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Hurricane activity remains historically low
The News - Current Events
September 27, 2013

Heading into October -- 2013 global hurricane activity remains historically low

• North Atlantic tropical cyclone ACE is 71% below normal. 5th lowest since 1950. --> Figure
• Northern Hemisphere ACE is 55% below normal. Lowest since 1977. --> Figure
• Global ACE is 47% below normal. Lowest since 1977. --> Figure

 
Russia, China Hold Large-Scale War Games
The News - War-Draft
September 26, 2013
Russia China War Games 2013
Pentagon intelligence agencies are closely watching Russian and Chinese war games now taking place in Europe and Asia involving tens of thousands of troops.

Meanwhile, NATO military forces are set to conduct large-scale maneuvers in November that will be designed to counter growing concerns of a westward Russian military encroachment, according to U.S. officials.

“The Russians are moving forces closer to Europe, and that is troubling,” said a military official.
 
Causes of Pakistan Earthquake & New Island Revealed
The News - Natural Disasters
September 25, 2013
new island pakistan earthquake
Cartographers might have to put another island on the map after Tuesday's massive earthquake created a new island five kilometres off the southern coast of Pakistan, in the Arabian Sea near Gwadar area.

"It's not a common way for islands to be created," says Andrew Miall, a geology professor at the University of Toronto. "But vertical movement of the crust is really common, and it just so happens that, in this case, the crust was very near the surface of the water."
 
Map reveals the countries with the world's worst air pollution
The News - Climate-Environment
September 25, 2013
air pollution map
  • Nasa used global pollution data compiled by UNC
  • Dark brown areas show where more people die prematurely from air pollution than light brown areas
  • Blue areas are regions where pollution levels have improved since 1850 - such as the southern states of the U.S.
  • The most polluted area is shown over Asia, in particular China, but Eastern Europe also has high levels of damaging soot, dust and car fumes

Air pollution is said to account for 2.1 million premature deaths worldwide, according to new research, and mortality rates can vary widely between certain countries.
 
Government shutdown 101: 12 ways it could affect you
The News - Disaster Preparedness
September 25, 2013
If Congress fails to fund the federal government by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the government will go into partial shutdown. Some government functions – those deemed essential – will continue as usual, while others will be suspended. If a shutdown proceeds the way it would have in 2011 (had the last funding impasse had not been resolved in time), 800,000 of 2.1 million federal employees would be furloughed.Here is a list of what to expect if a shutdown takes place:
 
Overpopulation: Why ingenuity alone won't save us
The News - Current Events
September 25, 2013
overpopulation climate change hunger
It's easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we're talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn't sit easy with us.

The "nature" part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we've set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill. Even after population quadrupled in the 20th century, placing unprecedented stress on the planet, it's hard for some to accept that there might be too many of us for our own good.
 
Pakistan earthquake latest: Death toll 238 and rising; New island created
The News - Natural Disasters
September 25, 2013
earthquake new island created
Officials said 238 deaths had been confirmed so far, 208 in Awaran district, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue teams reach more villages in the remote area.

"We have started to bury the dead," said Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of Awaran, the most affected district in Baluchistan province. He said at least 373 people were wounded.  

The 7.7-magnitude quake hit in the Awaran district of Baluchistan province on Tuesday afternoon, destroying scores of mud-built houses and prompting a new island to rise from the sea just off the country's southern coast. The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters (yards) off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
 
Pakistan Earthquake: At Least 39 Dead as 7.7-Magnitude
The News - Natural Disasters
September 24, 2013
pakistan earthquake 2013 disaster
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck southern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people according to early reports. The U.S. Geological Survey placed the epicenter 41 miles north-northeast of Awaran in the province of Balochistan. Mirza Kamran Zia, chief spokesman for the country's National Disaster Management Authority, said 39 people are confirmed dead, most of them buried when houses collapsed onto them. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

The tremor occurred at 7:29 a.m. Eastern time (4:29 p.m. local time) and shook the Pakistani mountain region, according to the USGS. The quake was relatively shallow, occurring just 12 miles (20 km) below ground, raising the potential for violent shaking near the epicenter.
 
Hong Kong Braces for Super Typhoon Usagi
The News - Natural Disasters
September 21, 2013
super typhoon usagi
Super Typhoon Usagi continued to make its way toward Hong Kong and China's southern Guangdong province on Saturday, as it swept toward the South China Sea with strong winds and heavy rain battering parts of Taiwan and the Philippines.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and its Dragonair unit will halt operations in the city starting Sunday evening, the airline said, with plans "to gradually resume services on Monday when weather conditions permit." Hong Kong Airlines and its Hong Kong Express Airways unit likewise canceled Sunday flights scheduled to take off after 6 p.m. Chu Kong Passenger Transport Co., which operates ferries between Hong Kong and mainland China, also announced service suspensions.
 
Planet good for another 1.75 billion years, scientists say
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 20, 2013
end of planet earth

Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn't intervene, a new study calculates.

But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system's habitable zone and into the "hot zone," new research indicates.

 
Earth's stongest storm of 2013, packing 160 mph winds, moving toward Hong Kong...
The News - Natural Disasters
September 19, 2013
super typhoon Usagi
Super Typhoon Usagi, the equivalent of a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, has intensified rapidly in the western Pacific Ocean and will threaten parts of Taiwan, the far northern Philippines and southern China through the next several days.

A tropical cyclone is dubbed a "super typhoon" when maximum sustained winds reach at least 150 mph. Usagi underwent a period of rapid intensification from early Wednesday through midday Thursday (U.S. Eastern time), going from a 55-knot tropical storm to a 140-knot super typhoon in just 33 hours, or just under a 100 mph intensification, based on satellite estimates of intensity.
 
How Much Longer Can Earth Support Life?
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 18, 2013
how much longer can earth support life?
Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn't intervene, a new study calculates. But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system's habitable zone and into the "hot zone," new research indicates.

These zones are defined by water. In the habitable zone, a planet (whether in this solar system or an alien one) is just the right distance from its star to have liquid water. Closer to the sun, in the "hot zone," the Earth's oceans would evaporate. Of course, conditions for complex life — including humans — would become untenable before the planet entered the hot zone.
 
Colorado Floods: What Happens to All That Water?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 18, 2013
colorado flooding water
As flood waters slowly begin to recede from central Colorado, new flood warnings have cropped up downstream in Nebraska. Colorado's South Platte River, which runs northeast from the middle of the state into the southwest corner of Nebraska, has taken the burden of much of the record rainwater that hasn't already seeped into the ground.  

A surge in the river began approaching the Nebraska border at about midnight last night (Sept. 17), according to Dave Nettles, an engineer with the Colorado Division of Water Resources, but the crest of the surge had not yet reached the border as of this morning. The crest will likely arrive today, Nettles said, but the exact timing remains uncertain
 
Still hundreds unaccounted for after Colorado floods...survivors sleeping in cars
The News - Natural Disasters
September 17, 2013
colorado flooding disaster
The emergency airlifts of flood victims waned Tuesday, leaving rescue crews to systematically search the nooks and crannies of the northern Colorado foothills and transportation officials to gauge what it will take to rebuild the wasted landscape.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated by air and ground since last week's devastating floods, but calls for those emergency rescues are now dwindling, federal and state emergency officials said
 
Colorado Disaster: What Is a 100-Year Flood?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 14, 2013
colorado flooding 2013
A massive amount of rain has fallen in the region surrounding Boulder, Colo., causing widespread flooding that's killed at least three people and taken out roads and houses, according to news reports. The event has sent 20-foot "walls of water" rushing down mountainsides, destroying bridges and isolating entire towns, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a statement.

The extreme rain and flooding in Colorado was caused when a slow-moving weather system sucked in an unusually large mass of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and has been called a "100-year storm." That terminology is a little confusing, though, and requires some explanation.
 
Friday the 13th: Why Humans Are So Superstitious
The News - Weird-Strange
September 13, 2013
friday the 13th superstition
Despite having well-developed brains, complex technologies and centuries of scientific progress, the human species remains a fearful, superstitious lot. And what better day to revisit the nature of superstition than Friday the 13th?

Superstition, it seems, is one thing that binds all of humanity throughout history and across cultural divides. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once wrote that superstitions and belief in magic "are so frequent and so widespread that we should ask ourselves if we are not confronted with a permanent and universal form of thought." [LIVESCIENCE]
 
World's biggest brains predict how Earth will end
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 13, 2013
brains predict how world will end
  • Members of a society, which includes Stephen Hawking and Robert May, will identify threats to humanity and devise ways of ensuring its survival
  • The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) is led by the Astronomer Royal and Cambridge don Martin Rees
  • Lord Rees believes the main threats to sustained human existence now come from people, not from nature

They are an improbable group of superheroes. But some of Britain's greatest minds have got together to focus their powers on saving humanity from itself. Led by the Astronomer Royal and Cambridge don Martin Rees, famous thinkers such as physicist Stephen Hawking and former Government chief scientist Robert May have formed a society to draw up a doomsday list of risks that could wipe out mankind. From crippling cyber-attacks by terrorists using the internet to cause havoc, to the release of engineered diseases and killer computers, they warn the future is far from rosy.

 
Doomsday? Universe's Fate Depends on True Mass of Tiny Particle
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 12, 2013
tiny particle doomsday
The universe may end in another 10 billion years or sooner if the heaviest of all the known elementary particles, the top quark, is even heavier than previously thought, researchers say.

If the top quark is not heavier than experiments currently suggest, then an even stranger fate may await the cosmos: disembodied brains and virtually anything else could one day randomly materialize into existence. The protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms are made of elementary particles known as quarks. Protons and neutrons are made up of the lightest and most stable flavors of quark: the up quark and down quark. The heaviest and most unstable flavor of quark is the top quark, which current experiments suggest is about 184 times heavier than the proton.
 
Why Has It Been So Long Since a Major Hurricane Hit the US?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 12, 2013
hurricanes 2013
he United States hasn't been any stranger to hurricanes in the last eight years. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused about $50 billion in damage and was responsible for more than 150 U.S. deaths last year, although the storm was technically an extra-tropical cyclone when it hit.

But surprisingly, not a single major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 storm or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale —with minimum wind gusts of at least 111 mph (178 km/h) — has directly hit the United States in nearly eight years. That's twice as long as any major hurricane landfall "drought" since 1915, and by far the longest on record since data began being collected prior to 1900. As of today (Sept. 12), it's been 2,880 days since Hurricane Wilma, the last major hurricane to strike the United States, made landfall on Oct. 24, 2005.

 
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