The tornado that destroyed my hometown was born in an otherwise unremarkable atmospheric collision over the American Central Plains. On May 22, 2011, a geostationary satellite 22,300 miles overhead recorded a large collection of cloud lines drifting over southeastern Kansas. At around 2 p.m, one of the cloud lines exploded, like a cartographic-scale dry-ice bomb.
Researchers from around the globe using data captured by a camera on a Hawaiian mountaintop, have photographically captured the dim red atmospheric glow caused by the March 11 tsunami issued by the Japan earthquake that devastated that country and traveled across the Pacific to do millions of dollars worth of damage elsewhere. The observation--the first of its kind--could be used to predict future tsunamis before they hit, saving countless lives.
This Japanese cooking pot converts the heat from a boiling pot of water to electricity that can charge your smartphone at the same time it cooks a delicious meal. The invention, inspired by footage of Japan’s earthquake victims building fires to keep warm, could prove a boon after a natural disaster, when all you’d have to do to keep communication open would be to light a campfire.
All of that water pouring out of spillways and topping levees up and down the Mississippi River has to go somewhere, and many living in those areas prone to flooding have taken drastic action to keep from being inundated. In what could be called a testament to the human instinct to protect hearth and home, some in the disaster zone are holding out by taking civil engineering into their own hands, building makeshift levees to keep the rising waters at bay. Click through the gallery to see how far some homeowners have gone to protect their properties.
The ongoing flooding along the Mississippi River is the worst the region has seen in recent memory--all three of the river's three major spillways are open at the same time for the first time ever, diverting flood waters from New Orleans and one of America's major fuel refining corridors. Other areas aren't so lucky; water flowing from Louisiana's Morganza spillway (one of the big three) is flooding the Atchafalaya River basin, displacing some 4,000 people. Scenes of inundated towns, rooftops peeking above the water line, are playing out from the upper Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico.
But while the 2011 floods are the worst in years, for many places they're not the worst in that many years. The Big Muddy is topping its banks and barriers more frequently and with greater consequences than flood models tend to predict. There are several reasons for that depending on who you ask, but regardless of whether it's global warming, bad flood modeling, or simple statistical anomaly, one thing is abundantly clear: the mighty Mississippi wants out of the path that humans have determined for it, and it is increasingly finding ways to escape.
Seismologists are putting together some impressive computer models of the devastating earthquake that struck Japan Friday. As the tragedy continues to unfold, it’s pretty breathtaking to see the Earth’s destructive power in action.
As Japan reels from a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Friday afternoon, technology is helping survivors connect with loved ones and keeping the rest of the world informed. Google launched a version of its Person Finder service so people can search for loved ones or post an update letting others know they’re safe. And others are posting crisis platforms and interactive maps with up-to-date warnings.
Earthquake prediction is a difficult business; it can be done, but usually with just enough lead time to yell “earthquake!” before the shaking begins. British and Russian researchers hope to change that through an agreement inked this week that will see two experimental satellites launched into orbit to try to identify natural warning signs that an earthquake is on the horizon.
Volcanic eruptions aren’t just violent; they’re incredibly fast, often leaving people no time to flee. Here, a rescue worker walks among the dead in the white-gray ash of Argomulyo, a village in Indonesia. This eruption last November of Mt. Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, triggered a series of fast-moving pyroclastic flows, a combination of volcanic rock and gas that can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees. This material barreled down Merapi’s slopes at speeds of up to 100 miles an hour.