Saturday, February 2, 2013

DISASTER IMPACT: At Least 10 People Injured As 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hit Northern Japan - The Authorities Are Assessing Damage To Nuclear Power Plants!

February 02, 2013 - JAPAN - A POWERFUL 6.9 magnitude earthquake has struck northern Japan, causing strong tremors across Hokkaido island, but no damage to several nuclear facilities in the region, officials say. The quake, which was preceded by an early warning broadcast on television and radio, hit near the town of Obihiro at a depth of 103 kilometres at 11.17pm on Saturday (0117 AEDT Sunday), according to US Geological Survey data.  Ten people suffered minor injuries due to falling objects, broken glass and other incidents, according to national broadcaster NHK, but authorities said no serious damage was reported and the quake did not generate a tsunami.

The shaking lasted about a minute, and video taken in the offices of NHK Hokkaido showed computer screens swaying and shelves threatening to give way.  Bottles smashed to the ground in supermarkets, some areas had power blackouts and a number of highways were closed. Trains were stopped on rural tracks as a precaution.  "Beware of possible landslides and buildings that could have been weakened," an official from Japan's Meteorological Agency warned at a press conference.  The most violent tremors were felt in the eastern part of Hokkaido - the nation's second largest island and a popular skiing destination - but the northern part of the island was also shaken along with parts of the main island of Honshu, where Tokyo is located.  Utility firms said no abnormalities were reported at the Tomari nuclear plant in Hokkaido's west, nor in the nuclear facilities in Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on Honshu.  Aomori is home to the Higashidori nuclear reactors and a nuclear reprocessing plant in Rokkasho which is currently in a testing phase, as well as fuel storage sites. 

At present only two of the country's 50 reactors are operational, after the entire network was shuttered over several months for scheduled safety checks following the quake-tsunami disaster of March 2011.  Both are in Oi, in Honshu's west.  Shortly before Saturday's quake hit, an alert was broadcast on television and radio through an early warning system established by the weather agency, and programs were interrupted on NHK.  "Make yourself safe, turn off the gas, beware of falling objects, and if you are outside do not approach the coast," a broadcaster said.  The devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan's northeast left some 19,000 people dead or missing and crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the world's worst atomic disaster in 25 years.  A powerful 7.3-magnitude undersea quake in the same area in December triggered a one-metre-high tsunami, but there were no reports of fatalities.  Since the Fukushima disaster the country has been fearing another quake catastrophe.  Some of Japan's reactors, including the Higashidori facility, are built near faults suspected to be active.  Since the March disaster, anti-nuclear sentiment has run high in Japan, which used to rely on atomic power for around a third of its electricity needs.  Some four hours after the quake a 5.5-magnitude tremor struck off Japan's Izu islands, around 725 kilometres south of Tokyo, according to the US Geological Survey. - Herald Sun.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: U.S. Food Prices Rising Sharply - Up 9% From December To January, 15% Increase On January 2012, USDA Expect Even Higher Prices Thanks To The Drought!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today that January agricultural product prices received by farmers rose 9% in January compared with December prices. Prices were 15% higher than in January 2012. The prices paid index (i.e., the cost of producing the crops) rose 1.4% above the December index and is up 5.2% compared with January 2012.

Producers received higher prices for lettuce, cattle and corn, and lower prices for milk, eggs and wheat. Costs rose for rent, nitrogen fertilizer and other services, while falling for diesel fuel, interest and mixed fertilizer. Food prices paid by consumers will be going up, due in part to continued drought conditions in some of the country's most productive farmland and due in part rising costs. The rising farm price index does not predict that inflation will zoom up, but it is one indicator that consumers will be squeezed again to decide whether to buy something to eat or that new electronic gizmo. Food usually wins, and the effect on the economy is (usually temporarily) not good. - 24/7 Wall Street.

USDA Expect Even Higher Prices Thanks To The Drought.
The drought devastating Midwest farmers and ranchers will fully reach its tentacles from the field to your table this year, according to a recent USDA report. The USDA expects food prices to rise, largely because many Midwestern corn farmers weren't able to grow a full corn crop. Farmers and ranchers around the country spent the year screaming about the drought ravaging their fields and wrecking their harvests. But thanks to the complex food system in which it often takes months for food to travel from farm to grocery store, consumers didn't feel much of a pinch. The food section of the Consumer Price Index, which measures the relative cost of food, rose only .5 percent in 2012. The USDA expects it to grow 3-4 percent this year, an increase above the historical average.

Price increases highlight both the importance of the U.S. corn crop and the intricate machinations of the food system. The drought decimated field corn stocks from Indiana to Kansas and last year U.S. farmers harvested the fewest bushels of corn in any year since 1995. Consumers, though, don't actually consume field corn - it's used in animal feed -- so low corn stocks drive up the cost of meat, and dairy products like butter and yogurt. "(Corn is) a major input to the U.S. food supply chain," Richard Volpe, a USDA economist said in a recent video post. "So we're seeing input costs rise from all the meat products and all of these animal-based products that consumers buy regularly."

Many ranchers downsized their herds last year thanks to skyrocketing feed costs. Economists expect that will cause a shortfall in this year's supply and a corresponding spike in the price of beef. "The transmission of commodity price changes into retail prices typically takes several months to occur, and most of the impact of the drought will be realized in 2013," the USDA says. You may have already noticed higher prices on some of the food you buy at the grocery store. Beef, poultry and fruit prices increased in 2012, but the USDA charted price decreases in pork, eggs and vegetables. The 2013 outlook, however, expects rising food prices across the board. - Harvest Public Media.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Austria Shaken By Strongest Earthquake In 13 Years!

February 02, 2013 - AUSTRIA - A 4.5-magnitude quake shook southern Austria on Saturday, the country's ZAMG meteorological and geodynamic institute said, but it was not immediately clear whether it had caused any damage.

USGS earthquake map and location.
The quake struck at 14:35 pm (1335 GMT) and "was strongly felt" in the Karavanke mountain range bordering Slovenia, near Eisenkappel in Austria's southern state of Carinthia, the centre said.

About two months ago, an earthquake measuring a magnitude of 4.3 on the Richter scale hit the Slovenian side of the Karavanke mountain range, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of the Austrian border. - Global Post.

The earthquake was felt most in Slovenia, also in Austria (of course as the epicenter is located over there) and Croatia. Austrian meteorological agency(ZAMG) also reports M 4,5, but in a depth of 7 km. We think this datas might be the true ones. 7 km is shallow and probably with a pretty large intensity for a country, which has quakes like this only once in 5 years. So we think this quake might have caused minor damage in epicenter area.

Austrian newspapers are mentioning minor damage around the epicenter, which was close to Bad Eisenkappel. More than 1000 people called the local fire brigade or police, some of them were reporting minor damages to their houses, but luckily nothing heavy. There were no injuries. - Earthquake Report.

Selnica ob Dravi (Slovenia) (67 km E from epicenter): While this happened I was sitting in front of my PC with headphones on so I couldn't hear anything. I was talking to some of my friends through Skype, that live in Maribor, SVN. We all felt it. First off I thought that the cat is under my chair shaking it but after looking under it, I heard my friends on Skype say "wow, my chair just shaked!" followed by "mine too". We were waiting for another shake but didn't feel anything else.

Prevalje (Slovenia) (23 km E from epicenter): Lasted 5-6 seconds and was very strong.

Trieste (Italy) (118 km SW from epicenter): Ancient building with wooden floor and stone walls that make noises when there's an earthquake. 

Graz (Austria) (87 km NE from epicenter): I have been sitting at home, at the 8th floor (the house has 10 floors). The house rocked slightly, water in an mug moved.  - EMSC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Lava Dome Continues To Grow At Reventador Volcano In Ecuador - Ongoing Explosions!

February 02, 2013 - ECUADOR - The activity of the volcano remains strong. The new summit lava dome continues to grow and produce explosions and feed active lava flows on the upper flank. During the afternoon of 31 Jan, an strong emission column of steam and moderate ash content could be observed rising 3.5 km above the crater.
Visual and corresponding thermal image of an explosion
during 29 Jan (S. Hidalgo / S. Vallejo, IG-EPN).
Seismic activity remains at a high level, with a daily average of 20 earthquakes related to fluid pressurization and movement inside the volcano, and a daily average of 29 explosions since 22 January. IGEPN and the National Risk Management conducted a scientific helicopter overflight of the volcano on 29 Janand published the following informative report (translated):  Since November 2002, Reventador's activity has been characterized by periods of high and low activity levels. A marked increase of seismic and surface activity occurred on 21 Jan. Reports received from residents located near the volcano indicated the presence of glowing material in the crater and on the flanks during the nights of 21, 22 and 23 January. On 22 Jan, activity further intensified and produced explosions with loud bellowing noises. Associated with this activity was a strong seismic signal of constant fluid movements inside the volcano in the form of long-period events, low frequency tremor, tremor and explosion signals.

From 22 Jan until now, there have been frequent signals of low-frequency tremor of high energy.  It was found that the reported incandescence during 22 Jan came from a new lava flow on the southeastern flank, which had a width of about 350 m and a length of approximately 1.1 km and continued to advance. There were also smaller lava flows, less than 200 m long, on the north and south sides. Compared to the situation in past November, the lava dome in the summit crater has significantly increased its size. Its present height exceeds the eastern summit by at least 100 m. It has nearly filled the crater created by the explosion in November 2002. It was also evident that at least one lava flow had been generated between the months of November and December, and descended the northern flank of the cone reaching approximately 1.3 km length. 

Thermal image of the recent lava flows on Reventador
volcano; the active dome continues to feed a flow to
the south-east (S. Vallejo, IG-EPN).

During the overflight, an explosion was observed as well that generated a column of steam and ash rising at least 1.5 km above the crater. SO2 gas measurements were attempted, but the weather conditions during the flight did not allow to use the mobile DOAS.  Since November 2002, the volcano has produced over 20 lava flows, mainly on the north, south and southeast flanks of the volcano. These lava flows have remained inside the caldera, which is an area without population or any kind of infrastructure. However, IGPEN stresses that close monitoring is necessary to asses the stability and growth of the lava dome in the crater, because a partial or total collapse of the dome could generate pyroclastic flows that directly affect the area of ​​the caldera and in some cases beyond, especially on the eastern side. - Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES AND PESTILENCES: Authorities Warns Of Explosion Of Vermin Plague Following Floods In Australia - High Risks Of Rat And Mosquito-Borne Diseases!

February 02, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Crippling bushfires followed by an epic flood have punished large swaths of Australia in recent weeks.  Now plagues of disease-infested vermin and insects are threatening a cruel end to a disastrous summer.  Authorities have warned of an explosion in disease, infections and bites because of the perfect storm of high rainfall, fauna dislocation and sewage overflow.  Mosquitoes, rodents, spiders and snakes are the main offenders, while black flies are poised to create a spike in bacterial skin infections and allergic reactions. 

The Clarence River at Grafton at its 8.1m peak this week. © Nikki Short, The Australian.
NSW Health public health physician Professor David Durrheim said the risks increased as flood waters receded: "On the coast the rain event coincided with high tide and that generally increases the water levels into salt marshes and that's where the salt marsh mosquito breeds."  "Inland, as the water subsides, there will be ideal conditions for fresh water mosquitoes. There will be huge numbers of mosquitoes and the risk will be much greater.  "In areas of poor hygiene domestic flies have also been implicated in bacterial infection."  Professor Durrheim said Ross River fever, Barmah Forest virus and Murray Valley encephalitis were the most dangerous mosquito-borne diseases: "Rodents have also been implicated in outbreaks of a nasty disease called leptospirosis in NSW and southeast Queensland.  "The bacteria can enter the body through cuts and abrasions. We advise people to not enter the flood water, ensure they are covered up and if they suffer a cut they may need a tetanus boost."  The warnings came as hailstones and gale force winds lashed Sydney last night, with the bad weather expected to continue today.  "There's a big line of thunderstorms moving through Sydney at the moment," Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Jane Golding said.  "We expect morning showers and strong winds to continue."  The heavy rainfall caused flash flooding and reports of golf ball-sized hailstones and flooding of roads, particularly in the south of Sydney.  SES spokesman Phil Campbell said about 180 calls for help had been made with 105 from Sydney.

How to keep safe 
Mosquitoes: Follow the instructions on repellents; cover the skin; avoid swamplands, marshes and other still water areas; use mosquito coils or plug-in devices at home; and, tip out water receptacles which can act as breeding zones. 

Rodents and snakes: Remove waste, especially food scraps; keep doors or windows closed; and, be cautious when cleaning around dark areas behind or under large objects. 

Black flies: Wear loose fitting and long sleeved clothing; and, avoid sunrise to mid-morning (10am) and late afternoon (4pm) to sunset times outside. 

Spiders: Check pots or garden furniture before bringing them inside; shake clothes before putting them on; and, turn off lights when they're not required. - Daily Telegraph.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Scottish Highlands Hit By Largest Earthquake In 120 Years!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM -  A 2.4-magnitude earthquake has been recorded in one of the most northerly parts of the UK.

It is the largest quake in the area for around 120 years.

It was recorded by the British Geological Survey at 4.16am yesterday, about seven miles (11km) south of the village of Durness, in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. Only one resident, who lives near Loch Eriboll, reported feeling a "slight rumbling".

The earthquake is the largest recorded in the region since one on September 26 1887 which had a magnitude of three. The Richter Magnitude Scale typically ranges from 0 to 9. David Galloway, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said the earthquake was fairly small and went relatively unnoticed by residents because of the time of day it happened.

"We only had one person, who was already awake, report to us that they felt a slight rumbling," he said. "Most people will have been asleep when this happened and we wouldn't expect it to wake anyone up. If it was during the day, and in an area of higher population, we would expect more reports of people having felt it.

"It is one of five or six recorded in the region within a 30km (19-mile) radius, and the largest since 1887. It is not a region that experiences many earthquakes." No reports of any damage were made. - Herald Scotland.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: U.S. Wildlife Officials Have Propose Endangered Status For Wolverines!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Only 250 to 300 wolverines roam the US, but the species' habitats are threatened by climate change  The tenacious wolverine, a snow-loving carnivore sometimes called the "mountain devil," is being added to the list of species threatened by climate change, a dubious distinction that puts it in the ranks of the polar bear and several other animals that could see their habitats shrink drastically due to warming temperatures.  US wildlife officials on Friday will propose Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine in the contiguous 48 states, a step denied under the Bush administration. 
The 'mountain devil', in its natural habitat.
© Photograph: Audrey Magoun/AP.

The Associated Press obtained details of the government's long-awaited ruling on the rare, elusive animal in advance of the announcement.  Wildlife advocates, who sued to force the government to act on the issue, said they hope the animal's plight will be used by the Obama administration to leverage tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. As with the polar bear, the government could sidestep that thorny proposition by not addressing threats outside the wolverine's immediate range.  Only 250 to 300 wolverines roam the contiguous US, clustered into small, isolated groups primarily in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.  Maxing out at 40 pounds (18 kilograms) and tough enough to stand up to grizzly bears, the animals will be no match for anticipated declines in deep mountain snows that female wolverines need to establish dens and raise their young, scientists said. 

Yet because that habitat loss could take decades to unfold, wildlife officials said there's still time to bolster the population, including by reintroducing them to the high mountains of Colorado.  A special rule proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would allow Colorado's wildlife agency to reintroduce an experimental population of the animals that eventually could spill into neighboring portions of New Mexico and Wyoming.  Federal officials also want to shut down wolverine trapping in Montana, the only one of the 48 affected states where the practice is still allowed.  Federal officials said other human activities from snowmobiling and skiing to infrastructure development and transportation corridors are not significant threats to wolverines and would not be curtailed under Friday's proposal.  Once found throughout the Rocky Mountains and in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range, wolverines were wiped out across the 48 states by the 1930s due to unregulated trapping and poisoning campaigns, said Bob Inman, a wolverine researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society.  In the decades since, they've largely recovered in the Northern Rockies but not in other parts of their historical range, he said. - Guardian.

HUMAN DEVOLUTION: Mass Stabbing In Vancouver - 7 People Slashed, Man Randomly Stabbed Tenants In West End Neighbourhood?!

February 02, 2013 - CANADA -   Vancouver police say a 33-year-old man is in custody after an apparent random stabbing in the city's West End neighbourhood sent six people to hospital — one with severe injuries. 

Six people were taken to hospital following a stabbing at a West End apartment in Vancouver.
Police say the incident took place just before 7 p.m. PT Thursday on multiple floors of an apartment building in the 1200 block of Barclay Street.  "It was fairly chaotic scene,” said Sgt. Randy Fincham. “There were multiple victims in multiple spots within that apartment building.”  Six people — three men and three women — remain in hospital, while a seventh victim and a police officer were treated at the scene. The victims range in age from their 20s to their 60s. 

The unidentified suspect was arrested a short time after the stabbings and police say there don't appear to be any connections between him and the victims.  “It was a very vicious, very serious attack. There were multiple victims in this,” Fincham said.  “It appears that a lot of these victims were unrelated to each other and that they had no dealings with each other tonight and that it was possibly something that happened in the hallway and it was a random attack on all of these individuals.”  Fincham says the suspect does not appear to be a resident of the building.  Investigators are trying to determine what prompted the random attack and investigating whether the suspect has any history of mental health issues. - Yahoo.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Catastrophic Drought In The Central US - Cost Nation At Least $35 Billion, Conditions To Persist Well Into March!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The catastrophic drought in the central USA — which has cost the nation at least $35 billion, according to a report last week — shows no signs of abating as the nation enters the final full month of winter and moves toward spring.  Parts of every state west of the Mississippi River — except for Washington — are enduring drought conditions, according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a government website that tracks drought and is updated weekly. 

Photo: Nati Harnik, AP.
"The drought is firmly entrenched as we roll toward February," climatologist Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center writes in the monitor.  A warm, dry spring seems likely: "Unfortunately for the western Plains and eastern Rockies, I think the drought is going to persist, and it is going to be strong going into the springtime," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok says. "In the heart of the drought, it doesn't look good right now."  The Climate Prediction Center's Seasonal Drought Outlook for spring, released in January, also shows that drought is expected to persist or develop through most of the central and southern Plains, the Rockies and the Southwest.  This is bad news for farmers reeling from last year's devastating crop losses, which made up most of the $35 billion in losses last year, based on last week's report from global reinsurance firm Aon Benfield.  "Concerns are water-supply-related, given the depletion of reservoirs, stream and groundwater levels that would continue to be a concern for both the Missouri and Upper Colorado Basins," Svoboda says.

"This would hamper irrigation allocation and/or delivery for agriculture, urban and tourism interests this summer if we stay dry."  Svoboda says there is "strong potential" for significant impacts early this summer as the drought continues in the Midwest and central and northern Plains.  The relative lack of winter in back-to-back years will place a much greater emphasis on the need for well-above-normal spring rains if the region is to have any real chance of shaking this drought, Svoboda writes. The area "is now becoming the epicenter of the 2013 drought," he says.  Some small good news is in sight in far northern areas, reports AccuWeather meteorologist Meghan Evans, who says parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin may get some beneficial rains this spring.  Regardless of what one famed Pennsylvania groundhog predicts Saturday, meteorologists have already put out their forecast for the next six weeks: Winter will hold on the longest, well into March, across the Northeast and Northwest, Pastelok says.  "I think we could still see some late-season winter storms (in the Northeast)," Pastelok says, adding that February and March are typically when the Northeast sees some of its biggest storms.  As for severe weather, despite a rough final week of January, the number of tornadoes is predicted to be near-normal this spring. "Severe weather season this year will be different from last year," Pastelok says. "I think it is going to be a more typical start. Late March into April we'll get going, especially over the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys. But not like last year where we started very early in the season."  Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi are among the states that will be in the battlegrounds for severe storms this spring. - USA Today.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFF: Mystery Deepens As Increasing Numbers Of Stricken Birds Wash Up On Dorset Coast?!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - Increasing numbers of stricken birds are washing up on the south coast after being covered in a mysterious substance.  Wildlife experts are no closer to discovering the cause of the environmental damage, which has seen more than 100 seabirds taken into care at the RSPCA West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, Somerset, since yesterday.  Most of the birds, guillemots, were found at Chesil Beach, near Portland in Dorset. One bird was found alive as far as Worthing in west Sussex, and is now being cared for at a veterinary surgery.

© The Independent, UK.
Another, found in the Isle of Wight, is now at a local animal rescue centre.  Around 200 miles of the English coastline is being investigated. The Environment Agency has taken samples of the water for testing.  RSPCA deputy chief inspector John Pollock, who has been leading the rescue mission in Dorset, said: "We just do not know what this substance is.  "It is white, odourless and globular, like a silicone sealer. The best way I can think to describe it is 'sticky Vaseline'.  "The numbers of the birds coming in have been growing and sadly there were quite a few dead birds this morning."  "We are still down at the beach, though, collecting and trying to save as many of them as we can. We are expecting this rescue mission to continue through the weekend."  The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is waiting to hear from the Environment Agency later today in order to discover the possible cause of the pollution. 

A spokesman said: "The MCA is regularly called upon to react to a wide range of maritime incidents and to develop a comprehensive response procedure to deal with any emergency at sea that causes pollution or threatens to cause pollution.  "This occurrence of seabirds being washed up on south coast beaches contaminated with a product is rare. We are working with partner organisations and agencies to deal with this event.  "The Environment Agency has taken samples of the product and is currently analysing it to identify it.  "The RSPCA and RSPB are collecting data and the contaminated birds are being cleaned at the RSPCA West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset.  "We will continue to monitor this situation and await the results of the analysis of the product."  An RSPCA spokesman said they were pleased with the public's willingness to help the stricken birds, but warned of the dangers involved.  The spokesman said: "We would urge people to be cautious going down to the coastline affected.  "The instinctive reaction is to go down and look, or to help out. But we don't know what this substance is, so our message is for people - especially those taking dogs down to the coastline - to please be careful." - The Independent.

EARTH CHANGES: The New Normal - More Extreme Weather Predicted In National Climate Report!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - David Wolfe, professor of horticulture, was a lead author on a Northeast climate section, and Drew Harvell, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was a lead author of an oceans and marine resources section in the Federal Advisory Committee's Draft Climate Assessment Report, released this month. Overall, the U.S. average temperature has risen by about 1.5 degrees since 1895, but 80 percent of that change has occurred in the last 32 years, according to the report.

By the end of the century, temperatures could rise anywhere from 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on human actions, or inaction, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report's Northeast section points to climate-related issues facing 64 million people that live in a region marked by high-density urban, coastal, natural and agricultural areas. "This document will be an essential science-based resource for decision-makers in our communities and businesses who are rolling up their sleeves to take on the challenges and build resilience to climate change," said Wolfe, who chairs the Climate Change Focus Group at Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. 

Americans can expect more heat waves, heavy downpours, floods and droughts, sea level rise and ocean acidification, according to a draft national climate assessment report that included two Cornell researchers as lead authors.
Highlights from the section for 12 Northeast states find that:
• Heat waves, coastal flooding due to sea level rise and river flooding from extreme precipitation events will increasingly threaten the region's environmental, social and economic systems.
• These climate-related hazards, along with increased pressure from pests and disease, will stress agriculture and ecosystems. Research and outreach efforts are under way to help farmers cope.
• State and municipality-level measures to implement adaptations are still at early stages, even though many local and state governments and organizations have begun planning for climate changes. With regard to the nation's ocean areas and resources, the United States depends heavily on oceans for seafood, recreation and tourism, transportation, and critical resources, according to the report.
"The ocean resources chapter is new this year, reflecting the increasingly significant impacts being catalogued in marine ecosystems, in addition to the coastal impacts described in a separate chapter of the report," said Harvell, associate director for environment at the Atkinson Center. Over the past century, global sea levels have risen by 8 inches, while average U.S. coastal sea surface temperatures have risen by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit, greatly affecting coral and other ecosystems, while holding heat that will also warm the atmosphere. 

Key points from this section include:
• Sea levels will continue to rise, impacting climate, ocean circulation, chemistry and ecosystems. The ocean absorbs about 25 percent of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, which causes ocean acidification that will likely reduce growth and survival of shellfish stocks in all regions.
• Habitat loss will continue in places like the Arctic and coral reefs, while other areas will gain habitat for some species, thereby altering ecosystems. Coral reefs, for example, are extremely endangered and near collapse in some regions. Rising sea surface temperatures will lead to more diseases for both humans and marine life.
• Such human uses of the ocean as transportation, resource use and extraction, recreational and tourism activities and industries, will be affected in positive and negative ways by climate change.
• Some ocean policies, practices and management efforts—including increasing the resilience of built infrastructures or natural marine ecosystems—may serve as models for adapting to climate change in the oceans.

PLANETARY TREMORS: "Odd Patterns" And "Intraplate Ruptures" Along Philippine Sea Plate - Aftershocks May Portend Major Philippine Earthquake!

February 02, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - Aftershocks shook the Philippines for more than two weeks after a magnitude-7.6 quake rocked the region on Aug. 31, 2012. A team of seismologists monitoring the aftershocks and plotting their whereabouts noticed an odd pattern.  "Typically, if you locate aftershocks they sort of outline the fault that ruptures. This time they didn't," said Thorne Lay, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz who was part of the team. "Instead they were shallower and had very different fault geometries."
A diagram of the Philippine Trench showing historic
 large earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or great, as well
as the motions of tectonic plates. © Ye, et al./GRL Vol. 39.

The 7.6 quake happened at a fault within the Philippine Sea Plate, which is subducting beneath the Philippine Microplate. Some of the unusual aftershocks were so called "intraplate" ruptures, like the original quake, but happened at a shallower depth.  And others of the unusual aftershocks were located west of the epicenter, within the Philippine Trench itself, where the plate is subducting. These are called interplate aftershocks because they happen at the boundary between two plates.  That segment of the trench hasn't seen a major earthquake in at least 400 years, but the shocks may be a sign that the plate boundary is linked to the intraplate rupture and that it is building up strain in preparation for a big one.  No one will know until GPS equipment is installed and scientists collect more data, Lay said.

Eerily quiet
The Philippines are located in a very complex setting, geologically speaking. Four subduction zones surround the islands, and a series of faults crisscross the region. Overall, the area is quite seismically active, but the section of the Philippine Trench near the August 2012 quake has been eerily quiet. That could mean one of two things, Lay told OurAmazingPlanet: "It's possible that the plate boundary isn't locked and it's just sliding along smoothly. On the other hand, it's possible that it's been building up strain for four centuries." Subduction zones like the Philippine Trench are responsible for the planet's largest earthquakes. With the two plates converging at a rate of about 2 inches (5 centimeters) per year at the trench, a lot of strain could be accumulating. The Philippine Trench subduction zone could produce a magnitude-9 quake if the entire plate boundary were to rupture at once, Lay said.  There is no evidence that that will happen - but there's also no evidence that it won't.  "Right now, we can't even really give a probability as to whether a rupture is likely," Lay said. Ideally, his team would like to collect GPS measurements along the entire boundary to track plate movements and strain accumulation. But setting up a monitoring system would require major resources, and the Philippines would need help from the international community.

Clues from other zones
There's not yet any data to point toward the likelihood of a major Philippine Trench quake, but there are clues from other subduction zones. The type of earthquake that caused the 7.6 temblor - a compressional-thrust earthquake under an oceanic trench and within a sinking tectonic plate - is quite rare, Lay explained. In the past, large earthquakes at the plate boundary have taken place decades after thrust events. For example, before the magnitude-8.3 earthquake near the Kuril Islands (off the coast of Russia) in 2006, there was a 1963 quake foreshadowed by a thrust event in a sinking tectonic plate, similar to the recent Philippines event.  "The uncertain nature of seismic potential in the Philippine Trench means we have to look at all the stress indicators we can," Lay said. "Nature is providing us with clues that there is strain on the boundary, but we need to combine these with GPS measurements to confirm that's happening."

The team's findings were published Dec. 28 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. - OAP.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: The Volcano Discovery Report For February 02, 2013 - Updates On Etna, Santa María, White Island, Iliamna, Colima, Fuego, Popocatépetl, Santiaguito, San Cristobal, Machin, Nevado del Ruiz, Tungurahua, Copahue, Kamchatka, Plosky Tolbachik, And Sheveluch!

February 02, 2013 - WORLDWIDE VOLCANOES - The following constitutes the new activity, unrest and ongoing report from the Volcano Discovery Group.

Etna (Sicily, Italy)
: After a day with ash emissions from New SE crater and occasionally from Bocca Nuova, another eruptive episode with strong strombolian activity occurred over night from both the New SE crater and Bocca Nuova. This is the 8th eruptive episode during 2013, but the first when both the New SE crater and Bocca Nuova were active at the same time.
Map of Nenda Island (Solomon Islands)
and  the recent quakes along with the
location of Tinakula.

White Island (New Zealand): Strong steaming from the crater floor is visible, accompanied by again increased tremor with many interspersed earthquakes today.

Iliamna (Cook Inlet (SW Alaska)): A swarm of earthquakes has started yesterday near Iliamna volcano. This morning, a 3.7 quake occurred about 30 km to the east, the strongest event in this new pulse of seismic activity so far. The volcano had just been set back to status level "normal" by AVO almost a month ago, after the seismic unrest in 2012 had gradually declined over the past month. So far, AVO has not changed the alert status again.

Map of recent quakes
near Iliamna (past 48 hours).
Colima (Western Mexico): Small explosions, rockfalls, short pulses of tremor and occasional volcanic earthquakes continue. New lava is slowly accumulating inside the new crater left by the large explosion on Tuesday. The explosion had destroyed the older lava dome that had been slowly growing within and in places over-topped the summit crater since the late 1990s.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): (1 Feb) The eruption remains relatively weak and mainly effusive, with the slow extrusion of lava flows descending the flanks of the dome and producing small to moderate avalanches.  Ash generated by this process is currently blown mainly towards the south where light ash fall occurs, namely in Lotificación las Marías and areas near San Felipe Reu.

Fuego (Guatemala): (1 Feb) The effusion rate has again increased today. The old lava flow headed towards the Taniluyá canyon gained strength again and increased to 200 m length and a new flow started to flow towards the Ceniza drainage and reached 150 m length this morning.
There were 9 weak explosions during the past 24 hours, generating light gray ash plumes rising up to 400 m and drifting up to 8 km to the west and southwest.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): Intermittent phases of continuous volcanic tremor have started to appear at the volcano. There are no reports of new activity at the surface.

Machin (Colombia): A period of markedly increased seismic activity occurred over night.

Glow from Popocatepetl.
Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Strong gas emissions are visible on the latest NOAA SO2 image for the region. Seismic activity has been low, but small volcanic quakes continue to occur.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has remained stable. Glow from the summit indicates slow supply of magma to the lava dome. The rate of emissions has climbed a bit to almost 2 per hour average according to the latest CENAPRED report last night.

Reventador (Ecuador): The activity of the volcano remains strong. The new summit lava dome continues to grow and produce explosions and feed active lava flows on the upper flank. During the afternoon of 31 Jan, an strong emission column of steam and moderate ash content could be observed rising 3.5 km above the crater.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): A steam column rose about 100 m during the afternoon of 31 Jan. Seismic activity remains at moderate levels, with a tendency of a slow increase. During 1 Feb, IG counted 40 long-period and one volcanic-tectonic quake.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina border): Seismic activity has decreased and no new surface activity observed. During the past 24 hours since last night, SERNAGEOMIN only detected one tiny volcanic earthquake.

Kamchatka (via
No notable changes have occurred in activity at any of the Kamchatkan volcanoes. Accompanied by high tremor (but slightly lower than during the previous weeks), fluid lava continues to be erupted from Plosky Tolbachik volcano. Moderate seismicity accompanies the lava extrusion at Sheveluch and Kizimen volcanoes.
Low seismicity accompanies occasional explosive (strombolian to vulcanian) activity at Karymski volcano. Loud volcanic tremor from Tolbachik masks seismicity that is likely taking place in-conjunction with lava extrusion at Bezymianny volcano and strombolian activity at the summit of Klyuchevskoi volcano. Gorely volcano continues to exhibit moderate hydrothermal tremor and volcanic earthquakes in-conjunction with strong degassing. - Volcano Discovery.

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Fish Kill Caused By Algae Bloom At Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas!

February 02, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Initial reports and a review of water samples indicate that golden algae is the cause of a fish kill near the Rock Creek boat ramp at Possum Kingdom Lake, the Brazos River Authority reported.

Possum Kingdom Lake.
Rock Creek is on the east side of the lake.

Information on the BRA website said, depending on environmental conditions, the golden algae bloom has the potential to become a significant event.

Fish kills from golden algae (Prymnesium parvum) have been documented in inland waters in Texas since 1985.

The algae has caused fish kills in several river basins (Brazos, Canadian, Colorado, Rio Grande, and Red River Basins) in Texas.

The notice on the BRA website said there is no evidence the toxins produced by the algae harm other wildlife, livestock or humans. - Times Record News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Uptick On The Pacific Ring Of Fire - Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake Strikes The Santa Cruz Islands!

February 02, 2013 - SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS - The Santa Cruz Islands was rocked again this Saturday by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake hit at 66 km (41 miles) southwest of Lata, Solomon Islands, and has been recorded off the Santa Cruz Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

USGS earthquake map and location.
No tsunami alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in the immediate wake of the tremor.

The region has been hit by a deluge of strong to powerful earthquakes. On January 31st, the islands were rocked by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake forty-six miles east of Lata.  Several hours later, another earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted the same region, with a depth of 55.40 km. Yesterday, a powerful 6.7 magnitude earthquake jolted the Pacific island region.

USGS earthquake intensity map.

USGS earthquake map and location.
According to official reports, no significant damage or casualties resulted from these tremors.

The Santa Cruz Islands form part of the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands and lie approximately 400km to the southeast of the Solomons. Lata is the main town on the chain’s largest island, which is Nendo.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Uptick On The Pacific Ring Of Fire - Powerful 6.9 Magnitude Earthquake Jolts Hokkaido, Japan!

February 02, 2013 - JAPAN -  An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 jolted Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Saturday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

USGS earthquake map and location.
No tsunami was seen as a result of the quake and there were no reports of damage to local police as of 11:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) local time, about 10 minutes after the quake occurred, public broadcaster NHK said.

There were no abnormalities at Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Higashidori nuclear plant in northern Japan, NHK said, citing the utility.

USGS earthquake map and location.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was measured at a depth of 103.1 km (64.1 miles), with a location of  42.812°N, 143.078°E and its epicentre was 15 km (9 miles) southwest of Obihiro, Japan and 22 km (13 miles) southwest of Otofuke, Japan.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue any alerts, saying the quake did not generate any tsunamis. An Associated Press report stated that there were no reports of damages or injuries so far.

USGS earthquake intensity map.
Northeastern Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that left nearly 20,000 people dead or missing. Japan, which lies along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," is one of the world's most seismically active countries. It also cut power to the Fukushima nuclear power plant; the resulting meltdown was one of the most severe in history.

WATCH: Western Pacific Weather Watch - Large Earthquake Hits Northern Japan.