Friday, July 06, 2012

070612.18.9--Message for Today: Heat wave

Expect very dry and warm weather to come...


Anonymous said...

Sun Erupts with Strongest Summer Solar Flare Yet

By Tariq Malik | – 3 hrs ago

The most powerful solar flare of the summer so far erupted from the sun Friday (July 6), the latest in a string of powerful storms this week from our nearest star, space weather experts say.

The sun storm occurred just after 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) and registered as a class X1.1 solar flare — one of the strongest types of solar flares possible, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) run by NOAA and the National Weather Service.

The huge solar flare erupted from the giant sunspot AR1515, which has already fired off several other powerful storms this week. Space weather scientists were closely watching the sunspot for possible X-class flares.

"And AR1515 did it! X1-class solar flare," officials with NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory wrote in a post to @Camilla_SDO, the mission's mascot Twitter account.

By all accounts, the sunspot group AR1515 is enormous. It stretches across 118,681 miles (191,000 kilometers) of the sun's surface, making it longer than 15 Earths set end to end, NASA solar astrophysicist C. Alex Young told today before the new flare. [More Solar Flare Photos from Sunspot AR1515]

While today's solar flare marked the strongest of the summer season, which began in late June, it is not the strongest of 2012. In March, the sun fired off an intense X5.4-class solar flare. Today's sun storm marked the fifth X-class solar flare of the year.

The active sun

Earlier today, space weather officials warned of more potential flare-ups from sunspot AR1515. The sun has been undergoing substantial activity this entire week from several sunspots on its Earth-facing side.

"The bulk of activity is coming from Region 1515, a moderate-sized active region with a magnetic field complexity that harbors an isolated chance of X-class flare activity," SWPC officials said in an alert released before the X1.1-class flare.

In a new alert announcing the X-class solar flare, SWPC officials said the sun storm could a "wide-area blackout" in the high-frequency radio communications.
Scientists measure the strength of solar flares in terms of energy classes, with X-class flares being the strongest sun storms. Moderate flares rank as class M storms and can supercharge Earth's northern lights displays when aimed at our planet. Class C solar flares round out the top three and have little impact felt on Earth.

Young said there was a chance the sunspot could trigger a massive explosion of solar plasma known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).
"The region is still in a position to produce an Earth directed coronal mass ejection (CME) but since it is no longer at disk center the chances are less," Young said. "It should also be noted that even at disk center CMEs don't always head to Earth."

CMEs unleashed from the sun earlier this week were expected to arrive at Earth in the next two days, possibly amping up geomagnetic activity, SWPC officials said.
Solar flare basics
When aimed directly at Earth, X-class solar flares and CMEs can potentially endanger satellites and astronauts in orbit, interfere with GPS and communications signals, and damage power system infrastructure on the ground.

The sun is currently in the midst of an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle is called Solar Cycle 24 and is expected to peak in 2013.

Sunspot group AR1515 is by no means the only active region on the sun today. Nor will it be the last this week, Young added.

"There is a new active region that is starting to come into view on the lower half of the sun," Young said. "It should be completely on the Earth facing side of the solar disk in the next day."

Anonymous said...

16 July 2012 Last updated at 17:16 ET

Worst US drought since 1956 hits residents and crops

The US is currently suffering its widest drought since 1956, according to data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

On Monday, NOAA reported that by the end of June 55% of the continental US was in a moderate to extreme drought.

Crops including corn and soybeans have been hit by the dry conditions, and several states have seen wildfires.

High temperatures across much of the country in June contributed to the spread of the drought.
As much as 80% of the US is abnormally dry, the report said, noting that the drought expanded in the West, Great Plains and Midwest areas.

June was the 14th warmest and 10th driest since records began, NOAA said.

Agriculture officials estimated that 30% of the corn crops planted in the 18 high-production states were in poor or very poor condition by last week.

"Topsoil has dried out and crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years," the report said.

Over 1,000 counties in 26 states have been declared disaster areas because of drought, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Earlier, NOAA said that the last year in the continental US has been the country's hottest since modern record-keeping began in 1895.

Anonymous said...

218 More Counties Added to Drought Disaster Area
By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer | – 5 hrs ago


The Secretary of Agriculture has declared 218 more U.S. counties to be drought disaster areas, bringing the total number of American counties designated as disaster areas (mainly due to drought) to more than 50 percent.
More than 1,000 counties in 26 states had already been declared disaster areas by the federal government prior to today's announcement. As of July 24, 53.44 percent of the land area of the United States and Puerto Rico was in moderate drought or worse, and 38.11 percent was in severe drought or worse.
The newly affected counties are in a total of 12 U.S. states: Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced an expansion of emergency hay harvesting and grazing on 3.8 million acres of conservation land, an effort to provide relief to livestock producers who are struggling to feed their herds. Vilsack also announced that crop insurance companies have agreed to provide an extra 30-day grace period on their policies, meaning farmers will now have 30 extra days to make payments on their premiums without penalties.
The drought has been tough on agriculture, with the price of corn increasing by 50 percent from June to July alone. The pressure on crops comes during a tight market for grain, researchers said during a briefing with media on July 25. Demand is significantly higher than the last time the United States saw a serious drought in the late 1980s.
June was the 10th driest on record for the Midwest and Great Plains, and the 14th warmest for the same region. [Drought Grips U.S. (Infographic)]
Climate researchers expect the risk of drought in the central United States to increase over the coming decades as the globe warms. This could create an feedback loop in which western forests die, taking with them their ability to take up and store carbon. The result would be even more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.