23 Dec 2016: NASA studies thunderstorms making antimatter

Ann Morrison
By Ann Morrison January 23, 2017 18:11

Update as of 23 Dec 2016

John Moore, The Liberty Man, & Ann

Dr. Bill Deagle, Nutrimedical Report, & Ann

Contents

Biosecurity: Flavivirus Zika

Radiation

Climate Change

Solar

Seismic

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Climate Change

Arctic Ozone Watch 19 December 2016

Arctic Ozone Watch 19 December 2016

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center
https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/Scripts/big_image.php?date=2016-12-19&hem=N

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Antarctic Ozone Hole Watch 19 December 2016

Antarctic Ozone Hole Watch 19 December 2016

NASA

https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov/Scripts/big_image.php?date=2016-12-19&hem=S

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Northern Jet Stream crosses the Equator!

Wind at 250hPa 2016-12-22 1500 UTC

Nullschool

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic/loc=-85.993,40.103

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National Current Large Fire Incidents for December 22, 2016

Oklahoma Panhandle, East Oklahoma, & Tennessee

National Current Large Fire Incidents for December 22 2016

National Incident Fire Control

https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/afm/

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Scientists scramble to protect research on climate change

Trump appointees cause climate change panic

Scientists scramble to protect research on climate change

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/15/politics/climate-change-academics-donald-trump/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/15/politics/climate-change-academics-donald-trump/index.html
By Rene Marsh and Theodore Schleifer, CNN, Updated 5:44 PM ET, Thu December 15, 2016 Washington (CNN)

Trump’s generals forged ties in battle

Academics are attempting to download and save as much data as possible

Some scientists and academics are embarking on a frenzied mission to archive reams of scientific data on climate change, energized by a concern that a Trump administration could seek to wipe government websites of hard-earned research.

Environmentalists and researchers encountered a friendly White House over the last eight years that encouraged inquiry into global warming and signed historic agreements meant to lower global carbon emissions. But the surprise victory of Donald Trump last month has ignited a scramble among those minds who are alarmed by the President-elect’s comments on climate change and a string of appointments who do not share the Obama administration’s views or attention to this type of scientific research.

“There is a very short window for when the new administration will come in and that’s why there’s a lot of anxiety,” said Robert Paterson at the University of Texas. “There’s a lot of information to save.”

The chief concern

Publicly available climate change data and research found on government websites would be wiped clean or made otherwise inaccessible to the public. Some worry the information could only be retrieved with a taxing Freedom of Information Act request.

And so, at schools like the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto, academics are attempting to download and save as much data as possible. The Canadian school on Saturday is set to host a “guerilla archiving event” in collaboration with the Internet Archive’s End of Term 2016 project, which will archive the federal online pages and data that are in danger of disappearing during the Trump administration, including climate change, water, air and toxics programs.

Other schools are planning “hackathons,” putting out a call to hackers to scrape federal website databases for climate change intel. Schools maintain they are doing nothing illegal since the information is currently available to the public.

The outgoing Obama administration, for its part, is trying to calm any mounting worries. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell professed confidence this week that her successors would not aim to destroy the key data.

“Policies that have been put in place to make sure that science continues to be foundational are not going to be easy to remove,” Jewell said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, ClimateWire reported, “and I don’t think there is any reason that a successor administration is going to want to because they are so important to the decisions we make every single day.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

But Tump has a long history of doubting climate change, ranging back to a claim deeming it to be a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese. The President-elect said last weekend that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real.

Denis McDonough says it won’t be easy for Trump to dismantle Obama’s legacy

And some of his recent appointments have dismayed environmentalists, from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who led oil giant ExxonMobil.

Some scientists are recalling trouble they had during the last Republican administration, under George W. Bush, when climate data was not as accessible. Yet others, like Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and climate commentator, are not concerned about a politically motivated intentional purge of data. What concerns him, he told CNNI’s Amara Walker, was budget cuts to government science organizations like NASA that makes certain data sets unavailable.

“This is all information that underlies our knowledge of the climate system,” Holthaus said. “And it’s a big effort to try to identify, just to identify what’s out there and to systematically go and make copies of it and make it secure in a public way that’s, in some cases, housed outside of the United States so there’s no possibility of a hostile administration taking control.”

© 2016 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network.
Accessed at http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/15/politics/climate-change-academics-donald-trump/index.html on December 19, 2016.

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Will Trump Scrap NASA’s Climate Research Mission?

winter solstice

Robert Simmon/NASA

The winter solstice as seen from the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager (SEVIRI) on EUMETSAT’s Meteosat-9. NASA images and animation by Robert Simmon.
By ProPublica – December 18, 2016 By Andrew Revkin, ProPublica

The wonders of NASA — Mars rovers, astronaut Instagram feeds, audacious missions probing distant galactic mysteries — have long enthralled the American public. And, it turns out, the accomplishments have won the agency the public’s trust: Polls have consistently shown NASA to be the second-most trusted government institution, behind only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The public, however, probably has less appreciation for the work NASA has done on its home planet. NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change.

But with the election of Donald Trump, there was immediate concern — inside NASA and among the fans of its valued work on global warming — about the future of the agency’s earth-science program. Within hours of Trump’s acceptance speech on November 9,2016, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA acknowledging worry that “funding may now be exposed to severe reductions.”

The last month is not apt to have eased that alarm.

Trump’s most visible advisor on space policy has been Bob Walker, a former House Science committee chairman who is now a space-policy lobbyist pressing to move “Earth-centric” and “heavily politicized” climate science out of NASA altogether. And Christopher Shank, who was chosen by Trump to lead the transition at NASA, is a seasoned strategist who has expressed strong skepticism about the severity of global warming.

Should Trump come to take a dim view of NASA’s research on climate change, he’s likely to have no shortage of support in Congress. The last few years have seen intensifying moves against the Obama administration’s investments in climate science in hearings led by the Texas Republicans Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Lamar S. Smith, whose views on NASA and climate parallel those of Walker — built around the notion that NASA needs to focus on outer space, not back on Earth.

As Smith put it in 2015, “There are 13 other agencies involved in climate-change research, but only one that is responsible for space exploration.”

NASA’s Earth Science Division, if less well known to the public, has regularly seen its budget fluctuate with turnover in the White House. Under Ronald Reagan, there were substantial investments in what was then called the Earth Observing System. George H.W. Bush, building on a 1987 report by astronaut Sally Ride, funded a program that came to be known as the “Mission to Planet Earth.”

George W. Bush reversed course, and reduced resources for the program (his administration was eventually exposed for trying to suppress NASA research on global warming). Most recently, though, the division’s budget was greatly restored by Barack Obama. A core argument of Walker and congressional critics of NASA earth science, that budgets have ballooned and reduced resources for other NASA science programs, has no basis, said Arthur Charo, who has tracked NASA science budgets for the Standing Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space of the nongovernmental National Academy of Sciences.

He said a careful look at programs, adjusting for inflation, shows no evidence of such a pattern. “There is a mythology that earth science has undergone dramatic growth and that this growth has occurred at the expense of other divisions in the Science Mission Directorate,” he said. “Both assertions are false.”

The Trump transition office declined requests for interviews and Walker did not reply to email messages.

Piers J. Sellers is the director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the former astronaut is a climate scientist himself. ProPublica spoke with him recently. Sellers declined to discuss the politics surrounding NASA during a presidential transition, but said the agency has a unique position in the world in clarifying global environmental risks and that part of its mission deserves support.

“We’re doing our best to provide the least dangerous options to getting from here to a safe future,” he said. “That’s our job as U.S. government scientists. NASA has the greatest capability to see what’s going on and has a pretty strong capability to model what’s going on into the future, as well.”

Some of NASA’s most vital earth-science work has been done at a tiny climate research hub, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The center occupies the upper floors of a century-old building in upper Manhattan best known for Tom’s Restaurant, the cash-only corner diner famed because its façade was featured in the sitcom “Seinfeld.”

The institute was led for decades by James E. Hansen, the climate scientist who stepped ahead of most peers in the hot summer of 1988, famously telling a Senate panel it was “99 percent certain” that human-generated greenhouse gases were driving global warming. A decade ago, Hansen defied muzzling efforts during the George W. Bush administration and irked defenders of fossil fuels with his warnings of calamitous warming. He retired in 2013 to focus on activism aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases linked to warming.

The institute has produced one of the four most important records of global temperature trends and, under Hansen’s successor as director, the TED-talking, Twitter-savvy climatologist Gavin A. Schmidt, has continued to refine climate simulations and communicate warnings about unabated warming.

Science

Gavin Schmidt/CNN

Schmidt declined to be interviewed for this story, citing what he described as selective quoting in recent coverage of possible threats to earth science under the Trump administration. But he’s shown no signs of dread in his personal Twitter flow, on Thursday night posting this provocative two-parter:

https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin/status/807043119757791233

On Wednesday, in an appearance at a space law conference in Washington, D.C., Walker, Trump’s advisor, stuck with his vision of stripping “Earth-centric” science out of NASA and “transferring the programs, lock, stock and barrel, to another agency,” according to an article by Jeff Foust in Space News.

It could be argued that the core work done at Goddard — particularly its climate modeling — is redundant, for the United States has two other major climate modeling centers, and there are more than 30 worldwide. But Richard Betts, the head of the climate impacts division at Britain’s Met Office, said in an interview that the Goddard Institute’s modeling stands out because of NASA scientists’ longstanding familiarity with the information coming from NASA-built satellites.

Decades ago, John R. Christy, the director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, co-developed with NASA a method for tracking the temperature of the lower atmosphere from satellites, cutting out some of the uncertainties that come with surface measurements. He has long held skeptical views on the severity of global warming, and has been a featured witness of Republicans resisting steps to cut greenhouse gases. But in an interview Thursday, Christy expressed concern about plans to move Earth-focused science out of NASA.

“NASA has a very good track record of putting things in space that work, and that provide data,” he said. “NASA does that soup to nuts kind of work.” He added, “Undoing that would be disruptive to the mission we have of trying to characterize the planet with as much accuracy as we can.”

He also noted that, with or without human-caused global warming, from California to sub-Saharan Africa, the forces driving megadroughts and other climate-system threats are still poorly understood. “There’s so much that needs to be known and the perspective from space is just absolutely essential,” he said.

What happens to NASA next?

In his victory speech on Nov. 9, Trump pledged to listen to people with differing views, so perhaps he’ll reach out beyond Walker in weighing next steps for NASA to people like David Titley, a retired Navy rear admiral and former Oceanographer of the Navy, who has written a comprehensive overview of the value NASA earth science provides to society, including to national security.

Or perhaps he could turn to former President George W. Bush. While funding for NASA earth science dropped on his watch, his administration’s 2006 NASA Strategic Plan made clear that NASA was an appropriate venue for such research: “Earth science is science in the national interest. While scientific discovery from space is inherent in the Agency’s mission, NASA’s programs in earth science also are central.”

Sellers, in the email to his Earth Sciences Division team a month ago, managed to summon some confidence, even defiance.

“We have an excellent record of achievements and can make a solid case for stable support,” wrote Sellers (his email was provided to ProPublica by someone else at NASA).

“We will never give up on this.”

Correction, December 12, 2016:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Piers Sellers as the director of NASA’s Earth Science division. He is the director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.
© Long Island Press is a registered trademark of Morey Publishing, LLC. 2016. All rights reserved. Morey Publishing is a Long Island Web Design and Custom Publishing company.
Accessed at https://www.longislandpress.com/2016/12/18/will-trump-scrap-nasas-climate-research-mission/ on December 19, 2016.

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Solar

Moderate G2-class geomagnetic storm is underway on December 21, 2016

A moderate G2-class geomagnetic storm is underway on December 21st, 2016

NOAA/SWPC

satellite-env 20161222 010105UTC

NOAA/SWPC

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Close approach of asteroid 2016 YJi on 22 Dec 2016

2016 YJi

JPL/NASA

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Seismic

Volcanic Activity for the week of 14 December-20 December 2016

Volcanic Activity for the week of 14 December-20 December 2016

USGS/Smithsonian

Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program

The Weekly Volcanic Activity Report is a cooperative project between the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program and the US Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program. Updated by 2300 UTC every Wednesday, notices of volcanic activity posted on these pages are preliminary and subject to change as events are studied in more detail. This is not a comprehensive list of all of Earth’s volcanoes erupting during the week, but rather a summary of activity at volcanoes that meet criteria discussed in detail in the “Criteria and Disclaimers” section. Carefully reviewed, detailed reports on various volcanoes are published monthly in the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network.
http://volcano.si.edu/reports_weekly.cfm#vn_282080

 

Name Location Activity  
Cerro Hudson Chile New
Chirinkotan Kuril Islands (Russia) New
Copahue Central Chile-Argentina border New
Langila New Britian (Papua New Guinea) New
Sabancaya Peru New
Bagana Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) Ongoing
Dukono Halmahera (Indonesia) Ongoing
Kilauea Hawaiian Islands (USA) Ongoing
Nevado del Ruiz Colombia Ongoing
Reventador Ecuador Ongoing
Sheveluch Central Kamchatka (Russia) Ongoing
Sinabung Indonesia Ongoing
Turrialba Costa Rica Ongoing

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Ash plume at 34,000 feet from Bogoslof Volcano Fox Islands USA

Map of Alaska Volcanoes Bogoslof

USGS

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Map_of_alaska_volcanoes_bogoslof.jpg

AVO reported that a short-lived explosive eruption at Bogoslof, observed and reported by several pilots around 1600 on 20 December, produced an ash plume that rose to 10.3 km (34,000 ft) a.s.l. A subsequent pilot report made 50 minutes later indicated that activity had decreased. Satellite data showed a discrete, short-lived explosion just prior to 1600, and a detached plume that drifted S. AVO raised the Aviation Color Code to Red and the Volcano Alert Level to Warning.

Source: US Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)

 

Name Location Activity  
Bezymianny Central Kamchatka (Russia) New
Bogoslof Fox Islands (USA) New
Colima Mexico New
Copahue Central Chile-Argentina border New
Bagana Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) Ongoing
Cayambe Ecuador Ongoing
Cerro Hudson Chile Ongoing
Dukono Halmahera (Indonesia) Ongoing
Fuego Guatemala Ongoing
Kilauea Hawaiian Islands (USA) Ongoing
Nevados de Chillan Chile Ongoing
Sabancaya Peru Ongoing
Sheveluch Central Kamchatka (Russia) Ongoing
Sinabung Indonesia Ongoing
Suwanosejima Ryukyu Islands (Japan) Ongoing

 

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Earthquakes for the week ending 22 December 2016

World Earthquakes for the week ending 22 December 2016

USGS

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map

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Magnitudo 5.2 SR 35 mi BaratDaya SARMI-PAPUA

Magnitudo 5_2 SR 56 km BaratDaya SARMI-PAPUA 17-Des-2016 05 39 31 WIB

Indonesian Tsunami Center

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Tsunami Messages for All Regions Past 30 days

Tsunami Messages for All Regions Past 30 days

Pacific Tsunami Center

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UTC 2016-12-08 14:49:46 M6.5 – 119.3 mi W of Ferndale, California 7.5 mi depth

M6.5 - 119.3 mi W of Ferndale, California 7.5 mi depth UTC 2016-12-08 14:49:46

USGS

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UTC 2016-12-17 10:51:12 M7.9 – 5 mi E of Taron Papua New Guinea 64 mi depth

M7.9 - 5 mi E of Taron, Papua, New Guinea 64 mi depth UTC 2016-12-17 10 51 12

National Tsunami Warning Center

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Radiation

RADIOGRAPHY CAMERA LOST WHEN BARGE SANK IN BERING SEA

Radiographic Testing

RT/Acuren USA Inspections

http://www.acuren.com/services/NDE-NDT-Inspection/Radiographic_Testing.html

 

Non-Agreement State Event Number: 52411
Rep Org: ACRUEN USA INSPECTIONS Licensee: ACRUEN USA INSPECTIONS
Region: 4 City: ANCHORAGE State: AK
County: License #: 50-32443-01
Agreement: N Docket:
NRC Notified By: CHRIS DIXON HQ OPS Officer: KARL DIEDERICH
Notification Date: 12/07/2016 Notification Time: 11:27 [ET]
Event Date: 12/07/2016 Event Time: 06:30 [YST]
Last Update Date: 12/07/2016 Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section: 20.2201(a)(1)(ii) – LOST/STOLEN LNM>10X
Person (Organization): VINCENT GADDY (R4DO), ANGELA MCINTOSH (NMSS), NMSS_EVENTS_NOTIFIC (EMAI), CNSC (CANADA) (FAX)

This material event contains a “Category 2 ” level of radioactive material.

Event Text

RADIOGRAPHY CAMERA LOST WHEN BARGE SANK IN BERING SEA

At approximately 1030 EST, a QSA 880 industrial radiography camera containing an Ir-192 source of approximately 26.3 Ci (source serial number – 32186G) was lost when the barge named Exito sank in the Bering Sea outside Dutch Harbor, Alaska. The ship was in transit and the camera was stored in a pelican case and not in use, with the source in the protected position. There were no unintended exposures to individuals. The licensee has notified the local area Coast Guard command.

Notified the following Federal Agencies: DHS SWO, FEMA Ops Center, USDA Ops Center, HHS Ops Center, DOE Ops Center, DHS NICC Watch Officer, EPA EOC. Notified the following Federal Agencies via email only: FDA EOC, Nuclear SSA, FEMA National Watch Center, and DNDO-JAC.

THIS MATERIAL EVENT CONTAINS A “CATEGORY 2” LEVEL OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

Category 2 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them, or were otherwise in contact with them, for a short time (minutes to hours). It could possibly be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of hours to days. These sources are typically used in practices such as industrial gamma radiography, high dose rate brachytherapy and medium dose rate brachytherapy. For additional information go to http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1227_web.pdf
Accessed at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20161216en.html#en52411 on December 22, 2016.

 

Acuren provides a variety of radiography services for an array of applications and industries.

Gamma (Iridium, Selenium and Cobalt sources) and X-ray inspection methods are used for profile radiography, field and piping welds, investment castings and heavy wall vessel inspection.

Computed and Digital Radiography services that permit lower source strengths and smaller radiation exclusion zones are also available.

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Update: Search For Missing 2 Crewmembers of Barge in Bering Sea Called Off

Ir-192_RADIOGRAPHY CAMERA LOST WHEN BARGE SANK IN BERING SEA

Copyright © 2015–2016, Stacey & Jacobsen, LLP

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2016/12/07/3-rescued-2-still-missing-after-fishing-vessel-sinks-near-dutch-harbor/
By Joseph Stacey December 11, 2016

The Coast Guard cancelled the search for the two missing crewmembers of the EXITO after searching for more than 40 hours. The EXITO sank 14 miles out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, north of Unalaska Bay, on Tuesday night, December 6, 2016. Three crewmembers who abandoned ship were rescued by the Good Samaritan ship AFOGNAK STRAIT. Two other people onboard, names currently withheld, have not been found.

The Coast Guard Cutter ALEX HALEY, a Jayhawk helicopter crew, and three Good Samaritan ships searched for the remaining two people Wednesday and Thursday. “The decision to suspend a search is never an easy one to make and is done with great care and deliberation after thoroughly evaluating our search efforts and the situation,” said Capt. Laura Dickey, chief of staff of the 17th Coast Guard District. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing men.”

The cause of the sinking is still under investigation. This firm’s thoughts and prayers are also with the family and friends of the two missing men.

4039 21st Ave W., #401, Seattle, WA 98199, Phone: 206-282-3100 Toll Free: 877-332-5529 Fax: 206-282-1149, Copyright © 2015–2016, Stacey & Jacobsen, LLP
Accessed at https://www.maritimeinjurylawyersblog.com/category/vessel-sinkings on December 22, 2016.

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Columbia Generating Station Washington Event 52442 Hot Shutdown AUTOMATIC SCRAM DUE TO LOAD REJECT

ax161218_Columbia Generating Station Washington Event 52443 Primary Containment compromised

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42555888/ns/us_news-life/

NRC

Power Reactor Event Number: 52442
Facility: COLUMBIA GENERATING STATION Region: 4 State: WA
Unit: [2] [ ] [ ] RX Type: [2] GE-5
NRC Notified by: JEFFERY KUETHER-ULBERG HQ OPS Officer: JEFF HERRERA
Notification Date: 12/18/2016 Notification Time: 18:13 [ET]
Event Date: 12/18/2016 Event Time: 11:24 [PST]
Last Update Date: 12/18/2016 Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section: 50.72(b)(2)(iv)(A) – ECCS INJECTION, 50.72(b)(2)(iv)(B) – RPS ACTUATION – CRITICAL, 50.72(b)(3)(iv)(A) – VALID SPECIF SYS ACTUATION
Person (Organization): RAY KELLAR (R4DO), MIKE KING (NRR), BERNARD STAPLETON (IRD)

 

Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
2 A/R Y 100 Power Operation 0 Hot Shutdown

Event Text

AUTOMATIC SCRAM DUE TO LOAD REJECT FROM SUBSTATION

“On December 18, 2016 at time 1124 PST the plant experienced a full reactor scram. Preliminary investigations indicate that the scram was caused by a load reject from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Ashe substation. Further investigations continue. The following conditions have occurred:

“Turbine Governor valve closure

Reactor high pressure trip

+13 inches reactor water level activations

E-TR-B (backup transformer) supplying E-SM-7/SM-8 (vital power electrical busses)

Complete loss of Reactor Closed Cooling (RCC)

E-TR-S (Startup transformer) supplying SM-1/2/3 (non-vital power electrical busses)

E-DG-1/2/3 (emergency diesel generators) auto start

Low Pressure Core Spray (LPCS) and Residual Heat Removal (RHR) A/B/C initiation signals

Main Steam Isolation Valves (MSIV) are closed

“Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) RCIC and High Pressure Core Spray (HPCS) were manually activated and utilized to inject and maintain reactor water level. Pressure control is with Safety Relief Valves (SRV) in, manual. Level control is with RCIC and Control Rod Drive (CRD). RCIC has experienced an over speed trip that was reset so that level control could be maintained by RCIC.

“This event is being reported under the following:

10 CFR 50.72(b)(2)(iv)(A) which requires a 4 hour notification for Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) discharge into the reactor coolant system.

10 CFR 50.72(b)(2)(iv)(B) which requires a 4 hour notification for any event or condition that results in actuation of the Reactor Protection System (RPS) when the reactor is critical.

10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(iv)(A) which requires an 8 hours notification for actuation of ECCS systems.

“All control rods fully inserted.

“The NRC Resident Inspector has been informed.”

The licensee indicated that no increase in radiation levels were detected.

Accessed at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2016/20161219en.html on December 22, 2016.

 

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The Columbia Generating Station near Richland could restart before Christmas

Columbia Generating Station near Richland could restart before Christmas

Courtesy Energy Northwest

The Columbia Generating Station near Richland could restart before Christmas after shutting down Sunday. Courtesy Energy Northwest
December 21, 2016 4:54 PM By Annette Cary, acary@tricityherald.com

Richland nuclear power plant to restart within days

Energy Northwest expects to have its nuclear power plant near Richland supplying electricity to the grid by Christmas.

The Columbia Generating Station automatically shut down Sunday morning because of a Bonneville Power Administration transmission line problem.

A high voltage transmission line connected to the BPA Ashe Substation, but not the nuclear plant, tripped. A breaker then should have immediately opened to cut off power to the line at the substation. The breaker was slow to open, according to BPA.

Because of the breaker malfunction, a secondary system kicked in and opened other breakers, including for the line that transmits power from the nuclear plant to the nearby Ashe Substation.

BPA continues to investigate the breaker malfunction, including whether it was related to subzero temperatures. The plant will not be restarted until the issue is identified and fixed.

About 12 hours after the nuclear plant shut down, a leak of uncontaminated water was discovered in a line supporting a spray system to keep the reactor core cool in an emergency. It is one of six systems in place to cool the core in an emergency. The water leak was quickly repaired, according to Energy Northwest.

The Columbia Generating Station is a 1,190-megawatt plant, which can supply the electricity requirements of a city the size of Seattle.
Material published on Tri-CityHerald.com, including articles, photos, graphics, videos, bulletin board postings and other content, is copyrighted by Tri-City Herald or by other information providers who have licensed their content for use on Tri-CityHerald.com. The entire contents of Tri-CityHerald.com are also copyrighted as a collective work under the United States copyright laws.
Accessed at http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article122328339.html on December 22, 2016.

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RADCON on 22 December 2016 Five of Concern-Watch

Gamma Five of Concern 20161222

© Copyright 2012-2014 Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center, LLC (netc.com)

© Copyright 2012-2014 Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center, LLC (netc.com).All information that is produced by netc.com websites belongs to Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center, LLC   (netc.com).
https://netc.com/
NETC.COM   © 2014

 

  1. Station ID 5:920   Fresno, CA, US

CPM: current 589 Low 244 High 663

Average 347(CPM of Gamma in energy range 600-800keV)

Last updated: 2016-12-22 06:47:00 GMT-0600

 

  1. Station ID 5:912   Spokane, WA, US

CPM: current 474 Low 277 High 512

Average 337(CPM of Gamma in energy range 600-800keV)

Last updated: 2016-12-22 06:08:00 GMT-0600

 

  1. Station ID 5:913   Las Vegas, NV, US

CPM: current 251 Low 105 High 255

Average 157(CPM of Gamma in energy range 600-800keV)

Last updated: 2016-12-22 06:05:00 GMT-0600

 

  1. Station ID 5:207   Syracuse, NY, US

CPM: current 163 Low 89 High 163

Average 137(CPM of Gamma in energy range 600-800keV)

Last updated: 2016-12-22 06:51:00 GMT-0600

 

  1. Station ID 1:EB901F54   Boise, ID, US

CPM: current 34 Low 7 High 47

Average 23

Last updated: 2016-12-22 14:41:25 GMT-0600

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A molten iron ‘jet stream’ is found 1,860 miles beneath surface of Earth

Swarm satellites show changes in Earth's Magnetic Field

ESA

Remarkable discovery could shed light on our planet’s magnetic shield

  • The jet stream was detected below the North Pole by ESA’s Swarm satellites
  • It lies deep within the Earth’s core, 1,860 miles (3,000km) below the surface
  • It is as wide as the UK and caused by liquid in core squeezing around a boundary
  • Researchers say the jet stream is accelerating and could soon switch direction

By Shivali Best For Mailonline, Published: 08:24 EST, 20 December 2016 | Updated: 09:58 EST, 20 December 2016

A huge jet stream of molten iron is heading towards Canada.

But before you panic, there’s good news – it lies deep within the Earth’s core, around 1,860 miles (3,000km) below the surface.

Researchers believe the jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards a boundary from both sides, causing it to be squeezed out sideways.

The discovery could shed light on how Earth protective, magnetic shield works.

A huge jet stream of molten iron is heading towards Canada.

University of Leeds

Deep within the Earth’s molten iron core, researchers have discovered a jet stream circling the North Pole. The stream lies around 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometres) below the surface, and was detected by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Swarm satellites

WHY IS THE JET STREAM THERE?

The study found the position of the jet stream aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the Earth’s core.

Researchers believe the jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.

Professor Rainer Hollerback, co-author of the study, said: ‘Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary.

‘This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the core.’

The protective field extends thousands of miles into space and its magnetism affects everything from global communication to animal migration and weather patterns.

But this magnetic field, so important to life on Earth, has weakened by 15 per cent over the last 200 years.

And this, scientists claim, could make Earth far more vulnerable to space weather.

But researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how it works

The jet stream could shed some light on the mystery.

It was discovered by researchers from the University of Leeds, using the European Space Agency (ESA’s) Swarm satellites.

Dr Phil Livermore, who led the study, said: ‘The European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites are providing our sharpest X-ray image yet of the core.

‘We’ve not only seen this jet stream clearly for the first time, but we understand why it’s there.

‘We can explain it as an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole, like the jet stream in the atmosphere.’

The core’s remote location under 1,860 miles (3,000km) of rock, makes it very difficult to study.

Previous studies have been based on measurements of the planet’s magnetic field.

They found changes in the magnetic field indicated that iron in the outer core was moving faster in the northern hemisphere, mostly under Alaska and Siberia.

But new data from the Swarm satellites has revealed these changes are actually caused by a jet stream moving at more than 25 miles (40km) per year.

This is three times faster than typical outer core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the speed at which the Earth’s tectonic plates move.

ESA Swarm mission features a trio of satellites

European Space Agency

The ESA’s Swarm mission features a trio of satellites which simultaneously measure and untangle the different magnetic signals which stem from Earth’s core, mantle, crust, oceans, ionosphere and magnetosphere
They have provided the clearest information yet about the magnetic field created in the core.

 

The study found the position of the jet stream aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the core.

Researchers believe the jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.

Professor Rainer Hollerback, co-author of the study, said: ‘Of course, you need a force to move the liquid towards the boundary.

‘This could be provided by buoyancy, or perhaps more likely from changes in the magnetic field within the core.’

WHAT IS THE SWARM MISSION?

Swarm is a ESA satellite mission that launched on 22nd November 2013 (illustrated right).

What is the Swarm mission

ESA

The mission consists of three identical satellites that are precisely measuring the strength and direction of Earth’s magnetic field.

The new data is being processed by the British Geological Survey to produce an accurate map of this field.

In order to best measure the field, the satellites orbit in a unique configuration.

Two satellites will fly side-by-side at height of 280 miles (450km), while the third satellite will fly at an altitude of 330 miles (530km).

The lower two satellites allow very fine measurements of the magnetic field generated by the rocks in the Earth’s crust, which are difficult to detect otherwise.

The upper satellite gives a simultaneous measurement at a different location.

The researchers believe that the discovery of the jet stream will not be the only surprise revealed by the Swarm satellites.

Rune Floberghagen, mission manager of the ESA Swarm, said: ‘Further surprises are likely.

‘The magnetic field is forever changing, and this could even make the jet stream switch direction.

‘This feature is one of the first deep-Earth discoveries made possible by Swarm. With the unprecedented resolution now possible, it’s a very exciting time – we simply don’t know what we’ll discover next about our planet.’

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
Accessed at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4051160/A-molten-iron-jet-stream-1-860-miles-Earth-s-surface-s-speeding-Canada.html on December 20, 2016.

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At least 32 injured in Russian military plane crash

Map of arctic regions with frame showing the study area of the New Siberian

ru

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/284095781_fig1_Fig-1-Map-of-arctic-regions-with-frame-showing-the-study-area-of-the-New-Siberian

NOTE:   The stars mark the movement of the magnetic north pole. See how close it is to the crash site.

A Russian military plane crash-landed Monday while approaching an Arctic airport injuring most of the 39 people on board

Yakutsk/ru photo via AP

In this handout photo released by Yakutsk.ru web portal shows Emergency Ministry employees investigate the wreckage of an Il-18 turboprop, that crash-landed about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the town of Tiksi in the Sakha-Yakutia region on the Laptev Sea, Russia, Monday, December 19, 2016. A Russian military plane crash-landed Monday while approaching an Arctic airport, injuring most of the 39 people on board, officials said. (Yakutsk.ru photo via AP)
The Associated Press Published Monday, December 19, 2016 9:30AM EST MOSCOW –

A Russian military plane carrying combat pilots crash-landed Monday while approaching an Arctic airport, injuring most of the 39 people on board, officials said.

The Defence Ministry said the plane, an Il-18 turboprop, crash-landed near the town of Tiksi in the Sakha-Yakutia region on the Laptev Sea. The plane carrying 32 passengers and a seven-member crew was flying from Kansk in eastern Siberia, around 2,300 kilometres (1,430 miles) southwest of Tiksi.

The plane broke up when it landed in the tundra, but didn’t catch fire.

Rescue helicopters evacuated people from the crash site, and 32 were hospitalized in Tiksi, including 16 who were in a grave condition, the ministry said. The other seven had less serious injuries.

 

A specialized Il-76 aircraft equipped with life-support equipment has flown to Tiksi to bring the injured to the main military hospitals in Moscow for treatment, according to the ministry.

The plane’s data recorders were recovered from the site, but the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known. Local officials in Yakutia said strong winds were the likely cause, while Russian media also mentioned pilot error or a technical malfunction among possible reasons.

The Il-18 is a four-engine passenger plane designed in the 1950s, and some are still in service with the Russian military for transport duties.

© 2016 Bell Media All rights reserved.
Accessed at http://www.cp24.com/world/at-least-32-injured-in-russian-military-plane-crash-1.3209166 on December 19, 2016.

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Antimatter uncovered in groundbreaking CERN experiment that ‘could solve one of the great riddles of the universe’

Thunderstorms blasting antimatter into space

NASA

  • Scientists have used a laser to tickle atoms of antimatter and make them shine
  • Researchers have spent decades to figure out how to create antimatter
  • Now managed this and trapped it for long enough to perform tests

By Associated Press, Published: 11:48 EST, 19 December 2016 | Updated: 18:09 EST, 19 December 2016

Scientists have used a laser to tickle atoms of antimatter and make them shine, a key step toward answering one of the great riddles of the universe.

Theory predicts that the Big Bang produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter.

Since they cancel each other out, scientists have been trying to find out why a relatively small amount of matter remained — allowing the stars, planets and ultimately life as we know it to come about — and antimatter vanished.

CERN

Scientists used a laser to tickle atoms of antimatter and make them shine, a key step toward answering one of the great riddles of the universe. The used the ALPHA experiment (pictured) at CERN , which is located on the Swiss-French border.
Antimatter uncovered in groundbreaking CERN experiment that could solve one of the great riddles of the universe

CERN

WHAT IS ANTIMATTER?

Antimatter is the mirror of ordinary matter.

Normal atoms are made up of positively-charged nuclei orbited by negatively-charged electrons.

However, their antimatter counterparts are the other way round.

They have negative nuclei and positively-charged electrons, known as positrons.

When matter and antimatter meet they instantly annihilate each other, releasing a burst of detectable energy.

It took researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, decades to figure out how to create an antimatter version of the most basic atom — hydrogen — and trap it for long enough to perform tests.

In a paper published online Monday by the journal Nature, they reported the first cautious result from an experiment with antihydrogen.

It turns out that when it’s stimulated with a laser, antihydrogen appears to produce light on the same ultraviolet frequency as its nemesis in the world of matter, hydrogen.

Adding energy — in this case with a laser — to atoms to see what light they absorb and emit is known as spectroscopy.

It is a commonly used tool in physics, chemistry and even astronomy, to determine the atomic composition of substances in a lab or even far-away galaxies.

The results can be presented as rainbow-like panels or as graphs showing the distribution of certain colors.

Antimatter

Antihydrogen atoms can be seen in these images coming into contact with the walls of the ALPH antimatter trap, annihilating and releasing energy in the form of light.

‘What we have is one color,’ said Jeffrey Hangst, a leading member of the team working on the ALPHA experiment at CERN , which is located on the Swiss-French border.

‘But it’s kind of the most fundamental one because it’s the one that we can measure most accurately.’

Hangst and his colleagues now plan to refine the experiment, using techniques developed for hydrogen over the past 200 years, to map in precise detail the atomic spectrum of antihydrogen.

Researchers working on the ALPHA experiment at CERN

CERN

Researchers working on the ALPHA experiment at CERN , which is located on the Swiss-French border, used a laser to tickle atoms of antimatter and make them shine, a key step toward answering one of the great riddles of the universe.

‘All we’ve done so far is find the top of the hill, now we want to measure the shape of the hill,’ he told The Associated Press.

Guido Drexlin, a physicist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology who wasn’t involved in the study, said scientists had been eagerly awaiting the results of the CERN experiment for years.

‘They are on a good track,’ he said.

Successfully discovering a difference between matter and antimatter would be worthy of a Nobel Prize, said Drexlin.

 

‘The differences between matter and antimatter are extremely subtle,’ he said.

‘There is a slight preference for matter and we would like to know why.’

Hangst, who is also at Aarhus University in Denmark, said the team at CERN is working on new experiments, including one that looks at how antihydrogen is affected by gravity.

HOW THEY DID IT

Researchers magnetically trapped atoms of antihydrogen in a cylindrical vacuum chamber that is 280 millimetres long and has a diameter of 44 millimetres.

They then shone a laser light through windows in the chamber to measure the 1S–2S transition of the anti-atoms (the transition from the ground state to an excited state).

ALPHA observes light spectrum of antimatter for first time

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

ALPHA observes light spectrum of antimatter for first timeIn a paper published today in the journal Nature, the ALPHA collaboration reports the first ever measurement on the optical spectrum of an antimatter atom.

The authors report that the transition frequency of antihydrogen is consistent with that of hydrogen.

The spectrum of hydrogen has been characterized to high precision, so improvements in antihydrogen spectroscopy should yield highly sensitive tests of matter–antimatter symmetry.

‘We’re going to make a machine that’s vertical, and then we’re going to trap antihydrogen and drop it,’ he said.

One of the great hurdles for researchers is the fact that producing antihydrogen is still a painstaking process that yields just over a dozen atoms each time.

But Hangst said the team has come a long way since it proposed the experiment some 20 years ago, including in the eyes of some peers.

‘There was a time when this was kind of the lunatic fringe of physics,’ he said.

FILE - In this March 30, 2010 file picture the globe of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is illuminated outside Geneva, Switzerland.

AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, file

The globe of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is illuminated outside Geneva, Switzerland.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
Accessed at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4048882/Scientists-antimatter-excited-light.html on December 20, 2016.

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Biosecurity: Flavivirus Zika

CDC allocates $184 million for Zika protection

CDC allocates USD184 million for Zika protection

CDC

By HealthDay News   |   Dec. 22, 2016 at 2:31 PM THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2016 –

Nearly $184 million has been earmarked to protect Americans against Zika virus infection, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

The funding will go to states, territories, local governments and universities. It’s part of $350 million awarded to the CDC by Congress earlier in 2016 for Zika response and preparedness, the agency said.

“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in an agency news release. “States, territories, and communities need this CDC funding to fight Zika and protect the next generation of Americans.”

Zika exposure in pregnancy can cause microcephaly — which leads to an abnormally small brain and head — and other serious birth defects. Also, some adults develop a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The CDC said the supplemental funds will help states control mosquitoes and beef up communication to the public and health care providers about Zika concerns.

The CDC said other priorities include:

  • Sending emergency response teams to states with Zika outbreaks
  • Improving laboratory-testing capacity
  • Providing a framework for tracking pregnancies and births affected by Zika

The CDC said $25 million will be awarded to 21 communities at greatest risk of Zika infection so they can rapidly identify, investigate and contain any virus cases.

Four universities will receive $10 million each for Zika research

  • University of Florida
  • University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • University of Wisconsin in Madison
  • Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Nearly $100 million will go to 58 state, territorial, city, and local public health departments, the agency said.

Zika spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but can also be transmitted by infected people to their sex partners. There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), but many people infected with Zika have no symptoms.

Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant should protect themselves from mosquito bites, avoid traveling to areas with Zika virus, and take precautions if having sex with someone who has traveled to an area where Zika is circulating, the CDC said.

So far, the only mainland states that have reported Zika transmission from a mosquito to a human are Florida and Texas.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2016 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
UPI.com is your trusted source for world news, top news, science news, health news and current events.
We thank you for visiting us and we hope that we will be your daily stop for news updates.
Accessed at http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/12/22/CDC-allocates-184-million-for-Zika-protection/7251482434927/ on December 22, 2016.

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4 state universities join for $10M center to address Zika, other diseases

LOGO

University of Florida Emerging Pathogens Laboratory

http://www.dinglasanlab.org/
By Cindy Spence, The University of Florida, Posted: 11:37 AM, December 22, 2016, Updated: 11:37 AM, December 22, 2016 GAINESVILLE, Fla. –

With a $10 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Florida will lead a highly collaborative research program focused on stopping diseases such as Zika before they spread farther into the United States.

The grant is part of nearly $184 million in funding the CDC announced Thursday to states, territories, local jurisdictions, and universities to support efforts to protect Americans from Zika virus infection and associated adverse health outcomes, including microcephaly and other serious birth defects. These awards are part of the $350 million in funding provided to CDC under the Zika Response and Preparedness Appropriations Act of 2016.

“Zika continues to be a threat to pregnant women,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “States, territories, and communities need this CDC funding to fight Zika and protect the next generation of Americans.”

Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease

The Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease: The Gateway Program will be led by principal investigator Rhoel Dinglasan, an associate professor of infectious diseases in UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. Dinglasan has enlisted the University of Miami, Florida International University and the University of South Florida to collaborate on research to address the statewide and regional challenge of Zika and other diseases.

“While everyone is imagining the introduction of diseases like Zika into their states, we don’t need to imagine it,” Dinglasan said. “We have seen Zika, dengue and chikungunya, and it is our responsibility as scientists to do our part to stop them.”

Florida provides a unique environment to examine the biocomplexity of vector-borne diseases in real time. Miami-Dade is often an entry point for such diseases, adding to the urgency of the research and providing a real-world lab. Solutions that work in the densely populated urban environment of South Florida should work in other locations as well, Dinglasan said.

“Florida really is ground zero. We are the gateway for vector-borne diseases into the United States,” Dinglasan said. “But we have the research capability to stop them.”

State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser II and UF Vice President for Research David Norton noted the significance of the work.

“By leveraging the resources and expertise of multiple institutions, Florida is poised to make the next major breakthroughs on Zika and other vector-borne diseases,” Criser said. “This is an excellent example of how collaboration between higher-education institutions and businesses can lead to scientific advances that help us all live healthier, better lives.”

Norton added: “The research at this Center of Excellence is remarkably important to the state, nation and the world. By teaming with other universities within the state, we are able to deliver a unique array of talent that greatly enhances the impact of this work.”

Dinglasan, who was recruited under the state’s Preeminence Program, had only moved to UF from Johns Hopkins University a month before the call for proposals for the Center of Excellence went out in September. A globally recognized malaria researcher, he knew just where to turn to assemble a team quickly, and he called on international experts at UM, FIU and USF.

Each university has a particular expertise in diseases carried by vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies and fleas. Although Zika has dominated the news lately, the long list of vector-borne diseases includes malaria, dengue, Chagas, chikungunya and yellow fever. The World Health Organization estimates there are 1 billion infections a year from vector-borne diseases and 1 million deaths.

Dinglasan said he also looked for broad regional support for the Center of Excellence and found it in leading scientists at the

  1. Scripps Research Institute-Florida
  2. Naval Entomology Center of Excellence
  3. USDA Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology
  4. Florida A & M University
  5. Georgia Southern University
  6. Florida departments of Health, and Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Center of Excellence also will leverage Florida’s 61 mosquito control programs as a sizable ground surveillance force that could report conditions and bring recommendations back to the labs.

“It was very important to engage the mosquito control people; they know those neighborhoods much better than those of us in the lab,” said Dinglasan, who is also a faculty member in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “They’re on the front line. They’re the ones who are going to tell us if there’s a problem with our strategy.”

Training is a huge component of the center, with a focus on tackling the shortage of workers in public health entomology and addressing an impending retirement wave among mosquito control managers. The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will play a key role in training, partly through its Center for Leadership, Dinglasan said.

Each university brings a robust research program to the enterprise, Dinglasan said. FIU is conducting research on mosquito neural genetics, testing a bait that lures female mosquitoes to lay eggs in a trap that kills all the eggs.

UM has developed an attractive toxic sugar bait that has been tested in Africa but not in an urban environment in the United States. Mosquitoes use sugar for energy, so using a toxic sugar bait to attract and then kill mosquitoes could reduce the need for spraying.

At USF, researchers are working on a way to block transmission of eastern equine encephalitis by migratory birds, who winter in Florida and fly north in the spring. USF has identified locations where the birds contract the disease from mosquitoes and is working to target mosquito control in those areas to keep the migrating birds free of the disease.

One of UF’s contributions is in mathematical modeling, to quantify how well the research-based solutions work. Dinglasan said modeling will allow researchers to test predictions over the five-year research program, with the goal of stopping vector-borne diseases before they travel north.

“The powerhouse within UF is our mathematical modeling, and that is the linchpin for a data-driven project like this,” Dinglasan said. “Data modeling is the one thing that unites all the research.”

Key to that modeling ability and to the Gateway Program is UF’s supercomputer, HiPerGator 2.0, the most powerful university supercomputer in the Southern U.S. and one of the fastest university supercomputers in the country.

The collaboration on the Center of Excellence has already led the four universities to explore other research collaborations, Dinglasan said. Where one university had a need, another university has stepped in.

“We each have our own niche, our own expertise, but together we’re unstoppable,” Dinglasan said. “We’re a natural team.”

Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.
Accessed at http://www.news4jax.com/health/zika-virus/4-state-universities-join-on-10m-center-to-address-zika-other-diseases on December 22, 2016.

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4 in 10 babies born after Zika infection may have brain defects, researchers say

The transmission cycle of the Zika virus is complex

Michigan Technological University

http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2016/october/images/image146050-fshorizw.jpg
BY Helen Branswell, STAT December 14, 2016 at 10:08 AM EST

The toll that Zika virus takes on pregnancies appears to be even higher than was previously estimated, with a newly updated study from Brazil suggesting that 42 percent of infants infected in the womb may have significant birth defects.

When the authors factored in stillbirths and miscarriages suffered by women who had been infected with Zika, 46 percent of pregnancies were affected. Microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with smaller than normal heads — was seen in only about 3 percent of babies in the study.

“Microcephaly is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s definitely not where the focus should be,” said Dr. Karin Nielsen-Saines, the paper’s senior author. “For every case of microcephaly you’re probably going to have 10 cases of other problems that haven’t been recognized.”

Nielsen-Saines is a professor in the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her co-authors are from Brazil and the US.

The group reported adverse outcomes — pregnancy losses or birth defects — in 55 percent of pregnancies in which infection occurred in the first trimester, 52 percent of pregnancies in which infection occurred in the second trimester, and 29 percent in which infection occurred in the third trimester.

Nielsen-Saines told STAT on Tuesday that she’d been surprised by the 29 percent figure and is more surprised still by the updated estimates. But on the issue of the danger the virus poses to developing fetuses, she is now clear.

“I actually don’t think there’s anything more harmful to a fetus than Zika,” she said. “It’s probably the most teratogenic virus that exists.”

The March study and the update are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

An unrelated study, from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, may shed some light on why Zika is so harmful to developing brains. That study, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found levels of virus in the brains of infected infants (who died after birth) were 1,000 times higher than the viral levels in women’s placentas.

“Our findings show that Zika virus can continue to replicate in infants’ brains even after birth, and that the virus can persist in placentas for months – much longer than we expected,” said Julu Bhatnagar, head of the molecular pathology team at CDC’s Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch and the study’s lead author.

“We don’t know how long the virus can persist, but its persistence could have implications for babies born with microcephaly and for apparently healthy infants whose mothers had Zika during their pregnancies.”

The research group that conducted the Brazilian study has been tracking dengue virus infections in Rio de Janiero for years. When the Zika outbreak started, they quickly adapted the study to investigate what happens when pregnant women become infected with the virus.

Women who developed a fever and a rash were enrolled in the study and tested to see if they had Zika. The study, which is ongoing, follows both women who tested positive for the virus and women who didn’t. The latter group is used as a comparator.

Several scientists not involved in the study noted that the effect it recorded might be artificially high, because all women who had Zika had a symptomatic infection. It’s known that most people who contract Zika don’t have symptoms, and women with those milder infections may not give birth to babies with birth defects at the same rate, suggested Dave O’Connor, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has been studying Zika in non-human primates.

“Asymptomatic infections certainly carry risk too, but symptomatic infections may have disproportionately high risk. This is still speculative, but an important caveat on their results,” O’Connor said in an email.

It is known that women who have asymptomatic Zika infections do sometimes give birth to babies with microcephaly. Scientists from Colombia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on four such cases in June.

In the Brazilian study, researchers reported on 125 pregnant women who were infected with Zika and had given birth or lost their pregnancy between Jan. 1 and July 31. They compared them to 61 women who were not infected with Zika during their pregnancies.

Cases of microcephaly were actually rare in the study. Four babies born to Zika-infected mothers had microcephaly, but two of those babies were small and their heads were proportionate to their bodies.

There would have been at least one more case. But a woman whose ultrasound showed a profoundly affected fetus dropped out of the study; Nielsen-Saines said multiple attempts to find her failed.

The range of other birth defects was substantial, including seizure activity, visual and hearing impairment, spasticity, contracted limbs, and difficulty swallowing and feeding. All these are signs of brain damage, Nielson-Saines said, adding she expects with time that more developmental problems will become apparent.

“The newborns may appear to be normal, but they may not be normal at six months, and there’s a whole gradient of problems,” she said.

The researchers plan to track these babies for two years — if their mothers will allow it. Nielsen-Saines admitted some mothers are reluctant to bring the babies back for medical assessment. “They don’t want to know.”

While infection early in pregnancy appeared to carry the highest risk, infection as late as 39 weeks was associated with problems in some cases. This is unlike rubella — another virus infamous for causing birth defects — where the danger period for infection is in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, the authors noted.

The women who were not infected with Zika also had an unusually high percentage of problems — 11.5 percent. But 42 percent of them were infected during their pregnancy with chikungunya, another virus that has also been associated with pregnancy losses — stillbirths and miscarriages.

Two of the leaders of the Zika response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings suggest the Zika virus — written as ZIKV in scientific shorthand — will have a large effect where it spreads.

“The scope of the ZIKV outbreak in the Americas suggests that ZIKV infections will have a profound impact on the cohort of infants delivered in the nine months after the outbreak peak in each country,” Margaret Honein and Dr. Denise Jamieson wrote in an editorial published by the journal.

   Helen Branswell is STAT’s infectious diseases and public health reporter.
© 1996 – 2016 NewsHour Productions LLC.
All Rights Reserved.
Accessed at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/babies-zika-infection-brain-defects-researchers-say/ on December 22, 2016.

 

Ann Morrison
By Ann Morrison January 23, 2017 18:11
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