Tuesday, December 20, 2011

EXTRATERRESTRIAL & UFO MEMES: NASA to Announce Alien Planet Discoveries Today - Scientists to Disclose More Details on Kepler's Mission to Hunt for a Twin-Earth in the Habitable "Goldilocks Zone"! UPDATE: 2 Earth-Size Alien Planets Found, the Smallest Exoplanets Yet - A Revolution in the Traditional Solar System Model and Planetary Formation!


Counting Kepler and the other ground- and space-based planet searches underway, scientists have discovered a total of more than 700 confirmed alien planets. They're still on the hunt for a Twin Earth in the habitable zone --roughly the right size and temperature to host life. Tuesday's press conference will begin at 1 p.m. EST and will be webcast on NASA's website. Speakers will include:

Nick Gautier, Kepler project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Francois Fressin, the lead scientist on the new discovery, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. David Charbonneau, professor of astronomy at Harvard University. Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington. The public can listen in on the alien planet announcement using NASA's News Audio website. http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html

The $600 million Kepler mission is slated to run until at least November 2012, though its science team is hoping for an extension of the mission until 2016 or so. NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets. The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars. "This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe."

Kepler has discovered 1,235 exoplanets that revolve around a sun, in an area that represents around 1/400th of the Milky Way. By extrapolating these numbers, the Kepler team has estimated that there are at least 50 billion exoplanets in our galaxy — 500 million of which sit inside the habitable "Goldilocks" zones of their suns, the area that it is neither too hot nor too cold to support life.

Astronomers estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe. If you want to extrapolate those numbers, that means there are around 50,000,000,000,000,000,000 (50 quintillion) potentially habitable planets in the universe. As Arthur C. Clarke, physicist and author of 2001: A Space Odyssey wrote, "The idea that we are the only intelligent creatures in a cosmos of a hundred billion galaxies is so preposterous that there are very few astronomers today who would take it seriously. It is safest to assume therefore, that they are out there and to consider the manner in which this may impinge upon human society." - Daily Galaxy.
Live NASA News Audio Live Streaming can be heard HERE.

UPDATE: 2 Earth-Size Alien Planets Found, the Smallest Exoplanets Yet - A Revolution in the Traditional Solar System Model and Planetary Formation!

Two planets orbiting a star 950 light-years from Earth are the smallest, most Earth-size alien worlds known, astronomers announced today (Dec. 20). One of the planets is actually smaller than Earth, scientists say. These planets, while roughly the size of our planet Earth, are circling very close to their star, giving them fiery temperatures that are most likely too hot to support life, researchers said. The discovery, however, brings scientists one step closer to finding a true twin of Earth that may be habitable. "We've crossed a threshold: For the first time, we've been able to detect planets smaller than the Earth around another star," lead researcher François Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., told SPACE.com. "We proved that Earth-size planets exist around other stars like the sun, and most importantly, we proved that humanity is able to detect them. It's the beginning of an era."

To discover the new planets, Fressin and his colleagues used NASA's Kepler space telescope, which noticed the tiny dips in the parent star's brightness when the planets passed in front of it, blocking some of its light (this is called the transit method). The researchers then used ground-based observatories to confirm that the planets actually exist by measuring minute wobbles in the star's position caused by gravitational tugs from its planets. "These two new planets are the first genuinely Earth-sized worlds that have been found orbiting a sunlike star," University of California, Santa Cruz astronomer Greg Laughlin, who was not involved in the new study, said in an email to SPACE.com. "For the past two decades, it has been clear that astronomers would eventually reach this goal, and so it's fantastic to learn that the detection has now been achieved."
The two Earth-size planets are among five alien worlds orbiting a star called Kepler-20 that is of the same class (G-type) as our sun, and is slightly cooler. Two of the star system's planets, Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are 0.87 times and 1.03 times the width of Earth, respectively, making them the smallest exoplanets yet known. They also appear to be rocky, and have masses less than 1.7 and 3 times Earth's mass, respectively. Kepler-20e makes a circle around its star once every 6.1 days at a distance of 4.7 million miles (7.6 million kilometers) — almost 20 times closer than Earth, which orbits the sun at around 93 million miles (150 million km). The planet's sibling, Kepler-20f, makes a full orbit every 19.6 days, at a distance of 10.3 million miles (16.6 million km). Both planets circle closer to their star than Mercury does to the sun.

These snuggly orbits around their star give the newfound planets steamy temperatures of about 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit (760 degrees Celsius) and 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius) — way too warm to support liquid water, and probably life, researchers said. Fressin said the chance of life on either of these planets is "negligible," though the researchers can't exclude the possibility that they used to be habitable in the past, when they might have been farther from their star. There is also a slim chance that there are habitable regions on the planets in spots between their day and night sides (the planets orbit with one half constantly facing their star and the other half always in dark). But astronomers aren't holding out hope. "The chances of liquid water and life as we know it on Kepler-20e and f are zero," Laughlin said.

The planetary system around Kepler-20 is an unusual one. For one thing, scientists say the rocky planets can't have formed in their current locations. "There's not enough rocky material that close to the host star to form five planets," Fressin said. "They didn't form here; they probably formed farther from their star and migrated in." Furthermore, the five planets are in an odd order, with the rocky worlds alternating with their gaseous, Neptune-size siblings. That's quite different from most solar systems, including our own, which keeps the rocky terrestrial worlds in close to the sun, with the gas giants farther out. "How did that form?" Fressin said. "I think it's a puzzle the theorists will have to try to explain." The star's other planets are called Kepler-20b, 20c, and 20d. Their diameters are 15,000 miles (24,000 km), 24,600 miles (40,000 km), and 22,000 miles (35,000 km), respectively, and they orbit Kepler-20 once every 3.7, 10.9, and 77.6 days. The largest of these, Kepler-20d, weighs a little under 20 times Earth's mass, while Kepler-20c is 16.1 times as heavy as Earth, and Kepler-20b is 8.7 times our planet's mass.
Scientists say finding the smallest exoplanets yet represents a significant milestone in the fast-evolving effort to learn about planets beyond the solar system. The first alien planet was discovered in 1996, and the first planet found through the transit method came just 11 years ago. Both of those planets were roughly the size of Jupiter. "I think we're living in special times," Fressin said. "This was unfeasible 10 years ago, and just with the quality of detectors and the quality of the treatment is it possible now." The total tally of known alien planets is above 700. Kepler alone has discovered 28 definite alien planets, and 2,326 planet candidates, since its launch in March 2009. Earlier this month, the Kepler team announced another landmark find, the first planet known to occupy the habitable zone around its star where liquid water, and perhaps life, could exist. That planet, called Kepler-22b, is about 2.4 times as wide as Earth.

The dream now is for astronomers to combine the two discoveries and find an Earth-size planet that's also orbiting its star in an Earth-like orbit that puts it in the habitable zone. "The holy grail of the search for other worlds is to find an Earth analogue, a true Earth twin," Fressin said. "We just need to have these two pieces of the puzzle together." While the newfound planets orbit with periods of 6.1 and 19.6 days, Fressin estimated the habitable zone around Kepler-20 begins at orbits that take roughly 100 days to make a circuit. Astronomers think it's only a matter of time before they finally find one that's just right. "These discoveries are a great technological step forward — to detect small planets, in size like Earth — but these planets are very hot and not in the habitable zone around their star," astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics wrote in an email. Kaltenegger, who studies the habitability of exoplanets, was not involved in the new study. "If we can already find these small planets with radii around Earth's now, some future ones could be in the habitable zone of their stars and THOSE future ones would be great targets to look for liquid water and signatures for life." A paper detailing the discovery was published online in the journal Nature Dec. 20. - SPACE.
WATCH: First Earth-Sized Planets Outside Solar System.





THE GREAT DELUGE: STATE OF NATIONAL CALAMITY - The Philippines Government has Declared a National Disaster Zone as Storm Kills Over 1,000 People!


The Philippines
has declared a state of national calamity after last week's flash floods and landslides. The government shipped more than 400 coffins to two flood-stricken cities in the southern Philippines on Tuesday as the death toll neared 1,000 and President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity.
Philippine Navy personnel carry coffins that will be shipped with drinking water, clothes and
other relief goods to flood-stricken Cagayan De Oro and Iligan cities on board a Philippine
Navy ship in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday Dec. 20, 2011.
The latest count listed 957 dead and 49 missing and is expected to climb further as additional bodies are recovered from the sea and mud in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities. A handful of morgues are overwhelmed and running out of coffins and formaldehyde for embalming. Aid workers appealed for bottled water, blankets, tents and clothes for many of 45,000 in crowded evacuation centers. Navy sailors in Manila loaded a ship with 437 white wooden coffins to help local authorities handle the staggering number of dead. Also on the way were containers with thousands of water bottles. Most of the dead were women and children who drowned Friday night when flash floods triggered by a tropical storm gushed into homes while people were asleep. Dozens of grieving relatives of at least 38 victims wept openly during funeral rites at the Iligan city cemetery. Many wore masks to try to block the stench of decomposing bodies. "We have to give the dead a decent burial," Mayor Lawrence Cruz said. He said authorities were using part of the cemetery's passageway to build tombs.

A Briton was the first foreigner reported dead in the flooding, according to the British Embassy in Manila. It didn't provide details. Aquino, on a visit to Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, said the declaration of a national calamity will help local authorities gain quick access to recovery funds and keep prices of basic goods stable. "Our national government will do its best to prevent a repeat of this tragedy," Aquino told residents who came to greet him. He said there would be an assessment of why so many people died, if there was ample warning that a storm would sweep through the area, and why people living along riverbanks and close to the coast had not been moved to safety. "I do not accept that everything had been done. I know that we can do more. We must determine what really happened," Aquino said. "Must this end in tragedy? We knew that (storm) was coming. There should have been efforts to avoid the destruction." The U.N. food agency flew in 3 tons of high-protein biscuits together with water tanks, blankets, tarpaulins and tents for some 75,000 people. Shortage of water was still a major problem in the two cities. In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. "The United Nations and its partners stand ready to support the government in responding to this disaster," the deputy spokesman added. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Philippines declares calamity as storm kills 1,000.


EXTREME WEATHER: Tragedy - Five Dead in Plane Crash as Storm and Blizzards Slams Five American States!


Five people, including two children, were killed when a single-engine plane crashed in eastern Texas during a storm, it was reported Tuesday.

Ernest Contreras, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the crash happened Monday night just before 10 p.m. (11 p.m. ET) in a farming and ranching community in Brazos County. Everyone on the plane was killed. Contreras said the flight originated in Atlanta, stopped in Jackson, Miss., and was headed for Waco, Texas, when it crashed. Contreras said the severe weather may have played a role in the crash, but authorities were still investigating. Two adults, a two-year-old child and a teenager were found dead inside the plane, while another adult was found about 50 yards away, KBTX.com reported, citing Department of Public Safety troopers. KBTX.com said the pilot had spoken to air traffic control at Forth Worth after getting into bad weather and was told to take a specific course, but flew in the opposite direction, according to the DPS. "It's a pretty horrific scene over there," Sgt. Charles Booker told KBTX.com. The storm, which brought strong winds and snow to five states, crawled deeper into the central U.S. early Tuesday, with forecasters warning that pre-holiday travel would be difficult if not impossible across the region. Earlier, authorities said six people had died in traffic accidents as a result of the bad weather. Four were killed when their vehicle collided with a pickup truck in part of eastern New Mexico where blizzard-like conditions are rare, and a prison guard and inmate died when a prison van crashed along an icy roadway in eastern Colorado.

From New Mexico to Kansas, hotels were filling up quickly along major roadways and travel throughout the region was difficult. Nearly 100 rescue calls came in from motorists in northern Texas as blizzard conditions forced closed part of Interstate 40, a major east-west route, Monday night. New Mexico shut down a portion of Interstate 25, the major route heading northeast of Santa Fe into Colorado, and Clayton police dispatcher Cindy Blackwell said her phones were "ringing off the hook" with calls from numerous motorists stuck on rural roads. About 10 inches of snow had fallen in western Kansas before dawn Tuesday, and several more inches — along with strong wind gusts — were expected, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Russell said. "We're talking about whiteout conditions," he said.

The storm came after much of the country had a relatively mild fall. Except for the October snowstorm blamed for 29 deaths on the East Coast, there has been little rain or snow. Many of the areas hit Monday enjoyed relatively balmy 60-degree temperatures just 24 hours earlier. The snowstorm lumbered into the region Monday, turning roads to ice and reducing visibility to zero. The conditions put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads across the region. Linda Pape, general manager of the Clayton Super 8 motel in Colorado, said it was packed with unhappy skiers who had been headed to lodges in Colorado and elsewhere in New Mexico. Bill Cook, who works at the Best Western in Clayton, said he hadn't seen such a storm since the 1970s, when cattle had to be airlifted with helicopters and the National Guard was called in to help out. His hotel was packed Monday with people "happy they have a room," and some of the children were playing outside in the snow. Though some drivers were inconvenienced, farmers and meteorologists said the storm was bringing much needed moisture — first rain, then snow as temperatures dropped — to areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that had been parched by a drought that started in the summer of 2010.

Virginia Kepley, 73, spent Monday afternoon baking pumpkin bread to give as Christmas gifts while snow fell on her farm near Ulysses, Kansas. "I decided to try to get as much done today in case the electricity goes off and I can't make it tomorrow," she said. Kepley was grateful for the snow after some of her family's wheat never got enough moisture to sprout last season. A new crop had been planted in the fall for harvest next summer. "It is wonderful for the wheat," Kepley said. "At least we have wheat we can see this year." Meanwhile, weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman said there was a chance of snow in the Northeast for the Christmas weekend. "There are two possible scenarios for Christmas weekend in the Northeast," he said. Erdman said an area including Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, and Boston could see accumulations of snow, although also with a chance of rain. However he said under the second scenario, the I-95 Boston-to-Washington corridor could get "predominantly rain." - MSNBC.
Meanwhile, the deadly snowstorm continue to hinder travel across the Great Plains.
Fierce winds and snow that caused fatal road accidents and shuttered highways in five states crawled deeper into the Great Plains early Tuesday, with forecasters warning that pre-holiday travel would be difficult if not impossible across the region. Hotels were filling up quickly along major roadways from eastern New Mexico to Kansas, and nearly 100 rescue calls came in from motorists in the Texas Panhandle as blizzard conditions forced closed part of Interstate 40, a major east-west route, Monday night. About 10 inches of snow had fallen in western Kansas before dawn Tuesday, and several more inches—along with strong wind gusts—were expected, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Russell said. "We're talking about whiteout conditions," he said. The storm was blamed for at least six deaths Monday, authorities said. Four people were killed when their vehicle collided with a pickup truck in part of eastern New Mexico where blizzard-like conditions are rare, and a prison guard and inmate died when a prison van crashed along an icy roadway in eastern Colorado. The late-autumn snowstorm lumbered into the region Monday, turning roads to ice and reducing visibility to zero. The conditions put state road crews on alert and had motorists taking refuge and early exits off major roads across the region.

In northern New Mexico, snow and ice shuttered all roads from Raton to the Texas and Oklahoma borders about 90 miles away. Hotels in Clayton, N.M., just east of where the three states touch, were nearly full. Linda Pape, general manager of the Clayton Super 8 motel said it was packed with unhappy skiers who had been headed to lodges in Colorado and elsewhere in New Mexico. "They lost a day or two of skiing, and they had budgeted an amount of money they were going to spend, and now they have to spend more staying somewhere else," she said. The storm came after much of the country had a relatively mild fall. With the exception of the October snowstorm blamed for 29 deaths on the East Coast, there's been little rain or snow. Many of the areas hit Monday enjoyed relatively balmy 60-degree temperatures just 24 hours earlier.

The snow moved into the Oklahoma Panhandle early Monday, and 1.5 inches accumulated in about an hour, said Vicki Roberts, who owns the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast in Kenton. Her inn sits at the base of the 4,973-foot-tall Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma. Looking out her window, she couldn't see it. "I have a mail route and I'm not going," Ms. Roberts said. "You just don't get out in this. We'll be socked in here. If we lose power, we'll just read a book in front of the fireplace." Travel throughout the region was difficult. New Mexico shut down a portion of Interstate 25, the major route heading northeast of Santa Fe into Colorado, and Clayton police dispatcher Cindy Blackwell said her phones were "ringing off the hook" with calls from numerous motorists stuck on rural roads. Bill Cook, who works at the Best Western in Clayton, said he hadn't seen such a storm since the 1970s, when cattle had to be airlifted with helicopters and the National Guard was called in to help out. His hotel was packed Monday with people "happy they have a room," and some of the children were playing outside in the snow. Though some drivers were inconvenienced, farmers and meteorologists said the storm was bringing much needed moisture—first rain, then snow as temperatures dropped—in areas of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that had been parched by a drought that started in the summer of 2010. - Wall Street Journal.
WATCH: Snow in Albuquerque.


PLANETARY TREMORS: West Texas Has Rare 3rd Earthquake Since Late November!


West Texas has recorded its third earthquake in less than a month.

The U.S. Geological Survey website says a 3.2 magnitude earthquake happened at 8:46 a.m. Saturday, centered 5 miles north-northeast of Snyder, in Scurry County. The area is 78 miles southeast of Lubbock. Authorities had had no immediate reports of injury or damage.

A 3.4 magnitude quake happened Dec. 9 and was centered 15 miles north of Snyder. USGS says on Nov. 24, a 3.0 magnitude quake was centered 17 miles north-northeast of Snyder. The federal agency says a 2.7 magnitude earthquake on Dec. 7 was centered about 29 miles southwest of Dallas. A rare South Texas earthquake happened Oct. 27, with a 4.8 magnitude and epicenter about 37 miles northwest of Beeville. - Statesman.
The USGS gives the following tectonic summary for the area:
EARTHQUAKES IN THE STABLE CONTINENTAL REGION
Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes. Here and there earthquakes are more numerous, for example in the New Madrid seismic zone centered on southeastern Missouri, in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska seismic zone of eastern Quebec, in New England, in the New York - Philadelphia - Wilmington urban corridor, and elsewhere. However, most of the enormous region from the Rockies to the Atlantic can go years without an earthquake large enough to be felt, and several U.S. states have never reported a damaging earthquake. The earthquakes that do occur strike anywhere at irregular intervals. Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the West, are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 mi) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi).

FAULTS
Earthquakes everywhere occur on faults within bedrock, usually miles deep. Most of the region's bedrock was formed as several generations of mountains rose and were eroded down again over the last billion or so years. At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, often scientists can determine the name of the specific fault that is responsible for an earthquake. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case. All parts of this vast region are far from the nearest plate boundaries, which, for the U.S., are to the east in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, to the south in the Caribbean Sea, and to the west in California and offshore from Washington and Oregon. The region is laced with known faults but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. Even most of the known faults are poorly located at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few earthquakes east of the Rockies can be linked to named faults. It is difficult to determine if a known fault is still active and could slip and cause an earthquake. In most areas east of the Rockies, the best guide to earthquake hazards is the earthquakes themselves. - USGS.



WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unseasonal Damp Cool Conditions in Australia – The Coldest Start in Sydney Since 1960, Brisbane Recorded its Coldest December Day for 123 Years!


Several clothing and department store chains in Australia, have cut prices or closed outlets and shares in surfwear company Billabong today fell to a record low. The company said its profit could fall by as much as 26 per cent.

The unseasonal damp cool conditions – including the coldest start in Sydney since 1960 – has been blamed for a slump in Christmas shopping and big falls in sales of clothing and shoes. "Clothing retailers are still doing it fairly tough out there," said Russell Zimmerman, from The Australian Retailers Association. "The weather has been too cold for them – they need that really good run of hot weather and they haven't seen it." The rain and cold, blamed on the La Nina weather cycle, has affected much of Australia's eastern seaboard. Two weeks ago, the city of Brisbane recorded its coldest December day for 123 years. The poor weather has forced stores to heavily discount of swimwear and summer clothing, with the big department store chain David Jones dropping prices by 30 per cent.

"If it was a hot summer people would have been buying bikinis," the chain's corporate affairs manager, Helen Karlis, told Fairfax newspapers. "It's the coldest summer we've had in 50 years." Other factors are also hurting Australia's retail sector. Despite a recent cut in interest rates, Australian consumer sentiment remains low and the strong dollar has led to an increase in internet shopping. Government figures show sales of clothing, footwear and personal accessories are down 2.2 per cent this year and department store sales were 3.3 per cent below last October. The country's other big department store chain, Myer, has announced plans to close outlets and reduce the size of surviving stores, citing the impact of online shopping and the gloomy consumer outlook. Billabong said today its sales had been "significantly affected" by the bad weather. "The poor weather has continued into December and is reflected [in] store sales declines," a statement said. - Telegraph.



2012 & MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: ICE AGE NOW - Harry Kershaw, Sale Weatherman with Uncanny Knack for Predicting the Weather Says We Must "Get Ready for the Worst Winter in 200 Years"!


We're heading for the coldest winter since the early 1800s, according to a pensioner with an uncanny knack for predicting the weather. Harry Kershaw, 85, correctly predicted the huge snowfalls and freezing temperatures that crippled the country last December and January.

Now the amateur forecaster, from Sale, says the coming weeks could see Britain gripped by a ‘mini Ice-Age’ last encountered 200 years ago. Harry, who began his hobby as a merchant seaman, uses a system developed by the German army during the Second World War known as ‘similarity forecasting’. He matches conditions with those of previous years and then predicts the future weather will follow a similar pattern – often with great accuracy. In early 2007, his predictions of a miserable summer were at odds with official forecasts, but he was right. He also warned of wet weather in 2009 when the Met Office told the nation to prepare for a ‘barbecue summer’. He has already predicted that this winter could be as cold as that of 1812-13 – when daytime temperatures reached no more than -9C and Napoleon was forced to retreat from Moscow during his attempt to seize the Russian capital. Harry says the bitterly cold gusts that have blown into Greater Manchester from the Lancashire coast could signal that his winter forecast is accurate.

He said: "The higher the wind speed off Blackpool between the December 2 and 16, the colder the winter. The lower the wind speed, the milder the winter. This isn’t a meteorological rule, but I’ve observed it since 1962 and it seems to be very reliable. It looks as if we could be set for a white Christmas with cold easterly winds direct from Russia." Harry says Europe could be in the middle of a ‘mini ice-age’ similar to the one in the four years from 1812 to 1815. The number of spots on the sun, thought to affect the weather, has been the same in the last two years as in 1812 and 1813. And North Pole barometer readings in August suggested Europe will experience a repeat of last winter, Harry said. He added: "It looks like we could be on the same weather cycle that occurred before Napoleon’s retreat." Blackpool was battered by winds of up to 55mph this week. The Met Office is warning that more winter storms could batter the region in the coming days as a chain of low pressure systems cross the Atlantic. Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said: "We’re advising people to say up to date with the latest forecast and weather warnings because conditions are changing very quickly." - Manchester Evening News.


MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Weather - Texas Drought Caused The Deaths Of Millions of Trees!


A preliminary state estimate says as many as a half-billion trees died this year across Texas from the drought persisting across much of the state.

The Texas Forest Service said in a statement Monday that its foresters estimated that 100 million to 500 million trees died in the 2011 drought.

The forest service preliminary estimates found three areas to be hardest hit.

One, in Sutton, Crockett, Kimble and Pecos counties in West Texas, saw an extensive die-off of Ashe junipers.

Another, in Harris, Montgomery, Grimes, Madison and Leon counties of Southeast Texas, saw a big die-off of loblolly pines.

Meanwhile, Bastrop and Caldwell counties in Central Texas saw big losses of cedars and post oaks. - Huffington Post.


EARTH CHANGES: Tracking Developments in the Canary Islands - Is There an End in Sight for the Submarine Eruption at the El Hierro Volcano!


The submarine eruption south of El Hierro is still going on, but there are signs magma supply has dropped significantly. Most likely, the eruption which now has lasted over 2 months is approaching its end.

The ongoing weak volcanic tremor as recorded by IGN on 19 Dec.
Volcanic tremor has decreased a lot, and there are almost no more bursts related to steam explosions at the underwater vent. Diffuse CO2 emissions (CO2 being interpreted as indication of fresh magma supply) has decreased, too.

Earthquakes which are often related when new magma intrusions create new paths in the substrata, have almost stopped as well. The water discoloration south of La Restinga is still present and weak upwelling of muddy water is still being observed, but much less than previously, and with less intensity. - Volcano Discovery.

Graph published by INVOLCAN showing the drop in CO2 emission levels.



EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Mass Red Breasts Bird Die-Off - Population Crashes by 88% in Three Decades!


It is a welcome winter visitor. But it is not all about robins this Christmas. Conservationists have warned that while the robin is thriving, other brightly-coloured birds are struggling for survival. Linnets, bullfinches and lesser redpolls, all of which boast red breasts, are in peril, with populations crashing by up to 88 per cent over the last 30 years.

An RSPB spokesman said: ‘Understandably, the robin gets most of the glory at this time of year but the RSPB wants to highlight some of the other birds with “Christmas colouring” too. ‘It’s not all about robins this Christmas’. Latest figures show that robins are booming, with a 49 per cent increase in numbers between 1970 and 2009. The gardener’s favourite has benefited from a run of mild winters, which have allowed it to continue to feast on its favoured meal of insects. While cold snaps have taken their toll, the robin usually has a large number of chicks, allowing populations to quickly bounce back. But other red-breasted birds have not been so lucky. Numbers of linnets, tiny finches with a rosy pink breast, have fallen by 56 per cent since 1970 and populations of bullfinches have almost halved over the same period. Lesser redpolls, small finches with red on their head and breast, are down 88 per cent, although they have started to recover ever so slightly in recent years. In the robin, both sexes have a red breast, but in the other species, it is only the male that has a festive bib. The linnet, a shy bird that favours farmland, used to scavenge seed from weeds that grew in fields left fallow over winter.

Intensification of farming means fewer fields are free of crops, and the linnet, which feeds exclusively on seeds, is in trouble. The redpoll, which likes to hang upside down to feed in trees, is also a seed-eater and struggling to find food.  Predation by sparrowhawks may also be a problem. The bullfinch enjoys the buds and seeds of fruit trees and was once common enough be considered a pest of fruit crops. While their decline has slowed, they are a still a rare sight in many parts of the country. The RSPB spokesman said: ‘Linnets, bullfinches and lesser redpolls are all struggling at the moment. ‘And whilst they are not as common on the bird table, there is a chance you’ll see bullfinches and lesser redpolls as the weather worsens and they come to our gardens for hospitality. ‘Linnets, however, won’t visit gardens no matter how bad the weather gets.’ Grahame Madge, of the charity, said that 100 years ago all three birds would have been a common sight when living in the countryside. He said: ‘They have dropped out of the suite of birds that everyone is familiar with. ‘Their rapid decline indicates that we have fundamental changes happening in the countryside. ‘These really are the canaries in the coalmine that tell us they countryside is changing.’ - Daily Mail.


EXTREME WEATHER: Vicious Storm Sinks Russian Drilling Rig - Death Toll Rises to 11 as Chance for Survivors Fades!


Russian rescue workers recovered 11 bodies from icy waters north of Sakhalin Island after a drilling rig with 67 people on board sank in a storm, according to the local government authorities.

A raft covered by an orange tent was spotted by an airplane, Andrey Bobrov, a spokesman for rig owner OAO Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, said by phone, citing General Director Yuriy Melekhov. Rescue vessels are trying to reach the raft, he said, adding it was too early to say anything about passengers. That leaves 42 people missing after 14 were saved yesterday. “Given that the water temperature is about 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the chances for survivors are low,” Sergey Viktorov, a spokesman for the Emergency Ministry’s Far East division, said by phone. The operation is continuing after nightfall in the region, he said. The Kolskaya jack-up rig capsized and sank in a storm in the Sea of Okhotsk yesterday while being towed to Sakhalin. The rig had completed a job off the Kamchatka Peninsula for OAO Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural-gas producer, two weeks earlier. President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a probe into the accident, according to a statement on the Kremlin website. Investigators consider unsafe towing without taking the weather into account may be the cause of the accident, Russia’s Investigative Committee said on its website.

The drilling rig was carrying 53 crew and 14 passengers when it went down, at depth of 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), according to the Russian Emergency Situations website. The vessel could accommodate 102 people, according to the company’s website. The crew were highly professional, trained in accordance with international regulations, Melekhov said on Russian state television. “The rig was like a huge factory, which needed dozens of crew,” Bobrov said. The Kolskaya had undergone capital repairs in February and was in working condition, the company said. The rig was built in Finland in 1985, according to Arktikmorneftegazrazvedka, a unit of state-run oil producer OAO Zarubezhneft. It had finished working on Dec. 4, and Gazprom had no contractual obligations with the rig’s owner as of Dec. 11, Sergei Kupriyanov, a spokesman for the Moscow-based gas producer, said by phone yesterday. “Such accidents happen quite often globally, for example in the Gulf of Mexico, during severe storms,” said Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Arctic and World Ocean studies at the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A drilling rig similar to the Kolskaya, called the 60 Years of Azerbaijan, sank in the Caspian Sea in 1983, while the Alexander Kielland, a semi-submersible drilling rig, capsized while working in the Ekofisk oil field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea in 1980, killing 123, Bogoyavlensky said. - Business Week.




WEATHER ANOMALIES: Sign from the Heavens - Giant Tsunami-Shaped Clouds Roll Across Alabama Sky!


For a morning, the sky looked like a surfer's dream: A series of huge breaking waves lined the horizon in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday (Dec. 16), their crests surging forward in slow motion. Amazed Alabamans took photos of the clouds and sent them to their local weather station, wondering, "What are these tsunamis in the sky?"

Experts say the clouds were pristine examples of "Kelvin-Helmholtz waves." Whether seen in the sky or in the ocean, this type of turbulence always forms when a fast-moving layer of fluid slides on top of a slower, thicker layer, dragging its surface. Water waves, for example, form when the layer of fluid above them (i.e., the air) is moving faster than the layer of fluid below (i.e., the water). When the difference between the wind and water speed increases to a certain point, the waves "break" — their crests lurch forward — and they take on the telltale Kelvin-Helmholtz shape. According to Chris Walcek , a meteorologist at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the State University of New York, Albany , fast-moving air high in the sky can drag the top of slow-moving, thick clouds underneath it in much the same way.

"In the pictures [of the Birmingham sky] there is probably a cold layer of air near the ground where the wind speed is probably low. That is why there is a cloud or fog in that layer," Walcek told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to LiveScience. "Over this cloudy, cold, slow-moving layer is probably a warmer and faster-moving layer of air." Most of the time, the difference in wind speed and temperature between two layers of the atmosphere is small, and so the fast-moving air on top "simply slides smoothly over the slower-moving air like a hockey puck sliding along an ice surface," Walcek said. At the other extreme, if the wind-speed difference is too large, the interface between the two layers breaks down into random turbulence. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves form when the difference in the temperature and wind speed of the two layers hits a sweet spot. "What [these pictures] show is air between these two atmospheric layers that is just very close to that threshold for turbulence, and mixing to mix the two layers together," he said. - Yahoo.