Monday, March 5, 2012

WORLD WAR III: Countdown to Armageddon - Senator McCain Calls for US-Led Air Strikes on Syria, Libya Part Deux!

A few minutes ago, the Arizona Senator and former Presidential Candidate John McCain called for a repeat performance of the kind of military airstrike that was done in Libya, to be now conducted on Syria. Last year, McCain demanded that President Obama bombed Tripoli and also for the enforcement of the no-fly zone:

Sen. John McCain called Moammar Khadafy "insane" today as he reaffirmed his call for a US-backed no-fly zone over Libya to prevent its embattled leader from using aircraft to slaughter its citizens. During an interview on ABC News' "This Week," McCain told Christiane Amanpour that the US cannot "risk allowing Gadhafi to massacre people from the air, both by helicopter and fixed-wing [aircraft]." McCain (R-Ariz.) furthered reiterated his support for imposing a no-fly zone, saying Ghadafi's air assets were "not overwhelming. Let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses," McCain continued. "That's the way you do a no-fly zone." The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who recently wrapped up a week-long trip to the region, pushed for Ghadafi to relinquish power, despite acknowledging that the Libyan leader has not signaled any intent to step down. "He's insane," McCain told Amanpour. "But perhaps the people around him would begin to depart the sinking ship." Last week, McCain said the US should send material and humanitarian support to the Libyan people and said that any mercenary acting against the Libyan people should know "they're going to find themselves in front of a war crimes tribunal," The Wall Street Journal reported. - New York Post.
McCain's call was made on March 6th, 2011 and less than two weeks later, airstrikes began on Libyan targets by French warplanes, attack tanks and US cruise missiles.
French warplanes have hit four tanks used by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on the outskirts of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, on a day when opposition fighters in the city reported coming under constant artillery and mortar fire. The US has also launched cruise missiles from ships based in the Mediterrannean Sea, and has taken the lead in military operations during the first phase, Kimberly Halkett, Al Jazeera''s correspondent in Washington DC reported. The action marks the first international military moves against the Libyan leader, and it comes a day after the UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over the North African country. - Al Jazeera.
Today, McCain echoed last year's call, requesting military intervention on the Assad regime.
Arizona Sen. John McCain is calling for the United States to lead an international effort to begin air strikes on Syria. McCain says that the Syrian government's brutal crackdown on its opponents has resulted in war crimes and that its neighbors in the region will intervene militarily, with or without the U.S. From the Senate floor on Monday, McCain said the United States has a moral and strategic obligation to force out President Bashar Assad and his loyalists. Last month, McCain urged international cooperation to help supply the anti-Assad rebels with weapons and other aid. At the time, he stopped short of endorsing direct U.S. military involvement. - Yahoo.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 4.0 Earthquake Shakes San Francisco Bay Area!

Two small, back-to-back earthquakes shook San Francisco Bay area residents awake Monday morning but appeared to leave no serious damage or injury.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a magnitude-2.9 quake struck at 5:33 a.m. about eight miles northeast of San Francisco in the city of El Cerrito. It was followed eight seconds later by a magnitude-4.0 temblor, said geophysicist Paul Caruso. The shaking was felt within a 60-mile radius, from Santa Rosa in the north to Santa Cruz in the south.

The California Highway Patrol, San Francisco police and El Cerrito police said they didn't receive any immediate reports of injury or damage. Bay Area commuter trains were briefly delayed after the quake to inspect the tracks. Seismologists said the quake appeared to occur on the Hayward Fault, a seismically active fault that runs along the eastern San Francisco Bay. A 2003 USGS report said the Hayward Fault had the highest chance — 27 percent — of producing a large earthquake of magnitude-6.7 or higher in the Bay Area within 30 years.

"We know that the Hayward Fault is the really important fault in the Bay Area," USGS seismologist David Schwartz told KGO-TV on Monday. "These earthquakes, these 4's, are just an indication of ongoing activity, ongoing stress on the fault. They do nothing to relieve the likelihood of something larger happening." Overall, there was a 62 percent probability that the Bay Area would see a large quake by 2032, according to the report. - CBS News.
WATCH: San Francisco Bay earthquake.

GREAT DELUGE: The Australian Weather Anomalies - 8,000 Evacuated in Wagga Wagga as Floods Continue In Australia; 2,000 Remain Isolated; Floods Forecast to Reach 1853 Levels!

A mass evacuation is now underway in Wagga Wagga after new forecasts predicted the Murrumbidgee River would overflow the town's levee system. With over 2,000 stranded from mostly rural properties, more than 8000 people have been ordered to evacuate flood-stricken areas across Australia's New South Wales, with evacuations continuing in the Riverina and central west regions of the state.

Wagga Wagga is southern NSW is expected to be inundated by the highest floodwaters since 1853. Eight-thousand residents are evacuating the central business district and Flowerdale areas as the Murrumbidgee River threatens to breach the Riverina city's levee banks. The Bureau of Meteorology expects the river to peak at 10.9 metres by about 9am (AEDT) on Tuesday, reaching a level last recorded in Wagga Wagga in July 1853. That level would only be marginally below the all-time record of 10.97 metres reached in October 1844, data from Wagga Wagga City Council shows. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell is due to visit the city on Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours after an urgent evacuation order was issued for Wagga Wagga's CBD and surrounding areas.

The latest evacuation in Wagga Wagga amounts to the biggest emergency evacuation since heavy rains began falling last week. Mr O'Farrell is expected to tour flood-damaged areas of Wagga Wagga with SES Commissioner Murray Kear on Tuesday morning, before fronting parliamentary question time in the afternoon, his spokesman told AAP. State Emergency Service region controller James McTavish has told residents to leave by dawn. "Don't delay. This is a very serious issue and if you live in any of the areas that are subject to an evacuation you must be clear ... by 6am," he told reporters on Monday night. - SMH.
WATCH: Flood misery in Australia.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions Off Namibia Coast, Africa - Mass Fish Die-Off!

Namibian coast was tinted with pale green water in late February 2012. The Namibian Coast has the most intense upwelling of fertile deep-ocean water in the world. Hydrogen sulfide gas is emitted periodically along Namibian coast due ocean currents that carry oxygen-poor water to the region, and chemical and biological processes can deplete what little oxygen is available. The local seafloor sediments are also rich with organic matter and when that matter decays in an oxygen poor environment, hydrogen-sulfide emissions can result. Residents of the region can detect the emissions thanks to pervasive rotten-egg smell. The aroma of rotten eggs is familiar to neighbors of industrial plants, but it can also arise naturally when organic stuff rots in the absence of oxygen, as at volcanic vents.

After processing  satellite images dating last few years, the scientific community stay shocked by the frequency, spatial extent, and how long these events could last. The fish kills, combined with the satellite data, have made the giant belches a pressing subject of scientific study. The shallow sea bottom along the coast is covered with a thick ooze of decomposing diatoms — free-floating plants nourished by the strong upwelling. Upwelling generally makes great fishing, and fishing is Namibia’s third-largest industry, and second-largest source of foreign exchange. As a result of almost continual phytoplankton production, there is massive diatom fallout. Dead diatoms fall through the water, where they are decayed by aerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria take over the decomposition task in the thick, muddy sediment, producing hydrogen sulfide. When the gas enters the water column during an eruption, it separates into hydrogen and sulfur, and the hydrogen atoms combine with oxygen to form water. That reaction removes oxygen from the water, creating deadly low-oxygen conditions. Although hydrogen sulfide is itself a respiratory toxin to fish and marine invertebrates, the reduced oxygen may have greater ecological consequences in the long run.

Hydrogen sulphide occurs frequently in the waters of the inner shelf coastal upwelling area off central Namibia. The area affected coincides with hatching grounds of commercially important pelagic fish, whose recruitment may be severely affected by recurring toxic sulphidic episodes. Both episodic biogenic methane gas-driven advective and molecular diffusive flux of hydrogen sulphide have been implicated as transport mechanisms from the underlying organic-matter-rich diatomaceous mud. The milky-green colors along Namibia’s coast indicate high concentrations of sulfur and low concentrations of oxygen. Episodes like this aren’t just colorful, they are actually toxic to local marine organisms. Fish die in the low-oxygen water; however, what is deadly for the fish can be good for birds that feed on their carcasses. Likewise, lobsters crawling onto shore to escape the toxic seawater can make meals for locals. And some species of foraminifera—tiny shelled marine organisms—actually thrive in the oxygen-poor sea floor sediments off the Namibian coast. - Earth Observatory.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Massive Part of Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina Collapses!

In Argentina, a major portion of the Perito Moreno glacier has collapsed, treating tourists to a spectacular ice rupture.

The collapse of the Perito Moreno glacier near the city of El Calafate in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, southern Argentina, attracts thousands of tourists. This year, the leading edge of the glacier collapsed March 4. The glacier, a massive tongue of ice in the Santa Cruz province that covers 250 square kilometres (97 square miles), advances every year into a lake, known as Lago Argentino.

As Perito Moreno moves forward, it cuts off a river feeding the lake. Water builds up pressure and slowly undermines the ice, forming a tunnel until ice sheets come tumbling down. The phenomenon repeats itself at irregular intervals, with the last major ice falls occurring in 2008, Reuters reports. - IBT.
WATCH: Argentina glacier collapses.

Check out some of the pictures of the glacier as tourists wait to see if it collapses HERE.

CELESTIAL CONVERGENCE: Fire in the Sky & Deep Impact - Out of the Blue, Deadly 197 Feet Asteroid 2012 DA14 B Could Collide With Earth in February, 2013?!

To avert a new apocalypse – this time set for February 2013 – scientists suggest confronting asteroid 2012 DA14 with either paint, or big guns. The tough part of either scheme is that time has long run out to build a spaceship for any operation. ­NASA confirms the 60-meter (197-feet) asteroid, spotted by Spanish stargazers in February, has a good chance of colliding with Earth in eleven months.

The rock's closest approach to the planet is scheduled for February 15, 2013, when the distance between the planet and space wanderer will be under 27,000 km (16,700 miles). This is lower than the geosynchronous orbit kept by the Google Maps satellite.

Fireworks and watercolors
With the asteroid zooming that low, it will be too late to do anything with it besides trying to predict its final destination and the consequences of impact. A spaceship is needed, experts agree. It could shoot the rock down or just crash into it, either breaking the asteroid into debris or throwing it off course. “We could paint it,” says NASA expert David Dunham. Paint would affect the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, changing its temperature and altering its spin. The asteroid would stalk off its current course, but this could also make the boulder even more dangerous when it comes back in 2056, Aleksandr Devaytkin, the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, told Izvestia.

Spaceship impossible?
Whatever the mission, building a spaceship to deal with 2012 DA14 will take two years – at least. The asteroid has proven a bitter discovery. It has been circling in orbit for three years already, crossing Earth’s path several times, says space analyst Sergey Naroenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences. It seems that spotting danger from outer space is still the area where mere chance reigns, while asteroid defense systems exist only in drafts. Still, prospects of meeting 2012 DA14 are not all doom and gloom. “The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most part of it will never reach the planet’s surface,” remarks Dunham. But if the entire asteroid is to crash into the planet, the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles) in Siberia. This is almost the size of Luxembourg. In today’s case, the destination of the asteroid is yet to be determined.
- RT.

WATCH: Orbital path of Asteroid 2012 DA14.

Here are several links that will provide more information on the asteroid:

JPL Orbital Diagram for DA14

Earth Impact Risk Summary.

Impact Risk.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Santiago del Estero in Argentina!

A major earthquake of 6.1 magnitude struck in Argentina, 69 miles (111 km) east southeast of Santiago del Estero on Monday, March 05, 2012 at 07:46:09 UTC. The quake was located at 28.227°S, 63.242°W.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the depth was at  550 km (341.8 miles).

The epicentre was at distance of 47 km (29 miles) northwest of Anatuya, Santiago del Estero, Argentina; 112 km (69 miles) southeast of Santiago del Estero, Argentina; 250 km (155 miles) southeast of San Miguel de Tucuman, Tuc., Argentina; and 828 km (514 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires, D.F., Argentina.

A quake of that magnitude nearer the earth’s surface could cause severe damage in a densely populated area. Santiago del Estero is in north central Argentina and has a population of about 245,000.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Tornado Outbreak in America is One of the Largest Ever Recorded in March - 94 Sightings of Tornadoes!

Meteorologists recorded 94 sightings of tornadoes for Friday, which, if confirmed, will mean it is one of the worst March days ever.

Debris litters the front of the Henryville Middle School which received extensive damage from storms
that rolled through the area.
Four states were hit by powerful tornadoes, which raked across a wide swath of the American Midwest and south on Friday, killing 28 people. The record for the largest March outbreak is 74 from March 11-13, 2006. Friday's estimate of 94 tornadoes will make it the worst ever - although it will take several days to confirm. The twisters splintered homes, damaged a prison and tossed around vehicles across the region, leaving at least 13 people dead in southern Indiana, another 12 in neighbouring Kentucky, two more in Ohio, and one in Alabama, officials said. "We are no match for Mother Nature at her worst," said Mr Daniels. Televised video taken from the air showed rescue workers in Indiana picking through one splintered house, residents sifting through the ruins of a home, and a school bus thrown into a building. Several warehouse structures had their roofs ripped off.

Storm warnings were issued throughout Friday, and schools and businesses were closed ahead of the storms after a series of tornadoes earlier in the week killed 13 people in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee. "We may not be done yet," said John Hart, a meteorologist at the Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. As night fell on Friday and temperatures cooled, the line of storms appeared to weaken somewhat as they travelled eastward, but the National Weather Service warned of another possible outbreak of tornadic weather in Saturday's early hours. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes were likely over an area stretching from Indiana and Ohio into Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. This week's violent storms raised fears that 2012 will be another bad year for tornadoes after 550 deaths in the United States were blamed on twisters last year, the deadliest year in nearly a century, according to the Weather Service. - Telegraph.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mount Etna Has its Third Major Eruption of 2012 - Spectacular Pyroclastic Flows!

Mount Etna just keeps on rolling. The Italian volcano had its third paroxysm of 2012  on March 4 and first since early February.

Explosions from the third paroxysm of Etna in 2012.

The plume from the March 4, 2012 eruption of Etna in Italy.
This new eruption was a short event that was preceded by 18 days worth of small strombolian activity. The event may have been only ~2 hours, but it produced some spectacular explosions, aiding in some part by interaction with snow and a pyroclastic flow was spotted as well. Osservatario Etneo reported that even a small lahar was produced during this paroxysm as a result of volcanic material mixing with snow. Air traffic around Sicily was not effected by this paroxysm. As usual, Eruptions readers were all over the event, capturing web cam captures and images (below) and Boris Behncke snapped a few shots of the action as usual. - WIRED.
WATCH: Mount Etna erupts spectacularly.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Swarm in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea - Increasing Seismicity in the Greece Region!

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake occurred in the Aegean Sea in Greece at  03:31:07.0 UTC according to EMSC.  The epicenter was located 16 km southwest of Kariaí,  93 km south of Kavála  and 119 km southeast from Thessaloníki (40.170°N, 24.045°E) at depth of 1km (0,62 miles). USGS recorded magnitude 5.4 at depth of 9.7 km (6.0 miles) while GEOFON registered 5.2 magnitude at depth of 10 km (6.2 miles).

Another earthquake magnitude 4.7 according to EMSC occur 16 minutes later in western Mediterranean sea, at 03:47:39  UTC with epicenter located 92 km west of Ajaccio, 159 km (98 miles) northwest of Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, 189 km (117 miles) southeast of Toulon, France and 192 km (119 miles) south of Nice, France (41.985°N, 7.659°E) with depth of 2km (1.2 miles).

The earth’s lithosphere beneath the eastern Mediterranean constitutes a broad boundary region between three major tectonic plates, the Eurasia, Africa, and Arabia plates. The motions of the major plates drive smaller plates, and it is the shapes and motions of these smaller plates that determine the locations and focal mechanisms of most earthquakes in the region. The seismotectonics of southern Greece are governed primarily by the motion of the Africa plates with respect to the relatively small Aegean Sea plate.

Most shallow earthquakes in central and northern Greece (depths less than 50 km) result from interaction between the Eurasia plate and the small Aegean Sea plate, which is moving southwest with respect to the Eurasia plate with a velocity of about 30 mm/year. The boundary between the Aegean plate and the Eurasia plate in central and northern Greece is diffuse. Seismicity is concentrated in east-trending and northeast-trending zones of deformation. The east-trending zones are most prominent in mainland Greece, are characterized by predominantly normal faulting, and have produced earthquakes with magnitudes of about 7. The northeast-trending belts are characterized by predominately strike-slip fault earthquakes. A northeast-trending zone of predominantly strike-slip earthquakes occurs off the west coasts of Cephalonia and Lefkada, western Greece, and other northeast-trending zones occur beneath the Aegean Sea east of the Greek mainland. In the twentieth century, an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 occurred on a northeast-trending strike-slip fault beneath the northern Aegean Sea. - USGS.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Mystery Fireball Lights up the Skies in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia!

A fiery meteor has lit up the sky over Victoria and Tasmania. The object, described as a glowing red fireball moving horizontally across the sky about 10.45pm (AEDT) on Sunday, was an unusual sight for this time of year, according to astronomer David Reneke.

Observers say the meteor was visible for about 20 seconds. Professor Reneke says he and his colleagues are at a loss to explain the timing and exact nature of the meteor. It may have been a slow-moving piece of rock that ignited or a piece of space junk, he said. "It's unprecedented, we don't seem to be in a meteor shower period at the moment," Professor Reneke said. "(Fireballs) tend to be very slow moving and they travel more horizontally than vertically... if you ever see one, they stick in your mind for the rest of your life."
Professor Reneke says he has received dozens of reported sightings from across Victoria and Tasmania. Social network site Twitter was abuzz today with reports of the meteor. The phenomenon comes after a fireball was reported in skies over the United Kingdom on Saturday, with police inundated with calls from concerned residents, The Guardian reports. It is impossible to be sure if the sighted meteors in the UK and Australia are the same, Professor Reneke says. - Herald Sun.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Entire Month's Worth of Tornadoes Strike in One Day!

In what may be the biggest daily tornado outbreak on record for March, an entire month's worth of twisters struck in a single day.  The nation's Storm Prediction Center received 81 reports of tornadoes yesterday (March 2), according to data filtered to remove duplicate reports of tornadoes. For the entire month of March, the 10-year average number of tornadoes is 87, according to the Weather Channel's severe weather expert Greg Forbes. The National Weather Service's storm survey teams have not yet confirmed the tornado reports, so these numbers could change. But if the numbers hold, the outbreak could go down as the largest single-day outbreak in March history.

This high resolution infrared imagery of the severe weather outbreak was taken around noon on March 2,
2012. Yellow, orange, and red areas indicate the coldest, highest cloud tops. By pairing precise color scales
with this high resolution imagery, meteorologists can weed out the extraneous cloud information and focus
on the most threatening features in this massive storm system. Major connective storm outbreaks can be
seen dotting the Midwest in this image.
But today, the focus is on recovery efforts, said Craig Fugate, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Figuring out where this outbreak ranks among other huge outbreaks will wait for another day.  At least 33 people died during yesterday's severe weather, according to news reports. In Kentucky, at least 17 people died. A suspected EF-4 twister, the second highest strength on the tornado damage scale, hit Indiana, where at least 14 died. The overnight outbreak came just after other storms had raked the Midwest earlier in the week. A deadly tornado outbreak on Leap Day roared through Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. The severestorms killed at least 12 people and included an EF-4 twister in Harrisburg, Ill., a rarity for February.Many areas hit earlier in the week, such as West Liberty, Ky., saw round two yesterday. Some other areas, including Huntsville, Ala., were also hit nearly 10 months ago during the April 27 outbreak, the largest tornado outbreak in recorded history (tornado recordkeeping began in 1950).

In 2006, the biggest March outbreak saw 105 tornadoes from March 9 to 13. March 12 of that outbreak saw 62 confirmed tornadoes. Yesterday's outbreak could top that total. While the main tornado season runs from spring to early summer, this year's early outbreaks show that tornadoes can form under a variety of conditions and strike during fall and winter, too. This year's mild winter and warm start to meteorological spring has upped the risk of dangerous storms. Also behind this week's twisters is a low-dipping jet stream, which is bringing cold air from Canada to mix with the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Where these two differing air masses meet is often an area of severe weather, hail, winds and even tornadoes. The outbreak is not finished. Already today one tornado has been reported in southwest Georgia as severe weather continues to move across south Georgia and north Florida, including parts of the panhandle. - Live Science.

THE BIG WET: The Australian Weather Anomalies - Cyclone Possible For Southeast Queensland!

A cyclone could develop off the southeast Queensland coast, as authorities search for a second person reportedly swept away in floodwaters.

The Bureau of Meteorology says there's a 50 per chance a low pressure system over Double Island Point, south of Maryborough, will develop into a cyclone off Fraser Island.

Severe weather manager Vikash Prasad says more will become clear over the next 24 to 48 hours.
But he says even if the cyclone develops to the east of Fraser Island, it'll be moving east and north away from the coast.
Meanwhile, authorities are searching for a good samaritan who's reportedly missing from the scene where a man was swept to his death north of Gympie. The area around Gympie copped heavy rainfall yesterday and today. - Herald Sun.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.2 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Just Outside New Delhi - Rattles Indian Capital!

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake rattled the Indian capital on Monday as it hit the state of Haryana just outside New Delhi, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake at 1:11 p.m. local time (0741 GMT) caused more than 10 seconds of tremors felt in and around the Indian capital. People ran into the streets after feeling the tremors. There were no immediate reports of damages or injury in the city of 16.7 million.
The Indian Meteorological Department said the epicenter of the quake was in Bahadurgarh, a town on the border between New Delhi and Haryana, which sits to the northeast of the capital. The department’s head of seismology, R.S. Dattatrayam, said he didn’t expect significant aftershocks because of the low magnitude of the earthquake. New Delhi sits near two faults and just two weeks ago underwent its first citywide earthquake drill to prepare civil servants and hospital services for emergencies. - Washington Post.