Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SOLAR WATCH: Monster Sunspot 1654 Aims Our Way - Earthquake Window Opening As Coronal Mass Ejections To Hit Earth On Thursday!

January 15, 2013 - THE SUN - Simulations of a coronal mass ejection (CME) show the impact arrival of such on January 17th. This coincides with Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin's window for an earthquake in North America. The Sun is acting up again, with large sunspots moving across the solar disk. The sunspots are powerful enough for x-class solar flares, the most powerful of them all.

Image: The Weather Space Network.
While a 10% chance is now given for such a flare, one is already on the way. This should impact on January 17th and go into the 18th. As it does so, aurora will be likely in the middle to upper north and south latitude locations.  Strangely, this coincides with Martin's earthquake window. "Using HS network and my own theory (posted here), we are getting close to the next larger quake in the Western North America region between Mexico and Alaska," said Martin. "because the CME from the Sun is joining in during the quake window, all indicators are showing up." Because all indications are showing up, Martin says it is "go time" for unsettled seismic activity. - The Weather Space Network.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of M-class solar flares, and a 5% chance of X-flares today. The probable source would be big sunspot AR1654, which is squarely facing Earth. Sunspot AR1654 has a beta-gamma magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. - Space Weather.

SOLAR UPDATE: Solar activity is low with several low level C-Class flares detected around various locations across the visible solar disk. There will remain a chance for an isolated M-Class event around Sunspot 1654. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is visible this morning in STEREO-Ahead COR2 imagery, however it does not look to be Earth directed at this time. A slow moving Coronal Mass Ejection (371 km/s) generated by a solar flare on Sunday morning, is expected to impact our geomagnetic field by January 17th. - Solar Ham.

Like an enormous cannon that is slowly turning its barrel toward us, the latest giant sunspot region AR1654 is steadily moving into position to face Earth, loaded with plenty of magnetic energy to create M-class flares—moderate-sized outbursts of solar energy that have the potential to cause brief radio blackouts on Earth and, at the very least, spark bright aurorae around the upper latitudes. Active Region 1654 on the Sun’s western limb, seen by SDO on Jan. 11. Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI team. Diagram by J. Major.
MONSTER SUNSPOT AIMING OUR WAY: According to SpaceWeather.com, AR1654 "could be the sunspot that breaks the recent lengthy spell of calm space weather around our planet." The image above, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory earlier today, shows the structure of AR1654 upon the Sun's photosphere—its light-emitting "surface" layer. Stretching many tens of thousands of miles, this magnetic solar blemish easily dwarfs our entire planet. And it's not just a prediction that this sunspot will unleash a flare—it already has. AR1654 came around the limb of the sun crackling with activity. Shortly after the probability of AR1654 releasing a flare was raised to 50% it did just that, letting loose with a burst of magnetic energy that was observed by SDO's multi-channel cameras.  Peaking at 9:11 UTC, this M1-class flare won't have much more effect on Earth than perhaps some radio and GPS interference and maybe increased auroral activity. But AR1654 is still evolving and growing… and moving to face us. In the meantime, solar astronomers and observatories like SDO are keeping an ever-watchful eye on this magnetic monster. - PHYSORG.

HUMAN DEVOLUTION: Gang-Rape Epidemic In India - 7 Year-Old Girl Is Raped In School, Sparking Fresh Protests And Arrest Of Headmistress For Negligence Of Duty!

January 15, 2013 - INDIA - Hundreds of people surrounded a school in India to protest after a seven-year-old girl was allegedly raped in the toilets next door to the headmistress's office.  The girl was attacked at Deepvihar high school, which also has a primary faculty, in the city of Vasco da Gama in Goa yesterday.  The incident is the latest in a series of horrific rape cases which have besieged India and caused widespread protests.   

 Protests: There has been widespread unrest in India since the brutal gang rape of a student on a
 bus who later died from her injuries.
More than 150 people surrounded the school last night demanding the arrest of the headmistress and the rapist, who is thought to be in his 20s. A police official said: 'The girl was raped inside the school toilet during recess'.  The headmistress was later arrested for negligence of duty.  'We will not spare the accused and anyone involved in this crime,' Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar added.  The attack in Goa comes after a 23-year-old student died after being brutally gang raped by five men on a bus in Delhi last month.  The victim and male friend had boarded the bus after going to watch a film before attacking the couple and taking it in turns to rape her.  She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.  

The case has thrown the international spotlight on sexual abuse in India and thousands have protested demanding greater protection for women and the death penalty for rape.  At the latest hearing today, one of the accused presented documents in a bid to prove he was a juvenile at the time of the attack.  If a judge rules in his favour he cannot be given the death penalty if convicted.  Yesterday, six men were arrested after another alleged gang rape of a woman on a bus in New Delhi.  The victim had been travelling to her in-laws hosue in Punjab on Friday when she was allegedly snatched and to a district bordering Amritsar, the Sikh holy city.  Five men joined the driver and conductor, who had taken her by motorbike to an unknown address, and took turns to rape the 29-year-old.  In a separate case, a policeman in Goa was arrested yesterday on suspicion of sexually abusing sex workers, who said he and two other policemen, all now suspended, had been sexually exploiting them in return for protection of their trade. - Daily Mail.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake Strikes The Pacific-Antarctic Ridge!

January 15, 2013 - PACIFIC OCEAN - According to the United States Geological Survey, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck 1029km or 639 miles northeast of Scott Island Bank, Antarctica at 16:09:37 UTC.

The tremor was located at 62.557°S 161.380°W and recorded with a depth of 10.1km (6.2 miles).

Historic seismicity of the region.
The epicentre was at a distance of 2570km (1597 miles) southeast of Dunedin, New Zealand; 2617km (1626 miles) southeast of Invercargill, New Zealand; 2617km (1626 miles) southeast of Gore, New Zealand; and 2843km (1767 miles) southeast of Wellington, New Zealand.

No tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Is A Planetary Cooling Spell Straight Ahead - NASA Says "We May Be On The Verge Of A Mini-Maunder Event"?!

January 15, 2013 - THE SUN - All climate scientists agree that the sun affects Earth's climate to some extent. They only disagree about whether or not the effect form the sun is minor compared to man-made causes.

We noted in 2011:
This week, scientists from the US Solar Observatory and the US Air Force Research Laboratory have discovered - to their great surprise - that the sun's activity is declining, and that we might experience the lowest solar output we've seen since 1645-1715. The Register describes it in dramatic tones:
What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening.
Scientists who are convinced that global warming is a serious threat to our planet say that such a reduced solar output would simply buy us more time ... delaying the warming trend, but not stopping or reversing it.

On the other hand, scientists who are skeptical about global warming say that the threat is a new mini ice age. (Remember that scientists have been convinced in the past that we would have a new ice age, and even considered pouring soot over the arctic in the 1970s to help melt the ice - in order to prevent another ice age. Obama's top science advisor was one of those warning of a new ice age in the 1970s. And see this.)
NASA reports this week that we may be on the verge of another Maunder Minimum (a period with an unusually low number of sunspots, leading to colder temperatures):
Much has been made of the probable connection between the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year deficit of sunspots in the late 17th-early 18th century, and the coldest part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America were subjected to bitterly cold winters. The mechanism for that regional cooling could have been a drop in the sun's EUV output; this is, however, speculative.
The yearly averaged sunspot number for a period of 400 years (1610-2010). © NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

The sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years. Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion.
NASA explains that interactions between the sun, sources of cosmic radiation and the Earth are very complicated, and it takes an interdisciplinary team of heliophysicists, chemists and others to quantify what is really going on. And the Earth's climate is also affected by cosmic radiation. So - even if NASA's prediction of a period of an unusually low amount of sun spots is proven correct - it is hard to know whether that will lead to a large or small reduction in temperature trends.- Washington's Blog.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Spectacular Lava Flows At The Stromboli Volcano Spark Fear In Italy!

January 15, 2013 - ITALY - Spectacular lava flows and smoke from an active volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli on Monday sparked fear among inhabitants but geophysicists said the situation was under control. Stromboli is part of the seven-island Eolian Archipelago just off Sicily in southern Italy.

AFP/AFP - The flanks of the Stromboli volcano north of Sicily spew lava towards the sea on January 14, 2013 after one of Europe's most active volanoes churned into activity. Spectacular lava flows and smoke from an active volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli on Monday sparked fear among inhabitants but geophysicists said the situation was under control.
The volcano is active but on Monday there was a particularly powerful eruption and sustained lava flows following four days of heightened activity. Stromboli mayor Marco Giorgianni told the island's 500 inhabitants that they were not at risk and experts from Italy's civil protection agency are due on the island for further controls shortly. "We are afraid," one resident, Pier Paolo Cincotta, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as saying. "No-one has really explained to us what the situation is and what we should do," he said. Italy's National Geophysics Institute is monitoring the situation. - Yahoo.

The new lava flow on the upper Sciara del Fuoco.
Another collapse of parts of the northern crater rim occurred today around 14:30 local time. Lava continued to issue from the NE cone and forms a lava flow with currently 3 branches, one of which reaches about 400 m elevation. Glowing rockfalls reach the sea. During the afternoon, small pyroclastic flows generated by material sliding down the Sciara could be seen. Strong explosive eruptions from the main NE vent continue to occur at intervals of 30 minutes approximately. - Volcano Discovery.

ICE AGE NOW: First Blast Of Winter - Britain's Deep Freeze, Band Of Snow Drives Across The Country, Chaos On The Roads And Railways, Up To Seven Inches Of Snow Falls!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Parts of Britain were blanketed with up to seven inches of snow last night - and with temperatures plummeting, there were fears that roads and rail lines could be plunged into chaos.  Last night one train company, Greater Anglia, was branded a ‘national embarrassment’ after cancelling 24 trains even though less than an inch of snow had fallen.  Furious passengers took to the internet to voice their frustration as routes between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich were hit with delays and cancellations.  

Crashes: This car ended up on its roof near Hatton of Fintray, Aberdeenshire, and was one of several
accidents in 'ice rink' conditions.
Stephanie Michelle tweeted: ‘Greater Anglia are utterly useless. Slowing trains down before it has even started snowing properly and making up rubbish excuses for it.’  Another commuter, under the guise of ‘essexmat’, said: ‘A big well done #greateranglia for another shambolic day of over-running works and cancellations because of snow... There wasn’t any!’   The company insisted the measures were necessary because the snow could damage engines and trackside equipment. But Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for campaign group Railfuture, said: ‘Any train should be able to cope with a little bit of snow, so this is an embarrassment for Greater Anglia.  ‘It illustrates the way the UK is not geared up for snow compared to other European countries. We’re sceptical of the argument that snow could damage trackside equipment, as it would have to be a large chunk of snow to do that.’  The weather led to more than 30 Heathrow flights being cancelled yesterday as the cold started to bite.  

More than 20 stranded drivers had to be rescued by the AA, which had attended 12,500 breakdowns by 5pm yesterday.  Some 23 cars were stuck in snow, mainly in the Grampians in Scotland, the North East, Oxfordshire and the East Midlands.  An AA spokesman said breakdowns were coming in at more than 1,100 every hour, and urged drivers to be prepared and carry winter kit in their cars.  Forecasters last night predicted much of the country would wake up to snowy scenes and dangerously icy roads.  Temperatures are set to fall as low as -8C (18F) in more exposed parts of England, with the settled snow causing the mercury to drop further.  The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for several regions, including the East Midlands, eastern England, the North East and Yorkshire and Humber.  John Lee, forecaster for MeteoGroup, last night warned: ‘Over the next 12 hours there is the chance of 5-10cm (2-4in) quite widely in the North East, East Midlands and East Anglia.  ‘Some of the hills in the North York Moors and the Lincolnshire Wolds could see 10-15cm (4-6ins).’  Almost every part of Britain was hit yesterday, with forecasters predicting the freezing conditions are only going to get worse.  Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, Southampton, Luton, Manchester International, Bristol, Heathrow, Stansted, Luton and Gatwick airports said that flights were being disrupted, with departures being delayed by up to three hours.  This bad weather could be the start of up to three weeks of freezing conditions, with Britain likely to be colder than Lapland by Wednesday.  Temperatures could hit -14 this week in Britain's coldest parts, while Utsjoki, in the Finnish part of Lapland, will be at around -5. - Daily Mail

WATCH: Heaviest snow fall in several years causes travel chaos.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Wild, Wild Earth Changes - Ice Storm For Memphis, Tupelo And Others; As Records Highs/Lows Smashed From American Coast To Coast?!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Wild weather across lower Mississippi Valley has taken a turn for the cold side as two ice storms affect the area into Tuesday.  The worst of the ice into Monday night will occur from the Louisiana/Arkansas border to northern Mississippi and northwest Alabama into central Tennessee, where many locations will see a glaze between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick on elevated surfaces.  Cities in the path of the ice storm include Eldorado, Ark. and Greenville, Miss. to Memphis, Tenn. and Nashville.  This amount of ice build-up on tree limbs and power lines will add a tremendous weight to them, and the strain could lead to not only heavily damaged trees, but also road closures and power outages. 

Ice Storm For Memphis, Tupelo And Others.
In addition, bridges and overpasses can become very slippery and very dangerous.  The same can be said for those walking across parking lots, sidewalks, and any surfaces left untreated. The ice will come mainly in the form of freezing rain, which is plain rain that freezes on contact.  Snow will fall on the northwestern flank of the ice and can mix in at times to northern Louisiana to central Tennessee.  The freezing rain will continue spreading northeastward before tapering off during the evening hours.  There will be a brief end to the ice Monday night, but another wave of freezing rain will occur in part of the same area on Tuesday.  Plain rain will fall from central Louisiana and central Mississippi to southwestern and central Virginia with both storms into the middle of the week. Because of the wet state of the ground in part of this area and the fact that the rain can come down hard at times, there is the risk of flash, urban and small stream flooding.  Stay with the AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center for the latest updates on this impending ice storm. - AccuWeather.

Records Highs/Lows Smashed From American Coast To Coast.
With a very dynamic weather pattern in place across the United States, records were broken across the country Saturday afternoon into Sunday. Dozens of record highs were set or tied from Ontario through Florida on Saturday while record lows were found throughout the West. Additional records have been broken as of Sunday afternoon, especially over the mid-Atlantic into western New England. Below is a list of selected official record high temperatures from Saturday:
  • Montgomery, Ala. - 80 degrees broke the previous record of 76 from 1950.
  • Tampa, Fla. - 83 degrees broke the previous record of 82 from 1989.
  • Atlanta, Ga. - 76 degrees broke the previous record of 71 from 1995.
  • Alpena, Mich. - 57 degrees broke the record of 49 from 2005.
  • Bradford, Pa. - 53 degrees broke the record of 50 from 2006.
  • Bluefield, W.V. - 72 degrees broke the record of 68 from 2005.
  • Ottawa, Ontario - 45 degrees broke the record of 42 from 1932.
  • Toronto, Ontario - 55 degrees broke the record of 49 from 2006.
  • Columbia, S.C. - 82 degrees broke the record of 74 from 2005.
Below is a list of selected unofficial record low temperatures from Sunday morning:
  • Ely, Nv. - -22 degrees which broke the record of -19 from 2007.
  • Winnemucca, Nv. - -21 degrees which broke the record of -19 from 1917.
  • South Lake Tahoe, Calif. - -14 degrees which broke the record of -6 from 2007.
  • Thermal, Calif. - 20 degrees which broke the record of 25 from 2012.
  • Riverside, Calif. - 22 degrees which broke the record of 25 from 1963.
  • Burns, Ore. - -15 degrees which broke the record of -9 from 1960.
  • Challis, Id. - -21 degrees which broke the record of -13 from 1949.
Below is a list of selected unofficial record high temperatures from Sunday afternoon:
  • Bradford, Pa. - 63 degrees which breaks the record of 58 from 2005.
  • Rochester, N.Y. - 68 degrees which breaks the record of 67 from 1972.
  • Charlotte, N.C. - 75 degrees which ties the record of 75 from 1960.
  • Tri-Cities Airport, Tenn. - 73 degrees which broke the old record of 72 from 1972.
- AccuWeather.

EXTREME WEATHER: Persistent Drought - New Water Lows For Great Lakes Could Drain Local Economies!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Chris Berkey makes his living plying the often treacherous waters of the Great Lakes, delivering staples like cement to industries nestled in the myriad harbors that dot a coastline that's equal to nearly half of the circumference of the globe.  It's not glamorous work, but it is critical to the U.S. economy. And it's getting harder.  Water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron fell to record low levels for December, and are expected to break the all-time low sometime in the next few months.  Cargo ships like Berkey's are being forced to lighten their loads, some harbors have already been forced to close and the tourist trade is bracing for an impact as well.  "In years past, there was always a buffer," he said. "That buffer's gone."

 Water levels in Lake Michigan, pictured, and Lake Huron fell to record low levels for December.
It's not a new problem. Lake levels have been below average for at least 13 years, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.  But it is an increasingly serious one:  -- The coal trade on the Great Lakes declined 8.2% in 2012 from the previous year, and down a quarter off the 5-year-averge -- in large part due to falling water levels and a $200 million backlog in necessary dredging throughout the lakes, according to the Lake Carriers' Association. -- Commercial fishing boats are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate some harbors, risking a downturn in a vital part of the Great Lakes economy, said Mark Breederland, an educator with Michigan SeaGrant, which works with coastal communities on water-level issues, among other things. -- Charter boat operations and other businesses in coastal communities that depend on tourism fear the impact lower water levels will have from spring to fall, when tens of thousands of people flow into the state to boat, fish, eat out and shop.

Fishing lure
In Frankfort, Michigan, a popular salmon run on the Betsie River draws tourists drawn by the lure of fishing a rare naturally replenished population of the prized fish, said city manager Josh Mills.  "We see people from Texas, from Georgia, from Ohio, Illinois, other areas of Michigan," he said.  But low lake levels last year dried up the run, leaving salmon flopping in the mud, and forcing the state Department of Natural Resources to close to run to protect the population.  It appears a good number of the fish made it to their spawning grounds, but if water levels don't recover in the spring, the narrow channel through which the fish pass could dry up once again -- prompting tourists to find someplace else to go, Breederland said.  Also of concern: potential access problems at some of the private marinas dotting Betsie Bay, Mills said. Despite efforts to diversify the city's economy in recent years, such problems would be a huge blow to the tiny community of 1,300, the city manager said.  "I'm confident the community will step up," he said. "But if there's no water, we're going to miss out on a lot of activity."

Precipitation and evaporation 

The problem is a long-term cycle of too little water from melting snow and rain to counter the effects of evaporation on the lakes, Kompoltowicz.  Last winter, too little snow fell on the Great Lakes region to fully replenish the lakes. While Lake Michigan and Lake Huron typically rise a foot after the spring melt, the lakes only rose four inches last spring, Kompoltowicz said.  Add that tiny rise to a very hot, very dry summer that sucked water out of the lake like a straw, and you have a recipe for the decline in lake levels under way today, eh said.  There's too little data to say the problem is a product of global warming, he said. It's also a cycle that's been seen before.  Lake levels were nearly this low in December 1964, and it's the March 1964 record that's likely to fall in the next few months.  There is hope, he said. Records dating back to 1918 would seem to indicate a cyclical pattern that could well result in record lake levels in the next few years, he said. Such swings occurred in the 1970s and 1980s after similar low points. - CNN.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursor - Two Giant Whales Found Beached On Separated East Hampton Beaches In Long Island!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Marine officials say two whales washed up on New York's Long Island just hours apart. One was dead and the other was later euthanized.

Curious onlookers inspect an emaciated 60-foot finback whale that beached itself in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Rockaways in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012. Biologist Mendy Garron says it's unclear what caused the whale to beach itself, but its chances of survival appear slim. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens).
Newsday says they were discovered Sunday on separate stretches of East Hampton beaches.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation said they don't believe the two events are connected.

The first whale was found dead around 8 a.m. in Napeague. Officials say there were no outward signs of what may have caused the death of the 59-foot-long finback whale.

At around 2:30 p.m., officials got a report of a 5-foot-long juvenile pygmy sperm whale in nearby Amagansett. The foundation says it was euthanized because it had skin lesions and appeared "sickly."

Necropsies will be performed on both mammals on Monday. - FOX News.

EXTREME WEATHER: "Brutal Cold" - Multiple Arctic Outbreaks Over The Next Few Weeks Over East And Midwest America, Potential For The Coldest Weather In Years!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - As forecast, warmth has peaked across the East this weekend, but a change is on the way. Waves of cold air with the potential of major arctic outbreaks may follow beginning this week and continuing beyond.  Temperatures have already crashed in the northern Plains and as far east as Chicago and Indianapolis.  Following a batch of rain associated with an advancing cold front, this colder air will reach Detroit and Cincinnati on Monday. Cooler air will return to Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

This story written by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards talks about the dramatic 15 to 30 degree temperature drop expected from the Great Lakes to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. In the South, the chilly air has returned to Dallas and it will move on to Nashville and Jackson, Miss., Monday. Cooler air will even invade Raleigh, N.C., and Atlanta on Tuesday. Colder air will continue to spread through the West through Monday while frigid air has already set up for the next few days over the northern Plains.  That may not be the end of the cold outbreaks for the U.S., however.  Another sizable batch of Arctic air is projected to take aim from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast later next week.

 Additional waves of Arctic air may continue later in the month into February from portions of the Plains to the East with the potential for the coldest weather in years for northern areas as the pattern gets rolling.  How much progress these cold presses make into the South are uncertain at this point.  Such outbreaks of arctic air would produce significant lake-effect snow events and could provide the cold ingredients necessary for more general snowfall, provided the pattern does not become so bold as to drive away Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic coast storms.  The bottom line is while the expansion of warmth will continue through the weekend in the East and will bounce back next week for a time in parts of the Plains and East, the lasting memory of the season may be remembered for a return to more traditional winter conditions with significant outbreaks of cold air in much of the same area. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Chinese Village Is Swallowed Up By Monster Sinkholes - 20 Cave-ins In Just Five Months?!

January 15, 2013 - CHINA - The land in a Chinese village is quite literally disappearing before the residents' eyes with large sinkholes swallowing up vast spaces. In the past five months villagers from Lianyuan in southern China's Hunan Province have been left alarmed after seeing over 20 holes suddenly open up in the ground. From last September the cave-ins, which range in size, have seen houses collapse and rivers dry and left villagers terrified about where the next will be.

Guessing game: The constant developments have left villagers terrified about where the next will be.
Investigator: It is not clear what steps are being taken to prevent further sinkholes from appearing but the local government has started an investigation.
Initial investigation showed reckless coal mining has damaged the underground water system and caused cave-ins in farm fields and riverbanks in recent months, the China News Service reported today. Over 4,000 villages have now been left with a water supply problem as land subsidence has blocked some creeks, reported Sina. It also cracked the walls of about 20 houses, forcing two families to evacuate.

Cut off: Over 4,000 villages have now been left with a water supply problem as land subsidence has
blocked some creeks.
Alarmed: Villagers from Lianyuan in southern China's Hunan Province have been left alarmed by continuous sinkholes that have seen over 20 holes suddenly open up in the ground over the past five months.
Holes: According to the Lianyuan government, preliminary investigations found that the coalmines are the main reason for the cave-ins.
Photos showed water from blocked creeks was flowing into a big hole in the ground. It is not clear what steps are being taken to prevent further sinkholes from appearing, but the local government has started an investigation. The report said that a compensation plan is being worked out for the affected families. Last February another town in Hunan saw nearly 700 cave-ins, affecting some 1,200 people. - Daily Mail.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - DARPA Wants To Dot Ocean Floor With Network Of Robotic Pods That Can Spy And Explore!

January 15, 2013 - UNITED STATES - This plan sounds a bit like a science fiction scenario where alien devices were planted in the ground thousands of years ago only to be awoken at some predetermined date to destroy the world.  Only in this case it's the scientists at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency who want to develop a system of submersible pods that could reside in the world's oceans  (presumably not in anyone's territorial waters) and be activated for any number of applications days, months or even years later.  The Upward Falling Payload (UFP) project, as DARPA calls it, centers on pre-deploying deep-ocean nodes years in advance in forward areas which can be remotely commanded to launch to the surface.  "The objective of the UFP program is to realize a new approach for enabling forward deployed unmanned distributed systems that can provide non-lethal effects or situation awareness over large maritime areas," DARPA stated.

Depending on the specific application,  DARPA said UFP systems would provide "a range of non-lethal but useful capabilities such as situational awareness, disruption, deception, networking, rescue, or any other mission that benefits from being pre-distributed and hidden. An example class of systems might be small unmanned aerial vehicles that launch to the surface in capsules, take off and provide aerial situational awareness, networking or decoy functions."
"Almost half of the world's oceans are more than four kilometers deep. This provides considerable opportunity for cheap stealth. The vastness and depth make retrieval costs prohibitive.  Despite this, the UFP program is specifically not a weapons program, and the risks to losing any single node will be minimal," DARPA said
The UFP system is envisioned to consist of three key subsystems, DARPA says:
  • The 'payload' which executes waterborne or airborne applications after being deployed to the surface
  • The UFP 'riser' which provides pressure tolerant encapsulation and launch (ascent) of the payload
  • The UFP communications which triggers the UFP riser to launch. A multi-phase effort is envisioned to design, develop, and demonstrate UFP systems.
DARPA said it is looking for proposals in three key areas for developing the program: Communications, deep ocean 'risers' to contain the payloads, and the actual payloads. DARPA envisions technical communities that conduct deep-ocean engineering from the telecom and oil-exploration industry to the scientific community with insights into signal propagation in the water and on the seafloor would be interested in the project. - Network World.

EXTRATERRESTRIAL MEMES: Amateur Astronomers Find 42 New Planets - Including A Jupiter-Sized World That Could Hold Life!

January 15, 2013 - SPACE - A team of amateur astronomers from around the world has discovered evidence for 42 alien planets, including a Jupiter-size world that could potentially be habitable, it was revealed today. The team, organised online via the planethunters website, analysed data from NASA's Kepler Space telescope.

An artist's impression of of the view from a moon orbiting the planet PH2b. Scientists says Moons
like the one depicted in the film Avatar may be among the most common places to find alien life.
Moons like the one depicted in the film Avatar may be among the most common places to find alien life, scientists believe. Astronomers came to the conclusion after identifying up to 15 new planets orbiting the life-friendly 'habitable zones' of stars. All are giant gaseous worlds similar in size to Jupiter or Neptune. While such planets would not themselves be suitable for Earth-like life, they could be circled by moons on which there are forests, oceans and living creatures, researchers now believe. Pandora, the fictional moon in Avatar, is just such a world. The rest still fall into the category of 'candidate' planets while further evidence is collected. The confirmed planet, known as PH2 b, orbits a sun-like star in the constellation Cygnus several hundred light years away. Astronomer Dr Chris Lintott, from Oxford University, a member of the international team behind the discovery, said: 'There's an obsession with finding Earth-like planets but what we are discovering with planets such as PH2 b is far stranger. 'Jupiter has several large water-rich moons. Imaging dragging that system into the comfortably warm region where the Earth is. 'If such a planet had Earth-size moons, we'd see not Europa and Callisto but worlds with rivers, lakes and all sorts of habitats: a surprising scenario that might just be common.

'It may be that the most common habitable worlds are moons around Jupiter and Neptune-size planets rather than rocky planets as in our own solar system.' Members of the public helped astronomers identify the candidate exoplanets by logging onto the planethunters.org website on their home computers. The Planet Hunters project invites 'citizen scientists' to spot graph patterns signifying the tell-tale dip in brightness as planets pass in front of their parent stars. Follow-up work with the Keck telescope in Hawaii provided the proof that PH2 b is almost certainly a genuine planet. More than 40 volunteers are credited in a paper on the research published online by the Astrophysical Journal. One, retired police office Roy Jackson, 71, from Birtley near Gateshead, said: 'It is difficult to put into words, the pleasure, wonderment and perhaps even pride that I have in some small way been able to assist in the discovery of a planet.' Another, electronics engineer Mark Hadley from Faversham, said: 'Now when people ask me what I achieved last year I can say I have helped discover a possible new planet around a distant star. How cool is that?' Planet Hunters lead scientist Professor Debra Fisher, from Yale University in the US, said: 'We are seeing the emergence of a new era in the Planet Hunters project where our volunteers seem to be at least as efficient as the computer algorithms at finding planets orbiting at habitable zone distances from the host stars. 'Now, the hunt is not just targeting any old exoplanet; volunteers are homing in on habitable worlds.' Before the latest finds, 19 other exoplanets had already been located in habitable zones. Also known as the 'Goldilocks zone', this is the orbital path where temperatures are not too hot or cold but "just right" to permit liquid surface water. Dr Ji Wang, another Planet Hunters scientist from Yale University, said: 'We can speculate that PH2 b might have a rocky moon that would be suitable for life. 'I can't wait for the day when astronomers report detecting signs of life on other worlds instead of just locating potentially habitable environments. 'That could happen any day now.' - Daily Mail.

RED DAWN DOOMSDAY: Disaster Preparedness - China To Increase Gold And Silver Storage By A Whopping 180 Percent!

January 15, 2013 - CHINA - Today acclaimed money manager Stephen Leeb told King World News the West is becoming even more desperate as the Chinese are going to increase storage a staggering 180% this year for gold, silver and other metals. Leeb continues to believe that when the Chinese eventually have gold underlying their currency the game is over. Here is what Leeb had to say: “I’m focused on this battle between the West and the East right now, and the Basel III situation. The Basel III ratios that discuss liquidity ratios the BIS wants the banks to maintain so they can survive a bank run are utterly baffling. The puzzling thing was what they said banks could hold in the event of a run on the banks or a liquidity squeeze.”

Stephen Leeb continues:

“The last time we had a run on the banks was in 2008 when liquidity became a major issue. In 2008, companies like GE were really having trouble turning over their commercial paper, so this was impacting everybody. The first of these Basel III requirements says that you can hold equities or BBB- bonds. Even with a haircut of 50%, this is ludicrous. Who is going to take a BBB- bond as satisfaction for liquidity in a true liquidity crunch? What was left out was gold. Gold hold up well during the entire crisis. It looked like it had a normal correction during that period. It didn’t look like GE, which crashed and burned.... Incredibly, the Basel III accord also allows banks to hold mortgage-backed securities as a liquidity cushion. Gold held its own in 2008, better than virtually anything else in the world. So of course gold should have been included as an option amongst those junk assets. So why don’t they include gold? Imagine if they had mentioned gold as a liquidity cushion in the event of a major catastrophe. Gold would probably be trading at $2,200 or $2,300. What would that say about the value of the dollar as a currency? It would mean the asset which would be the ultimate hedge in a liquidity crunch really is gold. But for them to say it would basically cause gold to shoot up, and that would devalue all of the global fiat currencies across the board. Now, ironically, to cause gold to go up that much and that quickly could hurt the Chinese because they are nowhere near buying the amounts of gold they ultimately want to possess. So the Chinese are just sitting there and saying, ‘Thank you,’ to the West because they are buying the hell out of gold and they really don’t want to pay $2,400 for gold when they can pay $1,600 or $1,700 for it.

Gold trading in Shanghai is also picking up, and they will probably have an ETF in gold in the next couple of weeks. Where are they going to get the gold to put into the ETF? They are doing everything they can to get as much gold as they can without totally disrupting the market. The reality is, and this upsets the hell out of me, but they are getting a tremendous assist from none other than our BIS. I mean what would any sensible person rather have in a liquidity run? Would you rather have a BBB- bond, mortgage-backed securities, or gold? Obviously it’s gold. Why didn’t the BIS say it? I’ll tell you why, it’s because they are scared to death. What you are seeing on the part of the West is ever-increasing desperation. Now, is it a coincidence that Warren Buffett, right after these ridiculous Basel III regulations came out on liquidity, said, ‘He guarantees us that US banks are in great shape?’ How great a shape are the banks in when fiat currencies eventually collapse and gold, silver and other commodities go to the moon and the economy stops functioning? They’re not. So everything we are seeing right now is desperation on the part of the West. The West is losing their head in terms of strategic moves because of this increasing desperation. All of this is playing right into what the Chinese would like the West to do. They are giving the Chinese all the time they need to get their yuan backed by gold.

There was a news release last night out of China stating, ‘Gold is going to become an ever greater part of our reserves. We are going to try to do it in a measured way.’ What do you think, that the Chinese are going to hold BBB- bonds and MBS as a liquidity cushion? It’s preposterous. Either the people heading the West have cumulatively lost their minds, or they are just completely desperate. The message for investors is you better own gold. You better own some of those junior gold mines. You better own silver. Yes, the Chinese are accumulating silver for their energy needs. Right now the Chinese have 50,000 square meters of space to store metals. The Chinese are going to add another 90,000 square meters (a 180% increase) this year. This is a country that is literally going to spend trillions of dollars to build out, urbanize, modernize, and put together an energy grid that is second to none. They know they will need a stable currency to do that. The only way to accomplish this is to own a great deal of gold to back their currency. What the BIS and Basel III people just did was say to them, ‘Take your time, China.’ Well, it’s almost game over. That’s what you are seeing play out right now. Gold probably has a downside of $1,600 here, and the upside is the moon. That’s just the way this is going to end and nothing can stop it now.” - King World News.