According to reports from NASA and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), when accounting for all temperatures recorded around the world, June 2013 ranked as at least the fifth hottest June since official temperature records began back in 1880.This past June tied with 2006 as having a globally-averaged temperature of 16.14°C. You might remember June 2006 as the month with the blistering heat wave that gripped much of Europe.NASA – who records temperatures slightly differently from the NCDC – actually put June 2013 as high as second hottest on their list of hottest Junes ever. The only June with a higher average global temperature was in 1998, when one of the strongest El Nino events of the past 63 years was causing major weather-pattern shifts.[ Related: ‘Roller-coaster’ jet stream brings sweltering heat to the Far North ]There was no major heat wave last month, though, and the El Nino/La Nina oscillation in the south Pacific Ocean is has been blissfully ‘neutral’ over the past year. That means that it’s been a fairly ‘normal’ summer so far, and we still racked up a June in the top five (at least).
However, there were a couple of ‘anomalies’ to consider for last month. One was the unusually warm weather in northern Canada and in Alaska, which broke several long-standing temperature records. That was somewhat balanced by the unusually cold temperatures in northeastern Canada and the heat in the northwest wasn’t anything close to what Europe saw in 2006. Eastern Europe was warmer than usual, and there was a particular alarming hot-spot over Antarctica.[ More Geekquinox: Environment Canada confirms tornado touchdown east of Fredericton ]We’ve heard a lot about this kind of thing lately, and it may be getting old for people, but here’s some rather shocking revelations taken from the report.According to the NCDC, the global-average temperature set over the entire 20th century is 15.5°C. That’s combining land and ocean temperatures from all over the world, from all times of the year, and areas experiencing every season. So, it’s not biased towards any particular season or geographic location.Now, in order to truthfully claim that you’ve seen a month — any month, that is — with a globally-averaged temperature below that 15.5°C mark, you’d have to have celebrated your 28th birthday before January of this year. The last month below 15.5°C was February 1985.
If you want to truthfully claim that you’ve actually experienced a June with globally-averaged temperatures below that mark, you’d have to be turning at least 37 years old this month. The last June where global temperatures were below 15.5°C was in 1976. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you may not expect June to get that cool, but it happened fairly often in the past.The Earth is warming. Some of this warming may be natural, but science has found an unmistakable link between the warming that we’re seeing and the amount of greenhouse gases we’re putting into the air, and whereas the natural cycle of carbon dioxide works as a balance, we are throwing things out of balance.Temperatures may not always be going up every month of every year at anyone’s specific location, because that’s not how climate change or weather work. However the trends are clear. We’re not too far into the 21st century now, but we’re already getting to the point where you need to be middle-aged before you can remember a June with normal temperatures across the globe.Geek out with the latest in science and weather.Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!
Rain helps firefighters gain on S. Calif. Blaze
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The front landing gear of a flight arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport collapsed Monday right after the plane touched down on the runway, officials said, sending the aircraft skidding before it came to a halt.Ten passengers were treated at the scene, with six being taken to a hospital with minor injuries, said Thomas Bosco, Acting Director of Aviation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the area airports. The six crew members were taken to another hospital for observation.Dallas-based Southwest said there were 150 people on Flight 345 coming from Nashville, Tennessee, while the Port Authority said the total was 149.Bosco said the nose gear of the plane collapsed when it landed at 5:40 p.m., and „the aircraft skidded down the runway on its nose and then veered off and came to rest in the grass area.”Bosco said there was no advance warning of any possible problem before the landing.Emergency crews were seen spraying foam toward the front end of the plane on the tarmac. The Port Authority said the passengers exited the plane by using emergency chutes.The airport was temporarily closed, but one of two runways was operating shortly after 7 p.m., and Bosco said the Port Authority was hoping to have the airport fully open by Tuesday morning.The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, as is the National Transportation Safety Board.Richard Strauss, who was on a nearby plane waiting to take off for Washington, said the nose of the plane was „completely down on the ground. It’s something that I’ve never seen before. It’s bizarre.”A rear stairwell or slide could be seen extending from the Southwest aircraft, said Strauss, who owns a Washington public relations firm. His plane, which was about 100 yards (90 metres) from the Southwest flight, wasn’t allowed to taxi back to the gate, he said.Bobby Abtahi, an attorney trying to catch a flight to Dallas, was watching from the terminal and heard a crowd reacting to the accident.”I heard some people gasp and scream. I looked over and saw sparks flying at the front of the plane,” he said.The incident came 16 days after Asiana Flight 214 crash-landed at San Francisco’s international airport on July 6, killing two Chinese teenagers; a third was killed when a fire truck ran over her while responding to the crash, authorities said. Dozens of people were injured in that landing, which involved a Boeing 777 flying from South Korea.Longtime pilot Patrick Smith, author of „Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Questions, Answers, and Reflections” and AskthePilot.com, said landing gear incidents are not high on the list of worries for pilots.”It doesn’t happen very often but I need to emphasize just how comparatively minor this is and how far, far down the hierarchy it is,” he said. From a pilot’s perspective, this is nearly a non-issue. They make for good television, but this is far down the list of nightmares for pilots.”_Associated Press writers Amanda Barrett, Deepti Hajela and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.
China quakes death toll rises to 89, hundreds injuredBy Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard | Reuters – 44 minutes ago By Megha Rajagopalan and Ben Blanchard BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from two earthquakes in China’s western Gansu province has climbed to 89, with more than 500 people severely injured, after 1,200 buildings collapsed and tens of thousands more were badly damaged, said the official Xinhua news agency.The quakes hit eight towns in the remote and mountainous Minxian and Zhangxian counties, about 170 km (105 miles) southeast of the provincial capital of Lanzhou, from 7:45 a.m. on Monday (2345 GMT Sunday), Xinhua said.The U.S. Geological Survey reported two earthquakes, the first at a 5.9 magnitude and a strong aftershock about an hour and a half later at a 5.6 magnitude. Chinese authorities reported the first quake was a 6.6 magnitude.Xinhua said that by Monday evening 422 aftershocks had been recorded, with the strongest measuring 5.6 in magnitude, citing Chang Zhengguo, a spokesman for the Gansu provincial government.”Many have been injured by collapsed houses,” said a Minxian county doctor surnamed Du. „Many villagers have gone to local hospitals along the roads.” More than 1,200 houses had collapsed and another 21,000 severely damaged, said Xinhua.On Monday the government of the city of Dingxi, the worst-affected area, said more than 27,000 people were left homeless.Photos posted on Chinese social media showed roads on the sides of riverbanks had subsided and farmhouses reduced to piles of red bricks. There were also power outages and cell phone and Internet coverage was disrupted.Xinhua said about 3,000 police and rescue personnel have been sent to the quake-hit region, though landslides and flooding have hampered their efforts, and officials said they were concerned more rain could exacerbate the need for shelter.Gansu abuts Sichuan province, where a 6.6 quake in April killed 164 people and injured more than 6,700, China’s worst quake in three years. That quake hit close to where a devastating 7.9 temblor killed some 70,000 people in May 2008.(Additional reporting by Michael Martina, Ben Blanchard and the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Michael Perry)
LAC-MEGANTIC, Que. – The federal government has announced a $60-million fund to help Lac-Megantic, Que., amid increasing pressure to make a specific aid commitment following a train disaster more than two weeks ago.The announcement from local MP Christian Paradis, the international development minister, came after the Harper government faced some criticism for having failed to provide any details beyond its promise to help the community.The provincial government, for its part, had moved immediately with its own $60-million fund and provided emergency aid that saw stranded people swiftly receive $1,000 cheques.As he announced an equal contribution from the federal government Monday, Paradis applauded the work from the province to provide immediate assistance.From the new federal fund, $25 million will go to the provincial government for emergency aid and $35 million will go to longer-term economic-recovery projects for the region.Paradis reiterated that the feds are committed to helping.”The people of Megantic can count on the support of the federal government,” Paradis said. „All Canadians feel shock and sadness over this tragedy.”Paradis holds a close connection to the July 6 disaster.The local MP happened to be having lunch at a pub just hours before it became the epicentre of the blast.Many of the suspected 47 victims of the derailment were at the Musi-Cafe bar, whose patrons have described seeing a wall of fire engulf the area near the tracks.Forty-two bodies have been found, although none have been recovered since the weekend and five of the suspected victims remain missing”Sadly, we have not found any more victims in the rubble,” said provincial police Insp. Michel Forget.”I can tell you that police are animated by a very strong desire to find them.”Twenty-eight of the victims’ bodies have been identified.Crews have gotten better access to the immediate crash area with the help of a crane that lifted two train wagons. Black boxes from the locomotives have been sent to the United States for analysis, Forget said Monday.The provincial government released an environmental-impact statement Monday estimating that 5.7 million litres of oil spilled into the air, water and soil during the disaster.The statement also said 9 million litres of oily water were recovered and that a full cleanup of the water was expected.On Tuesday, the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities will reconvene for an emergency meeting in Ottawa.The Opposition NDP had pushed for MPs to meet to discuss regulatory recommendations that had been made over the years.Last week, the federal Transportation Safety Board requested two immediate changes for train travel, despite its investigation into the Lac-Megantic tragedy still only being in its early stages.The agency sent Transport Canada two safety advisories asking for a pair of changes — the first being that dangerous goods should not be left unattended on a main track, and also that rail equipment be properly secured.Fifty non-government organizations from across the country have also issued a call for changes, and are distributing an online petition.They want a ban on shipping oil in older DOT-111A tanker cars; an end to one-person train crews; and a sweeping review, with public hearings, of all oil-transportation methods, including pipelines.
Operator of crippled Japan nuke plant says likely that radioactive water leaking into sea TOKYO – A Japanese utility said Monday its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is likely leaking contaminated water into sea, acknowledging for the first time a problem long suspected by experts.Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, also came under fire Monday for not disclosing earlier that the number of plant workers with thyroid radiation exposures exceeding threshold levels for increased cancer risks was 10 times what it said released earlier.The delayed announcements underscored the criticisms the company has faced over the Fukushima crisis. TEPCO has been repeatedly blamed for overlooking early signs, and covering up or delaying the disclosure of problems and mishaps.Company spokesman Masayuki Ono told a regular news conference that plant officials have come to believe that radioactive water that leaked from the wrecked reactors is likely to have seeped into the underground water system and escaped into sea.Nuclear officials and experts have suspected a leak from the Fukushima Dai-ichi since early in the crisis. Japan’s nuclear watchdog said two weeks ago a leak was highly suspected and ordered TEPCO to examine the problem.TEPCO had persistently denied contaminated water reached the sea, despite spikes in radiation levels in underground and sea water samples taken at the plant. The utility first acknowledged an abnormal increase in radioactive cesium levels in an observation well near the coast in May and has since monitored water samples.Ono said plant officials believe a leak is possible because the underground water levels in suspected areas fluctuate in accordance with tide movements and rainfalls.”We are very sorry for causing concerns. We have made efforts not to cause any leak to the outside, but we might have failed to do so,” he said.Ono said the radioactive elements detected in water samples are believed to largely come from initial leaks that have remained since earlier in the crisis. He said the leak has stayed near the plant inside the bay, and officials believe very little has spread further into the Pacific Ocean.TEPCO is currently injecting chemical solution into the coastline embankment to solidify underground structure and block contaminated underground water from escaping into sea — an operation revealed to the Japanese media Monday.”Many things have fallen a step behind. You should be ahead of the curve to foresee risks and take measures,” said deputy industry minister Kazuyoshi Akaba, who inspected the operation, Kyodo News agency reported.Marine biologists have warned that the radioactive water may be leaking continuously into the sea from the underground, citing high radioactivity in fish samples taken near the plant.Most fish and seafood from along the Fukushima coast are barred from domestic markets and exports.Ono said that an estimated 1,972 plant workers, or 10 per cent of those checked, had thyroid exposure doses exceeding 100 millisieverts — a threshold for increased risk of developing cancer — instead of the 178 based on checks of 522 workers reported to the World Health Organization last year.
China airport blast prompts questions on society’s injustice, the lack of avenues for redressBy Gillian Wong, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 13 hours ago BEIJING, China – For eight years, motorcycle taxi driver Ji Zhongxing sought justice for what he said was a beating by city guards that left him paralyzed. It was his frustration, his brother said, that led Ji to push his wheelchair through a crowded terminal at Beijing’s main airport on Saturday night and detonate a homemade bomb.Ji injured no one but himself, but the incident has raised questions in China about whether China can adequately address the grievances of increasingly marginalized members of its society and cast a spotlight on the failures of the country’s legal system to provide a sense of fairness.Ji, 33, from the eastern city of Heze, had been petitioning Chinese authorities for years after the 2005 attack, which left him paralyzed from the waist down and more than $16,000 in debt, his elder brother Ji Zhongji said.”They beat him up for no reason. My brother was wronged,” Ji Zhongji said by phone Monday. „If even one person had stood up and said a word of fairness to my brother about his case, he would not possibly have ended up where he is today.”In an era of burgeoning gaps in income and social status, China’s courts — controlled by the Communist Party’s local political and legal affairs committees — are widely perceived as being corrupt or more likely to protect the interests of local officials than exercise justice.People like Ji, migrant workers with little education and zero political connections, make up Chinese society’s lowest rung. When the legal system fails them, they turn to petitioning — a centuries-old system of sending appeals to government officials in Beijing in the hope of gaining redress.But those appeals rarely work and frustration among petitioners can mount and boil over into violent incidents. In the prosperous port city of Xiamen in June, authorities have blamed a fire on a bus that killed 47 people on a disgruntled man named Chen Shuizong who apparently was destitute and had been pleading with local officials for eligibility for social security payments.While condemning such attacks as a new kind of „terrorism,” a commentary by the Xinhua Daily Telegraph, a newspaper published by the official Xinhua News Agency, also urged that a higher priority be made of ensuring that people feel they are treated justly.”Every person who feels like they have been wronged could be a time bomb,” the commentary said.Ji apparently started a blog in 2006 to seek public support for his cause, writing in a final post that year: „We pleaded to the heavens but the heavens would not respond. We called out to the earth and the earth was silent.”The elder Ji said his brother had been driving a motorcycle taxi in the southern city of Dongguan when he was allegedly beaten up by security guards in a 2005 attack. Ji Zhongji, who is working in Inner Mongolia, said he did not know what led to his brother’s action on Saturday, but that he knew that his brother had been frustrated by his efforts to find justice.After Saturday’s blast, Ji was sent to hospital where he underwent surgery to amputate his left arm, state media have reported. His status was not immediately clear. Beijing police did not respond to a faxed list of questions. The Dongguan city government said an investigation had been re-opened into Ji’s case though it defended the authorities’ handling of his petitions. It confirmed in a posting on its official microblog account that Ji had been seeking about 330,000 yuan ($50,000) in compensation for medical bills and wages lost from not being able to work.Liu Xiaoyuan, a rights attorney who has tried to seek justice on behalf of many petitioners, said Ji’s case showed how ineffective the system is in helping people with grievances. Petitioners are a symbol of China’s failure to build a justice system that ordinary citizens consider fair, he said.”This case reflects what happens if the system does not provide ways for petitioners to be treated reasonably,” Liu said by phone. „Sometimes it will force them to take up extreme measures, because they think that unless they do that, no one will listen.”Petitioners are often met with violence when they attempt to take their cases to Beijing, with local governments sending „interceptors” to stop them — with force — and keep them in informal „black jails” until they can be sent home.The case takes place as China’s new leadership has called on the judicial system to provide fairness for all. Social commentators have cited Saturday’s blast as a reason for the authorities to examine inequalities in the system and the apathy with which the poor are often treated.Shi Shusi, a commentator for the Workers’ Daily newspaper, wrote: „In some areas, citizens’ legitimate demands are being ignored and public power rides above the law. … This completely blocks the ability of people at the lowest levels to defend their rights.”Citing the „black sound of the explosion,” Shi asked, „For whom has the alarm sounded?”
US considers salvaging unarmed bombs dropped on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine ParkBy Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 14 hours agoView PhotoIn this Sept. 12, 2008 file photo provided by the U.S. Marine Corps., Capt. Andrew …Play VideoGreat Barrier Reef in danger: UNSeven Media Group – News 1:35CANBERRA, Australia – The U.S. Navy said on Monday it is considering salvaging four unarmed bombs dropped by U.S. fighter jets into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park last week when a training exercise went wrong.The two AV-8B Harrier jets launched from the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard during joint exercises with the Australian military each jettisoned an inert, concrete-filled practice bomb and an unarmed laser-guided explosive bomb into the World Heritage-listed marine park off the coast of Queensland state on Tuesday. None exploded.The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest network of coral structures, is rich in marine life and stretches more than 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) along Australia’s northeast coast.The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the government manager of the 345,400 square kilometre (133,360 square miles) protected marine zone, said in a statement that identifying options for the „rapid recovery” of the bombs so that they could pose no risk to the marine park was „a high priority.”But the authority also said the ordnances posed a „low risk to the marine environment.””Based on where the ordnance have been dropped in a location that is in water around 50 metres (164 feet) deep, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the nearest reef and 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the shoreline, the immediate impact on the marine environment is thought to be negligible,” the statement said.U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. David Levy said Monday the Navy was currently reviewing the possibility of retrieving the ordnances in consultation with Australian authorities.”If the park service and the government agencies of Australia determine that they want those recovered, then we will co-ordinate with them on that recovery process,” Levy said in an email.Levy could not say whether the bombs were damaged or what the effect of long-term immersion in seawater could be.The four bombs, weighing a total of 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds), were dropped in deep water away from coral to minimize possible damage to the reef, the Navy said.The jets from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit had intended to drop the ordnances on the Townshend Island bombing range, but aborted the mission when controllers reported civilian boats in the way.The pilots conducted the emergency jettison because they were low on fuel and could not land with their bomb load, the Navy said.The authority that manages the marine park said the risk of any bomb detonating was „extremely low.”The emergency happened on the second day of the biennial joint training exercise Talisman Saber, which brings together 28,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel over three weeks.The Navy and Marine Corps were working with Australian authorities to investigate the incident, the Navy said.Australian Sen. Larissa Waters, the influential Greens party’s spokeswoman on the Great Barrier Reef, described the dumping of bombs in such an environmentally sensitive area as „outrageous” and said it should not be allowed.”Have we gone completely mad?” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. „Is this how we look after our World Heritage area now? Letting a foreign power drop bombs on it?”
Multiple deaths and injuries as strong earthquakes rattle western ChinaBy Scott Sutherland | Geekquinox – 20 hours ago A strong magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the western Chinaprovince of Gansu early on Monday morning, killing at least 89 people and injuring hundreds.According to the China Earthquake Administration, the initial quake struck at 7:45 a.m. Monday, local time, roughly 13 km east of the village of Chabu, and 177 km south of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province.The Hong Kong news source The Standard stated that the local government reported that it was a very shallow quake, at a depth of 6 km, however the CEA said that it was focused 20 km down. Shallow quakes tend to be the most destructive. The South China Morning Post, reported that there have been 411 aftershocks since, and both the CEA and U.S. Geological Survey recorded the strongest of those aftershocks at magnitude 5.6.According to the the official Xinhua news agency, 89 people were killed in the quakes and resulting landslides, with over 500 injured and 60 in serious condition. 5 people are still reported missing.Eight towns in the mostly-rural region have suffered major damage, and there are power outages reported throughout the area and communications have been lost to 13 communities. Xinhua reported that Chang Zhengguo, a spokesman for the provincial government, said that initial investigations showed the quake had caused more than 1,200 homes to collapse and it severely damaged another 21,000 homes.Chu Xiaoyi, a 20-year-old resident of Yongguang, barely escaped with his family, when a landslide touched off by the quake buried 12 homes in the village.”We were sleeping when it happened, so we ran out almost naked,” he said, according to Xinhua. „Now we have nothing left and even our clothes are borrowed from neighbors.”According to a South China Morning Post update, the official Xinhua news agency said that more than 2,000 soldiers, 300 police, 50 medical staff and two helicopters had been sent to the area. Rescuers continue to work, but with heavy rain in the forecast for the area, there are concerns about how this will affect rescue efforts.[ More Geekquinox: Storms bring thousands of power outages, one death to ON, QC ]The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the initial quake as magnitude 5.9 and at a depth of about 10 km. It’s not unusual for initial reports to differ, as different equipment can based on the equipment recording the quake.The quake was reportedly felt as far away as the city of Xi’an, in neighbouring Shaanxi Province, over 400 kms to the east. This region of China is prone to earthquakes. Back in April, a magnitude 7.0 quake struck the province of Sichuan, to the south, resulting in over 150 deaths and thousands of injuries. The strongest quake ever to strike the area was 359 years ago, almost to the day, when an estimated magnitude 8.0 quake hit on July 21st, 1654.Geek out with the latest in science and weather.Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!
Stormy weather to usher in cool relief for Ontario, Quebec
Residents of Ontario and Quebec experienced some of the worst heat and humidity of the week on Friday, but relief has come for the weekend, as cold front has been ushered in by a line of thunderstorms that produced torrential downpours, hail, strong winds and possibly a few tornadoes.In cities across southern Ontario the mercury climbed into the low 30s during the day, with Windsor and Toronto reaching highs of 34°C. The humidity made those temperatures feel about 10 degrees warmer, though, approaching the danger zone for people to suffer from heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke.[ Related: Heat wave prompts health alerts in Ontario, Quebec ]Temperatures elsewhere in the province, and in southern Quebec, didn’t reach quite that high, but they only missed by a degree or two, and conditions were just as hot, muggy, and potentially dangerous for those stuck in the heat without relief.A Humidex Advisory was in effect for all of southwestern, south-central and eastern Ontario, due to humidex values in the low-to-mid 40s across the southern half of the province. Southwestern Quebec continued under a Heat and Humidity Warning, due to humidex values near 40.Cities such as Windsor, London, Hamilton, and Ottawa had Heat Alerts in effect, and the City of Toronto extended their Extreme Heat Alert for yet another day. Cooling stations were set up in communities to help people get out of the heat.As the approaching weather system swept through Ontario, thunderstorms kicked up ahead the system’s cold front. With all of the heat and moisture around from this week, many of these storms developed into severe thunderstorms, with torrential rainfall, hail, powerful wind gusts, and there may have been a few tornadoes.Environment Canada issued severe thunderstorm watches and warnings throughout southern Ontario and southern Quebec. Tornado watches were also in effect for all regions of Ontario around Georgian Bay, and into eastern Ontario, and tornado warnings were issued periodically as meteorologists detect rotation in storm cells on radar, or storm spotters see funnel clouds forming from especially strong storms.There were reports of funnel clouds near Barrie, Innisfil and Brantford, but there were many more reports of storm damage — branches and trees down, damaged roofs, and power outages from downed lines. There were even reports of overturned cars in Gravenhurst and flipped trailers in Petawawa and Pembrooke. Wind gusts in excess of 100 km/h were reported in Waterloo and Hamilton, but given the damages suffered, these powerful wind gusts were likely experienced in many areas along the line of storms.[ More Geekquinox: Smile! You’re on the Cassini spacecraft’s camera! ]After the muggy, stormy day on Friday, the cold front is bringing cooler, drier weather for Ontario and Quebec for the weekend. This should last well into next week giving everyone who was in the heat wave some much-needed relief after what they’ve endured over the past week.(Photo courtesy: Canadian Press/Dave Chidley)Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
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