Archive for June, 2012

Hottest rain on record? Rain falls at 109°F in Saudi Arabia

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

Taken from Weather Undergroundwunderground.com

By Jeff Masters

Pilgrims to the holy city of Mekkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia must have been astonished on Tuesday afternoon, when the weather transformed from widespread dust with a temperature of 113°F (45°C) to a thunderstorm with rain. Remarkably, the air temperature during the thunderstorm was a sizzling 109°F (43°C), and the relative humidity a scant 18%. It is exceedingly rare to get rain when the temperature rises above 100°F, since those kind of temperatures usually require a high pressure system with sinking air that discourages rainfall. However, on June 4, a sea breeze formed along the shores of the Red Sea, and pushed inland 45 miles (71 km) to Mekkah by mid-afternoon. Moist air flowing eastwards from the Red Sea hit the boundary of the sea breeze and was forced upwards, creating rain-bearing thunderstorms. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, this is the highest known temperature that rain has fallen at, anywhere in the world. He knows of one other case where rain occurred at 109°F (43°C): in Marrakech, Morocco on July 10, 2010. A thunderstorm that began at 5 pm local time brought rain at a remarkably low humidity of 14%, cooling the temperature down to 91°F within an hour.

Figure 1. Thunderstorms at 109°F? This true-color satellite image of Saudi Arabia taken at 2:10 pm local time (11:10 UTC) shows a line of thunderstorms that developed along the edge of the sea breeze from the Red Sea. Three hours after this image was taken, Mekkah (Mecca) recorded a thunderstorm with rain and a temperature of 109°F (43°C.) Image credit: NASA.
More like a hot shower than a cooling rain? Thunderstorms often produce big drops of cold rain, since these raindrops form several thousand meters high in the atmosphere, where temperatures are much cooler than near the surface. Some drops even get their start as snow or ice particles, which melt on the way to the surface. Additional cooling of the drops occurs due to evaporation on the way down. However, in the case of the June 4, 2012 Mekkah storm, I think the rain was probably more like a hot shower. Large raindrops, like the kind thunderstorms produce, fall at a speed of about 10 meters per second. A balloon sounding of the upper atmosphere taken at 3 pm local time at a nearby station (Al-Midinah) found that the bottom 1000 meters of the atmosphere was 97°F (36°C) or warmer. Thus, the thunderstorms’ raindrops would have been subjected to 100 seconds of some very hot air on the way to the surface, likely warming them above 100°F by the time they hit the ground. A classic 1948 study of raindrops found that, in many cases, raindrop temperatures start off cold in the first few minutes of a rain shower, then warm up to within 1°C (1.8°F) of the air temperature within a few minutes. With the air temperature a sizzling 109°F (43°C) at the time of the June 4 thunderstorm in Mekkah, the raindrops could easily have been heated to a temperature of over 105°F (41°C) by the time they reached the surface!
How hot can it be and still rain? If substantial amounts of liquid water are present on the Earth, the planet will experience rain, as long as some mechanism to lift the warm, moist air and cause condensation can be found. If the climate continues to warm as expected, we should see an increasing number of cases where it rains at temperatures well above 100°F. On Saturday, June 2, the temperature in Mekkah hit 51.4°C (124.5°F), a new record for the city, and just 1.1°F (0.6°C) below the all-time hottest temperature record for Saudi Arabia (125.6°F, or 52°C, recorded at Jeddah on June 22, 2010.) I expect that 20 – 40 years from now, we’ll begin seeing occasional cases where rain falls at a temperature above 117°F (47°C) in the desert regions of North Africa and the Middle East. —(WunderBlog)

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UN Food Agency Warns of Danger to Croplands in Mali and Niger from Locust Swarms

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

A field of withered crops in Mali?s Kayes region. Photo: WFP/Daouda Guirou

 

The United Nations food agency warned today that croplands in Niger and Mali are at imminent risk from Desert Locust swarms that are moving southward from Algeria and Libya.

?How many locusts there are and how far they move will depend on two major factors ? the effectiveness of current control efforts in Algeria and Libya and upcoming rainfall in the Sahel of West Africa,? a Senior Locust Forecasting Officer with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said Keith Cressman, said in a news release.

Groups of locusts have recently been found in northern Niger, arriving from infestations further north.

According to FAO, the Desert Locust swarms can be dense and highly mobile ? varying from less than one square kilometre to several hundred square kilometres, with at least 40 million and sometimes as many as 80 million locust adults in each square kilometre of swarm, and able to travel about five to 130 kilometres or more in a day.

A Desert Locust adult can consume roughly its own weight in fresh food per day, equivalent to about two grams every day. A very small part of an average swarm ? or about one tonne of locusts ? eats the same amount of food in one day as about 10 elephants or 25 camels or 2,500 people.

FAO says locust-control efforts in the region are being hindered by continued insecurity along both sides of the Algerian-Libyan border. Political insecurity and conflict in Mali could also hamper monitoring and control efforts if the locusts reach that country.

Locust infestations were first reported in southwest Libya near Ghat in January 2012 and in south-east Algeria. In late March, FAO warned that swarms could arrive in Niger and Mali by June. Continued rains and the resulting growth of vegetation led to the formation of swarms by mid-May.

FAO notes that both Algeria and Libya have been working hard to treat infested areas, covering a total of 40,000 hectares in Algeria and 21,000 hectares in Libya as of the end of May.

“In a normal year, Algeria and Libya would have been able to control most of the local swarms and prevent their movement towards the south, but insecurity along both sides of the Algerian-Libyan border is getting in the way of full access by local teams and by FAO experts who need to assess the situation,? Mr. Cressman said. ?Libya?s capacity to carry out control efforts has also been affected in the past year.?

Niger last faced Desert Locust swarms during the 2003-05 plague that affected farmers in two dozen countries.

The FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region has provided $300,000 in funding to tackle locust infestations in Libya, and FAO has added an additional $400,000 to address the problem.

One of FAO?s mandates is to provide information on the general locust situation to all interested countries and to give timely warnings and forecasts to those countries in danger of invasion.  —(SpyGhana)

Something Fishy’s Going on in a Fishing Port in Japan, Literally – and Tons and Tons of it Too!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup
  • Jun 5, 2012 by

Something terribly fishy is going on at the fishing port of Ohara (pronounced Oh-hara) in Isumi City of Chiba Prefecture, and it has nothing to do with espionage or political corruption. There are tons and tons of dead sardines washing up on the shore, and not only is the sight disturbing, but the huge amount of dead fish is literally smelling up the entire surrounding area.

According to the news, the dead fish started washing up around noon of June 3rd, and as of early afternoon on June 4th, the situation still remained pretty much out of control. The amount of dead sardines that has washed up is thought to total several dozen metrics tons, so you can imagine how bad the smell of rotting fish must be.

We’ve seen the pictures uploaded onto Twitter, and the port looks completely filled with fish – it almost looks like a carpet of sardines. It doesn’t seem likely that any fishing boats will be setting sail from this port soon. There are also, of course, the usual posts and comments on the internet on how this could be an omen, a sign of a coming great natural disaster.

When we inquired with a local inn, we were told that the port was scheduled to be closed from June 1st to 5th, but given the emergency, local fishermen are currently out in full force trying to resolve the situation. Already more than 2 full days into the bizarre occurrence, the smell has to be almost unbearable, but the people of Ohara still have no idea when they will be able to get rid of all the sardines. We sincerely hope they will be able to solve the problem quickly.

▼You have to admit the sight is somewhat apocalyptic

—(Rocket News 24)

Reality in Fukushima 3

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

Posted by Mochizuki on  June 5th, 2012

Following up this article..[Video] Reality in Fukushima 2

6/2/2012, contamination level of elementary and junior high school was measured in Koriyama Fukushima.

The dosimeter calculates Bq/cm2. It is converted to Bq/m2 by multiplied by 10^4.

It is the total of cesium 134 and 137.

For reference, according to the report of IAEA, it was less than 37,000 Bq/m2 in Kiev. (Cesium 137)

Reality in Fukushima 3

The difference of the measurement in Kiev and Koriyama are like these below,

  1. In Kiev, only cesium 137 was measured.
  2. In Koriyama, it was measured on concrete.
  3. In Koriyama, most of the schools have already been “decontaminated”.

25 years have passed, but in Kiev Hospital, 90% of babies die before they become 1 year old.

 —(Fukushima Diary)

“Whopping” Number of Earthquakes Shake Around Hawaii Volcano

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

June 5, 2012 | Incidents, Volcano

HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii: A large number of earthquakes has been rattling the Volcano area on Hawaii Island over the last few days. The quakes have been small, with no damage reported. Still, a handful of those temblors have been 3.0 magnitude and over.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s “Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii” page shows a constant swarm of quakes surrounding the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the active Kilauea Volcano. We took a screen grab of the screen of the USGS HVO earthquake page, and it shows the long list stretching all the way back to Friday, June 1st.

16 earthquakes have already registered on the list before noon on Tuesday, Hawaii time.

On Tuesday, the HVO staff makes mention of the quakes on their Kilauea volcano update page:

The GPS network recorded weak extension overall for the past few months with superimposed contraction and extension fluctuations corresponding to DI tilt events. Seismic tremor levels were generally low, decreasing from a peak around 11 am Sunday. A whopping thirty-three earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea volcano: 4 deep earthquakes below the southwest rift zone, 3 beneath the west edge of the summit area, 7 within and below the upper east rift, 1 north of the middle east rift zone, 7 on south flank faults, and 11 mostly shallow long-period (LP) earthquakes within the Koa`e Fault Zone beneath the Kulanaokuaiki Camp Ground; a quick check this morning showed no obvious new cracking on the surface near the campground.

The rise of the Kilauea summit lava lake level in Halemaumau crater continued with several overflows of the inner ledge. At Pu`u `O`o, scientists report lava also rose within the east collapse pit; to the southeast, lava flows continued to advance on the coastal plain. —(Big Island Video News)

Powerful 6.0 Quake Strikes Southern Peru

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

2:56 am | Friday, June 8th, 2012
LIMA—A powerful magnitude 6.0 quake shook southern Peru on Thursday, US seismologists said, with Peru authorities indicating no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The US Geological Survey said the temblor had a depth of 99.7 kilometers (62 miles). It struck at 11:03 am (1603 GMT) some 117 kilometers (73 miles) west-northwest of the city of Arequipa.

Many people rushed out of homes and businesses and onto the street in search of safety from the quake, which was also felt in the neighboring Ica and Moquegua regions. Telephone lines were cut temporarily.

“At the moment, there are no reports” of victims from the temblor, said Geophysical Institute of Peru chief Hernan Tavera, who told AFP that the damage was limited to minor landslides of dirt and stones.

The National Civil Defense Institute said it was reviewing the condition of homes in the region, particularly in areas on the periphery of the quake, where many houses are built of adobe and other less-than-sturdy materials.

So far this year there have been more than 80 medium-intensity earthquakes in Peru, which is on what geologists call the Pacific Ring of Fire — an area with intense seismic activity that produces around 85 percent of the world’s quakes.

The latest quake came just a week after Peru carried out a nationwide safety drill to see how authorities would respond if the capital region were struck by a cataclysmic magnitude-eight earthquake and resulting tsunami. —(Inqirer News)

Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction: Is it Here Yet?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 7, 2012 by lauriestonesoup

Steep declines of many animal species worry researchers   Republished from a March, 2011 press release by the National Science Foundation.

The Authorship Team

Co-authors of the paper are: UC-Berkeley integrative biology graduate students Nicholas Matzke, Susumu Tomiya, Guinevere Wogan, Brian Swartz,  Emily Lindsey, Kaitlin Maguire, Ben Mersey and Elizabeth Ferrer; Tiago Quental, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil;  and Jenny McGuire, post-doctoral fellow at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

sixth mass extinction

Earth’s warming climate is contributing to an infection responsible for tropical frog extinctions. Image by: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Steep Decline in Population of  Animal Species

With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a  mass extinction like those that have occurred just five times during the past 540 million years.
Each of these “Big Five” saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct.

Where Mammals Stand Today

In results of a study published in the March 3, 2011 issue of the journal Nature, researchers report on an assessment of where mammals  and other species stand today in terms of possible extinction compared with the past 540 million years.
They find cause for hope–and alarm.
“If you look only at the critically endangered mammals–those where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three  of their generations–and assume that their time will run out and they will be extinct in 1,000 years, that puts us clearly  outside any range of normal and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm,” said Anthony Barnosky, an integrative  biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and first author of the paper.
Barnosky is also a curator in the university’s Museum of Paleontology and a research paleontologist in its Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.

Global Mass Extinction is an Unaddressed Hazard

“A modern global mass extinction is a largely unaddressed hazard of climate change and human activities,” said H. Richard Lane,  program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.
“Its continued progression, as this paper shows, could result in unforeseen–and irreversible–consequences to the environment and  to humanity,” said Lane.
If currently threatened species–those officially classed as critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable–actually went extinct,  and that rate of extinction continued, the sixth mass extinction could arrive in as little as 3 to 22 centuries, according to Barnosky.
Gamma Ray Burst

A burst of gamma rays reaching Earth may have caused an extinction 440 million years ago. Image by NASA.

Stopping Short of the Tipping Point

It’s not too late, he and colleagues believe, to save endangered mammals and other such species–and stop short of the tipping point.
That would require dealing with a perfect storm of threats, including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, disease and global warming.
“So far, only 1 to 2 percent of all species have gone extinct in the groups we can look at clearly, so by those numbers it looks like we  are not far down the road to extinction,” said Barnosky.
“We still have a lot of Earth’s biota to save.”

Comparing Rates of Extinction

Co-author Charles Marshall, also an integrative biologist at UC-Berkeley and director of the university’s Museum of Paleontology,  emphasized that the small number of recorded extinctions to date does not mean we are not in a crisis.
“Just because the magnitude is low compared to the biggest mass extinctions we’ve seen in half a billion years doesn’t mean they aren’t significant,” he said.
“Present rates are higher than during most past mass extinctions.”
The study originated in a seminar Barnosky organized to bring biologists and paleontologists together in an attempt to compare the extinction  rate seen in the fossil record with today’s extinction record.
They’re like comparing apples and oranges, Barnosky said. The fossil record goes back 3.5 billion years, while the historical record goes  back only a few thousand years.
In addition, the fossil record has many holes, making it impossible to count every species that evolved and subsequently disappeared, perhaps,  scientists believe, some 99 percent of all species that have ever existed.
Likewise, a different set of data problems complicates counting modern extinctions.
Dating of the fossil record also is not very precise, Marshall said.
“If we find a mass extinction, we have great difficulty determining whether it was a ‘bad weekend’ or it occurred over a decade or 10,000 years,” he said.
“But without the fossil record, we have no scale to measure the significance of the impact we’re having.”

Current Extinction Rate Compared Across Geologic Time

“Instead of calculating a single death rate, we estimated the range of plausible rates for mass extinctions from the fossil  record, and compared it to where we are now,” Marshall said, explaining how researchers got around this limitation.
Barnosky’s team chose mammals as a starting point because they are well-studied today and are well-represented in the fossil record going back some 65 million years.
Biologists estimate that within the past 500 years, at least 80 mammal species have gone extinct–from a starting total of 5,570 species.
The team’s estimate for the average extinction rate for mammals is less than two extinctions every million years, far lower than the current extinction rate for mammals.

Modern Extinction Rates Resemble Mass Extinction Rates

“It looks like modern extinction rates resemble mass extinction rates, even after setting a high bar for defining ‘mass extinction,'” Barnosky said.
After studying the list of threatened species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the team concluded  that if all mammals now listed as critically endangered, endangered and threatened go extinct–and whether that takes several hundred years  or a thousand years–the Earth will be in a true mass extinction.
“Obviously there are caveats,” Barnosky said.
“What we know is based on observations from just a very few twigs plucked from an enormous number of branches that make up the tree of life.”
He urges similar studies of groups other than mammals to confirm the findings, as well as action to combat the loss of animal and plant species.
“Our findings highlight how essential it is to save critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species,” Barnosky said.
“With them, Earth’s biodiversity remains in pretty good shape compared to the long-term biodiversity baseline.
“If most of them die, even if their disappearance is stretched out over the next 1,000 years, the sixth mass extinction will have arrived.” —(Geology.com)