Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The Biggest Single Day March Temperature Surge in 36 Years in Chicago - Tuesday Temperatures Reach 68 Degrees, a Reading More Typical of May?!

Tuesday's surging temperatures in Chicago, which roared 31-degrees past Monday's 37-degree high, produced warming equivalent to the change of temperature which takes place in normal highs here from Feb. 19 to May 8!  It was like changing from winter to spring in a day---and it was welcomed by Chicagoans with open arms, despite the 50 mph wind gusts which accompanied it.

A comparable one day March temperature increase hadn't occurred in Chicago  since temperatures jumped from 35 to 68-degrees 36 years ago from March 17-18, 1976. On only 12 previous occasions since weather records began here 142 years ago in 1870 have March temperatures increased by that margin in such a limited period of time.  Rare early March warmth to spill with high winds into a second day; a 70-degree high not out of the question. Wind-driven warmth is to repeat a second day Wednesday. If at least filtered sun manages to peek through the clouds as expected, it's not out of the realm of possibility the official high could flirt with 70-degrees Wednesday afternoon. Southerly winds will continue to howl, gusting above 45 mph---and possibly 50 mph---at times.  But these winds are to tug Gulf moisture north. This is expected to produce clouds and growing shower prospects Wednesday night.  Tuesday's peak area wind gusts top 50 mph; 66 mph gust clocked offshore at the crib. Tuesday's powerhouse winds gusted as high as 56 mph at the WeatherBug wind sensor at Saint Matthias School in Chicago, to 55 mph at the British School here in the city and to 53 mph at Oak Lawn and Lowell, IN.  Peak gusts hit 49 mph at O'Hare and 45 mph at Midway. The strongest gust of all was clocked at the Harrison-Dever Crib, three miles off Chicago's shoreline. There, a speed of 66 mph was recorded.  Chicago's Oct. 1 to March 6 average temperature the warmest since observations began in 1959 at O'Hare

Chicago area's entered its sixth consecutive month of above normal temperatures. The average reading of 39.5-degrees since Oct. 1 at O'Hare is the highest recorded for the period in the 52 years since observations first began at the northwest side site.  Daytime highs Tuesday reach levels in the warmest 10 percent of all March 6 highs in scores of cities across 20 mid-U.S. states. The coverage of the warm air across the nation's mid-section Tuesday was quite remarkable. Scores of weather stations across a swath of terrain spanning 20 states from New Mexico to upstate New York recorded 60+ and 70+ degree temperatures which ranked in the warmest 10 percent of the readings on record in these cities for May 7.  Model forecasts out to two weeks continue much above normal temperatures. While brief temperature pullbacks may occur over the coming 2 weeks, a suite of medium range (2 week) computer model projections keeps much milder than normal air in place over many of the coming 15 days. Estimates of the temperatures surpluses come out to 7.4-degrees for the first 5 days; 11.7-degrees for days 6 through 10 and 17.6-degrees for the 11 to 15 day period. - Chicago Weather Center.


MONUMENTAL SOLAR SYSTEM CHANGES: Surprising, Strange and Colossal Explosions Observed on Planet Venus - Sparked by Space Weather!

Strange, gigantic explosions fueled by solar energy detonate just above the surface of Venus, a new study finds. The huge eruptions, known as hot flow anomalies (HFAs), have been seen before near Earth, Saturn and possibly Mars. But the new observation is the first unambiguous confirmation of the phenomenon on Venus, researchers said. It also shows that HFAs there are far different than what happens near our planet, which has a strong magnetic field, they added. "At Venus, since there's no protective magnetic field, the explosion happens right above the surface of the planet," study lead author Glyn Collinson, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.

When discontinuities in the solar wind remain in contact with a planet's bow shock, they can collect a pool
of hot particles that becomes a hot flow anomaly (HFA). An HFA on Venus most likely acts like a vacuum,
pulling up parts of the planet’s atmosphere.
Explosions in space
HFAs are caused by discontinuities in the solar wind, the million-mph flow of charged particles that streams from the sun. Sometimes these discontinuities — areas where the wind's magnetic fields change direction sharply and abruptly — align with the wind's flow. In this case, they remain in contact with the bow shock, the place where the solar wind slows down quickly and diverts around a planet or other large body.  If such a discontinuity travels slowly across the bow shock, it traps lots of solar particles, collecting pools of super-hot plasma that can expand to be as big as Earth. [Photos of Venus, the Mysterious Planet] "These plasma particles are trapped in place," said study co-author David Sibeck, also of NASA Goddard. "They make a big puddle that gets bigger and bigger, sending out its own shock waves. Everything downstream from that bubble is going to be different than what's upstream." These eruptions of hot plasma are dramatic events that can compress Earth's entire magnetosphere, the protective magnetic bubble surrounding our planet. Such explosions also cause solar particles to flood into Earth's atmosphere near the poles along the planet's magnetic field lines, sometimes generating intense displays of the northern and southern lights. "Hot flow anomalies release so much energy that the solar wind is deflected, and can even move back toward the sun," Sibeck said. "That's a lot of energy when you consider that the solar wind is supersonic — traveling faster than the speed of sound — and the HFA is strong enough to make it turn around."

Taking the search to Venus
NASA's Messenger spacecraft detected what may have been a Venusian HFA in 2009, while on its way to study the planet Mercury. Collinson and his colleagues wanted to know for sure if Earth's hellishly hot "sister planet" hosts HFAs, so they studied several days' worth of data gathered by the European Space Agency's Venus Express probe. "That may not sound like much," Collinson said. "But a day on Venus is 243 Earth days." The researchers determined that Venus Express flew through an HFA on March 22, 2008, showing conclusively that the phenomenon exists at Venus. But \HFAs likely cause explosions much closer to the surface of Venus than the Earth variety, because Venus lacks a magnetic field. "At Earth, HFAs have a big effect, but don't necessarily rule the roost," Collinson said. "But at Venus, since the HFA happens right up next to the planet, it is going to have a more dramatic effect on the system." While the researchers think Venusian HFAs probably push part of the planet's atmosphere out into space, they'd need a dedicated spacecraft to really nail down the phenomenon's full effects. But the study does suggest that HFAs may well be common on planets throughout our solar system — and perhaps in other solar systems as well, they said. Collinson and his colleagues published the study online in the Journal of Geophysical Research on Feb. 29. - SPACE.

WATCH: Explosions on Planet Venus.




TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - DARPA's "Cheetah" Record-Breaking Legged Robot; Military Researchers Develop Corpse-Eating Robots!

This is the first video showing the ‘Cheetah’ robot, created by Boston Dynamics under DARPA’s M3 (maximum mobility and manipulation) program. The robot broke the previous speed record for legged robots by demonstrating its ability to run at a speed of 18mph (~30km/h).

Just as The Matrix ran off human batteries, new battlefield robots could jump-start
themselves by eating human flesh.  Image courtesy Warner Bros.
The robot uses flexible legs that provide it with the fast reaction time necessary to follow the terrain at such speed and the record-breaking performance was displayed on a treadmill with the robot powered by an external hydraulic pump. The patterns used for its motion are similar to those of fast-running animals in nature. It certainly looks less imposing than the preview released before and although it is inspired by its nature analogs its legs are quite dissimilar in structure. A prosthetic leg also named 'Cheetah' performs under the same principal by flexing and un-flexing its back at every step in order to quickly react to fast running. Athletes are using it with great results. DARPA’s ‘cheetah’ is expecting to run without an external power source later this year. For more information you can read the full press release here. - Robots.net.
Flashback:
From the file marked “Evidently, many scientists have never seen even one scary sci-fi movie”: The Defense Department is funding research into battlefield robots that power themselves by eating human corpses. What could possibly go wrong? Since they apparently don’t own TVs or DVD players, researchers at Robotic Technology say the robots will collect organic matter, which “could” include human corpses, to use for fuel. But if you picked up anything on flesh-eating robots over the years you know they’ll ignore that tasty soybean field and make a chow line right to the nearest dead body. And, if the machines can’t find enough dead people to eat, they can always make new ones. Researchers seem to get a kick out of ensuring the demise of the human species, so the project is called the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot, or EATR. Wired.com readers looking to save time and trouble are invited to begin marinating themselves in a mix of 10W30 and Heinz 57 Sauce immediately
. - WIRED.

WATCH: DARPA's "Cheetah" Record-Breaking Legged Robot.




MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: United Nations Says 2011 Disasters Were Costliest Ever!

The economic cost of disasters in 2011 was the highest in history — with a pricetag of at least $380 billion, mainly due to earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, a U.N. envoy said Monday.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the secretary-general's special representative for disaster risk reduction, said the figure was two-thirds higher than the previous record in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States. In addition to the earthquakes, Wahlstrom said major floods in Thailand and other countries caused extensive damage. (LIST: Top 10 Deadliest Earthquakes)  "The main message is that this is an increasing — very rapidly increasing trend with increasing economic losses," Wahlstrom said.Despite the rising costs, she said, deaths from disasters are proportionally declining because countries are getting much better at instituting early warning systems and preparedness measures.


"But the economics of disasters is becoming a major threat to a number of countries," Wahlstrom said. "We say today that 50 percent of the world's population is exposed to disaster risks because they live in the highly vulnerable areas," she said. (PHOTOS: Aerial Scenes from the Aftermath of Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami) Wahlstrom said Japan has the highest economic exposure and the second-highest population exposure to potential disasters. She praised Japan for its preparedness efforts but said there are lessons to be learned from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11. While buildings generally withstood the massive quake, the tsunami that followed engulfed the northeast, wiped out entire towns, and inundated the Fukushima nuclear powerplant, triggering the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.


Wahlstrom said the risk of disasters is increasing globally because of climate change, the depletion of natural resources, poor land use, and worsening environmental problems. For example, she said, by 2050 the world will need 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water for a growing population — and these resources are already under threat and are triggers of disaster. Wahlstrom said every plan to improve development in a country must include measures to deal with the impact of climate change and natural disasters. - TIME.
WATCH: Worldwide Earthquakes 2011 Timeline.



RATTLE & HUM: "Sounds of the Apocalypse" - What's Causing the Mysterious Sounds Coming From the Sky That Are so Loud, They Set Off Car Alarms?!

Mysterious sounds have been heard booming from the sky all around the world – in some cases they were so loud they set off car alarms. The unsettling noises were heard recently from Europe to Canada, sounding like groans and powerful horns.
In Germany noises coming from the sky were recorded on a video camera and uploaded to YouTube, with car alarms clearly heard going off in the background. The internet has been buzzing with theories about what the sounds could be, with suggestions such as Jesus returning and the world ending put forward. But experts have said that there are rational explanations. University of Saskatchewan physics professor Jean-Pierre St. Maurice told CTV that it’s electromagnetic noise emitted from auroras and radiation belts.

Geoscientist David Deming from the University of Oklahoma, meanwhile, has previously written about a phenomenon called The Hum – ‘a mysterious and untraceable sound that is heard in certain locations around the world by two to ten per cent of the population’. Writing in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, he said that sources of The Hum could include telephone transmissions and ‘aircraft operated by the U.S Navy for the purpose of submarine communications’. According to Nasa, the Earth has ‘natural radio emissions’. The Agency said: ‘If humans had radio antennas instead of ears, we would hear a remarkable symphony of strange noises coming from our own planet. Scientists call them "tweeks," "whistlers" and "sferics." 'They sound like background music from a flamboyant science fiction film, but this is not science fiction. Earth's natural radio emissions are real and, although we're mostly unaware of them, they are around us all the time.’ For instance lightning can produce eerie-sounding radio emissions, Nasa added. Earthquakes can also produce sub-audible sounds, according to seismologist Brian W Stump from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas
. - Daily Mail.
WATCH: Strange noises in Germany.

EXTREME WEATHER: The Hawaii Weather Anomalies - Hawaii Governor Declares Disaster For Two Islands!

Hawaii's governor has declared a disaster for two islands after three days of relentless rains caused flooding and a sewage spill on Kauai, where officials are dealing with tree-blocked roads, closed schools and dangerous surf.

Governor Neil Abercrombie's declaration includes Oahu, where a brown water advisory was issued after two manholes overflowed and wastewater flowed into the ocean. There were also warnings of possible hail, lightning, rockslides and water-clogged roads.

Kauai schoolchildren were kept home yesterday. A school was functioning as an emergency shelter, where 33 people spent the night Monday. The Hawaii chapter of the Red Cross said more than 50 others spent the night at three other shelters.

State workers in Honolulu yesterday continued to remove floating rubbish from the debris trap at the entrance to the Ala Wai small boat harbour. Cleanup began Monday after the weekend rains washed large amounts of rubbish into the Ala Wai canal.


The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Kauai, Niihau, Oahu as well as the islands of Lanai, Maui and Molokai. It lifted a flash flood warning that had been in place for Kauai and Oahu. - Herald Sun.



RATTLE & HUM: "Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Mystery Still Surrounds Derry Night time Noises as NIO Probed!

The Secretary of State’s office is investigating concerns about mysterious sounds in the night skies over Londonderry. SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey wrote to Owen Paterson amid frustration that people were being wakened by relentless aircraft activity into the early morning.

An NIO spokeswoman said that a letter from Mr Ramsey had been received and that “a reply will be issued in due course”. Many families have vented their anger about the issue on social networking sites. But the cause of the noise has yet to be confirmed. And it has been suggested that the aircraft involved is flying at such an elevated position that it is not visible from ground level. A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said that it would need a description of the actual aircraft or its registration number, displayed on the side, before it could say for certain what it was. He added: “The chances are if it is up there at night it is military or police — but without clear identification there is not an awful lot we can do.”


The Army and PSNI have neither confirmed nor denied that they caused the noise. City of Derry Airport has also ruled out its aircraft being responsible, as commercial flights at the Eglinton facility only operate between 7am and 8pm. There has been some suggestion that the noise may have been caused by a geological survey of the north coast being conducted by Rathlin Energy. A company spokesman has ruled out its study being to blame. “Our plane has only been flying in daylight hours and hasn’t flown over the city. It is flying from Limavady to Ballycastle. “It is flying between 80 and 100 metres and conditions have to be perfect because you are using your vision as well as instruments,” he said. Rathlin Energy says its airborne survey is to identify naturally occurring mineral deposits. Its aircraft has two propeller engines and carries equipment to provide gravity and magnetic information on the bedrock and its composition. The aircraft flies in straight parallel lines across the region at an approximate height of 100m — but only during the day. - Belfast Telegraph.
WATCH: Strange sounds in the Ireland.


WEATHER ANOMALIES: Rare, Bizarre, Giant Tubular Cloud Rolling Across the Sea of Brazil?!

A photo taken near Brazil captures a rare and beautiful "roll cloud," a tubular cloud that seems to tumble across the sky. The spectacular photo, captured last month, was just released by NASA's Earth Science Picture of the Day blog.

A roll cloud, associated with thunderstorm downdrafts and strange sea winds, tumbles across
the sky off the coast of Brazil. Roll clouds are rare and harmless, though ominous-looking.
Roll clouds are a type of arcus cloud, which is a category of low cloud formations. Their more common cousin is the shelf cloud, often seen on the leading edges of thunderstorms. Roll clouds sometimes form along with storms, too, born out of the storm's downdraft. Sinking cold air causes warm, moist air on the planet's surface to climb to higher altitudes, where the moisture condenses into cloud form. Winds from the storm "roll" the cloud parallel to the horizon, creating an effect that looks much like a horizontal tornado. Unlike shelf clouds, rolls clouds are completely detached from the bulk of the storm. [Gallery of Curious Clouds]

Roll clouds aren't dangerous in themselves, though, and many roll clouds form in relatively calm weather as a result of sea breezes. One of the most famous spots for these coastal roll clouds is off the coast of Queensland, Australia, where the so-called Morning Glory roll cloud forms regularly in fall months. This roll cloud photo was taken by Capt. Andreas M. van der Wurff from a ship en route from Paranagua, Brazil, to Montevideo, Uruguay, on Feb. 6.  Roll clouds are just one of the weird weather phenomenon that can happen when winds go wild. Wave clouds, for example, look like ripples in the sky. They occur when a large landmass such as a mountain forces an air mass to rise to cooler altitudes, where the moisture in the air condenses. The air then drops like a wave, leaving a cloud to mark its peak. Even more stunning are lenticular clouds, which are so smooth and round that they're sometimes mistaken for UFOs. They too form because of the vagaries of winds around mountain peaks.
- Live Science.