Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SOLAR WATCH: The Invincible Sunspot 1429 Returns With A Massive CME - NOAA Estimates 45% Chance Of Strong Geomagnetic Storms!

Solar activity is rapidly picking up again, the huge sunspot, 1429, continues to pose a threat for the Earth, as it unleashed today, a massive coronal mass ejection on the eastern limb of the Sun.

ANOTHER CME FROM SUNSPOT AR1429: Transiting the farside of the sun, never-say-die sunspot AR1429 erupted during the late hours of March 26th, producing its 11th major CME. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) photographed the cloud flying over the sun's eastern limb. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit two spacecraft, STEREO-B and Spitzer, on March 28th. Earth is not in the line of fire. This event shows that AR1429, the source of several strong geomagnetic storms in early March, is still active. It will begin turning back toward our planet about a week from now. Stay tuned.

GEOMAGNETIC OUTLOOK: NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% to 45% chance of strong geomagnetic storms around the poles on March 28-29 in response to an incoming solar wind stream. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, phone. - Space Weather.

1429 PRODUCES STRONG SOLAR FLARE: Old faithful Sunspot 1429 produced a strong solar flare off the eastern limb of the Sun. The time of the flare was around 22:45 UTC Monday evening. This region is about 2 days away from returning onto the visible solar disk off the eastern limb. The image [above] shows the bright flash captured by STEREO Behind and a large, fast moving Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). Stay tuned as we may be in for more activity in the weeks ahead. - Solar Ham.
WATCH: Sunspot 1429 unleash massive CME.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far and Wide - Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US!

While traveling in Japan several weeks ago, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo public parks, playgrounds, and rooftop gardens.

All the samples would be considered nuclear waste if found here in the US. This level of contamination is currently being discovered throughout Japan. At the US NRC Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, DC March 13 to March 15, the NRC's Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko emphasized his concern that the NRC and the nuclear industry presently do not consider the costs of mass evacuations and radioactive contamination in their cost benefit analysis used to license nuclear power plants. Furthermore, Fairewinds believes that evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations. - Fairewinds Energy Education.

WATCH: Gundersen expounds on the soil samples collected from Tokyo.

RATTLE & HUM: "The Sounds of the Apocalypse" - Mysterious Boom Heard From Soledad to Seaside?!

Somebody get Fox Mulder. A mysterious loud boom was heard and felt Monday morning from as far south as Soledad all the way north to Seaside Monday morning.

The big boom happened at 10:51 a.m. and rattled residents in Soledad, Chualar, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Monterey, Salinas, Marina, and Seaside. Military and law enforcement officials told KSBW they are not sure what caused the explosive-like sound. Several residents said they ran outside, looked up, and spotted an extremely fast-moving military jet making a U-turn over the Carmel Valley.  "Almost broke my windows, ran outside and saw a curved jet stream over Carmel Valley," resident Melinda Mayland said. With no confirmed cause of the boom, rumors about UFO's, and requests to alert X-Files TV character FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, quickly spread through the local rumor mill. It is not unusual for U.S. Navy planes on training missions to fly out of Naval Air Station Lemoore near Visalia, Calif. and streak over south Monterey County. Their powerful engines can cause a sonic boom when they break the sound barrier.

NAS Lemoore spokeswoman Melinda Larson said three F/A-18 jets were flying Monday morning, but the pilots never accelerated faster than the speed of sound while above Monterey County.
It is possible that the jets broke the sound barrier while they were over the ocean, where it's legal for them to leave sound waves in the dust. Sonic booms happen when an object zips through the air faster than the speed of sound -- about 768 miles per hour -- and creates shock waves. It's similar to how a boat sailing through the ocean creates waves in front and behind it. People on the ground hear an explosive sound when the shock waves cross their location. As of 1 p.m., air traffic controllers at Monterey Regional Airport and Salinas Municipal Airport said they were not aware of any aircraft that could have caused the boom. Local law enforcement officials said there were no explosions reported that could make a sound heard by half the Central Coast. - KSBW.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Guatemalan Volcanoes Increase Activity - Santiaguito Volcano Recorded 33 Explosions in Just 24 Hours!

Guatemalan volcanoes Santiaguito and Fuego increased their activity in the last hours and the authorities recommended on Monday took all the necessary precautions with the surrounding air traffic.

The dispersion of ash in various directions and changes in wind pattern led to the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (Insivumeh) to warn about the civil aviation.  An Insivumeh report that Santiaguito volcano recorded 33 explosions in 24 hours, with a range of up to 800 meters above the crater, leaving ashes scattered in the southwest and southeast.

Santiaguito volcano is located in Quetzaltenango district, and its height is 2,550 meters above sea level.  The Insivumeh reported white and blue plume up to 100 meters above the crater, with displacement to the southwest, in the case of Fuego volcano, whose height is 3,763 meters above sea level and is located between the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla (center south). - Prensa Latina.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: ICE AGE NOW - Bering Sea Choking Extensively and Unusually With Ice!

For most of the winter of 2011 - 2012, the Bering Sea has been choking with sea ice. Though ice obviously forms there every year, the cover has been unusually extensive this season. In fact, the past several months have included the second highest ice extent in the satellite record for the Bering Sea region, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

© NASA image by Rob Simmon based on data from Jeff Schmaltz
Acquired March 19, 2012.
The natural-color image above shows the Bering Sea and the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia on March 19, 2012. The image was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite. Black lines mark the coastlines, many of which have ice shelves or frozen bays extending beyond the land borders. NSIDC data indicate that ice extent in the Bering Sea for most of this winter has been between 20 to 30 percent above the 1979 to 2000 average. February 2012 had the highest ice extent for the area since satellite records started. As of March 16, National Weather Service forecasters noted that all of the ice cover in the Bering Sea was first year ice, much of it new and thin - which is typical in the Bering Sea. The accumulation of ice this season has largely been fueled by persistent northerly winds blowing from the Arctic Ocean across the Bering Strait. The local winter weather has been dominated by low-pressure systems - with their counterclockwise circulation - that have brought extensive moisture up from the south to coastal and interior Alaska, while sending cold winds down across the sea to the west.

Those winds pushed Arctic sea ice toward the narrow, shallow strait, where it piled up and formed an ice arch that blocked the flow. As arches fail because of wind stress, large floes of sea ice can move south into the Bering Sea. Ice also has piled up on the north side of St. Lawrence Island, near the mouth of the strait. South of the strait and the island, those same winds push cold air and cold surface waters to lower latitudes, allowing the ice to grow farther south than usual. The widespread and persistent ice cover in the Bering Sea has posed significant problems for fisherman and for supply ships in the region. The weather driving the ice also brought extreme snowfall events to many parts of Alaska this winter. The Bering Sea stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Arctic ice cap, where sea ice extent was below average in both January and February. Ice cover was down drastically on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Arctic, including the Kara, Barents, and Laptev Seas, where air temperatures were 4 to 8 degrees Celsius (7 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) above the norm. - Earth Observatory.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Larger Ash Eruption at the Batu Tara Volcano in Indonesia - Aviation Color Code Raised to "Orange"!

As our colleague Marc from vulkane.net reports, the volcano Batu Tara in the Sunda Sea off the island of Flores in Indonesia had a larger than usual ash eruption today, which triggered an alert of the VAAC Darwin, who raised the aviation color code to "orange", as the drifting ash cloud is be a hazard to local air traffic. Batu Tara is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and is characterized, similar to Stromboli volcano, by semi-permanent explosive summit activity. - Volcano Discovery.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Increasing Activity at Ecuador's Tungurahua Volcano - Constant Ash Emissions and Ash Fall!

Tungurahua volcano's activity has been increasing, Ecuador's Instituto Geofísico reports.

Eruptive column above Tungurahua volcano reaching about 2 km height and heading
towards the northeast. March 26, 2012, 09:30 (local time), L. Troncoso - IGEPN
Throughout the morning of March 26, a constant column of steam and ash was rising from the summit crater, reaching up to 3 km height and drifting towards the northeast, where ash fall occurred. Ash fall was significant in the San Francisco and Black River areas, and mild in Baños, the Ventanas en Runtún, Juive, Pondoa, Puntzán and Cusúa sectors.

Occasional roaring explosion sounds were heard from small to moderate explosive events. Seismic activity remains characterized by volcanic tremor episodes lasting several minutes, interspersed with tremor bursts and long-period events, which are related to fluid movements within the volcano. - Volcano Discovery.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Seismic Disturbances Along the Pacific Ring of Fire - Magnitude 6.0 Earthquake Rattles East Coast of Honshu, Japan!

A 6.0-magnitude quake struck northeastern Japan on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, but Japanese authorities noted that no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake hit at 8:00 pm (7pm local time), off Iwate prefecture in the Pacific with the focus estimated some 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) below sea level, the USGS said. The Japanese meteorological agency had earlier rated its magnitude at 6.4, saying: "Sea levels may change slightly because of the earthquake, but there is no fear of damage from it."
There were no reports of damage at nuclear facilities in the area affected by Tuesday's quake, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said. Local media also said there were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries following the jolt. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a monster tsunami on March 11 last year in northeastern Japan, which killed more than 19,000 people and crippled Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, sparking an ongoing crisis. - Asia One.

TERMINATOR NOW: Rise of the Machines - Scientists Develop Plastic Skin That BLEEDS Red Liquid, That Can Heal Itself?!

Robots that 'bleed' like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator have come one step closer to reality. Scientists have created a plastic 'skin' that oozes red blood when cut.

Bloodied but unbowed: Scientists have created a plastic 'skin' that oozes red blood
to warn engineers when a machine needs repaired
It can also 'heal' itself, building tiny molecular bridges inside in response to damage. The red 'blood' might sound like a pointless Halloween novelty - but the idea is that the 'skin' can warn engineers that a structure such as an aicraft wing has been damaged. The material could provide self-healing surfaces for a multitude of products ranging from mobile phones and laptops to cars, say researchers. When cut, the plastic turns from clear to red along the line of the damage, mimicking what happens to skin. It reacts to ordinary light, or changes in temperature or acidity, by mending broken molecular ‘bridges’ to heal itself. U.S. scientists told how they created the material at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, California.

Lead researcher Professor Marek Urban, from the University of Southern Mississippi, said: ‘Mother Nature has endowed all kinds of biological systems with the ability to repair themselves. ‘Some we can see, like the skin healing and new bark forming in cuts on a tree trunk. Some are invisible, but help keep us alive and healthy, like the self-repair system that DNA uses to fix genetic damage to genes. ‘Our new plastic tries to mimic nature, issuing a red signal when damaged and then renewing itself when exposed to visible light, temperature or pH changes.’ The material could flag up damage to critical aircraft structures, said Prof Urban. A decision could then be taken whether to replace the component or ‘heal’ it with a burst of intense light.
Scratches on vehicle fenders could be repaired the same way. Prof Urban’s team is now working on incorporating the technology into plastics that can withstand high temperatures.
- Daily Mail.