Sunday, December 11, 2011

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: "COSMIC PURGATORY" - NASA's Voyager Satellites Finds Magnetic Foam at the Edge of the Solar System!

The Voyager satellites are now traveling through the outer edge of the solar system, called the heliosheath. Using a computer model based on Voyager data, scientists have shown that the sun's magnetic field becomes bubbly in this region due to reconnection. Because of this, cosmic rays must slowly work their way through the magnetic foam before continuing on toward the sun.

Old and new views of the heliosheath. Red and blue spirals are the gracefully curving magnetic
field lines of orthodox models. New data from Voyager add a magnetic froth (inset) to the mix.
Observations from NASA's Voyager spacecraft, humanity's farthest deep space sentinels, suggest the edge of our Solar System may not be smooth, but filled with a turbulent sea of magnetic bubbles. While using a new computer model to analyse Voyager data, scientists found the Sun's distant magnetic field is made up of bubbles approximately 16 billion km wide. The bubbles are created when magnetic field lines reorganise. A new model suggests that the field lines are broken up into self-contained structures disconnected from the solar magnetic field. "The Sun's magnetic field extends all the way to the edge of the Solar System," said astronomer Merav Opher of Boston University. "Because the Sun spins, its magnetic field becomes twisted and wrinkled, a bit like a ballerina's skirt. Far, far away from the sun, where the Voyagers are, the folds of the skirt bunch up."

Entering the 'foam zone'.

Like Earth, our Sun has a magnetic field with a north pole and a south pole. When a magnetic field gets severely folded like this, interesting things can happen. Lines of magnetic force criss-cross, and ‘reconnect’. (Magnetic reconnection is the same energetic process underlying solar flares.) The crowded folds of the skirt reorganise themselves, sometimes explosively, into foamy magnetic bubbles. "We never expected to find such a foam at the edge of the Solar System, but there it is!" said Opher's colleague, University of Maryland physicist Jim Drake. Voyager 1 entered the ‘foam-zone’ around 2007, and Voyager 2 followed about a year later. They are more than 16 billion km away from Earth, travelling in a boundary region. In that area, the solar wind and magnetic field are affected by material expelled from other stars in our corner of the Milky Way galaxy. Understanding the structure of the Sun's magnetic field will allow scientists to explain how galactic cosmic rays enter our Solar System and help define how the star interacts with the rest of the galaxy.

More surprises ahead.

So far, much of the evidence for the bubbles comes from the Voyager energetic particle and flow measurements. Proof can also be obtained from the Voyager magnetic field observations and some of this data is also very suggestive. However, because the magnetic field is so weak, the data takes much longer to analyse with the appropriate care. Thus, unravelling the magnetic signatures of bubbles in the Voyager data is ongoing. "We are still trying to wrap our minds around the implications of the findings," said Drake, of the study published in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal. "We'll probably discover which is correct as the Voyagers proceed deeper into the froth and learn more about its organisation," said Opher. "This is just the beginning, and I predict more surprises ahead." A good or bad thing? The case of cosmic rays is illustrative. Galactic cosmic rays are subatomic particles accelerated to near-light speed by distant black holes and supernova explosions. When these microscopic cannonballs try to enter the solar system, they have to fight through the sun's magnetic field to reach the inner planets. "The magnetic bubbles appear to be our first line of defense against cosmic rays," points out Opher. "We haven't figured out yet if this is a good thing or not." On one hand, the bubbles would seem to be a very porous shield, allowing many cosmic rays through the gaps. On the other hand, cosmic rays could get trapped inside the bubbles, which would make the froth a very good shield indeed. Launched in 1977, the Voyager twin spacecraft have been on a 33-year journey and are en route to reach the edge of interstellar space. - Cosmos Magazine.
WATCH: Voyager Finds Magnetic Foam at Solar System's Edge.

2012 & GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Year of Reckoning - Katla, "the Gateway to Hell" And El Hierro, The Extremely Disturbing and Catastrophic Forecast for Planet Earth!

It appears that the "smoke and ash party" of Icelandic volcanoes may continue across the Atlantic. Scientists say that Katla, another volcano in Iceland, may erupt in the near future. In addition, volcanologists are concerned about the ongoing eruption of the underwater volcano near the Canary Islands.

Katla's eruption can be much stronger. The volcano may lead to much greater catastrophic consequences for the country than the debuts of Eyjafjallajokull and Grimsvotn. Katla is situated in the south of Iceland. It is a large volcano, with an approximate height of 1,512 meters and the diameter of the caldera (the crater) of 10 kilometers. There is a glacier on the slope of the volcano - Myrdalsjokull. If Katla erupts, the glacier will melt and trigger a catastrophic flood on the entire south-eastern coast of the island. The volcano started to show the signs of life in the middle of the year. Scientists registered its activity on July 9. It was a relatively insignificant quake, although it caused floods and destroyed several bridges. As a result, several regions of the country found themselves in isolation for days. In November 2011, scientists registered over 500 quakes in the area of Katla's caldera. All the quakes were weak, but they mean that the magma in the cavity underneath Katla has started moving.

Katla enjoys a very ill reputation in Iceland. The eruptions of this volcano were noticed back in the 8th century. The volcano erupts every 40-80 years. Katla woke up in 1918, 1934 and 1955. The eruption of 1918 became the volcano's strongest during the 20th century. However, the most powerful eruption of this volcano took place in 1755. The melting of the glacier in the area of the volcanic activity created the flow of water measured at 200,000-400,000 m3 a second. For comparison, the average duty of water in the entry of one of the world's largest river, Amazon, makes up 220,000 m3 a second. The eyewitnesses left memories of that disaster: the powerful river was rushing down the slopes of Katla, breaking off huge icebergs the size of mountains and taking them into the ocean. Katla's eruption in 1783 was even more catastrophic. The volcano was raging for eight months. Legends say that the eruption ended with something like a nuclear winter, which continued for a whole year.

Katla is connected with other volcanoes of the island. Volcanologists determined that Katla's activity in 920, 1612 and 1821-1823 was preceded with the eruption of the well-known Eyjafjallajokull. This volcano sits only 20 kilometers from Katla. It may mean that the eruption of the volcano with the unpronounceable name may herald the eruption of Katla. Nevertheless, Katal has not been showing any signs of imminent eruption lately. In the meantime, the underwater volcano situated to the south off El Hierro island (the Canary Islands) has been bothering the local residents with its activity since September 2011. The volcano has entered the third phase of its eruption. Scientists registered a giant whirlpool above the crater of the underwater volcano. The diameter of the whirlpool was 50 meters, and the water inside was warmer than on the outside. Many people living in the southern part of the island have to leave their homes because of the unbearable smell of sulphur. The content of CO2 in the air has tripled, which means that the volcano is not going to calm down. The center of the eruption has been getting closer to the surface, which means that a new island will soon appear near El Hierro. Will the volcano continue its eruption when it comes out of the water? It is worthy of note that there is a geological connection between Katla and the volcano near El Hierro. They both belong to the system of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The whole of Iceland is a part of this ridge too - it just rose above the water surface. Therefore, the whole Atlantic may wake up after the "ring of fire" in the Pacific. - Pravda.
WATCH: Iceland volcano on brink of major eruption.

WATCH: Mega-Tsunami threat from the Canary Islands.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Sakurajima Breaks Record With 897th Explosive Eruption!

Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture, explosively erupted late Thursday for the 897th time this year, breaking its annual record for the third consecutive year, the local observatory said.

The volcano has had a record number of explosive eruptions each year since 2009, when it erupted 548 times, beating the previous record of 474 set in 1985. In 2010, there were 896 eruptions. Observation of the volcano began in 1955. The latest eruption was observed at the 800-meter-high Showa crater, which has erupted 895 times this year. It has been a frequent site of activity since 2008, after erupting in June 2006 for the first time in 58 years. Iguchi Masato, associate professor at Kyoto University's Sakurajima Volcano Research Center, said the volcano could become extremely active in January or February, as eruptions since 2009 have tended to increase before New Year, and a new monthly record of 141 explosions was marked in September. - MDN.

WATCH: The latest closed-circuit images of Mount Sakurajima.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Climate Abnormalities in Taiwan - Record-Breaking and Scorchingly High Temperatures Over 30 Degrees Celsius; to Drop Mysteriously by 10 Degrees?!

The abnormality of the recent weather peaked as the highest temperature during the day reached over 30 degrees Celsius in northern Taipei, yesterday, but the temperature will again drop in the following few days, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

The record-breaking temperature appeared at the Banqiao weather station — never before had the station seen 31.2 degrees Celsius in December, the CWB said. While northern Taiwan was scorching, Yilan and Hualien, however, endured a full morning of intense rainfall. The CWB had it that as of noon, yesterday, Hualien's Sioulin Township had accumulated 222 millimeters of rainfall, and Yilan's Nan'ao Township had 147 millimeters.

It is likely that the temperature difference between day and night could be as great as 10 degrees Celsius, Chen said. This continental air mass will first yield some moisture then dry up, he said, pointing out that there will be a chance that snowfall might occur on the top of mountains above 3,000 meters, such as Yushan, in the upcoming two days. As the moisture decreases over the weekend, it is likely that the temperature in open areas along the northern and northeastern coast would drop to 11 degrees Celsius in the night, Chen predicted. - China Post.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Noise Phenomena - Multiple Rumblings and Booms Puzzles Residents in the Horry County in South Carolina, Source Unknown!

Yesterday, I told you about the mysterious booming sounds emanating out of Brunswick County in North Carolina. Today, another report of these puzzling sounds from the neighboring state of South Carolina. Several people living in Horry County and surrounding areas reported multiple rumbles and booms late Thursday night. Some thought it was an explosion and others thought it might be an earthquake.

People in the northern end of Horry County were awakened with a start early Friday morning to what they say sounded like an explosion. People say the noise rattled windows and caused the ground to vibrate, but no one is quite sure what exactly caused the noise itself. "I heard a loud boom," says Matthew Sarvis of Loris. "I didn't know what it was, but it startled me." Reports came in to WMBF News that the effects of this mystery noise were felt in Loris, Longs, and Cherry Grove. Some reports indicate it was felt as far away as Carolina Beach. But when it comes to determining what caused the noise, even authorities are scratching their heads.

Law enforcement officials say they didn't receive any emergency calls regarding fires or explosions in the area Friday morning, and the United States Geological Survey lists no nearby earthquakes that could have caused the rumble. Officials at Shaw Air Force Base say it couldn't come from a military plane, since going supersonic over land is against regulations. As for what it sounded like, each witness gives a little different description. "I thought it was a delivery truck," says Sheri Whittington, who heard the noise outside her Cherry Grove home. "My theory was someone's propane tank had exploded," says Danny Sarvis, who also heard the boom. - WMBF News.
WATCH: WMBF reports on the mysterious sounds.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: EXTREME AND DIVERSE WEATHER - Topsy Turvy Temperatures Ease Out for Queensland Summer!

Queensland's record-breaking cold start to summer has eased and "almost normal" summer conditions are expected on Saturday.

The cold snap - following hard on the heels of Brisbane's driest and warmest spring in two years - saw records broken from the city south to the Gold Coast and Stanthorpe and west to St George. Weather Bureau forecaster Bryan Rolstone said much of the state was warming up after almost a week of surprisingly cold conditions, with Brisbane and Amberley hitting 25C, Coolangatta 24C and Toowoomba 20C on Thursday. It should be a steamy 27C in the city today, rising to 31C early next week. Coolangatta made 19.7C at 9am yesterday, beating the previous low maximum set in 1965 of 20.4C.

Brisbane had an equal low maximum of 19.9C, the same as 1963. Mr Rolstone said the moisture-bearing northwest monsoonal flow - which referred to a wind change rather than rain - was in the Arafura Sea and over the tip of Cape York. "Within about two weeks it should be sitting over the Top End and Cape York," Mr Rolstone said. "It's just starting to appear and it's on schedule. The easterly winds will drop off and next you'll have a northwesterly wind bringing moisture in from equatorial regions." Mr Rolstone said precipitation was decreasing over the southeast but another rain band would come in from the west, arriving tomorrow. Showers and storms would remain about the inland. "By Saturday, we should have early rain clearing to afternoon showers and storms - almost a normal thing for summer," he said. - Courier Mail.
WATCH: Toowoomba has been flooded again as an intense storm front swept in last night.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: UPLIFT ANOMALY - Study Reveals Melting Ice Cover in Greenland Resulted in a Massive Upward Movement of the Island's Bedrock!

A 2010 spike in the melting of ice cover in Greenland caused a large part of the island's bedrock to lift almost an inch, a U.S. researcher says.

A network of 50 GPS stations measured the uplift as the ice loss was accelerated in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons, Ohio State University researcher Michael Bevis said. A rise of 0.79 inches was recorded over just a five-month period, a university release said. The findings have implications for climate change, Bevis told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco Friday.

"Pulses of extra melting and uplift imply that we'll experience pulses of extra sea level rise," he said. "The process is not really a steady process." Bevis said he's sure the 2010 uplift was due to the extreme ice loss detected that year. "Really, there is no other explanation. The uplift anomaly correlates with maps of the 2010 melting day anomaly," he said. "In locations where there were many extra days of melting in 2010, the uplift anomaly is highest." - UPI.

PLANETARY TREMORS: DOOMSDAY FORECAST - Major Quake May Put Kashmir Under Water in Three Months, Grave Predictions Worries Kashmiris!

Take a hotspot of potential conflict and add a magnitude 9 earthquake. It sounds like a nightmare scenario, but it could play out in the occupied Kashmir, according to Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado at Boulder, reports Newscientist.

Worse still, Bilham fears that such a major quake is likely to trigger landslides that could dam the Jhelum River, which drains from the Indian occupied Kashmir valley into Pakistan. That could put the valley under water within three months - and would also threaten disastrous flooding in Pakistan if the waters were released too quickly. The two nations should develop a cooperative plan to deal with the aftermath of a Kashmir mega quake, Bilham argues. Bilham’s new estimate of the largest quake possible in Kashmir comes from eight years of readings from GPS sensors placed in areas under both Indian and Pakistani control. The work was made possible only thanks to collaboration with both nations, which are in a tense military stand-off over the contested territory. In this region, the Indian plate is slowly burrowing under the Tibetan plateau. Bilham was looking for where the relative movement of the Tibetan plateau was slowest, as this indicates where compression is building up, and a rupture is eventually likely to occur. He had expected this to be in the Pir Panjal Range, to the south of the Kashmir Valley, but instead it was in the Zanskar Range to the north.

This means that the zone likely to rupture when a quake eventually happens could be 200 kilometres wide, rather than about 80 kilometres, as was previously thought. The zone would encompass the Kashmir valley - including the city of Srinagar, home to some 1.5 million people. If slippage occurs over a length of 300 kilometres, as is possible, a mega quake of magnitude 9 is the likely result. Given building codes and population in the region, that could mean a death toll of 300,000 people. What Bilham cannot predict from his GPS results is when such a disaster might happen. Bilham points out that seismologists have been caught out by recent mega quakes, including the magnitude 9 Tohoku quake that hit Japan in March, by basing their estimates on historical patterns, rather than physical measurements. ìI think you have to plan for the worst case,î he says. Bilham revealed his findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week. - The News.
It is like the doomsday prophecy for the Kashmir Valley. Intense debate Saturday followed an American seismologist's predictions of a magnitude-9 earthquake. Local newspapers carried front page stories about Roger Bilham of Colorado University predicting a major earthquake in Kashmir that could trigger landslides which would dam the Jhelum river and  plunge the valley under water. The prediction also said that once released, the waters would cause major floods in Pakistan. "The two nations should develop a cooperative plan to deal with the aftermath of a Kashmir mega quake," Bilham's study has advised. The US professor has said his new global positioning system (GPS) data readings reveal the gradual movement of rocks in the Zanskar mountains north of the valley, and that the earlier estimates of the maximum possible quake in the region were low. In its typical doomsday forecast, the study warns: "The zone would rupture when a quake eventually happens. The quake would be 200 kilometres wide as against 80 kilometres predicted earlier."

"The zone would encompass the Kashmir Valley, including the Srinagar city with its 1.5 million strong population," it said. "If slippage occurs over a length of 300 kilometres, as is possible, a mega quake of magnitude-9 is likely to occur. Given building codes and population in the region, it could mean a death toll of 300,000 people," the study added. Bilham has, however, put no timeframe for his predictions. M.I. Bhat, a senior local geologist, told IANS: "As Bilham has said, earlier we believed that the Kashmir Valley was vulnerable to  destruction from quakes generated along the Pir Panchal mountain range. But with availability of the GPS data from the region, it is now evident that the northeastern side of the valley is more vulnerable to earthquake generation than the Pir Panchal range." The average Kashmiri, unable to understand the scientific data, is highly perturbed by the reports.

"That would be the end of the world for us if what the US seismologist has said would actually happen," said Bashir Ahmad War, a retired veterinarian here. Other locals are perhaps not as philosophical as War. The publication of the frightening forecast has rattled them. "We can only wait for our destiny to happen as it is ordained. Kashmir has always been devastated by earthquakes in the past," said Mehraj-ud-din, a fruit seller in the Residency Road area of Srinagar. Said Javaid Shah, a local newspaper editor: "How can anyone escape the disaster if it is actually going to occur." Whether or not the doomsday forecast comes true, the US seismologist's study has become a topic of hot discussion in Kashmir. Over 40,000 people were killed across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir and Pakistan-administered parts of Kashmir in an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale in 2005. - Deccan Herald.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Rocks The South Sandwich Islands Region!

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake has struck the South Sandwich Islands Region at a depth of 121.9 km (75.7 miles). The quake hit at 09:54:56 UTC, Sunday 11th December 2011 and was located at 56.000°S, 28.330°W.

The epicentre was 104 km (64 miles) northwest of Visokoi Island, South Sandwich Islands; 354 km (219 miles) northwest of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands; 1984 km (1232 miles) southeast of Stanley, Falkland Islands; and 3315 km (2059 miles) southeast of Buenos Aires, D.F., Argentina.

No tsunami warning was issued and there are currently no reports of any damage or injuries at this time. The U.S. Geological Survey has issued a Green Alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage.