Sunday, February 5, 2012

FIRE IN THE SKY: Killer Asteroid Threat - Reinforces Need For Earth Shield 2012?!

Significant asteroid impacts have occurred frequently in the past. These have ranged from the regional devastation caused 100 years ago by the Tunguska event in Siberia: an object of only a few tens of metres in diameter, which nevertheless had the power of 1,000 atomic bombs of the sort dropped on Hiroshima, to 65 million years ago, when another, vastly bigger, asteroid impacted close to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and is most probably responsible for the extinction of half of all animal species, including the dinosaurs.

The probability of another impact of an object in this size range in the next 10,000 years is close to 100 percent, but we do not know when. Of the thousands of already identified asteroids crossing the trajectory of Earth, none is expected to collide with our planet in the next 100 years. However, we only see a fraction of the total expected NEOs in our vicinity...

As the writer Arthur C. Clarke so pertinently remarked: “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space programme.” The European Union has decided to invest in the protection of the Earth against impact by Near Earth Objects (NEOs), such as asteroids or comets. This European programme is called NEOShield. NEOShield will be the world’s largest international programme of this type, with participating institutions and companies from across Europe, the United States and Russia. Asteroid deflection space missions should already be possible using current technologies but to date these have not been adapted for such a purpose. The preparation of a demonstrator mission to protect the Earth against NEO imapact is the goal of the NEOShield programme.

Defining a concept.

The work of NEOShield will be coordinated from the German Space Agency DLR’s Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin. Under the programme, Astrium will lead the technical work of an industrial consortium in charge of defining the basic concepts of protecting of the Earth against NEOs. One of the most promising concepts for such a mission is the so-called “kinetic impactor”: a spacecraft slams into the NEO at very high speed, giving it a nudge and causing it to change its orbit very slightly so it deviates from its original collision course. This concept was studied by Astrium a few years ago for the European Space Agency (ESA) and will now be updated and further developed.

The most critical technology challenges for the kinetic impactor are guidance, navigation and control to ensure successful NEO impact. It involves relative speeds in excess of 10km/s and a target precision of only a few metres. For this reason, two Astrium teams will work in parallel with different concepts calling on their own specific expertise and experience. One team from Astrium Satellites has extensive experience of interplanetary missions, including navigation and control over large distances.  The other from Astrium Space Transportation, has successfully demonstrated precise space navigation and rendezvous with launchers and the ATV, the European space cargo vehicle.

An international team.

Astrium will also oversee the technical studies of the international partners, who will concentrate on two other asteroid deviation concepts. The first is based on the gravitational pull between an object in space and a spacecraft. Known as a gravity tractor, the gravitational pull of a spacecraft in the vicinity of an object such as an asteroid over a long period of time will cause the object to change its orbit. The gravity tractor concept will be investigated by the Carl Sagan Institute in Palo Alto, California, which also carries out similar work for NASA. The other concept is deflection (and not destruction) by an explosion close to the asteroid’s surface. This ‘blast deflection’ concept will be investigated by TsNIIMash, a Russian institution also working for the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

For Astrium, this multi-site project will involve experts in Friedrichshafen (Germany), Stevenage (United Kingdom), Toulouse (France), Les Mureaux (France) and Bremen (Germany). Astrium, Europe’s leading space company will support half of the research and development effort. - Astrium.
WATCH: Earth Shield 2012.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Cold Conditions in Japan - Record Lows Registered in 38 Locations; 32.6 Degrees Below Zero in Esashi, Hokkaido!

Japan experienced severe cold weather Friday and morning temperatures dropped to record lows at 38 locations nationwide, the Meteorological Agency said.

The Ryuo waterfall (below) is mostly frozen Thursday in Hino, Tottori Prefecture.
From Tohoku to Kyushu, 16 prefectures recorded their lowest temperatures ever, including the town of Kusu in Oita Prefecture, where the mercury fell to minus 14.7 degrees, and Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, where the temperature plunged to minus 8.4. Temperatures were below zero early Friday at more than 90 percent of 927 observation points across Japan, the agency said. The lowest figure was minus 32.6 in Esashi, Hokkaido.

The agency said the cold air mass that caused blizzards along the Sea of Japan coast has now passed over the archipelago. But sunshine in many places caused a phenomenon known as radiative cooling, in which heat is taken from land surfaces and leads to freezing temperatures, it said.

The cold should ease early next week but is likely to return around Wednesday, it forecast. "There is a possibility of heavy snow again" next week and people should continue to be cautious, agency forecaster Koji Ishihara said. According to the agency, the cold weather is expected to continue through April because of the La Nina phenomenon, in which the temperature of the sea surface off Peru drops. "Based on our forecast, February's temperatures nationwide will be lower" than in normal years, Ishihara said. "We project low temperatures will continue through March and April, excluding Hokkaido and the Tohoku region." - Japan Times.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hit Near South Pacific Island! UPDATE: Magnitude 6.0 Shallow Earthquake Rattles Vanuatu - Seismic Swarm Enveloping the Region!

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, several days after a shallow 7.1 magnitude tremor hit the country.

Today's quake hit on Sunday, February 05, 2012 at 00:15:40 UTC (local time) and was located at 18.935°S, 168.923°E with a depth of 163.4 km (101.5 miles).

The epicentre was located at 77 km (47 miles) northwest of Isangel, Tanna, Vanuatu; 147 km (91 miles) southeast of Port-Vila, Efate, Vanuatu; 309 km (192 miles) northeast of Tadine, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia; and 1882 km (1169 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

According to NOAA's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, the magnitude is such that a tsunami is not expected.

UPDATE: Magnitude 6.0 Shallow Earthquake Rattles Vanuatu Region!

Just hours away from the earlier 6.1 magnitude earthquake, a 6.0 tremor has rocked the region, as a seismic swarm continues to envelope the region.

This quake hit on Sunday, February 05, 2012 at 16:40:38 UTC, located at 17.950°S, 167.170°E with a depth of 4.3 km (2.7 miles). USGS noted that this was poorly constrained. 

The epicentre was 122 km (76 miles) west (259°) from Port-Vila, Vanuatu; 269 km (167 miles) south (179°) from Santo (Luganville), Vanuatu; 282 km (176 miles) northwest (308°) from Isangel, Vanuatu; and 1797 km (1117 miles) northeast (57°) from Brisbane, Australia.

GREAT DELUGE: Natural Disaster Zones in Australia - Rising Floodwater Sparks Mass Evacuations in the Northern Regions; Thousands Stranded; Military Aircraft Dispatched; Water Level Forecast to Reach Above 14 METRES; the Worst on Record!

Mass evacuations were under way in northern Australia Sunday as record flooding that has cut off thousands of people threatened to engulf areas devastated by wild weather last year.

Stranded vehicles are seen submerged in floodwaters on a street of the
town of Moree, about 610 km north of Sydney, February 2012.
Authorities urged residents of St George, a town of 3,800 people in the state of Queensland, to leave their homes as rising floodwaters threatened to isolate the area, with time running out to shore up a levee. "Whilst the extent of potential flooding in St George is still not certain, the volume of water approaching the town in the next 24 to 48 hours is significant, and the advice to evacuate is undertaken in the interest of public safety," said state Premier Anna Bligh. "Those who have vehicles are asked to leave as soon as possible and go to family and friends in other towns not affected by flooding." Buses were being arranged to an emergency refuge in nearby Dalby for those without other options, and Bligh warned that forcible evacuations were possible within 24 hours. "A decision on this issue is expected later this afternoon," she said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard dispatched a Hercules C130 military transport plane to airlift patients from the town's hospital to major medical facilities on the coast, and the local nursing home was also being emptied. Eight defence helicopters are already assisting search, rescue and resupply operations in the flood zone, winching people to safety and dropping food, bedding, medical supplies and other essentials such as generators. St George has seen major flooding twice in the past two years, with the swollen Balonne River hitting a record 13.4 metres in March 2010. The town was swamped again during last year's unprecedented flooding, which claimed 35 lives across the state, wrecked vast tracts of farmland and inundated tens of thousands of homes.

Deputy Queensland police commissioner Ian Stewart said the situation in the region had "somewhat deteriorated" overnight with "very large spikes" in water levels south of Roma, where 200 homes flooded earlier this week. "We are working on our contingencies to manage the evacuation of areas south of Roma and in particular St George," Stewart said. "There are very large volumes of water in those systems getting to record levels." Stewart said there was still time for residents to flee but forced evacuations were being "very seriously" considered to ensure resident safety.

The Bureau of Meteorology said St George was expected to reach the 2010 flood level by Monday morning and "continue rising, possibly above 14 metres on Tuesday and Wednesday." Residents scrambled to fortify levees still standing from last year's floods, with some locals saying they were prepared for a peak of 14.5 metres or worse. "If it does reach the peak that they're talking about, if it goes across into the irrigation area, it's going to knock out thousands of hectares of cotton," local farmer Alex Benn told Sky News. "We're a bit concerned so we're topping all the levees up." Flood defences held overnight in nearby Charleville, where some 600 people were holed up in an evacuation centre waiting for the Warrego River to subside. - France 24.

Military aircraft dispatched in Australia floods.

Authorities were using military helicopters and a C-130 cargo plane Sunday to evacuate thousands of residents stranded by rising floodwaters in the eastern Australian state of Queensland, the government said.

Areas in Moree cut off by floods.
Heavy rains in recent weeks have swollen rivers beyond their banks, threatening a number of communities in Queensland and New South Wales. Authorities were using the plane and helicopters to evacuate patients from a hospital in particularly hard-hit Queensland town of St. George, where officials were warning about 4,000 residents to get out of the path of what officials say will be a record-breaking flood. "This is a very serious situation and I urge people to cooperate,'' Queensland Premier Anna Bligh told CNN affiliate Nine Network. The Balonne River is expected to crest Monday at 15 meters (49.2 feet), swamping the town of St. George. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said authorities were coordinating calls for assistance. ""Emergency Management Australia has liaison officers in flood-affected regions to ensure that requests for any further assistance can be actioned immediately," Gillard said in a statement.

Food and medical supplies have been flown to isolated communities elsewhere in Queensland, authorities said. Rescue workers on Sunday recovered the body of a woman who died trying to drive her pickup through floodwaters, authorities said. Jane Sheahan was swept away Friday in the Queensland town of Roma, authorities said. Witnesses told CNN affiliate Nine Network that Sheahan managed to hand off her 7-year-old son, Darcy, to a would-be rescuer before she was swept away. In the neighboring province of New South Wales, thousands of people remained isolated despite reports of receding floodwaters in some areas. Emergency officials lifted a number of evacuations ordered evacuations early Sunday, though they warned residents not to walk, drive or swim in the receding waters.

Flood waters have started to recede around North Moree after five days of major flooding, the New South Wales Emergency Services said, but many of the town's streets remain closed. Aerial assessments show some 300 homes and businesses have been inundated -- making it the worst flooding in nearly 60 years, CNN affiliate Seven Network reported. Major flooding has also affected communities along the Namoi River, where the town of Wee Waa has been cut off, the New South Wales Emergency Services said. Major flooding is expected to continue there until the middle of this week. Other communities affected by the Namoi River include Boggoabri, Narrabri Bugilbone and Goangra, with flood waters closing roads and inundating some rural properties. - CNN.

Australia floods leave more than 16,000 stranded.

More than 16,500 people were stranded across New South Wales as flooding in the north of Australia's most populous state cut off towns and damaged cotton crops.

About 2,300 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, the State Emergency Service (SES) said in a statement on its website. In the neighbouring state of Queensland, engineers are assessing a levee in the town of Charleville that is at risk of breaking, Sky News reported. The deluge has caused an estimated A$50 million (S$66.8 million) of damage, New South Wales Minister for Emergency Management Robert McClelland said in a statement yesterday. Australia is the world's third-biggest shipper of cotton, and growers may lose 10 per cent of what was expected to be a record A$2.75-billion crop, the Australian newspaper reported.

In the New South Wales town of Moree, water levels are reported to be receding. But floods in Queensland state have risen to record levels in some areas, causing two regions to be declared disaster zones. Evacuations have been organised for some towns. Major flooding occurred in Gunnedah, where the Namoi River peaked at 8.03m early yesterday morning, said the SES. "These floods are going to go on for some time," said SES spokesman Andrew Edwards in an interview on Sky News television. Floodwaters from Queensland have not yet flowed through the river system into New South Wales, he said. - Today Online.
WATCH: Unprecedented floods in Australia.

HIGH STRANGENESS: The "Bermuda Triangle" in the United Kingdom - Mystery High-Frequency Radio Waves’ in Cambridge Cause Remote Car Locks to Malfunction!

Residents living near an Army barracks say their village green became a mysterious 'Bermuda Triangle' after their remote-control car door locks were by jammed by radio interference.

Motorists in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire, say the locks on their cars refused to work when they parked at the village green. Modern push-button ignitions were also scuppered by the unknown, eerie interference. Radio experts first noticed the problem when they met in the village pub last week and discovered they were all locked out of their vehicles. Some members of the group had to get lifts home and return with manual overrides. The following day the group, including professional scientists, returned with sophisticated monitoring equipment and found ‘ultra-high frequency bands’ was causing the block. Professional scientist Wojciech Piotrowski said the mystery frequency was likely to have been caused by the military, but admitted a faulty TV or fridge could also be to blame.

He said: ‘A strong electrical interference source was radiating radio signals in one of the ultra-high frequency bands at the southern end of the Green. ‘The primary user of this band is the military. However, by Sunday, the problem seemed to have gone. ‘It was really weird but being the radio hams that we are, we sort of knew it was an interference of some kind. ‘I'm sure it would be worrying for other people, suddenly being locked out of their cars could be scary I guess.’ The boffins managed to detect the unusual frequency with a spectrum analyser and direction-finding techniques.

Professor Piotrowski on Waterbeach Green monitoring ultra high frequency bands.
The amateur radio group believe wireless devices in nearby homes, such as thermostats, remote light dimmers, switches and energy meters will have been affected. An engineer was today investigating the interference after the group reported their findings to communications watchdog, Ofcom. A spokesperson for the Army, which operates Waterbeach Barracks, said: ‘We are not aware of anything happening at Waterbeach that would have caused anything remotely like that.’ This is the first time an English village has experienced mysterious electronics failures. Last month residents of Kingsclere in Hampshire, near the world-famous Watership Down Hill, were baffled when their heating, showers, doorbells and car remote locks refused to work.

The Waterbeach green is very close to the barracks.
They spent much of the festive season without heating and lights after the failure of household systems that rely on digital technology, specifically radio-frequency identification (RFID). Chris Smith, whose wife's birthday on Christmas Eve was ruined by the systems failure, spent more than £250 trying to fix the heating and shower but neither worked until late on December 27, according to the Newbury Weekly News. He has speculated that secret experiments at the nearby Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston military base - which builds and maintains the warheads for the country’s nuclear Trident missiles - are responsible. But a spokesman for Ofcom, which oversees radio communications, had a more mundane explanation. He said: 'Often these problems can be caused by a video sender - that transmits a television signal to other sets in the house. They are not the source of all the problems but in a lot of cases interference is tracked down to those devices.’ - Daily Mail.

In December, last year, a similar incident occurred in Arvada, Colorado; where forty garage doors within a half-mile area ceased to function. The military was also suspected in that case.

WATCH: Mysterious RF signal in Colorado.

Click HERE for the article from the London Telegraph on the earlier incident in Kingsclere on the Hampshire-Berkshire border.

POLE SHIFT: Precursors of Geological Upheavals and Planetary Tremors - Monumental Vizualization of the Japan Earthquakes 2011 Timeline!

The following video features a visualization map, that shows magnitude 3.0 and greater earthquakes in Japan during 2011, a time line of all tremors as they happened.

This is nothing like you will ever see anywhere on the planet. Japan has been and still is being pummeled by earthquake magnitude 5+ every day. Its a wonder it didn't slide off into the abyss. By watching this video we get an understanding of what exactly is happening there and what is to come. The magnitude of the seismic tension is off the scale and points to imminent and monumental geological upheavals.

WATCH: Japan Earthquakes 2011 Timeline.

EXTREME WEATHER: 'Historic' Snowstorm Batters Colorado - Cutting off Thousands of Homes Without Power and Causing Travel Chaos!

A powerful winter storm that covered parts of Colorado with up to 6 feet of snow crept east across the Plains Saturday, knocking out electricity to thousands in Nebraska as the blanket of heavy, wet precipitation downed power lines and made travel treacherous.

Nebraska got more than a foot of snow, and forecasters predicted the storm would drop several inches Saturday in central Iowa before gradually weakening as drier air mixes in and the front continues east. In York, Nebraska, Denise Smart spent her Saturday running the register at a mostly empty gas station near I-80 because few people were out in the snow. 'It was loads of fun getting here this morning at 6:30,' Smart said. While travel was difficult throughout the path of the storm, it caused the most problems in Colorado, where Interstate 70 was closed between Denver and the Kansas border until Saturday morning. More than 600 flights were canceled Friday in Denver.

All winter storm warnings expired in Colorado by Saturday afternoon, but warnings remained in place for eastern Nebraska and central and southwestern Iowa. The National Weather Service said snowfall across the Denver area ranged from 14 to 20 inches. Nearly 4 feet covered the Pinecliffe area, while there was 18 inches near Boulder and 14 inches in the capital city itself. Several towns in eastern Colorado reported more than a foot of snow. Ski resorts that have suffered below-normal snowfall this year welcomed the snow, but some benefited more than others. Echo Mountain near Denver received 55 inches of new snow, but the storm only dusted larger resorts in the central Colorado mountains. The downside of all that fresh snow is greater potential for avalanches. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported 2 feet or more of new snow could easily overrun the weak, existing snow pack.
A band of heavy snow stalled over central Nebraska Friday, dumping more than 20 inches in rural McPherson County. A wide swath of Nebraska generally along Interstate 80 received 8 to 12 inches of snow on Saturday. The highways in Nebraska and Iowa generally remained open during the storm except when accidents or downed power lines blocked the way, but officials urged people to stay off the roads if they didn't have to travel. 'This was an awful wet snow,' said National Weather Service forecaster Dave Fobert. Farmers in Nebraska and ranchers in drought-stressed eastern Colorado were grateful for the snow's moisture. But the high-moisture content also created problems because of the weight of the snow.

The heavy, wet snow caused tree limbs to break and knocked down power lines across Nebraska. More than 15,000 customers, mostly in southeast Nebraska, were without power around midday Saturday, but that number had shrunk below 10,000 by midafternoon. Utility officials said the fresh snow initially made it difficult to make the needed repairs. The weight of the snow also made homeowners work hard to clear their driveways. 'It's terribly heavy. It's even hard to move with a snow blower,' said Faye Reiss, who lives in Minden, Nebraska Reiss watched her snow-removal contractor struggle to move the snow Saturday. - Daily Mail.

WATCH: Snowstorm time lapse.

WATCH: Record-breaking blizzard.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Weird Weather in the United States - Drought, Warmer Weather Persist in Much of America as Researchers Project $109 BILLION in Damages by Tropical Cyclone by the End of the Century!

Weird weather kept vexing large swathes of the United States over the last week, with unseasonably warm and dry conditions melting northern snows and spreading drought through the southwest, even as heavy rains soaked parched pastures in Texas and Oklahoma, according to climate experts.

Unseasonably warm temperatures were noted in Kansas and across many areas of the central Plains, with Kansas recording temperatures well above 60 degrees Fahrenheit this week. For January, the state-wide average temperature in Kansas was 35.2 degrees Fahrenheit, 7.9 degrees warmer than the 1981-2010 average, or 6.2 degrees warmer than the 1895-2011 average, making January the 12th warmest January since 1895, according to state climatologist Mary Knapp.

Above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation over the past 60-90 days has made drought more intense in some areas of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas, according to the Drought Monitor weekly climatology report issued on Thursday by a consortium of U.S. climate experts. Locally heavy rains across part of northern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas helped ease drought conditions slightly.

But in the week through January 31, Texas statewide saw exceptional drought - the highest level - climb to 27.36 percent of the state from 25.27 percent, according to the Drought Monitor. Texas is trying to emerge from a year that saw records shattered for both high heat and lack of moisture. The one-year period between November 1, 2010, and October 31, 2011, was the driest in the state's history, and three-month period of June to August in Texas was the hottest ever reported by any state in U.S. history, according to state and federal climate experts.

Moderate drought was reported for 57.33 percent of California, up from 41.23 percent the previous week, while abnormally dry conditions spread to 88.91 percent of the state, up from 80.88 percent, the Drought Monitor said. Nevada had 81.16 percent of the state rated in moderate drought, up from 64.59 the prior week. And New Mexico saw exceptional and extreme drought levels rise to 24.74 percent of the state from 23.37 percent. - Reuters.

Meanwhile, tropical cyclones will cause $109 billion in damages by the end of the century, according to Yale and MIT researchers, because of economic growth as well as climate change.

Global tropical damage is expected to double to $56 billion per year, with climate change adding another $53 billion of damages - equal to 0.01 percent of GDP in 2100. The US and China will be hardest hit, incurring $25 billion and $15 billion of the additional damages from climate change - a full three-quarters of global damages. Small islands, especially in the Caribbean, will also be hit hard. "The biggest storms cause most of the damage. With the present climate, almost 93 percent of tropical cyclone damage is caused by only 10 percent of the storms," says Robert Mendelsohn, lead economist on the project.

"Warming will increase the frequency of these high-intensity storms at least in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Ocean basins, causing most of the increase in damage." The authors based their estimates on a future global population of nine billion and an annual increase of approximately three percent in gross world product until 2100. "More people making a lot more income will put more capital in harm's way," says Mendelsohn. Tropical cyclones today cause $26 billion in global damages, which is four percent of gross world product. North America and East Asia account for 88 percent of these damages, thanks to powerful storms and well-developed coastlines.

The future economic damage from tropical cyclones will be less than $1 billion a year in Europe and South America because there are few storms there, and the damage in Africa will be low because, Mendelsohn said, there is "relatively little in harm's way." Damages in Asia and Central America are expected to grow rapidly, in line with high economic growth. The Caribbean-Central America region will have the highest damage per unit of gross domestic product, at 37 percent. "When you calculate damages as a fraction of GDP, island nations are hit disproportionately hard," says Mendelsohn. - TG Daily.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake Strikes Near Iran’s Bushehr Nuke Plant!

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck near the Bushehr nuclear power plant in south Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website on Sunday.

The earthquake struck at 9:40 a.m. local time (06:10 GMT) on Sunday some 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Bushehr, with its epicenter registered at a depth of 10 km. There were no reports of any casualties or damage to the nuclear power plant caused by the quake.

The deadliest quake in Iran was in June 1990, which measured 7.7 points on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. The quake devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages, according to IRNA news agency.

Bushehr, Iran’s first nuclear power plant, is expected to go online on March 20, 2012. The plant’s construction began in 1975 by German companies. However, the firms stopped work after a U.S. embargo was imposed on high-technology supplies to Iran following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy siege in Tehran. Russia signed a contract with Iran in February 1998 to complete the plant. - RIA Novosti.