Tuesday, May 7, 2013

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: "Making Us Very Nervous" - Scientists Concerned Over The Future Of Yellowstone As Earthquake Activity Escalates; If It Blows, "It Could Destroy The United States As We Know It"!

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Sunday night’s earthquake was a reminder that we live in a geologically active zone. As significant as last those events were, another region some 240 miles north of its epicenter has the potential to change the world forever.

Scientists Concerned Over Future Of Yellowstone.
Yellowstone is an active volcano.
CREDIT: National Park Service

Geologists believe Yellowstone sits over a hotspot, a plume of superheated rock rising from the Earth's mantle. As North America slowly drifted over the hotspot, the Yellowstone plume punched through the continent's crust, leaving a bread-crumb-like trail of calderas created by massive volcanic eruptions along Idaho's Snake River Plain, leading straight to Yellowstone.

It’s not a matter of if, but when Yellowstone erupts and many scientists believe we are due.

“That’s what is making us very nervous because the cycle time corresponds to the present day era,” said Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physics. “Every single burp, murmur of this gigantic potential super-volcano, including the rise of sea level has to be watched very carefully.”

Earthquakes are commonplace in Yellowstone. In fact they’ve had at least two earthquakes in the last week. Geologists use these quakes to collect data and they now believe there is a 37 mile long, 18 mile wide tube of magna that runs 3 to 7 miles deep, sitting beneath the park. It’s estimated that when this blows, it will be a thousand times bigger than 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

“When it blows, it could destroy the United States as we know it,” said Dr. Kaku.

So what can you do? All of Idaho and most of its surrounding states are within the perimeter of massive destruction. Dr. Kaku says it’s important to watch for the warning signs.

“All you can do is run,” continued Kaku. “You don’t get much warning. What happens is the ground starts to rise and more earthquakes take place. More ash and volcanic gases start to be unleashed. That’s about the only warning we get because we do not have a good way to predict volcanic eruptions.”Geologists say the last major eruption occurred 640,000 years ago. - KPVI.

Earthquake Rumblings In Yellowstone National Park.

Update time = Tue May 7 9:00:02 MDT 2013

Magnitude 2.9 2013/05/07 07:22:33 44.583N 110.976W 9.5 14 km ( 8 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT

Here are the 30 most recent earthquakes and all M>3 earthquakes on this map...

- University of Utah Seismograph Stations.

Yellowstone's Volcano Bigger Than Thought.
Yellowstone's underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting.
"We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone," said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. "The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged."

Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told OurAmazingPlanet.

Surface features such as geysers and hot springs are direct results of the region's underlying volcanism.
CREDIT: National Park Service

Supervolcano trail
Geologists believe Yellowstone sits over a hotspot, a plume of superheated rock rising from Earth's mantle. As North America slowly drifted over the hotspot, the Yellowstone plume punched through the continent's crust, leaving a bread-crumb-like trail of calderas created by massive volcanic eruptions along Idaho's Snake River Plain, leading straight to Yellowstone. The last caldera eruption was 640,000 years ago. Smaller eruptions occurred in between and after the big blasts, most recently about 70,000 years ago.

The magma chamber seen in the new study fed these smaller eruptions and is the source of the park's amazing hydrothermal springs and geysers. It also creates the surface uplift seen in the park, said Bob Smith, a seismologist at the University of Utah and author of a related study presented at the meeting.

The famous Old Faithful Geyser is an example of the geothermal activity generated by the Yellowstone supervolcano (Source: ziggymaj/iStockphoto)

The volcanic plume of partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. Yellow and red indicate higher conductivity, green and blue indicate lower conductivity. Made by University of Utah geophysicists and computer scientists, this is the first large-scale 'geoelectric' image of the Yellowstone hotspot.

"This crustal magma body is a little dimple that creates the uplift," Smith said. "It's like putting your finger under a rubber membrane and pushing it up and the sides expand."

A hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The super volcano that lurks below Yellowstone has blown its top three times in the past 2 million years. Jason Maehl.

Clearer picture
A clearer picture of Yellowstone's shallow magma chamber emerged from earthquakes, whose waves change speed when they travel through molten or solid rock. Farrell analyzed nearby earthquakes to build a picture of the magma chamber.

The underground magma resembles a mutant banana, with a knobby, bulbous end poking up toward the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, and the rest of the tubular fruit angling shallowly southwest. It's a single connected chamber, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) long, 18 miles (30 km) wide, and 3 to 7 miles (5 to 12 km) deep.

Scientists have updated this image of Yellowstone volcano's underground magma chamber. Instead of two big yellow blobs, they have a clearer picture that looks like a knobby banana.
CREDIT: Jamie Farrell, University of Utah

Previously, researchers had thought the magma beneath Yellowstone was in separate blobs, not a continuous pocket.

The shallowest magma, in the northeast, also matches up with the park's most intense hydrothermal activity, Farrell said. The new study is the best view yet of this zone, which lies outside the youngest caldera rim. Additional molten rock, not imaged in this study, also exists deeper beneath Yellowstone, scientists think. - Yahoo.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - "Burp" Event At The Sinkhole Following A Very Long Period Seismic Signal; Alert Status Remains At Code 3!

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The following, constitutes the latest update from the Assumption Parish Police Jury about the giant Louisiana sinkhole. The update indicates that a "burp" was detected around the sinkhole. This comes several hours after the issue of a "Code 3" alert notice.

Early this morning, there was a burp in the sinkhole.

Dr. Hecox has reported that seismic monitors recorded a VLP (very long period seismic signal) at 3:24 a.m. and it is likely that this is when the burp happened.

The monitoring/alert status remains at Code 3, which means all work directly on the sinkhoke, Oxy 3 pad and within the containment berm is ceased until further notice. - Assumption Parish Police Jury.

Meanwhile, the helicorder continues to show anomalous seismic activity. Please see the latest images:

Graphs provided courtesy of the University of Memphis' Center for Earthquake Research and Information.

See additional images HERE.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Major Disaster Precursors In California - 3.5 Quake Strikes Near Ventura And Cluster Of Tremors Rattle Silicon Valley!

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A shallow magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported Tuesday morning four miles from Saticoy, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A map shows the approximate location of the epicenter of Tuesday morning's quake near Saticoy.
(Google Maps / May 7, 2013)

The temblor occurred at 2:05 a.m. PDT at a depth of 13.7 miles.

According to the USGS, the epicenter was six miles from Ventura, eight miles from Santa Paula and nine miles from Oxnard.

In the past 10 days, there has been one earthquake magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby. - LA Times.

Clusters Of Tremors Near Pacifica And Hillsborough. 
USGS earthquake map and location.
Out of 14 small earthquakes around Silicon Valley this week, the largest was a magnitude 1.8 that hit 5.5 miles outside of Milpitas, according to data gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Generally, earthquakes need to break the 2.0-mark on the scale to be felt far from the epicenter.

See the chart below for times, locations, etc. of the seismic events.

 - San Mateo Patch.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 3 Quakes, 13 Aftershocks In 6 Days Rattles Chenab Valley Region Of Jammu In Kashmir!

May 07, 2013 - KASHMIR - Chenab valley region of Jammu has recorded three earthquakes and 13 low intensity aftershocks during the past six days, including a fresh tremor on Monday measuring 3.5 on the Richter Scale.

Reports said the continuous tremors in the three districts of Kishtwar, Doda and Bhaderwah have caused panic among the locals, with “government apathy” and harsh weather compounding their miseries.

The area of earthquake activity.

Official sources said a fresh tremor of moderate intensity again shook Bhaderwah and its adjoining areas today, triggering panic among the people.

An earthquake of 3.5 on the Richter scale was recorded at 1:24 am today with epicenter located 10 kilometers away from Bhaderwah, a MeT official said.

He informed that this was 16th tremor in Bhaderwah-Doda-Kishtwar belt recorded during past one week. This was third tremor which was measured above 3 on Richter scale after the first earthquake in the Chenab Valley on May 1.

Official sources informed that among all 16 tremors, an earthquake of 5.8 Richter scale was highest which jolted the Chenab Valley on May 1. Another earthquake of 4.5 on Richter scale was second highest recorded on May 2 and today’s earthquake was third highest with intensity of 3.5 on Richter scale.

They added that the rest of 13 tremors were below the intensity of 2 Richter scale and cannot be felt by general masses as “such activities can only be detected by machines available at seismic centers in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Damage from the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

A geological expert said the intensity of tremors was reducing with each aftershock.

He said today’s tremor was recorded with low intensity of 2.3 Richter Scale when compared to the tremor with highest intensity which struck on May 1.

“Mild earthquakes release seismic pressure from earth’s crust which is good,” he claimed adding, “An earthquake is the result of sudden release of energy in the earth’s crust that creates seismic waves and cause earthquakes over a period of time.” - Greater Kashmir.

PLANETARY TREMORS: 5.8 Earthquake Violently Shakes Fiji Islands Region!

May 07, 2013 - FIJI - A 5.8 magnitude earthquake violently struck the Fiji Islands within the last hour. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that 5.8 shake was 239km NNE of Ceva-i-Ra, Fiji and hit at approximately 10:10:55 UTC.

USGS earthquake map and location.

According to the U.S.-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a destructive tsunami was not generated, based on earthquake and historical tsunami data.

This is the first quake to hit the Fiji Islands since a 5.5 tremor was recorded on April 19, 2013.

Though it was a strong earthquake reports suggest it was a safe distance from Suva, Fiji.

A statement from the Mineral Resources Department’s Seisomology Section explained that it was a medium-sized magnitude earthquake.

The department said there was no felt report from the nearby places since the event source was very deep.

In the past year, the Fiji Islands region has been hit with 112 earthquakes. - The Guardian Express.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

USGS earthquake historic seismicity.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet". - USGS.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Dhaka Will Be Reduced To Rubble In A Major Quake, Experts Say - Bangladesh's Capital Would Be Beyond Rescue And Literally Uninhabitable If A Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake Strikes!

May 07, 2013 - BANGLADESH - Dhaka will be reduced to rubble and become “uninhabitable” if a major earthquake occurs anytime soon, experts said Tuesday.

View of overpopulated Dhaka city. Photo- UN.org.

The Savar building collapse brought Bangladesh’s disaster management capacity back under the spotlight, amid concerns there would be catastrophic humanitarian consequences in the event of a major earthquake.

At a discussion focussing on earthquakes, fire incidences and building collapses on Tuesday, experts shared their concerns. They said with its existing rescue and disaster management capacity, the country will face “huge difficulties” in the event of a major disaster.

“The Savar Tragedy underlined the government’s poor rescue capacity as it took them almost six days to rescue people trapped under rubble,” said ASM Maksud Kamal, a geology professor of the University of Dhaka (DU).

“Dhaka will be beyond rescue and literally uninhabitable if a 7.5-magnitude earthquake strikes, since almost 80% of total buildings are not approved by civil engineers.”

On April 24, an eight-storey building collapsed in Savar killing over 400 people and injuring thousands.

The rescue operation team, coordinated by the Department of Disaster Management, was reproached for lacking expertise and adequate training, which is why the process took longer than many expected.

WATCH: Bangladesh building collapse death toll exceeds 500.

Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone areas in the world, vulnerable to an array of natural calamities, with 43% of its total areas falling under a high-risk zone in the region. Dhaka will be the most affected in case of an earthquake since it has developed in an unplanned way, Professor Kamal added.

He also said around 80,000 buildings in the city are at risk of collapsing, since most of them were constructed on low-lying land reclaimed from canals and wetlands. Plus there are risks involved with the city’s “55,000 electric pools and 834 km of gas line in the city that will make a mess in case of a medium-range earthquake,” he warns. - Dhaka Tribune.

MONUMENTAL CLIMATE CHANGES: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide - Greenhouse Gas To Reach 3-Million-Year High?!

May 07, 2013 - EARTH - The proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is set to break 400 parts per million this month, levels not seen in 3 million years, according to one of the best climate records available.

The Keeling Curve, a daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, has been running continuously since March 1958, when a carbon dioxide monitor was installed at Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. On its first day, the observatory measured a carbon dioxide concentration of 313 parts per million (ppm). That number means there were 313 molecules of carbon dioxide in the air for every 1 million air molecules.

Mauna Loa, the Hawaiian Volcano from which researchers have been monitoring
atmospheric carbon dioxide for decades.
NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory

The number continued to climb through May 1958 and then slowly started to drop, reaching a minimum in October that year. This maximum-minimum pattern, repeated seasonally, reveals how trees withdraw carbon dioxide from the air in summer to grow and then release it through dead, decaying leaves and wood in the winter.

But humans release carbon dioxide into the air, too, by burning fossil fuels. This activity has caused the Keeling Curve to creep ever upward since 1958: The lows get a little higher each year, as do the highs.

Because carbon dioxide typically peaks in May, researchers are expecting the Keeling Curve to break a milestone of 400 ppm this year. (If not, the number will almost certainly be reached in May 2014.) As of May 1 of this year, the last day data was available, the Mauna Loa observatory recorded 399.39 ppm of carbon dioxide in the air.

There will be no huge atmospheric or climatic shift once carbon dioxide hits 400 ppm, but the milestone has symbolic significance, said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.

"It is a reminder of just how uncontrolled this dangerous experiment we're playing with the planet really is," Mann told LiveScience.

The Keeling Curve shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are increasing, and at a faster rate each year.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

What 400 ppm means
In the 1,000 years that occurred before the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, atmospheric carbon dioxide held steady at around 270 to 280 parts per million.

Scientists believe that the most recent period to reach 400 ppm was the Pliocene Epoch, between 5 million and 3 million years ago, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which keeps track of the Keeling Curve.

Back then, it was a different world. Global average temperatures during the period were between 5.4 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) higher than today, and sea level was as much as 131 feet (40 meters) higher in some places. Even the least-affected regions saw sea levels 16 feet (5 meters) higher than today's.

A major difference between then and now, though, is the speed at which carbon dioxide is rising today. Typically, in the last 40 to 50 years, the Keeling Curve shows increases of 2 to 2.5 ppm a year, Mann said. In the 1950s and 1960s, carbon dioxide increased by less than 1 ppm each year, according to Scripps.

"We're on course for more than 450 ppm in a matter of decades if we don't get our fossil fuel emissions under control quite soon," Mann said. - Discovery News.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Continuous Low-Level Eruptions - Could Air Travel Be Disrupted By Alaska's Cleveland Volcano?

May 07, 2013 - ALASKA - Alaska's Cleveland Volcano is undergoing a continuous low-level eruption following an explosion early Saturday morning, scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Satellites and cameras suggest low-level emissions of gas, steam and ash, scientists said, and satellites detected highly elevated surface temperatures at the summit. A faint plume of ash extended eastward below 15,000 feet, but the Federal Aviation Administration said there were no flight restrictions as a result.

A file photo of Mt. Cleveland in Alaska's Aleutian Islands before the volcano's recent eruption.

"Sudden explosions of blocks and ash are possible with little or no warning," scientists said. "Ash clouds, if produced, could exceed 20,000 feet above sea level."

The aviation alert level was raised from "yellow" to "orange." A major ash emission could threaten international flights.

Some air travelers wonder if this could be a repeat of 2010's Icelandic volcano travel catastrophe. When the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010, it wreaked havoc on European air travel. Flights were grounded or diverted for weeks as the ash cloud migrated over flight paths.

Scientists watching the Alaska eruption say the ash cloud has reached an altitude of about 15,000 feet, which is well below the cruising altitude of commercial jetliners, which fly at 35,000 feet. As of Sunday morning, there were no reported cancellations, though some flights were being routed farther north as a precaution, according to Reuters.

The activity at Alaska's Cleveland volcano began with an explosion at 5 a.m. Saturday, followed by two others at 9:17 and 11:44 a.m. A nearby seismic network detected long-duration airwave signals that indicate a sustained eruption.

Cleveland is a 5,675-foot peak on a remote, uninhabited island 940 miles southwest of Anchorage. Its most recent significant eruption began in February 2001 and featured three explosive events that sent ash clouds as high 39,000 feet above sea level. It also produced a rubbly lava flow and hot avalanche that reached the sea.

The most recent minor ash emissions were observed in November 2012. - Wunderground.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Weather Whiplash Strikes Again - Extreme Drought To Flood In Georgia?!

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The remarkable storm that brought record-breaking May snows and cold to the Midwest last week continues to spin over the Southeast U.S. The storm is unleashing flooding rains, bringing a case of "Weather Whiplash" to Georgia: flooding where extreme drought had existed just a few months ago. The storm formed when a loop in the jet stream of extreme amplitude got cut off from the main flow of the jet over the weekend, forming a "cutoff low" that is now slowly spinning down as it drifts east over the Southeast U.S. On Sunday, the storm dumped 3.4" of rain on Atlanta, Georgia--that city's sixth heaviest May calendar day rain storm since record keeping began in 1878. Remarkably, the rains were also able to bring rivers in Central Georgia above flood stage. This portion of the country was in "exceptional drought"--the worst category of drought--at the beginning of 2013.

Figure 1. The record May snowstorm that hit the Midwest U.S. on May 1 - 3, 2013, got cut off from the jet stream and was seen spinning over the Southeast U.S. on Sunday, May 5, in this image from NASA's MODIS instrument. The 3.4" of rain that fell on Atlanta, Georgia on May 5 was that city's sixth heaviest May calendar day rainfall since record keeping began in 1878.

Weather Whiplash

Weather Whiplash--a term originally coined by science writer Andrew Freedman of climatecentral.org to describe extreme shifts between cold and hot weather--is also a excellent phrase we can use to describe some of the rapid transitions between extreme drought and floods seen in recent years. I brought up a remarkable example in mid-April, when a 200-mile stretch of the Mississippi River north of St. Louis reached damaging major flood levels less than four months after near-record low water levels restricted barge traffic, forcing the Army Corp to blast out rocks from the river bottom to enable navigation.

Figure 2. Weather Whiplash in Georgia, 2013: the center of the state was in exceptional drought as the beginning of the year, but heavy rains in February, March, and April busted the drought. Heavy May rains have now brought flooding. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.

As the climate warms, the new normal in coming decades is going to be more and more extreme "Weather Whiplash" drought-flood cycles like we have seen in the Midwest and in Georgia this year. A warmer atmosphere is capable of bringing heavier downpours, since warmer air can hold more water vapor. But you still need a low pressure system to come along and wring that moisture out of the air to get rain. When natural fluctuations in jet stream patterns take storms away from a region, creating a drought, the extra water vapor in the air won't do you any good. There will be no mechanism to lift the moisture, condense it, and generate drought-busting rains. The drought that ensues will be more intense, since temperatures will be hotter and the soil will dry out more.

Weather Whiplash in the Southeast U.S. more likely due to an intensification of the Bermuda High

This year's "Weather Whiplash" in Georgia is the second time in the past decade the state has gone from exceptional drought to flood. In September 2007, Atlanta, Georgia was in the midst of a 1-in-100 year drought, and was just weeks away from running out of water. Yet just two years later, the drought had been busted, and a phenomenal 1-in-500 year flood ripped through the city, killing ten and causing $500 million in damage. According to a 2011 study by a Duke University-led team of climate scientists, "Changes to the North Atlantic Subtropical High and Its Role in the Intensification of Summer Rainfall Variability in the Southeastern United States", the frequency of abnormally wet or dry summer weather in the southeastern United States has more than doubled in recent decades, due to an intensification of the Bermuda High.

Figure 3. Observed June-July-August departure of precipitation from average over the SE United States for a 60-yr period (mm day−1). Horizontal dashed lines represent 1 standard deviation of the summer rainfall. Note that summer precipitation extremes exceeding one standard deviation have more than doubled during the most recent 30-year period compared to the previous 30-year period. Image credit: Li et al., 2011, Journal of Climate.

The scientists found that the Bermuda High, which is centered several hundred miles to the east of the Southeast U.S., has grown more intense during summer and has expanded westwards over the past 30 years. Since high pressure systems are areas of sinking air that discourage precipitation, this has made abnormally dry summers more common over the Southeast U.S. However, in summers when the Bermuda High happens to shift to the east, so that high pressure is not over the Southeast U.S., the stronger winds blowing clockwise around the Bermuda High bring an increased flow of very moist subtropical air from the south to the Southeast U.S., increasing the incidence of abnormally wet summers. Thus, the intensification of the Bermuda High has made extreme droughts and extreme floods more likely over the Southeast U.S. Using climate models, the scientists determined that human-caused global warming was likely the main cause of the significant intensification in the Bermuda High. Thus "Weather Whiplash" between drought and flood will probably become increasingly common in the coming decades over the Southeast U.S.
- Wunderground.

WAR DRUMS: Three Mysterious Explosions Heard In Tehran Near Missile Facility - Residents Heard Blasts In Iranian Capital, Was This An Attack By Israel?! UPDATE: Another Earthquake Hits Near Iran's Nuclear Reactor In Bushehr!

May 07, 2013 - IRAN - Three explosions were heard in western Tehran on Tuesday, in an area where Iran carries out missile research and storage, according to a Tweet by a BBC Persian journalist.

It was not immediately clear if there were injuries or damage in the incident.

In January, both Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency denied reports that a blast had hit the Fordow underground uranium enrichment center near Qom.

A mysterious and massive explosion rocked a military arms depot near Tehran in November 2011, killing 17 Revolutionary Guards Corps officers and wounding 17 others.

Iranian officials said the blast was caused by an accident as soldiers moved munitions at the base in Bidganeh, near Shahriar, 45 km. west of the Iranian capital. The base is also believed to be the storage center for some of Iran’s most-advanced long-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab 3.

Israel and the United States have been accused over the years of working to sabotage the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.

Fateh-110 missiles [file]. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

In October 2010, a similar blast took place at a Revolutionary Guards munitions store in Khoramabad, in western Iran, killing and wounding several servicemen.

Tuesday's report of explosions came days after Israel allegedly carried out two air strikes in Syria over the weekend, targeting Iranian-supplied Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles destined for Hezbollah. - JPOST.

Another Earthquake Hits Near Iran's Nuclear Reactor In Bushehr.

Iran's city of Kaki in the Bushehr province that suffered a 4,0 Richter scale quake a few days ago, has been hit with a stronger quake earlier this morning, ISNA news agency reported.

According to reports, this time the earthquake, which occured approximately at 7 o'clock in the morning (local time), reached 5,1 on the Richter scale.

Thus far there are no reports of possible victims or damages.

Kaki city was hit by an earthquake on Saturday, May 4, with a 4,0 magnitude earthquake, according to Iran's Seismography Center.

Prior to that, Kaki was hit by another quake on May 2 evening, with a 5,0 magnitude. There were no reports of possible victims or damages.

Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, being crossed by several major fault lines that cover at least 90 percent of the country. As a result, earthquakes in Iran occur often and are destructive. - Azer News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Above-Normal Temperatures - Record-Challenging Warmth Across The United States Northwest!

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Warmth will continue across the Northwest on Tuesday following a day where high temperatures challenged records that were decades old.

Above-normal temperatures are here to stay for the Northwest as the upper-level ridge responsible for these record-challenging temperatures remains over the region.

One city that broke its record-high temperature on Monday was Seattle, Wash., reaching a high of 87 degrees. This was 25 degrees above their normal high for early May and broke the previous record of 79 set in 1957.

Although this ridge will hold strong over the region through the week, temperatures on Tuesday are not forecast to be quite as warm as they were on Monday, but will remain well above average.

Winds will turn to have more of a westerly component on Tuesday, allowing cooler air to make its way inland from the Pacific Ocean.

This air flowing from the Pacific will bring moisture with it as well, resulting in areas of morning clouds and fog along the coast before giving way to sunshine in the afternoon.

An onshore flow can have a major impact on the weather along the coast, especially when it comes to temperatures.

On Sunday, the coastal town of Hoquiam, Wash., had an easterly wind bringing dry, warm air to the town. This let temperatures soar to 87, setting a new record high for the day.

By Monday, winds had shifted to be out of the west, drawing in cooler Pacific air, limiting the high to only 60. Areas well inland will not have as much of a temperature difference between Monday and Tuesday however. While temperatures west of the Cascade Mountains will be in the upper 70s to low 80s over the next few days, temperatures east of the Cascades will be much warmer.

Much of this area is forecast to stay in the upper 80s through Friday with some areas climbing into the 90s.

Temperatures across the entire Northwest will slowly rise throughout the week as the ridge over the region strengthens.

As the ridge flexes its muscles later in the week, it will also expand into the Southwest. - AccuWeather.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Celestial Convergence - Solar Eclipse Set To Turn Sun Into "Ring Of Fire" This Week!

May 07, 2013 - SPACE - The moon will block the sun in a potentially spectacular solar eclipse this week — a celestial event that will transform the sun into a cosmic "ring of fire" in the daytime sky.

The ring-shaped solar eclipse , known as an annular eclipse, will occur Thursday and Friday Eastern time. Weather permitting, the eclipse will be visible in certain parts of Australia and the Southern Pacific Ocean, where the local time will be Friday.

A perfect ring of fire captured by Kevin Baird on May 20th, 2012 from Bluit, New Mexico.
(Credit: Kevin Baird/Universe Today flickr Group).

"Solar eclipses can be inspirational to students and others, so it is interesting to have everyone view the eclipse, but only safe methods of viewing should be used," Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College and chairman of the International Astronomical Union's working group on eclipses, said in a statement. [See Spectacular Photos of a 'Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse]

While nearly 95 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon at the eclipse's peak, the sky will not be noticeably darker to the naked eye at any point, explained Williams College officials in Williamstown, Mass.

For this reason, special protective lenses, camera and telescope filters and other methods of protection should be used in order to safely watch the eclipse even during full annularity, when the sun is silhouetting the moon.

Skywatcher Charles Medendorp took this photo of the annular eclipse at the Very Large Array outside Socorro, N.M., on May 20, 2012. Charles Medendorp

The path of annularity passes through parts of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland in Australia. Other nearby parts of the world will be able to see a partial solar eclipse, if weather permits.

The Hawaiian Islands, other parts of Australia, the southern Philippines, eastern Indonesia, other areas in Papua New Guinea and a small part of New Zealand will get at least a partial show, Williams College officials said.

The entire world should be able to catch a glimpse of the annular eclipse thanks to the online Slooh Space Camera. Slooh will play host to a webcast featuring expert commentary and views of the eclipse on Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. EDT. You can watch the broadcast live on Space.com.

The first solar eclipse of 2013 occurs at the moon's descending node in eastern Ares. An annular eclipse will be visible from Australia, eastern Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Gilbert Islands.
Eclipse predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA / GSFC

During annular solar eclipses, the moon casts a shadow on the face of the Earth when it passes between the planet and the star. Because of its orbit, however, the moon still appears about 4.5 percent smaller than the sun, creating the distinct ring in the sky, Joe Rao, a Space.com contributor and meteorologist said.

This week's solar eclipse comes on the heels of a partial lunar eclipse that shadowed the moon above Central Asia, Western Australia, Eastern Europe and Africa. Another minor lunar eclipse will occur on May 24.

These aren't the only eclipses of 2013. On Nov. 3, a rare hybrid solar eclipse — an annular eclipse that transitions into a total eclipse — will be visible in the northern Atlantic Ocean and into equatorial Africa.

WATCH: Solar Eclipse and Evening Planets - May, 2013.

WARNING: Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse with a telescope or your unaided eye. Severe eye damage can result and scientists use special filters to safely view the sun.

Editor's note: If you live in the observing area of Thursday's solar eclipse and safely snap an amazing picture of the sun that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to Managing Editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com. - NBC News.

FIRE IN THE SKY: Major Solar System Disturbance - Massive Fireball Explodes Over Saitama Prefecture, Japan!

May 07, 2013 - JAPAN - On May 6th, 2013 a massive fireball exploded over Saitama Prefecture, Japan when a meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere and then reportedly broke up and turned into meteorites.

Here is the translated eye-witness report from a contributor to the Sonotaco forum:
Equal to 10 explosion fireball Aquarius group of 17 seconds 58 minutes 3:06 May 2013. 6 minutes permanent scars. Results to 10 of the analysis was the best. However, the vanishing point side, the automatic analysis, position did not come out well. I was able to shoot two cameras. There was a flash to the other two. If I had to check the live image wake up in 55 minutes 3:00, so I noticed, it was confirmed persistent marks visually six minutes in the live image then. I capture the change of frame 10 degree mark in the middle. There was a fireball of over 5 equal to 6 seconds 9 minutes 4:00.

WATCH: Meteor explodes over Japan.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Tracking Developments At The Giant Louisiana Sinkhole - Scientists Fear That Methane Is Being "Continually Fed" From Below Sinkhole, May Be At Least 8 Sources Of Gas, As Sinkhole Continues To Uproot Bayou Corne Residents?!

“This is making me think twice now that it’s in my own backyard. I mean I’ve been building this place for 23 years. I can’t just up and leave, you know what I mean.” - Rhett Pipsair, 50, Resident.

May 07, 2013 - UNITED STATES
- Rhett and Donna Pipsair have spent the last 23 years making their home on Sauce Piquante Lane just the way they want it.

The Pipsairs started out in a mobile home and eventually built a two-story house with a manicured lawn, a pond in the backyard and, behind it, a gently curving pier ending at a dock in an endless cypress forest.

While many of the neighbors in Bayou Corne have moved away in the nine months since the Assumption Parish sinkhole formed across La. 70 South from their house, the Pipsairs have remained, in spite of a parish evacuation order issued Aug. 3.

Rhett Pipsair, 50, the father of two adult sons, said he has not evacuated because he has not been afraid of the sinkhole since it formed.

About a month ago, however, gas started bubbling up underneath a deck in one corner of his oblong pond, Pipsair said.

“This is making me think twice now that it’s in my own backyard,” Pipsair said. “I mean I’ve been building this place for 23 years. I can’t just up and leave, you know what I mean.”

Scientists studying the sinkhole say the gases in the bubbles are coming from several sources: Both decomposing organic matter and deep formations likely opened by the events that created the sinkhole, now 15.1 acres at the surface.

Rhett Pipsair stands on a pier extending through a swamp behind his house in the Bayou Corne community.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU.

Scientists working for the Louisiana Office of Conservation said last week that Pipsair’s pond could be a signal that what they had feared last year — gases collecting underneath people’s houses — may be starting to occur.

The deeper formation of gas may be moving up and pushing shallow swamp gas up before the deeper gas appears in the shallowest layers under the Bayou Corne community.

The shallow gas released from decomposing matter is often called swamp gas, which is common in Louisiana, and is referred by scientists as being “biogenic.”

Known as “thermogenic,” the gas from deep underground, which is the focus of concern, has far older geologic origins.

Scientists have worried since last fall that this deep reservoir of gas could eventually move up closer to the surface, pass through the foundations of homes or accumulate under enclosed crawl spaces in homes, posing an invisible risk for explosions in the community of 350. Methane gas is odorless and colorless.

Bubbles flow up to the surface Friday in a pond on Rhett Pipsair's property in the Bayou Corne
community, which is where a sinkhole formed in August.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU.

This fear has been one of the reasons the evacuation order has remained in place since August.

“The deep gas displacing the shallow swamp gas, appears to be occurring,” Gary Hecox, a CB&I hydrogeologist working on the sinkhole for the Louisiana Office of Conservation, told residents in a meeting last week.

A Texas Brine Co. salt dome cavern is suspected of having a sidewall failure that allowed millions of cubic yards of material to fill the hollow subterranean cavern and also unleashed oil and gas from deep underground.

Scientists have said they think about 45 million cubic feet of gas is now under a more than two-square mile area of the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer, which ranges from 120 to 600 feet deep.

The thermogenic gas found in the bayou bubble sites were the first warnings last May that something was amiss underground and in vent wells installed since November to burn off the gas.

Hecox said two shallower test wells in the area have since seen this shift from swamp gas toward thermogenic gas. The wells, known as Geoprobes, are about 30 feet deep.

One of those wells is in the Bayou Corne community. Pipsair’s pond may be midway in this process.

“We do have some pretty strong isotopic data now that says at least some of the methane in the community that’s being detected has moved its way up from deep underground and is now coming up into the shallow part of the system,” Hecox said.

But Texas Brine Co. officials have emphasized that testing under the foundations of houses in the community as well as the monitoring of the air inside them has not produced indications of the deep formation gas.

The volume of gas burning from 33 vent wells is going down while tests of the wells appear to show that the layer of gas in the aquifer is decreasing, Bruce Martin, Texas Brine vice president of operations, told residents Wednesday.

In addition, Texas Brine officials said their highly detailed seismic survey of the area shows only one possible source for the deep gas, known as the Big Hum, and it is played out.

Bubbles flow up to the surface next to a duck decoy in a pond on Rhett Pipsair's property in the Bayou Corne
community. Scientists say the chemical makeup of the bubbles might indicate gas from deep underground is
finding a way to the surface and could pose a threat to the homes in the area.
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU.

“Overall, I feel very good that we’re making progress on getting the gas out of the aquifer as evidence by what we’re seeing on the individual wells,” Martin said.

Sonny Cranch, Texas Brine spokesman, said Friday that the company planned to fly a helicopter with a special probe over the area Saturday to better show were the gas is located in the aquifer for future vent wells.

Don Marlin, the state Office of Conservation’s expert hired to review Texas Brine’s seismic data, has raised the possibility of at least eight sources for the gas based on less detailed seismic data from 2007.

This has raised fears that the gas in the aquifer could be continually fed from several sources.

Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said Friday the Blue Ribbon Commission, an expert panel appointed by DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz in late March, will have to work through the data and reach a conclusion. Hecox is one of 13 people on the commission.

Meanwhile, Pipsair said he will entertain a settlement offer from Texas Brine for his home but, speaking from his dock in the cypress forest Friday, he said it will be a hard decision to make.

“It’s real peaceful back here. You don’t hardly hear the traffic from the road. A lot of nature … you name it, we got it back here pretty much,” Pipsair said. “It’s just a shame that we’re going to have to potentially move, I guess.” - The Advocate.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Philippines' Mayon Volcano Erupts Violently - Killing 5 Climbers, Leaving Over A Dozen Others Trapped!

May 07, 2013 - PHILIPPINES - Five climbers have been killed after one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes erupted - leaving more than a dozen others trapped.

Rescue teams and helicopters were sent to the centre of the country as huge rocks and ash began pouring out of Mayon volcano early on Tuesday morning.

Ash rises after the eruption of Mayon volcano.

Albay provincial Governor Joey Salceda said at least seven people from a group of around 20 mountaineers were injured after being caught by surprise by the sudden eruption.

Clouds have cleared over the volcano, which was quiet later in the morning.

WATCH: Raw Footage of Mayon Volcano ash eruption.

Guide Kenneth Jesalva told ABS-CBN TV network the climbers who died - including a German, an Austrian and a Filipino - were struck by huge rocks.             

He said he was in the group that spent the night on the picturesque mountain, known for its almost-perfect cone, when the volcano rumbled back to life and rocks "as big as a living room" came raining down on them - before he rushed back to the base camp to call for help.

WATCH: 4 foreigners, 1 tour guide killed in Mayon volcano.

WATCH: Albay Governor Joey Salceda is banning all human activity within the six-kilometer permanent danger zone of Mayon Volcano after 5 climbers were killed during an ash explosion.

Eduardo del Rosario, chief of the national disaster agency, said the injured included foreigners and Filipino guides, with some in a critical condition.

The head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Renato Solidum, said the eruption was normal for the restive Mayon, about 212 miles southeast of the capital Manila.

It has erupted around 40 times during the last 400 years.

It last erupted in 2010, when thousands of residents moved to temporary shelters when the volcano ejected ash across a five-mile zone surrounding the crater.

Mr Solidum said no alert was raised for the volcano following the latest eruption and no evacuation was being planned.

Climbers are not allowed when an alert is up, and it is thought the recent calm may have encouraged this week's trek. - SKY News.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: China's H7N9 Bird Flu Cases Keep Rising - Overall Total Reaches 130, 31 Dead, Mortality Rate Rises To 24%!

May 07, 2013 - CHINA - Health officials in China reported two new H7N9 infections, both from Fujian province, and four more deaths, boosting the outbreak's total to 130 cases, 31 of them (24%) fatal.

One of the patients is a 9-year-old boy whose infection was detected during routine flu surveillance, according to official and media reports today. He has been discharged from the hospital, according to a statement Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The other patient is a 69-year-old man who is hospitalized, according to a separate statement yesterday from the CHP. So far none of the man's nine close contacts have shown any symptoms.

China's National Health and Family Commission today put the number of deaths at 31, an increase of four since the group's last update, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. The report did not include any other details about the deaths. The report also said 42 patients have recovered from their H7N9 infections.

In other developments, China's agriculture ministry yesterday announced five more poultry and market environmental samples that tested positive for H7N9, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). They included three environment samples from a live-bird market in Shandong province, one chicken sample from a live-bird wholesale market in Guangdong province, and one chicken sample from a market in Jiangxi province.

Guangdong is the only province to report a positive bird or market sample in the absence of confirmed human H7N9 cases. It is also the southernmost area of China to report positive H7N9 findings. The OIE report said 89,964 birds were destroyed at the Guangdong wholesale market, which is located in Dongguan.

The health ministry said the H7N9 virus detected in the samples is similar to that found in a pigeon collected from a market in Shanghai in early April, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, Tom Frieden, MD, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the H7N9 virus in its current form can't launch a pandemic, but it could if the virus mutates to gain the ability to spread readily from person to person, Reuters reported today. He added that predicting H7N9's next step is impossible. "I cannot say with certainty whether that will happen tomorrow, within the next 10 years, or never."

Frieden told Reuters that the CDC has 193 staff members working on H7N9, with team members in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It activated its emergency operations center (EOC) in early April to monitor disease developments. - CIDRAP.

As the death toll from the H7N9 bird flu virus climbed to 31 on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the public that the current strain does not pose a pandemic threat.

While Chinese health authorities continued to work to contain the spread of the H7N9 bird flu strain through the weekend, the known attributed death toll climbed to 31, according to a report from the Center for the Infectious Disease and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

The deadly influenza virus has a known mortality rate of 24 percent, drawn from a universe of 130 cases. The World Health Organization has expressed its concerns over the dangerous nature of this bug, however the virus has not demonstrated any meaningful human-to-human transmission ability. On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought to assure the public of H7N9's relative limitations, saying the current strain is not capable of delivering a global pandemic.

"This particular virus is not going to cause a pandemic because it doesn't spread person-to-person," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, told Reuters.

"But all it takes is a bit of mutation for it be able to go person-to-person." Frieden noted that 2,000 people have been in direct contact with the infected populations and yet only a small fraction have become infected themselves.

Virologists remain encouraged that the virus has not yet mutated into a more dangerous human-to-human strain, however the longer this strain of the virus lingers in the ecology the greater the chances that it will inherit the variations needed for person-to-person delivery. - Digital Journal.