Jabal at-Tair, a small island formed entirely by a volcano was thought to be dormant until yesterday. But following several days of small earthquakes it erupted last night, September 30th at 7pm spewing lava and ash into the air at great heights.
Sadly it appears that several soldiers based on the island have died in the eruption although the number of people hurt is not immediately clear.
The volcanism that created the island is the result of two continental plates, Africa and Arabia, rifting apart from each other with the Arabian Plate (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and more) moving away to the northeast. While this rifting is pretty old, beginning about 540 million years ago, the Red Sea only started to form about 55 million years ago. The Red Sea is widening at a rate of about .6 inches a year which accounts for the volcanic activity that we see there now.
More on the Red Sea's geologic history.
Today, two years since Hurricane Katrina roared into New Orleans, the New York Times is featuring an interactive with videos (tagged to locations) about life in the city since the storm. Definitely worth a look.
Best title for a science article, ever! All about efforts to track asteroids, comets and other outer space stuff that might hit the Earth, and to deflect or destroy it before it does.
Techno-magician Louis Michaud believes that he can summon a tornado, “tame” it, and use the entity to generate electricity. And he intends not to simply summon a miniature steam vortex, such as can be seen in the Science Museum of Magisota’s Experiment Gallery, but a full-sized wind monster, as featured in the documentary “Twister.”
As bizarre as the idea might seem, councils of air and wind magicians at learning institutions across the country say the theory is sound. It would simply require a sorcerer of the most audacious kind. Perhaps the wizard Michaud is just that person.
The idea is based on the simple and well-known principle that tornado beasts feed and grow off of warm air. Michaud proposes summoning the tornado into a “vortex engine” using a source of hot air such as the waste heat from a nearby nuclear generator (or even, depending on geography, heat from warm tropical water). The hot air would be directed up from the vortex engine’s base in a spinning motion, and would gather momentum as it rose, eventually becoming a tornado several kilometers high. The air sucked into the tornado would spin turbines and generate electricity. The normally chaotic and destructive tornado beast would be content to stay above the vortex engine, feeding off the hot air provided. The wizard Michaud also claims that the stationary, summoned tornados could have the added benefit of combating, in some small way, the powers of That-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (Global Warming, as it likes to be called). The vortex engines would propel hot air high into the atmosphere, where it could more easily radiate energy back into space – an interesting idea, although it seems like there would have to be countless such tornado summoning stations to have any measurable effect. Who’s to say?
However, there is a price to pay for all this, as is always the case with magic. While universities have been experimenting with the summoning spell on a small scale – luring tornados not larger that a meter or two into this realm – the facilities for commercial-scale summoning would cost somewhere on the order of $60 million. This price would be offset somewhat if the generator were built in conjunction with a nuclear power station, as the station would no longer need a $20 million cooling tower. Michaud has formed the corporation AVEtec to seek investor funding. High wizards from Oxford, Cambridge, and MIT have joined AVEtec’s advisory board.
But new research is showing that the effects of hurricane weather can have a positive impact on some coral beds, particularly those that are suffering from stress caused by warming water temperatures. Ironically, warming waters is one of the factors that lead to more and bigger hurricanes.
A team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that hurricanes off of Florida and the Virgin Islands in 2005 were a benefit to “bleaching” coral beds in those areas. The bleaching problem is caused by the loss of algae in the area and a reduction in the pigments of the corals in the area when they’re stressed by warm weather.
Hurricanes Rita and Wilma in 2005 stirred up the waters of those bleached coral beds and were able to lower the water temperatures in the impacted coral beds by as much as nine degrees.
That water temperature saw a quicker recovery rate for the bleached coral beds. The researchers also point out that a direct hit by a hurricane to a coral bed still did vast damage, but areas on the edges of the storm showed improvement on the bleaching condition. Those improvements could be seen as far as 250 miles away from the hurricane’s main path.
Over on our thread about a crazy catfish skull, "brandon" recently left a rather off topic, yet still intriguing question:
hi there! i was wondering if there was a hurricane in new york in 1930???????
Why, yes, there was. Technically, it happened in 1938, and it was quite the whopper. On Friday, September 16th, 1938, a Brazilian ship reported a huge storm in the Atlantic and weather forecasters expected it to make landfall near Miami. Luckily for Miami, the storm turned north and everyone expected it to head out to sea. Remember: this was long before satellite images allowed us to track these huge storms in real-time.
Unluckily for people who lived in New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, though, the storm had just temporarily headed out to sea and was about to make landfall in New England. On the 21st, with no warning, one of the fastest-moving hurricanes ever recorded slammed into the New England coast. It caused massive damage in Long Island, giving the storm the name "The Long Island Express." Nearly 600 people died by the time it was all over.
Can you imagine what a storm like that would do to this area today? In 1938, Long Island was still somewhat rural and undeveloped. Today it's a densely-packed urban area full of millions of people, homes, and businesses. And, quite honestly, I hadn't ever even heard of this storm until today. I often think of New York as immune to these sorts of major storms. But it's actually very likely that a major storm will affect this region again in the next 50 years.
The Great Hurricane of 1938 - a very in-depth history of the storm.
History Reveals Hurricane Threat to New York City - A modern perspective on the risks to New York city.
The regional perspective on the 1938 hurricane - Lots of great pictures of the destruction in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Do you know anyone who remembers the 1938 hurricane? Do you live in this area and have a hurricane story? Share your stories.
The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 and runs through November 30.
Check back often for the latest predictions, forecasts, and discussion.
An article in the journal Science recommends that government harness the power of blogs, wikis, and on-line communities to help coordinate disaster relief. The idea is that decentralized bloggers can bring hundreds of eyes and ears to an event, monitoring the situation and looking for solutions.