Saturday, December 8, 2012

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL and the GREAT DELUGE: The Sinking of Indonesia - Heavy Rains and Floods Cripple Cities Across the Country!

December 08, 2012 - INDONESIA - Torrential rains over the last several days caused heavy flooding in many areas across the country on Friday, but as of that evening there were no reports of fatalities.  In Jambi, water from the overflowing Batang Hari River nearly paralyzed the entire city on Friday, with floodwater reaching up to two meters in depth in some areas.  Rafts and canoes were being used as a mode of transport.  The floods hit all three subdistricts in the city, residents said, adding however, that the fact that most houses are built on stilts spared many from serious damage.  Despite the extent and depth of the floods, there were no reports of people evacuating for drier ground.  Many residents also said they were reluctant to leave their homes empty for security reasons.  Junaidi Yusak, the head of the Legok urban ward in the Telanaipura subdistrict of Jambi, said the 264 houses in his area have been completely isolated.

Two children playing inside their flooded house in Dayeuhkolot, Bandung, on Friday. (JG Photo/Rezza Estily).
He said some 1,370 people were affected in his ward.  He also said that residents had anticipated the floods, setting up a flood coordination center and devising evacuation plans in case of emergency. They also prepared canoes and rafts.  “We have been continuously monitoring the water and based on our observations the floods continue to rise in height by some five centimeters every day. We also continuously inform residents so that they can prepare themselves well if they have to evacuate,” Junaidi said.  An observation of the Batang Hari River water level showed that by Friday it was only about 17 centimeters away from the 13.37-meter critical level that would necessitate the evacuation of the some 3,000 residents in the three flooded subdistricts.  In Bandung district, West Java, water overflowed from the Citarum River, flooding several areas and roads in Baleendah subdistrict, blocking people from traveling to and from surrounding areas. 

Hundreds of houses and buildings were still inundated as of Friday morning.  In Paser district, East Kalimantan, residents in some neighborhoods climbed onto the roofs of their houses to avoid floodwater while others fled to higher land and buildings.  Several residents blamed bad sewage systems and the habit of throwing garbage to rivers and water channels, blocking water flow and causing it to overflow in their areas.  “The related agency must quickly clean them because the rainy season will worsen the situation,” said Andi, a local resident.  In Yogyakarta, as of Friday morning dozens of houses in Umbulharjo were also still flooded by water coming up from a nearby river which has been filled with garbage.  Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said on Tuesday that rain-related disasters were expected to continue until January. He said the areas particularly vulnerable are those straddling the Bengawan Solo River in Central and East Java, as well as villages at the foot of Mount Merapi in Central Java and Yogyakarta. They are at risk of landslides from the millions of tons of ash deposits still sitting on the volcano’s slopes following its eruption in 2010.  Sutopo said mudslides and floods across the country in the past two months have killed at least 33 people and forced 35,000 to flee their homes, warning that these figures could rise as the rainy season intensifies. - The Jakarta Globe.

EXTREME WEATHER: Dense Fog and Dust Results in Dozens of Power Pole Fires in Central Texas!

December 08, 2012 - TEXAS, UNITED STATES - Thousands across parts of Central Texas were left without power on Thursday after dozens of power poles suddenly burst into flames, likely caused by the weather conditions.  A Department of Public Safety communications officer said power poles in Hill, Falls, Bell, Williamson and McLennan counties began bursting into flames at about 4 a.m. CST Thursday, according to KWTX. 

Dense fog results in numerous power pole fires in Central Texas early Thursday.
Credits: (
The power poles were reportedly burning at the tops of the poles, some involving transformers.  As many as 50 power poles were reported burning at one point early Thursday across parts of Hill County alone.  Hilco Electric Cooperative, which serves Dallas, Ellis, Hill, McLennan and Johnson counties, had 26 poles catch fire, 24 of them in Hill and McLennan Counties, assistant general manager Lea Sanders said.  The power company, Oncor, meanwhile, reported that about a dozen utility poles throughout several counties caught fire, spokesman Mike Cain said.  More than 4,000 lost power as a result of the power pole fires early Thursday. 

One power company technician said that the fires likely were caused by a build up of dust on transformers that shorted out due to low-lying fog, according to the WacoTrib.  The phenomenon that caused the fires, known as “tracking,” can occur when dust accumulated on the insulators of utility poles comes into contact with heavy fog conditions.  The moisture, combined with caked-on elements, can act as a conductor of sorts, causing electricity in the power lines to arc and the poles to catch fire, several experts said.  The National Weather Service reported dense fog developed on an initial wave of moisture that surged across the region early Thursday morning.  A similar incident occurred just last month in South Texas.  According to the McAllen Monitor, 18,000 customers in Hidalgo, Starr, Cameron and Willacy counties lost power after numerous poles caught fire during foggy conditions on Nov. 16.  It was not known exactly how many total poles caught fire or how many total customers lost power in Central Texas because of arcing issues. -  Examiner.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - U.S. Navy Sends 2 More Warships For North Korea Missile Launch; Japan Poised To Shoot Down North Korean Missile; Syrian Rebels Capture Chemical Weapons Base; Assad Warns Rebels; America To Attack Iran In 2013; Morsi Scraps Controversial Decrees In-Order To Stabilize Power!

December 08, 2012 - NORTH KOREA - The Navy has positioned two more warships in the Pacific to monitor North Korea’s upcoming long-range missile launch.  The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh have joined the USS Benfold and the USS Fitzgerald, both guided-missile destroyers, to monitor the launch, a Navy official said Saturday. 
USS Tortuga, the USS John S. McCain and the JS Takanami,
steam in formation with the USS George Washington in East
China Sea. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans).

U.S. Navy Sends 2 More Warships For North Korea Missile Launch.
North Korea announced earlier this month that it will launch a “satellite” sometime between Monday and Dec. 22 to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jung-il, who died Dec. 17.  The upcoming launch is the secretive communist nation’s second attempt in eight months. A launch in April ended when the rocket broke apart over the Pacific.  Western nations have said what North Korea claims are satellite launches are actually ballistic missile tests, since the same technology applies. The U.N. has banned North Korea from conducting such tests.  Japan has begun readying a ballistic missile battery in Tokyo to intercept anything headed toward its mainland, and dispatched three destroyers to waters the missile will travel over. South Korea will deploy two destroyers in the coming days to track the missile, the Associated Press reported.  North Korea has carried out at least three other failed launches over the past decade. - Washington Times.

A satellite image showing North Korea's Dongchang-ri
missile launch site Photo: EPA/YONHAP/GOOGLE.
Japan Poised To Shoot Down North Korean Missile.
 The order to destroy the missile should any part of it threaten to fall onto Japanese territory was issued after a meeting of the Security Council of Japan met and was informed that North Korea has begun filling a fuel tank alongside the launch pad at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in preparation for the launch.  Japan has already deployed Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile batteries in Tokyo, as well as in Okinawa and at locations along the northern and western coasts facing the Korean Peninsula.  Three Japanese destroyers equipped with the advanced Aegis detect-and-destroy weapons system have been deployed in the Sea of Japan. The US has also stationed warships in the area to monitor the launch.  New satellite images released on Friday indicate that snow may have slowed the preparations, but Pyongyang shouuld still be ready for liftoff starting on Monday.  Pyongyang claims the launch is an attempt to put an earth-observation satellite into orbit. But analysts and foreign governments share the belief that the it is part of North Korea’s development of long-range missiles. - Telegraph.

Sarin canisters stored in Syria.
Syrian Rebels Capture Al-Safira, Base Containing Scud Missiles Tipped With Chemical Weapons; Assad Warns Rebels Not To Use Them And Threatens Chemical Weapons Counter-Strike.
 The danger that Syrian ruler Bashar Assad will now resort to chemical warfare shot up Saturday afternoon, Dec. 8, after the rebels captured the “chloride factory” at Al Safira east of Aleppo. This is a codename for the Syrian army’s biggest chemical weapons store and base, which also houses Syrian Scud D missiles armed with chemical warheads adjusted to fire at Israel. Assad’s warning to the rebels not to fight with chemical weapons is taken as a means of justifying his own resort to chemical weapons and brought this threat closer than ever before. The West, Israel and Syria’s other neighbors have gone on elevated preparedness. debkafile file: The fall of Al Safira into rebel hands crosses a red line and places the Assad regime in direct peril. Possession of the chemical-tipped Scuds gives the rebels their strongest weapon for forcing the Syria army to capitulate.  British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier Saturday that the UK and the US have seen evidence that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons. There was enough evidence from intelligence sources to know “that they need a warning,” he said at a security conference in Bahrain. "The President of the United Sates warned of serious consequences and he meant it,” said the British minister.  British intelligence sources told the BBC that Syria's chemical weapons are concentrated at five air bases and are being closely watched. They said contingency plans have been drawn up if they show signs of being readied to be loaded and used as weapons.  debkafile reported this week that US British and French air, sea and marine forces are concentrated opposition Syrian shores and across its Turkish and Jordanian borders. - DEBKA.

Iran's Long-Range Missiles Said To Lag U.S. Intelligence Fears.
Iranian long-range shore-to-sea missile called Qader.
Credit: Reuters/Jamejamonline/Ebrahim Norouzi/Handout.
An internal report for the U.S. Congress has concluded that Iran probably is no longer on track, if it ever was, to having an ocean-crossing missile as soon as 2015.  The study casts doubt on a view long held by U.S. intelligence agencies that Iran could be able to test-fly by 2015 an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, if it receives "sufficient foreign assistance."  "It is increasingly uncertain whether Iran will be able to achieve an ICBM capability by 2015," said the report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which works exclusively for lawmakers.  Iran does not appear to be receiving as much help as would likely be necessary, notably from China or Russia, to reach that goal, according to the 66-page report dated Thursday.  It is also increasingly tough for Tehran to obtain certain critical components and materials because of international sanctions related to its disputed nuclear program.  In addition, Iran has not demonstrated the kind of flight test program generally deemed necessary to produce an ICBM, said the study by Steven Hildreth, a specialist in missile defense who consulted seven external expert reviewers.  The study appears to be the most detailed unclassified look yet at Iran's controversial ballistic missile and space programs. It does not address Tehran's nuclear program, which has prompted international fears that it could lead to atomic weapons at short notice...  An ICBM is generally defined as having a range greater than 5,500 km (3,400 miles). Such missiles from Iran could threaten targets throughout Europe and the Middle East.  "With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015," the Defense Department told Congress in its 2012 annual report on Iranian military power. - Reuters.

If All Else Fails, US Will Hit Iran In 2013, Says Top Advisers To Obama And Bush.

If the standoff over the Iranian nuclear program is not resolved diplomatically in the coming year, it will be resolved militarily by the end of 2013, two top US foreign policy officials told The Times of Israel on Thursday.  “I think there’s the stomach in this administration, and this president, that if diplomacy fails [to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons] — to use force,” according to Dennis Ross, a former Mideast envoy during the Clinton administration, and until November 2011 President Obama’s top advisor and planner on Iran in the National Security Council.  James Jeffrey, a former deputy national security advisor and, for the past two years, the US ambassador to Iraq, agreed with Ross’ assessment.  “I think [Obama’s] first choice will be a negotiated settlement. Failing that, I think that we’re going to strike,” Jeffrey said.  “One way or the other, these guys [the Iranian regime] are either going to stop their program or, before we’re halfway through 2013, they’re going to have enough [enriched nuclear materiel] to go critical in a few weeks,” he added. “I think if we don’t get a negotiated settlement, and these guys are actually on the threshold [of weaponization capability], as Obama said during the campaign, then the president is going to take military action.” - Times of Israel.

Morsi Scraps Decree That Sparked Protests In Egypt.
Protesters against Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi
celebrate after peacefully breaking past barbed wire
barricades guarding the presidential palace in Cairo.
Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has cancelled a decree that gave him sweeping powers and sparked deadly violence, but did not delay this month's referendum on a new constitution as his opponents had demanded.  The announcement that Morsi had scrapped his November 22 decree followed hours of talks on Saturday at his presidential palace, billed as a "national dialogue" but which was boycotted by his main opponents and had little credibility among protesters.  One opposition group dismissed Morsi's efforts at appeasement as the "continuation of deception."  His opponents have demanded Morsi scrap the vote on December 15 on a constitution that was fast-tracked through an assembly led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Liberals and others had walked out, saying their voices were not being heard.  Islamists have insisted the referendum should go ahead on time, saying it is needed to complete a democratic transition still incomplete after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow 22 months ago.  The military, which had run the nation during a turbulent interim period after Mubarak fell, stepped into the crisis on Saturday to tell feuding factions that dialogue was essential to avoid "catastrophe." But a military source said that was not a prelude to the army retaking control of Egypt or the streets.  After Saturday's talks, the president issued a new decree in which the first article "cancels the constitutional declaration" announced on November 22, the spokesman for the dialogue, Mohamed Selim al-Awa, told a news conference held around midnight.  But he said the constitutional referendum would go ahead next Saturday, adding that although those at the meeting had discussed a postponement, there were legal obstacles to taking such a step. - Reuters.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Activity Report For December 08th, 2012!

December 08, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from geologist Richard Wilson who specializes in volcano seismicity and Armand Vervaeck.

KVERT reports high amplitude volcanic tremor at Plosky Tolbachik again today, indicating that magma flow within the volcano is not waning. Intense swarm seismicity continued overnight beneath the Coso Volcanic Field (CA).  Event magnitudes ranged from M0.0 to M2.5.  The activity has shallowed overall and migrated eastward from its original position beneath the rhyolite dome cluster.  The dark cluster of epicenters in the upper central portion of the SCEC map represents the Coso earthquake swarm.
Activity at Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) has increased during the past 24 hours.  Emissions of gas and ash now occur at an average rate of 3 events per hour.

Seismograms for the Guatemalan volcanoes are still not accessible, but this morning’s volcanocam view of Fuego volcano shows the active lava flow descending the volcano’s flank.

Numerous small earthquakes continue to rattle Momotombo volcano (Nicaragua) (station MOMN).
Reventador volcano (Ecuador) (station CONE) maintained its high level of co-eruptive seismicity overnight.

The Tongariro seismogram shows a pulse of  ”chugging” earthquakes (indicative of fluid movement) about 19 hours ago, while seismograms recorded at nearby Ruapehu show continued low-level volcanic tremor and a few small local earthquakes.  The White Island seismogram is blotched with continuous, relatively strong volcanic tremor.

Recent satellite imagery shows SO2 from Plosky Tolbachik entrained by an Aleutian low pressure system, a relatively small, but intense SO2 plume wafting from Nyiragongo volcano (DRC) and dual SO2-enriched plumes drifting north and west of Ambrym volcano (Vanuatu).  Small SO2 anomalies are apparent over Chaiten volcano (Chile) and Merapi volcano (Indonesia) today. - EarthQuake Report.

APOCALYPTO: Mayan Doomsday - Panic Spreads as December 21 Nears?!

December 08, 2012 - MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Ahead of December 21, which marks the conclusion of the 5,125-year "Long Count" Mayan calendar, panic buying of candles and essentials has been reported in China and Russia, along with an explosion in sales of survival shelters in America. In France believers were preparing to converge on a mountain where they believe aliens will rescue them.  The precise manner of Armageddon remains vague, ranging from a catastrophic celestial collision between Earth and the mythical planet Nibiru, also known as Planet X, a disastrous crash with a comet, or the annihilation of civilisation by a giant solar storm. In America Ron Hubbard, a manufacturer of hi-tech underground survival shelters, has seen his business explode.  "We've gone from one a month to one a day," he said. "I don't have an opinion on the Mayan calendar but, when astrophysicists come to me, buy my shelters and tell me to be prepared for solar flares, radiation, EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) ... I'm going underground on the 19th and coming out on the 23rd. It's just in case anybody's right."  In the French Pyrenees the mayor of Bugarach, population 179, has attempted to prevent pandemonium by banning UFO watchers and light aircraft from the flat topped mount Pic de Bugarach.

According to New Age lore it as an "alien garage" where extraterrestrials are waiting to abandon Earth, taking a lucky few humans with them.  Russia saw people in Omutninsk, in Kirov region, rushing to buy kerosene and supplies after a newspaper article, supposedly written by a Tibetan monk, confirmed the end of the world.  The city of Novokuznetsk faced a run on salt. In Barnaul, close to the Altai Mountains, panic-buyers snapped up all the torches and Thermos flasks.  Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, even addressed the situation.  "I don't believe in the end of the world," before adding somewhat disconcertingly: "At least, not this year."  In China, which has no history of preoccupation with the end of the world, a wave of paranoia about the apocalypse can be traced to the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster "2012".  The film, starring John Cusack, was a smash hit in China, as viewers were seduced by a plot that saw the Chinese military building arks to save humanity.  Some in China are taking the prospect of Armageddon seriously with panic buying of candles reported in Sichuan province. 

The source of the panic was traced to a post on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, predicting that there will be three days of darkness when the apocalypse arrives.  One grocery store owner said: "At first, we had no idea why. But then we heard someone muttering about the continuous darkness."  Shanghai police said scam artists had been convincing pensioners to hand over savings in a last act of charity.  Meanwhile in Mexico, where the ancient Mayan civilisation flourished, the end time has been seen as an opportunity. The country has organised hundreds of Maya-themed events, and tourism is expected to have doubled this year.  Nasa has been aggressively seeking to dispel doomsday fears. It says there is no evidence Nibiru exists, and rumours it could be hiding behind the sun are unfounded.  "It can't hide behind the sun forever, and we would've seen it years ago," a Nasa scientist said.  The space agency also rejected apocalyptic theories about unusual alignments of the planets, or that the Earth's magnetic poles could suddenly "flip."  Conspiracy theorists contend that the space agency is involved in an elaborate cover up to prevent panic.  But David Morrison, an astronomer at Nasa, said: "At least once a week I get a message from a young person, as young as 11, who says they are ill and/or contemplating suicide because of the coming doomsday. I think it's evil for people to propagate rumours on the internet to frighten children."  Mayans themselves reject any notion that the world will end. Pedro Celestino Yac Noj, a Mayan sage, burned seeds and fruits to mark the end of the old calender at a ceremony in Cuba. He said: "The 21st is for giving thanks and gratitude and the 22nd welcomes the new cycle, a new dawn." - Telegraph.

STORM ALERT: Killer Super Typhoon Bopha TURNS BACK Towards the Philippines!

December 08, 2012 - PHILIPPINES -  A typhoon that has killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in the southern Philippines has turned back towards the country and will hit it again, forecasters said Saturday.
 A family carrying food relief for victims of Typhoon Bopha walks head home to Andap village in the Compostela Valley. The typhoon that has killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in the southern Philippines has turned back towards the country and will hit it again, forecasters say.
Typhoon Bopha will slam into the northern tip of the main island of Luzon early Sunday, packing gusts of up to 160 kilometres (around 100 miles) an hour, the state weather service said.

It was likely to bring heavy rainfall to the area, civil defence office director Benito Ramos told a news conference. "People there need to take precautions," he added.

The eye of the cyclone was 230 kilometres west of the northern town of Sinait at 4:00pm (0800 GMT) and moving slowly northeast, the service said.

Heavy to intense rainfall was expected within the typhoon's 400-kilometre footprint, it added.

Bopha smashed into the east coast of the southern island of Mindanao with gusts of up to 210 kilometres an hour on Tuesday. At least 548 people have been killed and about 500 others missing.

Some 212,000 other people have also been left homeless, according to the civil defence office. - France 24.

WATCH: Typhoon Bopha's Second Assault on the Philippines - Weekend Update.

WATCH: Typhoon Bopha Footage and Aftermath - The Philippines Need Help.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Activity Report For December 07th, 2012!

December 08, 2012 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from geologist Richard Wilson who specializes in volcano seismicity and Armand Vervaeck.

Plosky Tolbachik.
KVERT reports that eruption of basaltic andesite continues at Plosky Tolbachik (Kamchatka Peninsula).  Vents have indeed localized along the eruptive fissure and cinder cones are being constructed by more explosive strombolian activity there.  A MODIS satellite image shows the location of the vents in respect to the main Tolbachik edifice and also shows the relatively weak, low level eruptive plume associated with the activity.  Most of the SO2 liberated by this eruption remains in the troposphere and is not being raised in any appreciable amounts into the stratosphere (greater than 20,000 ft asl at this latitude).

Intense seismicity beneath the Coso Volcanic Field (CA) has eased somewhat overnight with only six earthquakes, with magnitudes ranging from M0.0 to M2.5, located during that period.  Earthquake foci had deepened earlier in the week which is suggestive of normal faulting, but events actually shallowed during this latest pulse of activity, likely reflecting the interplay of tectonics and magmatic fluids. Exhalations of gas and ash at Popocatepetl volcano (Mexico) occurred at an average rate of one per hour during the past 24 hours. The Popo seismogram shows low-level volcanic tremor.

Seismograms recorded at Guatemalan volcanoes were not accessible this morning. Small local earthquakes are apparent on seismograms recorded at Momotombo volcano (Nicaragua) (station MOMN) today.  The earthquakes may be occurring in response to activity at a nearby geothermal plant. Operations at the plant often produce identifiable seismic signatures on the Momotombo records (See 06 December record between 13:00 and 18:00 UTC). Continuous volcanic tremor at San Miguel volcano (El Salvador) (station VSM) abruptly diminished at 12:37 UTC today.  Low magnitude volcanic earthquakes (short tremor pulses) continue at the volcano. Small earthquakes affect both Nevado Del Ruiz (station OLLZ) and Galeras (station ANGV) volcanoes (Colombia) as well. Reventador volcano (Ecuador) (station CONE) continues to set the standard for volcano-seismicity at the volcanoes we watch, with numerous explosion quakes and strong volcanic tremor.

Seismicity remains relatively low at both Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes (New Zealand), while White Island volcano shudders with relatively strong, continuous volcanic tremor again today. Recent satellite imagery continues to show an SO2-enriched plume eminating from Nevado Del Ruiz volcano and another such plume drifting from Manam volcano (New Guinea). - EarthQuake Report.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The World's Biggest Trees Dying "Alarmingly" Fast - Ecologists Warn That "Large Old Trees Will Diminish or Disappear in Many Ecosystems"!

December 08, 2012 - AUSTRALIA - The world's biggest and oldest trees are dying at an alarming rate, according to a report by three leading ecologists.  Death rates among trees 100 to 300 years old, living organisms that also sustain birds and other wildlife, is accelerating in many parts of the world including savannahs, woodlands, forests, farming areas and even cities.  "Large old trees are critical in many natural and human-dominated environments.

Remains of virgin Amazon rainforest are seen after it was cleared for its wood in Brazil. The
 study says old trees are dying to due to several factors such as logging, fires and extreme
weather caused by climate change. (Lunae Parracho/Reuters).
Studies of ecosystems around the world suggest populations of these trees are declining rapidly," said the study’s lead author, David Lindenmayer of Australian National University, who wrote the report — published in the journal Science — with colleagues Bill Laurance of James Cook University in Australia, and Jerry Franklin of Washington University in the U.S.  The three ecologists are considered to be the top experts in their field.  "Research is urgently needed to identify the causes of rapid losses of large old trees and strategies for improved management. Without … policy changes, large old trees will diminish or disappear in many ecosystems, leading to losses of their associated biota and ecosystem functions."  The scientists say they were first tipped off about the trend after analyzing forestry records from Sweden dating back to the 1860s. They compared that to a 30-year study of Mountain Ash forest in Australia, which suggested the trees were dying at 10 times the normal rate in years that didn’t have fires. The Australian trees were perishing due to several causes including logging, drought and extreme temperatures.

'Very, very disturbing trend' 
The ecologists decided to look at other regions of the world – examining tree populations on African savannahs, Brazilian rainforests, California’s Yosemite National Park, European forests, the boreal forests of the North, and those in cities.  “It is a very, very disturbing trend,” said Laurance, referring to the discovery that old trees everywhere are dying at a rapid rate – more than the previous norm.  “Big trees supply abundant food for numerous animals in the form of fruits, flowers, foliage and nectar. Their hollows offer nests and shelter for birds and animals … and their loss could mean extinction for such creatures.”  The scientists say the decline appears to be caused by a combination of factors including land clearing, logging, insect attacks, changes in how fires are fought, severe wildfires and extreme weather brought on by climate change.  They liken the loss of large trees to that of the road to extinction of some of the world’s animals, such as rhinos, whales and elephants.  The ecologists are urging immediate action to assess the extent of the loss of big trees and identify areas in the world they might have a chance to survive and thrive.  “Just as large-bodied animals such as elephants, tigers … have declined drastically in many parts of the world, a growing body of evidence suggests that large old trees could be equally imperilled," they warn in their report. - CBC.

SOLAR WATCH: Slight Chance of Storms - Unstable and Impulsive Filament Eruption and C3.9 Solar Flare!

December 08, 2012 - SUN - According to Space Weather, solar activity is very low and none of the spots on the Earthside of the sun pose a threat for strong solar flares, however there is a slight chance of solar storms. A small C class flare was ejected from AR 11625 at 21:19UT Dec 7th, associated with this blast was an impulsive prominence eruption, a coronal mass ejection is expected shortly but will not be earth directed due to the proximity of the eruption.

SLIGHT CHANCE OF STORMS: NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Dec. 7th and 8th in response to a possible glancing blow from a CME. Sky watchers in Scandinavia, Canada, and Alaska should be alert for auroras.

FILAMENT ERUPTION: A filament of magnetism snaking more than 400,000 km around the sun's southwestern limb became unstable and erupted on Dec. 6th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the filament flinging a portion of itself into space. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) detected a cloud of plasma emerging from the blast site; however, Earth does not appear to be in the line of fire.  This event interrupted three days of low solar activity. With no sunspots currently flaring, the quiet appears set to resume. NOAA forecasters estimate a mere 1% chance of strong flares in the next 24 hours. - Space Weather.

PROMINENCE ERUPTION: A minor solar flare reaching C3.9 was observed off the western limb at 21:21 UTC. This was also responsible for an large eruptive prominence visible in the latest SDO imagery. This should have little impact on Earth. - Solar Ham.

WATCH: C3.9 Solar Flare and Prominence Eruption - December 7th, 2012.

FIRE IN THE SKY: NASA Confirms North Texas Fireball Event - American Meteor Society Receives 30 Reports of a Bright Fireball Over Texas!

December 08, 2012 - TEXAS - The American Meteor Society has received 30 reports of a bright meteor that occurred near 06:45 CST on Friday December 7, 2012. Brightness estimates of this fireball vary considerably, but the average lies near magnitude -20, which lies between the full moon and the sun. Needless to say, it was very bright! Every color of the rainbow has been reported with green being most mentioned. Below is a map of the witness reports for the Texas fireball event and can also be found in the fireball logs, refer to event 2085.

Texas Fireball Event - December 7th, 2012 @ 6:30 CST.
American Meteor Society Receives 30 Reports Of A Bright Fireball.
For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

Meteors often appear much closer than they really are. I receive countless reports that the object landed just over the hill when in fact it was several hundred miles away and was witnessed over several states. It is your perspective that makes meteors appear to strike the horizon when in fact they are still high in the atmosphere. This is much like a jetliner seen low in your sky. It appears low to you but for someone located many miles away in that direction, the jetliner is passing high overhead. Meteors become visible at approximately 50 miles above the Earth's surface. Friction slows these objects down until they fall below the velocity necessary to produce light. At this point they still lie at least 5 miles high in the sky. They are invisible below this altitude and cannot be seen as they basically free falling to the ground at 200mph. Very few meteors actually reach the ground as 99.99% completely disintegrate while still 10-20 miles up in the atmosphere. - AMS Meteors.

NASA Confirms North Texas Fireball.

Did you see it? Just before 7 o'clock this morning, there was a bright flash in the sky. North Texas callers to the KRLD Listener Line described it as a "fire ball" with a long greenish-blue tail. People as far south as Houston and as far East as Louisiana saw it as well. Bill Cook, the lead for NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, says that their cameras in New Mexico picked up the flash of light at 6:43 am. "That's several hundred kilometers away," says Cook. "You normally don't see a meteor that far away." He does believe that it was a meteor. "It looks like what you saw was a bright meteor, also called a fire ball." Cook says that it appears that the meteor entered the earth's atmosphere somewhere between Dallas and Houston. He says that they are trying to track where it landed. "This was probably about the size of a basketball," says Cook. "There's no way that it would be taking out a town or anything like that. This thing was pretty small." - CBSDFW.

WATCH: Fireball over Texas.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: North Sulawesi's Mount Lokon Enters Second Day of Eruption!

December 08, 2012 - INDONESIA - Mount Lokon, near the North Sulawesi town of Tomohon, entered its second day of eruption on Friday, belching heaps of ash and smoke into the atmosphere.

“People are asked to remain alert and not conduct any activities within a 2.5 kilometer radius around the Tompuluan crater of Mount Lokon,” said Farid Bima, who heads the volcano monitoring outpost near the mountain.

Mount Lokon erupts as seen from Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, in July this year. More than
30,000 people live near the volcano, according to the local government. (EPA Photo).
The 1,579-meter-high volcano first erupted at around 5:18 p.m. on Thursday, sending a column of ash and smoke that reached some 3,500 meters high.

The ash fell mostly on the southeastern slope of the volcano.

Farid said that so far there had been no report of casualties or damages, and reiterated that the alert status of the mountain was still at “ready,” or two rungs above normal and one below full eruption.

Mount Lokon has demonstrated rising volcanic activities since mid-year, he added, and has been undergoing a series of small and large eruptions.

Tomohon Mayor Jemmy Eman announced on Friday a 2.5 kilometer-radius danger-zone and also prepared areas to shelter people if any evacuations needed to take place.

However, he said there was no need for people on the upper slopes of the mountain to be evacuated, since the eruptions so far were not deemed major threats.

“Therefore, there will not be any evacuations yet,” said Arnold Poli, the city secretary.

An eruption of Mount Lokon last month prompted the evacuation of some 5,000 people from its upper slopes.

Hoyke Makarawung, the head of the North Sulawesi Disaster Mitigation Agency, said that his institution had already readied assistance should any evacuation take place in the areas affected by the discharge.

“We are continuously monitoring the condition [of the volcano],” he said. - Jakarta Globe.