Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Octagen Geo Science News (October 2015)

French scientists have announced they found a new prehistoric virus in the frozen Siberian wastelands, and are planning to bring it back to life. 

They promise to make sure that the giant virus won’t harm anyone...............The virus is called Mollivirus sibericum, translated as ‘soft virus from Siberia’


  1. Russia to launch cargo spacecraft to ISS...

    The Progress M-29M space freighter is scheduled to blast off atop a Soyuz-U rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4.49 p.m. GMT on Thursday.

    The Progress cargo ship will be packed with 2.3 tonnes of cargos, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has told TASS. Thursday’s launch will be the last one for the Progress M-M series, to be replaced by the Progress MS cargo ships with the next mission due on November 21.

    The separation of the Progress supply ship from the third stage of its Soyuz launch vehicle will take place on the 529th second of the flight at 4.58 p.m. GMT. The spacecraft will enter the elliptic orbit with the minimum altitude of 193 kilometers and the maximum altitude of 245 kilometers.

    The Progress space freighter will dock with the ISS at 10.54 p.m. GMT and is expected to undock on December 9..................

  2. Singapore sends notice to Indonesian firms for causing haze...

    Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) on Wednesday issued a Preventive Measures Notice under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act to an Indonesian company, the fifth after NEA issued similar notices to four Indonesian firms on Friday.

    The notice requests that the company, namely PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, to deploy fire-fighting personnel to extinguish or prevent the spread of fire on land owned or occupied by them, discontinue burning activities on such land and to submit to NEA any plan of action to extinguish fires on such land or to prevent recurrence, according to Channel NewsAsia.

    Under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, which was passed in parliament in 2014, Singapore can impose a fine of up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (70,400 U.S. dollars) for each day that a local or foreign company contributes to unhealthy levels of haze pollution in Singapore, the cap for the total fine is 2 million Singapore dollars (1.4 million U.S. dollars).

    The haze situation continues to linger in the city-state in recent weeks, with the three-hour PSI hit 168 as of 7 pm on Wednesday, still within the Unhealthy range. NEA said in a statement that as the prevailing winds are forecast to continue blowing from the east-southeast or southeast, hazy conditions are expected to persist on Thursday. "The 24-hr PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the high end of the Unhealthy range and low end of the Very Unhealthy range, and may deteriorate to the mid-section of the Very Unhealthy range if denser haze is blown in, " NEA said.

  3. Japan to restart second reactor on Oct. 15 under post-Fukushima rules...

    Kyushu Electric Power Co. will restart one of its nuclear reactors on Oct. 15, making it the second to return to operation after the government introduced stricter safety regulations following the 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture, a source familiar with the restart plan said.

    Kyushu Electric reported its plan to reactivate the No. 2 reactor at its Sendai complex to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday.

    The No. 1 unit at the two-reactor plant resumed operation in August, becoming the first reactor to do so under what the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls “the world’s toughest” safety rules, implemented in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The restart ended a near two-year hiatus in the country’s nuclear power generation.

    The government plans to have nuclear power account for 20 percent to 22 percent of Japan’s total electricity supply in 2030, compared with roughly 30 percent before the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 complex, despite the majority of the public opposing nuclear plant restarts..........Kyodo

  4. A tropical depression strengthened into tropical storm Mujigae early Friday morning and is still gathering power as it entered the eastern part of South China sea...

    Weather services in south China's Hainan warned holiday tourists bathing in sunshine on the island's beaches that the storm threatens to bring strong gales and downpours from Sunday.

    At 5 a.m., the storm was monitored at 15.9 degrees north latitude and 120.5 degrees east longitude, packing up strong winds with an instant speed of 64.8 kilometers per hour at its eye.

    The southernmost island province is bracing for its golden travel week, as China's week-long National Day holiday started on Thursday. It host 2.18 million tourists during the holiday last week.

  5. Russia requires construction licenses for at least two lines of the proposed Turkish Stream pipeline project, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Oct. 2...

    The Turkish Stream pipeline replaces the cancelled South Stream project to carry Russian gas to Europe and Turkey via the Black Sea. At the moment, Europe gets a lot of its gas from Russia through Ukraine.

    “It’s not yet decided whether the intergovernmental agreement will encompass one leg or two legs or four, Novak told reporters on the sidelines of a G-20 energy ministers’ meeting in Istanbul. A license is required for each “leg” or section of the pipeline.

    “We believe it will be feasible and viable for two legs as minimum. One leg for the Turkish consumers and the other leg for southern Europe.”

    Turkish officials have previously said a sticking point in talks about Turkish Stream, which is supposed to bring 63 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Turkey and southern Europe via Greece, has been Russia’s insistence that Ankara grant permits for the construction work on four planned lines in the project. Turkey has so far only given licenses for the first line............REUTERS

  6. Violent storms and flooding have hit south-eastern France, killing at least 16 people with three more missing, officials say....

    Three elderly people drowned when their retirement home near the city of Antibes was inundated with floodwater.

    Others died trapped in their cars in tunnels and underground car parks as the waters rose.

    French President Francois Hollande announced a state of "natural disaster" in the affected region.

    He thanked rescuers and expressed the "solidarity of the nation".

    Mr Hollande offered condolences as he visited the retirement home in the town of Biot and urged residents in the region to remain cautious, saying: "It's not over."....BBC

    1. De violentes inondations font au moins 17 morts sur la Côte d’Azur...

      Au moins 17 personnes sont mortes dans les Alpes-Maritimes après de violentes intempéries dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Le ministre de l'Intérieur, Bernard Cazeneuve et le président François Hollande se sont rendus sur place.

      Au moins 17 personnes ont trouvé la mort et quatre sont portées disparues, dimanche 4 octobre, au lendemain d'inondations consécutives à de très violents orages dans les Alpes-Maritimes, dans le sud-est de la France.

      • Un déluge de pluie s'est abattu samedi sur la Côte d'Azur, entraînant la crue du fleuve côtier de la Brague et submergeant les rues de Cannes, Antibes, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Biot, Villeneuve-Loubet et Nice. En deux jours, la zone littorale a reçu l'équivalent en pluie d'un mois d'octobre moyen, soit 10 % des précipitations annuelles.

      • Le ministre de l'Intérieur, Bernard Cazeneuve et le président François Hollande se sont rendus sur place. "L'État prendra sa part, dès mercredi au Conseil des ministres, par la reconnaissance de l'état de catastrophe naturelle", a déclaré le chef de l'État.

      • Près de 21 000 foyers restaient privés d'électricité dimanche aprè

  7. Les pluies torrentielles qui s'abattent depuis plusieurs jours sur une partie du sud-est des Etats-Unis pourraient provoquer des inondations sans précédent dans les prochaines 24 heures, selon les services météorologiques...

    Ces pluies diluviennes interviennent alors que l'ouragan Joaquin devait passer dimanche à proximité des Bermudes sur une trajectoire nord-est, en faiblissant progressivement.

    L'ouragan a été ramené à la catégorie 2 sur une échelle qui en compte 5.

    Les autorités de l'archipel ont émis une alerte à l'ouragan pour que la population se mette à l'abri.

    Dans le sud-est des Etats-Unis, les très fortes précipitations et les inondations ont provoqué la mort de quatre personnes depuis jeudi, selon les mé

  8. Asteroid on which Japan's space agency will detonate explosives in 2018, to be called "Ryugu" - after ancient story....

    Japan's space agency JAXA has announced the results of a competition to name asteroid 1999 JU3, the 980-metre-wide space rock it hopes to target with its sample-return mission Hayabusa2.

    The agency chose the name Ryugu from over 7,000 suggestions.

    The name comes from the ancient Japanese story Urashima Taro, in which the main character, Taro Urashima, brings back a casket of treasure from the Dragon’s palace, or the Ryugu Castle.

    JAXA said the theme of "bringing back treasure" resonates with the Hayabusa2 mission as the fridge-sized spacecraft is fitted with an explosive bullet which it is hoped will detonate on the asteroid before returning samples to Earth.

    The $260m spacecraft, which was launched last December, is propelled by ion engines - a system which uses electricity to accelerate gas particles.

    "That makes a jet that goes extremely fast about 30-40km/s," said Francisco Diego, from University College London.

    "Although the mass of this gas is very very low, it produces a little bit of a push in a very efficient way and that's enough to steer the spacecraft along the orbit."

    The craft performed a successful burst of its engines early last month to put it on course for a planned Earth flyby in December.

    It is currently playing catch-up with asteroid Ryugu, one of many asteroids that orbit the Sun, mainly between Earth and Mars.

    Once Hayabusa2 arrives in mid-2018, it will spend 18 months studying the asteroid..............

  9. Indonesian forest fires on track to emit more CO2 than UK ....

    Fires raging across the forests and peatlands of Indonesia are on track to pump out more carbon emissions than the UK’s entire annual output, Greenpeace has warned.

    As well as fuelling global warming, the thick smoke choking cities in the region is likely to cause the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region and is also destroying vital habitats for endangered orangutans and clouded leopards.

    New drone video footage from Greenpeace from around the Gunung Palung national park in Kalimantan shows the peat fires smouldering underground, as well as flames burning down trees, and the thick haze they produce.

    There have been almost 10,000 fires in the last month across Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) and Sumatra, with the drifting smoke also provoking protests from neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

    The fires, mostly started deliberately and illegally to clear forest for paper and palm oil production, are on track to match the worst ever year of 1997. As in that year, the region is currently experiencing a strong El Niño climate phenomenon. This creates drought conditions in Indonesia, exacerbating years of draining of peatlands, and creating tinderbox conditions............

  10. Thick smog will continue to blanket parts of northern China on Wednesday...

    Smog will persist in Beijing and Tianjin, cutting visibility to 1 km on Wednesday morning. Parts of Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin will also experience smog.

    The weather observatory renewed its yellow alert for smog on Wednesday. China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

    But a cold front will disperse the smog from Wednesday evening, said a forecast by the National Meteorological Center(NMC).

    The NMC warned people in the affected areas to reduce outdoor activities.

    The smog coincides with the last day of the week-long National Day holiday. It may aggravate the busy traffic as many return home from their travels.

    The Chinese public has become increasingly sensitive to the health hazards of air pollution. To address public concern, the government aims to cut the density of inhalable particulate matter by at least 10 percent in major cities by 2017.

  11. About 5,000 residents of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido have received evacuation advisories as Typhoon Choi-Wan approaches, TBS television reports...

    Evacuation orders have been issued for Nemuro, a city and port located on Hokkaido, as well as neighbouring areas, TBS said on Thursday adding that a storm warning is also in effect in the region.

    Choi-Wan is expected to cross the Kuril Islands on Thursday and is also threatening the Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East.

    The typhoon weakened to a tropical storm on Wednesday and is expected to become extra-tropical as it approaches the Kuril Islands.

  12. South Carolina still on edge as flooding threat remains...

    It could take until the weekend for the threat of flooding to ease in storm-tattered South Carolina, where a senator warned of a potential billion-dollar cleanup bill, two more people died in the floodwaters and the flagship university sent a home football game 1,126 kilometres away.

    Rivers rose and dams bulged as storm water from days of heavy rains made its way to the Atlantic Ocean, causing a second round of flooding

  13. Less snow in Tibet means more heatwaves in Europe ...

    Worsening heatwaves in Europe and north-east Asia are linked to thinner snowcover on the Tibetan Plateau, highlighting its key role in global weather systems, a study by Chinese scientists finds.

    Recent summer heatwaves in Europe and northeast Asia have caused massive water shortages and a large number of deaths. But the mechanism behind these extreme weather events is not fully understood.

    Scientists at China’s Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology now say that decreasing snow cover in the Tibetan Plateau could be playing an important role.

    Professor Wu Zhiwei and her team used monthly snow cover and air temperature data from the past fifty years to build a global circulation model.

    Their findings show that reduced snow cover on the Tibetan Plateau triggers high pressure over southern Europe and northeast Asia, reducing cloud formation and pushing up temperatures. Warmer and drier conditions in turn further inhibit cloud formation, intensifying local heat waves, says their paper, published recently in Climate Dynamics.

    With further snow loss projected in the future, “Tibetan Plateau snow cover may play an increasingly significant role in shaping the Eurasian heat waves in the next decades,” the Chinese scientists conclude.

    Summer snow cover on the Tibetan plateau has already decreased significantly over the past 50 years with rising levels of global greenhouse gases. The region is warming at almost three times the global average.

    Global climate connections

    As climate models grow more sophisticated and complex, scientists have identified a set of long-distance atmospheric connections – or “teleconnections” – linking climate and weather in regions that are far apart.

    These teleconnections also explain why rising sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean affect summer rainfall in North America and why there are major global climate anomalies when an El Niño occurs...............

  14. Countries vulnerable to climate change form bloc ...

    Twenty of the countries most vulnerable to climate change have formed a new group to press for tougher action to curb global warming.

    Draft documents for a meeting of finance ministers in Lima, Peru and seen by the Reuters news agency on Thursday, said the 20 represented 700 million people in low- and middle-income nations that were arid, landlocked, mountainous or vulnerable to rising sea levels.

    Members will be Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, East Timor, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

    The Vulnerable 20 (V20) group's draft action plan will seek to "strengthen economic and financial cooperation and action to address climate change risks and opportunities" and promote a shift to a low carbon global economy.

    Goals would include "improved access to international climate change finance" to help cope with droughts, floods, melting glaciers and rising sea levels. They said one possibility was a tax on financial transactions.......Reuters.......

  15. Russian rescuers approach Norwegian tanker in distress in Barents Sea...

    The Purga, a multipurpose rescue vessel, has approached the Norwag Norwegian tanker in distress in the Barents Sea, the head of the Northern Expeditionary Unit of rescue and salvage operations of Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency (Rosrybolovstvo), Anatoly Leontyev, said Thursday.

    "The [rescue] operation is taking place in difficult storm conditions, but the situation is under complete control of the rescuers," Leontyev told TASS.

    He said the rescue boat has 27 crewmembers, who are professionals.

    The tanker remains dead in the water, with nets winding on its propeller and rudder. It has enough food and fresh water. No one has been injured, there’s no threat of oil products spill. The tanker is expected to be towed to the Varanger station in Norway. The tanker has five Russians, a Norwegian and a Pole on board.

  16. Tokyo Electric Power Co. expects to begin freezing a soil barrier by the end of the year to stop a torrent of water entering the wrecked Fukushima nuclear facility, moving a step closer to fulfilling a promise the government made to the international community more than two years ago...

    “In the last half-year we have made significant progress in water treatment,” Akira Ono, chief of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, said Friday during a tour of the facility northeast of Tokyo.

    The frozen wall, along with other measures, “should be able to resolve the contaminated water issues before the (2020) Olympic Games.”......

  17. World Bank pledges extra $29bn to poorer nations for climate change fight...

    The World Bank has pledged to boost by up to $29bn the financial assistance pledged to poorer nations to cope with climate change, bringing closer the possibility of reaching a target of $100bn a year by 2020.

    Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank Group, said it could boost funding by a third, from 21% to 28%, in response to client demand. He spoke at a meeting of the World Bank and the IMF in Lima, Peru.

    “As we move closer to Paris countries have identified trillions of dollars of climate-related needs. The bank, with the support of our members, will respond ambitiously to this great challenge,” Kim said.

    In 2014 rich countries and businesses provided close to two-thirds, nearly $62bn, of the “climate finance” which is part of the global climate change negotiations, before the Paris conference this December, according to the OECD.

    Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change, said the bank’s pledge coupled with commitments from Germany, France and the UK to double their climate finance and similar pledges from multilateral development banks in Asia, Europe and Africa meant the total pledges were “well on the way to $100bn”.

    “It’s a global investment plan for moving the world towards [limiting temperature rises to] two degrees which represent trillions of dollars of investment opportunity,” she told the

  18. Gazprom reprend ses livraisons de gaz vers l'Ukraine...

    Le géant russe Gazprom a annoncé lundi la reprise pour l'hiver 2015-2016 de ses livraisons de gaz à l'Ukraine, suspendues depuis le 1er juillet, dans la foulée du protocole d'accord conclu il y a deux semaines entre Kiev et Moscou sous l'égide de l'Union européenne.

    Gazprom a reçu de l'Ukraine "un acompte de 234 millions de dollars pour le mois d'octobre. A partir de 10H00 (07H00 GMT) ce matin, les livraisons ont repris", a précisé le PDG de Gazprom, Alexeï Miller, dans un communiqué

    1. Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom resumed supplies to Ukraine Monday, in a development that will help the country meet its energy needs through the harsh winter months...

      Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said supplies, which were suspended in the spring, recommenced earlier after the company received $234 million out of a promised $500 million prepayment from Kyiv.

      The deal, which was signed last month with the help of the European Union, will ensure that Ukraine will receive Russian gas for six months through March 2016.

      Past gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine have led to cutoffs of supply. One standoff in 2009 caused serious disruptions in shipments EU countries in the dead of winter. Temperatures in Ukraine can drop to as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) in winter, and most homes in Ukraine rely on piped gas for central heating.

      Last winter, Russia and Ukraine struck an emergency deal on gas prices, but that

  19. Second reactor restarted in Kyushu under tighter Fukushima-inspired rules...

    A nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture resumed operation Thursday, becoming the second unit to restart after the government tightened safety regulations following the 2011 triple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 complex.

    Kyushu Electric Power Co. said it reactivated the No. 2 reactor at its Sendai complex, about two months after the No. 1 reactor at the two-reactor plant began operating under what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government calls “the world’s toughest” safety rules.

    The first restart in August ended a nearly two-year hiatus in the country’s nuclear power generation.

    “There is no change in the government’s policy of proceeding with the restart of reactors that are approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as meeting the world’s most stringent and newest regulations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular news conference.

    The government plans to have nuclear power account for 20 to 22 percent of the country’s total electricity supply by 2030, compared with roughly 30 percent before the disaster at the Fukushima complex..............Kyodo

  20. De violentes tempêtes ont fait trois morts en Italie...

    De violentes tempêtes qui ont éclaté dans différentes régions d'Italie ont entraîné la mort d'au moins trois personnes et causé d'importants dégâts.

    Un homme est décédé dans la région de Latium. Une femme a été entraînée dans un glissement de terrain dans les Abruzzes. Une autre a été surprise par la soudaine montée des eaux alors qu'elle se trouvait dans son domicile dans la région de Campanie.

    De nombreuses régions italiennes ont également été fortement touchées par des pluies torrentielles. La ville de Venise est partiellement inondée.

    Différentes lignes ferroviaires sont suspendues ou perturbées.

  21. Le géant de l'automobile Wolsvagen va rappeler, à partir de janvier 2016, 8,5 millions de véhicules dans l'Union européenne équipés d'un moteur manipulé...

    Le géant automobile allemand Volkswagen a indiqué ce jeudi qu'il allait rappeler 8,5 millions de véhicules dans l'Union européenne équipés d'un moteur manipulé, et ce à partir de janvier 2016.

    Cette annonce fait suite à l'injonction faite au groupe par les autorités allemandes de rappeler les voitures concernées en Allemagne (2,4 millions) . Jusqu'ici Volkswagen avait évoqué le chiffre de 8 millions de véhicules concernés en Europe, sur 11 millions dans le monde équipés d'un logiciel permettant au moteur de fausser les résultats de tests antipollution.
    Source AFP

  22. La Chine construit le plus grand télescope du monde...

    Il s'agit du Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), le plus grand radiotélescope de la planète avec son diamètre de 500 mètres. Grâce à sa taille et à la précision des 4.450 panneaux triangulaires qui le constituent, le FAST pourra capter les ondes radioélectriques émises de l'espace, même les plus faibles qui ne pouvaient être détectées jusqu'à

  23. China is set to build six to eight nuclear power plants annually for the next five years and operate 110 plants by 2030, a plan authorities believe would meet the urgent need for clean energy, the media reported on Friday...

    China will invest 500 billion yuan ($78 billion) on domestically-developed nuclear power plants, the China Daily reported.

    Zhou Dadi, vice director of the China Energy Research Society, on Thursday said that China is capable of building and managing a large number of nuclear power plants.

    "After decades of development, China boasts advanced technology and valuable experience to build more nuclear power plants," he added.

    According to analysts, the country plans to increase its electricity generation capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, three times the 2014 level.

    More than 110 nuclear power plants will be put into operation by the end of 2030, exceeding the number of plants in the US.

    The urgent need for clean energy to meet increasing power demand and reduce carbon dioxide emissions has led to the renewed development of nuclear projects, a nuclear safety expert said................

  24. Tension ahead of last round of U.N. climate talks...

    African countries on Sunday dismissed an early draft of a U.N. climate accord as “unbalanced” and demanded amendments to even consider it at the final negotiating session before a landmark conference in Paris.

    The move by the African bloc came on the eve of week-long talks in Bonn, Germany, on what’s envisioned to become the most ambitious agreement ever to fight global warming.

    Delegates on Monday were supposed to start line-by-line editing a 20-page draft that contains multiple options on how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet.

    But the African countries, many of which are among the most vulnerable to climate impacts such as desertification and sea level rise, said the draft “cannot be used as a basis for negotiation, as it is unbalanced, and does not reflect the African Group positions, and crosses the group’s redlines.”

    Group spokesman Seyni Nafo told The Associated Press that the African countries want more emphasis on financial support to help poor countries cope with climate change.

    Nafo said the group was confident that it would be allowed to make additions to the text before negotiations get underway.

    “Our position is not to delay work, but to ensure that there’s a fair basis for all,” he said.

    Some 150 countries — including top emitters China, the United States, the European Union and India — have already made voluntary pledges to cut or curb their emissions after 2020, when the deal is supposed to take effect.

    But several analyses show those pledges won’t be enough to prevent levels of warming that many consider dangerous, so a key element of the Paris deal would be a mechanism to raise those commitments over time.

    “We don’t want to make a picture, we want to make a movie,” Netherlands climate envoy Michel Rentenaar said, insisting that the Paris agreement cannot freeze the current level of ambition on climate action.

    The U.N. talks have made significant strides since a 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen failed to live up to expectations. For the first time all countries now agree they need to act against climate change, which scientists say is already transforming the planet through melting glaciers, rising sea levels, intensifying heat waves and warmer, more acidic oceans. by The Associated Press

  25. China to sign UK nuclear plant deal...

    China's leader is expected to put the seal later on its contribution to what will be the first UK nuclear power plant to be built in a generation.

    The plant could be opened by 2025 at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, with China likely to cover about 30% of the cost.

    President Xi Jinping is meeting Prime Minister David Cameron later, on the second day of his UK state visit.

    More than £30bn worth of deals between the UK and China are expected to be struck during the four-day visit.

    The plant will be built by French energy firm EDF, in conjunction with a consortium led by Chinese state-owned nuclear company CGN.

    Two other nuclear power stations, at Sizewell in Suffolk, and Bradwell in Essex, could follow as part of the deal with China.....BBC

  26. Russia Aircraft Arrive to Extinguish Forest Fires in Indonesia - Embassy...

    Two amphibious Be-200ES aircraft from the Russian Emergencies Ministry arrived Wednesday at the Palembang, Indonesia, airport to help extinguish widespread forest fires on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, a spokesman of the Russian Embassy in Jakarta said.

    On Tuesday, the press service of the Russian Emergencies Ministry said the aircraft departed from the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk following a request by Indonesian authorities. Aircraft crews have been trained to work in difficult conditions and have wide experience in extinguishing fires, according to the ministry.

    "The two Be-200 arrived in the capital of South Sumatra Province, Palembang. It is expected that our aircraft will be putting out fires in Indonesia for at least 30 days," Nikolay Karapetyan told RIA Novosti.

    A Be-200ES is fully amphibious and can take in up to 12.5 tons of water in a few seconds while traveling on the water's surface.....

  27. Grande barrière: la crème solaire endommage les récifs coralliens ...

    Les touristes qui se badigeonnent de crème solaire pourraient contribuer au déclin de la Grande barrière de corail et des autres récifs coralliens du monde, selon une étude de scientifiques de l'université polytechnique d'Ancône, rapporte mercredi le journal The Telegraph.

    Les scientifiques italiens estiment que 10% des récifs coralliens sont menacés par les composants utilisés dans les crèmes solaires.

    Chaque année, entre 4000 et 6000 tonnes de produits solaires se déversent dans les océans, principalement dans les régions tropicales du globe, populaires auprès des touristes.

    Or, les scientifiques italiens ont constaté que de nombreuses marques de crèmes solaires utilisent des composants qui peuvent stimuler la production de virus dans les algues zooxanthelles qui vivent en communion avec les coraux.

    Ces algues jouent un rôle essentiel dans le métabolisme du corail et lorsque celles-ci dépérissent, le corail blanchit et meurt. Les produits chimiques tels que le parabène, le cinnamate, le benzophone ou les dérivés du camphre encouragent la multiplication des virus et donc la détérioration des algues et coraux.

  28. Permafrost warming in parts of Alaska is 'unbelievable'...

    One of the world's leading experts on permafrost has told BBC News that the recent rate of warming of this frozen layer of earth is "unbelievable".

    Prof Vladimir Romanovsky said that he expected permafrost in parts of Alaska would start to thaw by 2070.

    Researchers worry that methane frozen within the permafrost will be released, exacerbating climate change

    The professor said a rise in permafrost temperatures in the past four years convinced him warming was real.

    Permafrost is perennially frozen soil that has been below zero degrees C for at least two years.

    It's found underneath about 25% of the northern hemisphere, mainly around the Arctic - but also in the Antarctic and Alpine regions.

    It can range in depth from one metre under the ground all the way down to 1,500m..............BBC

  29. 99% probability of quake in Los Angeles area: Study...

    There is a 99.9 per cent chance of a magnitude-5 or greater earthquake striking within three years in the greater Los Angeles area, where a similar sized temblor caused damages of more than US $12 million last year, according to a study by Nasa and university researchers.

    The study released Tuesday was based on Global Positioning System and airborne radar measurements of how the earth's crust was deformed by the magnitude-5.1 quake on March 28, 2014, in La Habra, southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

    Damage included broken water mains and cracked pavement.

    By comparison, in 1994 the magnitude-6.7 Northridge earthquake left US $25 billion in damage, caused dozens of deaths and injured 9,000 people.

    The study looked at a 62-mile (100-kilometre) radius around the La Habra epicentre. Researchers observed shallow movements of the ground, took into account a deficit in the number of earthquakes expected there and calculated how much strain may remain in deeper faults that are still locked.

    While the magnitude-5 quake was found to be extremely likely by April 1, 2018, one of magnitude-6 or higher was pegged at just 35 per cent and the largest potential quake was estimated at 6.3.

    Study leader Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory, said the research is not a prediction. "It's a statistical probability that we computed," she said in an interview..........AP........

  30. Hurricane Patricia has formed in the Pacific Ocean, upgraded from a tropical storm as it heads toward the western coast of Mexico....

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Thursday the storm picked up strength as it moved toward the Mexican coast with maximum sustained winds of 120 kilometers per hour. Forecasters expect the storm will strengthen further.

    Current forecast maps show Patricia making landfall late Friday or early Saturday and progressing over the Mexican mainland by Saturday.

    Hurricane warnings are in effect for Cabo Correintes to Punta San Telmo, and a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning are in effect for east of Punta San Telmo to Lazaro Cardenas. The tropical storm warning extends all the way to Tecpan de Galeana, just north of Acapulco.

  31. Indonesia prepares warships to evacuate "haze" refugees...

    Indonesia is preparing warships as a last resort to evacuate children and others suffering from smoke inhalation from slash-and-burn fires, a minister said Friday, as the country struggles to contain fires expected to continue for weeks.

    Southeast Asia has suffered for years from annual "haze" caused by forest and peat clearing across Indonesia, which has come under increasing political pressure to stop the problem, but so far to no avail.

    Fires this year have been helped by drier weather brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon and have pushed air pollution to hazardous levels across Southeast Asia, forcing schools to close and disrupting flights.

    "We are looking for a place for babies to be evacuated to if necessary," coordinating security minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters referring to plans to prepare six warships and two state-owned ferries.

    The ships, however, will only be used as a last resort if other efforts, including moving residents to government offices with air purifiers, prove unsuccessful, Pandjaitan said........REUTERS

  32. Impact from Indonesia’s toxic smoke outweighs agriculture benefits, say scientists...

    The smoke caused by Indonesia’s forest fires are a toxic cocktail of gases ranging from cyanide to ammonia, scientists studying the smog in Palangka Raya, Indonesia have discovered.

    Additionally, the impact of the fires, used to conduct land clearing for agricultural expansion, on health and biodiversity will outweigh the benefits of opening up more land for planting, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor) said.

    Cifor reported on its blog recently that researchers fear the effects of Indonesia’s fires may be worse than anticipated, going by the levels of hazardous gases measured from the smoke during a workshop there.

    Cifor said the scientists have identified ozone, carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde in the smoke, which is spreading across the Asean region, forcing schools in Malaysia to close down for several days.............

  33. Mexico still on alert as Hurricane Patricia weakens...

    Several municipalities in the western Mexican state Jalisco on the Pacific coast on Saturday were still on alert as Hurricane Patricia lashed further inland and weakened to a tropical storm.

    Hurricane Patricia made landfall in Jalisco Friday evening, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, but causing less damage than feared. The hurricane was downgraded from Category 5 to 4 one hour after the landfall, according to the National Weather Service (SMN).

    The Mexican Army have been doing the rounds since the early hours of Saturday, checking highways, local roads, municipal capitals in the region as well as some rural communities.

    No casualties have been reported yet, though houses and roads have been damaged in municipalities like Talpa de Allende, Atengo and Mixtlan in Jalisco, which were the hardest hit by Hurricane Patricia.

    A total of around 6,300 people stayed the night in 79 shelters and 28 temporary refuges distributed in Jalisco. But most of them have returned home with their families and pets by Saturday afternoon..........

  34. Thousands homeless as El Nino floods sweep Somalia...

    Flash floods in Somalia have destroyed thousands of makeshift homes, as well as latrines and shallow wells, the United Nations said, predicting that up to 900,000 people could be hit by the strongest El Nino weather phenomenon in decades.

    The floods, which have made roads impassable and cut thousands off from aid, could reverse many of the humanitarian gains made in southern Somalia since 2011 when the Horn of Africa nation was devastated by famine, experts say.

    Some 3.2 million Somalis, one-third of the population, already needed life-saving aid and over one million were internally displaced before the rains began on Oct. 7.

    "The El Nino conditions come amid an already fragile humanitarian situation," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement late on Tuesday.......REUTERS........

  35. Following the recent floods that swept across Egypt over the weekend, torrential rain has since made its way across the eastern Mediterranean and is headed towards the Caspian Sea...

    Latakia, the principal port city of Syria, reported 24mm of rain on Monday. The next day, 780km across the border in Turkey, Siirt notched up 98mm of rain.

    The band of cloud associated with the heavy rain currently stretches around 2000km from west Kazakhstan to the northern Gulf. There has been flooding in Baghdad where 24mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours.

    May to October is usually bone dry for the Iraqi capital. The wettest months are January and December, when the average monthly rainfall totals are 21mm and 30mm respectively.

    The heaviest rain is currently crawling across Kuwait. Schools have been closed across much of the country because of extensive flooding. Warnings are in force and the emergency services have been working tirelessly to cope.

    Some flights were briefly cancelled out of Kuwait International Airport, but the timetable is now back on schedule.

    The next few days will see the worst of the rain over western Iran, before finally easing down around Saturday. By which time, some parts could receive between 150 to 200mm of rain.

  36. Indonésie: des habitants désespérés tentent de lutter contre les incendies ...

    Des habitants désespérés d'une région d'Indonésie parmi les plus touchées par les incendies de forêts et fumées toxiques qui ravagent l'archipel utilisent seaux d'eau et autres maigres moyens à leur disposition pour éteindre le feu, lassés d'attendre l'aide du gouvernement.

    Portant des bottes en caoutchouc et un tee-shirt trop grands pour lui, Yosua Oktavianus, 13 ans, aide son père à éteindre un incendie aux abords de leur ville sur l'île de Kalimantan (partie indonésienne de Bornéo), pendant qu'une fumée âcre s'échappe de la terre brûlée.

    "Je veux simplement aider mon père", déclare à l'AFP l'adolescent à Palangkaraya, ville de 240 000 habitants où le nombre d'infections respiratoires a bondi ces dernières semaines.

    Le sentiment de frustration et de colère se fait de plus en plus ressentir parmi la population la plus exposée aux fumées d'incendies, qui reproche au gouvernement central à Jakarta – la capitale épargnée par ce phénomène – de ne pas leur accorder suffisamment d'aide, alors que les dégagements massifs de fumées polluent l'air de plusieurs pays d'Asie du Sud-Est.

    Des milliers d'incendies continuent de brûler sur les îles de Kalimantan et Sumatra, en dépit des avions bombardiers d'eau dépêchés par les autorités indonésiennes et l'aide d'autres pays pour tenter d'éteindre les feux............

  37. Rosneft et ExxonMobil retenus pour exploiter ensemble des gisements au Mozambique...

    Les géants pétroliers russe Rosneft et américain ExxonMobil, dont le partenariat est affecté par la crise ukrainienne, ont remporté ensemble les licences d'exploitation de trois blocs au Mozambique, aux abondantes ressources en gaz encore peu exploitées , a annoncé le groupe russe.

    Dans un communiqué, Rosneft a souligné que cette décision de l'Institut national du pétrole du Mozambique pour des gisements dans le bassin d'Angoche et le delta du Zambèze lui donnait "accès à des actifs de haute qualité, tout en minimisant les risques liés aux projets d'exploration en territoire inexploité en s'alliant avec les leaders mondiaux du secteur".

    ExxonMobil est amené à devenir l'opérateur de ce projet, a précisé le groupe russe.

    Les deux groupes, liés par un partenariat stratégique, ont dû renoncer à certains projets dans l'Arctique en raison des sanctions occidentales visant Rosneft, dont le patron, Igor Setchine, est un proche de Vladimir Poutine et a travaillé au Mozambique dans les années 1980 comme traducteur de portugais.

    ExxonMobil traverse en outre une période délicate en Russie: il a saisi au printemps le tribunal international d'arbitrage de Stockholm pour obtenir le remboursement de trop-payés fiscaux sur le projet Sakhaline-1 dans l'Extrême Orient russe qui pourraient représenter jusqu'à 500 millions de dollars.

  38. Big Waves Hit Hawaiian Islands' North Shores, California ...

    The north shores of all the Hawaiian Islands were under a high surf warning on Wednesday, with forecasters expecting 25 to 30-foot waves to mark the start of Hawaii's big-wave season.

    The swells hitting Hawaii and California were probably connected to the same low-pressure weather system in the Pacific Ocean, said Derek Wroe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

    "We get our biggest waves in the wintertime, and we're leading up to that,'' Wroe said.

    Officials on Hawaii's Big Island closed six beaches because of dangerous surf conditions. One beach on Maui was closed after waves flooded a parking lot.

    Wroe warned spectators to keep away from the waves because what seems safe could become deadly in a short time. "There's a whole host of dangers that come with these waves,'' he said............


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