.

The country’s major strategic cyberwarfare organization is called Unit 121, located within the Reconnaissance General Bureau, analysts said.

North Korea has nearly doubled its number of elite hackers over the past two years and has set up bases in outside countries, mainly China, in an effort to boost its capacity to conduct cyberattacks, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported recently, citing military sources.

“North Korea appears to have some 5,900 personnel for cyberwarfare, up from around 3,000 two years ago,” the agency quoted the source as saying. Unit 121 is home to some 1,200 professional hackers, the source said.

The hackers have different roles. Some work on developing strategic attacks and some focus on hacking into government or national security targets while others target civilian systems, such as companies, analysts said.

Unit 121 may have been behind a series of similarly disruptive attacks on South Korean banks in 2011, sabotaging computer systems by wiping data off hard drives that needed to be replaced.

Hackers also work for the Korean Workers Party and the Korean Peoples Army, analysts said. Another unit, Lab 110, was identified as the group of hackers behind denial-of-service attacks against South Korea and the United States in 2009. - Washington Post.