Monday, November 14, 2011

SOLAR WATCH: Remarkable and Impressive Activity Seen on the Sun - Towering Wall of Enormous Plasma on its Southeastern Horizon!

"Solar forums all over the world are buzzing with Sun-stronomers proclaiming this to be the biggest prominence that many of them had ever witnessed."

According to Space, some amazing activities are taking place on the Sun, although all of the sunspots on the Earthside of the sun are quiet and pose little threat for geoeffective flares.
VENUS-DIRECTED CME: A coronal mass ejection (CME, movie) that swept past Mercury on Nov. 13th will likely hit Venus later today. Because Venus has no global magnetic field to protect it, the impact could erode material directly from the top of the planet's atmosphere. It's okay; Venus has atmosphere to spare. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab calculated the path of the CME, which left the sun on Nov. 12th. REMARKABLE SOLAR ACTIVITY: In terms of solar flares, the sun is quiet today. Nevertheless, some impressive activity is underway on the sun. For one thing, an enormous wall of plasma is towering over the sun's southeastern horizon. Stephen Ramsden of Atlanta, Georgia, took this picture on Nov. 11th:

"Solar forums all over the world are buzzing with Sun-stronomers proclaiming this to be the biggest prominence that many of them had ever witnessed," he says. Remarkably, though, this is not the biggest thing. A dark filament of magnetism is winding halfway around the entire sun. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took this picture during the early hours of Nov. 14th:

From end to end, this twisted fiber of magnetism stretches more than a million km or about three times the distance between Earth and the Moon. If the filament becomes unstable, as solar filaments are prone to do, it could collapse and hit the stellar surface below, triggering a Hyder flare. No one can say if the eruption of such a sprawling structure would be Earth directed. "I cant help but wonder what could possibly come next since we are still over a year away from the forecasted Solar Maximum," adds Ramsden. "There's never been a better time to own a solar telescope than now!" SOLAR UPDATE: The wall of plasma on the sun's SE limb has shifted to a state of high activity. "The prominence is evolving very fast now!" reports Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France. This morning it looked like [the dinosaur] Diplodocus."
WATCH: Sun's "GRAND FILAMENT OF MAGNETISM" is 621,371,192 Miles Long!

WATCH: Remarkable Filament Activity.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Biggest and Most Spectacular Volcanic Eruption In Eastern Congo in a Century - Tourists Invited To See The Eruption!

Tourists in eastern Congo are being invited to spend the night by a spectacular eruption at Africa's most active volcano. Mount Nyamulagira, in Virunga National Park, has been spewing out 200m high fountains of bright red lava since the beginning of November. It is its biggest eruption in a century.

A national park in Congo best known for its endangered mountain gorillas is now inviting tourists to go on overnight treks to see a volcano spurting fountains of lava nearly 1,000 feet into the air. Mount Nyamulagira began erupting on Nov. 6 and could continue to do so for days, or even months. "Last night's was the most spectacular yet," spokeswoman LuAnne Chad said Monday from Virunga National Park. Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano attracted tourists earlier this year when a fissure had lava spurting 65 feet (20 meters) high. In comparison, volcanologist Dario Tedesco estimated that the lava on Mount Nyamulagira in Congo is spewing up to 980 feet high (300 meters) high.

Park wardens have named the latest Nyamulagira eruption "Kimanura," after the name of the area along the volcano's flank, spokeswoman Chad said. Rivers of incandescent lava are flowing slowly north into an uninhabited part of the park, but that the lava flows pose no danger to the park's critically endangered mountain gorillas, a statement from the park said. Virunga Park is home to 200 of the world's 790 mountain gorillas, as well as lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi, forest elephants and buffalo. The park has set up a tented camp nearly one mile (1.5 kilometers) south of the eruption where tourists can spend the night. For $300, the park provides transportation for the hour-long drive from the eastern capital of Goma and wardens to guide visitors on the three- to four-hour hike to the camp.

Virunga is located in eastern Congo, where numerous militia and rebel groups continue to terrorize the population nearly a decade after the country's civil war ended. Some 360 park rangers protect the park and its wildlife from poachers, rebel groups, illegal miners and land invasions. Rangers worked through the civil war in eastern Congo's five parks, with more than 150 killed in the last 10 years, according to the statement. The 3,000 square-mile (7,800 square-kilometer) Virunga National Park is a World Heritage site containing seven of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga mountain range that sprawls across the borders of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Only two are active – Nyamulagira and, closer to Goma, Mount Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo erupted destructively in 2002, destroying most of Goma city including 14,000 homes and forcing 350,000 residents to flee. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Congo Volcano becomes tourist trek hot spot.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Daily Eruptions at Japan's Sakurajima Volcano!

It's has been a few days since a sizeable eruption of lava at Sakurajima Volcano in Japan. Today, we see resumed activity. Sizeable projectiles of volcanic lava bombs, launched thousands of feet into the air.

Two weeks ago, an alert was issued by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), the japanese agency which monitors the volcano. The alert covers the threat of a large eruption covering multiple miles of the surrounding area with heavy ash and also threat of pyroclastic flow from the mountain. 

Here is the Weekly Volcanic Activity Report from the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey's Volcano Hazards Program.
Based on information from JMA, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 2-3 and 5-7 November explosions from Sakura-jima produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.8-3 km (6,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W, NW, N, and SE. Sakura-jima, one of Japan's most active volcanoes, is a post-caldera cone of the Aira caldera at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow was associated with the formation of the 17 x 23-km-wide Aira caldera about 22,000 years ago. The construction of Sakura-jima began about 13,000 years ago and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kita-dake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minami-dake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.
WATCH: Sakurajima eruption with static discharge lightning.

ALERT: Illinois Emergency Management Agency Exercise - Plans and Preparations for a Catastrophic Earthquake in Southern Illinois?!

I just came across the following news release from KSDK of plans by authorities in the American state of Illinois to make preparations for a "catastrophic" earthquake by simulating tests and exercises around a potential seismic disaster. This should be monitored and tracked closely, given the profilic nature of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the potential for the production of mega-earthquakes in the future, and the past usage of exercises as a cover for the operational executions of disasters and so-called acts of terrorism.

It must be remembered that on the morning of the alleged terrorist strike on America on September 11, 2001 (9/11); there were at least six training exercises in operation by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, such as: Operation Northern Vigilance, Operation Vigilant Guardian and the Biowarfare Exercise Tripod.

It should also be noted that over the last year or so, FEMA has been simulating the catastrophic nature of a major earthquake in the central United States region of the NMSZ, as National Level Exercises or NLEs. With 2011 being the bicentennial anniversary of the 1811 New Madrid earthquake, where a magnitude 7.2 to 8.2 tremor resulted in major damage to several states in the southern and midwestern United States such as Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi; and was felt as far as New York and  Massachusetts.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is coordinating a three-day multi-county exercise to test plans dealing with a catastrophic earthquake in southern Illinois. More than 100 state and local agencies and emergency response organizations will participate in the test, which will begin Tuesday morning and end Thursday afternoon. Originally, the earthquake exercise was scheduled to coincide with the federal National Level Exercise in mid-May, but due to major flooding the state's portion of the exercise was rescheduled. "While we have considerable experience responding to the disasters we frequently face, such as tornadoes, floods and blizzards, a major earthquake would definitely present unique challenges," said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.

"This exercise will give us an opportunity to test our earthquake plans and identify any issues we need to address to enhance our preparedness." The scenarios participants will face will not be not revealed in advance, but they will need to implement existing plans and procedures for dealing with a catastrophic earthquake that could occur in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in southwestern Illinois. Most of the exercises will occur inside emergency operations centers and other facilities. Twenty-two counties will participate in the exercise, as well as 16 state agencies, two federal agencies, six mutual aid organizations, 28 public health departments, and 32 hospitals. - KSDK.

EXTREME WEATHER: Hottest Spring Day in Two Years in Sydney!

has just experienced its hottest day since February, with temperatures soaring into the mid to high 30's across the city and suburbs. While other parts of Sydney have sweated through almost 40-degrees in the hottest spring day in 2-years.

The city climbed to 34.7 around the middle of the day, before a temporary sea breeze from the northeast interrupted the warming trend. However, a return of gusty winds from the northwest during the afternoon pushed the temperature back up to 37.2 degrees after 4pm, making it the hottest day since we hit 41.5 on the 5th February. This maximum of 37.2 degrees was 13.5 above the November average but still short of the 41.8 degree record set in 1982. If those in the city thought the day was hot, residents in the west did it even tougher.

Penrith reached a maximum of 38.7 degrees, which is 12 above average. A cooler southerly change was still only at Merimbula at 3pm, so it is unlikely to reach Sydney until close to midnight. Therefore it's going to be a sleepless night for most, with the cooling winds from the south only really taking hold through the early hours of the morning. Tuesday will be a little more comfortable for Sydney residents, with a forecast maximum of 26 for the city and around 30 degrees for western suburbs. - Farmonline.
WATCH: Sydney's hot spring.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Signs of Unrest at Katla Volcano in Iceland?!

It seems that signs of unrest beneath Katla, one of Iceland's most active volcanoes are continuing. A seismic swarm was recorded under the northern part of Katla volcano's caldera beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in southern Iceland several weeks ago and now new activity is developing.

An earthquake measuring 3.1 points on the Richter scale hit the Katla area in Mýrdalsjökull glacier in south Iceland, underneath where the volcano lies, shortly before 3 am this morning. This afternoon, a magnitude 3.8 earthquake also struck the Katla Volcano Region, at a depth of just 2 km (1.2 miles - poorly constrained). The quake hit at 17:55:13 UTC, Monday 14th November 2011. The epicentre was 28 km ( 17.3 miles) northwest of Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland. There are no reports of injuries or damage at this time and there no aftershocks were detected.

Several weeks ago, I told you that scientists are keeping a close watch on the volcano, where recent seismic tremors reaching magnitude 3.9 and over, have raised the possibility that an eruption may be imminent. With memories of last year’s Eyjafjallajokul eruption still fresh, concerns are that Katla’s much larger magma chamber could lead to a much stronger and more damaging event.

A small eruption at Kalia occurred in early July and was confirmed by the Icelandic Meteorological Office in September, but was not sufficient to relieve enough pressure in the volcano to rule out a larger event in the near future. Located in the East Volcanic Zone near Iceland’s southern shore, Katla is one of the largest volcanoes in the country, with a 6 mile (10 km) caldera covered by 660-2,300 ft (200–700 m) of ice. Reaching a height of  4,961 ft  (1,512 m), Katla has historically erupted every 40-80 years.

While the volcano has shown signs of unrest since 1999, the last major eruption occurred in 1918 – 93 years ago. The spring 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokul, located only 25 km from Katla, spewed ash up to 11,000 meters into the atmosphere and was most notable for the causing the worst peacetime disruption of air travel in history. As ash spread across Europe, nearly all major airports were forced to close, stranding millions of passengers for nearly a week as thousands of international flights were cancelled for fear aircraft engines would become clogged with ash.

A full-blown eruption of Katla could dwarf the destructive power of last year’s Eyjafjallajokul. The strongest of past Katla events were comparable the 1991 Pinatubo eruption, which measured 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale of 0-8.  Pinatubo ejected some 10 cubic km of magma and caused global temperatures to drop by 0.5 °C (0.9 °F). Locally, the greatest threat posed by Katla may due to the fact that it’s buried beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacer. Major eruptions of subglacial volcanoes often produce massive flooding downslope with little notice. - Ecology.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: MASS SUICIDE - 22 Beached Whales in Tasmania!

A rescue operation remains under way to free two beached whales, despite the death of 22 others who were stranded on Tasmania's Ocean Beach. Marine biologists and wildlife staff guided two sperm whales and one Minke whale back to the ocean, but nothing could be done for the rest of the whales that surfaced just off Macquarie Harbour on the state's west coast. As the carcasses are left to decompose, scientists will conduct studies to determine what caused the mass suicide.

Rescuers using new techniques to aid stranded whales remain hopeful they can save sperm whales in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast. Jet boats and a recently invented scoop net already have been used to save two whales and guide them to the open ocean. The rescue team is now waiting for a break in the weather to free another two whales ''parked'' on sandbanks in the harbour. ''Unfortunately the wind is blowing directly into the narrow harbour entrance, effectively blocking the whales' path to the open ocean,'' said wildlife incident controller, Chris Arthur.

Sperm whales, normally deep ocean-dwellers that use sonar navigation, may fall victim to tricky beach topography and herd panic when they come inshore. Refining methods learned in a similar stranding in 2007, marine mammal specialists are using heavy duty waterjet-powered workboats from salmon and trout farms in the harbour to break the sand's suction on the whales. A specially developed net strung between two vessels is used to scoop up the whale, and slowly ease it across the bank. - The Age.
WATCH: Rescue continues in Tasmania whale tragedy.

EARTH CHANGES: Amazon Fire Season Linked to Ocean Temperature!

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies can help predict the severity of Amazon fire seasons, a study has suggested.

A team of US scientists found there was a correlation between El Nino patterns in the Pacific and fire activity in the eastern Amazon. Writing in the journal Science, they say they also found a link between Atlantic SST changes and fires in southern areas of South America. They said the data could help produce forecasts of forthcoming fire seasons. "We found that the Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) was correlated with interannual fire activity in the eastern Amazon, whereas the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index was more closely linked with fires in the southern and south-western Amazon," they wrote.

The ONI is a system used to identify El Nino (warm) and La Nina (cool) events in the Pacific Ocean, while the AMO index performs a similiar function in the Atlantic. "Combining these two indices, we developed an empirical model to forecast regional fire severity with lead times of three to five months," they explained. "Our approach may contribute to the development of an early warning system for anticipating the vulnerability of Amazon forests to fires." Previous studies have shown "high-fire" years in South America are generally associated with an extended dry season and low levels of rainfall.

It has also been shown that variations in precipitation levels in the Amazon is regulated by SSTs in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. "The most severe droughts observed in the Amazon over the past three decades have occurred when the tropical eastern Pacific and North Atlantic were anomalously warm," they said. A reliable early warning system would be a key tool for relevant bodies and agencies to focus policies and resources effectively, observed the researchers, drawn from a number of US institutes. "Managing fires to conserve biodiversity and carbon stocks in forest and savannah ecosystems requires advance planning on multiple timescales," they said. These include "design of policy mechanisms that modify long-term development, as well as improved use of short-term meteorological forecasts of fire behaviour during years with high fire season severity." - BBC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 8 Earthquakes Rocks Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano!

Eight small earthquakes rocked Kilauea Volcano after the lava lake at the summit caldera dropped in elevation Sunday, U.S. geologists reported.

But that seismic shaking was actually below normal levels, they said. The strongest quake was a magnitude 3.3 at 2:16 a.m. Sunday. At Puu Oo, meanwhile, a "skylight" in the pahoehoe (smooth, ropy lava) field showed a tube transporting lava on the southeast flank to active flows about three miles to the south. The active lava flows are within the Kahauale‘a Natural Area Reserve, which remains closed to the public because of various hazards — including potentially lethal concentrations of sulfur dioxide — so they are visible only from the air.

But the glow from the vents and flows can be seen from the Hawaii County viewing area at Kalapana if weather conditions are right, said scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no active ocean entries on Sunday. At the Kilauea summit caldera, the surface of the lava lake, about 500 feet in diameter, has been fluctuating between about 230 feet to 490 feet below the floor of Halemaumau Crater, scientists said on the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website. It's now about 330 feet down, according to Jim Kauahikaua, scientist in charge.

THE VENT has been mostly active since opening with a small explosion on March 19, 2008. In the weekly Volcano Watch report, Kauahikaua said Thursday the lava lake is as active as the one Mark Twain observed in 1866. While the geometry and depth of the lake are different today, some things remain unchanged, said Kauahikaua. "Photos from the early 1900s show the same robust white plume that we see today, carried by the trade-winds to the southwest," he said. "A visitor in the 1800s described ‘suffocating fumes of sulphuric acid gas.' Presumably, vog was a problem in West Hawaii in the past as well." The observatory will celebrate its centennial in January. - Star Advertiser.

EARTH CHANGES: Dhaka Summit Battles Climate Change Policy!

The Climate Vulnerable Forum has convened in Bangladesh for countries worried about how climate change threatens them to create a unified statement just weeks ahead of UN-sponsored talks on the same subject in Durban, South Africa.

"Under the Dhaka agreement, they will commit to reducing their carbon emissions because for them, it's a matter of survival," said Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from northeastern Bangladesh. The 18 countries represented at the forum are rallying for climate justice for more than a collective 500 million people. "Yet, their voices don't carry very much political weight because they are from mostly poor countries," our correspondent said. Stefan Priesner, the UN's country director in Dhaka told the Associated Press news agency that the countries were expected to issue a declaration seeking action by industrialised nations and urgent support to limit increasing loss of human life and other damages.

But the countries convened at the Climate Vulnerable Forum do not know what kind of demands they can work with to create an effective lobby at the Durban conference. "It's extremely discouraging that even public opinion in major countries -- and I think of North America in particular -- does not seem to understand the importance of this issue," Ross Mountain, the General Director of the organisation that organised the Bangladesh forum, told Al Jazeera. The officials have reportedly discussed ways of getting assistance in technology, capacity and finance to adapt and pursue low-carbon growth. Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's prime minister, was scheduled to inaugurate the conference in Dhaka on Monday before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also planned to speak. - Al Jazeera.
WATCH: Dhaka Summit Battles Climate Change Policy!

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.6 Magnitude Quake Rocks Indonesia!

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake has struck Kepulauan Sula, Indonesia at a depth of 19.4 km (12.1 miles), the quake hit at 04:05:15 UTC Monday 14th November 2011. The epicentre was 200 km ( 124 miles) southwest of Ternate, Moluccas, Indonesia. No tsunami warning was issued and there are no reports of any injuries or damage at this time.

A strong earthquake hit waters off eastern Indonesia on Monday, sending people along coastlines fleeing to high ground in panic. Officials said, however, there was no threat of a tsunami. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 and was centered 12 miles (20 kilometers) beneath the Molucca Sea, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Many people in Ternate, the town in North Maluku province that was closest to the epicenter, ran from their homes and offices as the ground rattled beneath them, said George Rajaloa, a resident.

"I ran with everyone else," he said. Fearing a tsunami, those living near the beach also fled to high ground. But Suhardjono, from the Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency, said there was no danger of a seismically triggered wave. Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that make the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity. A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Mud Volcano in Sidoarjo, Indonesia.

APOCALYPSE NOW: The Age of Obama and the End of America - Wild, Weird, & Highly Unusual Weather Anomalies Descends on Oklahoma!

“So far have they [the United States] strayed into wickedness in those [future] times that their destruction has been sealed by my [father]. Their great cities will burn, their crops and cattle will suffer disease and death, their children will perish from diseases never seen upon this Earth, and I reveal to you the greatest [mystery] of all as I have been allowed to see that their [the United States] destruction will come about through the vengeful hands of one of our very own sons.” - Johanwa Owalo, Kenyan Prophet and the founder of Kenya’s Nomiya Luo Church, 1912.
"Wanna experience the apocalypse before it happens? Visit Oklahoma!"... "I'm beginning to think God's a little mad at us."..."I think it's pointing up to the end of time."

After one of the strangest local weather days in memory, an Oklahoma woman with a sense of humor asked on Twitter earlier this week: "Wanna experience the apocalypse before it happens? Visit Oklahoma!"

She posted that on Monday night shortly after a 4.7-magnitude aftershock earthquake shook the state. The temblor occurred not long after six tornadoes ripped through southwest Oklahoma, which was preceded by flash-flooding in an area that's been plagued by a historic drought. "Seriously, WHAT'S GOING ON?" someone else tweeted that night. The answers vary. Global warning? Coincidence? Bad luck? Bad timing? End of time? There's agreement on only one thing: It's been weird all year. "Even for Oklahoma, this is crazy," said Rick Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Norman. "Since January, we've been setting records. People are just kind of amazed and shocked."

State records set this year have ranged from the lowest temperature (31 degrees below zero in Nowata in northeast Oklahoma) to snowfall in a 24-hour period (27 inches, also in Nowata) to the largest hail stone (a spiky, six-inch piece recovered in Gotebo, in southwest Oklahoma). This year also produced the state's highest-ever-recorded surface wind speed (151 miles per hour near El Reno, outside of Oklahoma City) and biggest known earthquake (5.6 magnitude, breaking the 1956 record). On Wednesday, Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 20 counties because of earthquakes, tornadoes and severe storms. "It's been a tough year for Oklahoma when it comes to weather and natural disasters, but we're doing everything we can to help," Fallin said in a statement announcing the declaration.

The state's record-breaking earthquake got everyone's attention. In the past week, counting both foreshock and aftershock earthquakes that sandwiched the state record-breaking rumbler, 32 earthquakes have been recorded in central Oklahoma. In Meeker, population 968, east of Oklahoma City, the town administrator was describing the damage and wondering aloud if his town, founded in 1903, could survive a California-style "big one." "I'm beginning to think God's a little mad at us," Jim Howard said. Howard was joking, but questions of the Almighty are coming into play in Oklahoma, where Christian beliefs underpin much of the culture. An Oklahoma City TV station interviewed a preacher who proclaimed, "I think it's pointing up to the end of time."

That belief is not shared by all, even fervent believers. Nancy Dailey, a school teacher in Oklahoma City whose father was a Baptist preacher, dismisses doomsday talk from the pulpit, saying it just scares people. Still, she said she overheard two co-workers sharing end-of-the-world talk in the teacher's lounge. "After all these natural disasters we've been having, at some point all you have left is humor to try and cope with it," said Gary McManus, associate climatologist for the state. There is at least one benefit to the state's weather. Norman, home to the National Weather Festival, has become a magnet for meteorology students from around the country. The University of Oklahoma there built a five-story, $69 million National Weather Center six years ago, and installed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) as its largest tenant. This week, NOAA said it will send the university $75 million in federal funds for weather radar research to improve severe storm forecasts and increase understanding of extreme weather. Smith, the National Weather Service meteorologist, calls OU a "top-of-the-list" institution for people serious about weather. - Reuters.