Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 SOLAR STORMS: CHRISTMAS FILAMENT ERUPTIONS - Several Coronal Mass Ejections Erupted on the Sun, 5 in 24 Hours, Possible Geomagnetic Storms Ahead as we Head into 2012! UPDATE: Volcano and Earthquake Watch From December 27th to 30th! UPDATE: GLOBAL ALERT - CMEs Target Earth's Magnetic Field, 30-40% Chance of Geomagnetic Storms! UPDATE: SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE - Filament and M-Class Flares/CME Trend Continues! UPDATE: Scientists Warn - Massive Solar Storm 'Could Knock Out Radio Signals' Over Next Three Days!

According to Space Weather, a new sunspot, 1386, is crackling with C-class flares and a solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole from the southeastern and northwestern limbs could reach Earth between December 27th and 30th.

A filament of magnetism connected to sunspot AR1386 erupted during the early hours of Dec. 24th. Extreme UV-wavelength cameras onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the picturesque blast. The C5-class eruption hurled a billion-ton coronal mass ejection (CME) into space, but not toward Earth. With the cloud sailing wide-left of our planet, Christmas geomagnetic storms are unlikely. Nevertheless, this active region merits watching as it turns toward Earth in the days ahead, possibly positioning itself for the first storms of 2012.
WATCH: SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE - Significant Earth Directed Filament Eruption/Hyder Flare/CMEs.

Although, SOHO images are not showing very much, I expect the ejections to impact Earth's magnetosphere, given the high density of the solar wind. Geomagnetic instability is quite possible.

Here is the volcano and earthquake watch from the Solar Watcher.
Targeting Coronal Hole(CH490) in the Southern Hemisphere. After analysis I have isolated 24-29° Latitude. Solar symmetry to earth the best fit regions for a possible 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake are: Kermadec Islands Region, South Of Fiji Region, Salta Argentina or Santiago Del Estero Argentina.

Second watch is targeting a Southern Polar CH extending 51-69° S latitude and represents a possible risk for one or more 5.7-6.1 Magnitude earthquakes. Possible areas: Balleny Islands, Macquarie Islands Region or the South Sandwich Islands Region. OLR Anomalies this week are: Carlsberg Ridge, Bay Of Bengal, Nias Indonesia, Arafura Sea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and East Of Hawaii.
WATCH: Volcano / Earthquake Watch December 27-31, 2011.

SOLAR ACTIVITY PICKS UP: Dec. 25th began with a pair of magnetic filaments erupting in the sun's northern hemisphere followed by a sequence of C-flares from sunspot 1385 in the sun's southern hemisphere. Both halves of the sun are rocking on Christmas: SDO movie. Coronagraph images from STEREO-A and -B suggest a possible Earth-directed CME. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: GLOBAL ALERT - CMEs Target Earth's Magnetic Field, 30-40% Chance of Geomagnetic Storms!

CME TARGETS MARS, EARTH: New sunspot 1387 erupted during the late hours of Christmas Day, producing an M4-class flare and hurling a CME toward Earth and Mars. The CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Dec. 28th at 1200 UT and a direct hit to the planet Mars on Dec. 30th at 1800 UT. Using onboard radiation sensors, NASA's Curiosity rover might be able to sense the CME when it passes the rover's spacecraft en route to Mars. Here on Earth, NOAA forecasters estimate a 30-to-40% chance of geomagnetic storms on Dec. 28th when the CME and an incoming solar wind stream (unrelated to the CME) could arrive in quick succession. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Wednesday night.

BEAUTIFUL BLAST: After three years of deep quiet, the sun woke up in 2011. Sunspots and solar flares became commonplace again as long-awaited Solar Cycle 24 got underway. One of the most beautiful eruptions of the young solar cycle occured just this past weekend. Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil photographed the blast on Christmas Eve: "I made a time-lapse video of the eruption," says Marcon. "What a wonderful Christmas present." While Marcon was recording the event from Earth, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory was doing the same from Earth-orbit. It was beautiful up there, too. This explosion was not Earth-directed. Next time, however, could be different. The source of the blast, sunspot 1386, is turning toward Earth, increasing the chances of a geoeffective flare in the days ahead.
WATCH: SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE - New Sunspot 1387 Unleashed an M4.0-Class Flare/CME.

UPDATE: SOLAR ACTIVITY UPDATE - Filament and M-Class Flares/CME Trend Continues!

CMEs TARGET EARTH, MARS: The odds of a geomagnetic storm on December 28th are improving with the launch of two CMEs toward Earth in less than 24 hours. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft photographed this one on December 26th. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud should squarely strike Earth's magnetic field on December 28th at 20:22 UT (+/- 7 hours). Another CME could deliver a glancing blow a few hours earlier on the same date. The double impact is expected to spark mild-to-moderate geomagnetic storms at high latitudes. Mars is also in the line of fire. The first of the two CMEs is squarely directed toward the Red Planet--estimated time of arrival: December 30th at 1800 UT. Using onboard radiation sensors, NASA's Curiosity rover might be able to sense the CME when it passes the rover's spacecraft en route to Mars.
WATCH: Solar Activity Update.

UPDATE: Scientists Warn - Massive Solar Storm 'Could Knock Out Radio Signals' Over Next Three Days!
Skywatchers will be hoping for clear skies from today because particles from a recent solar storm will slam into Earth and produce amazing Northern Lights, or auroras. On the downside, experts expect radio blackouts for a few days, caused by the radiation from the flare – or coronal mass ejection (CME) – causing magnetic storms. The flare is part of a larger increase in activity in the Sun, which runs in 11-year cycles. It is expected to peak around 2013. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center wrote: ‘Category G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storms are expected 28 and 29 December due to multiple coronal mass ejection arrivals. R1 (Minor) radio blackouts are expected until 31 December.’ Devices that depend on radio waves include GPS systems, radios and mobile phones.

A coronal mass ejection contains billions of tons of gases bursting with X-rays and ultraviolet radiation that are flung into space at around 5million mph. They are mind-bogglingly hot – around 100,000,000C. The Earth is occasionally hosed by these ejections, leading to amazing shimmering light shows. They are caused by the ionised solar particles becoming imprisoned by Earth’s magnetic field, exciting the gases in the atmosphere and emitting bursts of energy in the form of light. However, these particles can also cause magnetic storms, which in extreme cases have been known to disrupt satellites and electricity grids. In 1989, a CME was held responsible for leaving six million people in Quebec, Canada, without power. Last month one of the largest storms our star can produce was detected. Known as an X1.9 flare, it was one of the biggest seen in years. The flare was so powerful that it disrupted communications systems on earth a short time later. Another gigantic flare occurred in August - shown in the video below - but because it took place on the side of the Sun not facing Earth, there was no disruption to communications or power. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: CME Impact / Solar Watch.

Excellent information websites for solar watchers and researchers:



WEATHER ANOMALIES & THE NEW NORMAL: Where is the BIG FREEZE - Vegetables Mysteriously Arrive Three Months Early in Devon, England!

Bumper crops of vegetables are arriving months too early in the latest saga of this year’s topsy-turvy weather.

Farmers say they are harvesting cabbages, sprouts broccoli and cauliflowers up to three months earlier than usual and some fear they could see shortages in the Spring. Yesterday forecasters predicted temperatures could reach 14C on New Year’s Eve – great for outdoor revellers - in what would be one of the most unusual weather events in years. After a cool day today (Thurs) with strong winds and some showers, a stretch of mild weather will begin tomorrow (Fri) and continue into the first week of 2012. At Riverford Farm near Totnes in Devon, which supplies 40,000 households with vegetables every week, savoy cabbages are already so big they have burst of out their boxes and between 15 and 20 per cent of the crop had to be ploughed back into the ground. Harvest manager Ed Scott said without a cold snap which allows leeks and cabbages to ‘hibernate’ and start growing again in February or March, they had just carried on. He said: ‘This crop has become so confused by the comparatively warm conditions that as well as maturing well ahead of schedule, a fair number of the plants are actually flowering. ‘This should not be happening until February and they’ve been blooming through December, a full three months early. ‘Our concern now is whether or not these crops will hold till we can pick them. I never thought I’d say this, especially after last year’s brutal winter, but bring on the snow and ice!’

Cornish farmers are predicting a cauliflower shortage after an early crop. Philip Pryor, a grower near Truro in Cornwall, said that the warm weather had caused a glut and a fall in prices, and said if the weather does not return to normal ‘volumes are not going to be there for what is required.’ Last year’s freezing winter saw temperatures reach -7C and vegetable crops frozen into the ground. The National Farmers Union played down reports of shortages and said the early crops had been seen in the south west of England but were ‘not a national picture’. A spokeswoman said: ‘This has not been the case all over the country, and although the warm weather has made the seasons move around a bit, we are not going to see any empty supermarket shelves. We are likely to see the Spring crops arrive earlier than usual too.’
UK weather surprising for farmers. The warm spell which began in late September has hardly abated with temperatures reaching a Boxing Day high of 15.5C (60F) in Aberdeenshire – the average daytime temperature for June. Gardeners claimed to have seen snowdrops, which usually appear in February, and even daffodils blooming early in Devon and Buckinghamshire over Christmas.

Sacha Hubbard of Hill House Plant Nursery, Ashburton, Devon wrote on Twitter: ‘A daffodil is in flower - not a usual Christmas event at all!’. Yesterday it was a cool 10C in the south and just 8C with gale force winds in the north, which saw a lorry overturn in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne as gusts reached speeds of 65mph. Motorists were urged to take extra care in exposed and coastal areas as the same brisk, chilly weather is predicted today (Thurs) with wind speeds reaching around 50mph in the north-east, and further west in Cheshire and Snowdonia. But the rest of the country will have a dry day. From Friday temperatures will pick up everywhere to as high as 11C in the north and 13C in the south with the possibility of 14C in the south-east. New Year’s Eve is set to be a mild night going into a dry and bright start to 2012. A Met Office spokesman said: ‘Temperatures are slightly above average but the windy weather means it doesn’t feel like it yet, but it will warm up again from Friday and New Year’s Eve will be particularly mild.’ ‘The first week or so of January is expected to be relatively mild but unsettled, with cloudy periods with some rain interspersed with colder, clearer and more showery weather.’ - Daily Mail.

DELUGE OF NATURAL DISASTERS: Scary Christmas in Australia - Prime Minister Gillard Reveals Widespread Suffering in What Was Suppose to be a Merry Season! UPDATE: Floods Have Cut Off Northern Australia! UPDATE: Uncontrollable Bushfires Ravages Western Australia!

Natural disasters, fires and car crashes have made it a tough Christmas for many Aussies, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says. Ms Gillard said reports of Australians caught up in difficulties were becoming all too common over the holidays.

"So while it's a time of joy and friendship and family for many Australians, it can often be a time of hardship for some," the PM told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday. "For Australians who have faced hardship over the last few days while we've been celebrating Christmas, I think all Australians have been thinking of them as we've seen what they've gone through. "That's certainly been my view as I've seen people caught up in all sorts of circumstances and difficulties over the Christmas season." Ms Gillard's comments referred to widespread flooding across Melbourne and northwest Victoria and floods in the Northern Territory from ex-tropical Cyclone Grant. On Sunday, Victoria was hit by a series of storms that brought huge hailstones, torrential rain, flash flooding and even a tornado, causing widespread damage. The Northern Territory floods caused a freight train to derail near the Edith River bridge about 40km north of Katherine early on Tuesday morning. Two train drivers were injured and flown to hospital.

On the nation's roads, there have been 25 deaths so far over the holiday period, with 11 in NSW. Among them was a disabled teenage boy who was thrown out of his wheelchair on Christmas Day when his mother, who was driving a van with the boy in the back in Wagga Wagga, braked suddenly. A five-year-old girl was thrown from the back seat of a car when it hit a tree at Broadwater, in northern NSW, on Boxing Day. The nation has also been shocked by the fire at the Sunshine Coast house of celebrity chef Matt Golinski, which claimed the lives of his wife and three daughters. Mr Golinski remains in a critical but stable condition in Royal Brisbane Hospital's intensive care unit after the blaze at his Tewantin property on Monday. A Sudanese soccer player is undergoing surgery for a fracture after his team's bus rolled on a NSW Central Coast highway about 4.20am (AEDT) on Wednesday. Without referring directly to any of the incidents, Ms Gillard said such tragedies seemed even more troubling at this time of year. It strikes us particularly heavily at this time of year when we know so many people are celebrating and then you see our fellow Australians doing it tough," she said. - Yahoo Australia.
Major supply and transport routes to parts of Australia's tropical north were cut Wednesday after wild weather derailed a freight train and destroyed sections of a major highway.

Storms linked to ex-tropical cyclone Grant caused flash flooding across the remote Northern Territory that washed a 33-wagon iron ore train off a bridge and swept slabs of roadway from the Stuart Highway. The Territory's chief minister Paul Henderson said there had been “significant damage” to roads and engineers were yet to inspect bridges. “Until the waters recede we're not going to have a clear picture as to the structural impacts ... so we're hoping that the waters recede as quickly as they came up,” Henderson told ABC Radio. The damage means that access to the Territory's tropical north, known locally as the Top End, is reliant on air travel, prompting concern about restocking supermarkets and other essentials. “We have got an issue now with supplies,” said Willem Westra Van Holthe, a local politician from the town of Katherine, which gets most of its food from Darwin, further north. “Shelves will be hit pretty hard, I would imagine.”

Henderson said he was hopeful of reopening the arterial Stuart Highway within 48 hours but the rail link was likely to take longer. The derailed freight train's operators Genesee and Wyoming said crews were inspecting the damaged 350-metre segment and “it is not yet known how long repairs will take.” Genesee and Wyoming said an empty crew van and five wagons - two of which contained hazardous copper concentrate - were derailed when flood waters washed away the southern base of the Edith River bridge north of Katherine. Copper concentrate is considered a hazardous substance and inspectors from the environment department are investigating whether there has been any leak. “We're taking it pretty seriously,” a department spokeswoman said. The railway damage has left The Ghan passenger train, which runs through Australia's desert Outback from the southern city of Adelaide to Darwin, stranded in Katherine with about 200 passengers on board. “The Stuart Highway is also presently closed north of Katherine and we have now been advised it will be closed for an estimated time of 48 hours,” said operator Great Southern Rail. Grant was downgraded to a tropical low on Monday but it is expected to return to cyclone strength on Friday as it crosses the Gulf of Carpentaria to neighbouring Queensland state. - IOL News.
Firefighters are battling three bushfires in Western Australia's Mid West and Gascoyne regions as temperatures soar.

A fire is burning out of control 120 kilometres east of Carnarvon as temperatures reach into the high 30s. The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) says it the blaze is unpredictable and a forecast wind change will push the it west towards the Kennedy national park this afternoon. No homes or lives have been threatened and FESA is warning motorists to avoid the area. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DSE) is monitoring the fire from the air and says the blaze was sparked by lightning.

Meanwhile, firefighters are continuing to battle a bushfire which has burnt through 180,000 hectares on the eastern side of Exmouth Gulf. The crews are continuing to complete containment lines. At one point, the blaze threatened the Giralia homestead. Crews managed to contain the fire but the DSE's Arvid Hogstrom says the focus is still on controlling the blaze. "We still haven't had the opportunity to really look into the cause," he said. - Yahoo Australia.

2012 DOOMSDAY: Extreme Weather - Scientists Predict That the Frequency of Severe Earth Changes May Escalate in 2012!

From floods that crippled countries, to mega cyclones, huge blizzards, killer tornadoes to famine-inducing droughts, 2011 has been another record-breaker for bad weather. While it is too early to predict what 2012 will be like, insurers and weather prediction agencies point to a clear trend: the world's weather is becoming more extreme and more costly. Following are details of major weather disasters for 2011 and some early forecasts for 2012.

2011 overview.

Global reinsurer Munich Re says natural catastrophe losses for the first nine months of 2011 totaled US$310 billion (S$402 billion), a record, with 80 per cent of all economic losses occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. Since 1980, weather-related disasters globally have more than tripled. The United States set a record with 12 separate billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011, with an aggregate damage total of approximately US$52 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said this month. The UN's World Meteorological Organization said global temperatures in 2011 are currently the 10th highest on record, higher than any previous year with a La Nina event, which has a relative cooling influence. The 13 warmest years have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest. Scientists say a warming atmosphere and more moisture in the air are providing fuel for weather systems, leading to more extremes. Rising levels of greenhouse gases from industry, transport and deforestation are providing that extra heat.
Major weather disasters of 2011.

January: Record floods swamp Australia's east coast, killing 35 people, shutting coal mines, wiping out roads, rail lines and thousands of homes and costing more than US$2 billion in insured losses. - "Snowmageddon": Heavy snows blanket large parts of the United States including record falls in New York. February: Cyclone Yasi, one of the largest and most powerful storms ever to hit Australia, strikes northern Queensland state, devastating sugar and banana crops.- Massive winter storm hits US Midwest and Northeast, causing travel chaos and power outages. April: Series of tornadoes batter US Southeast, killing an estimated 364 people. May: Tornado hits US town of Joplin, killing about 160 people, the single deadliest US twister since 1947. - Floods in US Midwest and Mississippi River Valley inundate millions of acres, trimming corn and soy plantings. June: Floods in China's central and southern provinces kill more than 100 people. More than half a million are evacuated.

July: Worst drought in decades in the Horn of Africa triggers famine in Somalia and leaves 13 million people at risk starvation in a crisis expected to last well into 2012. - Flooding between July and late November in Thailand kills more than 600, affects a third of the country, causes damage of at least US$42 billion and inundates nearly 1,000 factories near Bangkok, disrupting auto and electronics global supply chains. August: Hurricane Irene kills at least 40 people in the eastern United States and triggers the worst flooding in decades in some states. Economic losses estimated to top US$10 billion. September: Scores die in worst flooding along the Mekong river since 2000. October: Rare October snowstorm kills 13 in US northeast and leaves 1.6 million without power. December: Tropical storm Washi hits the Philippine island of Mindanao, triggering flash floods and mudslides and killing more than 1,200 people. - Yearlong drought in US state of Texas causes more than US$5 billion in agricultural losses and triggers wildfires that burn 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares). Summer temperatures in Texas break US records.
Predictions for 2012.

A La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean is expected to last well into 2012. The phenomenon is a cooling of waters in the central Pacific and has a global impact on weather. Forecasters expect it to bring above-average rains to northern and eastern Australia and more cyclones than normal during the Australian November-April storm season. La Nina events also tend to strengthen the Atlantic hurricane season. Colorado State University researchers expect an above-average hurricane season if conditions that bring warmer than usual tropical water temperatures in the Atlantic continue and there no major El Nino event. El Nino is a warming of surface waters in the eastern and central Pacific, affecting wind patterns that can trigger droughts in Australia and suppress Atlantic hurricanes. Winter across Europe and the United States is also expected to be milder, forecasters say.

"The common thread this winter compared to last is the presence of La Nina," said Chris Vaccaro, public affairs director, at the National Weather Service in Washington. "But the La Nina we have now and through the winter is not anticipated to be as strong as last year." In addition, the Arctic Oscillation, which was negative last year and sent frigid air southward leading to huge snowstorms, has largely been positive this year. The oscillation is a shift in atmospheric pressure cells that changes wind patterns. A negative phase triggers high pressure over the Arctic and low pressure at mid-latitudes, which makes the Arctic zone relatively warm, but spills cold Arctic air southward to places like the US Midwest and Northeast. Most of continental Europe, the Nordic region and Britain will see warmer-than-normal weather between January and March, Weather Services International (WSI) said last week. - Asia One.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: 35 Volcanoes Erupting Across the Earth - 7 Along the Pacific Ring of Fire!

According to the Volcano Discovery, there are are currently 35 volcanoes erupting worldwide. The highest number comes from the Pacific Ring of Ring, where seven are currently active.

Red markers represents the erupting volcanoes across the map.

In Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, only the Stromboli volcano in Italy is currently erupting. That is 1 out of the 4. Jebel Zubair in the Red Sea near Yemen, Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania, Erta Ale in Ethiopia, and Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira in the Democratic Republic of Congo, are the volcanoes erupting in Africa and the Indian Ocean. 5 out of 8.

In Indonesia, 5 out of 16 are erupting. These include Dukono and Gamalama in Halmahera, Soputan in North Sulawesi, Semeru in East Java, and Batu Tara in the Sunda Islands. In the Aleutians, Alaska and North America region, four volcanoes are showing signs of unrest, but no major eruption. In Central America, 6 of 8 are erupting. These are Popocatepetl in Mexico, Santa Maria and Fuego in Guatemala, Telica in Nicaragua, and Arenal and Turrialba in Costa Rica.

List of the current erupting and active volcanoes.

In South America, only Hudson, Puyehue-Cordon Caulle, Villarrica and Planchon-Peteroa in Chile are erupting. 4 out of 17. In the Pacific Ocean, 6 out of 13 features major volcanic activity. These include Kilauea in Hawaii, Bagana and Manam in Papua New Guinea, Ulawun in New Britain of Papua New Guinea, and Yasur and Ambrym in Vanuatu.

Along the Pacific Ring of Fire, half of the volcanoes are erupting (7 out of 14). Most these are concentrated along the Kamchatka Volcano Complex - Shiveluch, Kliuchevskoi, Kizimen, Karymsky and Sakurajima. The other two are Suwanose-jima in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and Bulusan in the Luzon Islands of the Philippines. The only ther region featuring some form of eruption is the Erebus volcano in Antarctica.

See the complete list HERE.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: The Monster From the Deep - 40ft Sperm Whale Washes up on the Norfolk Coast?!

A 40ft sperm whale has been washed up dead on an East Anglian beach, with what appears to be a large gash in its stomach.

The sand around its tail did not appear disturbed, suggesting the creature was dead before the tide carried it onto the sands at Old Hunstanton, Norfolk. Large crowds gathered to see the whale, which is near the high tide mark. A spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it may have been the same whale which had been seen dead on the RAF’s bombing range on the other side of the estuary, at Holbeach, some weeks ago. Scientists from the Zooological Society have already taken samples from the animal, which will be left to be carried away by the tide to decompose naturally.

A 40ft sperm whale has been washed up dead on an East Anglian beach, with what appears to be a large gash in its stomach. The sand around its tail did not appear disturbed, suggesting the creature was dead before the tide carried it onto the sands at Old Hunstanton, Norfolk. Large crowds gathered to see the whale, which is near the high tide mark. A spokesman for the British Divers Marine Life Rescue said it may have been the same whale which had been seen dead on the RAF’s bombing range on the other side of the estuary, at Holbeach, some weeks ago. Scientists from the Zooological Society have already taken samples from the animal, which will be left to be carried away by the tide to decompose naturally. - Daily Mail.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far And Wide - U.S. Fukushima Medical Study Estimates 14,000 Dead U.S. Infants From Radiation Fallout as Scientists Investigate Whether Radiation from Japan Caused the Death of Alaska's Seals.

Almost nothing to see here, move along. Eight months after Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s six reactor Daichi Fuskuhima complex was rocked by an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale and subsequent tsunami, both Tokyo and TEPCO maintain that the effects of the disaster have been contained.

Not so, according to a just published peer reviewed medical paper appearing in the U.S., which indicates that Fukushima’s pernicious consequences have traveled across the Pacific. The figures come from a recently published article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services, a peer reviewed scientific journal, authored by Joseph J. Mangano and Janette D. Sherman, “An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Follows Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima: is There a Correlation?” The study is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of the Fukushima disaster. In earlier research published five months ago on the authors noted, “The recent CDC (Center for Disease Control) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age: 4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 - 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week) 10 weeks ending May 28, 2011  - 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week.)This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant.  Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.”

According to the researchers’ data, on 17 March after Fukushima was impacted, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over U.S. territory and subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. Janette Sherman, MD, said: "Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults." Dr. Sherman is an adjunct professor, Western Michigan University and Joseph Mangano is an epidemiologist, and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group. The pair noted, “We recently reported on an unusual rise in infant deaths in the northwestern United States for the 10-week period following the arrival of the airborne radioactive plume from the meltdowns at the Fukushima plants in northern Japan. This result suggested that radiation from Japan may have harmed Americans, thus meriting more research. We noted in the report that the results were preliminary, and the importance of updating the analysis as more health status data become available.”

Why children? “The human fetus and infant are especially radiosensitive, given their rapid cell growth and cell division, as well as their small size that results in a proportionately larger dose. These exposures include X-ray, alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Depending on the time of in utero radiation exposure, the result can be expressed as spontaneous abortion, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, infant death, congenital malformations, and brain damage. While this report concentrates on effects to humans, all life is sensitive to nuclear radiation exposure, including plants, fungi, insects spiders, birds, fish, and other animals. The best-studied group near Chernobyl (birds) shows a 50 percent decrease in species richness and a 66 percent drop in abundance in the most contaminated areas, compared with normal background in the same neighborhood.” In perhaps its most worrying observation the report notes, “The Fukushima meltdowns, and the introduction of radioactivity across the globe, indicate that accurate measurements are needed on subsequent changes in environmental radioactivity and in health status. In the United States, there have been limitations in both measures. Radioactivity samples in precipitation, air, water, and milk were sporadically reported by the Environmental Protection Agency. Many measurements failed to produce detectable levels, and on May 3, 2011, the agency reverted to its policy of making only quarterly measurements.”

The report concludes, “The health effects of exposure to radioactivity from the Fukushima meltdowns, both in Japan and around the world, will take a long time to fully assess. The paucity of data from the U.S. EPA is unfortunate and will hamper future studies. A quarter of a century after the Chernobyl disaster, and more than 60 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, compilations of health casualties are still being updated. It is critical that research should proceed with all due haste, as answers are essential to early diagnosis and treatment for exposed people, particularly children and the very young.” For those wishing to read the study, its URL is: The 18-page study contains 25 footnotes, and, as noted earlier, has been peer reviewed. It will be interesting to see how TEPCO responds to the article, or whether it will simply vanish into the black hole of non commentary. The pushback has already begun, with Michael Moyer, editor in charge of technology coverage at Scientific American writing, “The publication of such sloppy, agenda-driven work is a shame. Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific. The world needs to have a serious discussion about what role nuclear power should play in a power-hungry post-Fukushima world. But serious, informed, fact-based debate is a difficult enough goal to achieve without having to shout above noise like this.” And oh, on 20 December Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported from Mito in Ibaraki prefecture that a fire partially burned the ceiling of a building housing a nuclear reactor in Tokai. - Oilprice.
WATCH: Shocking radiation report from Fukushima.

Meanwhile, scientists are testing sick Alaska seals for radiation from Fukushima.

Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals' fur coats. Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

"We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity," said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor's damage," he said. The results of the tests would not be available for "several weeks," Kelley said. Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in U.S. Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the surrounding area. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no answers. - MSNBC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Eruption Warning and Alert Status Raised for the Three Volcanoes in East Java - High Alert for Five Others in Indonesia!

People living the vicinity of three volcanoes in East Java have been warned to be on the alert as they were showing signs of increased vulcanic activity.

The three volcanoes are Mt Ijen, Mt Semeru and Mt Bromo. East Java district disaster management head Timur Siswanto said the authorities were in a state of readiness to handle any vulcanic disasters and had established command posts for relief work should any of the volcanoes erupt. He was reported as saying by the local media that Mt Ijen was showing the most activity and that people living in its vicinity had been warned not to come within a 1.5 kilometre raidus of the mountain. Besides the above three, five other volcanoes - Mt Gamalama (Ternate Island, Moluccas), Mt Papandayan (Garut, West Java), Gunung Karangetang (northern Sulawesi ), Gunung Lokon (northern Sulawesi) and Anak Krakatau (Sunda Strait) - were also reported to have started "rumbling". - My Sinchew.
Ijen volcano in East Java, famous for its turquoise crater lake and the massive sulfur deposits inside the crater, might be close to an eruption. Due to further increased seismic activity, stronger degassing and steaming, the Indonesian Geological Survey has raised the alert level for Ijen volcano from 2 to 3 (out of 4). A phreatic eruption could occur any time, geologists believe. The lake has changed color to white. The last eruption was in 1993 and had produced ash plumes rising about 1000 m. Along with Ijen, 5 other Indonesian volcanoes - Gamalana, Papandayan, Karangetang, Lokon and Krakatau - are now on high alert. - Volcano Discovery.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: 2011 is the Second Wettest Year in Chicago History!

The city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs were downright soggy this past year.

2011 officially passed 1983 as the second wettest year on record after more measurable rainfall collected at O'Hare airport Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

The 0.06 inches of rain that dripped and dropped at the airport on December 27 were enough to put it over the top at 49.41 inches. The year now stands behind 2008, during which 50.86 inches of precipitation fell.

But don't close the books on 2011 just yet.

Chicago needs only 1.45 inches of precipitation to set the all time soggy record and it may be in the cards.

The weather outlook for the rest of the week shows a slight chance of rain and snow, but mostly cloudy skies. - MSNBC.

EXTREME WEATHER: Heavy Snow, Thick Fog and Icy Conditions Flips Airplane in Kyrgyzstan - Seventy Frightened Passengers Survived!

To look at these remarkable images you'd find it hard to believe that anyone could survive such a devastating plane crash. But incredibly not a single one of the 70 passengers on board the aircraft lost their life.

The Kyrgyzstan Airlines Tu-134 aircraft skidded off the runway at the airport in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, today, and flipped on its side. At least 26 people were injured following the crash-landing, CNN reported. Speaking to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, an airport spokesman said: 'The landing was performed in thick fog. 'The plane skidded off the runway and turned to the left side. Its wing was smashed off. A loud explosion was heard.' The Russian-made Tupolev was travelling from the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. It is a twin-engined airliner which is still used across many central Asian countries. - Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, strong winds diverted flights and sparked airport delays in New York City.
The skies above New York City were clogged with planes waiting to land in winds gusting up to 50 mph Tuesday night, forcing long delays at two of the three major metropolitan airports and causing some flights to be diverted to other cities. National Weather Service meteorologist Adrienne Leptich said the delays occurred because the number of planes that can land each hour must be decreased in high winds, forcing some planes to circle the region or be diverted to other airports if fuel runs low. "The winds were a little bit stronger than we anticipated," she said. "We're getting into the season now where we have stronger storms. It's not completely out of the ordinary that this would happen." The Federal Aviation Administration reported at 10 p.m. ET that some arriving flights at Newark International Airport were delayed an average of 2 hours and 8 minutes while flights into LaGuardia Airport were delayed an average 1 hour and 34 minutes. Kennedy International Airport reported minor delays. By early Wednesday, all three airports were reporting average delays for arrivals and departures of less than 15 minutes. - MSNBC.

EXTREME WEATHER: Giant Waves Sweeps Across the Indian Ocean - Swamping the Kwale Village, Mkuranga in Kenya!

Two women are feared dead after being swept by strong waves on the Indian Ocean coast of Kwale village in Mkuranga district, Coast region yesterday.

Confirming the incident yesterday, Coast regional police commander Ernest Mangu said it occurred on Monday around 1am during the low tide and that the whereabouts of the two women was still unknown.

Narrating, the RPC said three women he identified, as Tatu Mohamed (35), Mwajuma Ame (40) and Mwajabu Mwinyimkuu (45) all residents of Kwale, were swept away while fishing.

“They set up their fishing gears on the site…they managed to catch some fishes, but when they were trying to move from the site, strong waves came, and swept two of them,” noted.

The third woman, identified as Tatu Mohamed, managed to swim towards the shore to her own rescue, informed the regional police chief, quoting reliable information he got from Kwale village executive officer Abdu Masoud.

He said police suspected that the women had been swept towards Kuruti, Botha or Koma – the other three beaches near Kwale.

Earlier reports had it that 25 had died after the boat they were traveling in from Mafia to Dar es Salaam capsized in the Ocean. However, Mangu refuted the reports. - IPP Media.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Santorini Volcano in Greece Seismic Unrest Continues!

The number of earthquakes beneath Santorini volcano remains at slightly elevated levels.
The activity is concentrated along the volcano-tectonic SW-NE alignment passing through the submarine volcano Kolumbo 8 km to the NE of the island and the center of the caldera where most volcanic vents in the past hundreds of thousands years of activity at Santorini were located. - Volcano Discovery.

According to Wikipedia:

Santorini is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km2 (28 sq mi) and a 2001 census population of 13,670. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km2 (34.990 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Thira regional unit.

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements, on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by 7 km (7.5 by 4.3 mi), is surrounded by 300 m (980 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The water in the center of the lagoon is nearly 400 m (1,300 ft) deep, thus making it a safe harbor for all kinds of shipping. The island's harbors all lie in the lagoon, and there are no ports on the perimeter of the island; the capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine and have a notably small presence of hornblende. It is the most active volcanic center in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12 to 25 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of feet deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. This theory is not, however, supported by chronology, in that the collapse of the Minoan civilization did not occur at the date of the tsunami, but some 90 years later.  Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis.