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Supervolcanoes Erupt by Their Own Rules
The News - Natural Disasters
January 06, 2014
supervolcanoes erupt
Huge volcanic blasts occur less frequently than scientists would expect, and now volcanologists think they can explain why: super-eruptions and smaller eruptions are triggered by fundamentally different processes.

Small volcanoes, such as Italy’s Stromboli, erupt when molten rock rises from deep within Earth and then stalls in an underground chamber until enough pressure builds to blast it out to the surface. But the magma chambers of giant volcanoes—such as the one that erupted 2 million years ago beneath what is now Yellowstone National Park in the western U.S.—are too large for pressure from magma squirts to cause an eruption.

Instead, the molten rock accumulates until its sheer buoyancy creates a different kind of stress, one that cracks open the top of the chamber and starts an eruption, researchers report.
 
Risk of supervolcano eruption big enough to 'affect the world' far greater than thought
The News - Natural Disasters
January 06, 2014
The eruption of a “supervolcano” hundreds of times more powerful than conventional volcanoes – with the potential to wipe out civilisation as we know it – is more likely than previously thought, a study has found.

An analysis of the molten rock within the dormant supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States has revealed that an eruption is possible without any external trigger, scientists said.

Scientists previously believed many supervolcanic eruptions needed earthquakes to break open the Earth’s crust so magma could escape. But new research suggests that this can happen as a result of the build-up of pressure.

Supervolcanoes represent the second most globally cataclysmic event – next to an asteroid strike – and they have been responsible in the past for mass extinctions, long-term changes to the climate and shorter-term “volcanic winters” caused  by volcanic ash cutting out the sunlight.

 
Beneath Yellowstone, a volcano that could wipe out U.S.
The News - Natural Disasters
December 14, 2013
Yellowstone National Park Supervolcano

It’s the awe-inspiring pride of the United States – and it harbors a deadly power that could kill us all.

Yellowstone National Park is pristine wilderness, full of scenic landscape and iconic hot-pools and geysers that attract tens of thousands of visitors every year.

But it’s what lies beneath that has scientists scurrying.

We’ve long known that Yellowstone is merely the skin on top of a supervolcano – a giant pool of magma sitting just under the Earth’s surface. Exactly how giant has been the subject of much speculation... Until now...

 
Sun's Current Solar Activity Cycle Is Weakest in a Century
The News - Science-Astronomy
December 14, 2013
solar cycle lowest in century
The sun's current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years, scientists say.

Our star is now at "solar maximum," the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s, researchers said.

"None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something," Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.  [SPACE]

 
Earth's Greatest Killer Finally Caught
The News - Science-Astronomy
December 12, 2013
earths greatest killer disaster
Geology is partly detective work, and scientists now have enough evidence to book a suspect in the biggest environmental catastrophe in Earth's history.

Painstaking analysis of rocks from China and Russia prove the culprit is a series of massive volcanic eruptions, which flooded ancient Siberia with thick lava flows just before Earth's worst mass extinction almost 252 million years ago, researchers said here yesterday (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Thanks to new computer models of the eruption's devastating effects, and detailed mapping of rocks deposited around the time of the mass dying, researchers now have their best case ever for pinning the extinction on the enormous lava outpouring.

 
A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could put two billion people at risk
The News - War-Draft
December 12, 2013
A nuclear war between India and Pakistan would result in a global famine that could kill over two billion people — a quarter of the world's population — and end human civilisation, a study warned today.

"A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale—far more than we had previously believed," said Ira Helfand, the study's author and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). In a previous study in 2012, the Nobel Peace Prize- winning IPPNW and Physicians for Social Responsibility said that a nuclear famine could kill more than a billion people. [LINK ]

 
Expert : ‘Imagine America Without Los Angeles’
The News - Natural Disasters
December 12, 2013
WEST COAST EARTHQUAKE DISASTER
A leading earthquake expert has issued a dire warning to Californians about the expected impact of a major disruption to the San Andreas fault line. The title of Dr. Lucy Jones’ lecture this week to the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco was titled “Imagine America without Los Angeles.”

As KCAL9′s Dave Bryan reports, Jones, a Science Advisor for Risk Reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey, says when the “Big One” hits Southern California, the damage could be much greater, and could last much longer, than most of us ever imagined.

“Loss of shelter, loss of schools, loss of jobs and emotional hardship. We are risking the ends of our cities,” she said during the presentation. According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report,” when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collapsed buildings and freeways seen in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

 
Smart phone technology boosts early warning for extreme weather, quakes
The News - Disaster Preparedness
December 11, 2013
smart phones disaster preparedness
The system builds on a dense network of GPS receivers in the western US, initially installed to track changes in stress along the region's earthquake faults. By adding inexpensive temperature, air-pressure, and motion sensors common in today's smart phones, researchers have found that the system can arm forecasters and emergency managers with important information earlier and more frequently than existing techniques.

These same sensors can be installed in buildings, bridges, and other critical pieces of infrastructure to quickly help assess damage after a large earthquake, notes the team, led by Yehuda Bock, a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.
 
Nuclear War Could Mean ‘Extinction of the Human Race’
The News - War-Draft
December 11, 2013
A war using even a small percentage of the world’s nuclear weapons threatens the lives of two billion people, a new report warns.

“A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale—far more than we had previously believed,” said Dr. Ira Helfand.  The findings in the report issued by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) are based on studies by climate scientists that show how nuclear war would alter the climate and agriculture, thereby threatening one quarter of the world’s population with famine. [RINF]
 
“Solar Flares… Will Short Circuit Satellites, Power Grids, Ground Comm. Equipment”
The News - Science-Astronomy
December 11, 2013
worst case scenario disaster
Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder recently completed analyzing data from a Coronal Mass Ejection that took place in the summer of 2012. The CME, which was reportedly the most powerful electrical discharge ever recorded from the sun, narrowly missed earth. It was not “earth directed,” meaning the electro-magnetic mass was ejected by the sun when it was facing away from our planet. However, had it occurred just a week prior, the highly charged particles would have struck earth and, according to CU-Boulder Professor Daniel Baker, would have led to nothing short of a technological disaster across the globe.

The CME itself was massive… and its speed was unprecedented, clocking in at 7 million miles per hour. [SHTFPLAN]

 
Epic Ice Storm Possible; Millions Could Lose Power
The News - Climate-Environment
December 05, 2013
The forecasts are coming into agreement on a major ice storm over the next week, one that could last for several days, causing “regional” power outages, according to our latest news story (hi-res map). Indeed, some of the ice amounts that the forecasts are printing out are extreme. [PATRIOTRISING]
 
From sunspots to solar eruptions: Amateur astronomer captures incredible images of sun
The News - Science-Astronomy
December 05, 2013
amateur sun pictures amazing
  • Jose Manteca from Begues, near Barcelona, took the photos from a small observatory on the terrace of his house
  • The 54-year-old says he spends hours on the terrace gazing into space, hoping to spot scintillating solar activity
  • He has developed a technique to take 15 images per second using a humble DSLR camera and a solar telescope
  • Images include stunning close-ups of solar prominences, sunspots and even a plane crossing the face of the sun

Despite being 93 million miles from the sun, amateur astronomer Jose Manteca has captured these stunning shots from his back garden. Mr Manteca, who works as a sales representative, installed a small observatory on the terrace of his house in 2011. Ever since he has used a humble DSLR camera to capture breathtaking shots - including solar prominences, sunspots and even a plane crossing the face of the sun.
 
00000000 for Armageddon: USA's launch nuke launch code was frighteningly simple
The News - Weird-Strange
December 01, 2013
nuclear code world war 3 armageddon

For nearly 20 years, the secret code to authorize launching U.S. nuclear missiles, and starting World War III, was terrifyingly simple and even noted down on a checklist.

From 1962, when John F Kennedy instituted PAL encoding on nuclear weapons, until 1977, the combination to fire the devastating missiles at the height of the Cold War was just 00000000.

This was chosen by Strategic Air Command in an effort to make the weapons as quick and as easy to launch as possible, as reported by Today I Found Out.

 
Rise of 'Billionaire Bunkers'...
The News - Disaster Preparedness
November 28, 2013
Paranoid? Perhaps. But also increasingly commonplace. Futuristic security technologies–many developed for the military but sounding as though they came straight from James Bond’s Q–have made their way into the home, available to deep-pocketed owners whose peace of mind comes from knowing that their sensors can detect and adjust for, say, a person lurking in the bushes a half-mile away.
 
Risk of superbugs skyrockets as world enters 'post-antibiotic era'...
The News - Current Events
November 27, 2013
virus plague epidemic antibiotics
Right now, humanity is engaged in an epic battle against fast-adapting and merciless predators. No, zombies are not beating down doors to tear chunks of flesh out of the living. Rather, humanity is being hunted by deadly pathogenic bacteria that have gained resistance to antibiotics. 

And thanks to the peculiar incentives that drive the pharmaceutical industry, it looks like the cavalry may be a long time in coming.

To understand the current state of the antibiotics market, we have to go back millennia. Humans have co-existed with bacteria throughout our history. They live in our bodies from birth to death. It’s estimated that up to three percent of a typical human's body mass is made up of symbiotic bacteria, which assist us with bodily functions like digesting food. [THEWEEK]

 
Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth
The News - Science-Astronomy
November 25, 2013
sun solar cycle 2013
The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late -- with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century -- prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

Sunspots have been observed for millennia -- first by Chinese astronomers and then, for the first time with a telescope, by Galileo in 1610.

The sunspots appear in roughly 11-year cycles -- increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again. But this cycle -- dubbed cycle 24 -- has surprised scientists with its sluggishness. The number of spots counted since it kicked off in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it's less than half.

 
Scientists witness massive gamma-ray burst, don't understand it
The News - Science-Astronomy
November 22, 2013
massive gamma ray burst

An exploded star some 3.8 billion light-years away is forcing scientists to overhaul much of what they thought they knew about gamma-ray bursts – intense blasts of radiation triggered, in this case, by a star tens of times more massive than the sun that exhausted its nuclear fuel, exploded, then collapsed to form a black hole.

Last April, gamma rays from the blast struck detectors in gamma-ray observatories orbiting Earth, triggering a frenzy of space- and ground-based observations. Many of them fly in the face of explanations researchers have developed during the past 30 years for the processes driving the evolution of a burst from flash to fade out, according to four research papers appearing Friday in the journal Science. -- "Some of our theories are just going down the drain,” said Charles Dermer, an astrophysicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a member of one of the teams reporting on their observations of the burst, known as GRB 130427A.

 
Seven Volcanoes In Six Different Countries All Start Erupting Within Hours Of Each Other
The News - Natural Disasters
November 21, 2013
seven volcanoes six countries erupt

A new island has appeared in the Pacific. A submarine eruption just off Nishino-Shima Island Japan has erupted for the first time in 40 years. The Japanese Navy noticed the explosions as boiling lava met sea water giving rise to plumes of steam and ash.

Almost 7,000 miles away in Mexico, the Colima volcano blew its top after a period of relative calm. A steam and ash cloud rose two miles into the sky and the grumbling of the mountain could be heard in towns a few miles away. In Guatemala the ‘Fire Mountain’ belched out lava and sent up a moderate ash cloud causing an ash fall over nearby towns. The explosions and shock waves occurring in the volcano can be felt by residents over 6 miles away. Doors and windows are reported to be rattling, but there has been no damage so far.
 
What Caused the Deadly Midwestern Tornado Outbreak?
The News - Natural Disasters
November 19, 2013
midwest tornado outbreak

A slew of tornadoes slammed the state of Illinois and surrounding areas yesterday (Nov. 17), killing six people and damaging or destroying thousands of homes, according to news reports. Eighty-one tornado reports were submitted to the National Weather Service (NWS) yesterday, most of them in the Land of Lincoln, though more than one report could be for the same tornado.

The devastation was significant enough that Gov. Pat Quinn declared seven counties state disaster areas, including Tazewell County, where a twister left parts of the town of Washington in ruins. One of the tornadoes in this area was preliminarily declared an EF-4, the second strongest type of tornado, said Illinois state climatologist Jim Angel. These twisters pack winds between 166 to 200 mph (267 to 322 km/h) and are strong enough to destroy sturdy houses and hurl cars. [LIVESCIENCE]

 
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