Friday, November 1, 2013

SOLAR WATCH: Activity On The Sun Increases - 28 Solar Flares Over The Last Seven Days, And More May Be Coming! UPDATE: Strong Solar Flare Alert - Sunspot 1884 Erupts With M6.3 Solar Flare! UPDATE: Farside Eruption From Sunspot 1875 - Produces Non-Earth Directed CME!

November 01, 2013 - SUN - The sun has erupted more than two dozen times over the last week, sending radiation and solar material hurtling through space - and scientists say more eruptions may be coming.

Sparked by a medium-sized flare, a long, magnetic filament bursts out from the surface of the sun.

This shouldn't be unusual. After all, we are technically at solar maximum, the peak of the 11-year cycle of the sun's activity. But this has been a noticeably mellow solar maximum, with the sun staying fairly quiet throughout the summer. So when our life-giving star suddenly let loose with 24 medium strength M-class solar flares and four significantly stronger X-class flares between Oct.  23 and Oct. 30, it felt like a surprise.

In an image of a coronal mass ejection captured by the Solar Heliospheric Observatory, the disc of the sun
has been obscured so that the dimmer atmosphere around it is more visible. The white speckles on the
image are "noise" from solar particles striking the observing instrument.

Cascading loops spiral above the sun's surface after a solar flare eruption. The loop structures,
each the size of several Earths, are made of super-heated plasma.

Many of the flares originated from sunspot AR1884, a particularly active region of the sun that is currently facing Earth, almost at the center of the star. If this region stays active, it will continue to hurl radiation and solar material our way for about another week until it rotates out of sight.

A sunspot is an area of the sun where the magnetic fields have gotten all twisted up. "You get a tangled bunch of magnetic fields, and they get too tangled and too stressed, they end up erupting," said Holly Gilbert, a solar physicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. 

WATCH: NASA - Five Days of Flares and CMEs. 

The good news is that none of the rapid-fire solar flares of the last week have had much effect on life on Earth. Our atmosphere protects us from the sun's occasional powerful bursts of light and radiation, but solar flares do occasionally interact with our communications systems. The radiation can mess with an upper layer in our atmosphere called the ionosphere and cause radio signals to act funky.

Gilbert said the solar physicists at Goddard were glad to see more activity from the sun after such a quiet summer.

"It hadn't been active in months, so it's like it finally woke up," she said. "For those of us who study the dynamics of the sun, it is exciting because it gives us more events to study."

And for the rest of us it gives us the opportunity to watch cool videos, like the one above, of the sun erupting. - LA Times.

UPDATE: Strong Solar Flare Alert - Sunspot 1884 Erupts With M6.3 Solar Flare!
Sunspot 1884, now in a great geoeffective position generated an impulsive M6.3 solar flare peaking at 19:53 UTC.

Sunspot 1884 erupts with M6.3 solar flare. Image: SDO.

Impulsive M6.3 flare peaking at 19:53 UTC. Image: NOAA/SWPC.

The active region (AR1884) is currently the largest threat for moderate Earth facing solar flares and is now in
a good geoeffective position. All other visible regions are currently stable. Old active region 1861 is currently
located behind the east limb and is about 48 hours away from re-emerging back onto the visible disk.

Solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Nov. 5-7. Image: SDO/AIA.

WATCH: M6.3 Solar Flare - November 1, 2013. 

Impulsive flares are not generally known to produce large coronal mass ejections, however I will provide updates should a plasma cloud be directed our way. - Solar Ham.

UPDATE: Farside Eruption From Sunspot 1875 - Produces Non-Earth Directed CME!
A moderate to strong solar flare was detected around old sunspot 1875 while transiting the farside of the Sun. The event hurled a full halo coronal mass ejection (CME) into space and away from our planet. A second CME is also visible towards the end of the video and may have been the result of a filament eruption. 

WATCH: Farside CME - November 2, 2013. 

- Solar Ham.

MONUMENTAL MILKY WAY GALAXY CHANGES: The Electric Universe - Newly Discovered "Force Field" Shields A Colossal Gas Cloud On Its Plunge Into The Milky Way's Center!

November 01, 2013 - SPACE -  The Smith Cloud, a gigantic streamer of hydrogen gas that is on a collision course with the Milky Way Galaxy, is hurtling toward the Milky Way at more than 150 miles per second and is predicted to impact in approximately 30 million years. When it does, astronomers believe, it will set off a spectacular burst of star formation. But first, it has to survive careening through the halo, or atmosphere, of hot ionized gas surrounding the Milky Way.

This discovery could help explain how so-called high velocity clouds (HVCs) remain mostly intact during their mergers with the disks of galaxies, where they would provide fresh fuel for a new generation of stars. “The Smith Cloud is unique among high-velocity clouds because it is so clearly interacting with and merging with the Milky Way,” said Felix J. Lockman, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, W.Va. “Its comet-like appearance indicates it’s already feeling the Milky Way’s influence.”

“The million-degree upper atmosphere of the Galaxy ought to destroy these hydrogen clouds before they ever reach the disk, where most stars are formed,” said Alex Hill, an astronomer at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and lead author of a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. “New observations reveal one of these clouds in the process of being shredded, but a protective magnetic field shields the cloud and may help it survive its plunge.”

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) discovered the magnetic field deep in the cloud’s interior, which may protect it during its meteoric plunge into the disk of our Galaxy.

Many hundreds of HVCs zip around our Galaxy, but their obits seldom correspond to the rotation of the Milky Way. This leads astronomers to believe that HVCs are the left-over building blocks of galaxy formation or the splattered remains of a close galactic encounter billions of years ago.

Though massive, the gas that makes up HVCs is very tenuous, and computer simulations predict that they lack the necessary heft to survive plunging through the halo and into the disk of the Milky Way.

“We have long had trouble understanding how HVCs reach the Galactic disk,” said Hill. “There's good reason to believe that magnetic fields can prevent their ‘burning up’ in the halo like a meteorite burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.”

Despite being the best evidence yet for a magnetic field inside an HVC, the origin of the Smith Cloud’s field remains a mystery. “The field we observe now is too large to have existed in its current state when the cloud was formed,” said Hill. “The field was probably magnified by the cloud's motion through the halo.”

Earlier research indicates the Smith Cloud has already survived punching through the disk of our Galaxy once and -- at about 8,000 light-years from the disk -- is just beginning its re-entry now.

Since the Smith Cloud appears to be devoid of stars, the only way to observe it is with exquisitely sensitive radio telescopes, like the GBT, which can detect the faint emission of neutral hydrogen. If it were visible with the naked eye, the Smith Cloud would cover almost as much sky as the constellation Orion.

When the Smith Cloud eventually merges with the Milky Way, it could produce a bright ring of stars similar to the one relatively close to our Sun known as Gould's Belt.

“Our Galaxy is in an incredibly dynamic environment,” concludes Hill, “and how it interacts with that environment determines whether stars like the Sun will continue to form.”

The image at the top of the page is an artist’s impression of the Smith Cloud’s plunge into the disk of the Milky Way, The cloud, seen in orange and yellow at bottom of the image, is actual data from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Credit: Bill Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. - Daily Galaxy.

STORM ALERT: Tropical System Could Deliver One Foot Of Rain To Mexico From Heavy Rainfall - Could Cause Life-Threatening Flash Floods And Mudslides!

November 01, 2013 - MEXICO - The latest tropical system in the Eastern Pacific will bring a new round of dangerous and life-threatening flooding and mudslides to areas in Mexico already hit hard since the summer.

A developing tropical system over the Eastern Pacific that will likely soon garner the name Tropical Storm Sonia is forecast to turn northeastward into early next week, reaching part of the west coast of Mexico.

States to watch in Mexico for heavy rain and flooding issues include southern Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Durango.

Mexico cities that could experience flooding problems include Mazatlan, Culiacan, Los Mochis, Durango and La Paz. There is the potential for 6 to 12 inches of rain along the path of the systems as it moves inland and the moisture is squeezed out over the southwestern-facing slopes along the Mexico mainland.

Similar to what happened Raymond's moisture last week, some moisture from Sonia will survive the trip over the Mexico mountains and will join up with a new storm forecast to affect Texas and the southern Plains later next week.

Enough rain could fall in the South Central states to bring a new round of flash and urban flooding from Wednesday to Thursday of next week.

The Eastern Pacific has produced 16 tropical systems through the end of October, including seven hurricanes. Three (Barbara, Manuel and Octave) have made landfall along the west coast of Mexico this season yielding flooding rainfall. However, five others (Erick, Ivo, Julliette, Lorena and Raymond) that paralleled the coast just offshore also brought swaths of rain and flooding.

Manuel and Octave caused significant rain and flooding in the southern Gulf of California region.

At least four other systems (Barry, Fernand, Ingrid and Karen) from the Atlantic Basin brought heavy rain and flooding to some eastern portions of Mexico this season. - AccuWeather.

MASS SHOOTINGS: Infrastructure & Societal Collapse - TSA Officer Killed In LAX Shooting; Others Injured, Gunman Had Rifle, Los Angeles Airport Evacuated, Suspect In Custody!

November 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - A TSA agent was killed and several other people were injured Friday in a shooting at Terminal 3 at LAX, police said.

CBS News’ John Miller said the unidentified suspect entered the terminal wearing camouflage and opened fire around 9:30 a.m., wounding at least three people.

Preliminary indications show that he was targeting TSA employees, according to Miller.

Three other men were transported to UCLA Medical Center. One of them were listed in critical condition and two were said to be in fair condition.

“We are sickened by reports of today’s shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport,” TSA Union Leader J. David Cox Sr. said. “Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers and Transportation Security Officers killed or injured in this heinous act. Thank you to all of our brave TSOs who put their lives on the line every day to keep the flying public safe. AFGE is monitoring the situation along with TSA management.”

WATCH: LAX shooting - Eyewitness describes the scene. 

Terminal 3 was evacuated and cordoned off and arrival and departure roads to the airport, in addition to Century Boulevard, were closed. All airport exits from the 105 and 405 freeways were also shut down.

A large box of ammunition has been recovered on LAX property, Miller said. An LAPD bomb squad and tactical team were sweeping the terminal and evaluating baggage.

Passenger Robert Perez told CBS2 that TSA agents came through the terminal and yelled that a man had a gun.

“I heard popping and everybody dropped to the ground,” Perez said.

Another witness said he actually saw the alleged shooter.

“I was waiting for my flight and heard a rumble of people, which I thought was an earthquake, but then I saw people running and heard gun shots, immediately dove under the benches at my gate, and then gunshots stopped and I got up and called my wife,” Billy Bey said. “Then I saw a man walking towards the gate, when I saw him I thought he was just a passenger looking for his gate, but when he kept walking, I saw he had something looked like an assault rifle, a huge gun strapped over his shoulder, hanging down on the right side of his waist.”

 WATCH: LAX shooting - Police respond to incident at LAX. 

Passenger Rodrigo Jara told KNX1070 NEWSRADIO he was waiting in line to go through the security line in Terminal 3 when he heard a loud sound.

“I heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and then we fell down, and little did I know, I looked to the side, and this guy’s going up the stairs with the rifle,” Jara said.

Jara described the shooter he saw as a white male with blonde/dirty blonde hair possibly wearing khakis, clean-cut, and “walking like he was going to buy tea.”

Approximately 50 flights have been delayed or canceled.

“The situation at LAX is very fluid, the FAA said in a statement. “There is currently a ground stop for flights that are scheduled to depart for LAX. This means those flights are temporarily being held at their departure airports. Arrivals and departures are still occurring, and some flights may be diverted. The FAA is closely monitoring the situation and making adjustments to arrival and departure flows as needed. Passengers should contact their airline to determine the status of their flight.”

Terminal 3 services the following airlines: AirTran, Alaska, Horizon, JetBlue, V Australia and Virgin America.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have responded to the scene.

The Los Angeles Police Department has been placed on citywide tactical alert.

Other Southland airports, including Bob Hope International Airport in Burbank, are on heightened alert. - CBS Los Angeles.

RED DAWN, DRAGON DAY: Chinese And Russian Forces Are Amassing For The Imminent Invasion Of The United States - China Unveils Plan For Nuclear Strikes On America, Displays Nuclear Submarine Fleet For The First Time, Moves Spy Ship Into Hawaiian Waters In “Retaliation” Against United States, In Acceleration Of Its Plan To De-Americanize The World; Russia Conducts Large-Scale Nuclear Attack Drill And Lands Tu-160 Strategic Bombers In Nicaragua; As America Puts The USS Zumwalt Destroyer, The US Navy's Most Intimidating Creation Into The Water And Seek To Modernize Its Key Nuclear Bomb!

November 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Based on the stunning evidence provided in the following news reports, it seems that China and Russia are making monumental moves in what appears to be an imminent invasion of the United States. Chinese state media are now showing clear plans for nuclear strikes on American cities  and the Russians are making strategic moves close to American waters.

China Unveils Plan For Nuclear Strikes On America.

Chinese state-run media revealed for the first time this week that Beijing’s nuclear submarines can attack American cities as a means to counterbalance U.S. nuclear deterrence in the Pacific. On Monday, leading media outlets including China Central TV, the People’s Daily, the Global Times, the PLA Daily, the China Youth Daily and the Guangmin Daily ran identical, top-headlined reports about the “awesomeness” of the People's Liberation Army navy’s strategic submarine force. “This is the first time in 42 years since the establishment of our navy’s strategic submarine force that we reveal on such a large scale the secrets of our first-generation underwater nuclear force,” the Global Times said in a lengthy article titled “China for the First Time Possesses Effective Underwater Nuclear Deterrence against the United States.” The article features 30 photos and graphics detailing, among other things, damage projections for Seattle and Los Angeles after being hit by Chinese nuclear warheads and the deadly radiation that would spread all the way to Chicago.  China’s sub fleet is reportedly the world’s second-largest, with about 70 vessels. About 10 are nuclear-powered, and four or more of those are nuclear ballistic submarines capable of launching missiles.

Image for Yu column Inside China Source: Global Times

Heavily influenced by Soviet naval models that stressed underwater forces, China’s nuclear submarine development began with the reverse-engineering of a Soviet Golf-class conventional-powered sub in the 1950s. In the 1980s, China developed its first ballistic missile sub, the Type 092 Xia-class, which has 12 launch tubes for the Julang (Giant Wave)-1 missiles. The JL-1 had a limited range and failed multiple test launches. In 2010, a new class of missile sub, the Type 094 Jin class, entered the service. It is capable of launching 12 to 16 JL-2 missiles with a range of about 8,700 miles, covering much of the continental U.S. with single or multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicle warheads.

Chinese calculations for nuclear attacks on the U.S. are chillingly macabre. “Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, [our] nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast of the United States, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego,” the Global Times said. “The 12 JL-2 nuclear warheads carried by one single Type 094 SSBN can kill and wound 5 million to 12 million Americans,” the Global Times reported. China also has developed land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles — notably the DF-31A, which has a range of 7,000 to 7,500 miles. “If we launch our DF 31A ICBMs over the North Pole, we can easily destroy a whole list of metropolises on the East Coast and the New England region of the U.S., including Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Portland, Baltimore and Norfolk, whose population accounts for about one-eighth of America’s total residents,” the Global Times said. All the state-run press reports stressed the point that the PLA’s missile submarines are now on routine strategic patrol, “which means that China for the first time has acquired the strategic deterrence and second strike capability against the United States.” “Our JL-2 SLBMs have become the fourth type of Chinese nuclear missiles that threaten the continental United States, after our DF-31A, DF-5A and DF-5B ICBMs,” said the Global Times. - Washington Times.

WATCH: Dragon Day - Movie Trailer. 

China Is Spying On You Through Your Kettle And Other Kitchen Gadgets.
Kitchen espionage: Kettles imported to Russia from China with hidden microchips which can send spam
data and possibly steal information have allegedly been found by authorities in St Petersburg.

Russian investigators claim to have found household appliances imported from China which contain hidden microchips that pump spam data and malware into wi-fi networks.  Authorities in St Petersburg allegedly discovered 20 to 30 kettles and irons with 'spy microchips that send some data to the foreign server', according to Russian media.  The revelation comes just as the EU launches an investigation into claims that Russia itself bugged gifts to delegates at last month's G20 summit in an attempt to retrieve data from computers and telephones.  This has led to speculation that the chips allegedly found in the home appliances may also have the ability to steal data and send it back to Chinese servers.  The allegations against the Chinese were made in St Petersburg news outlet Rosbalt, which quotes a source from customs broker Panimport, but does not detail what data was being sent or to where.  According to The Register, which translated the article, it would be possible to build a malicious microchip - sometimes referred to as a spambot or spybot - small enough to hide in a kettle.  

It also believes there are many readily available transformers which could be used to convert Russia's 220V electricty supply to power the chips without destroying them.  But it casts doubt on the report's claims that the devices were discovered because they were overweight as it is unlikely that the difference of a few grams would have been enough to raise suspicion.  This might only have happened if the appliances were air-freighted, it said, which was probably not the case because they were cheap items. It emerged yesterday that the European Union is investigating gifts that visiting delegations received at last month's summit in St Petersburg of leaders from the world's 20 top economies after newspaper reports alleged Russia was trying to install spyware on computers to snoop on participants.  European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent said that experts were looking into the handouts, which included USB sticks and were given out at the Group of 20 summit, but said 'analysis of hardware and software have not amounted to any serious security concerns.'  He added the investigation had not yet been fully completed.  Italian newspapers reported early this week allegations that Russia tried to spy on participants of the G-20 summit by giving officials free equipment like USB sticks or mobile phone chargers which, once plugged in, would infect computers with spying software.  At the G-20 summit on September 5-6, world leaders from countries including the U.S., China, Germany and Brazil gathered for two days of talks.  Vincent also said the EU delegation would have been well prepared for such attempts, if true. He said it was a routine rule for EU diplomats and leaders to stay away from using handouts or any external equipment during foreign travel. - Daily Mail.

China Displays Nuclear Submarine Fleet For The First Time.
In this photo taken on Oct. 26, 2010, and released by the Chinese Navy on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013, a Chinese navy
nuclear submarine takes part in a nuclear safety drill at the Qingdao submarine base in east China's Shandong
province. In a sign of growing confidence, China's navy gave Chinese media on Sunday unprecedented publicity
on its first nuclear submarine fleet, one of its most secretive military programs. China is devoting increasing
resources to its naval forces to safeguard its maritime interests and assert its territorial claims. (AP Photo)
China has displayed its nuclear submarines for the first time in over four decades to showcase their “excellent safety” record as part of a naval drill. The submarines were shown as taking part in exercises along with naval ships and helicopters. The drill is the first open-sea drill in which maritime and air forces from all three of China’s fleets have taken part, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. “We are China’s first nuclear submarine force, and the 42 years since our establishment have witnessed our success in avoiding nuclear accidents,” Rear Admiral Gao Feng, commander of one of the People’s Liberation Army navy’s submarine bases, told reporters in Qingdao port.

While state television has shown the footage of the submarines taking part in the exercises, which according to the official media is the first time in 42 years ever since it began inducting nuclear submarines in the fleet, the print media highlighted its safety track with no accident record. The exercises in the west Pacific went on “despite foreign disturbance,” the People’s Liberation Army said. Foreign military vessels and reconnaissance aircraft, reportedly from Japan and US remained in the exercise area for an undue time monitoring Chinese activity in the close distance and seriously disturbing the naval drill, reports said. - Indian Express.

China Moves Spy Ship To Hawaiian Waters In “Retaliation” Against U.S.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

China has sent a surveillance ship to Hawaiian waters for the very first time in an unprecedented move which is being described as a provocative retaliation to the U.S. naval presence in the East China Sea.  According to a report by, a news outlet aimed at Asian-Americans, a 4,000 ton People’s Liberation Army electronic reconnaissance ship was recently spotted near Hawaii within the U.S. 200-nautical mile EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). The report was also picked up by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which ran an article entitled China moves spy ship near isles, Asian media say. The ship “is equipped with various electronic gear for eavesdropping on radio communications and tracking ships and aircraft. It is also believed to have jamming equipment to interfere with the radio communications of other ships,” according to the report.

The development is unprecedented because China has never sent a ship within the U.S. EEZ, although the U.S. has entered the Chinese EEZ on numerous occasions for decades. It is not known whether the ship violated the territorial waters of the United States, which extend to 12 nautical miles under the 1982 UN convention on the Law of the Sea. The fact that the ship got within 2,400 miles of San Francisco represents “a potential for offensive actions against the US by the Chinese military,” according to the report.

The development is apparently part of China’s growing military confidence, which was also exemplified with the country’s recent declassification of its nuclear-armed Xia-class submarine fleet, which according to state media represents an “assassin’s mace that would make adversaries tremble.” China’s increasing aggressiveness in the East China Sea and its challenge to Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands has sparked tensions, with Japan repeatedly scrambling fighter jets earlier this week in response to Chinese military aircraft flying near Okinawa. Back in September, China also reportedly sent warships to the coast of Syria to “observe” the actions of US and Russian vessels in the region. “The recent deployment of a PLAN surveillance ship into Hawaiian waters is seen as Beijing’s message to the US and the rest of the world that China can now contest the waters of the western Pacific and that the US Navy no longer has a free pass in the region. It is also seen as a form of retaliation for what Beijing considers the provocative naval exercises the US recently conducted in the Yellow Sea jointly with the navies of South Korea and Japan’s Self-Defense Force,” states the report.

WATCH: Demonstration of China’s recently declassified Xia-class submarine fleet.

China's Plan To De-Americanized The World Is Taking Shape .
Reuters / Petar Kujundzic

China’s leadership will soon usher in bold reforms to support a domestic consumption-driven economic model, and globalizing the renminbi as an alternative store of wealth to the US dollar is at the center of the strategy. The scathing commentary published by China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency calling for a ‘de-Americanized world’ was undoubtedly music to the ears of many in the developing world. The article – published during the recent fiscal deadlock – accused Washington of abusing its superpower status by engaging in unwarranted military conflicts, engineering regime changes with impunity, and mishandling its status as the issuer of the world reserve currency by exporting risk abroad. Xinhua’s commentary also called for drastic reforms of the IMF and World Bank to reflect the growing muscle of the developing world, and most significantly, “the introduction of a new international reserve currency that is to be created to replace the dominant US dollar.” The planned reforms led by the Xi Jinping administration in Beijing should be viewed through the lenses of the position taken by this article, with the end goal being the full convertibility and internationalization of the renminbi.

China’s renminbi as a ‘third leg’

Beijing interprets the global economy resting on highly unsound foundations – the US dollar and the Euro – and it would like to engineer a smooth transition toward a multipolar economic system where the renminbi can act as a third leg to support this structure. China is already the world's largest trading nation, exporter, and creditor, and it is soon expected to overtake the US as the largest oil importer and the world’s largest economy, but further institutional and regulatory reform is needed to mitigate risk and increase efficiency before the renminbi can contend as a top trading currency.  Beijing has specifically cited the goal of full renminbi convertibility in its most recent five-year plan in 2011, which would allow foreign currencies to be exchanged for renminbi without any state-intervention or restriction on the amount. The long-term strategy to globalize the renminbi is based on a three-pronged approach – emboldening it as a global trade settlement currency, then as a global investment currency or a store of wealth, and ultimately as a global reserve currency that can replace or serve as an alternative to the US dollar.  - RT.

China Says That "Peeping Tom" U.S. Risks Own Security By Spying On Allies.
AFP Photo / Stan Honda

The Chinese government’s official mouthpiece, Xinhua, has made fun of the US efforts to wiretap every communication they could get, including their closest allies, which has eroded America’s own security “more than any terrorist would be capable of”.  Xinhua writer. Deng Yushan. points out that the major achievement of the US intelligence community’s unprecedented eavesdropping effort is a “trust fiasco” concerning the American state.  “One has to trust in order to be trusted. It is particularly true in friendships and alliances. America obviously failed to follow the simple rule,” the Chinese author says, concluding that trust is “the first and foremost casualty.”  The latest “cascade of eye-popping disclosures” about Washington “nonsensical” spying on its closest allies, particularly the news about America’s National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping on 35 heads of states, has insulted America’s closest allies in Europe and undermined their trust, claims Xinhua.  “As America pins its security on alliances, the tapping tale would sour its relationship with allies – and thus erode its security bedrock – more than any terrorist would be capable of,” the Chinese author argues.  The latest revelations of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, currently enjoying temporary asylum in Russia, has put the US at loggerheads with its primary NATO partners, France and Germany, which are now standing up together against these brazen surveillance methods.  As a result of Snowden’s leaks, Washington could find itself “deeply entrenched in suspicion and isolation” and regaining friends’ trust is going to be painful. 

The Chinese media outlet has labeled the NSA approach to wiretap America’s closest allies in Europe “counterintuitive” and “nonsensical”, comparing pervasive surveillance to a “relentless and indiscriminate vacuum cleaner.”  “It just bugs everybody,” the Chinese author says, recalling German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who learnt that her mobile phone had been bugged for about ten years, and got so offended that she called President Obama in person to seek an explanation for the US policies towards allies.  While Chancellor Merkel and her European colleagues in general do have “every reason to feel insulted and betrayed”, they still “deserve the kind of respect and trust that underpins the practice that air travelers do not have to fly naked,” Xinhua writer believes.  The author fails to name motives behind the only superpower’s extensive eavesdropping effort, but particularly stresses that White House’s explanations are “far from explanatory.”  The Chinese author also cannot help but mention the situation with China and the US extensively exchanging accusations of cyber-espionage against each other.  Given the situation of scandalous revelations about the US being perhaps the world’s primary spy, Deng Yushan accuses “hyperactive Uncle Sam” of hypocrisy.  “The apparent application of a double standard only reinforces the image of a Janus-faced America. In the sunlight, it preaches; in the dark, it pries. On the offensive, it orates; on the defensive, it equivocates,” he writes, warning the US administration of “potentially more destructive consequences.”  Still, the Xinhua author expresses the hope that the US “should be wise enough to know that to trust nobody is no less dangerous than to trust anybody.”  “Uncle Sam needs to remember what happened to the tailor in the Lady Godiva story - Peeping Tom was struck blind,” the Xinhua writer recalled. - RT.

Moscow Conducts Large-Scale Nuclear Attack Drill.
Russian SS-18 rocket (AP)

Russian strategic forces carried out a large-scale surprise military drill on Wednesday, launching four nuclear missiles that were closely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, U.S. officials said.  The drill began around 9:00 am ET and included the test launch of two land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).  The test firings were unusual because of the number of missiles fired at one time, said officials who discussed some details of the drill on condition of anonymity.  State Department spokeswoman Alexandra F. Bell confirmed the tests and said the long-range missile firings were “conducted consistent with the requirements of the New START Treaty.”  At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said: ”With regard to Russia’s recent testing of its strategic forces missiles, the United States received the proper notifications prior to the launches.”  Other officials said the tests were notified in advance to the U.S. government as required by a 1988 U.S.-Soviet agreement requiring advance notification of ICBM and SLBM launches. The agreement requires notifying the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, run by the State Department, of the impending launches within four days of their launch.  Mark Schneider, an arms control specialist, said Russian reports of the exercises described the test firings as a “a major strategic nuclear exercise involving a nuclear war.”

The exercises also involved Russian President Vladimir Putin as a commander.  Schneider, a policy analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, said the last similar Russian strategic exercise took place two weeks before the 2012 presidential election and were described as the first time Putin personally tested an automated communication and management system for nuclear forces.  “Minimum deterrence advocates like to ignore these exercises,” Schneider said. “I think they are very important and point out the need to maintain a strong triad” of missiles, submarines, and bombers.  The missiles test fired were identified by the officials with their NATO code names, including a silo-based SS-18 and a road-mobile SS-25, along with the two submarine-launched missiles, an SS-N-18 and SS-N-23.  The SS-18 is Russia’s largest land-based ICBM with a range of up to 10,000 miles and up to 10 warheads, or multiple, independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).  The SS-25 is a road-mobile missile capable of launching up to four MIRVs and has a range of up to 6,200 miles.  The SS-N-18 Stingray missile can be equipped with up to seven warheads and is carried on Delta III missile submarines. It has a range of up to 5,000 miles.  The SS-N-23 can carry up to 10 MIRVs and has a range of up to 5,000 miles. It is deployed on Delta IV missile submarines. 

A Kremlin spokesman in Moscow said the “surprise check” of nuclear forces, aerospace defenses, and naval and strategic aviation were ordered by “Commander-in-Chief, President Vladimir Putin.”  “Ballistic missiles were launched, the air defense and missile defense systems were used,” Dmitri Peskov, the spokesman, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. “All launches took place as expected. All of the practice targets were hit.”  Other reports identified the exercise as a “snap inspection.”  The SS-25, which Russia calls the Topol, was launched from Plesetsk and the SS-18, called RS-20V, was launched from Dombarovski located near the border with Kazakhstan in Central Asia.  Additionally, Russian forces fired four short-range SS-26 and SS-21 short-range missiles from the Kapustin Yar test center near the Black Sea. Those missiles traveled over 60 miles.  Air defense forces also fired S-400 and S-300 anti-aircraft and anti-missile interceptors at incoming ballistic missile targets at the Kapustin Yar test range.  The strategic missile exercises highlight Moscow’s large-scale nuclear forces build up under Putin.  Russia is developing several new missiles, including a weapon U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed as a covert intermediate-range nuclear missile called the RS-26 that is being developed and tested in apparent violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.  The Russian government has denied the RS-26 violates the INF treaty and claims it is a new ICBM, which some arms compliance experts say is a violation of the 2010 New START treaty.  Russia is also developing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile and a new class of missile submarines. - Free Beacon.

Russian Tu-160 Strategic Bombers Land In Nicaragua.
Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber. © RIA Novosti. Alexei Fedoseev

Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers arrived in Nicaragua on Thursday after taking off from an airbase in Venezuela, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The nuclear-capable bombers “flew above the neutral waters of the Caribbean Sea, entered the airspace of Nicaragua and performed a planned landing,” the ministry said. The aircraft covered over 2,500 km during their three-hour flight from the Maiquetia airfield in Venezuela.

Russian Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber. The Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed
to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theaters of operation.

Earlier this week, the two bombers took off from the Engels airbase in the Volga region and covered a distance of more than 10,000 kilometers (over 6,200 miles) during a 13-hour non-stop flight to Venezuela. The ministry said the current mission was carried out “in line with the program of combat training” and corresponded to all international norms. Russian strategic bombers conducted a similar mission in 2008. It was followed by a visit to Venezuela by a Russian naval task force, which took part in joint exercises with the Venezuelan navy. The Tu-160 Blackjack is a supersonic, variable-geometry heavy bomber, designed to strike strategic targets with nuclear and conventional weapons deep in continental theatres of operation. - RIA NOVOSTI.

USS Zumwalt Destroyer, The US Navy's Most Intimidating Creation Yet Just Hit The Water.
U.S. Navy.

The Navy just put its newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, into the sea. Constructed by General Dynamics with weapons systems and software from other companies, the Zumwalt "DDG-1000" Guided Missile Destroyer is like the iPhone 6 of naval ships. Its "tumblehome" hull avoids enemy radar while composite armor absorbs it, advanced weaponry strikes from more than 100 miles offshore, Linux-based networking in the bridge allows for purchase and implementation of off-the-shelf software, and an all-electric drive system keeps her purring quietly like a well-fed tiger. Lucky for America's rivals, at about 87 percent completion, the Zumwalt is not quite ready to start making the rest of the globe flinch yet.

The USS Zumwalt hit the water Oct. 29 and is due to start patrolling by 2014.The Zumwalt was originally estimated to cost about $3.8 billion, but so much technology was crammed onboard that its cost has nearly doubled, and after the first three are built, production will stop.  With all the new weapons systems the Navy wants aboard the Zumwalt, planners installed a power plant that could provide power to 78,000 homes (around 78 megawatts). Such power could enable the first uses of the Navy's magnetic rail gun project, which combines magnetic currents and electric fields to fire projectiles at 7 times the speed of sound. Computers and automation have reduced the crew to a bare bones 158. (By comparison, the USS Barry Arleigh-Burke Class requires 210 sailors.) Sean Gallagher of Arstechnica referred to the Linux-powered bridge as a "floating data center" and wrote that it was akin to the bridge on Star Trek's Starship Enterprise. On the outside, the USS Zumwalt not only looks cool (rule #1), but it's a full 100 feet longer than existing classes of destroyer. According to the Navy's press release, "The shape of the superstructure and the arrangement of its antennas significantly reduce the ship's radar cross section, making the ship less visible to enemy radar at sea." The hull of the ship is made of a composite material which effectively absorbs radar waves. Construction of the ship required General Dynamics to build a special $40 million "Ultra Hall" to hold the pieces.

The Zumwalt's weaponry is tailored for land attack and close-to-coast dominance and will also have a sensor and
weapons suite optimized for littoral warfare and for network-centric warfare. BAE Systems Land and Armaments
developed the ship's advanced gun system (AGS), which will be able to fire advanced munitions and the Zumwalt
Class vessels have two landing spots for helicopters. Zumwalt has a peripheral vertical launch system (PVLS),
which consists of 20 four-cell PVLS situated round the perimeter of the deck. U.S. Navy

The ship also has space for two medium-lift helicopter systems. U.S. Navy

And finally, the new Long Range Attack Projectile (LRAP) — The DDG 1000 will be armed with tactical tomahawks,
standard missile SM-3s, and the evolved SeaSparrow missile. U.S. Navy

- Business Insider.

US Modernizing Key Nuclear Bomb.
The B-61, the oldest nuclear bomb in the US arsenal.  © Wikimedia Commons
A key bomb in the United States’ nuclear arsenal is being upgraded with precision guidance equipment and safety mechanisms, even as officials say budget battles threaten funding they call critical to US nuclear deterrence. “It is the right course of action to cost-effectively extend the life of our weapons, modernize our infrastructure and preserve our deterrent capability,” C. Robert Kehler, commander of the US Strategic Command, told lawmakers at a Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported.  Kehler and other officials told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces that the B-61, the oldest nuclear bomb in the US arsenal, is being modernized with a precision-guidance kit that will replace a parachute used to slow the weapons descent, the Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday.

The upgrade entails combining four 1960s-era variants of the B-61 into a single bomb, the Free Beacon cited the officials as saying. The United States maintains around 400 B-61 bombs, some 200 of which are deployed in Europe, according to the report. Officials also told lawmakers they are concerned about budgetary belt-tightening that could negatively impact the state of the US nuclear arsenal, including a so-called “life extension program” to repair and replace components of nuclear weapons. “Today, the most significant risk the program faces is not technical risk, but uncertainty of consistent funding,” Donald Cook, deputy administrator for defense programs with the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), said in a prepared statement for the hearing. Some members of the US Congress consider the life-extension program too costly and potentially unnecessary, the Albuquerque Journal reported. “I’m concerned about the cost and complexity of the current plan and whether [the B61 bombs] are needed long term,” US Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat from California, said during the hearing, the Journal reported.

The NNSA estimates the cost of refurbishing the B-61 at $8.1 billion over 12 years, and US President Barack Obama earlier this year asked Congress to increase the budget for the bomb to $537 million in 2014, up from $369 million this year, according to the Journal. Federal budget battles, however, resulted in a $30 million cut to the life-extension budget this year, prompting NNSA officials to mobilize nearly $250 million in reserve funds in preparation for possible additional costs later on, according to the report. Under the New START treaty signed between the United States and Russia in 2010, each side is allowed a maximum of 1,550 warheads and no more than 700 deployed launchers. Obama said earlier this year that he intended to seek negotiated cuts with Russia beyond those benchmarks, though Russian officials have expressed doubts about the proposal in light of US global missile defense plans and attempts by other counties to boost their nuclear arsenals. - RIA NOVOSTI.

EXTREME WEATHER ANOMALIES: Unprecedented October Weather In Alaska - Over 11 Degrees Above Average; Third Warmest October On Record In Fairbanks, Despite Rarest Rainfall In October In More Than A Century?!

November 01, 2013 - ALASKA - In the interior Alaskan city of Fairbanks, the monthly average temperature was 36.1 degrees. This is more than 11 degrees above average and ranks among the warmest Octobers on record in the city.

The red, orange and yellow contours on this map illustrate the dominant area of high pressure aloft engulfing
Alaska, northwest Canada and the northeast Pacific from Oct. 8 to Oct. 27. Credit: NOAA/ESRL

Monday, Oct. 28 was extremely mild. The high temperature for the day reached a daily record of 51 degrees, more than 30 degrees above the late-October average high of 20 degrees. Even the low temperature of 38 degrees exceeded the average high by about 18 degrees.

From late Oct. 27 into Oct. 28, rain fell on bare ground in Fairbanks. This may not sound significant, but according to the National Weather Service, rain falling on bare ground three days prior to Halloween "appears to be unprecedented in more than a century of weather observations." The National Weather Service says that rain is a rarity in Fairbanks after Oct. 20.

Alaska Satellite Imagery.

Anchorage, the most populated city in Alaska, saw its warmest October dating to 1915.

The monthly average temperature of 43 degrees was more than seven degrees above average. It's also near one degree higher than the previous warmest October of 42.1 degrees set in 1936.

High temperatures were in the 50s nearly half of the days in October. Typically, average high temperatures fall from the upper 40s to low 30s from the start to the end of October.

Along the north coast of Alaska, the town of Barrow has also seen a very mild October for the second year in a row.

The average temperature in Barrow was 24.7 degrees. This is more than seven degrees above average, but short of equaling last year's record warm October of 27.5 degrees. - TWC.

FIRE IN THE SKY: "The Longest Lasting Shooting Star I've Ever Seen" - Fireball In Pacific Northwest Sky Likely Landed In The Pacific Ocean!

November 01, 2013 - SPACE - A fireball in the sky above the Pacific Northwest led dozens of people to report sightings to the American Meteor Society on Wednesday.

The FOX 12 newsroom started receiving reports of a bright light flashing across the sky around 6 a.m. Wednesday.

AMS experts said it appears the decent-sized meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere in Washington state, traveled in an east-to-west direction and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

"It went from one horizon to the other, never fading," said one witness.

A report out of Tigard said it "traveled east to west across the entire visible sky - very long."

Another witness, out of Gladstone, described it as "the longest lasting shooting star I've ever seen."

Preliminary trajectory.  Image courtesy: American Meteor Society

There were also reported sightings in British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and Washington. Because of cloud cover in the Seattle area, there were very few reported sightings there.

Experts at OMSI say a fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky.

Jim Todd, OMSI's director of space science education, says several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth's atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, he says, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and many are masked by daylight.

A representative from NASA tells FOX 12 it is looking into the reports.Anyone who witnessed the potential fireball can log in to the American Meteor Society website and make a report. - KPTV.

EARTH CHANGES: The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Has Been Unusually Active In The 20th Century Compared To The Past 600 Years - El Nino Events Can Wreak Havoc Across The Globe, Spawning Floods Or Giving Rise To Droughts!

November 01, 2013 - EARTH - A new approach to analyzing paleo-climate reconstructions of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon resolves disagreements and reveals that ENSO activity during the 20th century has been unusually high compared to the past 600 years. The results are published in Climate of the Past by a team of scientists from the University of New South Wales, the University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center and the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

Corals, tree rings, and sediment cores serve as proxies for El Nino sea surface temperature. Credit: Gisela Speidel.

El Nino events can wreak havoc across the globe, spawning floods or giving rise to droughts in many regions of the world. How ENSO behaves as a result of a warming planet, however, is still uncertain. One window to determine its sensitivity to climate change is a look into the past.

Because the instrumental record is too short for getting a reliable picture of natural variations in ENSO magnitude and frequency, climate scientists rely on geological and biological clues, such as from lake sediment cores, corals, or tree rings as proxies for past ENSO behavior. The problem has been, though, that reconstructions of ENSO from such paleo-proxies have not been telling the same story.

Some of these discrepancies in ENSO reconstructions arise because the methods typically applied to combine individual paleo-proxy records do not handle small dating uncertainties amongst the proxies well. The usual approach has been to combine the individual ENSO proxies and then to calculate the activity of this combined ENSO signal.

McGregor and his team found that by turning this analysis around - first calculating the activity of ENSO in each of the individual paleo-climate reconstructions and then combining the activity time series - yields a much more consistent and robust view of ENSO's past activity. The scientists confirmed this new approach with virtual ENSO data obtained from two multi-century-long climate model simulations.

Applying their improved method of reconstructing ENSO activity by synthesizing many different existing proxies and comparing these time series with instrumental data, the scientists found that ENSO was more active during 1979-2009 than during any 30-year period between 1590 and 1880.

"Our results represent a significant step towards understanding where current ENSO activity sits in the context of the past." says Axel Timmermann, professor at the University of Hawaii and co-author of the study.

"Climate models provide no clear indication of how ENSO activity will change in the future in response to greenhouse warming, so all we have to go on is past records," explains McGregor. "We can improve the projections of climate models, however, by selecting those that produce past changes in ENSO activity consistent with the past instrumental records.

"Our new estimates of ENSO activity of the past 600 years appear to roughly track global mean temperature," says McGregor, "but we still don't know why." - Space Daily.

MASS ANIMAL DIE-OFF: Catastrophic Mortality - Florida Manatees Dying At Record Rates; 769 Dead In 2013; The Deadliest Year Ever?!

November 01, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Toxic algae blooms that deplete the water of essential oxygen are killing a record number of manatees in Florida this year, biologists say.

A total of 769 manatees have died trough Tuesday, making 2013 the deadliest year ever for the blubbery denizens of the deep found off the Florida coast, Save the Manatee Club announced.

A pair of manatees swim near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 13, 2010.

With more than two months left this year, nearly twice the number of manatees have already died compared to all of 2012, which saw 392 confirmed manatee deaths.

The last record—766 dead manatees—was set in 2010, when an unusually cold winter and spring killed hundreds of the delicate creatures, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Manatees live near the coastline, and when the weather turns cold, they often shelter near springs or in warmer discharge canals at power plants to avoid the condition known as "cold stress," which can weaken and eventually kill the aquatic mammals.

"With 2013's catastrophic loss of manatee lives coming so close on the heels of the mass mortality suffered during 2010, the already difficult job to ensure the survival of these gentle and defenseless marine mammals has been made all the more challenging, and it's not over yet," said the club's executive director Patrick Rose.

"What we put into our waters, how much we pump from our aquifer and draw from our springs and rivers, together with how we use our waterways, all has an impact on our own lives and the lives of every aquatic species."

The club's director of science and conservation blamed two "unusual mortality events" for this year's major losses.

Toxic red-tide bloom killed 276 manatees this winter and spring in southwestern Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Most of the deaths took place in the Cape Cora-Fort Myers region off the Gulf coast.

The second event remains unexplained, but saw more than 100 manatees die of undetermined causes in Brevard County off the Atlantic coast.

Tripp said those deaths were linked to various algal blooms and the loss of 47,000 acres (19,000 hectares) of seagrass since 2010.

Of the total number of deaths this year, 123 were stillborn, newborn or young calves, in another record for that mortality category.

Manatees are a protected species in Florida, highly affected by urban development in recent years along the coast in the central and southern parts of the state.

In the bay of Miami, where families of three or four manatees are commonly spotted along the shore, many of the animals are killed after being struck by boats. - PHYSORG.

STORM ALERT: Typhoon Krosa Batters The Philippines, Targets Vietnam Next - Storm System Will Hit With Damaging Winds, Heavy Rainfall And Flash Flooding!

November 01, 2013 - PACIFIC OCEAN - Typhoon Krosa pulled away from the Philippines' northern Luzon Island on Friday, local time, as it headed in a westerly direction toward Vietnam.

Damaging winds, flooding rain, and a large storm surge all plagued Luzon Island thanks to the passage of Typhoon Krosa. Aparri, a community along the northern coast of Luzon, recorded a peak wind gust of 107 kph (67 mph) as well as over a foot of rain.

This satellite, courtesy of NOAA, captured Krosa as it was making landfall on Luzon late Thursday.

The strongest impacts from Krosa remained to the north of the Philippines capitol city of Manila.

@NASAHurricane tweeted: "NW PACIFIC *Full Update* NASA Sees Tropical Storm Krosa Approach the Philippines. NASA's Terra and Aqua..."

Additional Relevant Tweets and Social Media Reaction

While the interaction with Luzon caused some weakening, Krosa was still a typhoon late Friday, local time, as it moved through the South China Sea.

This satellite, courtesy of NOAA, captured Krosa as it was making landfall on Luzon late Thursday.

Krosa will remain over open water through the weekend, tracking as if it is heading toward Hong Kong through Saturday before curving to the southwest away from mainland China by Sunday.

Also later in the weekend, Krosa will weaken to a tropical storm as it loses a battle with disruptive wind shear and cooler water.

WATCH: Western Pacific Weather Update on Typhoon Krosa - October 31, 2013. 

WATCH: Western Pacific Weather Update on Typhoon Krosa - November 1, 2013. 

That weakening trend could continue early next week as Krosa grazes or bypasses eastern Hainan Island before moving into central Vietnam and southern Laos.

It is possible that Krosa is a tropical depression or rainstorm at its final landfall, but could still be accompanied by heavy rain and flash flooding problems. - AccuWeather.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Thawing Permafrost - The Speed Of Coastal Erosion In Eastern Siberia Has Nearly Doubled!

November 01, 2013 - SIBERIA - The high cliffs of Eastern Siberia - which mainly consist of permafrost - continue to erode at an ever quickening pace. This is the conclusion which scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have reached after their evaluation of data and aerial photographs of the coastal regions for the last 40 years.

According to the researchers, the reasons for this increasing erosion are rising summer temperatures in the Russian permafrost regions as well the retreat of the Arctic sea ice.

Scientists are investigating a coastal area, where waves have hollowed out the thawing cliff line. The melt water
which runs down the cliff intensives erosion additionally. Photos: M.N. Grigoriev, Alfred Wegener Institute.

This coastal protection recedes more and more on an annual basis. As a result, waves undermine the shores. At the same time, the land surface begins to sink. The small island of Muostakh east of the Lena Delta is especially affected by these changes. Experts fear that it might even disappear altogether should the loss of land continue.

The interconnectedness is clear and unambiguous: The warmer the east Siberian permafrost regions become, the quicker the coast erodes. "If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius in the summer, erosion accelerates by 1.2 metres annually," says AWI geographer Frank Gunther, who investigates the causes of the coastal breakdown in Eastern Siberia together with German and Russian colleagues, and who has published his findings in two scientific articles.

In these studies, he and his team evaluated high resolution air and satellite photos from 1951 to 2012 as well as measurements of the past four years. In addition, the researchers surveyed four coastal sections along the Laptev Sea (see map) and on the island of Muostakh.

One example of the changes documented in their research are the warming summers. While the temperatures during the period of investigation exceeded zero degrees Celsius on an average of 110 days per year, the scientists counted a total of 127 days in the years 2010 and 2011. The following year, 2012, the number of days with temperatures above freezing increased to 134.

This increase in temperature is not without consequences. Whereas a thick layer of sea ice used to protect the frozen soil almost all year round, it now recedes in this part of the Arctic for increasing periods of time during the summer months. The number of summer days on which the sea ice in the southern Laptew Sea vanishes completely grows steadily.

"During the past two decades, there were, on average, fewer than 80 ice-free days in this region per year. During the past three years, however, we counted 96 ice-free days on average. Thus, the waves can nibble at the permafrost coasts for approximately two more weeks each year," explains AWI permafrost researcher Paul Overduin.

The waves dig deep recesses into the base of the high coasts. The result: The undermined slopes break off bit by bit. During the past 40 years, the coastal areas surveyed retreated on average 2.2 meters per year. "During the past four years, this value has increased at least 1.6 times, in certain instances up to 2.4 times to reach 5.3 meters per year," says Paul Overduin.

For the little island of Muostakh east of the harbour town of Tiksi, this may well mean extinction.

"In fewer than one hundred years, the island will break up into several sections, and then it will disappear quickly," predicts Frank Gunther. On its northern tip, the island shows fluctuating annual erosion rates between 10 and 20 meters per year, and it has already lost 24 per cent of its area in the past 60 years.

Because the subsurface here consists of more than 80 per cent of ice that has formed within the soil, and since the ice is gradually melting, the island's surface collapses as well. The scientists speak of a 34 per cent loss in volume.

"If one bears in mind that it took tens of thousands of years for the island to form through sedimentary deposition, then its disintegration is proceeding at a very rapid pace," says Paul Overduin.

In addition, long-term studies conducted by AWI scientists show the impact of coastal erosion for the sea as well. Depending on the kind of erosion and the particular structure of the coast, between 88 and 800 tons of plant-, animal, and microorganism-based carbon are currently washed into the sea per year and kilometer of coastline - these are materials that had been sealed in the permafrost thus far.

With regard to the Laptev Sea, this translates into approximately one eighth of the organic carbon that is transported by the Lena River annually - and the Lena is a river that encompasses a drainage basin the size of the Mediterranean.

"We can, however, assume larger quantities if this accelerating coastal erosion we currently observe continues," the scientists write in their subject-specific paper for the Biogeosciences special volume: "Interactions between the land and sea in the Lena Delta Region." Once in the water, carbon may turn into carbon dioxide and, as a result, contribute to the acidification of the oceans: the composition of our oceans becomes less alkaline.

These studies were conducted as part of the PROGRESS project which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. - Space Daily.