Cyclone Raquel Forms As Earliest Big Storm Recorded Off Australia’s North-East


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Tropical Cyclone Raquel has formed in the south-west Pacific near the Solomon Islands, triggering the earliest cyclone warning on record issued for the Queensland zone.

“Certainly it’s a unique scenario,” Jess Carey, a spokesman from the bureau’s Queensland office, said….

Tropical Cyclone Raquel has formed in the south-west Pacific near the Solomon Islands, triggering the earliest cyclone warning on record issued for the Queensland zone.

raquel

“Certainly it’s a unique scenario,” Jess Carey, a spokesman from the bureau’s Queensland office, said. “Since we’ve been tracking cyclones with satellite-based technology, we haven’t seen one in July.”

The storm became a category 1 cyclone early on Wednesday morning and had a central pressure of 999 hPa about 410 km north of the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara as of just before 5am, AEST, the Bureau of Meteorology said. It is forecast to strengthen to a category 2 system on Thursday.

“The cyclone is moving southwest at about 16 km per hour and should gradually intensify over the next 24 hours as it approaches the Solomon Islands,” the bureau said in a statement. “The system will remain very far offshore and does not pose a threat to the Queensland coast.”

The official cyclone season runs from November 1-April 30. Any cyclone after May or before October is considered unusual.

The Queensland region has recorded a June event – Cyclone Ida, back in late May and early June of 1972 – and there was also a July cyclone off the west coast of Australia in 1996.

Mr Casey said the storm was carrying winds of about 130km/h, and since it comes in the second half of the year, will become the earliest recorded in any season for the zone.

While the storm is forecast to remain far from the Queensland coast, it is “certainly not good news for the Solomon Islands”, Mr Casey said.

“We’ve also heard some reports of pretty strong winds in Papua New Guinea,” he said. “It’s affecting quite a wide area.”

Also of note is that a typhoon – as such storms are described in the north-west Pacific basin – is also taking shape to the north of Cyclone Raquel.

“There’s almost an identical system forming on the other side of the equator,” Mr Casey said. “It’s sort of a pigeon pair of cyclones – so it’s an interesting scenario we’ve got at the moment.”

El Nino watch

One consequence of the cyclones in the western Pacific is that they may contribute to strengthening the El Nino now taking hold in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific.

“It’s plausible, it could happen,” Mr Casey said.

“You’ve got quite a significant El Nino brewing at the moment for us,” he said. “What effect does a cyclone have on how the El Nino plays out for the rest of the year, probably we’ll be able to answer that in December or January.”

Cyclone Raquel is likely to trigger westward wind bursts that would reinforce the reversal of the easterly trade winds, shifting more heat to the west as is typical during El Nino events.

The previous mid-year event off north-eastern Australia – 1972’s Cyclone Ida – came prior to a powerful El Nino event forming later that year.

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Weather Alerts Across Western Europe As Heatwave Sets In


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European countries including France, Spain, Italy and Britain have issued weather alerts and the United Nations has urged countries to create better warning systems as a heatwave sweeping western Europe was expected to push temperatures to a nine-year high on Wednesday.

The heatwave, enveloping…

European countries including France, Spain, Italy and Britain have issued weather alerts and the United Nations has urged countries to create better warning systems as a heatwave sweeping western Europe was expected to push temperatures to a nine-year high on Wednesday.

heat

The heatwave, enveloping Britain, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and northern Italy, is expected to last several days and has already seen temperatures rise as high as 40C.

In the west of France, in Brittany and the Pays de la Loire, there was a massive power cut which saw between 600,000 and a million homes left without electricity between Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning after high temperatures affected power equipment. State authorities said it was “exceptional” for the weather to have such repercussions on power supply to homes. The heatwave sparked a further power cut in the western town of Vannes early on Wednesday morning, leaving up to 120,000 homes without electricity at 7am.

In France, where temperatures in some areas have reached 40C, train transport continued to be disrupted and delayed on several lines, including between Paris and Toulouse, as metal tracks and cabling were affected. Within Paris, the RER C trains which link the capital to the suburbs were experiencing delays as trains were slowed and maintenance work was carried out to avoid tracks buckling in the heat.

France’s weather office put 40 regions on orange alert, warning of an “enduring heatwave of significant intensity requiring particular vigilance”.

France, which has activated its national heatwave emergency plan, is particularly sensitive to the risks after thousands of its elderly people in isolated areas died in a European-wide heatwave in 2003 that led to nearly 20,000 deaths. In 2003, Europe was caught off-guard by the severity of the heatwave, and authorities are currently working to ensure the most vulnerable – such as elderly people, young children and those who are ill – are monitored.

Temperatures in Paris are expected to hit 39C on Wednesday afternoon, after south-west France saw temperatures of 42C and Córdoba in southern Spain recorded nearly 44C.

In Paris, which has seen a spike in air pollution during the heatwave, the city hall took measures to limit drivers’ journeys, making residential parking free, imposing speed limits and encouraging use of public transport.

Spanish authorities said the past week brought record June temperatures, with Madrid recording its highest temperature in 95 years as thermometers came close to 40 C (104 F).

Portugal, which is bracing for a challenging forest fire season after an exceptionally dry winter and spring, had the hottest, driest June for 12 years.

The Civil Protection Service said more than 9,700 firefighters, 2,000 vehicles and 45 aircraft would be on permanent standby this season.

From Italy to the Netherlands, governments warned of the risks to older people, young children and those with serious illnesses.

The UN has urged countries to create alert systems to counter the health risks of heatwaves as they become more frequent, intense and dangerous due to climate change.

For the first time, the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) and its World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) have joined forces to create guidelines for experts and authorities for how to lower the health risks of heatwaves such as the ones currently scorching Asia and Europe.

“Heatwaves have emerged as an important hydrometeorological hazard and will remain so, given projected changes in the frequency of extreme heat events associated with human-induced climate change,” the UN text warned.

The main recommendation was to create heatwave warning systems that highlight the health hazards and inform people what they should do to protect themselves.

While such systems exist in countries such as France, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum of the WHO voiced concern about places such as Pakistan, where more than 1,200 people have died amid soaring temperatures in the south of the country.

That crisis came a month after neighbouring India suffered a deadly heatwave that killed more than 2,000 people.

“It is common to have weather forecasts tell people what the temperature is going to be, but in many countries they have not looked at what that means to health,” he told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

WHO and WMO are calling on countries, even those not traditionally hit by extreme temperatures, to put in place heatwave preparedness systems, allowing them to quickly alert the population to dangers and put hospitals on standby for an influx of patients suffering from heat-related ailments.

“Climate change is not only likely to bring about changes in the frequency and duration of heatwaves in ‘core’ heatwave regions but also an alteration of the geographical distribution of heatwave disasters,” WMO and WHO warned in their guidelines, based on several previous scientific studies.

This meant heatwaves might occur in places where they had not happened previously, they said.

They also warned that urbanisation had exacerbated the problem, since cities tend to be hotter than elsewhere, putting vulnerable populations such as the elderly and chronically ill more at risk.

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Western Europe Sweats In Unusual Heat Wave


http://earthchangesmedia.com/western-europe-sweats-in-unusual-heat-wave
Joggers wheezed, electric wires warped, and Britain sweated through its hottest July day on record as a wide swath of Western Europe sweltered in a heat wave.

Authorities in France and elsewhere, mindful that thousands died during a 2003 heat wave, reached out to the elderly, families and other…

Joggers wheezed, electric wires warped, and Britain sweated through its hottest July day on record as a wide swath of Western Europe sweltered in a heat wave.

heat

Authorities in France and elsewhere, mindful that thousands died during a 2003 heat wave, reached out to the elderly, families and other vulnerable people on Wednesday to warn of health risks. Paris officials opened special air-conditioned rooms for the public.

A mass of hot air moving north from Africa has sent temperatures spiking in Spain, Portugal, Britain and France in recent days.

Britain’s Met Office, the weather forecasting service, said Wednesday was the hottest July day since records began in the 1800s based on the 36.7 C (98 F) recorded at London’s Heathrow airport.

At Wimbledon, even an Australian like Bernard Tomic complained of dizzying heat: temperatures hovering near 34 degrees made it one of the hottest days on record at the tournament.

Forecaster Meteo France said Paris reached 39.7 C, the highest temperature recorded in July since 1947, and the second-highest since record-keeping began in 1873.

At Disneyland Paris, Mickey and Minnie and the gang got more frequent breaks. Cast members who don the costumes of the famed characters saw their on-stage rotations shrunk by a third to 5 minutes at a time, to spell them more often from the heat, a spokeswoman said.

France’s national railway operator said the soaring heat had caused a disruption to some traffic in and out of Paris’ Saint-Lazare train station. The Energy Ministry reported some overnight electricity outages and fires as a result of swooning temperatures.

At Paris’ Gare de Lyon train station, public announcements repeatedly reminded people to drink lots of water and not over-exert themselves. Medics were on call in case of emergencies.

French officials said the heat wave was just beginning. On Tuesday, southwest France saw temperatures reaching 42 C (107 F) and Cordoba in southern Spain recorded nearly 44 C (111 F).

“We have a lot of heat-wave days ahead of us,” Gourand said, noting that a wide swath of southern France from Toulouse to Lyon was facing heat of up to 41 C (105 F) until the middle of next week.

In Britain, many commuters outside the London subway weren’t bothered by the sweltering heat. Some responded with a classic British quip: “Mustn’t complain.”

“I’m loving it. I can’t complain,” said Maggie Cloud, a university student who planned to relax in the park. “We pay so much money to go abroad to holidays, and now we have the weather here. It’s cheaper.”

In Spain, tourists looking for sun and beach time didn’t mind the heat either.

“Beautiful. We’re coping very well,” said Petroneo Zaldumbide, a 65-year-old Ecuadorean on holiday.

Spanish authorities said the past week brought record June temperatures, with Madrid recording its highest temperature in 95 years as thermometers came close to 40 C (104 F).

Portugal, which is bracing for a challenging forest fire season after an exceptionally dry winter and spring, had the hottest, driest June for 12 years.

The Civil Protection Service said more than 9,700 firefighters, 2,000 vehicles and 45 aircraft would be on permanent standby this season. Some 230 fire lookout towers across the country will also be staffed by unemployed people.

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Tropical Storm Expected To Become Typhoon


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Tropical Storm Chan-hom is expected to pass through the Marianas as a typhoon over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service’s latest forecast graphic issued at 7 p.m. shows the storm passing just south of Guam Saturday afternoon, with maximum sustained…

Tropical Storm Chan-hom is expected to pass through the Marianas as a typhoon over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

storm

The weather service’s latest forecast graphic issued at 7 p.m. shows the storm passing just south of Guam Saturday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.

The weather services’s tracking forecast was modified several times today, with the predicted course moving from a direct hit on Rota this morning to a path that takes it south of Guam. The forecast could still change.

“Conditions could change during the night,” said meteorologist Chip Guard. “National Weather Service anticipates the storm slowing down during the night and we should know more about the exact track tomorrow morning.”

According to the weather service’s 8 p.m. online advisory, the tropical storm was positioned about 750 miles east-southeast of Guam. Maximum sustained winds was 45 mph.

The storm was moving west at 12 mph, with winds extending outward up to 60 miles from the center. The system is expected to turn to the west tonight and Thursday with a slight decrease in forward speed.

The storm is expected to bring rain showers and thunderstorms to Guam starting Friday, and winds are expected to strengthen over the weekend, said weather service meteorologist Brandon Aydlett. Inclement weather could extend into Monday, he said.

The island can expect up to 12 inches of rain over the weekend, Aydlett said Wednesday morning.

Several weekend events are postponed.

The Liberation Carnival will be closed Saturday, and the Fourth of July fireworks are tentatively postponed to Sunday. The carnival will remain open tomorrow and vendors will begin breaking down their booths Friday, said Sinajana Mayor Robert Hofmann, event planner for the carnival.

The Guam BBQ Block Party scheduled for Saturday has been postponed. The Guam Visitors Bureau will announce a new date when determined.

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340 Undiscovered Meteorite Impact Sites On Earth, Geologists Calculate


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The geologists Prof. Dr. Stefan Hergarten and Prof. Dr. Thomas Kenkmann from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg have published the world’s first study on the question of how many meteorite craters there should be on the Earth’s surface. A…

The geologists Prof. Dr. Stefan Hergarten and Prof. Dr. Thomas Kenkmann from the Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Freiburg have published the world’s first study on the question of how many meteorite craters there should be on the Earth’s surface. A total of 188 have been confirmed so far, and 340 are still awaiting discovery according to the results of a probability calculation presented by the two researchers in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

meteorite

Meteorite impacts have shaped the development of the Earth and life repeatedly in the past. The extinction of the dinosaurs, for instance, is thought to have been brought on by a mega-collision at the end of the Cretaceous period. But how many traces of large and small impacts have survived the test of time? In comparison to the more than 300,000 impact craters on Mars, the mere 188 confirmed craters on Earth seem almost negligible. Moreover, 60 of them are buried under sediments. Advances in remote sensing have not led to the expected boom in crater discoveries: An average of only one to two meteorite craters are discovered per year, most of them already heavily eroded.

The probability of a meteorite impact on Earth is not fundamentally different than on Mars. However, the Earth’s surface changes much more quickly. As a result, the craters remain visible for a much shorter period of time, meaning that many less of them are detectible today. “The main challenge of the study was to estimate the long-term effect of erosion, which causes craters to disappear over time,” says Hergarten. The life span of a crater depends on the rate of erosion and its size. Large craters can achieve a life span of several 100 million years, depending on the region in which they are located. On the other hand, large impacts are much rarer than small impacts. The solution was to compare the amount of confirmed craters of different sizes, calculate the expected frequency of the impacts on the basis of the known probabilities, and combine this information to infer the rates of erosion.

“A surprising, initially sobering finding we made was that there are not many craters of above six kilometers in diameter left to discover on the Earth’s surface,” reports Hergarten. In the case of smaller craters, on the other hand, the scientists found the current list to be far from complete: Around 90 craters with a diameter of one to six kilometers and a further 250 with a diameter of 250 to 1000 meters are still awaiting discovery. While there are undoubtedly still a number undiscovered large craters buried deep under sediments, they are much more difficult to detect and confirm.

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October Comet Flyby Caused 'Mind-Blowing' Martian Meteor Shower


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A rain of metallic stardust lit up the skies of Mars in the wake of the close passage of Comet Siding Spring, which roared past the Red Planet last October.

This is according to the instruments aboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which made the first direct detection of sodium, magnesium,…

A rain of metallic stardust lit up the skies of Mars in the wake of the close passage of Comet Siding Spring, which roared past the Red Planet last October.

comet-siding-spring-approach-mars

This is according to the instruments aboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which made the first direct detection of sodium, magnesium, aluminum, chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, iron and other metals high in the Martian atmosphere that can be linked directly to the material sloughing off the comet.

“This must have been a mind-blowing meteor shower,” said Nick Schneider of the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado.

MAVEN’s instruments were put to use as soon as the spacecraft arrived — even before the instruments were fully commissioned — to measure the effects of the comet on the Martian atmosphere. (MAVEN, whose name is short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, entered orbit around Mars on Sept. 2014; Comet Siding Spring barreled past on Oct. 19.)

Based on the strong signal of magnesium and iron measurements seen by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, Schneider says the hourly meteor rate overhead on Mars must have been tens of thousands of “shooting stars” per hour for hours.

“I’m not sure anyone alive has ever seen that,” said Schneider, “and the closest thing in human history might the the 1833 Leonid shower.”

The metal ions were the remains of pebbles and other pieces shed from the comet that burned up, or “ablated” into individual atoms — when they hit the Martian atmosphere at 56 kilometers per second (125,000 mph). It’s the same thing that happens on Earth, except that not even on Earth has a spacecraft been in the right place at the right time to detect so many ions fresh off a comet.

“This is the first time that we detect the full panel of metal ions from sodium to zinc,” said Mehdi Benna, a MAVEN researcher at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who works on the team that runs the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS).

That instrument captures, identifies and counts the charged metal atoms high in the ionosphere of the Red Planet. Only, the first measurements NGIMS made were under unprecedented and unexpected circumstances, he said.

“The nice thing about Comet Siding Spring is that we know the source of the dust particles,” said Benna. “We know the source and the speed.” These are numbers they can put into the models they use to sort out the details of such events and glean information about Mars’ ionosphere, the comet’s composition, and even the workings of Earth’s ionosphere when it’s hit by comet or asteroid debris. “Here we really have a controlled experiment. We measured ions shortly after they were deposited. If we had waited a week or even a few days, we wouldn’t have such a clear detection.”

Benna and Schneider are lead authors on separate papers about their respective instruments’ measurements recently published online by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. One of the things that cannot be found those papers, however, is the role serendipity played in the work. MAVEN was not launched with Comet Siding Spring in mind. It was just luck that the spacecraft arrived in time for the flyby with instruments that could study the event.

“If someone had said, ‘Go measure the elemental and isotopic composition of dust from a first-time Oort cloud comet,’ any sane person would have said, ‘Can’t be done’,” said Schneider of Benna’s work. “Yet that’s exactly what they did, and it should keep the cosmochemists occupied for a while!”

“The funny thing is that actually we did not plan for the spacecraft and the instrument to get that data,” said Benna. “A few months before, we were told about Siding Spring, and so we looked to see if we could do the measurements.”

As it turned out, the NGIMS is the close brother to the instrument that was onboard the CONTOUR spacecraft which was launched in 2002 to visit and study comets. But that spacecraft never made it to any comets.

“So a very similar instrument finally got comet measurements on MAVEN,” said Benna. It’s a great lesson, he said: “Never lose hope.”

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October Comet Flyby Caused ‘Mind-Blowing’ Martian Meteor Shower


http://earthchangesmedia.com/october-comet-flyby-caused-mind-blowing-martian-meteor-shower
A rain of metallic stardust lit up the skies of Mars in the wake of the close passage of Comet Siding Spring, which roared past the Red Planet last October.

This is according to the instruments aboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which made the first direct detection of sodium, magnesium,…

A rain of metallic stardust lit up the skies of Mars in the wake of the close passage of Comet Siding Spring, which roared past the Red Planet last October.

comet-siding-spring-approach-mars

This is according to the instruments aboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, which made the first direct detection of sodium, magnesium, aluminum, chromium, nickel, copper, zinc, iron and other metals high in the Martian atmosphere that can be linked directly to the material sloughing off the comet.

“This must have been a mind-blowing meteor shower,” said Nick Schneider of the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado.

MAVEN’s instruments were put to use as soon as the spacecraft arrived — even before the instruments were fully commissioned — to measure the effects of the comet on the Martian atmosphere. (MAVEN, whose name is short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, entered orbit around Mars on Sept. 2014; Comet Siding Spring barreled past on Oct. 19.)

Based on the strong signal of magnesium and iron measurements seen by MAVEN’s Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph, Schneider says the hourly meteor rate overhead on Mars must have been tens of thousands of “shooting stars” per hour for hours.

“I’m not sure anyone alive has ever seen that,” said Schneider, “and the closest thing in human history might the the 1833 Leonid shower.”

The metal ions were the remains of pebbles and other pieces shed from the comet that burned up, or “ablated” into individual atoms — when they hit the Martian atmosphere at 56 kilometers per second (125,000 mph). It’s the same thing that happens on Earth, except that not even on Earth has a spacecraft been in the right place at the right time to detect so many ions fresh off a comet.

“This is the first time that we detect the full panel of metal ions from sodium to zinc,” said Mehdi Benna, a MAVEN researcher at the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who works on the team that runs the Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS).

That instrument captures, identifies and counts the charged metal atoms high in the ionosphere of the Red Planet. Only, the first measurements NGIMS made were under unprecedented and unexpected circumstances, he said.

“The nice thing about Comet Siding Spring is that we know the source of the dust particles,” said Benna. “We know the source and the speed.” These are numbers they can put into the models they use to sort out the details of such events and glean information about Mars’ ionosphere, the comet’s composition, and even the workings of Earth’s ionosphere when it’s hit by comet or asteroid debris. “Here we really have a controlled experiment. We measured ions shortly after they were deposited. If we had waited a week or even a few days, we wouldn’t have such a clear detection.”

Benna and Schneider are lead authors on separate papers about their respective instruments’ measurements recently published online by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. One of the things that cannot be found those papers, however, is the role serendipity played in the work. MAVEN was not launched with Comet Siding Spring in mind. It was just luck that the spacecraft arrived in time for the flyby with instruments that could study the event.

“If someone had said, ‘Go measure the elemental and isotopic composition of dust from a first-time Oort cloud comet,’ any sane person would have said, ‘Can’t be done’,” said Schneider of Benna’s work. “Yet that’s exactly what they did, and it should keep the cosmochemists occupied for a while!”

“The funny thing is that actually we did not plan for the spacecraft and the instrument to get that data,” said Benna. “A few months before, we were told about Siding Spring, and so we looked to see if we could do the measurements.”

As it turned out, the NGIMS is the close brother to the instrument that was onboard the CONTOUR spacecraft which was launched in 2002 to visit and study comets. But that spacecraft never made it to any comets.

“So a very similar instrument finally got comet measurements on MAVEN,” said Benna. It’s a great lesson, he said: “Never lose hope.”

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