During the week of May 13th, the CO2 level at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii topped 400 ppm repeatedly. Daily levels of CO2 can vary due to weather, and there are seasonal trends as well. The level of atmospheric greenhouse gases continues to increase, now over 120 ppm since the Industrial Revolution began. For more on the Keeling Curve, see http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/. Find out more about greenhouse gases and warming.
The week of May 19 brings dozens of tornadoes to Tornado Alley in the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. On May 20th, a massive tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma, devastating communities - destroying over 100 homes and hitting two elementary schools and a hospital - with many casualties and deaths. Our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues suffering from these storms. For more on the May 20th storms, see the NOAA Storm Prediction Center Storm Report.
March 11, 2011 - 9.0 Magnitude Earthquake and Tsunami Hits Japan
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit at 05:46:23 UTC (02:46:23 pm local time) near the east coast of Honshu, Japan. The quake was 24.4 km deep at its epicenter, and occurred as a result of thrust faulting on or near the subducting plate boundary between the Pacific and the North American tectonic plates. The earthquake was preceded by numerous large foreshocks over the two preceding days, beginning on March 9, with a M 7.2 event approximately 40 km from the March 11 epicenter.
Following the major shock, which was the largest in Japan for 140 years (and one of the largest in the world for the past 100 years), a massive tsunami up to 10 meters high hit the coast of Japan, causing widespread devastation and loss of life across the region. In places, the wave traveled inland for several km. As of March 14, several thousand have been found dead, with more thousands missing. The tsunami continued to propagate across the Pacific Ocean, causing damage in Hawaii, as well as in California. There have been hundreds of aftershocks in Japan following the major earthquake, with more than two dozen at a magnitude of 6 or greater. The region is continuing to deal with tsunami warnings, which are complicating recovery efforts.
An additional complication is that the tsunami damaged reactors at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima.To date, there have been at least three explosions at the plant, which officials believe were due to explosive release of steam. Officials are still working to cool the reactors, and determine their condition and the resultant radiation hazard. In the meantime, as a result of the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor damage, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, many having lost their homes to the tsunami.
The expression "on solid ground" is often used to describe something as stable. But sometimes the solid ground underfoot is not stable. It moves as Earth’s tectonic plates move. Sometimes it moves gradually....more
When two sections of the Earth's lithosphere collide one slab of lithosphere can be forced back down into the deeper regions of the Earth, as shown in this diagram. This process is called subduction....more
Many forces cause the surface of the Earth to change over time. However, the largest force that changes our planet’s surface is the movement of Earth's outer layer through the process of plate tectonics....more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more