Wednesday, May 7, 2014

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Unusual New Penguin Flu Virus Discovered In Antarctica - Unlike Any Other Avian Flu Known To Science?!

Adelie penguinWikimedia, Reinhard Jahn
May 07, 2014 - ANTARCTICA - A new kind of bird flu has been detected for the first time in Adelie penguins in Antarctica, though the virus does not seem to make them sick, researchers said Tuesday.

The virus is unlike any other avian flu known to science
, said the report in mBio, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

"It raises a lot of unanswered questions," said study author Aeron Hurt, senior research scientist at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.

The findings show that "avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations," he said.

The study is the first to report on live avian influenza virus in penguins, though previous research has found evidence of influenza antibodies in penguin blood.

But it remains unclear how often various strains of bird flu are introduced into Antarctica, whether the deadliest types could make it there, and which animals or ecosystems allow the virus to survive.

Hurt and colleagues collected samples from some 300 Adelie penguins at Admiralty Bay and Rada Covadonga during January and February 2013.

They found live, infectious avian influenza virus in eight samples, or nearly three percent of the birds. The penguins did not appear to be sick.

All the samples were found to be H11N2 influenza viruses that were highly similar to each other.

But when researchers compared the genome sequences of four of the viruses to a publicly available database of animal and human viruses, "we found that this virus was unlike anything else detected in the world," said Hurt.

"All of the genes were highly distinct from contemporary AIVs ( avian influenza viruses) circulating in other continents in either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere."

One well known kind of bird flu is H5N1, which is believed to be carried by migrating ducks.

Some 650 people have been infected with H5N1, and about 60 percent have died, according to the World Health Organization. It is also highly lethal to domestic poultry.

Source: mBio - Daily Star.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare "Fire Tornado" Photographed In Missouri!

May 07, 2014 - MISSOURI, UNITED STATES - Check out this image of a fire tornado that Instagram user Janae Copelin captured near Chillicothe, Mo.

Rare "Fire Tornado" Photographed In Missouri!
© nicejalapeno on Instagram

These fire tornados can form when intense heat combines with high winds.

Copelin, who goes by the Instagram user name nicejalapeno, captured the image about a mile north of 190 Highway on Saturday, May 3rd

Copelin said she was heading out for a day in St. Joseph, Mo., with her daughter and a friend when she saw the flames.

"Thanks to my love of Instagram I chose to drive by and as I stopped to take a picture the wind whipped up the fire into this funnel," Copelin said in an email to KMBC 9 News. "The sound and heat were intense and a bit scary not knowing if it would stay put, but it only lasted a couple minutes."

There were no reports of injuries from the incident.  - KMBC.

WATCH: Earlier fire tornadoes seen in Australia and Denver, Colorado.


PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake Strike Southwest Of Panguna, Papua New Guinea! [MAPS+TECTONIC SUMMARY]

May 07, 2014 - PAPUA NEW GUINEA - A shallow magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck off Papua New Guinea's Bougainville Island, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

USGS earthquake location map.

The quake, which occurred after 2:00pm local time, was just one kilometre deep and centred 96 kilometres southwest of the town of Panguna.

The USGS says no tsunami warning was immediately issued.

USGS earthquake shakemap intensity.

Hugh Glanville, duty seismologist at Geoscience Australia, says there would have been some shaking on the island, but not much damage is expected.

He says the quake was not considered large enough to generate a tsunami.

Quakes of such magnitude are common in PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates. - ANN.

Tectonic Summary - Seismotectonics of the New Guinea Region and Vicinity
The Australia-Pacific plate boundary is over 4000 km long on the northern margin, from the Sunda (Java) trench in the west to the Solomon Islands in the east. The eastern section is over 2300 km long, extending west from northeast of the Australian continent and the Coral Sea until it intersects the east coast of Papua New Guinea. The boundary is dominated by the general northward subduction of the Australia plate.

Along the South Solomon trench, the Australia plate converges with the Pacific plate at a rate of approximately 95 mm/yr towards the east-northeast. Seismicity along the trench is dominantly related to subduction tectonics and large earthquakes are common: there have been 13 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded since 1900. On April 1, 2007, a M8.1 interplate megathrust earthquake occurred at the western end of the trench, generating a tsunami and killing at least 40 people. This was the third M8.1 megathrust event associated with this subduction zone in the past century; the other two occurred in 1939 and 1977.

Strong 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Southeast Of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea!
USGS plate tectonics for the region.

Further east at the New Britain trench, the relative motions of several microplates surrounding the Australia-Pacific boundary, including north-south oriented seafloor spreading in the Woodlark Basin south of the Solomon Islands, maintain the general northward subduction of Australia-affiliated lithosphere beneath Pacific-affiliated lithosphere. Most of the large and great earthquakes east of New Guinea are related to this subduction; such earthquakes are particularly concentrated at the cusp of the trench south of New Ireland. 33 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900, including three shallow thrust fault M8.1 events in 1906, 1919, and 2007.

The western end of the Australia-Pacific plate boundary is perhaps the most complex portion of this boundary, extending 2000 km from Indonesia and the Banda Sea to eastern New Guinea. The boundary is dominantly convergent along an arc-continent collision segment spanning the width of New Guinea, but the regions near the edges of the impinging Australia continental margin also include relatively short segments of extensional, strike-slip and convergent deformation. The dominant convergence is accommodated by shortening and uplift across a 250-350 km-wide band of northern New Guinea, as well as by slow southward-verging subduction of the Pacific plate north of New Guinea at the New Guinea trench. Here, the Australia-Pacific plate relative velocity is approximately 110 mm/yr towards the northeast, leading to the 2-8 mm/yr uplift of the New Guinea Highlands.

Whereas the northern band of deformation is relatively diffuse east of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border, in western New Guinea there are at least two small (less than 100,000 km²) blocks of relatively undeformed lithosphere. The westernmost of these is the Birds Head Peninsula microplate in Indonesia's West Papua province, bounded on the south by the Seram trench. The Seram trench was originally interpreted as an extreme bend in the Sunda subduction zone, but is now thought to represent a southward-verging subduction zone between Birds Head and the Banda Sea.

There have been 22 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded in the New Guinea region since 1900. The dominant earthquake mechanisms are thrust and strike slip, associated with the arc-continent collision and the relative motions between numerous local microplates. The largest earthquake in the region was a M8.2 shallow thrust fault event in the northern Papua province of Indonesia that killed 166 people in 1996.

The western portion of the northern Australia plate boundary extends approximately 4800 km from New Guinea to Sumatra and primarily separates Australia from the Eurasia plate, including the Sunda block. This portion is dominantly convergent and includes subduction at the Sunda (Java) trench, and a young arc-continent collision.

In the east, this boundary extends from the Kai Islands to Sumba along the Timor trough, offset from the Sunda trench by 250 km south of Sumba. Contrary to earlier tectonic models in which this trough was interpreted as a subduction feature continuous with the Sunda subduction zone, it is now thought to represent a subsiding deformational feature related to the collision of the Australia plate continental margin and the volcanic arc of the Eurasia plate, initiating in the last 5-8 Myr. Before collision began, the Sunda subduction zone extended eastward to at least the Kai Islands, evidenced by the presence of a northward-dipping zone of seismicity beneath Timor Leste. A more detailed examination of the seismic zone along it's eastern segment reveals a gap in intermediate depth seismicity under Timor and seismic mechanisms that indicate an eastward propagating tear in the descending slab as the negatively buoyant oceanic lithosphere detaches from positively buoyant continental lithosphere. On the surface, GPS measurements indicate that the region around Timor is currently no longer connected to the Eurasia plate, but instead is moving at nearly the same velocity as the Australia plate, another consequence of collision.

Large earthquakes in eastern Indonesia occur frequently but interplate megathrust events related to subduction are rare; this is likely due to the disconnection of the descending oceanic slab from the continental margin. There have been 9 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded from the Kai Islands to Sumba since 1900. The largest was the great Banda Sea earthquake of 1938 (M8.5) an intermediate depth thrust faulting event that did not cause significant loss of life. - USGS.

DISASTER PRECURSORS: Animal Behavior - Invasion Of Albino King Snakes Threatens Gran Canaria, Canary Islands!

May 07, 2014 - CANARY ISLANDS -  Soaring numbers of albino California king snakes prompts warning that they could take over 70% of Spanish island.

Originally brought to the island as pets, the albino California king snakes were set loose or escaped decades ago
GK Hart/Vikki Hart/Getty Images

Invasive species experts will gather in Gran Canaria this week to offer their advice on how best to control an albino variety of a popular pet snake whose population has exploded across the island in recent years, decimating local bird and lizard species.

Originally brought to the island as pets, the albino California king snakes were set loose or escaped decades ago, said Ramón Gallo, a biologist who is spearheading the effort to control the population through a project called LIFE+Lampropeltis.

In the absence of natural predators and in mild temperatures and a coastal climate similar to its native California, the king snakes have multiplied. In the past eight years, more than 2,000 of the snakes have been captured, and thousands more are thought to be living underground, said Gallo. "The word plague comes to mind."

The snakes pose little danger to humans, but are avid predators, feeding on birds, rodents and even young rabbits, said Gallo. Particularly concerning for researchers is the snake's taste for the Gran Canaria giant lizard, a species found only on the island. A recent comparison of the lizard population in areas with snakes and areas without showed a ratio of 1:10, he said. "It's an outrage. This could push the lizard to extinction."

So far their growth has been contained to two areas, of about 25 miles square, in the east and north-western part of the island.

There are daily sightings in La Solana, one of the communities most affected, said resident Auxi López. "They're long and slim, probably about one and a half metres or so." But this year, she added, "we've noticed that they're a little bigger."

The snakes were first spotted in the area about 20 years ago, she said, and about 70% of the residents are still very afraid of them. "It's something that never existed here before. Maybe you would see the occasional small snake, but not like this."

Residents trade tales of being bitten, although López was quick to add that the injuries have never been serious. More disturbing, she said, is the liquid emitted by the king snakes when threatened. "It smells horrendous, it's terrible and disgusting."

Residents have stumbled across the snakes in their homes, on their patios and in their gardens. "Lots of residents who keep birds in their homes have found snakes in the cages. They open them get inside and eat the birds."

This week's gathering of experts on the island is part of a four-year project aiming at halving the snake population. Launched in 2011 and slated to cost more than €1m (£820,000), the project also includes the training of dogs and hawks to help snare the snakes as well as more than 200 workshops to teach locals about the king snakes.

One of the main challenges is determining exactly how many snakes there are on the island, said Robert Reed, US Geological Survey biologist travelling to Gran Canaria this week. As the snakes spend most of their time underground, "the depressing reality of most invasive snake populations is that even if you're successful enough to catch hundreds of them, that probably means that there are far more out there than you're comfortable with".

A telling detail, he said, is that most of the snakes on the island are albinos, a quality prized in the pet trade but rare among wild populations because they are spotted easily by predators. The continued dominance of the albino variety suggests that the snakes have few predators on the island, ruling out any natural solution to this problem.

Eradicating the species from Gran Canaria is likely out of the question at this point, stressed Californian Brian Hinds. After 35 years spent capturing and photographing the king snakes in their native habitat, he's travelling to Gran Canaria this week with one message: "Strike hard and strike fast or the snakes will take over 70% of the island."

This was the only invasion of king snakes he had ever heard of. "If it gets any more out of control, it just will become a daunting and unforgiving task that will require a small army." - The Guardian.

GLOBAL ALERT: The Northern And Southern Hemisphere Sea Ice Anomalies - Major Arctic Sea Ice Story Lurking, But Is Anyone Looking?!

May 07, 2014 - ARCTIC -  There is a huge event being forecasted this year by the CFSV2, and I don't know if anyone else is mentioning this. For the first time in over a decade, the Arctic sea ice anomaly in the summer is forecast to be near or above normal for a time!

While it has approached the normals at the end of the winter season a couple of times because of new ice growth, this signals something completely different - that multiyear growth means business - and it shows the theory on the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is likely to be on target. Once it flips, this red herring of climate panic will be gone. Global and Southern Hemisphere anomalies are already unmentionable since the former is well above normal and the latter is routinely busting daily records.

The biggest minimum anomalies are in the summer since this flipped, and the only peaks came very close to the height of winters once this melting was underway.

Now look at what the CFSV2 forecasted for 2012.

The brief positive anomaly hit early, but for the summer it's well below normal. In 2013, it's the same, though not as far.

But this year it's forecast to be around normal in August!

This is only with a yearly AMO back off. I don't think this is the real deal of the flip yet. But it makes the point that one can correlate the ice in the Arctic with the Atlantic cycle.

If we look at the cold AMO years we can plainly see why this is going on.

The Jamstec model is forecasting water temps this summer to be much colder in the north Atlantic than the map above. but still not cold enough to say this is the permanent flip. It is, however, a sign of what is to come.

It should be obvious as to who is the boss here, and with the warm AMO in its waning years, the Arctic sea ice hysteria will wind up where so many agenda driven items do - on the ash heap of history.

This, if correct, is going to be a huge story. It would be the first summer where Arctic sea ice returned to near normal, indicative of the increase in multiyear ice and what a turn to the colder AMO in the future means! Let's see if anyone else picks up on it.

By the way, this same kind of evolution through the fall and into the winter would lead to another harsh U.S. winter. - Patriot Post.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: "This Is A Red Flag" - WHO Sounds Alarm On The Spread Of Polio, Disease Constitutes An International Public Health Emergency!

May 07, 2014 - HEALTH - The spread of polio constitutes an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization declared Monday.

Polio, once a worldwide scourge, is endemic in just three countries now - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Pictured
here is Ameena, a Pakistani girl participating in an anti-polio campaign, showing her ink-marked finger after being
vaccinated for polio in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Monday, October 7, 2013.

"If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world's most serious vaccine preventable diseases," the WHO said in a statement.

At the end of 2013, 60% of polio cases resulted from the international spread of the virus, and "there was increasing evidence that adult travelers contributed to the spread," according to the statement.

Polio mainly affects children under the age of 5, according to the WHO. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis; 5 to 10% of patients die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. It can only be prevented by vaccination.

Of the 10 countries currently infected with polio, three -- Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon -- have allowed the virus to spread internationally, according to an emergency committee convened by the organization, which met late last month.

Polio has spread from Pakistan to Afghanistan, from Syria to Iraq and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea, according to the WHO.

The concern is that the spread comes during the low transmission season for polio, typically January through April, said WHO spokeswoman Christine Feig. This is a "red flag," she said, as "it has been years" since the virus was spread to three countries during low season.

Polio re-emerged in Syria in October 2013 after a 15-year absence. The ongoing civil war in Syria has hampered immunization rates "due to the severe interruption of public health services and to the conditions in which the people are living," according to a WHO report.

There have been 74 cases of polio so far this year, Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration, said Monday.

Of those, 59 were in Pakistan. No other country has reported more than four cases, and the only country with four was Afghanistan, he said.

The committee's decision to declare an international public health emergency means that Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon are urged to declare national public health emergencies regarding polio and ensure all residents and long-term visitors are vaccinated.

In addition, the WHO said, citizens of those countries traveling internationally should be vaccinated before their departure and carry proof in the form of an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.

"A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop this international spread of wild poliovirus and to prevent new spread with the onset of the high transmission season in May/June 2014," according to the organization.

Nations infected with polio, but not spreading the disease internationally now include Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria, the WHO said. Those nations were also encouraged to take similar measures to ensure high levels of vaccination in residents and travelers.

While the recommendations are not legally binding, they are in the context of the International Health Regulations, which are binding on member states, Aylward said.

A Pakistani child receives an oral polio vaccine during an anti-polio campaign in Rawalpindi on October 1, 2013. The
Polio virus saw a huge surge in year 2011, with as many as 198 cases reported from different parts of the
country, forcing the government to enhance the immunization in affected regions.

"These recommendations are not legally binding in the strict sense ... but they do carry substantial weight because, of course, they are in the context of a legally binding international treaty," Aylward said Monday.

No cases of polio have been detected in Israel, but the WHO previously reported the virus was found in sewage samples, as well as in stool samples from children who had been immunized.

In all, 417 cases of polio were reported worldwide in 2013, said Aylward.

Further spread of the virus could put at risk countries that are currently polio-free but are "conflict-torn and fragile" with compromised routine immunization services, the WHO said.

The current situation is "in stark contrast" to the "near-cessation" of the spread of polio from January 2012 through April 2013, according to the statement.

In March, Southeast Asia, including India, was declared polio-free. India, the world's second most populous country, was able to achieve the goal by deploying immunization efforts to reach those most vulnerable, according to UNICEF.

Polio was eradicated in the United States in 1979, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. - CNN.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Oklahoma Wildfire Burns Down Homes - Causes Mass Evacuation; Over 3,500 Acres Burned! [VIDEO]

May 07, 2014 - OKLAHOMA, UNITED STATES - What initially began as a controlled burn in central Oklahoma quickly erupted into a massive wildfire with the help of strong winds and dry temperatures, killing one person and destroying at least six homes.

According to local news outlet KFOR, the wildfire has burned through approximately 3,500 acres of land near Guthrie, Oklahoma. Firefighting crews have managed to contain about 75 percent of the blaze - which started growing out of control Sunday afternoon - but local officials said that at least 150 homes are still at risk.

As of Monday morning, roughly 1,000 people had been evacuated from their homes due to the fire. Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow told the Associated Press that one 56-year-old man who refused to evacuate was later found dead in his mobile home. Currently, he is the only casualty being reported.

Meanwhile, at least six homes have been destroyed, but Harlow stated that number will likely go up after new damage assessments are made. According to CNN, about 20 homes have been taken down by the flames.

While the majority of the fire has been contained, USA Today is reporting that wind is still enough of a problem that air support from the Oklahoma National Guard will likely be called in.

WATCH: Oklahoma wildfire growing quickly.


"With the wind conditions expected to pick up throughout the morning and afternoon, we still have some concerns," Harlow said.

Although burn bans have been established in some parts of Oklahoma - which is currently suffering drought-like conditions in much of the state - KFOR reported there is no such ban in Logan County, where the fire was started. Fire officials still don't know, however, who originally started the controlled burn or why.

Either way, with forecasters projecting low humidity and a high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to accompany winds, firefighters may still have a daunting task ahead of them. Several fires were reported throughout Oklahoma over the weekend, and dry conditions statewide - the Oklahoma Climatological Survey says the last six months have been the state's second driest - have created a landscape that can quickly burst into flames.

In Guthrie, some residents managed to pack up essentials such as clothing and mementos before evacuating. Others, however, only had enough time to round up their loved ones.

"I was just grabbing the kids and the dogs," local resident Jeremy Barnett said to NewsOK.

"We didn't have time to grab anything," Cardelia Hayes, another resident, added. "I wish I could know if my house was still there." - RT.