Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Earth Changes - ENASA Satellite Finds Earth's Clouds are Getting Lower; Researcher Indicates That This is a Hint "That Something Quite Important Might be Going on"!

Earth's clouds got a little lower -- about one percent on average -- during the first decade of this century, finds a new NASA-funded university study based on NASA satellite data. The results have potential implications for future global climate.

Data from NASA's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft show that global average cloud height
declined by about 1 percent over the decade from 2000 to 2010, or around 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters).
Scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand analyzed the first 10 years of global cloud-top height measurements (from March 2000 to February 2010) from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft. The study, published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, revealed an overall trend of decreasing cloud height. Global average cloud height declined by around one percent over the decade, or by around 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters). Most of the reduction was due to fewer clouds occurring at very high altitudes. Lead researcher Roger Davies said that while the record is too short to be definitive, it provides a hint that something quite important might be going on. Longer-term monitoring will be required to determine the significance of the observation for global temperatures.

A consistent reduction in cloud height would allow Earth to cool to space more efficiently, reducing the surface temperature of the planet and potentially slowing the effects of global warming. This may represent a "negative feedback" mechanism - a change caused by global warming that works to counteract it. "We don't know exactly what causes the cloud heights to lower," says Davies. "But it must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude." NASA's Terra spacecraft is scheduled to continue gathering data through the remainder of this decade. Scientists will continue to monitor the MISR data closely to see if this trend continues.

MISR, built and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is one of five instruments on NASA's Terra spacecraft, launched in December 1999. The instrument uses nine cameras at different angles to produce a stereo image of clouds around the globe, allowing measurement of their altitude and movement. Another NASA mission that studies clouds is NASA's CloudSat, also built by JPL and launched in 2006. CloudSat is the first satellite that uses an advanced radar to "slice" through clouds to see their vertical structure, providing a completely new observational capability from space. CloudSat's primary goal is to furnish data needed to evaluate and improve the way clouds are represented in global models, thereby contributing to better predictions of clouds and thus to their poorly understood role in climate change and the cloud-climate feedback. - PHYSORG.

EXTREME WEATHER: England Faces Worst Drought in a Generation - The Worst Since 1976!

Much of southern and eastern England is officially in a state of drought, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced.

The announcement came as Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman hosted a drought summit. In parts of south-east England groundwater levels are lower than in the infamously dry summer of 1976. Water companies are ready to bring in hosepipe bans from early spring, where necessary, Defra says. The firms have agreed measures to reduce the environmental impact of dry conditions, including reducing water losses and improving leak detection, as well as encouraging customers to save water. The Environment Agency will also take steps such as monitoring the impact of the dry weather on fisheries and wildlife. Ms Spelman said after the summit: "Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall.

"There will be opportunities with relatively small levels of investment to make inter-connections between different organisations to try and get the water from the north and the west where it's relatively wet down to the south and the east." The lack of rain, over the course of two dry winters, appeared to be continuing last month. South-east England received just two-thirds of the long-term average rainfall for January. Rainfall has been below average for 18 of the last 23 months in the Thames Valley region and London. Flows in the River Lee, which passes through Hertfordshire and parts of north-east London, are at less than a quarter of the long-term average for the waterway. And the Kennet, in Wiltshire, has seen flows of just 31% of its average levels. The river has dried up completely to the west of Marlborough. Meanwhile, the Darent, in Kent, is at extremely low levels, as is the Wye in Surrey. - BBC.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Thousands of the Portuguese Man-O-War Jellyfish Wash Ashore on South Padre Island?!

Catherine Penz and her husband Pat Rakowski are Winter Texans from Canada. They love visiting South Padre Island because they enjoy the fishing but they spotted something strange while reeling in their catch near Beach Access Six on Monday.

"I dont know why, but everywhere on the beach here there were quite a few of them, Rakowski said. “I was kind of surprised." Rakowski said he and his wife have been coming to South Padre Island for five years and have never seen so many. Viewer Louis Balderas sent a picture of what happened to the Action 4 News Facebook Fan Page. It shows what seem to be hundreds of Portuguese Man-O-War jellyfish - on the shores of the north end of South Padre Island. The photo has been circulating among Rio Grande Valley residents on Facebook and Twitter.

Tony Reisinger is a coastal resources agent with the State of Texas. He told Action 4 News that the concentration of man-o-war jellyfish was in an isolated area several miles north of Beach Access Six. Reisinger said that  the jellyfish likely washed ashore after preying on fish in the area. "They go where there's food and they depend on the wind and we usually have what we call blooms in different areas and right now there's a lot of fish that are spawning,” he said.

Reisinger warns people not to touch the man-o-war because even out of the water, certain parts of the jellyfish are poisonous and could sting. "If you touch the tentacles, they will stick little tiny harpoons into your body with a toxin on them so that it will affect you,” he said. Anyone who gets stung is asked to remove any part still stuck to their skin and try soothing the sting with meat tenderizer. Reisinger said although it may not have been a typical site, there's nothing unusual about the amount of jellyfish that washed up to shore. He said there's nothing to do at this point, but let mother nature take its course. - Valley Central.
WATCH: Jellyfish die-off on South Padre Island.

ALTERNATIVE HISTORY: Surreal Ancient Technology in Peru - Evidence of a Highly Advanced Pre-Inca Civilization!

In the following video presentations, author Brien Foerster takes the viewer on a fascinating tour of strange structures in Peru that seems to suggest evidence of an ancient and highly advanced technological society before the advent of the Incas. The visuals presented gives us, not only an insight into the past and history of these ancient civilizations, but a poignant reminder of what has been deliberately hidden from us for centuries.

WATCH: Brien Foerster showcases the amazing structures in Peru.

Watch all of Foerster's videos HERE.  Visit his website HERE.

EXTREME WEATHER: Above-Normal Number of Tornadoes Expected in 2012!

Following a near-record number of tornadoes in 2011, an active severe weather season with above-normal tornadoes is expected in 2012. There were 1,709 tornadoes in 2011, falling short of the record 1,817 tornadoes set in 2004. In comparison, the average number of tornadoes over the past decade is around 1,300.

Last year ranks as the fourth most deadly tornado year ever recorded in the United States. In 2011, there was a very strong La Niña, a phenomenon where the sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific around the equator are below normal. As a result, there was a very strong jet stream, which is a key ingredient for severe weather. Often in a La Niña year, the "Tornado Alley" shifts to the east, spanning the Gulf states, including Mississippi and Alabama, and the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. During the extremely active severe weather season of 2011, many tornadoes touched down east of the typical "Tornado Alley," which stretches from Texas to Kansas. Twisters frequently hit Texas to Kansas during the spring as warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico clashes with drier air coming out of the Rockies.

Above-normal tornadoes are anticipated again this year. Warmer-than-normal Gulf of Mexico water is a key component to the active severe weather season anticipated in 2012. There will be a sufficient supply of warm and humid air to fuel supercell thunderstorms, the type of storms that spawn strong tornadoes, because of the warm Gulf water. The weak to moderate La Niña during this winter is much weaker compared to last winter, and it is weakening even more now. There is evidence that warming is occurring in the equatorial Pacific, so the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is expected to turn neutral by April. In other words, the temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific will be near normal by spring. "Areas that seemed to miss out on frequent severe weather last year may see an uptick this year," Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said regarding the difference in pattern. The mid-Mississippi and upper Ohio valleys are among the zones that may get hit more frequently by severe weather this year. Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan are included in this zone.

It is highly unlikely that the exact same areas of the Deep South that were struck by tragic tornado outbreaks in 2011 will be hit as hard again this year. However, there could be some damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Gulf states this season. The Deep South, including the Gulf States and eastern Texas, is expected to get hit by severe weather early in the season, mainly in March. By early April, the severe weather threat will retreat to the north, reaching the lower Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys, according to Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team. "If I were in the South or Ohio Valley, I'd be extra prepared this year," Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions cautioned. The Deep South, including the Gulf States and eastern Texas, is expected to get hit by severe weather early in the season, mainly in March. By early April, the severe weather threat will retreat to the north, reaching the lower Ohio and mid-Mississippi valleys, according to Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team. "If I were in the South or Ohio Valley, I'd be extra prepared this year," Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions cautioned. - Accu Weather.
WATCH: How many tornadoes will there be in 2012?


EXTREME WEATHER: Winter Storm Warning for Big Island Summits in Hawaii!

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has issued a winter storm warning for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa until 6 a.m. Wednesday (Feb 22) for elevations above 8,000 feet. A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected or is occuring. Strong winds are also possible.

Sleet, snow and freezing rain will make for hazardous conditions for drivers and hikers. An additional three to four inches of snowfall is expected this afternoon and evening. As of 12:24 p.m. Tuesday (Feb 21) Mauna Kea Summit Access Road is closed at the Visitor Information Station due to ice and snow on roadways. Mauna Kea Rangers report that it is doubtful the road will be open today due to poor weather. A wind advisory is also in effect for Big Island summits over 8,000 feet until 6 a.m. Wednesday (Feb 22). Currently winds are 20-30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. Winds this strong can bring down tree branches and make driving difficult, especially for high profile vehicles. - Hawaii 247.

WATCH: Snow on the summit of Mauna Loa. Time-lapse movie of Mauna Loa. This panorama is a composite of a five images from a temporary research camera positioned on the north rim of Mokuʻāweoweo, the summit caldera of Mauna Loa volcano. If you look carefully around early morning or late evening, you may see a few thermal areas emitting steam. Images courtesy of USGS.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL MEMES: Scientists Find an Alien World "Like No Planet We Know Of" - Hubble Team Detects a Watery Super-Earth Enshrouded by Thick Atmosphere!

Scientists have discovered a new type of alien planet — a steamy waterworld that is larger than Earth but smaller than Uranus. The standard-bearer for this new class of exoplanet is called GJ 1214b, which astronomers first discovered in December 2009. New observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope suggest that GJ 1214b is a watery world enshrouded by a thick, steamy atmosphere. "GJ 1214b is like no planet we know of," study lead author Zachory Berta of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement. "A huge fraction of its mass is made up of water."

GJ1214b, shown in this artist’s view, is a super-Earth orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth.
New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show that it is a waterworld enshrouded by a thick,
steamy atmosphere. GJ 1214b represents a new type of planet, like nothing seen in the solar system or
any other planetary system currently known.

Adding to the diversity
To date, astronomers have discovered more than 700 planets beyond our solar system, with about 2,300 more "candidates" awaiting confirmation by follow-up observations. These alien planets are a diverse bunch. Astronomers have found one planet as light and airy as Styrofoam, for example, and another as dense as iron. They've discovered several alien worlds that orbit two suns, like Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine in the "Star Wars" films. [The Strangest Alien Planets] But GJ 1214b, which is located 40 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), is something new altogether, researchers said. This so-called "super-Earth" is about 2.7 times Earth’s diameter and weighs nearly seven times as much as our home planet. It orbits a red-dwarf star at a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometres), giving it an estimated surface temperature of 446 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius) — too hot to host life as we know it. Scientists first reported in 2010 that GJ 1214b's atmosphere is likely composed primarily of water, but their findings were not definitive. Berta and his team used Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 to help dispel the doubts. Hubble watched as GJ 1214b crossed in front of its host star, and the scientists were able to determine the composition of the planet's atmosphere based on how it filtered the starlight. "We’re using Hubble to measure the infrared color of sunset on this world," Berta said. "The Hubble measurements really tip the balance in favor of a steamy atmosphere." Berta and his colleagues report their results online in the Astrophysical Journal.

WATCH: Dave Brody at tells MSNBC of the awesome new planet Goldilocks, in the Gliese 581 Star System.

A watery world
Since astronomers know GJ 1214b's mass and size, they're able to calculate its density, which turns out to be just 2 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc). Earth's density is 5.5 g/cc, while that of water is 1 g/cc.
GJ 1214b thus appears to have much more water than Earth does, and much less rock. The alien planet's interior structure is likely quite different from that of our world. "The high temperatures and high pressures would form exotic materials like 'hot ice' or 'superfluid water,' substances that are completely alien to our everyday experience," Berta said.
GJ 1214b probably formed farther out from its star, where water ice was plentiful, and then migrated in to its current location long ago. In the process, it would have experienced more Earth-like temperatures, but how long this benign phase lasted is unknown, researchers said. Because GJ 1214b is so close to Earth, it's a prime candidate for study by future instruments. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is slated to launch in 2018, may be able to get an even better look at the planet's atmosphere, researchers said. - SPACE.

WATCH: Hubble discovers Waterworld.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Underwater Whirlpool - NASA Satellite Captures Enormous 90-Mile-Wide Storm Under the Sea Off the Coast of South Africa!

A NASA satellite has provided jaw-dropping pictures of a huge 'storm' brewing under the sea.

The swirling mass of water - which measures a whopping 93 miles wide - has been spotted off the coast of South Africa by the Terra satellite on December 26. But there's no need to alert international shipping, or worry about the poor fish that might find themselves in an endless washing cycle - the body of water poses no threat. Indeed, it is more likely to create life by sucking nutrients from the bed and bringing them to the surface. The sea storms - which are better known as eddies - form bizarre whirl shaped shapes deep beneath the ocean's surface.

This counter-clockwise eddy is thought to have peeled off from the Agulhas Current, which flows along the southeastern coast of Africa and around the tip of South Africa. Agulhas eddies - also called 'current rings' - tend to be among the largest in the world, transporting warm, salty water from the Indian Ocean to the South Atlantic. Agulhas eddies can remove juvenile fish from the continental shelf, reducing catch sizes if one passes through a fishing region. The bizarre phenomenon was spotted when the Terra satellite was conducting a routine natural-colour image of the Earth. - Daily Mail.

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Russia Warns That an Israeli Attack on Iran Will Bring Catastrophe!

Russia warned Israel not to attack Iran over its nuclear program, saying on Wednesday that military action would have catastrophic consequences. "Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

"Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences ... and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves," Gatilov said at a news conference. Gatilov's comments came as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Tehran's nuclear course would not change regardless of international sanctions, assassinations or other pressures. "With God's help, and without paying attention to propaganda, Iran's nuclear course should continue firmly and seriously ... Pressures, sanctions and assassinations will bear no fruit. No obstacles can stop Iran's nuclear work." Khamenei was speaking on state television shortly after the UN nuclear watchdog declared a collapse in talks with Iran aimed at getting it to address suspicions that it is covertly seeking nuclear weapons capability.
The Islamic Republic denies this, saying its program to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel is for peaceful energy only. But Iran's refusal to curb sensitive atomic activities with both civilian and military purposes, and its track record of secrecy and restricting UN inspections, have drawn increasingly harsh UN and separate US and European sanctions, now targeting its economically vital oil exports. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in bombings over the past two years, attacks that Tehran has blamed on arch-adversary Israel. The Jewish state has not commented. The United States and Israel have not ruled out resorting to military action against Iran if they conclude that diplomacy and sanctions will not stop it from developing a nuclear warhead. - The Jerusalem Post.
WATCH: Strike Apart - Israel and US clash over Iran attack.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CONTAGION: The Euro Zone Crisis - Fitch Credit Agency Downgrades Greece's Ratings, Says Default is "Highly Likely"!

Greece scrambled Wednesday to adopt a batch of emergency laws that will further cut incomes and government spending, a day after securing a new bailout and debt relief deal designed to stave off bankruptcy.

The new austerity measures demanded by creditors in return for the rescue loans follow two years of deepening misery, with the Greek economy in freefall, unemployment at a record high and the state of the public finances in worse shape than previously forecast. Angry unions have called two separate protest rallies outside Parliament in the afternoon. On Tuesday, the 17-country eurozone approved Greece's second financial lifeline in less than two years, worth euro130 billion ($172 billion), and a euro107 billion ($141 billion) debt writedown on banks and other private holders of Greek bonds. In response to the writedown agreement, Fitch downgraded Greece's credit rating further into junk status, from 'CCC' to 'C.' The agency said a Greek default "is highly likely in the near term" and added that it would briefly consider placing Greece in "restrictive default" once the bond swap is completed – a warning it first issued in June. Athens argues that the default rating would be a simple technicality, as the twin deals struck on Tuesday will allow the country to repay bonds maturing next month – thus avoiding a disorderly default – and remain in the common European currency it joined in 2001.

Even then, the price of salvation for ordinary Greeks is only just starting to sink in. Legislation tabled in Parliament late Tuesday outlines a total euro3.2 billion ($4.2 billion) in extra budget cuts this year agreed by the Cabinet last week. The measures include nearly euro400 million ($530 million) in cuts to already depleted pensions. Health and education spending will be reduced by more than euro170 million ($225 million), subsidies to the state health care system will be cut by euro500 million ($661 million), and health care spending on medicine will fall by euro570 million ($754 million). And some euro400 million ($529 million) will be lopped off defense spending – three quarters of which will come from purchases. The draft law also drastically revises the 2012 budget, changing the deficit target to 6.7 percent of gross domestic product from an initial forecast of 5.4 percent. Even worse, plans for a modest primary surplus – which excludes debt servicing costs – have been scrapped and Greece will instead post a primary deficit of nearly euro500 million ($661 million), or 0.2 percent of GDP. Parliament is expected to vote on the cuts and budgetary revisions early next week.

On Wednesday, debate will start at committee level on a separate draft law on adopting the private debt writedown. Parliament's plenary session will vote on the draft law Thursday. Both pieces of legislation are expected to be approved, as the interim governing coalition headed by technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos controls 193 of the House's 300 seats. But earlier this month the two coalition partners – the majority Socialists and the conservatives – were forced to expel a total 43 deputies who rebelled against new austerity cuts. It remains uncertain whether even the combination of new bailout and writedown will be enough to save Greece, whose economy is in a fifth year of recession and could continue to shrink as the cutbacks cripple consumer spending and investment. Werner Hoyer, the new president of the European Investment Bank, told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper that "Greece now needs, alongside the unavoidable austerity program, a Marshall plan too " – a reference to the U.S. aid plan that rescued an impoverished Europe after World War II. Hoyer suggested that Greeks working in the European Commission and other EU bodies should be motivated to return home and help out, to avoid the impression that Greece "is under tutelage and directed by others." But he said the structural reforms Greece needed could take up to two decades. Angry Greek unions have called a protest rally against the new belt-tightening for 4:00 p.m. outside Parliament. Communist supporters will hold a separate march an hour later, while other protesters are planning a motorcycle rally. Previous protests have turned violent, and rioters burnt and looted dozens of shops in central Athens during a rally on Feb. 12. Papademos, who is unelected, has a sole mandate to see through the twin bailout and debt relief deal, and is expected to step down by early April ahead of national elections. Polls show that conservative New Democracy would likely come first, but without a large enough majority to govern alone. - Huffington Post.
WATCH: Inside Story - Bailing out Greece, again?!

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Monumental Solar System Changes - Mars Rock Indicate Relatively Recent Quakes, Volcanism on the Red Planet; Tremors of Magnitude Greater Than 7!

Images of a martian landscape offer evidence that the Red Planet’s surface not only can shake like the surface of Earth, but has done so relatively recently. If marsquakes do indeed take place, said the scientists who analyzed the high-resolution images, our nearest planetary neighbor may still have active volcanism, which could help create conditions for liquid water.

Scientists have found evidence of relatively recent quakes on the surface of
Mars by studying boulders that fell off cliffs, leaving tracks behind.
With High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imagery, the research team  examined boulders along a fault system known as Cerberus Fossae, which cuts across a very young (few million years old) lava surface on Mars. By analyzing boulders that toppled from a martian cliff, some of which left trails in the coarse-grained soils, and comparing the patterns of dislodged rocks to such patterns caused by quakes on Earth, the scientists determined the rocks fell because of seismic activity. The martian patterns were not consistent with how boulders would scatter if they were deposited as ice melted, another means by which rocks are dispersed on Mars. Gerald Roberts, an earthquake geologist with Birkbeck, an institution of the University of London, who led the study, said that the of Mars included boulders that ranged from two to 20 meters (6.5 to 65 feet) in diameter, which had fallen in avalanches from cliffs. The size and number of boulders decreased over a radius of 100 kilometers (62 miles) centered at a point along the Cerberus Fossae faults.

“This is consistent with the hypothesis that boulders had been mobilized by ground-shaking, and that the severity of the ground-shaking decreased away from the epicenters of marsquakes,” Roberts said.
The study, by Roberts and his colleagues, will be published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, a publication of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The team compared the pattern of boulder falls, and faulting of the martian surface, with those seen after a 2009 earthquake near L’Aquila, in central Italy. In that event, boulder falls occurred up to approximately 50 km (31 miles) from the epicenter. Because the area of displaced boulders in the marsscape stretched across an area approximately 200 km124-miles) long, the quakes were likely to have had a magnitude greater than 7, the researchers estimated.

By looking at the tracks that the falling boulders had left on the dust-covered martian surface, the team determined that the marsquakes were relatively recent – and certainly within the last few percent of the planet’s history – because martian winds had not yet erased the boulder tracks. Trails on Mars can quickly disappear – for instance, tracks left by NASA robotic rovers are erased within a few years by martian winds, whereas other, sheltered tracks stick around longer. It is possible, the scientists concluded, that large-magnitude quake activity is still occurring on Mars. The existence of marsquakes could be significant in the ongoing search for life on Mars, the researchers stated. If the faults along the Cerberus Fossae region are active, and the quakes are driven by movements of magma related to the nearby volcano, Elysium Mons, the energy provided in the form of heat from the volcanic activity under the surface of could be able to melt ice. The resulting liquid water, they noted, could provide habitats friendly to life.

ICE AGE NOW: Russian Scientist Predicts "New Ice Age to Begin in 2014" - Start of a New Glacial Period?!

A Russian scientist is predicting that a new ice age will begin soon.

Russian scientists have the doomsday version. In your opinion, in two years on Earth occur a sharp drop in temperature. The new ice age will last at least two centuries and will freeze the world. The head of space research sector of the Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Honorary Doctor Habibullo Abdusamatov states that the planet has already begun to cool. Studying the frequency of changing solar activity, can make conclusions about the future global warming and falling temperatures. "According to the data we have, the temperature begins to drop from 2014. The peak temperature will drop to 2055, over a period of about eleven years," says the scientist.

"The drop in temperature will lead to the planting areas will be considerably reduced. In addition to problems with food, will be much more difficult the extraction of oil and gas in the north. Arise problems with the heat supply the population. "The drop in temperature will touch many, almost everyone, but in general the northern countries," says Habibullo Abdusamatov. The temperature predicted continued decline may represent the fifth little ice age in the last nine centuries. Weather events such were found in XIII, XV, XVII and XIX century. "As often happens, the first is said that this is absurd, is not science, that this can not be, after something is said and done, and eventually always thought so. Recognition of theory of the temperature drop runs all around the world, "says the scientist. - RUVR [Translated].

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Birth of a New Super-Volcano - Unprecedented Geological Anomalies, Inflation, Uplift and Bulging Detected at the Uturuncu Volcano in Bolivia?!

The broad hill at the base of Uturuncu is unassuming. Its gentle arc fades naturally into the Andean landscape. But the 43-mile-long stretch of rocky soil is now an object of international scientific fascination. Satellite measurements show that the hill has been rising more than half an inch a year for almost 20 years, suggesting that the volcano, which last erupted more than 300,000 years ago, is steadily inflating.
“The size and longevity of the uplift is unprecedented,” said Shanaka de Silva, a geologist at Oregon State University who has been studying Uturuncu since 2006.

Small holes, known as fumaroles, release extremely hot sulfuric gases into the air near the Uturuncu volcano
in Bolivia. Measurements show the volcano in the Andes has been growing more than half an inch a year
or 20 years — an unprecedented rate, researchers say.
Taken together with other new research, he continued, the inflation means “we could be witnessing the development of a new supervolcano.” Such a volcano could produce an eruption of ash, rock and pumice 1,000 times the strength of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state, the worst volcanic event in modern American history, and 10,000 times that of the Icelandic eruptions in 2010 that paralyzed global air traffic for weeks. Luckily, while the planet has 30 to 40 supervolcanoes — 10 of them potentially active — supereruptions occur only every 100,000 years or so. The last one, that of the Toba Volcano in Sumatra about 74,000 years ago, is thought to have spewed enough ash to cause a 6- to 10-year “volcanic winter,” a 1,000-year global cooling period and a loss of life so vast that it may have changed the course of human evolution.
“We see no evidence for an imminent supervolcanic eruption anywhere on Earth,” said Jacob Lowenstern, a research geologist and geochemist with the United States Geological Survey, who specializes in one of the best-known of the world’s supervolcanoes — Yellowstone, in Wyoming. About Uturuncu, he said that while “its rise over 20 years is certainly significant,” there wasn’t enough evidence to call it a supervolcano in the making. Other researchers agree. But they say Uturuncu’s steady inflation makes it fertile ground for study. “It’s like a tumor growing within the earth,” de Silva said, “and we have to understand whether it is benign or malignant.” In 2009, with funds from the United States’ National Science Foundation, an international team of seismologists, geologists, geophysicists and other experts and students formed a project called Plutons to study Uturuncu and Lazufre, a volcano on the border of Chile and Argentina. (The project’s name is an acronym for the volcanoes and the researchers’ institutions.)

Uturuncu was already considered potentially active. Eighteen thousand feet up its slopes (it peaks at 19,711 feet above sea level), small holes in the ground called fumaroles leak scorching sulfur gases. These may date 10,000 years and are evidence of a heat source close to the surface. Also telling is the white soil near the summit (from a distance it looks deceptively like snow) that results from thermal changes below. Martyn Unsworth, a geophysicist at the University of Alberta in Canada and a member of the Plutons team, studied data from 20 days of fieldwork in November using magnetotellurics, a remote radio-wave-sensing method similar to CT scanning in the human body. The findings suggested a zone of low electrical resistance far below the surface “that is likely a magma chamber,” he said. University of Alaska geophysicists note a region where sound waves travel more slowly than normal, a characteristic of partly molten rock. And Noah Finnegan, a geomorphologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has concluded that the magma chamber is growing by one cubic meter (35 cubic feet) per second, though its total volume is not known.
Uturuncu is nestled in one of the planet’s largest supervolcanic regions, which has six supervolcanoes across Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Though it was long thought to be separate from those supervolcanoes, new Plutons findings reveal that magma from Uturuncu’s last eruption is more similar to the supervolcanoes’ than to that of the region’s more common volcanoes. For Mayel Sunagua, a Bolivian government geologist and member of the Plutons team, this is an exciting time — “the first broad international effort dedicated to investigating our volcanoes.” Bolivia has 198 recognized volcanoes; 18 are considered potentially active. The country’s last volcanic eruption was 10,000 years ago. The flurry of activity here does lead some to wonder: Why focus on a potential hazard perhaps tens of thousands of years away, when other volcanic dangers are much more imminent? “I ask myself that same question,” Unsworth acknowledged. But he added that the research would broaden scientists’ knowledge about volcanoes in general. De Silva agrees. With its odd bulge and its other unusual signals, Uturuncu has an appealing air of mystery, he said — and besides, “it’s kind of fun.” - Bend Bulletin.

PLANETARY TREMORS: New Madrid Seismic Fault Zone Awakens - Missouri Earthquake Shakes Nine States; Felt as Far as North Carolina!

Just days after the 200th anniversary of a series of massive earthquakes in southeast Missouri, residents woke up Tuesday to a rumbling reminder that they live in one of the continent's most active seismic areas. The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of a magnitude-4.0 earthquake at 3:58 a.m. was located near the town of East Prairie, Mo., roughly midway between St. Louis and Memphis. Several people in five states — Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee — felt the quake, along with scattered people in four others, as far away as North Carolina and Georgia, according to responses to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Only minor damage was reported, such as items falling from shelves, broken windows, minor cracks in walls and sidewalks, said Amy Vaughan, a geophysicist for the Geological Survey office in Golden, Colo. No injuries were reported. East Prairie City Administrator Lonnie Thurmond said the quake lasted perhaps seven seconds. "It seemed like everybody I've talked to, it woke 'em up," Thurmond said. The earthquakes on Dec. 16, 1811, and Jan. 23 and Feb. 7, 1812, were among the strongest ever in the U.S., their magnitudes estimated to have ranged from 7.7 to 8.1. Shockwaves spread as far as New York and the force of the temblors reportedly rang church bells in Boston. The Mississippi River reversed flow for a time. Those quakes, like the one on Tuesday, occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a 150-mile stretch between Memphis and St. Louis that crosses parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.
Most of the earthquakes that frequently hit the zone are so small that virtually no one feels them. Even a magnitude-4.0 quake is rare, occurring in the New Madrid zone on average about once a year, said Bob Herrmann, a Saint Louis University geophysicist. "It's been a while since we had a good shaker in the New Madrid region," Herrmann said. "It is a reminder that earthquakes occur and we cannot ignore them." Expert opinion varies on the likelihood of another big Midwestern quake along the New Madrid fault, though many communities in the region have taken precautions by retrofitting bridges and other structures. Earthquake drills are also becoming more common. On Feb. 7, nearly 150,000 Missourians and hundreds of schools in the state participated in a drill known as the "Great Central U.S. ShakeOut." Experts suggest that the likelihood of a magnitude 6 or greater quake occurring along the New Madrid fault within a half century is somewhere between 28% and 46%. "Unfortunately, we cannot predict earthquakes," Herrmann said. "We can look at historical trends and say one should exercise some caution and prudence." - USA Today.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Very Large Fireball Seen Over Saskatchewan, Calgary, Alberta in Canada - Astronomer Asks For Eye-Witnesses Reports!

Social media was abuzz about what appeared to be a meteor shooting over the city Tuesday night, with sightings also reported from Edmonton and parts of Saskatchewan.

One reader told the Herald she saw the bright green fireball northeast of Cochrane shortly before 9 p.m. followed by a sparking tail of yellow and orange.

Alan Dyer, an astronomer with Telus Spark, encouraged people to file reports online at

“If we get at least a few dozen reports, we can begin to triangulate the location,” he said, adding witnesses should indicate where they were when they spotted the meteor.

He said most meteors burn up entirely before making it to earth. - Calgary Herald.
WATCH: Fireball over Canada.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - "Terminator Vision" Being Created in Your Future Contact Lenses!

"We made a lens that displays a single pixel that can be turned on and off wirelessly. An integrated circuit stores the energy, and a light-emitting diode shoots light toward the eye, but the optics are tricky. You can’t focus on something that’s that close. To correct this, we put a series of tiny lenses between the LED and the eye—imagine holding your finger too close to your eye so it’s blurry; you could bring it into focus by putting a magnifying glass between your eye and your finger.

So far, our display has only one pixel. But someday you could use the lenses to consolidate all the displays you interact with on a daily basis—your clock, computer, television and phone—into one personal display in your eye. In the distant future, your contact lenses could augment your reality. If you were in a bare hallway, the computer in your contact could put paintings on the wall.

The light-emitting part of the contact lens is opaque, but these little dark spots shouldn’t obscure vision. The control circuitry and the radio harvest energy from a transmitter at the edge of the lens and communicate with the world. They don’t block the view either. We don’t have permission to test the lenses on humans yet, but animals have worn it, and the lens was safe and functional." --Babak Parviz, electrical engineer at the University of Washington, as told to Flora Lichtman - POPSCI.

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Monumental Solar System Changes - NASA's LRO Reveals Recent Geological Activity on the Moon; the Crust is Being Stretched and Pulled Apart at Several Locations?!

New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft show the moon's crust is being stretched, forming minute valleys in a few small areas on the lunar surface. Scientists propose this geologic activity occurred less than 50 million years ago, which is considered recent compared to the moon's age of more than 4.5 billion years.

Graben are troughs formed when the lunar crust was stretched and pulled apart.
This stretching causes the near-surface materials to break along two parallel
normal faults, the terrain in between the twin faults drops down forming a valley.
A team of researchers analyzing high-resolution images obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) show small, narrow trenches typically much longer than they are wide. This indicates the lunar crust is being pulled apart at these locations. These linear valleys, known as graben, form when the moon's crust stretches, breaks and drops down along two bounding faults. A handful of these graben systems have been found across the lunar surface. "We think the moon is in a general state of global contraction because of cooling of a still hot interior," said Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and lead author of a paper on this research appearing in the March issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. "The graben tell us forces acting to shrink the moon were overcome in places by forces acting to pull it apart. This means the contractional forces shrinking the moon cannot be large, or the small graben might never form."

The weak contraction suggests that the moon, unlike the terrestrial planets, did not completely melt in the very early stages of its evolution. Rather, observations support an alternative view that only the moon's exterior initially melted forming an ocean of molten rock. In August 2010, the team used LROC images to identify physical signs of contraction on the lunar surface, in the form of lobe-shaped cliffs known as lobate scarps. The scarps are evidence the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today. The team saw these scarps widely distributed across the moon and concluded it was shrinking as the interior slowly cooled. Based on the size of the scarps, it is estimated that the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by approximately 300 feet. The graben were an unexpected discovery and the images provide contradictory evidence that the regions of the lunar crust are also being pulled apart. "This pulling apart tells us the moon is still active," said Richard Vondrak, LRO Project Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "LRO gives us a detailed look at that process." - PHYSORG.

ICE AGE NOW: Melting Ice Wrecks Boats on the River Danube!

Ice floes up to one metre (three feet) thick smashed into hundreds of boats on the River Danube near Belgrade as a thaw set in, sinking a floating restaurant, officials and witnesses said Monday.

Barges also broke adrift under the pressure of the ice as it melted and broke up following a rise in temperature at the end of a two-week cold snap that killed hundreds of people across Europe. People try to salvage their boats among big chunks of ice on the Danube River in Zemun near Belgrade on February 20, 2012. Hundreds of small boats were damaged or sunk, while almost 90 percent of rafts were moved up to 20 metres (yards) downstream," Zoran Matic of the Belgrade water company told AFP.

Three ice-breakers had been brought in to reduce the pressure on rafts "in order to save what could be saved," Matic said, adding that at least one raft-restaurant sank. "The damage is enormous. This is a disaster," a desperate boat owner told a local radio. During the cold snap, which brought temperatures well below freezing for days on end, the 2,860-kilometre (1,780-mile) Danube, which flows through 10 countries and is vital for transport, power, irrigation, industry and fishing, was nearly wholly blocked by ice, from Austria to its mouth on the Black Sea. - Terra Daily.
Temperatures in Serbia rose from minus -4F (-20C) last week to 50F (10C) on Sunday, melting packed ice more than 11 inches thick, after weeks of freezing weather that has affected most of Europe. Boats owners at the Kapetanija marina in Belgrade's picturesque Zemun neighbourhood tried to winch boats and pontoons from river, boat owner Mihailo Svilaric told the Reuters news agency. "We are trying to salvage whatever we can, only a handful of boats remained intact from about a hundred we had in the marina," Svilaric said. Debris was scattered among the breaking ice for more than a mile along the river and several floating restaurants, barges and boats were torn from their moorings and beached on riverbank as fast moving ice snapped anchor lines. "The ice was so fast that we could do nothing to prevent this," said boat owner Dragan Jovanovic. "The damage will be hundreds of thousands of euros for sure."

Serbian authorities had used icebreakers on the Danube, Sava and Tisa rivers, but the ice built up too quickly and port authorities halted traffic on all waterways on Feb. 8. At least 20 people have died from cold in Serbia in the last few weeks. Economists say damage from the cold snap may cost Serbia, already suffering the effects of the euro zone debt crisis, as much as 500 million euros (£416 million). On Monday the government was considering lifting a two-week state of emergency introduced as an energy-saving measure and to allow rescuers to open roads and bring supplies to as many as 70,000 people stranded by snow and ice in rural areas. In southern Germany, ice is still blocking the Danube to inland waterways shipping along with a series of other smaller canals and rivers.
- Telegraph.

ECOLOGICAL DISASTER: The World's Fish Supply is Running Out - Accelerated Collapse and Depletion Will Result in NO SEAFOOD by 2048!

In November 2006, Washington Post writer Juliet Eilperin headlined, " World's Fish Supply Running Out, Researchers Warn," saying: International ecologists and economists believe "the world will run out of seafood by 2048" if current fishing rates continue.

A journal Science study "conclude(d) that overfishing, pollution and other environmental factors are wiping out important species" globally. They're also impeding world oceans' ability to produce seafood, filter nutrients, and resist disease.  Marine biologist Boris Worm warned: "We really see the end of the line now. It's within our lifetime. Our children will see a world without seafood if we don't change things." Researchers studied fish populations, catch records, and ocean ecosystems for four years. By 2003, 29% of all species collapsed. It means they're at least "90% below their historic maximum catch levels."  In recent years, collapse rates accelerated. In 1980, 13.5% of 1,736 fish species collapsed. Today, 7,784 species are harvested. According to Worm, "It's like hitting the gas pedal and holding it down at a constant level. The rate accelerates over time." Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco said the study shows fish stocks are in trouble. "I think people don't get it," she said. "If there is a problem with the oceans, how come the case in my grocery store is so full? There is a disconnect."   National Environmental Trust vice president Gerald Leape said "This should be a wake-up call to our leaders, both internationally and domestically, that they need to protect our fish stocks. Otherwise they will go away."  Researchers conducted dozens of controlled experiments. They also examined UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) worldwide catch data since 1950 and ecosystem records. They include sediment cores and archival data going back a 1,000 years.  They said losing so many species is eroding marine ecosystem viability and their ability to resist environmental stresses.

"In 12 marine ecosystems surveyed, they found that a decline in biodiversity of 50 percent or more cut the number of viable fisheries by 33 percent, reduced nursery habitats by 69 percent and cut the ocean's capacity to filter and detoxify contaminants by 63 percent."  For example, Chesapeake Bay oyster fishing collapsed. The whole ecosystem was affecte. In 1980, oyster supplies filtered bay water in three days. In 1988, remaining supplies took over a year.  Marine Ecology Professor Hunter Lenihan said mass dredging oysters over the past century transformed the ecosystem. As supplies declined, water got more cloudy, and sea grass beds dependent on light died off. Phytoplankton replaced them. It doesn't support the same range of species. "When you remove the oysters through overfishing, that's when you begin to see a rapid decline in water quality," said Lenihan. "What it's done is change the entire production of the bay."  Worm believes it's not too late to change things, provided measures are taken soon. So far, however, overfishing continues. On September 7, 2011, Field and Stream writer Chad Love headlined, "Scientists: Industrial-Scale Deep-Sea Fishing Depleting Oceans," saying:  Marine Policy scientific journal paper says deep sea industrial fishing should be banned. Productive areas were targeted sequentially. As a result, fish species were depleted and deep-sea corals destroyed. Then new areas are targeted. As a result, the ocean's now "a watery desert." Popular species were overfished, "only to crash in a matter of years." Marine Conservation Institute president Elliot Norse said deep-sea fishing flourished "out of desperation," not realizing stocks there take much longer to recover.

Vessels use Global Positioning Systems and trawlers. They scrape large metal plates across sea bottom areas. From 1960 - 2004, catches increased seven-fold, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  Mean depth fishing more than tripled since the 1950s from 492 feet to 1,706 in 2004, according to Unversity of the Azores Department of Oceanography and Fisheries' Telmo Morato. Fishing subsidies sustain the practice. Annually, high-seas trawlers get about $162 million. It's about one-fourth of catch value at taxpayer expense. On September 7, 2011, Science Daily headlined, "Deep Sea Fish in Deep Trouble: Scientists Find Nearly All Deep-Sea Fisheries Unsustainable," saying: Leading marine scientists recommend ending most deep sea commercial fishing. With rare exceptions, "deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable....When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life (there) can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them." As coastal fisheries got overexploited, commercial fleets moved further offshore into deep waters. The effects on local species are devastating. Globally, deep-sea fishes are collapsing, including sharks and orange roughy. Fishing outside 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones prevent effective government control. - SteveLendmanBlog.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Katla Stirs Into Life - Series of Tremors and Quakes Rock Iceland's Volcano!

Iceland's huge volcano Katla is stirring into life after tell-tale signs of the potential for an eruption were monitored by observers.

A harmonic tremor has been recorded for two days and small earthquakes have been confirmed at the volcano by the Icelandic Met Office this morning. It is highly unusual for an eruption in Iceland to occur in the middle of winter but the early indications show Katla is building up power. Experts are unclear as to whether it is water or magma that is causing this week's sudden increase in activity and the seismic recordings are currently lower than when the volcano first showed signs of a minor eruption last July.

In September, Katla again stirred into life with a harmonic tremor and earthquakes in the volcano's caldera - its magma chamber. Katla, which has not experienced a significant eruption for 93 years, is the second largest volcano on Iceland and the consequences of a major eruption will be felt across Europe. In 2010, the country's president Ólafur Grímsson warned "the time for Katla to erupt is coming close, Iceland has prepared and it is high time for European governments and airline authorities all over Europe and the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption".

It is believed Katla, named after a vindictive troll of Viking folklore, has the potential to be much stronger and disruptive than the last two Icelandic volcanic eruptions that caused chaos across Europe's air space, grounding flights and closing airports. Katla is much larger than its neighbouring Eyjafjallajokull – which erupted in 2010 - with a magma chamber about 10 times the size. Volcanologists warn that if Katla does erupt, the combination of the magma and the large ice sheet covering the volcano could lead to explosive activity and an ash plume for weeks, if not months.
- Click Green.

WATCH: Katla threatens to erupt.

SOLAR WATCH: Celestial Convergence - Partial Solar Eclipse and Spellbinding Planetary Alignments!

A NASA satellite orbiting the Earth has captured rare footage of the moon eclipsing the sun.

SOLAR ECLIPSE: On Feb. 21st, the new Moon passed in front of the sun, off-center, producing a partial solar eclipse. The only place to see it was from space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) sends this picture from geosynchronous orbit approximately 36,000 km above Earth's surface. Using a bank of 16 megapixel cameras, SDO observed the event at multiple extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. Scan the edge of the Moon in this 171 Å image. The little bumps and irregularities you see are lunar mountains backlit by solar plasma. Also, Steele Hill, SDO's Media Specialist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, has prepared a movie of the event. Beyond the novelty of observing an eclipse from space, these images have practical value to the SDO science team. The sharp edge of the lunar limb helps researchers measure the in-orbit characteristics of the telescope--e.g., how light diffracts around the telescope's optics and filter support grids. Once these are calibrated, it is possible to correct SDO data for instrumental effects and sharpen the images even more than before. During the eclipse, the edge of the Moon briefly covered sunspot AR1422, a source of strong ultraviolet emissions. SDO's EVE sensor, which measures the sun's extreme UV output, saw a sharp drop at several wavelengths when the sunspot was behind the Moon. This should allow scientists to calibrate the spectrum of energy emitted by the sunspot's magnetic canopy--a rare opportunity, indeed. - Space Weather.

Space Weather is also indicating that there is a slight (10%) chance of M-class solar flares today from sunspot AR1422. A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the south-central part of the sun, should reach Earth on Feb. 25-26.

Meanwhile, the brightest planets in the night sky are aligning for a must-see show in late February and March 2012.

Go out at sunset and look west.  Venus and Jupiter pop out of the twilight even before the sky fades completely black.  The two brilliant planets surrounded by evening blue is a beautiful sight.  If you go out at the same time tomorrow, the view improves, because Venus and Jupiter are converging.  In mid-February they are about 20 degrees apart.  By the end of the month, the angle narrows to only 10 degrees—so close that you can hide them together behind your outstretched palm.  Their combined beauty grows each night as the distance between them shrinks. A special night to look is Saturday, Feb. 25th, when the crescent Moon moves in to form a slender heavenly triangle with Venus, Jupiter and the Moon as vertices (sky map).  One night later, on Sunday, Feb. 26th, it happens again (sky map). This arrangement will be visible all around the world, from city and countryside alike.  The Moon, Venus and Jupiter are the brightest objects in the night sky; together they can shine through urban lights, fog, and even some clouds.After hopping from Venus to Jupiter in late February, the Moon exits stage left, but the show is far from over. In March, Venus and Jupiter continue their relentless convergence until, on March 12th and 13th, the duo lie only three degrees apart—a spectacular double beacon in the sunset sky (sky map).  Now you’ll be able to hide them together behind a pair of outstretched fingertips. - NASA.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - Radiation Detected 643km Off Japan in the Pacific Ocean; With Readings of up to 1,000 Times More Than Prior Levels!

RADIOACTIVE contamination from the Fukushima power plant disaster has been detected as far as almost 643km off Japan in the Pacific Ocean, with water showing readings of up to 1000 times more than prior levels.

But those results for the substance cesium-137 are far below the levels that are generally considered harmful, either to marine animals or people who eat seafood, said Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He spoke on Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the annual Ocean Sciences Meeting, attended by more than 4000 researchers this week. The results are for water samples taken in June, about three months after the power plant disaster, Mr Buesseler said. In addition to thousands of water samples, researchers also sampled fish and plankton and found cesium-137 levels well below the legal health limit. "We're not over the hump" yet in terms of radioactive contamination of the ocean because of continued leakage from the plant, Mr Buesseler said in an interview before Tuesday's talk. He was chief scientist for the cruise that collected the data.

The ship sampled water from about 32km to about 643km off the coast east of the Fukushima plant. Concentrations of cesium-137 throughout that range were 10 to 1000 times normal, but they were about one-tenth the levels generally considered harmful, Mr Buesseler said. Cesium-137 wasn't the only radioactive substance released from the plant, but it's of particular concern because of its long persistence in the environment. Its half-life is 30 years. The highest readings last June were not always from locations closest to the Fukushima plant, Mr Buesseler said. That's because swirling ocean currents formed concentrations of the material, he said.

Most of the cesium-137 detected during the voyage probably entered the ocean from water discharges, rather than atmospheric fallout, he added. Hartmut Nies of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Mr Buesseler's findings were not surprising, given the vastness of the ocean and its ability to absorb and dilute materials. "This is what we predicted," Mr Nies said after Buesseler presented his research. Mr Nies said the water's cesium-137 concentration has been so diluted that just 32km offshore, "if it was not seawater, you could drink it without any problems". "This is good news," he said, adding that scientists expect levels to continue to decrease over time. "We still don't have a full picture," Mr Nies said, "but we can expect the situation will not become worse." - Herald Sun.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Deep Freeze Kills Rare Pelicans in Usually Warm Dagestan, Russia!

Rare Dalmatian pelicans, a threatened species, are dying of cold and hunger amid freezing weather in Russia's usually warm Dagestan, where the birds are currently wintering.

Temperatures of minus 20-30 degrees Celsius have swept Russia's southern latitudes, coating the Caspian Sea in a thick layer of sea ice. Some 500 Dalmatian pelicans out of the total population in Russia of about 1,400 were forced to take refuge at a shipyard on the Caspian Sea near Dagestan's capital Makhachkala. According to information from the Dagestansky Nature Preserve, about 16 pelicans have died from hunger and cold on the Caspian shores of Dagestan.

An adult Dalmatian pelican requires at least 2.5 kg of fish daily, but the giant birds are unable to feed themselves from the ice-covered sea. Staffers from the local environment ministry and the Dagestansky preserve along with volunteers from various public organizations are bringing fish to nourish the birds, although the authorities of the shipyard at first refused them entry onto the plant's territory.

Yelena Denisenko, a spokeswoman for the local human rights center Memorial, voiced fears that without nourishment brought by people, their current amount of some 500 would shrink by half by the end of winter. The Dalmatian Pelican or Pelecanus crispus is the largest of the pelicans averaging 160 - 180 cm (63-70 inches) in length, 11 - 15 kg (24-33 lbs) in weight with just over 3 m (10 ft) in wingspan. The bird with curly nape feathers is protected by the Red Book of Russia. - Ria Novosti.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - Radioactive or Not, Tsunami Debris Could Seriously Impact West Coasts of America and Canada!

In the age of constant crisis coverage, it is easy to forget that disasters don't just end once the cameras move on. On the contrary, they morph into new situations, sometimes improved, but often more complex and severe. In the case of Japan's earthquake-tsunami-nuclear catastrophe, part of that tripartite disaster floated out to sea as debris where it has been drifting for months to destinations unknown.

According to Japan's Ministry of Environment's Waste Management Division, the 9.0 magnitude temblor and tsunami generated some 25 million tons of debris in total, literally sucking the lives of thousands of people and their belongings out to sea. Since last March, the remains of destroyed buildings, vehicles, broken furniture, fishing boats, nets and miscellaneous flotsam has been adrift in the north Pacific vastness. But how much was pulled into the ocean and where it will end up, no one can really say for sure. Scientists and experts in Canada and the United States and, in particular, the Hawaiian islands, recognizing the potential for a fourth leg to Japan's triple disaster, are trying to forecast a possible debris path as they prepare for what could be headed their way. One scientist closely monitoring the situation is Dr. Nikolai Maximenko, a senior researcher at the University of Hawaii's International Pacific Research Center in Honolulu. Speaking at a conference on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in December, Maximenko said that one-third to one-quarter of the total debris may have been pulled out to sea by the tsunami. But what first appeared as dense, yellow floating masses of broken lumber was quickly overshadowed by a more immediate human and environmental disaster unfolding on land.

Maximenko and other scientists in Hawaii are using diagnostic computer models in an attempt to accurately predict the likely path of debris. In June 2011, sailors traveling between Yokohama and Alaska sighted suspected tsunami-generated detritus. They described navigating two days across a field of "unusual debris," including they said looked like "file cabinets, lumber, freezer chests and large pieces of Styrofoam."... Carey Morishige, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program office in Honolulu, notes that prediction models don't take degradation into account and cautions that it is impossible to know how much debris has sunk and how much remains afloat. She says NOAA does not expect Pacific coastlines to be deluged with large items like boats, cars or refrigerators, but is nonetheless planning to respond to a potential increase in unusual debris. Early forecast models have predicted tsunami debris wouldn't reach the US West Coast until 2013 but, as NPR and others have reported, people from Alaska to Oregon are already claiming to have found objects they suspect are from the Japanese disaster. - Truth Out.

WATCH: 20 Million Tons Of Japanese Tsunami Debris Heading Towards USA Faster Than Expected.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Palometa Abnormality - Bathers Attacked by Carnivorous Fish in Brazil!

At least 20 people suffered slight injuries on their toes and fingers when they were attacked by carnivorous fish as they were bathing in a river in southern Brazil, authorities reported Monday.

The attack occurred Sunday afternoon at two different spots on the Toropi river, which runs through the central part of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The bathers were attacked by a school of "palometas", a species of carnivorous fish native to South America's Southern Cone.

After recommending to the approximately 1,000 bathers gathered at the Passo do Juliao and Passo do Angico swimming spots that they get out of the water, authorities allowed people to swim again Monday but they strengthened the presence of lifeguards to be alert for any new attack.

The victims, most of whom suffered small bites on their fingers and toes, although some were bitten on the ears, were attended to by paramedics. Authorities attributed the attack to the low level of the river water due to a drought and the scarcity of food for the fish.

Despite the fact that the palometa is a carnivorous fish of the piranha family, it does not normally attack humans
- Two Circles.