Heat wave is burden for firefighters tackling California wildfires By Alex Dobuzinskis2 hours agoThe remains of the Kings Canyon Lodge after being burnt by the so-called „Rough Fire” in the …By Alex Dobuzinskis Related Stories
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A heat wave baking much of California posed difficulties for crews battling several major wildfires across the state on Wednesday, the largest threatening dozens of homes near Kings Canyon National Park as residents braced for possible evacuations.Temperatures in excess of 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) settled over large parts of the state on Tuesday and were expected to persist until Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Smith said.The port city of Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles, posted a record-high temperature for the date on Wednesday of 103F (39C), Smith said.Areas of Los Angeles’ sprawling San Fernando Valley also sweltered in temperatures above 100 F (38 C), she said.While the extreme heat was uncomfortable for many California residents, it presented more acute risks for firefighters wearing heavy gear and struggling to suppress at least five large wildfires or clusters of fires statewide.The so-called Rough Fire, which ranks as the largest blaze in California and has charred more than 103,000 acres (41,500 hectares) of drought-parched timber, chaparral and tall grass since it was ignited by lightning on July 31 east of Fresno in Kings Canyon National Park.Temperatures in parts of the fire zone topped 100F on Wednesday, said Jake Rodriguez, a spokesman for the team managing the blaze.Some 1,900 firefighters, laboring in steep, rocky terrain, were assigned to the fire and as of Wednesday had managed to carve containment lines around 31 percent of its perimeter, Rodriguez said.”Heat is an extremely difficult factor to work around, there’s really no way around it,” he said. „They just have to make sure that they stay hydrated.”The blaze has cast smoke over numerous hiking and camping areas, prompting cancellations of activities. All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park were closed for the Labor Day weekend and remained closed on Wednesday.On Tuesday, authorities alerted residents of dozens of houses in some of populated areas near the fire zone, including the community of Dunlap, that they may need to evacuate at a moment’s notice, said Tony Botti, a Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.Those advisories remained in place on Wednesday. At least a dozen homes near the fire were evacuated on Monday.Firefighters in six Western states – California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah – were contending with a total of 35 large wildfires on Wednesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho.(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Beech)
21 days and counting, Kilo to rank among longest-lived tropical cyclones on record Follow The western half of Kilo is a typhoon and it’s Sept. 2, but the eastern half is a hurricane and it’s Sept. 1!If Kilo can maintain its tropical characteristics through Saturday, as the Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecasts, it will have lasted 24 days as a tropical cyclone — far from the longest on record, but solidly in the top five longest-lived tropical cyclones that formed in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and the top 10 longest-lived cyclones in any basin.The record-longest tropical cyclone on Earth was Hurricane (Typhoon) John in 1994, which lasted an incredible 31 days on its westward journey across the Pacific — similar to Kilo’s track. Typhoon Kilo will end about a week short of John’s impressive record, but will likely snag the title of third-longest Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record.Longest-lived East Pacific hurricanes, according to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division:1. John, 1994 — 30 days2. Tina, 1992 — 24.5 days 3. Paka, 1997 — 24 days 4. Ioke, 2006 — 21.5 days 5. Tied between Keoni, 1993, and Boris, 1984 — 20.5 days As of Wednesday morning, Typhoon Kilo was the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane, spinning west toward Japan. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimates that Kilo is packing sustained winds of 75 mph, though it’s expected to weaken over the next few days as it turns north.As the typhoon encounters cooler water, Kilo is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm and possibly come ashore in Japan’s far northern prefecture of Hokkaido, though it seems more likely that Kilo will continue to turn north and wash over the southern Kuril Islands, which extend from northern Japan to northeast Russia, with heavy rain and high surf.Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Post’s deputy weather editor.Typhoon Kilo, already the longest-lived tropical cyclone on on Earth so far this year, is well on its way to ending among the longest-lived on record at the end of this week.Kilo formed from a cluster of thunderstorms way back on Aug. 20, as a tropical depression south of Hawaii. Since then the storm strengthened to a very strong hurricane, the westernmost in a trio of Category 4s, marking the first time three storms of that intensity spun simultaneously in the northeast Pacific Ocean since satellite records began in the 1960s.(NOAA)Then on Sept. 1, Hurricane Kilo crossed west over the international dateline and became a typhoon. East of the international dateline, Pacific Ocean cyclones are managed by NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center, which calls tropical cyclones “hurricanes.” The western side is monitored by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, where tropical cyclones are called “typhoons.”Amazingly, Kilo has tracked nearly 4,000 miles over its 21-day existence. On average, storms that develop in the eastern Pacific Ocean have a life of about six days.
It’s alive…again! Scientists waking up 30,000-year-old ‘giant’ virusDanny Gallagher September 10, 2015 This article, It’s alive…again! Scientists waking up 30,000-year-old ‘giant’ virus, originally appeared on CNET.com.Enlarge Image Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, IGS and CNRS-AMUBringing a 30,000-year-old virus back to life sounds like the plot of a real-life horror movie. So if you were scared by the incurable virus in the movie „28 Days Later,” you might want to stop reading right now.Scientists who discovered a prehistoric virus called Mollivirus sibericum in the Siberian permafrost plan to give the virus its first wakeup call since the last Ice Age (after first verifying that it can’t harm humans and animals, thankfully). It’s hoped the study could shed insight into ancient dormant viruses that could, it’s feared, get another chance at spreading as permafrost retreats due to climate change.The team, from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, announced its plans in a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.The virus is classified as a „giant” virus because it’s visible by light microscopy. Mollivirus sibericum carries a complex genetic structure that houses more than 500 genes, according to the study’s abstract. The influenza virus, in comparison, has only 8 genes.The same team that discovered Mollivirus sibericum found another 30,000-year-old virus, Pithovirus sibericum, in the same Russian permafrost. As described in PNAS last year, those scientists revived a sample of Pithovirus sibericum in safe lab conditions and determined it was still infectious, though it only affects amoebas.Related stories
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These cases raise concerns about such viruses in the context of melting permafrost.”The fact that two different viruses retain their infectivity in prehistorical permafrost layers should be of concern in a context of global warming,” the PNAS study’s abstract says. „Giant viruses’ diversity remains to be fully explored.”Jean-Michel Claverie, an evolutionary biologist from the Structural & Genomic Information Laboratory at the Mediterranean Institute of Microbiology in Marseille, France, and co-author of the PNAS study, toldAFP that the permafrost came from a stretch of land that contains valuable mineral resources such as oil. He noted that industrial exploration of this and similar sites is sure to continue as the ice continues to melt, and that could disturb undiscovered pathogens.Claverie said it’s possible that particles of these and other unknown viruses lurking in the permafrost „may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses.”He added, „If we are not careful, and we industrialize these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as smallpox that we thought were eradicated.”OK, I’m officially scared now. Somebody hold me.
The simple statistic that perfectly captures what climate change means new study in Geophysical Research Letters, however, two Australian researchers do just this by examining a simple but telling meteorological metric — the ratio of new hot temperature records set in the country to new cold temperature records.“In a stationary climate, a climate where we don’t have any trend or long-term change, we expect hot and cold records to be broken at almost the same rate,” explains Sophie Lewis, the lead study author and a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. “But in the last 15 years, we see a dramatic increase in the frequency of hot records and the decrease of cold records.”Australia has warmed nearly 1 degree Celsius since 1910, and has experienced plenty of extreme heat recently, especially during the famous “angry summer” of 2012-2013. In particular, the year 2013 broke all manner of country-wide temperature records: “hottest day, week, month, and season observed, and it was the warmest year on record,” note Lewis and her co-author, Andrew King of the University of Melbourne.So how unusual was this? And would it be likely to happen in a climate unperturbed by human greenhouse gas emissions?Lewis and King looked at how often Australia set hot and cold temperature records from the year 1910 through 2014. They only considered temperature records across the country as a whole and in each of its states or territories (except Tasmania), and only examined monthly, seasonal and annual records. Thus, the study did not examine daily records or records in individual locations. (This was in part to avoid problems introduced by the fact that over time, the number of individual temperature recording stations changes.)Sure enough, the study found that from 1910 to 1960, the ratio of hot to cold records was close to 1 to 1. From 1960 to 2014, however, that changed, as hot records started to happen much more frequently than cold records — and from 2000 to 2014, outnumbered them by more than 12 to 1.“Over this last period, the probability of cold record-breaking is generally low and the number of new cold temperature records set approaches zero,” the study observes. It’s hard to imagine why you would get such a striking result if not for a changing climate.Indeed, as one 2012 study put it, “If the average temperature rises, then obviously so will the number of heat records, all else remaining equal.”The new finding is similar to — but more dramatic than — a 2009 study that found that hot records outpaced cold records by a ratio of roughly 2 to 1 in the United States in the 2000s. That study also forecast that the gap between hot and cold records should widen as climate change continues.A prior study of Australian temperature records found that from 1997 through 2009, the ratio of hot temperature to low temperature records was less dramatically skewed, though it was still “above 2 to 1.” The new study, which runs through 2014, suggests that the gap is widening.Indeed, Lewis underscores that while the ratio was particularly dramatic after 2000, “This isn’t a result of only a few years; this is a trend since 1960.”The new study also used climate modeling experiments to examine whether the skewed pattern of broken temperature records was recapitulated when the simulation did, and did not, include human-induced greenhouse gases. Only in the first case did the model produce a trend toward more hot record-breaking than cold record-breaking.“In the anthropogenically forced case, the average number of hot records increases through time, while the number of cold records concomitantly decreases,” the modeling result found.“The recent rate of hot record-breaking dramatically exceeds that expected in a stationary climate,” the paper concludes.“There’s a lot of rhetoric in Australia that new hot records don’t mean anything, [that] it just means we’ve been keeping records for longer,” says Lewis. “So it was important for us to clear up that this large increase in the number of hot records is related to the greenhouse gases.”There are many ways to measure the world’s changing climate. You can chart rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and melting ice. What’s tougher, though, is to find a measurement that easily relates all of that to what people experience in their daily lives.In a
14 Gravity Defying Buildings You’d Have To See To BelieveHuman design and architecture has been splendid from the moment we learned how to manipulate stone and eventually create bricks. And with the rapid progress and developments on techniques and technologies on design and construction, some of the worlds greatest minds have more freedom, raising the bar of creativity and expression higher by heaps. Their capability to push the boundaries are now closer to limitless more than ever, by creating these seemingly impossible hovering buildings and balancing itself on its edge to name a couple. Get ready to be very amazed by these man made structures that are simply magical.1. Teetering Tea Houses by Terunobu Fujimori
Photo courtesy of: lostateminor 2. Balancing Barn by MVRDV
Photo courtesy of: mvrdv 3. Thai Home by Kidd Co. Ltd.
Photo courtesy of: digsdigs 4. CCTV Headquarters by OMA
Photo courtesy of: archdaily5. Astra Kulturhaus Berlin
6. Hafengebäude Rohner
Photo courtesy of: Hafengebäude Rohner 8. Hemeroscopium House
Photo courtesy of: ensamble
New calves in Indonesia raise hopes for world’s rarest rhino By Dessy Sagita12 hours agoA female Javan rhino and a calve pictured roaming in Ujung Kulon National Park (AFP Photo/)Jakarta (AFP) – Three critically endangered Javan rhino calves have been filmed in an Indonesian national park, taking to 60 the total population of the world’s rarest rhino and offering hope for the creature’s future.One female calf and two males were spotted in recent months in Ujung Kulon park, on Java island, and were all likely born in the past year in a newly established sanctuary, park chief Mohammad Haryono told AFP on Wednesday.While individual calves have been spotted occasionally in recent years, seeing three in the space of a few months is a rare piece of good news for the shy creatures that once numbered in the thousands and roamed across Southeast Asia.Revered in Javanese folklore as Abah Gede, or the Great Father, the rhino’s population has dramatically dwindled due to poaching and human encroachment on their habitat.Widodo Ramono, head of conservation group the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, hailed the discovery of three new calves as „wonderful news”.”Now we just need to ensure their protection,” he told AFP.The population of Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon dropped to 35 in 2011 but has been slowly increasing in recent years, according to Aom Mukhtarom, a member of the park’s rhino monitoring team.In 2014, only one calf was spotted in the entire year, he said.- ‘Last stand’ -The calves were filmed with their mothers by cameras set up to track them, Haryono said. They were all born from different mothers and both the parents and their youngsters looked healthy, he added.Haryono said the discovery of the calves — filmed in April, May and July — brings the population of the Javan rhino to 60, all of which live in Ujung Kulon.The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Javan rhino — whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating — as „critically endangered” and says the creature is „making its last stand”.Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns fetching high prices on the black market for use in traditional Asian medicine.The sanctuary was established last year in the park and comprises 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams.The animals had previously been living mainly in one corner of the park, an area of stunning natural beauty, but the sanctuary expanded the area suitable for them and relocated farmers to reduce the chances of animal-human conflict.Setting up the sanctuary in the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, took several years as the project was held up by red tape and opposition from residents demanding compensation for their farmland.The Rhino Foundation’s Ramono said that the sanctuary — which also has an electric fence — had helped the rhinos but pointed out that most were still only visiting the protected area occasionally as they get used to the new habitat.”The sanctuary has improved security for the rhinos, not only from poachers but also from local people passing by,” he said, but added the new protected area „does not mean all disruptions will stop for the rhinos”.Of the three Asian rhino species, the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are classified as „critically endangered” by the IUCN, while the third, the greater one-horned rhino, is listed as „vulnerable”.
Desert tribe faces hardship as Venezuela fights smuggling By JACOBO GARCIA4 hours ago PARAGUACHON, Colombia (AP) — Less than two days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro closed this lonely border outpost on the northern tip of South America, the eight-member Apochana family emerged from the dusty scrubland and shuffled up to a group of Colombian soldiers. The travelers were dripping sweat but dressed impeccably in black-and-white linen robes to attend a relative’s funeral on the other side of the border.Related Stories
Cecilia Apochana, the matriarch of the Wayuu family, complained that promises tribe members would be able to move freely between the two countries despite the closure haven’t rung true.”We’ve been walking an hour along a trail and have had to pay several people to let us get this far,” said Apochana. Although never stopped by authorities, the extra time and effort to circumvent the closure still burns. „This is our land and there should not be a border, much less that it be closed.”The Apochana family’s saga is one that may soon be shared by many of their 600,000 Wayuu brethren. For centuries, this semi-nomadic tribe has managed to dominate life on the foreboding La Guajira peninsula, first resisting conquest by Spain and since independence freely crossing the Colombian-Venezuelan border that arbitrarily divides clans in their ancestral homeland.But a deepening dispute between Maduro’s socialist government and U.S. ally Colombia may force them to pick sides.On Monday, Maduro ordered the single drive-thru checkpoint here closed, expanding to four the number of border crossings shut in the past three weeks as part of a campaign to root out the smuggling of gas and basic goods he blames for widespread shortages. Venezuela says that almost 40 percent of its goods are smuggled out of the oil-rich country, costing it $2 billion a year.A Wayuu family rests after crossing from Venezuela, at an unofficial border point, to attend a relat …From the look of things the restrictions on movement seem far from impenetrable.A five-minute walk from the army checkpoint where the Apochana family stopped to rest, Alberto Herrera lords over his own makeshift toll straddling a dirt road crossing the border. He raises and lowers a stretched rope for every motorist that coughs up 400 Venezuelan bolivars, under 60 U.S. cents at the widely-used black market rate, he’s demanding. For motorcycles it’s a quarter of the price.”I’m Venezuelan. I don’t understand why I have to be passing illegally through these roads,” protested Zuleia Gutierrez, as she passed through on the back of a motorcycle.The Wayuu don’t carry passports nor do they recognize borders, and for decades both Colombia and Venezuela have allowed them to cross La Guajira’s desert as they please. As part of the anti-smuggling offensive, Maduro has vowed not to impinge on that freedom.But tribal leaders say it’s impossible they won’t be economically asphyxiated by the crackdown.A group of Wayuus cross a highway between Colombia and Venezuela to take part in a march asking for …La Guajira has the highest malnutrition rate in Colombia, at 11 percent, according to the public defender’s office. More than 55 percent of the state’s 930,000 residents, about a third of which are Wayuu, live in poverty.To get by, many Wayuu depend on contraband, which they don’t consider illicit. Until recently, Wayuu driving beat-up 1970s-era sedans could be seen on any given day loading up on price-controlled gas and other goods from Venezuela and bringing them across the border to the bustling city of Maicao, where they are resold for huge profits.But in what may be a sign that the restrictions are beginning to work, the price of gas sold by illegal roadside vendors jumped overnight in Maicao from $4 to just under $7 on Wednesday for a five-gallon fill-up. By contrast, the same amount at a gas station goes for just under $12.It’s not just their livelihood that’s at risk. Under the revolution stated 16 years ago by the late Hugo Chavez, many Wayuu, about half of whom live in Colombia, traveled to Venezuela to take advantage of cheaper health care and other social programs. Over the past year, as Maduro has stepped up anti-smuggling patrols, the hardships in Colombia have mounted and authorities here have had to supply food to thousands of Wayuu families in need.While contraband has given the Wayuu an income, it has undermined their traditions. Women walking proud in their flowing, ankle-length robes are an increasingly rare sight. Smuggling has replaced traditional ways of life such as grazing goats, fishing and the selling of salt and charcoal.Remedios Fajardo, a leader of what is one of the world’s last matriarchal societies, said she fears social tensions will rise even further now that the Wayuu’s buying and selling way of life is being disrupted by Venezuela’s economic crisis and Maduro’s response to it.”The Wayuu have always been merchants. Historically we traded with the Antilles and now we’ve changed what we bring back and forth across the border among our brothers,” she said. „It’s not that we’ve transformed, we’re just adapting.”___Follow Garcia on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jacobogg
28 Emaciated Wild Horses Euthanized Near Las Vegas; Drought Blamed By Sean Breslin Published Sep 9 2015 10:38 AM EDT weather.comWild horses are seen near Cold Creek, Nevada, on Jan. 8, 2012. (flickr/Ingrid Taylar)The Bureau of Land Management euthanized 28 wild horses late last week in an area northwest of Las Vegas, and officials say drought was a factor in the animals’ weak condition.According to LasVegasNow.com, 202 of the more than 400 wild horses in the Cold Creek area were rounded up as the BLM works to nurse the emaciated creatures back to health. All of the horses captured were in poor shape, but 28 of them were in such bad condition, the only option was for them to be put down, the report added.Officials told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the roundups started on Aug. 29 after they determined drought conditions and overpopulation were leaving some of the wild horses at risk for starvation. After the horses were examined by a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the BLM made the final decision to euthanize the 28 animals they felt they wouldn’t be able to save their lives.(MORE: Days-Long Middle East Dust Storm Kills Several)„We really did try to save them,” Karla Norris, assistant manager for the BLM’s Southern Nevada district, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.The BLM will likely round up more of the remaining wild horses, as a helicopter survey earlier this week revealed 57 more horses in poor condition, Norris also said in the report. She added that the horses are so sluggish that they didn’t move at all as the helicopter flew overhead – an unusual lack of response from the animals.KSNV-TV said 170 of the horses rounded up last weekwere sent to a private facility in Utah, and most of the horses under 10 years old will be put up for adoption.According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, areas near Cold Creek are in a severe drought, the third-worst category on its scale. Much of western Nevada are in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst categories on the Drought Monitor.Cold Creek is located about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas.MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Severe Drought at Lake Powell A tall bleached ”bathtub ring” is visible on the rocky banks of Lake Powell on March 29, 2015 in Page, Arizona. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Heavy Rainfalls, Dry Spells Leave Central Florida Susceptible to Sinkholes By Ada Carr Published Sep 9 2015 08:02 PM EDT weather.comA portion of a building is in a sinkhole in Clermont, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux )Dry spells and heavy rains in central Florida over the past two months have created the perfect mix for sinkholes to develop.“Parts of Florida received more than twice their average rainfall for the month of August. The Tampa area was among the wettest, with more than 8 inches above average rainfall,” said weather.com digital meteorologist Quincy Vagell. Theremnants of Tropical Storm Erika that drenched the region last month only added to that large number. Porous carbonate rocks, such as limestone, make up Florida’s peninsula, weather.com reports. Because of this, dirt, sand and clay lie on top of the limestone roof. Over time, these carbonate rocks can dissolve into an acid composed of oxygen found in water and create a void underneath it. When the dirt, clay and sand on top get too heavy for the roof, it can collapse and form a sinkhole.(MORE: Florida Sinkhole Reopens Two Years Later)Florida Geological Survey Director Jon Arthur told the Orlando Sentinel that rain is not the only trigger that can cause the ground to cave. He claims everything from the added weight of new construction to drilling or pumping from a well could cause a new sinkhole to open up. Sinkholes can vary in size and depth, ranging from as small as a car tire to the size of several street blocks. According to Arthur, 3,400 sinkholes have been reported across the state since 1954, but that number is a rough estimate because reporting sinkholes is not mandatory, and there is no requirement for inspection. Also, sinkholes can go unnoticed in more rural areas.Tampa is the most sinkhole prone part of Florida, according to weather.com. The area known as “sinkhole alley” consists of Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, which produce two-thirds of sinkhole damage claims. Sinkholes are less common in south Florida. According to Arthur, geologists are working on a map that diagrams the areas that are the most susceptible to sinkholesand expect to be finished by next summer. MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Incredible Sinkholes Around the World Guatemala City This June 2010 photo shows a sinkhole covering a street intersection in downtown Guatemala City, Guatemala. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)