27 Jan 2017: Doomsday Clock Advances to 2 min 30 sec to Midnight
Update as of 27 Jan 2017
Biosecurity: Bird Flu
- H3N2 Influenza Leads to More Severe Flu Cases Around the United States
- Canada reports first human case of H3N2v influenza
- Proliferation of bird flu outbreaks raises risk of human pandemic
- China has reported epidemics of H7N9 infections in humans since 2013
- H5N8, other strains strike birds in Europe, Japan, Israel
Biosecurity: Gas & Oil
- LaSalle Illinois Event 52505 SCRAM Hot Shutdown Reactor water level controlled with feedwater
- RADCON on 26 January 2017 One of Concern-Watch
- Doomsday Clock moves closer to disaster: two and a half minutes to midnight
- China ‘places ballistic missiles that can reach the US on border with Russia’
- British Tanks Roll on Channel Tunnel Test Run Amid Trump, Russia Fears
Constitution – Crony Capitalism
- Arctic Ozone Watch 24 January 2017
- Antarctic Ozone Hole Watch 24 January 2017
- Northern Jet Stream crosses the Equator!
- Parker Fire in Arkansas & Reverend Bill Road Fire in North Carolina
- Sea Level Rise Estimate Grows Alarmingly Higher in Latest Federal Report
- The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Interagency Task Force jointly convened by the USGCRP and the National Ocean Council NOC
- The Power of Water
- Going, going, gone: Canadian Arctic faces threat of coastal erosion
- Sunspot AR227 C9.3 on Jan 21st 2017 at 0726 UT sends us UV
- Close approach of Asteroid 2017 BX on January 25, 2017
- Volcanic Activity for the week of 18 January-24 January 2017
- Bogoslof 24 Jan 2017 Red Alert when an ice-rich plume rose to altitudes of 25,000-35,000 ft
- VA ERUPTIONS MT CHIRINKOTAN Kuril Islands & BOGOSLOF Aleutian Islands
- World Earthquakes for the week ending 26 Jan 2017
- UTC 2017-01-22 04:30:23 M 7.9 – 25.9 mi WNW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea 84.5 mi depth
Arctic Ozone Watch 24 January 2017
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center
Antarctic Ozone Hole Watch 17 January 2017
Northern Jet Stream crosses the Equator!
Current Large Fire Incidents as of 26 January 2017
Parker Fire in Arkansas & Reverend Bill Road Fire in North Carolina
Sea Level Rise Estimate Grows Alarmingly Higher in Latest Federal Report
NOAA’s latest report arrives, predicting worst-case scenario of 8 feet of rise by century’s end, just as Donald Trump takes office with pro-fossil fuel policies.
Places like Robbins, Md., already struggling with sea level rise, could see even more flooding under new federal projections. Credit: Getty Images
New federal estimates say global sea levels could rise faster than previously thought, and the rise may be even worse in many coastal regions of the United States.
By Nicholas Kusnetz Jan 24, 2017
A new report, written by scientists with several federal agencies and universities, says that under a worst-case scenario, climate change could raise the oceans an average of more than 8 feet by 2100, about 20 inches more than a previous federal estimate published in 2012. The best case now projected would be an average of about a foot.
The report was delivered just as President Donald Trump took office, immediately working to undo President Barack Obama’s climate policies. On his inauguration day, pages mentioning climate change on whitehouse.gov were removed. Trump has promised policies to increase fossil fuel development in the U.S., and to undo Obama’s major emissions-cutting initiative, the Clean Power Plan.
Sea level rise will likely be worse in some regions of the U.S. because of ocean currents, wind patterns and settling sediments. The authors examined six scenarios with a range of probabilities in an effort to help state and local governments plan for sea level rise. Under all of them, the Northeast should expect higher waters than much of the rest of the globe. The Pacific Northwest and Alaska would likely experience lower-than-average increases under the best-case scenarios.
“The ocean’s not flat,” said William V. Sweet, one of the authors and a scientist at NOAA. “It’s not going to rise like water in a bathtub.”
The six scenarios are based on United Nations models of future greenhouse gas emissions, depending on whether countries rapidly slash pollution or continue burning fossil fuels as usual. The authors determined that the worst-case rise of more than 8 feet has only a 0.1 percent chance of occurring by 2100, even under a business-as-usual emissions scenario, but a rise of more than 1.5 feet is near certain with high emissions.
The increase in the estimates for global sea rise was partly due to new research on the Antarctic ice sheet, which is melting faster and appears to be more fragile than previously estimated, suggesting that some of the more pessimistic scenarios are increasingly likely.
The report also warned that moderate coastal flooding will become 25 times more likely with a 14-inch rise in the seas. That level could come anytime from 2030 to 2080 for most coastal cities, depending on their location and the world’s emissions. It would mean that a flood that now comes once every five years would be expected five times a year.
Sea levels have already risen by more than 8 inches globally since 1880, with 3 inches coming since 1993. Tidal flooding “has increased by an order of magnitude over the past several decades,” the report says, “turning it from a rare event into a recurrent and disruptive problem.”
The authors note that 2 million Americans would likely see their homes permanently flooded if sea levels rise 3 feet. Twice that increase would inundate the homes of 6 million. Only the rosiest scenarios would avoid a 3-foot rise by 2100. The effects of global warming, of course, will continue long beyond that year.
“Even if society sharply reduces emissions in the coming decades,” the authors write, “sea level will most likely continue to rise for centuries.”
Published Under: Climate Science, NOAA
About the Author
Nicholas Kusnetz is a reporter for InsideClimate News. Before joining ICN, he ran the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation, which won a New York Press Club Award for Political Coverage. He also covered fracking as a reporting fellow at ProPublica and was a 2011 Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism. His work has appeared in more than a dozen publications, including Slate, The Washington Post, Businessweek, Mother Jones, The Nation, Fast Company and The New York Times.
Nicholas can be reached at: email@example.com.
Accessed at https://insideclimatenews.org/news/24012017/sea-level-rise-global-warming-federal-report-donald-trump on January 25, 2017.
The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Interagency Task Force jointly convened by the USGCRP and the National Ocean Council NOC
The Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Interagency Task Force, jointly convened by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the National Ocean Council (NOC), began its work in August 2015. The Task Force has focused its efforts on three primary tasks:
- updating scenarios of global mean sea level (GMSL) rise
- integrating the global scenarios with regional factors contributing to sea level change for the entire U.S. coastline
- Incorporating these regionally appropriate scenarios within coastal risk management tools and capabilities deployed by individual agencies in support of the needs of specific stakeholder groups and user communities.
This technical report focuses on the first two of these tasks and reports on the production of gridded relative sea level (RSL, which includes both ocean-level change and vertical land motion) projections for the United States associated with an updated set of GMSL scenarios. In addition to supporting the longer-term Task Force effort, this new product will be an important input into the USGCRP Sustained Assessment process and upcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) due in 2018. This report also serves as a key technical input into the in-progress USGCRP Climate Science Special Report (CSSR).
In order to bound the set of GMSL rise scenarios for year 2100, we assessed the most up-to-date scientific literature on scientifically supported upper-end GMSL projections, including recent observational and modeling literature related to the potential for rapid ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. The projections and results presented in several peer-reviewed publications provide evidence to support a physically plausible GMSL rise in the range of 2.0 meters (m) to 2.7 m, and recent results regarding Antarctic ice-sheet instability indicate that such outcomes may be more likely than previously thought. To ensure consistency with these recent updates to the peer-reviewed scientific literature, we recommend a revised ‘extreme’ upper-bound scenario for GMSL rise of 2.5 m by the year 2100, which is 0.5 m higher than the upper bound scenario from Parris et al. (2012) employed by the Third NCA (NCA3). In addition, after consideration of tide gauge and altimeter-based estimates of the rates of GMSL change over the past quarter-century and of recent modeling of future low-end projections of GMSL rise, we revise Parris et al. (2012)’s estimate of the lower bound upward by 0.1 m to 0.3 m by the year 2100.
This report articulates the linkages between scenario-based and probabilistic projections of future sea levels for coastal-risk planning, management of long-lived critical infrastructure, mission readiness, and other purposes. The probabilistic projections discussed in this report recognize the inherent dependency (conditionality) of future GMSL rise on future greenhouse-gas emissions and associated ocean-atmosphere warming. In recognition of the different time horizons of relevance to different decision contexts, as well as the long-term GMSL rise commitment (lagged GMSL response) from on-going increases in ocean-atmosphere warming, GMSL rise and associated RSL change are quantified from the year 2000 through the year 2200 (on a decadal basis to 2100 and with lower temporal frequency between 2100 and 2200).
The 0.3 m-2.5 m GMSL range for 2100 is discretized by 0.5-m increments and aligned with emissions-based, conditional probabilistic storylines and global model projections into six GMSL rise scenarios: a Low, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate, Intermediate-High, High and Extreme, which correspond to GMSL rise of 0.3 m, 0.5 m, 1.0 m, 1.5 m, 2.0 m and 2.5 m, respectively. These GMSL rise scenarios are used to derive regional RSL responses on a 1-degree grid covering the coastlines of the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the Pacific island territories, as well as at the precise locations of tide gauges along these coastlines. These scenario-based RSL values fill a major gap in climate information needed to support a wide range of assessment, planning, and decision-making processes. GMSL was adjusted to account for key factors important at regional scales, including: 1) shifts in oceanographic factors such as circulation patterns; 2) changes in the Earth’s gravitational field and rotation, and the flexure of the crust and upper mantle, due to melting of land-based ice; and 3) vertical land movement (VLM; subsidence or uplift) due to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA, which also changes Earth’s gravitational field and rotation, as well as the overall shape of the ocean basin), sediment compaction, groundwater and fossil fuel withdrawals, and other nonclimatic factors. Key findings include:
- Along regions of the Northeast Atlantic (Virginia coast and northward) and the western Gulf of Mexico coasts, RSL rise is projected to be greater than the global average for almost all future GMSL rise scenarios (e.g., 0.3-0.5 m or more RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the Intermediate scenario).
- Along much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska coasts, RSL is projected to be less than the global average under the Low-to-Intermediate scenarios (e.g., 0.1-1 m or less RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the Intermediate scenario).
- Along almost all U.S. coasts outside Alaska, RSL is projected to be higher than the global average under the Intermediate-High, High and Extreme scenarios (e.g., 0.3-1 m or more RSL rise by the year 2100 than GMSL rise under the High scenario).
Finally, the consequences of rising RSL are presented in terms of how the frequency of moderate-level flooding associated with a NOAA coastal/lakeshore flood warning of a serious risk to life and property may change in the future under the sea level scenarios. The elevation threshold used to classify such events by NOAA on their tide gauges varies along the U.S. coastline, but in general it is about 0.8 m (2.6 feet) above the highest average tide and locally has a 20% annual chance of occurrence. For example, using the flood-frequency definition, we find at most locations examined (90 cities along the U.S. coastline outside of Alaska) that with only about 0.35 m (<14 inches) of local RSL rise, annual frequencies of such disruptive/damaging flooding will increase 25-fold by or about (±5 years) 2080, 2060, 2040 and 2030 under the Low, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate and Intermediate High subset of scenarios, respectively.
This technical report focuses on the first two of these tasks and reports on the production of gridded relative sea level (RSL, which includes both ocean-level change and vertical land motion) projections for the United States associated with an updated set of GMSL scenarios
Intermediate, Intermediate-High, High, and Extreme, which correspond to GMSL rise of 0.3, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 m, respectively. In recognition of long-term GMSL rise commitment (lagged GMSL response), GMSL and associated RSL values are quantified from the year 2000 through the year 2200 (on a decadal basis to 2100 and with lower temporal frequency between 2100 and 2200).
The GMSL rise scenarios at each grid cell are adjusted to account for key factors important at regional scales, including
- shifts in oceanographic factors such as circulation patterns
- changes in the Earth’s gravitational field and rotation
- flexure of its crust and upper mantle due to melting of land-based ice
- VLM—subsidence or uplift—due to GIA (which also changes the shape of the ocean basin and sea level)
- sediment compaction
- groundwater withdrawals
- fossil fuel withdrawals
- other nonclimatic factors
Key findings include that:
- For almost all future GMSL rise scenarios, RSL rise is projected to be greater than the global average along the coasts of the U.S. Northeast and the western Gulf of Mexico.
- Under the Intermediate and Low GMSL rise scenarios, RSL is projected to be less than the global average along much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska coasts.
- Under the Intermediate-High, High and Extreme GMSL rise scenarios, RSL is projected to be higher than the global average along almost all U.S. coasts outside Alaska.
Global mean sea level (GMSL) has increased by about 21 centimeters (cm) to 24 cm (8–9 inches [in]) since 1880, with about 8 cm (3 in) occurring since 1993 (Church and White, 2011; Hay et al., 2015; Nerem et al., 2010). In addition, the rate of GMSL rise since 1900 has been faster than during any comparable period over at least the last 2800 years (Kopp et al., 2016a).
GLOBAL AND REGIONAL SEA LEVEL RISE SCENARIOS FOR THE UNITED STATESWhile the long-term, upward shift in sea level is an underlying driver of changes to the nation’s coasts, impacts are generally expressed through extreme water levels (short-period, lower-probability events both chronic and acute in nature) occurring against the background of this shifting baseline. Higher sea levels worsen the impacts of storm surge, high tides, and wave action (e.g., Theuerkauf et al., 2014), even absent any changes in storm frequency and intensity. Even the relatively small increases in sea level over the last several decades have led to greater storm impacts at many places along the U.S. coast (Parris et al., 2012; Miller et al., 2013; Sweet et al., 2013). Similarly, the frequency of intermittent flooding associated with unusually high tides has increased rapidly (accelerating in many locations) in response to increases in relative sea level (RSL) as shown in Figure 1.
At some locations in the United States, the frequency of tidal flooding (events typically without a local storm present) has increased by an order of magnitude over the past several decades, turning it from a rare event into a recurrent and disruptive problem (Sweet et al., 2014; Sweet and Park, 2014; Sweet et al., 2016). Significant, direct impacts of long-term RSL rise, including loss of life, damage to infrastructure and the built environment, permanent loss of land (Weiss et al., 2011), ecological regime shifts in coastal wetlands and estuary systems (Kirwan et al., 2010), and water quality impairment (Masterson et al., 2014), also occur when key thresholds in the coastal environment are crossed (Wong et al., 2014). Some of these impacts have the potential to ‘feedback’ and influence wave impacts and coastal flooding. For example, there is evidence that wave action and flooding of beaches and marshes can induce changes in coastal geomorphology, such as sediment build up, that may iteratively modify the future flood risk profile of communities and ecosystems (Lentz et al., 2016).
Figure 1. a) Multi-year empirical (smoothed) distributions for daily highest water levels in Norfolk, Va. (Sweet and Park 2014) for the 1960s and 2010s, showing extent that local RSL rise has increased the flood probability relative to impact thresholds defined locally by the National Weather Service (http://water.weather.gov/ahps) for minor (~0.5 m: nuisance level), moderate (~0.9 m) and major (~1.2 m: local level of Hurricane Sandy in 2012) impacts, relative to mean higher high water (MHHW) tidal datum of the National Tidal Datum Epoch (1983–2001). b) Due to RSL rise, annual flood frequencies (based upon 5-year averages) in Norfolk for recurrent nuisance tidal floods with minor impacts are accelerating, as shown by the quadratic trend fit (goodness of fit [R2]=0.84). Flood rates are rapidly increasing in similar fashions along dozens of coastal cities of the U.S. (e.g., Sweet et al., 2014; Sweet and Park, 2014; Sweet and Marra, 2016).
In this context, there is a clear need—and a clear call from states and coastal communities (White House, 2014)—to support preparedness planning with consistent, accessible, authoritative and more locally appropriate knowledge, data, information, and tools about future changes in sea level and associated coastal risks. In response to this need, the White House Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience in 2015 called for the establishment of the Federal Interagency Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flood Hazard Scenarios and Tools Task Force,1 a joint task force of the National Ocean Council (NOC) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The Task Force’s charge is to develop and disseminate, through interagency coordination and collaboration, future RSL and associated coastal flood hazard scenarios and tools for the entire United States. These scenarios and tools are intended to serve as a starting point for on-the-ground coastal preparedness planning and risk management processes, including compliance with the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS).2 The Task Force is charged with leveraging the best available science; incorporating regional science and expertise where appropriate; building this information into user-friendly mapping, visualization, and analysis tools; and making it easily accessible through established Federal web portals.3 Part of the motivation for forming the Task Force was to bring together key efforts within individual agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Department of Defense (DoD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), that could serve as building blocks of an overall Federal system of sea level information and decision support, and to provide synthesis and coverage of the entire United States coastline.
1 See appendix A for Task Force membership.
2 E.O. 13690: Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input
3 e.g., Digital Coast, globalchange.gov, and the Climate Resilience Toolkit
Figure 3. a) GMSL rise from -500 to 1900 CE from Kopp et al. (2016a)’s geological and tide gauge-based reconstruction [black line with blue error estimates], from 1900 to 2010 from Hay et al. (2015)’s tide gauge-based reconstruction [black], and from 1992 to 2015 from the satellite-based reconstruction updated from Nerem et al. (2010) [magenta] and b) comparisons of GMSL since 1992 from NOAA/NESDIS/STAR (black line) and the summation (purple line) of global mean ocean mass from GRACE (blue line) and steric (density) sea level from Argo (red line) with seasonal variations removed and 60-day smoothing applied (from Leuliette and Nerem, 2016).
Fig 3 a GMSL rise from -500 to 1900 CE geological – tide gauge-based reconstruction from 1900 to 2010
Figure 4. a) Sea level change rates from 1992-2016 from TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Jason-2 (www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/sod/lsa/SeaLevelRise) and b) relative sea level trends based upon full record (>30-year period of record in all cases) measured and published for NOAA tide gauges through 2015 (tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends).
NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 083
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
National Ocean Service
Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services
GLOBAL AND REGIONAL SEA LEVEL RISE SCENARIOS FOR THE UNITED STATES
Silver Spring, Maryland
Accessed at https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/techrpt83_Global_and_Regional_SLR_Scenarios_for_the_US_final.pdf on January 25, 2017.
The Power of Water
Graphic credit: “Oceanic Nino Index. Courtesy of Jan Null’s website with data from NOAA.”
NOAA explains how major winter storms can create winds and battering waves resulting in damaging storm surge conditions for coastal communities:
“Longtime residents who live in US coastal communities know the danger of storm surge damage all too well. Sure, it’s the tropical storms and hurricanes that get named and categorized. However, if you ask those same coastal residents, ones who’ve experienced dozens of ocean storms, what their memories are of the most destructive storm surge events, you likely won’t hear them rattle off any hurricane names. It’s the large winter ocean storms that send a flood of bad memories.
Take January 2016 as an example. As a large and powerful blizzard blanketed much of the east coast with several feet of snow, the storm was churning up the ocean waters with tremendous ferocity, pushing massive amounts of water and waves toward the coast of New Jersey. At Cape May, NJ, it wasn’t the snowfall amounts that worried them. Water levels swelled to 6.61 feet, setting an all-time record for water level height and resulting in major coastal flooding. More record flood levels fell farther down the east coast as residents were left in awe at the amount of flooding that a winter storm caused…”
Accessed at http://www.startribune.com/blogs/Paul_Douglas_on_Weather/ on January 26, 2017.
Going, going, gone: Canadian Arctic faces threat of coastal erosion
This graphic shows Arctic coastal erosion and its biological, geological and chemical impacts on the shallow water zone. Graphic courtesy of the Alfred Wegener Institute
By Maura Forrest, Arctic Deeply | Jan. 26, 2017 at 8:25 AM Follow @upi Jan. 26 (UPI) —
Stefanie Weege, a scientist with the Alfred Wegener Institute, takes the GPS coordinates of the edge of a cliff at Herschel Island to be able to compare the data from different years and get the amount of retreat or coastal erosion. Photo courtesy of the Alfred Wegener Institute
Darrel Nasogaluak has an unusual problem.
As the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk, a small Inuvialuit hamlet on the coast of the Beaufort Sea in the Northwest Territories, he has had to watch bits of his community wash away over the years.
Sometimes during a summer storm, he says, up to 15 feet of shoreline can disappear in a few days.
It’s now gotten to the point where a few homes are so close to the water’s edge that they’re getting spray on their windows during those storms, he adds.
“We’ve lost a lot of shoreline in the past 25 or 30 years.”
Coastal erosion is nothing new in the Arctic. But it’s gotten faster in recent years, due to climate change. In some regions of the Beaufort Sea, more than 70 feet of coastline are lost each year.
This circumpolar map shows erosion rates. Map courtesy of Arctic Coastal Dynamics Database
The problem has attracted international attention in Alaska, where several coastal villages are considering relocation to escape the encroaching water.
In the Canadian Arctic, too, communities are facing tough decisions about how to protect homes and infrastructure from washing into the sea.
“We are losing ground,” says Bill Beamish, Tuktoyaktuk’s senior administrative officer. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Nasogaluak says a few buildings have been moved away from the coast in Tuktoyaktuk in recent years, but there are still five occupied houses that are right next to the shoreline, some of which house elders.
“I drive by there daily, and it’s not something that you can get out of your mind, you know.”
But moving them is easier said than done. Nasogaluak said the community is waiting on territorial and federal money to help pay for the relocation and to fortify the receding shoreline around the hamlet.
It’s also waiting for gravel to help build up new lots for the houses. But that likely won’t come until the summer of 2018, Nasogaluak says, when it can be trucked up the new all-season road under construction from Inuvik, 75 miles to the south.
In the meantime, the hamlet is working on a new official community plan, which will address the threat of coastal erosion.
Margaret Kralt, a professional planner with Dillon Consulting in Yellowknife, says the plan will zone certain high-risk areas as off-limits to development. Tuktoyaktuk isn’t in a position where it needs to consider relocating the entire community at once, she says, but the process is happening gradually.
“Moving an entire community is not something that’s inexpensive,” she explains. “It takes a lot of money and energy.”
Arctic coastlines have some of the highest rates of erosion in the world, and those rates are increasing as the climate warms.
That’s partly because sea ice is forming later and melting earlier, exposing shorelines to heavy waves for longer. As permafrost melts, coastline that once was rock-solid is now starting to soften and wash away.
The permafrost “is really as hard as concrete, but when you thaw it, when you melt out the ice, then it immediately loses its cohesion,” explains Michael Fritz, a German researcher who has studied coastal erosion on Yukon’s Herschel Island for close to a decade. “So it’s just falling apart, literally, and it all moves down-slope and is washed into the sea.”
Fritz and his colleagues published a paper this month in the journal Nature Climate Change, calling for more research into the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of Arctic coastal erosion. He believes the issue isn’t studied enough because large research vessels avoid the shallow water where coastal erosion is taking place.
“If we don’t invest more … we will not be able to create knowledge or to mitigate the very abrupt changes that are happening right now,” he says.
Fritz also says erosion research should take into account the traditional knowledge of local people who are witnessing the changes firsthand.
The Canadian government is putting some resources into measuring the rate of coastal erosion in the Arctic. For instance, Dustin Whalen, a physical scientist with Natural Resources Canada, has been using an aerial drone to take photos of the changing Beaufort Sea coastline. The goal is to calculate how much sediment is eroding each year.
“I think what’s a great story about this is we’re using a very cheap, innovative technology to map one of the most affected coastlines in the world … in ways that we never were before,” he says.
But those measurements may not help those who are dealing with the impacts of coastal erosion right now.
The ocean laps against a historic whaling building on Herschel Island. Photo courtesy of the government of Yukon
On Herschel Island, three of 12 historic buildings that formed a small whaling settlement at the turn of the 20th century were moved back from the water’s edge, starting in 2003. Now their foundations have been raised above the water level and there are plans to lift the other buildings, too.
Barb Hogan, the manager of historic sites for the Yukon government, says it’s possible the entire settlement could be moved to a new location inland at some point. But that wouldn’t be an easy decision.
“There’s a lot of things to consider if you move it into another area on the island. You’ve lost its historic context,” she says, explaining that the settlement was built in a protected cove where whaling boats could anchor.
Instead, she jokes, the government might just lift the buildings up higher and let people paddle out to them. “It’ll be the Venice of the north.”
But these are real questions that will have to be answered. In Tuktoyaktuk, Nasogaluak’s concerns stretch beyond the five houses now sitting on the edge of the water.
He worries about the harbor, which is currently protected by a long, skinny island less than 44 yards wide at its narrowest point. At current rates of erosion, the island could be breached within 20 years, which could allow big waves right into the harbor, threatening Tuktoyaktuk’s hopes of becoming a deep-water port.
Bill Beamish says the harbor will also have to be redredged at some point, to remove all the sediment building up in the shallow water.
Still, the situation isn’t desperate, says Nasogaluak. That’s partly because the community has access to higher ground.
But it’s also because the community is used to change, he says. Over the years, the police station and school have been moved inland when they had to be rebuilt.
“Our people have been adapting to change for the past 100 years or more, and I think that’s an advantage for us, because we’re a culture that’s been changing so rapidly,” Nasogaluak said. “It’s part of our life right now.”
Maura Forrest is a Canadian journalist based in Whitehorse, Yukon. This article originally appeared on Arctic Deeply, and you can find the original here. For important news about Arctic geopolitics, economy, and ecology, you can sign up to the Arctic Deeply email list.
Copyright © 2017 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Accessed at http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/01/26/Going-going-gone-Canadian-Arctic-faces-threat-of-coastal-erosion/2361485434394/?utm_source=fp&utm_campaign=ts&utm_medium=5 on January 26, 2017.
AR2527 C9_3 on Jan 21st 2017 at 0726 UT
AN UPTICK IN SOLAR ACTIVITY: After weeks of no solar flares, there have been half a dozen in the past 24 hours. The source of the activity is two new sunspots emerging in the sun’s northern hemisphere: AR2527 and AR2528. The magnetic canopy of these sunspots is crackling with C-class solar flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this one (C9.3) on Jan 21st at 0726 UT:
It is important to note that these are not major flares. The strongest so far has registered C9 on the Richter Scale of Solar Flares. During Solar Maximum, such a puny flare would not be mentioned as busy space weather forecasters tracked explosions 100x more potent. But now, with sunspot counts so low and flares so seldom, a C9 event is noteworthy.
Extreme UV radiation from C-class flares can produce minor waves of ionization in Earth’s upper atmosphere and interfere with the normal propagation of shortwave radio signals–mainly at frequencies 10 MHz and below. Stronger flares could be in the offing as sunspot complex AR2627-2628 continues to grow. Stay tuned for updates.
©2016 Spaceweather.com. All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
Close approach of Asteroid 2017 BX on January 25, 2017
Volcanic Activity for the week of 18 January-24 January 2017
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.
Bogoslof 24 Jan 2017 Red Alert when an ice-rich plume rose to altitudes of 25,000-35,000 ft
Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) | 53.93°N, 168.03°W | Elevation 150 m
AVO reported that an explosive event at Bogoslof began at about 1320 on 18 January, generating an ash plume that rose at least to an altitude of 9.4 km (31,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE. The dark (ash-rich) plume was identified in satellite images and observed by a pilot, and produced lightning strikes and infrasound signals detected by sensors in Sand Point and Dillingham. Analysis of a satellite image suggested the presence of very hot material (lava) at the surface immediately surrounding the vent, which was the first such observation since the beginning of the eruption. AVO raised the Aviation Color Code (ACC) to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Warning. A second lower-altitude cloud was visible in satellite images around 1400, likely corresponding with an increase in seismic tremor that occurred from 1340-1355. The ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch the next day.
Another explosion was detected at 1317 on 20 January, following an approximately 30-minute-long increase in seismic activity, based on seismic data and lightning detected from the World Wide Lightning Location Network. Pilots observed an ash plume rising to an altitude of 11 km (36,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifting SE. Satellite images indicated an ice-rich plume and lava present at the vent. The ACC was raised to Red and the VAL was raised to Warning, but were again lowered one level to Orange and Watch, respectively, the next day. Several lightning strikes north of Bogoslof indicated that an explosive event began at 1409 on 22 January. An ash plume identified in satellite images rose to an altitude of 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. The ACC was raised to Red and the VAL was raised to Warning, and again lowered one level the next day. Following a period of increasing seismicity, an explosive event began at 0453 on 24 January, as indicated in seismic data and lightning detection, prompting AVO to raise the ACC to Red and the VAL to Warning. Seven minutes later an ice-rich plume which likely contained ash rose too altitudes of 7.6-10.7 km (25,000-35,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E.
Source: US Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO)
|Bogoslof||Fox Islands (USA)||New|
|Ebeko||Paramushir Island (Russia)||New|
|Takawangha||Andreanof Islands (USA)||New|
|Bagana||Bougainville (Papua New Guinea)||Ongoing|
|Kilauea||Hawaiian Islands (USA)||Ongoing|
|Klyuchevskoy||Central Kamchatka (Russia)||Ongoing|
|Sheveluch||Central Kamchatka (Russia)||Ongoing|
VA SIGMETs valid 26 Jan 2017 Volcanic Ash Hazards
VA ERUPTIONS MT CHIRINKOTAN Kuril Islands & BOGOSLOF Aleutian Islands
VA ERUPTION MT CHIRINKOTAN VALID 261735/262335
World Earthquakes for the week ending 26 January 2017
UTC 2017-01-22 04:30:23 M 7.9 – 25.9 mi WNW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea 84.5 mi depth
Doomsday Clock moves closer to disaster: two and a half minutes to midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists § 1
It is two and a half minutes to midnight
Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains. A printable PDF of this statement, complete with the executive director’s statement and Science and Security Board biographies, is available here.
To: Leaders and citizens of the world
Re: It is 30 seconds closer to midnight
Date: January 26, 2017
Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change.
The United States and Russia—which together possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons—remained at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO; both countries continued wide-ranging modernizations of their nuclear forces, and serious arms control negotiations were nowhere to be seen. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth underground nuclear tests and gave every indication it would continue to develop nuclear weapons delivery capabilities. Threats of nuclear warfare hung in the background as Pakistan and India faced each other warily across the Line of Control in Kashmir after militants attacked two Indian army bases.
The climate change outlook was somewhat less dismal—but only somewhat. In the wake of the landmark Paris climate accord, the nations of the world have taken some actions to combat climate change, and global carbon dioxide emissions were essentially flat in 2016, compared to the previous year. Still, they have not yet started to decrease; the world continues to warm. Keeping future temperatures at less-than-catastrophic levels requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions far beyond those agreed to in Paris—yet little appetite for additional cuts was in evidence at the November climate conference in Marrakech.
This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board takes a broad and international view of existential threats to humanity, focusing on long-term trends. Because of that perspective, the statements of a single person—particularly one not yet in office—have not historically influenced the board’s decision on the setting of the Doomsday Clock.
But wavering public confidence in the democratic institutions required to deal with major world threats do affect the board’s decisions. And this year, events surrounding the US presidential campaign—including cyber offensives and deception campaigns apparently directed by the Russian government and aimed at disrupting the US election—have brought American democracy and Russian intentions into question and thereby made the world more dangerous than was the case a year ago.
For these reasons, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has decided to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe. It is now two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight.
The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute—something it has never before done—reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days. Many of his cabinet nominations are not yet confirmed by the Senate or installed in government, and he has had little time to take official action.
Just the same, words matter, and President Trump has had plenty to say over the last year. Both his statements and his actions as president-elect have broken with historical precedent in unsettling ways. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding the US nuclear arsenal. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts. And his nominees to head the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency dispute the basics of climate science.
In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.
Last year, and the year before, we warned that world leaders were failing to act with the speed and on the scale required to protect citizens from the extreme danger posed by climate change and nuclear war. During the past year, the need for leadership only intensified—yet inaction and brinksmanship have continued, endangering every person, everywhere on Earth.
Who will lead humanity away from global disaster?
A dangerous nuclear situation on multiple fronts.
Predictability and continuity are often prized when it comes to nuclear weapons policy, because the results of miscommunication or miscalculation could be so catastrophic. Last year, however, the nuclear weapons continuity most in evidence was negative: North Korea’s continuing nuclear weapons development, the steady march of arsenal modernization programs in the nuclear weapon states, simmering tension between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, and stagnation in arms control.
North Korea conducted two more nuclear weapons tests, the second, in September, yielding about twice the explosive power of the first, in January. Pyongyang also relentlessly tested missiles, achieving a rate of about two launches per month in 2016. In his 2017 New Year’s statement, Kim Jong-un declared he would soon test a missile with an intercontinental range. The UN Security Council passed new sanctions against North Korea in November 2016 in an effort to further limit the country’s access to cash, but there is no guarantee those sanctions will succeed where others have failed.
Meanwhile, Russia is building new silo-based missiles, the new Borei class of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, and new rail-mobile missiles as it revamps other intercontinental ballistic missiles. The United States forges ahead with plans to modernize each part of its triad (bombers, land-based missiles, and missile-carrying submarines), adding new capabilities, such as cruise missiles with increased ranges. As it improves the survivability of its own nuclear forces, China is helping Pakistan build submarine platforms. And Pakistan and India continue to expand the number of weapons in and the sophistication of their nuclear arsenals.
Elsewhere, nuclear volatility has been (and remains) the order of the day. While the US president-elect engaged in casual talk about nuclear weapons, suggesting South Korea and Japan acquire their own nuclear weapons to compete with North Korea, other countries voted in the United Nations to move forward toward a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, passing Resolution L41. In 2017, those states will convene to consider a nuclear weapons ban, presumably without the 38 countries—including the United States and a number of its allies—that voted against the ban. A ban would be merely symbolic without the participation or input of countries that have nuclear weapons. But this approach—which circumvents traditional, often glacial efforts like the Conference on Disarmament—reflects long-held frustration with the slow pace of progress toward nuclear disarmament. The world saw the 20th anniversary of the first signature on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty pass in 2016; the treaty still awaits its entry into force.
The Iran nuclear deal has been successful in accomplishing its goals during its first year, but its future is in doubt under the Trump administration. No firm plans have been made to extend the nuclear security summit process. Disputes over Ukraine, Syria, ballistic missile defenses in Europe, and election interference have the United States and Russia at loggerheads, with little if any prospect that nuclear arms reduction negotiations will resume.
Progress in reducing the overall threat of nuclear war has stalled—and in many ways, gone into reverse. This state of affairs poses a clear and urgent threat to civilization, and citizens around the world should demand that their leaders quickly address and lessen the danger.
The clear need for climate action.
Global efforts to limit climate change have produced mixed results over the last year. The Paris Agreement went into effect in 2016, and countries are taking some actions to bring down emissions of greenhouse gases. There are encouraging signs that global annual emissions were flat this past year, though there is no assurance this heralds a break point. If the global economy has weaned itself from exponentially growing emissions rates, that would indeed be a major accomplishment.
But because carbon dioxide persists in the atmosphere for centuries, net emissions must eventually be put on a trajectory to reach zero if global warming is to be stemmed. The longer it takes to shift toward that trajectory, the greater the warming—and consequences—that current and future generations will face. The true success of the Paris Agreement should be measured against a strict criterion: Do the next steps in its implementation bring about the reductions of carbon dioxide emissions necessary to keep world temperatures from reaching levels that: threaten catastrophic sea level rise; change rainfall patterns and therefore threaten agriculture; increase storm severity; reduce biodiversity; and alter ocean chemistry (among the many negative impacts that unchecked global warming will cause)?
The continued warming of the world measured in 2016 underscores one clear fact: Nothing is fundamentally amiss with the scientific understanding of climate physics. The burning of fossil fuels adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, inhibiting the radiation of heat into space. The relationship between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and increased terrestrial temperature has been researched for decades, and national science academies around the world agree: Human activity is the primary cause of climate change, and unless carbon dioxide emissions are dramatically reduced, global warming will threaten the future of humanity.
In 2016, however, the international community did not take the steps needed to begin the path toward a net zero-carbon-emissions world. The Marrakech Climate Change Conference, for instance, produced little progress beyond the emissions goals pledged under the Paris Accord.
The political situation in the United States is of particular concern. The Trump transition team has put forward candidates for cabinet-level positions (especially at the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department) who foreshadow the possibility that the new administration will be openly hostile to progress toward even the most modest efforts to avert catastrophic climate disruption.
Climate change should not be a partisan political issue. The well-established physics of Earth’s carbon cycle is neither liberal nor conservative in character. The planet will continue to warm to dangerous levels so long as carbon dioxide continues to be pumped into the atmosphere—regardless of who is chosen to lead the United States or any other country.
International leaders need to refocus their attention on achieving the additional carbon emission reductions that are needed to capitalize on the promise of the Paris Accord. In the United States, as a very first step, the Trump administration needs to make a clear, unequivocal statement that it accepts climate change, caused by human activity, as a scientific reality. No problem can be solved, unless its existence is recognized.
Nuclear power: An option worth careful consideration.
During the last half of the 20th century, the most profound existential threat facing the world was the prospect of global nuclear holocaust, sparked by decisions made under the pressure of the very short time required for intercontinental ballistic missiles to reach their targets. In the 21st century, another existential threat looms: global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from more than 100 years of fossil fuel use.
Ironically, the nuclear forces used in weapons of mass destruction can also be harnessed as a carbon-free source of energy. Splitting the atom provides a million-fold increase in energy over the simple chemical reactions that convert fossil fuels to carbon dioxide and energy. The scale of the energy potential of nuclear fission—and its capacity to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—make nuclear power a tempting part of the solution to the climate change problem. Some 440 nuclear power plants already generate 11 percent of the world’s electricity.
In addition to its promise, however, nuclear power has safety, cost, waste, and proliferation challenges. One can argue that the number of deaths and adverse health effects caused by nuclear power has been minimal, even when major accidents have occurred. But a single accident can change governmental policy and public attitudes toward nuclear power. That single accident can also affect multiple countries and produce effects that stretch over decades—as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have shown.
Although new nuclear power plants are being built, mainly in Asia, the scale of the effort does not match the need for clean energy. Today’s 400-plus nuclear power plants are, on average, 30 years old. They displace some 0.5 to 0.7 gigatons of carbon each year, as compared to the 10 gigatons discharged annually from the use of fossil fuels.
To achieve just 6 percent of needed reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power would have to increase in capacity at least threefold during the next 50 years. This would mean adding 2,000 megawatts of capacity per month, the equivalent of a new 1 gigawatt-electric nuclear power plant every several weeks. Such growth in the use of nuclear power would also require concomitant commitments to nuclear safety, security, and waste management that are politically, technically, and intergenerationally responsible.
In the short and medium terms, governments will need to discourage the premature closure of existing reactors that are—as determined on a case-by-case basis—safe and economically viable. In the longer term, entrepreneurs will have to design and test new types of reactors that can be built quickly, and they will then have to prove to regulators that those new reactors are at least as safe as the commercial nuclear plants now operating.
It is likely that leaders in different parts of the world will make different decisions on whether their countries will or will not include nuclear power in their efforts to combat climate change. Where nuclear power is used, at a very minimum, leaders must ensure that truly independent regulatory systems and safe geological disposal repositories are created.
Potential threats from emerging technologies.
In December, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had intervened in the 2016 US presidential campaign to help Donald Trump in ways that highlight the vulnerability of critical information systems in cyberspace. Information monocultures, fake news, and the hacking and release of politically sensitive emails may have had an illegitimate impact on the US presidential election, threatening the fabric of democracy, which relies on an informed electorate to decide the direction of public policy—including policy relating to existential threats such as nuclear weapons and climate change. If not controlled, these types of electoral attacks could be launched against democracies around the world, undermining belief in representative government and thereby endangering humanity as a whole.
Such attacks on the democratic process, however, represent just one threat associated with the modern world’s increased reliance on the internet and information technology. Sophisticated hacking—whether by private groups or governmental entities—has the potential to create grave and large impacts, threatening financial activities and national electrical power grids and plants (including nuclear power plants) and the personal freedoms that are based on the privacy at the core of democracy.
Beyond cybersecurity, the increasing potential of autonomous machine systems—which could, for example, allow the development of efficient, self-driving cars—also opens up a new set of risks that require thoughtful management. Without good governance, including appropriate regulation, these threats could emerge in coming decades as existential—that is, dangerous to the whole of humanity or to modern civilization as we know it. Lethal autonomous weapons systems that make “kill” decisions without human input or supervision, for example, would be particularly worrisome. Advances in synthetic biology, including the CRISPR gene-editing tool, also have great positive potential—and a dark side that includes the possible creation of bioweapons and other dangerous manipulations of genetic material.
Technological innovation is occurring at a speed that challenges society’s ability to keep pace. While limited at the current time, potentially existential threats posed by a host of emerging technologies need to be monitored, and to the extent possible anticipated, as the 21st century unfolds.
Reducing risk: Expert advice and citizen action.
Technology continues to outpace humanity’s capacity to control it, even as many citizens lose faith in the institutions upon which they must rely to make scientific innovation work for rather than against them. Expert advice is crucial if governments are to effectively deal with complex global threats. The Science and Security Board is extremely concerned about the willingness of governments around the world—including the incoming US administration—to ignore or discount sound science and considered expertise during their decision-making processes.
Wise men and women have said that public policy is never made in the absence of politics. But in this unusual political year, we offer a corollary: Good policy takes account of politics but is never made in the absence of expertise. Facts are indeed stubborn things, and they must be taken into account if the future of humanity is to be preserved, long term.
Nuclear weapons and climate change are precisely the sort of complex existential threats that cannot be properly managed without access to and reliance on expert knowledge. In 2016, world leaders not only failed to deal adequately with those threats; they actually increased the risk of nuclear war and unchecked climate change through a variety of provocative statements and actions, including careless rhetoric about the use of nuclear weapons and the wanton defiance of scientific truths. We call on these leaders—particularly in Russia and the United States—to refocus in the coming year on reducing existential risks and preserving humanity, in no small part by consulting with top-level experts and taking scientific research and observed reality into account.
Because we know from experience that governmental leaders respond to public pressure, we also call on citizens of the world to express themselves in all the ways available to them—including through use of the powerful new tools of social media—to demand that:
- US and Russian leaders return to the negotiating table to seek further reductions in nuclear arms and to limit nuclear modernization programs that threaten to create a new nuclear arms race. The world can be more secure with much, much smaller nuclear arsenals than now exist—if political leaders are truly interested in protecting their citizens from harm.
- The United States and Russia reduce the alert levels of their nuclear weapons and use existing crisis stability mechanisms to avoid inadvertent escalation of conflict. Provocative military exercises increase the possibilities for accidental war and should cease.
- Governments around the world sharply reduce their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions and fulfill the Paris Accord promise of keeping warming to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, or less. This temperature target is consistent with consensus views on climate science and is eminently achievable and economically viable, provided that poorer countries are given the support they need to make the post-carbon transition.
- The Trump administration acknowledge climate change as a science-backed reality and redouble US efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions and support carbon-free energy sources, including, when economically reasonable and safe over the long term, nuclear energy. It is well past time to move beyond arguments over the reality of climate change and on to solutions, including fiscal measures—such as carbon markets and carbon taxes or fees—that encourage efficiency and put a price on carbon emissions.
- The United States, China, Russia, and other concerned nations engage with North Korea to reduce nuclear risks. Neighbors in Asia face the most urgent threat, but as North Korea improves its nuclear and missile arsenals, the threat will rapidly become global. As we said last year and repeat here: Now is not the time to tighten North Korea’s isolation but to engage seriously in dialogue.
- Leaders of countries with commercial nuclear power programs deal responsibly with safety issues and with the commercial nuclear waste problem. Top experts disagree on whether an expansion of nuclear-powered electricity generation can become a major component of the effort to limit climate change. Regardless of the trajectory of the global nuclear industry, there will be a continuing need for safe and secure interim and permanent nuclear waste storage facilities and for ever-safer nuclear power plants.
- The countries of the world collaborate on creating institutions specifically assigned to explore and address potentially malign or catastrophic misuses of new technologies. Scientific advance can provide society with great benefits. But as events surrounding the recent US presidential election show, the potential for misuse of potent new technologies is real. Governmental, scientific, and business leaders need to take appropriate steps to address possibly devastating consequences of these technologies.
For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: “The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.” In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.
China ‘places ballistic missiles that can reach the US on border with Russia’
as they say the country must expand its nuclear arsenal in response to Trump’s aggression
A map showing where the weapons have been placed and their proximity to Moscow and the United States
- Unconfirmed reports say China has moved ballistic missiles to Russian border
- The weapons have been placed in Heilongjiang province in north eastern China
- The province is closest point in China to the US and on the frontier with Russia
- Comes after China is reportedly boosting nuclear arsenal in response to Trump aggression
By Jennifer Newton and Kelly Mclaughlin For Mailonline, Published: 11:18 EST, 24 January 2017 | Updated: 12:15 EST, 24 January 2017
China has reportedly placed ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and are capable of reaching the United States on its border with Russia.
The missiles, which can carry up to ten nuclear warheads up to 8,700 miles, are reportedly being moved to Heilongjiang province in north eastern China close to the frontier with Russia.
The move comes after a leading English-language Chinese newspaper said that the country must strengthen its nuclear arsenal to ‘force the US to respect it’ in response to the stance of new US President Donald Trump.
A ballistic missile being transported through Beijing in 2009. China has reportedly placed a similar missiles that can carry nuclear warheads and are capable of reaching the United States on its border with Russia
It also comes amid Russia thought to be seeking closer ties with Trump after a period of heightened tensions with the US.
In recent days, Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system, Dongfeng-41 in the northeast.
And unconfirmed reports in Chinese media say the weapons have been put in place in the central Henan region and north-eastern Heilongjiang province.
It is strategic as the province is the closest point in China to the United States and also sits on the eastern border with Russia.
The decision to deploy them was reportedly taken last month, days after the United States, Japan and South Korea held a military exercise countering the missile threat from North Korea.
The news comes on the same day the Global Times, a popular subsidiary of the Communist Party, called on China to boost its nuclear arsenal.
The paper, which is known for its inflammatory rhetoric and hawkish views, plays to nationalist sentiment and is often believed to channel hardline views within the government.
The Global Times said some media claimed the People’s Liberation Army leaked the social media photos of the missiles as a warning to Trump.
‘They think this is Beijing’s response to Trump’s provocative remarks on China,’ it added.
The US president, who took office on Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade and national security.
On Monday White House spokesman Sean Spicer warned China the US would ‘defend’ US and international interests in the disputed South China Sea, where China has built a series of artificial islands capable of military use.
Trump, who took office on Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade and national security
‘If those islands are, in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, yeah, we’ll make sure we defend international interests from being taken over by one country,’ he said.
Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said last week China’s access to the islands might be blocked – raising the prospect of a military confrontation.
China lays claim to a vast stretch of the waterway within a so-called ‘nine dash line’, including waters claimed by several of its neighbors.
The Global Times said Trump had called repeatedly for a US nuclear arms build-up.
‘Even Washington feels that its naval forces and nuclear strength are lacking, so how can China be content with its current nuclear strength when it is viewed by the US as its biggest potential opponent?’ it asked.
The comments were in marked contrast to Chinese president Xi’s speech at the United Nations days earlier, where he called for the eventual global elimination of atomic weapons
The paper said China’s nuclear forces ‘must be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown’ with it.
‘China must procure a level of strategic military strength that will force the US to respect it,’ it said.
The comments were in marked contrast to Xi’s speech at the United Nations days earlier.
‘Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,’ Xi said.
China has been a nuclear power since 1964.
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
© Associated Newspapers Ltd
Accessed at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4152544/China-set-place-nuclear-weapons-border-Russia.html on January 24, 2017.
Map showing North Korea response to THAAD in South Korea
British Tanks Roll on Channel Tunnel Test Run Amid Trump, Russia Fears
By Alexander Smith LONDON —
News Jan 22 2017, 11:30 am ET
FROM JAN. 19: NATO Chief ‘Absolutely Confident’ of U.S. Commitment Under Trump 1:25
Tourists know the Channel Tunnel as the undersea railroad that allows cheap and easy trips from Britain to mainland Europe.
But in the dead of night this week, Britain’s military sent five tanks down the 30-mile “Chunnel” to test whether it would be an effective route for forces if deployed to places such as Eastern Europe amid tensions between Russia and NATO.
The fact that Wednesday’s exercise came two days before President Trump’s inauguration appears coincidental; the British army told NBC News the test had been planned for a year.
But the potential need to fast-track forces to the Russian front served as a reminder of how seriously Washington’s allies in Europe perceive the threat on their doorstep.
These allies have traditionally felt that Washington has their back, something thrown into doubt by Trump cozying up to Moscow and branding NATO “obsolete” earlier this week.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said these remarks caused “astonishment” and “agitation” across the continent, and NATO members are now facing a future where they may no longer be able to rely on Washington.
“We cannot trust Trump to take care of [Europe’s] security,” said Josef Braml, a transatlantic expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “If Trump cuts a deal with Putin, then maybe there will be fewer tanks, American tanks, on European soil and we should prepare for that scenario.
Trump’s comments this week came after he suggested during his campaign that he might not honor NATO’s central tenet that an attack against one member state would be seen as an attack against all.
“It’s certainly freaked people out,” according to Alexander Lanoszka, an expert in American foreign policy at City, University of London. He said Trump’s comments have brought European concerns about an emboldened Russia “into sharp focus.”
Image: A Eurostar passenger train exits the Channel Tunnel in Calais, France Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg via Getty Images, file
Kier Giles, an associate fellow at London’s Chatham House think tank, agreed. “I think we’re already seeing that happening,” he said of the shock waves sent through Europe by the president-elect. “Almost all of Trump’s comments have got the attention of NATO governments.”
Like many of Trump’s public statements, his stance on NATO has been laced with contradiction. After telling The Times of London that NATO was “obsolete,” he added it was “very important to me.” Furthermore, his picks for secretary of state and defense secretary backed the alliance.
Trump’s main grip with NATO is that some members do not pull their weight financially. The facts support this view, and Barack Obama had complained of similar. Encouraging these smaller states to become self-sufficient may even be a good thing, according to some analysts.
But suggesting the U.S. could withdraw support because of these complaints was a radical move.
In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg played down any rift with the president-elect. But he also made a point of highlighting that the only time NATO’s principle of collective defense has ever been enacted was when allies came to America’s aid after 9/11
“The military operation [in Afghanistan] was a direct response on an attack on the United States,” he said. “So NATO is important both for Europe, and for the United States.”
If Trump’s support for NATO did ebb, it would represent a dramatic about-turn from current policy.
The Obama administration recently deployed the biggest build up of U.S. forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
Some 2,700 troops, along with tanks and heavy equipment, arrived in Poland earlier this month. The country shares a border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and Russia’s ally Belarus.
American military officials have highlighted a 60-mile sliver of land between Poland and NATO ally Lithuania, known as the Suwalki Gap, as a potential target in the unlikely event of a Russian invasion.
NATO and Russia have an agreement not to permanently install troops along the front line, but the U.S. argues its forces’ nine-month rotation means it’s not in violation.
Earlier this week, some 300 U.S. Marines landed for a six-month deployment in Norway, the first time since World War II that foreign troops have had permission to be stationed there, according to Reuters.
These moves were, unsurprisingly, condemned by Russia, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters that: “We consider this a threat to us.”
But some analysts say that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be biding his time and waiting for the potentially more sympathetic Trump administration to enter the White House.
That’s what worries European leaders. The theory goes that if Trump undermines NATO and lifts sanctions slapped on Russia over its annexation of Crimea, as he has suggested, Putin may be emboldened to interfere in other former Soviet countries.
According to a recent report by Russian opposition politician Ilia Yashin, Putin’s aims would be threefold:
- To increase his domestic popularity, to control more industrial assets, and to correct what he sees as Russia’s wrongful territorial loss at the end of the Cold War.
- Interfering in one of the Baltic countries wouldn’t need an invasion, rather a combination of propaganda, cyber-warfare and inserting activists and fighters in the local population to stir up tension, a tactic Putin has been accused of in eastern Ukraine.
- Against this backdrop, Trump’s comments have left many in Europe feeling exposed.
“All of this is extremely dangerous,” according to Giles at Chatham House. “But we have to see whether Trump’s comments are just a stream of consciousness, or whether there’s any relation between the messages posted on his Twitter account and actual policy.”
Accessed at http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/british-tanks-roll-channel-tunnel-test-run-amid-trump-russia-n708856 on January 23, 2017.
LaSalle Illinois Event 52505 SCRAM Hot Shutdown Reactor water level controlled with feedwater
|Power Reactor||Event Number: 52505|
|Facility: LASALLE||Region: 3 State: IL|
|Unit: [ ]  [ ]||RX Type:  GE-5, GE-5|
|NRC Notified By: CHRISTOPHER SMITH||HQ OPS Officer: BETHANY CECERE|
|Notification Date: 01/23/2017||Notification Time: 10:34 [ET]|
|Event Date: 01/23/2017||Event Time: 08:06 [CST]|
|Last Update Date: 01/23/2017||Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY|
|10 CFR Section:||50.72(b)(2)(iv)(B) – RPS ACTUATION – CRITICAL|
|Person (Organization):||KENNETH RIEMER (R3DO)|
|Unit||SCRAM Code||RX CRIT||Initial PWR||Initial RX Mode||Current PWR||Current RX Mode|
|2||M/R||Y||99||Power Operation||0||Hot Shutdown|
MANUAL REACTOR SCRAM DUE TO STATOR WATER COOLING RUNBACK SIGNAL AND TURBINE BYPASS VALVE OPENING
“This notification is being provided pursuant with 10 CFR 50.72 (b)(2)(iv)(B).
“[On January 23, 2017] at 0806 [CST], Unit 2 Manual Scram was inserted due to a Stator Water Cooling runback signal and a Turbine Bypass Valve opening. The Plant is stable, reactor pressure is being maintained with Bypass valves. Reactor water level is being controlled with feedwater. Investigation into the cause of the event is in progress.”
All control rods fully inserted.
The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, January 24, 2017
RADCON on 26 January 2017 One of Concern-Watch
© 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).
NETC.COM © 2014
- Station ID 5:210 San Juan, Puerto Rico
CPM: Current 84 Low 67 High 86
Average 74 (CPM of Gamma in energy range 600-800keV)
Last updated: 2017-01-26 06:02:00 GMT-0600
Constitution – Crony Capitalism
Solar Inconvenient Truth: Ivanpah Plant a Big Fossil Fuel User
Ivanpah (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
By Chriss W. Street 23 Jan 2017 Newport Beach, CA160
The BrightSource Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Facility, which uses 320,000 mirrors to create thermal energy, still qualifies under state rules as an alternative energy source, despite using about 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a year, according to a report by the Press Telegram.
The California Air Resources Board’s most recent analysis reportedly found that during Ivanpah’s second year of operation, carbon emissions from gas, used to focus Ivanpah’s mirrors at night, jumped by 48.4 percent, to 68,676 metric tons.
The joint venture between BrightSource Energy, NRG, Google and Bechtel was approved by the Obama administration as its biggest alternative-energy project on public lands. The project also received $1.6 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees, and $600 million in federal tax credits, to reduce carbon emissions by 400,000 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year.
NRG operators also assured California that the project would create 2,636 jobs during the project’s construction, and pay $300 million in state and local tax revenues over the life of the project.
But carbon emissions data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration demonstrates that natural gas consumption at Ivanpah increased by about 7 percent in the first three quarters of 2016, compared to the prior year.
The 450 California power plants, manufacturing facilities and other operations in the state facilities that produce 25,000 or more metric tons of carbon dioxide per year are required to slash carbon dioxide emissions, or buy pollution credits, either from those that shut down activities, or from designated alternative energy producers.
Southern California Edison, PG&E, and other utilities are under a state mandate to acquire 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.
Ivanpah is designated as a renewable source because it uses 352,000 mirrors to reflect sunlight onto three thermal boilers at the top of large towers. That, in turn, creates steam power that causes huge electric turbines to spin to generate electricity.
But Ivanpah claims that natural gas must be burned at night and during overcast days as a maintenance requirement to heat the towers and keep the turbines online. It also claims this hybrid solution improves the length of time and the amount of solar electricity generated each day. Critics now refer to the hybrid plant as another fossil fuel scam.
David Knox, spokesman for the plant’s operator, Houston-based NRG Energy, told Riverside Press-Enterprise reporter Daniel Danelski that the reason for natural gas use increase was Ivanpah’s increasing its electrical generation: “The reason for this is that the more the units run, the more we use the auxiliary boilers to support that increased operation.”
David Lamfrom, California desert manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, warned Solar Industry magazine: “We obviously made a mistake here.” Not only does the project consume 5.6 square miles of undisturbed public land that is home to the endangered desert tortoise, but Ivanpah has also become one of the larger burners of fossil fuel in California.
Tensions between solar generators and NPCA environmentalists have grown since former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, based on the supposed success of Ivanpah, announced the approval of the 350 megawatt Midland Solar Energy Project in Nevada, and the 100 megawatt Quartzsite Solar Energy Project in Arizona.
Ivanpah has an exemption from state rules to qualify as an alternative energy source, because only 5 percent or less of its electrical generation is due to daylight burning of natural gas, according to the California Energy Commission.
Earlier, Breitbart News noted that Ivanpah fell 55 percent short of its 2014 electrical generation goal of 940,000 megawatt hours, but it did incinerate about 28,000 wild birds. Both issues have improved, but the use of natural gas is far higher than the original business plan.
Copyright © 2017 Breitbart
Accessed at http://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/01/23/solar-inconvenient-truth-ivanpah-plant-top-fossil-fuel-burner/ on January 24, 2017.
Trump Orders Media Blackout At EPA: Bans Use Of Social Media, Bars New Contracts
The Free Thought Project January 24, 2017 (ZeroHedge) —
The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants according to the AP.
BREAKING: Trump bans EPA employees from providing updates on social media or to reporters, bars awarding new contracts or grants.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 24, 2017
Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press, detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts. On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that EPA grants had been frozen, with agency employees barred from speaking of the matter. The memo ordering the social media blackout is shown below.
Cited by The Hill, Myron Ebell, who leads the Trump EPA transition, confirmed the freeze to ProPublica. “They’re trying to freeze things to make sure nothing happens they don’t want to have happen, so any regulations going forward, contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first,” Ebell told ProPublica.
Trump’s pick for Environmental Protection Agency director, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has frequently challenged agency policy in court.
The Trump administration reportedly told the Department of the Interior to stop tweeting from its accounts over the weekend after the National Park Service’s Twitter account retweeted a post about the crowd sizes at Trump’s inauguration Friday. The agency brought back its accounts on Saturday.
As part of the Trump administration’s “temporary suspension” of all new business activities at the department, the EPA has been told to halt all contracts, grants and interagency agreements pending a review, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders are expected to have a significant and immediate impact on Environmental Protection Agency activities nationwide.
According to Reuters, the White House sent a letter to the EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management ordering the freeze on Monday, an EPA staffer told Reuters. “Basically no money moving anywhere until they can take a look,” the staffer said, asking not to be named.
The EPA awards billions of dollars worth of grants and contracts every year to support programs around environmental testing, cleanups and research. It was unclear if the freeze would impact existing contracts, grants and agreements or just future ones. Myron Ebell said he believed the move was related to Trump’s executive order on Monday temporarily halting all government hiring outside the military.
Trump has promised to slash U.S. environmental regulation as a way to promote oil drilling and mining. An administration official told Reuters the president would sign two executive actions on Tuesday to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, a sharp reversal from the Obama administration. Trump’s nominee to run the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is awaiting Senate confirmation. Pruitt sued the EPA repeatedly as Oklahoma’s top prosecutor.
Trump also has drawn heavily from the energy industry lobby and pro-drilling think tanks to build its landing team for the EPA, according to a list of the newly introduced 10-member team seen by Reuters on Monday.
* * *
It appears that the first intra-agency vendetta for the new president has broken out not surprisingly with the agency that is most at risk from Trump’s upcoming policy changes, and which was catalyzed by the EPA’s role in the bizarre media scandal over the “participation” in Trump’s inauguration rally. The EPA has yet to make an official statement.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/epa-media-blackout-trump/#IQipq6bzqthXPFih.99
© Copyright 2016. TheFreeThoughtProject.com
Accessed at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/epa-media-blackout-trump/ on January 24, 2017.
Zika Case Counts in the US as of 18 January 2017
Zika virus disease and Zika virus congenital infection are nationally notifiable conditions.
This update from the CDC Arboviral Disease Branch includes provisional data reported to ArboNET for January 01, 2015 – January 18, 2017.
|Locally acquired mosquito-borne cases reported||217|
|Travel-associated cases reported||4,682|
|Laboratory acquired cases reported||1|
|Locally acquired cases reported||35,392|
|Travel-associated cases reported||135|
*Sexually transmitted cases are not reported for US territories because with local transmission of Zika virus it is not possible to determine whether infection occurred due to mosquito-borne or sexual transmission.
Page last reviewed: January 19, 2017
Page last updated: January 19, 2017
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)
Accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html on January 26, 2017.
Biosecurity: Bird Flu
H3N2 Influenza Leads to More Severe Flu Cases Around the United States
JAN 11, 2017 | EINAV KEET
Influenza activity is now categorized as widespread in at least 12 states as the flu season continues to hit the United States, with some regions already experiencing epidemic-level outbreaks resulting in severe illness, a number of hospitalizations, and even deaths.
In its annual surveillance of flu season activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes the level of flu activity in each state as either sporadic, local, regional, or widespread. In a new influenza surveillance map detailing surveillance data for the 2016 -2017 flu season, the CDC has reported widespread virus activity in California, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. So far this season, public health laboratories around the country have collected 3,793 influenza positive specimens, of which 3,193 are influenza A (H3N2). Despite the slow start to this season, the predomination of this strain of the virus has led to more severe illnesses.
Officials from California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) have reported that widespread flu activity in the state has led to at least three influenza-related deaths and 29 severe cases of infection that resulted in patients under 65 years of age being hospitalized. Laboratories in the state have collected at least 1,488 specimens that tested positive for the flu, and CDPH officials noted that the specimens closely match the components of the 2016-2017 flu vaccine. The San Francisco Health Department is reminding local residents who have not yet received the influenza vaccination, that it’s not too late to receive a flu shot; this warning comes on the heels of a widespread flu outbreak that led to three deaths in the Bay Area.
In Washington state, health department officials have reported 24 lab-confirmed influenza deaths so far this flu season, as the Pacific Northwest continues to be hit hard by the epidemic. The CDC’s weekly FluView report noted that Region 10—which includes Washington, Oregon, and Alaska—has the country’s highest rate of respiratory specimens having tested positive for the flu, with 27.4% of all specimens now flu-positive versus a low of 5.5% of specimens in Region 5. Influenza A (H3N2) and influenza A viruses that have not been subtyped have been most prevalent in the state, according to laboratory results from World Health Organization/National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (WHO/NREVSS). Washington’s Snohomish and Walla Walla counties as well as the Puget Sound region are just some of the areas that have reported a spike in flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
On the East Coast, New York State’s Department of Health surveillance reported 2,784 laboratory-confirmed influenza reports and 845 patients hospitalized with the flu for the week ending December 31, 2016. Across the state, flu-related hospitalizations grew by 186% over the previous week, but there have been no cases of pediatric influenza-associated deaths.
With flu activity now at its peak, state officials are urging residents to receive the seasonal flu vaccine in order to prevent further spread of the virus, as the flu season can last as late as May.
– See more at: http://www.contagionlive.com/news/h3n2-influenza-leads-to-more-severe-flu-cases-around-the-united-states#sthash.qda6TxS6.dpuf
Copyright© 2006-2017 Intellisphere, LLC. All Rights Reserved. – See more at: http://www.contagionlive.com/news/h3n2-influenza-leads-to-more-severe-flu-cases-around-the-united-states#sthash.qda6TxS6.dpuf
Accessed at http://www.contagionlive.com/news/h3n2-influenza-leads-to-more-severe-flu-cases-around-the-united-states on January 24, 2017.
Canada reports first human case of H3N2v influenza
By News Desk December 28, 2016 Canada
On December 16, 2016, WHO was notified of a confirmed human case of influenza A(H3N2) variant virus in Canada. The case developed respiratory infection symptoms on October 24, 2016, was hospitalized on November 8, 2016, with the diagnosis of pneumonia, and has recovered, according to the Influenza at the Human-Animal Interface Report. The exact location in Canada was not listed in the report.
The case has confirmed exposure to ill swine on a farm. Animal health and epidemiological investigations are ongoing.
Partial sequence analysis of all 8 gene segments of the virus isolated from the case indicates they are closely related to influenza A(H3N2) swine influenza viruses currently circulating in swine in North America.
This is the first human case of A/Indiana/08/2011-like H3N2v influenza virus infection reported to WHO from Canada. Human infection with influenza A(H3N2)v viruses detected elsewhere have typically resulted in mild disease, although some have been hospitalized and at least one A(H3N2)v associated death has been reported.
Influenza A(H1N2) and A(H3N2) viruses circulate in swine populations in many regions of the world. Depending on geographic location, the genetic characteristics of these viruses differ. Most human cases are exposed to the swine influenza viruses through contact with infected swine or contaminated environments. Human infection tends to result in mild clinical illness, although some cases have been hospitalized with more severe disease and one fatal case has been reported. Since these viruses continue to be detected in swine populations, further human cases can be expected.
© Copyright Outbreak News Today
Accessed at http://outbreaknewstoday.com/canada-reports-first-human-case-h3n2v-influenza-45405/ on January 3, 2017.
Proliferation of bird flu outbreaks raises risk of human pandemic
FILE PHOTO: A laboratory worker carries out an autopsy on dead wild geese, looking for evidence of the bird flu virus, in the laboratory of the Hungarian national food safety authority in Budapest, Hungary, January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh/File Photo
Fri Jan 27, 2017 | 2:13am IST By Kate Kelland | LONDON
The global spread of bird flu and the number of viral strains currently circulating and causing infections have reached unprecedented levels, raising the risk of a potential human outbreak, according to disease experts.
Multiple outbreaks have been reported in poultry farms and wild flocks across Europe, Africa and Asia in the past three months. While most involve strains that are currently low risk for human health, the sheer number of different types, and their presence in so many parts of the world at the same time, increases the risk of viruses mixing and mutating – and possibly jumping to people.
“This is a fundamental change in the natural history of influenza viruses,” Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at University of Minnesota, said of the proliferation of bird flu in terms of geography and strains – a situation he described as “unprecedented”.
Global health officials are worried another strain could make a jump into humans, like H5N1 did in the late 1990s. It has since caused hundreds of human infections and deaths, but has not acquired the ability to transmit easily from person to person.
The greatest fear is that a deadly strain of avian flu could then mutate into a pandemic form that can be passed easily between people – something that has not yet been seen.
While avian flu has been a prominent public health issue since the 1990s, ongoing outbreaks have never been so widely spread around the world – something infectious disease experts put down to greater resilience of strains currently circulating, rather than improved detection or reporting.
While there would normally be around two or three bird flu strains recorded in birds at any one time, now there are at least half a dozen, including H5N1, H5N2, H5N8 and H7N8.
The Organization for Animal Health (OIE) says the concurrent outbreaks in birds in recent months are “a global public health concern”, and the World Health Organization’s director-general warned this week the world “cannot afford to miss the early signals” of a possible human flu pandemic.
The precise reasons for the unusually large number and sustained nature of bird outbreaks in recent months, and the proliferation of strains, is unclear – although such developments compound the global spreading process.
Bird flu is usually spread through flocks through direct contact with an infected bird. But Osterholm said wild birds could be “shedding” more of the virus in droppings and other secretions, increasing infection risks. He added that there now appears to be “aerosol transmission from one infected barn to others, in some cases many miles away”.
Ian MacKay, a virologist at Australia’s University of Queensland, said the current proliferation of strains means that “by definition, there is an increased risk” to humans.
“You’ve got more exposures, to more farmers, more often, and in greater numbers, in more parts of the world – so there has to be an increased risk of spillover human cases,” he told Reuters.
BRITAIN TO BANGLADESH
Nearly 40 countries have reported new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry or wild birds since November, according to the WHO.
In China, H7N9 strains of bird flu have been infecting both birds and people, with the human cases rising in recent weeks due to the peak of the flu season there. According to the WHO, more than 900 people have been infected with H7N9 bird flu since it emerged in early 2013.
In birds, latest data from the OIE should that outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian flu have been detected in Britain, Italy, Kuwait and Bangladesh in the last few days alone.
Russia’s agriculture watchdog issued a statement describing the situation as “extremely tense” as it reported H5N8 flu outbreaks in another four regions. Hungarian farmers have had to cull 3 million birds, mostly geese and ducks.
These come on top of epidemics across Europe and Asia which have been ongoing since late last year, leading to mass culling of poultry in many countries.
Strains currently documented as circulating in birds include H5N8 in many parts of Europe as well as in Kuwait, Egypt and elsewhere, and H5N1 in Bangladesh and India.
In Africa – which experts say is especially vulnerable to missing flu outbreak warning signs due to limited local government capacities and weak animal and human health services – H5N1 outbreaks have been reported in birds in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. H5N8 has been detected in Tunisia and Egypt, and H7N1 in Algeria.
The United States has, so far this year, largely escaped bird flu, but is on high alert after outbreaks of H5N2, a highly pathogenic bird flu, hit farms in 15 states in 2015 and led to the culling of more than 43 million poultry.
David Nabarro, a former senior WHO official who has also served as U.N. system senior coordinator for avian and human influenza, says the situation is worrying. “For me the threat from avian influenza is the most serious (to public health), because you never know when,” he told Reuters in Geneva.
HIGHLY PATHOGENIC H5N1
H5N1 is under close surveillance by health authorities around the world. It has long been seen as one to watch, feared by infectious disease experts because of its pandemic potential if it were to mutate an acquire human-to-human transmission capability.
A highly pathogenic virus, it jumped into humans in Hong Kong in 1997 and then re-emerged in 2003/2004, spreading from Asia to Europe and Africa. It has caused hundreds of infections and deaths in people and prompted the culling of hundreds of millions of poultry.
Osterholm noted that some currently circulating H5 strains – including distant relatives of H5N1 – are showing significant capabilities for sustaining their spread between wild flocks and poultry, from region to region and farm to farm.
“What we’re learning about H5 is, that whether its H5N6, H5N8, H5N2 or H5N5, this is a very dangerous bird virus.”
Against that background, global health authorities and infectious disease experts want awareness, surveillance and vigilance stepped up.
Wherever wild birds are found to be infected, they say, and wherever there are farms or smallholdings with affected poultry or aquatic bird flocks, regular, repeated and consistent testing of everyone and anyone who comes into contact is vital.
“Influenza is a very tough beast because it changes all the time, so the ones we’re tracking may not include one that suddenly emerges and takes hold,” said MacKay.
“Right now, it’s hard to say whether we’re doing enough (to keep on top of the threat). I guess that while it isn’t taking off, we seem to be doing enough.”
(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Johannesburg, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Polina Devitt in Moscow and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Pravin Char)
© 2017 Reuters. All Rights Reserved.
Accessed at http://in.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-risks-idINKBN15A22D on January 27, 2017.
Human cases of bird flu climb in China
China has reported epidemics of H7N9 infections in humans since 2013, according to the World Health Organization.
© 2016 Daily Health Post
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author | Jan. 24, 2017 at 11:33 AM Follow @upi Jan. 24 (UPI) —
Live chickens held in cages are for sale at a market in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, China. Human H7N9 infections have been reported in the province, and other parts of the country.
The World Health Organization’s director-general warned of escalating cases of bird flu around the world, as human cases of viral infections continue to climb in rural China.
On Monday, Dr. Margaret Chan said the WHO is on high alert because of the rising number of outbreaks of human cases of the H5N6 and H7N9 in Asia and in China.
“Since 2013, China has reported epidemics of H7N9 infections in humans, now amounting to more than 1,000 cases, of which 38.5 percent were fatal,” Chan said in her address to the WHO executive board.
China has reported 16 human infections of the H7N9 avian flu virus, including five deaths, according to state-owned news agency Xinhua.
The latest patient, a woman in her 30s, was diagnosed Monday by the Hunan provincial disease control and prevention center.
Human H7N9 infections have been reported in other Chinese provinces, including Guangdong, Guizhou, Hubei, Henan, Jiangxi and Shandong. Major population centers, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao have also reported human infections of the bird flu virus.
The infections are being reported ahead of the Lunar New Year [28 January 2017], when consumption of poultry products rises and large segments of the population travel across the country, according to the University of Minnesota’s CIDRAP News.
There may now be more than 100 cases of infections in China.
The Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection, using mainland Chinese sources, stated 111 cases were reported in the first two weeks of January, exceeding the total number of cases reported in December.
On Monday, the CHP said a 75-year-old man with H7N9 died in Hunan Province.
Chan said Monday in the most recent cases, “No sustained transmission has been detected to date.”
Copyright © 2017 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Accessed at http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/01/24/Human-cases-of-bird-flu-climb-in-China/3361485274722/ on January 27, 2017.
H5N8, other strains strike birds in Europe, Japan, Israel
Farm pheasant Alexander Baxevanis / Flickr cc
Lisa Schnirring | News Editor | CIDRAP News | Jan 25, 2017
Avian flu outbreaks involving different strains continue to strike wild birds and poultry in several nations in different parts of the globe, including a pheasant farm in the United Kingdom, another farm in Japan, and another turkey-producing facility in Italy.
In another new development, Germany reported an outbreak of low-pathogenic H5N3 avian flu, one of the strains involved in outbreaks last year in France’s foie gras production region.
More outbreaks in five European countries
The latest highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in the United Kingdom involved a pheasant farm in Lancashire that housed about 10,000 birds, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced today. Several birds died, and the rest are being culled.
An investigation is under way into the source of the virus. Last week, UK officials said H5N8 had been detected in a wild duck in Lancashire.
In Germany, authorities detected highly pathogenic H5N5 in a wild goose found dead on Jan 23 in Schleswig-Holstein state, the same state where H5N5 was recently implicated in Europe’s first known poultry outbreak involving the strain, according to reports to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Meanwhile, German officials said the low-pathogenic H5N3 strain was responsible for three outbreaks in backyard birds in three different states in different parts of the country: North Rhine-Westphalia, Saxony-Anhalt, and Rhineland-Palatinate. Germany’s most recent previous H5N3 outbreak was in 2014, according to the OIE report.
The outbreaks began from Dec 22 to Jan 7, affecting a variety of poultry including chickens, geese, ducks, and pigeons.
Also, Czech Republic veterinary authorities in separate reports to the OIE confirmed two H5N8 outbreaks in backyard birds and wild birds. The poultry outbreaks struck regions in different parts of the country, South Bohemia and Olomouc. They began on Jan 18 and Jan 20, respectively, killing 69 of 553 chickens, geese, and ducks. Czech officials also reported 12 outbreaks in wild birds—mainly swans—found dead from Jan 16 to Jan 24 in forested areas across a wide swath of the country.
Elsewhere, Italy reported an H5N8 outbreak at a turkey farm in Veneto region for the second time. The new outbreak killed 254 of 22,630 birds, and officials noted another H5N8 detection in a wild bird, according to separate reports yesterday to the OIE. Officials also found a dead whooper swan at a natural park in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.
In Croatia, authorities found H5N8 in three mute swans found dead on Dec 29 in Sisak-Moslavina County in the east central part of the country.
H5N6 in Japan; H5N8 in Israel
In developments outside of Europe, Japan today reported another H5N6 outbreak, this time at a large poultry farm in Miyazaki prefecture, officials said in an OIE report. The outbreak started on Jan 24, killing 150 of 168,400 broilers. Japan and South Korea have been battling a spate of H5N6 outbreak since late 2016.
Israel, already hit by H5N8 outbreaks in poultry, reported thee findings in 10 wild birds found dead from Dec 8 to Jan 3 on the western side of the country. Species involved were ducks, geese, gulls, and a crow.
© 2017 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Accessed at http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2017/01/h5n8-other-strains-strike-birds-europe-japan-israel on January 27, 2017.
Biosecurity: Gas & Oil
Oil spill response team deployed in Gulf of Mexico
Coast Guard responding to blaze about 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
U.S. Coast Guard responding to fire at oil platform off the coast of New Orleans. Image: Vessel Finder
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author | Jan. 5, 2017 at 7:51 AM NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 5 (UPI) —
An oil spill response crew is on its way to a site about 80 miles off the coast of Louisiana following an oil platform fire, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
The New Orleans sector of the U.S. Coast Guard said it was notified about 2:30 a.m. local time of a fire offshore. Four people at the platform who evacuated into the water were recovered by a nearby supply vessel with no reported injuries.
Those onboard the supply vessel Mary Wyatt Milano, and crews from three others, are working to control the fire.
“Clean Gulf, an oil spill response organization, is currently enroute to the platform,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
There was no word on whether sheen was apparent at the site of the blaze. There was no information yet as to which energy company was associated with the platform.
Online vessel-tracking data show the oil tanker Eva Schulte is near the site of the incident.
The Coast Guard said the incident is under investigation and response is ongoing.
Copyright © 2017 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/Oil-spill-response-team-deployed-in-Gulf-of-Mexico/3031483618497/?spt=hts&or=1 on January 5, 2017.
Second Bed Bug Species Reemerges in Florida
After not being collected for several decades the tropical bed bug has been found in Florida. (Credit: Shutterstock)
There are now two distinct species of bed bugs to worry about.
Tue, 12/06/2016 – 12:04pm Comments by Kenny Walter – Digital Reporter – @RandDMagazine
A study conducted in Florida has discovered that Cimex lectularius or the common bedbug has a tropical cousin in C. hemipterus that has emerged for the first time in nearly 60 years.
Brittany Campbell, a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida, led a new study that identified the new species of insects.
“I personally believe that in Florida, we have all of the right conditions that could potentially help spread tropical bed bugs, which is the case in other southern states,” Campbell said in a statement. “As long as you have people traveling and moving bed bugs around, there is a real potential for this species to spread and establish in homes and other dwellings.”
Campbell said the tropical bed bugs, much like the common bed bug, feed on human blood and are likely to cause similar health problems from a severe infestation including fear, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and itchy, blistery reactions.
“I have been asking people to send bed bug samples to our laboratory so that I can properly identify the species,” Campbell said. “If they do have a bed bug infestation, because they are so difficult to control, I ask that people consult a pest-control company for a professional service.
“There isn’t as much research available on tropical bed bugs as common bed bugs, but hypothetically they should be able to be controlled the same way as the common bed bug species because their biology/behavior are similar.”
According to Campbell’s research, the tropical bed bugs can be found in a geographic band of land running between 30°N latitude and 30°S and has been collected from Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Australia, Rwanda and other countries in the last 20 years.
Tropical bed bugs were first discovered in 1938 but had not been identified since the 1940’s before 2015 when researchers at the Insect Identification Laboratory at the University of Florida identified tropical bed bugs that were collected from a home in Brevard County.
The researchers were then able to go to the home and collect more samples, which confirmed that they were in fact the tropical bed bugs.
Since no one in the homeowner’s family had traveled outside the country or even the state recently, the researchers concluded that the tropical bed bugs could likely be found elsewhere in the state.
Campbell also said she expects the tropical bed bug to develop quicker than the common bed bug.
“This could mean that this species would develop more quickly, possibly cause an infestation problem sooner and also could spread more rapidly,” Campbell added. “However, no studies have been conducted directly comparing both species at the same times and temperatures.
“Also, because we have so much failure with bed-bug control, it’s important to note what species you have in order to determine whether control efforts should be changed, according to species and to determine if control failures are due to the species and not the chemicals and methods used.”
For decades, chemical treatments were used by pest control professionals to keep bed bugs at bay, but the invasive insect reemerged in the late 1990’s.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, homeowners can protect their home from bed bugs by checking furniture, beds and couches for signs of infestation, using a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs, reduce clutter in the home, vacuum frequently and sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards and light sockets.
The EPA says bed bugs can be eliminated using integrated pest management or pesticides.
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