Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

Hurricane Cosme was located about 410 mi (660 km) SSW of Cabo San Lucas Mexico. Cosme has strengthened into a Hurricane and is moving away from land. The storm’s projected path will now steer the system away from Mexico, while fierce winds and extremely rough surf threaten shipping interests in the region. The storm’s maximum sustained winds early Tuesday were near 65 mph (100 kph).

Cosme has claimed the lives of two people in Mexico and injured 19.

Tourists stranded on Arctic Ice

Twenty people are stranded on an ice floe in the Canadian Arctic, with the 50km long slab of ice breaking away from an island and floating several kilometres out to sea. The group, which includes foreign tourists, were stranded when the chunk of ice separated from Baffin Island sometime between Monday night and early Tuesday.

They aren’t likely to be rescued until early Wednesday morning local time. The group includes local guides as well as Canadian and foreign tourists. They have a camp, shelter and supplies. 10 hunters who were also trapped managed to cross over onto land after the ice split and their end floated close to shore Tuesday afternoon. The floe the tourists are on remains afloat.

Tsunami hits US East Coast

A tsunami was observed on June 13, 2013 on the US East Coast, Bermuda and Puerto Rico, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported.

At Newport, Rhode Island the tsunami wave reached just under 25cm above sea level.

According to the NOAA, Gages in Kiptopeke, Virginia, and Atlantic City and New Jersey also recorded similar peaks.

At least two divers were injured in Barnegat Inlet in Ocean County, New Jersey. Minor tsunami damage was reported at the yacht club to the dock and two boats.

Scientists are still trying to determine the cause of Tsunami. A so called meteotsunami has been related to a strong storm that moved through the region and offshore that day. Some believe that the continental shelf landslide, a rare event, could also have caused the Tsunami.

Other News:

Four bodies were recovered by IAF commandos near Gaurikund in Uttarakhand, India where an IAF Mi-17 helicopter carrying 20 people had crashed during a relief rescue mission and all onboard are feared killed.

Evacuation orders were issued to towns north and east of Calgary, Canada, with a flood-warning zone stretching some 250 miles (402 kilometers) north from the US Montana border.

Disease

Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia – Update

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Saudi Arabia has announced seven additional laboratory-confirmed cases and a death in a previously confirmed case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Disease Outbreak Fears in India Following Floods

The Union health ministry has deputed a high-level team which will review public health measures in Uttarakhand on Wednesday to allay concerns of disease outbreak after the widespread devastation in the flood-affected state.

The mass cremation of the bodies of hundreds of people killed in floods and landslides in Uttarakhand was delayed on Tuesday amid the fears of disease outbreak.

Environment

Weather Extremes – The Jet Stream – Unusually Hot Alaska

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People swim and sunbathe at Goose Lake in Anchorage, Alaska on Monday, June 17, 2013. Alaska’s largest city and other parts of the state are experiencing a long stretch of higher than normal temperatures.

Lately, the jet stream isn’t playing by the rules. Scientists say that big river of air high above Earth that dictates much of the weather for the Northern Hemisphere has been unusually erratic the past few years.

They blame it for everything from snowstorms in May to the path of Superstorm Sandy. And last week, it was responsible for downpours that led to historic floods in Alberta, Canada, as well as record-breaking heat in parts of Alaska. The town of McGrath, Alaska, hit 94. Just a few weeks earlier, the same spot was 15 degrees. The current heat wave in the Northeast is also linked.

The jet stream usually rushes rapidly from west to east in a mostly straight direction. But lately it’s been wobbling and weaving like a drunken driver, wreaking havoc as it goes. The more the jet stream undulates north and south, the more changeable and extreme the weather. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that scientists are still trying to understand. Some say it’s related to global warming; others say it’s not.

In May, there was upside-down weather: Early California wildfires fueled by heat contrasted with more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. Seattle was the hottest spot in the nation one day, and Maine and Edmonton, Canada, were warmer than Miami and Phoenix. Consider these unusual occurrences over the past few years:

— The winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor’easters seemed to queue up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly.

— Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October from the Atlantic straight into New Jersey, something that happens once every 700 years or so.

— One 12-month period had a record number of tornadoes. That was followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.

And here is what federal weather officials call a ‘‘spring paradox’’: The U.S. had both an unusually large area of snow cover in March and April and a near-record low area of snow cover in May. The entire Northern Hemisphere had record snow coverage area in December but the third lowest snow extent for May.

The jet stream, or more precisely the polar jet stream, is the one that affects the Northern Hemisphere. It dips down from Alaska, across the United States or Canada, then across the Atlantic and over Europe and has everything to do with the weather we experience. It all starts with the difference between cold temperatures in the Arctic and warmer temperatures in the mid-latitudes. The bigger the temperature difference, the stronger the jet stream, the faster it moves and the straighter it flows. But as the northern polar regions warm two to three times faster than the rest of the world, augmented by unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice and loss in snow cover, the temperature difference shrinks. Then the jet stream slows and undulates more.

The jet stream is about 14 percent slower in the fall now than in the 1990s. And when it slows, it moves north-south instead of east-west, bringing more unusual weather, creating blocking patterns and cutoff lows that are associated with weird weather. Recently the jet stream seems to create weather patterns that get stuck, making dry spells into droughts and hot days into heat waves.

Take the past two winters. They were as different as can be, but both had unusual jet stream activity. Normally, the jet stream plunges southwest from western Washington state, sloping across to Alabama. Then it curves slightly out to sea around the Outer Banks, a swoop that’s generally straight without dramatic bends. During the mostly snowless winter of 2011-12 and the record warm March 2012, the jet stream instead formed a giant upside-down U, curving dramatically in the opposite direction. That trapped warm air over much of the Eastern U.S.

A year later the jet stream was again unusual, this time with a sharp U-turn north. This trapped colder and snowier weather in places like Chicago and caused nor’easters in New England. But for true extremes, nothing beats tornadoes.

In 2011, the United States was hit over and over by killer twisters. From June 2010 to May 2011 the U.S. had a record number of substantial tornadoes, totaling 1,050. Then just a year later came a record tornado drought. From May 2012 to April 2013 there were only 217 tornadoes – 30 fewer than the old record. Both examples were related to unusual jet stream patterns.

Last fall, a dip in the jet stream over the United States and northward bulge of high pressure combined to pull Superstorm Sandy almost due west into New Jersey. That track is so rare and nearly unprecedented that computer models indicate it would happen only once every 714 years, according to a new study by NASA.

Wildfires

Crews battle wildfires across Alaska

More than 70 firefighters were battling the state’s largest wildfire on Monday, the 154,000-acre Lime Hills Fire that had moved to within one-half mile of the small community of Lime Village on the upper Stony River southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Global Warming

What Is the Greenhouse Effect? – Reference Article

While other planets in Earth’s solar system are either scorching hot or bitterly cold, Earth’s surface has relatively mild and stable temperatures.

Earth enjoys these temperatures because of its atmosphere — the thin layer of gases that cloak and protect the planet. But humans have changed Earth’s atmosphere in dramatic ways over the past two centuries, resulting in global warming.

And to understand global warming, it’s first necessary to become familiar with the greenhouse effect.

Energy in, energy out

There’s a delicate balancing act occurring every day all across the Earth, involving the radiation the planet receives from space and the radiation that’s reflected back out to space.

Earth is constantly bombarded with enormous amounts of radiation, primarily from the sun. This solar radiation strikes the Earth’s atmosphere in the form of visible light, plus ultraviolet (UV), infrared (IR) and other types of radiation that are invisible to the human eye.

UV radiation has a shorter wavelength and a higher energy level than visible light, while IR radiation has a longer wavelength and a weaker energy level.

About 30 percent of the radiation striking Earth’s atmosphere is immediately reflected back out to space by clouds, ice, snow, sand and other reflective surfaces, according to NASA.

The remaining 70 percent of incoming solar radiation is absorbed by the oceans, the land and the atmosphere. As they heat up, the oceans, land and atmosphere release heat in the form of IR thermal radiation, which passes out of the atmosphere and into space.

It’s this equilibrium of incoming and outgoing radiation that makes the Earth habitable, with an average temperature of about 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius), according to NASA. Without this atmospheric equilibrium, Earth would be as cold and lifeless as its moon, or as blazing hot as Venus.

The moon, which has almost no atmosphere, is about minus 243 degrees F (minus 153 degrees C) on its dark side. Venus, on the other hand, has a very dense atmosphere that traps solar radiation; the average temperature on Venus is about 864 degrees F (462 degrees C).

The greenhouse effect

The exchange of incoming and outgoing radiation that warms the Earth is often referred to as the greenhouse effect because a greenhouse works in much the same way.

Incoming UV radiation easily passes through the glass walls of a greenhouse and is absorbed by the plants and hard surfaces inside. Weaker IR radiation, however, has difficulty passing through the glass walls and is trapped inside, thus warming the greenhouse. This effect lets tropical plants thrive inside a greenhouse, even during a cold winter.

A similar phenomenon takes place in a car parked outside on a cold, sunny day. Incoming solar radiation warms the car’s interior, but outgoing thermal radiation is trapped inside the car’s closed windows.

Greenhouse gases and global warming

The gases in the atmosphere that absorb radiation are known as greenhouse gases because they’re largely responsible for the greenhouse effect.

These greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide (NO) and other gases, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gasoline have greatly increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially CO2, according to NASA.

CO2 and other greenhouse gases act like a blanket, absorbing IR radiation and preventing it from escaping into outer space. The net effect is the gradual heating of Earth’s atmosphere and surface, a process known as global warming.

Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by more than 40 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, from about 280 parts per million (ppm) in the 1800s to 400 ppm today. The last time Earth’s atmospheric levels of CO2 reached 400 ppm was during the Pliocene Epoch, between 5 million and 3 million years ago, according to the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The greenhouse effect, combined with increasing levels of greenhouse gases and the resulting global warming, is expected to have profound implications, according to the near-universal consensus of scientists.

If global warming continues unchecked, it will cause significant climate change, a rise in sea levels, increasing ocean acidification, extreme weather events and other severe natural and societal impacts, according to NASA, the EPA and other scientific and governmental bodies.