Environment

Radioactive Dust

As a huge plume of Saharan dust cast a pall over parts of Spain and France in early March, a leading expert warned that the desert particles can still contain residual radioactivity from the 1960s French nuclear tests in southern Algeria.

Radiation protection expert Pierre Barbey of France’s University of Caen Normandy says he analyzed Saharan dust that fell on his car in the Alps during a recent episode and found it contained minute amounts of cesium-137 created by the blasts. While the radiation is now too weak to harm humans, Barbey says the finding “does say a lot about the persistence of radioactive pollution.”

EWCOLOR

First Space Hurricane

Typical hurricanes are easy to spot in satellite imagery: Swirling clouds surround a quiet eye. These storms usually form in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, closer to Earth’s surface, and unleash heavy rain and strong winds.

But according to a recent study, space hurricanes are wholly different beasts.

The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, describes the first space hurricane ever spotted. Satellites observed it in August 2014 – a swirling mass with a quiet center more than 125 miles above the North Pole.

Whereas regular hurricanes churn air, this space hurricane was an eddy of plasma, a type of super hot, charged gas found throughout the solar system. And instead of rain, this storm brought showers of electrons.

The space hurricane was more than 998 kilometres wide, and high in the sky – it formed in the ionosphere layer. The space hurricane lasted eight hours, swirling in a counter-clockwise direction. It had several spiral arms snaking out from its center, according to the researchers, a bit like a spiral galaxy. Once it had formed, the storm acted like a channel from space into Earth’s atmosphere – funnelling some electrons down past the planet’s armour.

Environment

Glaciers Created a Huge ‘Flour’ Dust Storm in Greenland

If you’re in Greenland and a strange cloud darkens the sky, that cloud might be made up of something scientists call “glacier flour.”

Researchers have written and speculated about glacier-flour dust storms in Greenland for a long time, according to NASA. But it took until this September for investigators to spot such a massive plume of the elusive dust forming and drifting 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of the far-northern village of Ittoqqortoormiit. Glacier flour is a fine dust created when glaciers pulverize rocks, NASA wrote. While satellites had occasionally spotted smaller storms of the stuff, this one was “by far the largest.”

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Disease

Ill Winds

New research confirms that airborne dust can affect the health of people and ecosystems by transporting attached bacteria hundreds of miles across the landscape during windstorms.

Yinon Rudich and colleagues at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science found that some of those bacteria could even carry genes for antibiotic resistance.

The researchers found that during a dust storm, the concentration of bacteria and number of bacteria species in the air rises sharply, meaning people walking outdoors during these storms are at a higher risk of infection.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic:

An area of low pressure east of the Lesser Antilles over the central Atlantic (Invest 96-L) is battling strong winds aloft around a nearby upper low. The upper low will move in tandem with 96-L and should be slow to weaken. This will inhibit significant development for at least the next day or two. Regardless of organization, 96-L will move northward and eventually northeastward and poses no threat to the U.S.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical Storm Wutip is still on track to head to Vietnam as an intensifying typhoon by early next week, then head inland over Laos and Thailand with a threat of heavy rainfall.

NewsBytes:

Flooding in Cambodia has claimed the lives of at least 23 people in the last two weeks, and has affected about 56,900 families in seven different provinces.

A dust storm has closed a 14-mile stretch of a state highway in the Casa Grande, Arizona, USA for nearly three hours. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, low visibility and the multiple car crashes forced the closure of road. Gusty winds dropped visibility to less than 1 mile.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

A massive dust storm that formed over the Sahara Desert early this week has now pushed out over the tropical Atlantic, and will sharply reduce the odds of tropical storm formation during the first week of August. The peak of hurricane season is approaching later this month, but storm activity is now unlikely for the first half of August.

In the Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane Gil is located about 1230 mi (1975 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja, California.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical strom Jebi is located approximately435 nm east-southeastward of Hanoi, Vietnam in the South China Sea, west of the Philippines, and is moving westward. Jebi is forecast to strike China on Friday, August 2.

Other News:

A landslide in Norway has isolated more than 500 residents in a village in central Norway. The landslide blocked the access road to Todalen in Nordmøre. The landslide also downed power poles and disturbed communication lines.

A landslide in Uttarakhand, India has claimed the lives of at least nine people. Another landslide in Sulat division of Almora district damaged nine houses. Relief efforts are being hampered by heavy rain.

Flash flooding in the Bagh and Chitral regions of Pakistan have claimed the lives of at least four people and left two missing.

Landslide in Panama has claimed the lives of four members of a single family, including a six-year-old girl.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Cyclone Sandra

As of 02:00 UTC, TC Sandra was located 510 nm northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia.

A Cyclone warning is issued for Solomon Islands.

A huge dust storm has surrounded Tokyo, Japan.