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WEATHER | NATURAL DISASTERS | EARTHQUAKES | TSUNAMIS

WEATHER & NATURAL DISASTERS


Intensity of hurricanes: New study helps improve predictions of storm intensity

While predicting the path of hurricanes has gotten better, little has been done to improve predicting a storm’s intensity. That is, until now. “The air-water interface — whether it had significant waves or significant spray — is a big factor in storm intensity,” said one expert involved in a new study. “Hurricanes gain heat energy through the interface and they lose mechanical energy at the interface.”

Water, water — not everywhere: Mapping water trends for African maize

Trends in the water cycle in 21 African countries have been mapped from between 1979 and 2010. Researchers found that the majority of maize-growing areas experienced increased water availability, although the trends varied by region. The greater availability of water generally resulted from a mixture of increased rainfall and decreased evaporation and transpiration.

Storm-triggered landslides: Examining causes of devastating debris flow

Storm-triggered landslides cause loss of life, property damage, and landscape alterations. For instance, the remnants of Hurricane Camille in 1969 caused 109 deaths in central Virginia, after 600 mm of rain fell in mountainous terrain in 6 hours. More recently, on 8 August 2010, a rainstorm-induced landslide devastated the Chinese county of Zhouqu, causing more than 1000 deaths. A new modeling study examines the multiple factors, both natural and human caused, that came together to produce this event.

Sea level rising in western tropical Pacific anthropogenic as result of human activity, study concludes

Sea levels likely will continue to rise in the tropical Pacific Ocean off the coasts of the Philippines and northeastern Australia as humans continue to alter the climate, a study concludes. The study authors combined past sea level data gathered from both satellite altimeters and traditional tide gauges as part of the study. The goal was to find out how much a naturally occurring climate phenomenon called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, influences sea rise patterns in the Pacific.

Rising-2 captured highest resolution image of Earth’s surface among satellites in its class

Microsatellite Rising-2 succeeded in capturing high precision images of Earth’s surface. Using a High Precision Telescope, it captured color images at a spatial resolution of 5m, the highest in the world among 50kg-class satellites.

What do Google searches tell us about our climate change fears?

Political ideology and education levels affect when people search for climate information, research indicates. Republicans search the net for information about the weather, climate change and global warming during extremely hot or cold spells. Democrats Google these terms when they experience changes in the average temperatures. These are some of the surprising findings from a study that tracked how the temperature fluctuations and rainfall that Americans experience daily in their own cities make them scour the Internet in search of information about climate change and global warming.

NOAA’s GOES-R satellite Magnetometer ready for spacecraft integration

The Magnetometer instrument that will fly on NOAA’s GOES-R satellite when it is launched in early 2016 has completed the development and testing phase and is ready to be integrated with the spacecraft.

EARTHQUAKES


Fukushima accident underscores need for U.S. to seek out new information about nuclear plant hazards

A new congressionally mandated report concludes that the overarching lesson learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is that nuclear plant licensees and their regulators must actively seek out and act on new information about hazards with the potential to affect the safety of nuclear plants.

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

A new geological study concludes that the disastrous March 22 landslide that killed 43 people in the rural Washington state community of Oso involved the “remobilization” of a 2006 landslide on the same hillside. “Perhaps the most striking finding is that, while the Oso landslide was a rare geologic occurrence, it was not extraordinary,” said a team leader for the study.

Storm-triggered landslides: Examining causes of devastating debris flow

Storm-triggered landslides cause loss of life, property damage, and landscape alterations. For instance, the remnants of Hurricane Camille in 1969 caused 109 deaths in central Virginia, after 600 mm of rain fell in mountainous terrain in 6 hours. More recently, on 8 August 2010, a rainstorm-induced landslide devastated the Chinese county of Zhouqu, causing more than 1000 deaths. A new modeling study examines the multiple factors, both natural and human caused, that came together to produce this event.

New view of Mount Rainier’s volcanic plumbing: Electrical images show upward flow of fluids to magma chamber

By measuring how fast Earth conducts electricity and seismic waves, scientists have made a detailed picture of Mount Rainier’s deep volcanic plumbing and partly molten rock that will erupt again someday.

70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete bridge survives series of simulated earthquakes

A 70-foot-long, 52-ton concrete bridge survived a series of earthquakes in the first multiple-shake-table experiment in the University of Nevada, Reno’s new Earthquake Engineering Lab, the newest addition to the world-renowned earthquake and seismic engineering facility.

Rainwater discovered at new depths, with high pressure and temperatures over 300 degrees Celsius

Researchers have found that rainwater can penetrate below the Earth’s fractured upper crust, which could have major implications for our understanding of earthquakes and the generation of valuable mineral deposits. It had been thought that surface water could not penetrate the ductile crust – where temperatures of more than 300°C and high pressures cause rocks to flex and flow rather than fracture – but researchers have now found fluids derived from rainwater at these levels. Fluids in the Earth’s crust can weaken rocks and may help to initiate earthquakes along locked fault lines.

Evidence of super-fast deep earthquake: Rare high-speed rupture off Russia and similar phenomena on shallow fault zones

Scientists have discovered the first evidence that deep earthquakes, those breaking at more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) below Earth’s surface, can rupture much faster than ordinary earthquakes. The finding gives seismologists new clues about the forces behind deep earthquakes as well as fast-breaking earthquakes that strike near the surface.

TSUNAMIS


Giant earthquakes help predict volcanic eruptions

Researchers have for the first time observed the response of Japanese volcanoes to seismic waves produced by the giant Tohoku-oki earthquake of 2011. Their conclusions reveal how earthquakes can impact volcanoes and should help to assess the risk of massive volcanic eruptions worldwide.

Extinct undersea volcanoes squashed under Earth’s crust cause tsunami earthquakes

New research has revealed the causes and warning signs of rare tsunami earthquakes, which may lead to improved detection measures. The new study reveals that tsunami earthquakes may be caused by extinct undersea volcanoes causing a “sticking point” between two sections of Earth’s crust called tectonic plates, where one plate slides under another.

Personal resiliency paramount for future disasters

Individuals need to build disaster readiness and resiliency in order to better recover from the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other natural disasters, experts say. Those who prepare well for disasters are more likely to have a sense of spiritual and emotional well-being and be satisfied with their life.

Three years since Japan’s disaster: Communities remain scattered and suffering

While western eyes are focused on the ongoing problems of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor site, thousands of people are still evacuated from their homes in north-eastern Japan following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency. Many are in temporary accommodation and frustrated by a lack of central government foresight and responsiveness to their concerns.

Australian tsunami database reveals threat to continent

Australia’s coastline has been struck by up to 145 possible tsunamis since prehistoric times, triple the previously estimated number, a new study reveals. The largest recorded inundation event in Australia was caused by an earthquake off Java in 2006. The continent was also the site of the oldest known tsunami in the world — an asteroid impact 3.47 billion years ago. Details of the 145 modern day and prehistoric events are outlined in a revised tsunami database.

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis: New design for enhanced safety, easier siting and centralized construction

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects — specifically, the lack of cooling for the reactor cores, due to a shutdown of all power at the station — that caused most of the harm. A new design for nuclear plants built on floating platforms, modeled after those used for offshore oil drilling, could help avoid such consequences in the future.

Ant colonies help evacuees in disaster zones

An escape route mapping system based on the behavior of ant colonies could give evacuees a better chance of reaching safe harbor after a natural disaster or terrorist attack by building a map showing the shortest routes to shelters and providing regular updates of current situations such as fires, blocked roads or other damage via the smart phones of emergency workers and those caught up in the disaster.

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