The respite from the dreary weather will be short-lived as clouds increase again over the weekend with showers developing later Sat. & continuing overnight into Sunday.
A nice warm-up for the following week as the weather pattern remains active with another storm system about midweek. All the while...cold air will be building up in Canada & starting to spill southward into the Northern U.S. The end result will likely be several significant mid month storm systems for the Lower 48.
A solar eruption gracefully rose up from the sun on December 31, 2012, twisting and turning. Magnetic forces drove the flow of plasma, but without sufficient force to overcome the sun’s gravity much of the plasma fell back into the sun. This four–hour event was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory with image every 36 seconds.
Click here to see the video.
Earth Gauge: Radon Action Month
January is National Radon Action Month. What is radon? Radon is a radioactive gas produced when uranium in soil decays; it can be found all over the United States. Radon gas moves up through the ground into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation, becoming trapped inside. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about one out of every 15 homes has elevated radon levels. You can’t see, smell or taste radon, but it can be harmful – it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Tip: Winter is a great time to test your home for radon. When windows and doors are sealed tightly, radon levels inside your home can rise. Testing is easy, inexpensive and only takes a few minutes. If you find high levels of radon in your home, the problem can be fixed! Some radon reduction systems can reduce levels in your home by up to 99 percent.
· Reducing Radon Levels in Your Home
· State Radon Contacts for local information
· Radon-Resistant New Construction for home-buyers
· EPA’s Living Healthy & Green Radon PSA and other media materials
(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon.”)
Climate Number: 73,880 Years Ago
The Toba supereruption on the Indonesian island of Sumatra about 74,000 years ago was very likely the biggest volcanic eruption of the past two million years. Ash deposits from the eruption have been found in the Gulf of Arabia, the southern Indian Ocean and South China Sea, indicating the global impacts of this event. Unlike eruptions at higher latitudes, large volcanic eruptions in the tropics can access winds that carry ash and sulfate aerosol emissions across the globe. Eruptions can significantly cool the globe, particularly when large amounts of sulfate from tropical volcanoes make their way into the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere above the lowest or troposphere layer. Analysis of the proportion of different Argon isotopes present in one of the eruption’s ash deposits that fell on a nearby island date the Toba event to 73,880 years ago (± 320 years). Evidence from Greenland suggests that this event had a global cooling effect. Each year, snow accumulates on the Greenland Ice Sheet and is compacted, forming annual deposits that record the climate conditions present at the time. Core samples taken reveal a clear sulfate deposit on a series of layers several thousand meters below the modern day surface. The estimated age of this deposit corresponds closely to the approximate timing of the volcanic eruption, strongly suggesting a connection. The ice core also shows a strong, 16 degree Fahrenheit cooling event that occurred in Greenland over the 150 years following the sulfate layer, likely linked to the eruption. Such a strong cooling in Greenland indicates a globally significant cooling event.
For comparison: Modern humans with tools, language and fire were beginning to spread across the globe around 73,800 years ago. Debate about the geographic extent of modern humans at this time could be informed by these findings: ash from the volcanic eruption preserved stone tools on a river terrace in Malaysia and in India, although further analysis will be necessary to determine whether they were made by modern humans or by another now extinct Homo species. The cooling following the eruption would have significantly lowered sea levels, which also helps to date human movements as less ocean and more land surface would have facilitated the spread of people.
(Source: Storey, M et al. “Astronomically calibrated 40Ar/39Ar age for the Toba supereruption and global synchronization of late Quaternary records.” PNAS 109 (2012): 18684-18688.)