Saturday, January 5, 2013

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Monumental Freezing In China; Coldest Winter In Decades; Ice Covered 27,000 Square Meters; 1,000 Ships Stuck In The Ice!

January 05, 2013 - CHINA - China is experiencing unusual chills this winter with its national average temperature hitting the lowest in 28 years, and snow and ice have closed highways, canceled flights, stranded tourists and knocked out power in several provinces.

Policemen examine ice condition at Xidayang Fishing Wharf in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province.
(Xinhua/Li Ziheng).
China Meteorological Administration on Friday said the national average was -3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) since late November, the coldest in nearly three decades. The average temperature in northeast China dipped to -15.3 degrees C (4.5 degrees F), the coldest in 43 years, and dropped to a 42-year low of -7.4 degrees C (18.7 degrees F) in northern China. In some areas - northeastern China, eastern Inner Mongolia, and north part of far-western Xinjiang province - the low has hit -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F), the administration said. The state-run, English-language China Daily reported Friday that about 1,000 ships were stuck in ice in Laizhou Bay in eastern China's Bohai Sea. The meteorological administration said Saturday that ice had covered 27,000 square meters (10,500 square miles) of the sea surface by Thursday, the most expansive since 2008 when authorities began to collect such data. The administration expects the ice to continue to grow.

In southwest China's Sichuan province, more than 1,000 tourists were stranded Wednesday in a scenic mountainous area because of icy road, the state-run Beijing News reported. In southern China, snowstorms from Thursday night have disrupted air and road traffic. In eastern China's Zhejiang province, at least eight flights were canceled at an airport in Hangzhou city on Thursday, and authorities told state media the airport might be closed if the snow should continue. Utility workers also rushed to restore power in parts of the province, according to state media. Several highways, including some sections of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway in central China's Hunan province, were closed Friday because of icy condition, state media reported. An airport was temporarily shut down in Nanchang city in Jiangxi province, as workers were trying to clear ice and snow from its runway, state media said. The national meteorological administration said China is seeing dropping temperatures partly because of south-moving polar cold fronts, caused by melting polar ice from global warming. It said the air is moist and likely to dump heavy snow in China, Europe and North America. On Saturday, the forecast by China's National Meteorological Center said southern China would have more snow and rain in the coming days and that icy rain could hit some regions. - AP.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Bird Flu Wipes Out Hundreds Of Ducks In Bali, Indonesia!

January 05, 2013 - INDONESIA - Hundreds of ducks in Takmung village, Klungkung regency, Bali, have died suddenly, with avian flu suspected as the cause.

I Wayan Sudia, a duck breeder in Takmung village, said he had lost hundreds of his ducks.

“Laboratory reports show my ducks were infected by bird flu,” I Wayan Sudia told reporters on Thursday as reported by Antara news agency. “The symptoms included cloudy eyes and seizures,” he added.

Two months ago, Sudia bought 500 ducks in Tabanan regency, about 200 of which have died in the past few days.

Disinfectants have been distributed to breeders in the village for free to prevent the flu from spreading. - The Jakarta Post.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Hundreds Of Dead Fish Along The Shores Of The Lake At Quartz Mountain State Park, Oklahoma?!

January 05, 2013 - UNITED STATES - An Oklahoma state park is dealing with a stinky mystery.  Dead fish have been showing up by the hundreds along the shore of the lake at Quartz Mountain State Park. 

Quartz Mountain fish dying – Alicia. KFOR.
Quartz Mountain fish dying – Alicia. KFOR.
Quartz Mountain fish dying – Alicia. KFOR.
Park officials said they’re not sure why or how the fish died but believe it is from natural causes, not something man-made.

The State Wildlife Department is planning to visit the park to conduct tests to see what is behind the die-off.

The lake remains open although it’s not exactly a good spot right now for a stroll beside the water. - KFOR.

SOLAR WATCH: The Sun Is Peppered With Sunspots - Erupts With M1.7 Solar Flare, Increasing Chance Of X-Flares!

January 05, 2013 - THE SUN - Sunspots are popping up all over the solar disk. The largest solar event of the period was a M1 event.

Image by SDO.
M-FLARE / INCREASE IN SOLAR ACTIVITY: Two sunspots to keep an eye on over the next few days will be new Sunspot 1650 rotating into view off the southeast limb (pictured above), and a new region now rotating into view off the northeast limb. Several low level C-Class flares are being detected around both regions.  UPDATE: Finally a moderate solar flare! After what seemed like a lifetime, a moderate solar flare reaching M1.7 was detected near the northeast limb at 09:31 UTC this morning. - Solar Ham.

INCREASING CHANCE OF FLARES: The sun is peppered with spots - There are now more than a dozen numbered active regions scattered around the solar disk. As the sunspot count increases so does the chance of flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of M-class eruptions and a 5% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. 

To illustrate the growing spottiness of the sun, each active region in this Jan. 5th image from NASA's
Solar Dynamics Observatory is circled.
The most active sunspot so far is emerging over the sun's northeastern limb. Crackling with flares, it unleashed an M1.7-class eruption on Jan. 5th at 09:34 UT that sent a wave of ionization rippling through the upper atmosphere over Europe. More flares appear to be in the offing. - Space Weather.

WATCH: M1.7 Solar Flare - January 5, 2013.

EXTREME WEATHER: Worst Drought In Decades Hits Brazil's Northeast!

January 05, 2013 - BRAZIL - Brazil's Northeast is suffering its worst drought in decades, threatening hydro-power supplies in an area prone to blackouts and potentially slowing economic growth in one of the country's emerging agricultural frontiers.  Lack of rain has hurt corn and cotton crops, left cattle and goats to starve to death in dry pastures and wiped some 30 percent off sugar cane production in the region responsible for 10 percent of Brazil's cane output.

Farmers from the Brazilian northeast carry out a demonstration holding cattle skulls in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia Dec. 4, 2012. The protesters are demanding the cancellation of their debts and help from the government to alleviate the effects of the drought that rages over the region this year. Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters.
Thousands of subsistence farmers have seen their livelihoods wither away in recent months as animal carcasses lie abandoned in some areas that have seen almost no rain in two years.  "We are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years, with consequences that could be compared to a violent earthquake," Eduardo Salles, agriculture secretary in the northeastern state of Bahia, said in an emailed statement. Dams in the Northeast ended December at just 32 percent of capacity, according to the national electrical grid operator. That puts them below the 34 percent the operator, known as ONS, considers sufficient to guarantee electricity supplies.  As reservoir levels fell, state-controlled Petrobras imported nearly four times more liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the first nine months of 2012, a back-up for hydro-power generation that has hurt the firm's profits. Brazil's reliance on hydro-power to generate electricity has fallen to 67 percent of all electricity generated from about 75 percent five years ago, according to the government-run energy research group EPE.  But the low water levels have still set off alarm bells in a country with a history of energy shortages that crimped economic growth as recently as a decade ago.  President Dilma Rousseff dismissed talk of an energy crisis on Dec. 27, calling the idea of Brazil potentially needing to ration energy "ridiculous." 

However, there have been some signs of strain already. In October, the Northeast experienced its worst blackout in more than a decade, knocking Bahia state's important petrochemical industry offline.  A spokesperson at Brazil's agriculture ministry said the federal government has not calculated the financial cost or the loss to crops expected from the drought. However, the ministry is trying to mitigate the economic impact by making additional lines of credit available to small farmers, the official said.  Crop supply agency Conab is also sending corn to the region in hopes of saving livestock.  Bahia state officials, however, said the measures were not enough and on Dec. 30 asked for more federal resources to help some 20 million people living in the semi-arid tropical region stretching north from Minas Gerais state.  "The last comparable drought in the region was in the early 1980s ... even if rains come in the next few days it's not going to make a difference for some areas," Celso Oliveira, a meteorologist with Sao Paulo-based Somar, told Reuters.  The states that have received the least rainfall are Bahia, Brazil's fourth most populous state, Pernambuco, whose capital Recife is one of 12 host cities for the 2014 soccer world cup and an important port, and PiauĂ­, Oliveira said.  Even with likely crop losses in the Northeast, Brazil still expects an overall record soybean and strong corn harvest this season thanks to sufficient rainfall over the main center-west and southern producing areas.  The government's Conab agency says Bahia should produce 3.76 million tonnes of soybeans this season, out of the 82.6 million tons it expects from Brazil's overall crop. - NBC News.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Record Cold Snap Grips Korean Peninsula, Minus 24.3 Celsius, Lowest In Decades!

January 05, 2013 - SOUTH KOREA - A prolonged cold spell sent the mercury plummeting nationwide on Thursday, with temperatures dropping to their lowest levels in decades, the country's weather agency said.  The South Korean capital city of Seoul recorded a temperature of minus 16.5 C in the morning, the lowest in 27 years since a minus 16.9 C was recorded in 1986, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said. 

Bitter cold wind forms an ice pattern in the frozen Han River which flows through
South Korea's capital Seoul.  [AFP] (Credit: AFP).
A cold wave watch for Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province, and a cold wave alert for the central part of the country have been issued, the agency said.  The morning low dropped to minus 24.3 C, the lowest temperature in the country, in Cheorwon, a mountainous town near the inter-Korean border, according to the KMA. Temperatures were recorded at minus 24.1 C in Paju, a border town in Gyeonggi Province, and minus 22.6 C in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province.  In Seoul, 136 injuries from falls were reported as of 8 a.m. Thursday, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters. 

The low temperatures caused water pipes to freeze and burst across the country, including in Seoul where a total of 108 reports were filed overnight, it added.  The cold spell also hit North Korea, with the morning lows plunging to minus 22 C in some regions, according to the weather office.  Citizens in the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang saw the coldest weather with the morning low recorded at minus 19 C, the KMA said.  The severe cold weather was caused by a frigid continental high-pressure system and the chill from the northwestern region, the agency said.  The wave of exceptionally cold weather will continue and temperatures will remain lower than average all week, with morning lows in Seoul to hover around minus 14 C on Friday morning, it said.  The cold spell is expected to ease around February, it added. - YONHAP News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Powerful 7.7 Magnitude Quake Hits West Of Alaska Coast - Tsunami Warning Issued For Alaska And British Columbia Coasts!

January 05, 2013 - ALASKA - A major earthquake shook an area off the coast of Alaska, but was not strong enough to generate a tsunami threat to Hawaii.

The quake was measured at a magnitude 7.7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake reading was based on the open-ended Moment Magnitude scale used by US seismologists, which measures the area of the fault that ruptured and the total energy released.

The earthquake happened at 10:58 p.m. HST, about 63 miles southwest of Craig, Alaska.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no widespread threat of a tsunami at this time, but it issued a regional warning affecting the Alaskan coast in the proximity of the epicenter.

The west coast and Alaska tsunami-warning center has issued a regional tsunami warning and/or watch and/or advisory for other parts of the pacific located closer to the earthquake. Based on all available data there is no destructive tsunami threat to Hawaii.

However, some coastal areas in Hawaii could experience small non-destructive sea level changes and strong or unusual currents lasting up to several hours. The estimated time such effects might begin is 4:28 am Hawaii time. 

Tsunamis can be dangerous waves that are not survivable. Waves heights are amplified by irregular shorelines and are difficult to forecast. Tsunamis often appear as a strong surge and may be preceded by a receding water level. Marines in water deeper that 600 feet should not be affected by a tsunami. Waves heights will increase rapidly as water shallows. Tsunamis are a series of oceans waves, which can be dangerous for several hours after the initial waves arrival. Do not return to evacuated areas until an  all clear is given by local civil authorities. Pacific coastal regions outside California/ Oregon / Washington / British Columbia and Alaska should refer to the pacific tsunami warning center messages for information on this event at  PTWC.WEATHER.GOV.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Asteroid 2012 DA14 Will Come As Close As 14,000 Miles From The Earth In February!

January 05, 2013 - SPACE - CNN's Wolf Blitzer and meteorologist Chad Myers discuss the near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 in the following video.

NASA says that the asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass within about 3.5 Earth radii of the Earth's surface on February 15, 2013. It will pass inside the geosynchronous satellite ring, located about 35,800 kilometers (21,748 miles) above the equator. The impact energy is listed as 2.41 megatons of TNT. Fortunately, NASA says this asteroid is not Earth bound. The asteroid rates as a 0 on the Torino Scale impact hazard scale.

At its closest approach, Myers says the asteroid could be as close as 14,000 miles from the Earth. The small asteroid is estimated to be about 45 meters (about 150 feet) across. It is not likely to collide with any satellites. However, passing close to the Earth could cause the asteroid's orbit to change and bring it closer to Earth - or father away from Earth - on its next visit.

WATCH: Asteroid to fly between Earth and Moon.