Nato faces up to crises on its borders
“Russia is back at the top of Nato’s agenda. And this summit must seek to respond to the long-term challenge from Moscow while managing the evolving drama on the alliance’s borders.
Nato has no doubts as to what is going on in eastern Ukraine. It insists that Russia’s efforts to destabilise the country have gone way beyond simply arming separatist rebels. Russian units have been massed on the Ukrainian border.”
Via BBC News
Really Really Bad News on Global Warming. Those Siberian Craters Are Caused By Thawing Methane Exploding Out of the Tundra. And Methane is a Far More Potent GHG Than CO2.
Scientists may have solved the giant Siberian crater mystery - and the news isn’t good.Researchers have long contended that the epicentre of global warming is also farthest from the reach of humanity. It’s in the barren landscapes of the frozen north, where red-cheeked children wear fur, the sun barely rises in the winter and temperatures can plunge to 50 degrees below zero. Such a place is the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia, translated as “the ends of the Earth”, a desolate spit of land where a group called the Nenets live.By now, you’ve heard of the crater on the Yamal Peninsula. It’s the one that suddenly appeared, yawning nearly 60 metres in diameter, and made several rounds in the global viral media machine. The adjectives most often used to describe it: giant, mysterious, curious. Scientists were subsequently “baffled”. Locals were “mystified”. There were whispers that aliens were responsible. Nearby residents peddled theories of “bright flashes” and “celestial bodies”.There’s now a substantiated theory about what created the crater. And the news isn’t so good.It may be methane gas, released by the thawing of frozen ground. According to a recent Nature article, “air near the bottom of the crater contained unusually high concentrations of methane — up to 9.6 per cent — in tests conducted at the site on 16 July, says Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia. Plekhanov, who led an expedition to the crater, says that air normally contains just 0.000179 per cent methane.”The scientist said the methane release may be related to Yamal’s unusually hot summers in 2012 and 2013, which were warmer by an average of 5 degrees Celsius. “As temperatures rose, the researchers suggest, permafrost thawed and collapsed, releasing methane that had been trapped in the icy ground,” the report stated.
"The United Nations ignores the situation in Ukraine, where more people die every day than in the Gaza Strip [sic]."
There were two headline-grabbing events on Thursday, July 17: the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, presumably by separatists in eastern Ukraine, and the beginning of…
The slightly-terrifying maw has emerged in the peninsula of Yamal, whose name roughly translates to “the end of the world” (yes, reality is stranger than fiction). According to the Siberian Times, an oil company’s helicopter crew discovered the hole in this gas-rich region. It’s located less than 20 miles from Russia’s largest gas field, Bovanenkovo, and seems like an entrance to a massive cavern.
With dozens of forest fires burning in Russia’s Irkutsk region, authorities have declared a state of emergency.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image on May 18, 2014. The red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires. The image is centered at 56.76 degrees North and 105.47 degrees East.
Some of the blazes likely began on farms but then spread into forests due to high winds and warm temperatures. As seen on Worldview, MODIS began to detect small fires in Irkutsk on May 14. Many were along rivers near farmland. After burning at a moderate level for a few days, the size and intensity of the fires increased significantly on May 18.
The St. Petersburg Times reported that 77 fires had burned more than 39,000 hectares (150 square miles) in Irkutsk by May 19. Fire destroyed 22 homes in the village of Dalny and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people, according to the Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM).
In addition to producing thick plumes of smoke, the fires fueled numerous pyrocumulus clouds—tall, cauliflower-shaped clouds that billowed up above the smoke. Pyrocumulus are similar to cumulus clouds, but the heat that forces the air to rise—which leads to cooling and condensation of water vapor—comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground. In satellite images, pyrocumulus clouds appear as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke.
The Irkutsk fires triggered the first confirmed pyrocumulus clouds of the 2014 fire season in the northern hemisphere, according U.S. Naval Research Laboratory meteorologist Mike Fromm. Meteorologists monitor pyrocumulus because the clouds can pump smoke and pollutants high into the atmosphere, get dispersed by winds, and affect air quality over a broad area. On May 19, MODIS observed smoke from Irkutsk wildfires mixing with clouds and moving northeast. A preliminary analysis of data acquired by the Multi-Angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) on NASA’s Terra satellite suggested the smoke had reached between 11 and 12 kilometers and was moving about 140 kilometers (87 miles) per hour.
- CIMSS PyroCb (2014, May 18) PyroCb in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Emercom of Russia (2014, May 19) Fire in village of Dalny, Nizhneilimsky District, Irkutsk Region put out. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Fromm et al (2010, September) The Untold Story of Pyrocumulonimbus. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 91, 1193-1209.
- ITAR-TASS (2014, May 18) Emergency fire regime declared in Siberian region. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (2010, August 27) NRL Scientist Seeing Clearly the Effects of Pyrocumulonimbus.Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Ozone Mapping & Profiler Suite blog (2014, May 19) Pryocb Event Over Russia. Accessed March 19, 2014.
- St. Petersburg Times (2014, May 19) State of Emergency Declared in Irkutsk Region Due to Fires. Accessed May 19, 2014.
- Tom Yulsman’s ImaGeo blog, via Discover (2014, May 5) Russian Wildfires Blaze on an Area Larger than Los Angeles.Accessed May 19, 2014.
NASA images courtesy of the LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response team. Caption by Adam Voiland, with information from Mike Fromm (Naval Research Laboratory) and David Nelson (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
Kamchatka Peninsula— The eastern side of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean west of Alaska. In this winter image, a volcanic terrain is hidden under snow-covered peaks and valley glaciers feed blue ice into coastal waters. Image courtesy of USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office.
A REAL LAND OF ICE AND FIRE
Five Volcanoes Erupting at Once
NASA Earth Observatory images by Robert Simmon,
using Landsat 8 data from the USGS Earth Explorer.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured activity at five of them during a single satellite pass on April 14, 2014
Remote. Cold. Rugged. Those three adjectives capture the essence of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.
Another word—perhaps more applicable here than anywhere else on Earth—Fiery.
- Of the roughly 1,550 volcanoes that have erupted in the recent geologic past, 113 are found on Kamchatka.
- Forty Kamchatkan volcanoes are “active,” either erupting now or capable of erupting on short notice. .
From geographic north to south (and top to bottom on this page), the volcanoes are Shiveluch, Klyuchevskaya, Bezymianny, Kizimen, and Karymsky.
- The tallest of the group is Klyuchevskaya, a stratovolcano with a steep, symmetrical cone that reaches 4,750 meters (15,580 feet) above sea level.
- The most active is Karymsky, a 1,536-meter (5,039-foot) peak that has erupted regularly since 1996.
Abbreviated reprint of a NASA Earth Observatory post.