- The predicted path of Tropical Storm Patty as of the 5 p.m. EDT Oct. 11, 2012, forecast from the National …Tropical depression 16 has strengthened into Tropical Storm Patty, the 16th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season.But the storm is expected to have a short lifetime, with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicting it will weaken into a depression again by Friday afternoon.Hurricane season is in its waning days as ocean temperatures cool and the Atlantic environment becomes less favorable for cyclone formation. The official end of the season is Nov. 30, though storms have been known to form late in the season and even after the official end date.Tropical Depression 16 first formed early this morning (Oct. 11), and the NHC announced it had become a tropical storm in its 5 p.m. EDT update. The storm was dubbed Patty, the next name on the2012 list of hurricane names. (Tropical cyclones, the generic name for tropical storms and hurricanes, are only named in the Atlantic basin once they achieve tropical storm strength. The names are picked by the World Meteorological Organization and are on a seven-year rotating cycle.)Patty formed about a week after the most recent tropical storm in the Atlantic, Oscar, which was also short-lived, lasting for about two days.”The tropical storm appears to be on borrowed time as there are a couple of factors coming together that should weaken the cyclone,” the NHC forecast said. These factors include wind shear — when winds blow in different directions at different levels in the atmosphere and stymie storm development — and drier, more stable air could infiltrate the center of the storm, weakening the convection there.Patty currently has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) and is located about 250 miles (400 kilometers) northeast of the Bahamas, according to the NHC.The amended hurricane season forecast put out in August anticipated 12 to 17 named storms would form during the season, with five to eight becoming hurricanes. Of the 16 storms that have formed, eight became hurricanes.Nadine became a hurricane twice during its nearly 22 days over the Atlantic. It tied 1971’s Ginger as the second longest-lasting tropical storm in the Atlantic basin. [50 Amazing Hurricane Facts]Forecasters are watching another area of low pressure to the northeast of South America that they have given a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone. If another named storm forms after Patty, it will be called Rafael.Floods ravage Scotland after heavy rain By Reuters – 8 hrs ago LONDON (Reuters) – Heavy rain and flooding hit large swathes of Scotland on Friday, bursting riverbanks, turning roads into torrents and stranding people in their homes.Britain’s Met (meteorological) Office warned the region to brace for nearly a month’s worth of rain – as much as 80 mm – over 48 hours.Local media reported several people had been trapped in buildings and emergency services had rescued drivers stuck in cars in Fife and Tayside in the east of Scotland.”My neighbour was just rescuing my cats – he didn’t realise I was in. Thank God he came and got us because I’d be waving at you from the top window instead of being here at the moment,” Fife residentStorm Hughes told BBC Scotland.”The scale of the damage is astronomical. I am missing half my house, I’m missing the whole road … nothing is left.”Richard Brown, head of Hydrology for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency said conditions were expected to improve on Saturday.The agency has more than 30 flood warnings in effect, mainly for Tayside, Dundee and Angus in the east of Scotland and the Borders in the south.”We would encourage people in the areas potentially at risk to remain vigilant and be mindful of the conditions in their locality and when travelling,” Brown said.(Reporting by Matt Falloon; editing by Andrew Roche)
Explosive Volcanic Eruptions Caused By Mixing Magmas By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – 8 hrs ago Meteorologists know mixing cold air and warm air triggers powerful thunderstorms. Now, geologists have discovered a similar phenomenon at work beneath one of Europe’s most hazardous volcanoes.The Las Cañadas volcano, on the island of Tenerife near Spain, last exploded approximately 170,000 years ago, and is due for another eruption. Researchers believe they have identified what happens in the volcano’s magma chamber just prior to such massive eruptions, which could help scientists predict the next blast before it happens.A new study into the volcano reveals that pre-eruption mixingwithin the magma chamber — where older, cooler magma mixed with younger, hotter magma — triggered three previous large-scale eruptions. The mixing is like „putting a red-hot rock into a cup of ice,” said study author Rex Taylor, of the University of Southampton in Britain.The researchers made their find by analyzing crystal cumulate nodules (igneous rocks formed by the accumulation of crystals in magma) in deposits from prior eruptions. The nodules provide a record of the changes in the magma chamber until the moment the volcano erupted.”Rims of crystals in the nodules grew from a very different magma, indicating a major mixing event occurred immediately before eruption,” Taylor said in a statement.Now that the volcano’s trigger is known, monitoring changes in the magma chamber could help volcanologists predict a coming eruption. Las Cañadas, also called Mount Teide, is one of 16 Decade Volcanoes identified for study by the United Nations because of the volcano’s history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to populated areas.The volcano has frequent small lava flows every 100 years or so. Large explosions happen about every 100,000 years. These eruptions spew ash 15 miles (25 kilometers) into the air and collapse the volcanointo a caldera, sending pyroclastic flows (clouds of flowing hot gas and debris) across the island, which has more 200,000 inhabitants.The big blasts expel more than 25 times more material than the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. Prevailing winds would normally take the ash out over the Atlantic, Taylor told OurAmazingPlanet in an email.The findings are detailed in the Oct. 12 issue of the journal Scientific Reports.Reach Becky Oskin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.
Carbon Dioxide May Damage Glaciers By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – 9 hrs ago A computer model of carbon dioxide in ice cracks has two MIT researchers speculating that the greenhouse gas could structurally weaken glaciers, which are already under pressure from global warming.Materials scientist Markus Buehler, a professor at MIT, studies the mechanical properties of fracturing in everything from spider silk to bones. He works on a nano-sized scale, looking at the bonds between molecules and atoms. Even an iceberg the size of Manhattan starts with a single broken bond, so Buehler and postdoctoral scholar Zhao Qin decided to investigate what happens when ice fractures. They were particularly interested in how carbon dioxide gas, which contributes to global warming, might affect fracturing in ice.Qin and Buehler built a computer model of water ice, then simulated a small crack. When carbon dioxide gas entered the mix, the gas molecules broke hydrogen bonds in the water molecules, making the ice more brittle.The gas molecules seemed drawn to the tip of the crack; to get there, they flipped along the surface like zombie gymnasts, leaving broken hydrogen bonds in their wake. The carbon dioxide clustered at the tip of the crack constantly attacked the water molecules located there as well, making it easier for the fracture to widen and grow.The result: Ice containing 2 percent carbon dioxide was 38 percent less resistant to fracturing than pure ice, the study found.In the real world-But it’s a long way from a computer at MIT to an ice sheet, and, in the real world, glaciers aren’t pure ice. They are a dirty, messy mix of dust, volcanic ash and whatever else had the misfortune of getting trapped in the ice — plus a sprinkling of rocks and meteorites. Glacier ice also constantly melts and refreezes, so no glacier has uniform mechanical properties throughout its stream.”The strength of ice might be really different than what a laboratory measurement might tell us, because of all of these impurities coming into play,” said Jeremy Bassis, a glaciologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who wasn’t involved with the MIT study.Bassis also pointed out that glaciologists already know the fracture toughness of glacial ice, which could have been plugged into the computer simulation. „I’m a little disappointed that they don’t look at observations of the fracture toughness of glacial ice,” Bassis told OurAmazingPlanet. „I think it’s interesting that they have this idea that you’re changing the fracture strength, but my gut feeling is that is not what’s actually going on. There is a lot of evidence that ice-ocean interaction is causing fractures where you see icebergs calving.Real-world consequences?Buehler and Qin hope their results will spark further research into the effects of carbon dioxide on fracturing in glaciers and ice sheets, they said in a statement.”If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, [the amount of] their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much-reduced coverage area on the Earth,” Buehler said in a statement. „The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,” he said.The findings were detailed in the Oct. 11 issue of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.Reach Becky Oskin at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter@beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanetWe’re also on Facebook and Google+.
Antarctic ice map may hold clues to global warming By Pauline Askin | Reuters – Thu, Oct 11, 2012 1:40 AM EDT SYDNEY (Reuters) – Scientists have produced the first three dimensional map of the surface beneath Antarctic sea ice, helping them better understand the impact of climate change on Antarctica.The team of scientists from eight countries have used a robot submarine to chart a frozen and inverted world of mountains and valleys, allowing accurate measurements of the crucial thickness of Antarctic sea ice.By combining the data with airborne measures of surface ice and snow, scientists can now accurately measure changes in ice thickness and better understand the affects of global warming.”The ice thickness is regarded amongst climate scientists as the holy grail of determining changes in the system,” Antarctic marine glaciologist Jan Lieser told Reuters.”If we can determine the change in the thickness of the sea ice we can estimate the rate of change that is due to global warming.”Scientists have ice thickness data for the Arctic region dating back to the 1950s, allowing for analysis of changes in the Arctic Ocean, but similar data has been unavailable for the ice around the frozen Southern continent.Lieser, who is aboard an Australian icebreaker in Antarctic waters, is part of the Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystem Experiment project, involving scientists from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.They are using a free-swimming robot submarine, which moves about 20 metres (65 feet) below the ice and travels in a grid pattern, using multi-beam sonar to measure the underside of the ice.Lieser said changes in sea ice thickness affects the formation of cold, salty Antarctic bottom water that drives global ocean currents and is crucial for sea life, from phytoplankton and krill to whales.”We can actually get a full 3D image of what we are measuring. It’s never been done before and that’s really exciting,” Lieser added.The results will help set a baseline to establish how climate change affects Antarctic sea ice. Scientists will also be able to examine how changes to sea ice affect the ecosystem.Similar tests in 2007 used only airborne equipment and produced only two dimensional maps, which are less accurate.(Reporting by Pauline Askin, editing by Elaine Lies)