Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Climate isn't the Same Thing as Weather

[National Geographic] Climate isn't the same thing as weather. Weather is the condition of the atmosphere over a short period of time; climate is the average course of weather conditions for a particular location over a period of many years.
One of the factors that influences climate is the angle of the sun's rays. In the tropics, between 23.5° N and 23.5° S, there is at least one time of year when the noontime sun is directly overhead and its rays hit at a direct angle. This produces a hot climate with relatively small temperature differences between summer and winter.
In the Arctic and Antarctic (north or south of 66.5° latitude), there are times of year when the sun is above the horizon 24 hours a day (a phenomenon known as midnight sun) and times when it never rises. Even in the summer, the sun is low enough for temperatures to be lower than in the tropics, but the seasonal changes are much greater than in equatorial regions. Interior Alaska has seen temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
Farther from the Equator lie the temperate regions. These include the United States, Europe, China, and parts of Australia, South America, and southern Africa. They have the typical four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Outside Influences
Climate is also controlled by wind, oceans, and mountains.
Winds bring moisture to land. North and south of the Equator the trade winds blow from the northeast and southeast, respectively. These winds converge in the tropics, forcing air to rise. This produces thunderstorms, humidity, and monsoons.
North and south of the trade winds, about 30° from the Equator, there is relatively little wind, and therefore little moisture blowing inland from the oceans. Also, dry air is sinking back to the surface, warming in the process. This is why many of the world's great desert regions—the Sahara, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and chunks of Mexico—lie at the same latitude. A similar band of deserts lies to the south in Australia, South America, and southern Africa.
Mountains force wind to rise as it crosses over them. This cools the air, causing moisture to condense in clouds and rain. This produces a wet climate on the upwind side of the mountains and an arid "rain shadow" on the downwind side.
Oceans provide moisture that fuels rainstorms. They also buffer the temperature of coastal regions, regardless of latitude.
Climate Groups
In the early 1900s, climatologist Wladimir Köppen divided the world into five major climate groups.
Moist, tropical climates are hot and humid. Steppes and deserts are dry, with large temperature variations. Plentiful lakes, rivers, or nearby oceans give humid, midlatitude climates cool, damp winters, but they have hot, dry summers. Some of these climates are also called Mediterranean. Continental climates occur in the centers of large continents. Mountain ranges (or sheer distance) block off sources of moisture, creating dry regions with large seasonal variations in temperature. Much of southern Canada, Russia, and parts of central Asia would fall into this category. Cold, or polar, climates round out Köppen's list. A sixth region, high elevations, was later added to the classification system.

Texas Flooding Could Be A Preview Of Future Extreme Weather Events

[Huffington Post] Devastating and deadly storms have struck parts of Texas and Oklahoma in recent days, bringing record rainfall and widespread floods that have damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes and left at least 16 people dead.
"This is the biggest flood this area of Texas has ever seen," Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Monday, according to Reuters. "It is absolutely massive -- the relentless tsunami-type power of this wave of water."
The historic and anomalous nature of the flooding raises an important question: Is this climate change in action? At minimum, the recent downpours in Texas probably offer a glimpse of what certain parts of the U.S. can look forward to in the coming decades.
As the planet continues to get hotter, in large part due to human activity, warmer air in the atmosphere will hold more moisture. This is expected to alter weather patterns and lead to more frequent and more intense instances of extreme precipitation.
For Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, the annual amount of precipitation that fell during the heaviest 1 percent of events was up nearly 20 percent last decade compared to the average between 1901 and 1960, according to the most recent National Climate Assessment from the federal government.
"Increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions," the NCA's authors warn.
In its latest report, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that heavy precipitation events in North America and Europe appear to have been growing more frequent and more severe. Furthermore, the panel said, it's "very likely" that these precipitation events will get worse and surface air temperatures will continue to rise in the coming century. Read More

Alaska's Record Warmth Captured In Colorful NASA Photo

[Weather] You'd expect the South to sweat through mid-May, but one area of the United States was, surprisingly, even further above average.
Alaska set numerous record high temperatures in the past couple of weeks, even in towns north of the Arctic Circle. In extreme northern Alaska, temperatures soared as high as 47 degrees in Barrow, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year.
That might not be the kind of stifling heat the Lower 48 will have in July, but it's shocking warmth for a normally-frigid area. To show how odd this warmth was, NASA took surface temperature data from May 17-24 using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite. In the image at the top of this page, above-average temperatures are shown in red, while the pattern change was evident in the West, where temperatures dropped below average.
According to Weather Underground's Bob Henson, the 47-degree high on May 21 was Barrow's warmest temperature on record so early in the calendar year. The previous earliest date the temperature reached 47 degrees in Barrow was May 23, 1996.
Henson adds that the average date this first occurs is June 17. Despite 24 hours of sunlight, the average high this time of year in Barrow is still stuck in the upper 20s.
Barrow wasn't alone setting records. The heat, as usual, has been most pronounced in Alaska's eastern interior. Fairbanks soared to 86 degrees on May, breaking the old daily record by 6 degrees.
The tiny village of Eagle, located near the border with Canada's Yukon Territory, has seen temperatures soar as high as 91 degrees. For nine consecutive days, Eagle's high temperature topped 80 degrees. Read More

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nepal's Aid System is Broken So These Lifesavers Hacked It

(This is a terrific article to learn how social media is helping Nepal recover from the recent earthquake. - Lori)
[Wired] The village of Dandagaun is hard to reach on a good day. The access road starts at the Bhote Koshi River, a Class V waterway that drains Himalayan glaciers, then heads more or less straight up for 5,000 feet, past tiny villages and mountain streams. After 10 long miles it curves into a bowl that opens to the northeast. Here sit terraced fields of rice and corn cut into the hillside. Technically speaking, the village, in Nepal’s Sindhupalchowk district, lies in the Himalayan foothills. But these are foothills in the way that the sun is a medium-size star. The ridgeline above the village rises sharply for a quarter mile. Looking at it requires straining your neck directly up.
In the morning, when light first cuts through the gorge and fills the bowl, Dandagaun is the kind of place that could change an agnostic’s mind. To the south you can see the Bhote Koshi cutting its way through the deep gorge. To the northeast the Himalayas shine like so many white knives. Tibet is 20 miles away. For the mix of 1,400 or so Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians who live here, the presence of the divine is a tactile fact, visible each and every day. Of course there are gods. They live in the peaks just upriver.
Many observers of the April 25, 7.8-magnitude earthquake have noted the devastation’s sporadic nature: One Kathmandu neighborhood is fine, the next a scene from The Road. But there was nothing random about what happened at Dandagaun that Saturday. Open bowls beneath knife-edge ridges are bad places to be during earthquakes. First the mountain shook, destroying most of the village’s 180-odd stone and mud buildings. Then the ridgeline above simply fell apart, setting off the equivalent of a geologic mortar attack. A series of rockslides came off the mountainside, careering for about a quarter mile and gathering speed. Massive boulders ripped through town, crushing several houses. An elderly man out cutting grass was beheaded. When the geology had finished rearranging itself, 34 people perished and only a few buildings were left standing. The survivors burned the dead.
A couple of days later, when the hillsides were still shivering with aftershocks, Dipak Deuja, a charismatic, handsome 24-year-old from Dandagaun, started the long walk home. He’d been in Kathmandu at the time of the quake, and when he finally arrived at the village he found his immediate family and his bride of six weeks, Shunita, spared.
But 10 relatives, including an uncle, some nephews, and his brother’s wife, had been killed. Soon his cousin Sandesh Deuja, a 23-year-old truck driver with a somber glare and a crisp fauxhawk, arrived. He too had been working out of town at the time of the quake, and he too found his family spared but his house wrecked. Both men helped build temporary shelters from wood and corrugated metal for their families not more than 50 feet from the sites of their destroyed homes. Then they tended to the urgent matter of finding food. In rural Nepal, villagers cache harvested crops in their homes. Those were now a rubble. Sandesh and Dipak, like everyone else, dug out what rice and corn they could find and stored it in the school, which at least still had a roof. No walls, though—those had fallen in.
One week later, someone showed up: a raft guide named Megh Ale, who operates an eco-resort on the Bhote Koshi. He arrived with some medical supplies, volunteers, and not enough food. Upon seeing the extent of the devastation, he approached the Deujas. Ale told the cousins to head to Kathmandu and find a bed-and-breakfast called the Yellow House. Over the past two weeks, as the government and large international NGOs have struggled to deliver supplies in Nepal’s remote regions, the Yellow House has emerged as the hub of a vibrant guerrilla aid operation run by a handful of young people armed with little more than Facebook, open source mapping technology, local knowledge, and some antiestablishment verve. Read More

Second Nepal Earthquake The death toll from Tuesday's earthquake continues to rise, as the nation of Nepal states at least 76 have died from the quake. A U.S. Marine helicopter, which disappeared on the same day of the quake, remains missing. Tuesday's earthquake had an epicenter just 52 miles east of Kathmandu, and brought down many buildings that were already in precarious condition from the major quake back in April 25. The most recent quake had a magnitude of 7.3 and was followed by another quake of 6.3 magnitude less than an hour later. Aftershocks continue to rattle the nation on Wednesday.

Japan Could Face Mega Earthquake In The Near Future

[Inquisitir] Japan could face another mega earthquake, according to researchers in Japan, who have detected and traced shallow tremors under the ocean floor. It is the first time this technique has been used to predict earthquakes.
Japan is located in the most powerful seismic network in the world — having dealt with a devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake as recently as 2011, which claimed the lives of near 16,000 people. The earthquake caused a tsunami along with a nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The World Bank estimated that the tsunami and earthquake that rocked Japan in March of 2011 was the most costly natural disaster in world history, at $235 billion.
In a subduction zone, one plate slides beneath another into the mantle, the hotter layer beneath the crust. The great plates are rough and stick together, building up energy that is released as earthquakes. East of Japan, the Pacific plate dives beneath the overriding Eurasian plate. The temblor completely released centuries of built up stress between the two tectonic plates, a recent study found.
According to reports, the researchers in Japan used Ocean Bottom Seismometers to measure motion under the sea. This technique is used to detect low-energy, slow earthquakes along the trenches that we otherwise would not notice.
The researchers warn that the next earthquake could occur off the coast of Kyushu, which is the southwesterly of Japan’s main islands and a region well known for its dangerous volcanoes. Having investigated the Kyusu Palau Ridge, the researchers have been able to detect and map shallow tremors in correlation with the other kinds of slow earthquakes. Read More

Strong Quake that Hit Japan is Aftershock A magnitude-6.8 earthquake that shook northeast Japan on Wednesday was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake that triggered a massive tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown.

Audi just created a new diesel made of water and carbon dioxide

[] While a future of electric charging stations dotting our highways inches closer to reality, Audi believes it may have created the “fuel of the future.”
Audi announced that the first batch of what it calls, “e-diesel” was manufactured in energy partner Sunfire’s Dresden, Germany, facility.
Water and carbon dioxide (CO2) are the only materials needed for producing the fuel, which was created after a commissioning phase of four months at the Dresden plant.
Through several steps of high-temperature and pressurized electrolysis and synthesizing, powered by renewable energy sources such as wind power, water and CO2 create what Audi and Sunfire call “blue crude.” This blue crude is then refined into Audi’s e-diesel.
The e-diesel, one of several Audi e-fuels in development, was used in German Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka’s official vehicle during the announcement.
“This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research,” Wanka said. “If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the ‘green economy’ in place.”
The main caveat is the price of the fuel. Sunfire says it costs between $4.25 and $6.42 per gallon.
However, the company’s feel that is within what most customers are willing to pay and Audi’s head of Sustainable Product Development Reiner Mangold added that the e-diesel has “virtually no impact on the climate.” Read More

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Huge magma reservoir discovered under Yellowstone supervolcano

It’s below the magma chamber they knew about before and contains enough hot, partly molten rock to fill the Grand Canyon 11 times over.

[EarthSky] University of Utah seismologists have discovered a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock 12 to 28 miles beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano that is 4.4 times larger than the shallower, long-known magma chamber.
Yellowstone is among the world’s largest supervolcanoes, with frequent earthquakes and Earth’s most vigorous continental geothermal system.
What do you know about the Yellowstone supervolcano?
The hot rock in the newly-discovered, deeper magma reservoir would fill the 1,000-cubic-mile Grand Canyon 11.2 times, while the previously known magma chamber would fill the Grand Canyon 2.5 times, says postdoctoral researcher Jamie Farrell, a co-author of the study published online April 23, 2015 in the journal Science.
The researchers emphasize that Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger – nor closer to erupting – than before, only that they now have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hotspot plume – about 40 miles beneath the surface – to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it. Read More

EARTHQUAKE M4.2 Michigan New Madrid Fault Line

(Correlation to prophecies for Lake Michigan on the I AM America Map. -Lori)