Thursday, January 3, 2013

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Simultaneous Spatter And Ash Eruptions, Exploding Lava Bubbles From The Stromboli Volcano In Italy!

January 03, 2013 - ITALY - We visited Stromboli on 2 January and observed the following activity from about 8 vents in total (see image for location and naming of vents): The western crater produced tall, very noisy, straight candle-like strombolian fountains up to 300 m tall every 10-20 minutes from vent 2, lasting 5-20 seconds, often accompanied by ash-rich ejections from vent 1.

Exploding lava bubble from the NE vent (12).
Simultaneous spatter- and ash-rich eruptions from the NW vent (1 and 2).
The large hornito (6) at the northern crater rim was constantly glowing and spattering, and sometimes had small strombolian eruptions as well. The central crater activity was dominated by continuous spattering from a glowing circular vent (10) that ejected pulsating puffs of hot gas and steam and sometimes produced small gas rings that remained visible for up to 2 minutes. The by far largest activity occurred from the main vent (12) of the spatter cone that has been built around the eastern crater area over the past few years. Every 15-50 minutes, large lava bubbles exploded with loud detonations and ejected bright, liquid lava into all directions and reached heights of up to estimated 4-500 meters.

The configuration of the crater terrace on 3 Jan 2013.
Bright glow and often continuous spattering from inside it indicated that its magma column was high, and on one occasion, the start of a small overflow through its gap could be seen (but this process was then interrupted by an explosion). The hornito-shaped vent 11 to the west of the main crater 12 was also constantly glowing and spattering and sometimes produced candle-like strombolian jets to heights of up to about 100 m. A small lateral effusive vent (13) of the SE crater was observed on the northern outer slope of the cone, about 20 meters below the rim, visible from the east and south-east and from the 400m viewpoint. Mostly, it was a barely glowing spot, but occasionally, it effused some glowing lava blocks that started to roll down the slope. This must have been the vent which had produced the small lava flows sometimes visible on webcam images during the last days of December. A series of photos will be published in the near future. - Volcano Discovery.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - Brave New World Of Robots And Avatars Moves A Step Closer?!

January 03, 2013 - CHINA - Getting robots to perform boring chores so mankind can spend more time pursuing leisure activities has long been a common theme in science fiction.  But it was in industry rather than in the home where they were first used.  General Motors is generally thought to have been the first company to install robots, to lift pieces of hot metal from die-casting machines. Demand for robots has been growing ever since, even in China where demand for industrial robots in the manufacturing sector is rapidly increasing, according to Gudrun Litzenberger of the International Federation of Robotics,  That, however, does not mean we are heading towards a science fiction utopia of living in a completely automated world.

Robots have long been used to assemble and weld the chassis of automobiles.
'Man in control'
The other part of the original dream, namely more leisure, seems to have overshot, however. With fewer people needed to operate a robot than to operate a conventional industrial manufacturing plant, many people will end up with more leisure than they would like, Ms Litzenberger acknowledges.  Or rather, there will be more unemployment.  "But if you look at the workers in some industries who work in tedious, unhealthy and dangerous conditions, it is better to use robots for some tasks instead of men," she says.  Besides, the greater accuracy of robots is often favoured by companies.  Although we refer to them as household appliances, we already have mundane robots that ease the chores in many homes. There are washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, for example.  Robots are used to milk cows and thus help to automate farming, and one very important part of service robots are those used by the military.  Some people say the next great step for robotics is when machines can begin to make decisions for themselves; when robots become autonomous and thus no longer depend on humans to operate. But will they take over?  "Although robots are sometimes depicted in science fiction movies as having emotions, they are just machines which need people to operate them," says Ms Litzenberger.  "They still have to be programmed by human beings. Man is still in control."

More 'human' robot
With the progress in robotic technology, the humanoid automaton R2D2 featured in the Star Wars films could soon become a regular household feature. The American firm Rethink Robotics has created a two armed humanoid robot called Baxter, which Rodney Brooks hopes will transform how humans work with robots.  "Seventy per cent of current industrial robots are in automobile companies," he says. "We are trying to make industrial robots for everyone else."  It would normally take several months to program an industrial robot, but Baxter can easily be "taught" to do simple tasks such as picking up an object. Baxter has a screen with eyes, representing a face, which is programmed to look at an object before reaching out for it - much as a human would do.  "We designed it so that a regular factory floor worker could program the robot in just minutes, rather than having months and months of systems integration," says Mr Brooks.  So Baxter can unload boxes, put them onto an assembly line, or put things on conveyer belts. At the other end, Baxter gets things off the line, then packs it into boxes - precisely the sort of simple factory operation that usually employs lots of people.  "It's a mindless, dull task and that's what Baxter is meant to do," Mr Brooks says.  "I'm hoping that people will come up with some ideas for healthcare or caring for the elderly, but who knows what else they might come up with?  "Maybe we'll see Baxters in coffee shops before too long?"

Tomorrow's robots will change the way of office workers, the way yesterday's robots changed life for those in factories.
Interfacing with avatars 
An army of robots toiling in factories across the world has already transformed the lives of blue collar workers.  Next, the online equivalent of robots - avatars - could soon transform the way white collar workers work too.  Avatars are virtual representations of ourselves, common in online gaming. People working behind desks might soon use similar techniques when talking to their colleagues, according to Ghislaine Boddington at Body Data Space, a company which specialises in how new technology can improve the way we communicate  People will sit next to a transmission-reception screen and send themselves out to colleagues, before seeing colleagues for real in the office. "It is just like board meetings at the moment with the video conference setups," she says - only the new system allows people to see themselves as full avatars who receive data streams, videos or mobile telephone calls, and are able to work with objects they are designing together - possibly an engine that needs some adaptation where four or five engineers need to look, talk about it, and point at things.  The next step after that would be robot integration.  "It is very interesting because it allows you to have is a mobile tele-presence," says Ms Boddington.  "We could have a small robot next to us with a Skype interface on the face of the robot and if we wanted to take them down to see the production line or to see the new engine we're designing or whatever, they could come with us," she says.  "They could join us at the table and then they could come to lunch with us. They could come out and meet some other people in another room."  She notes that the younger generation do not have that many problems with the concept.  "They're much more able to deal with one representation of themselves and others in different forms, tele-presence, avatars, robotics, and secondly multi-identity, where they accept they will be different in different worlds and environments," she says.  "There are already restaurants in America where there are corner booths which have a video wall and you can meet up with somebody and have dinner with them 'virtually' in a different city." - BBC.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Louisiana Cemeteries Sinking And Washing Away!

January 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Water is constantly washing around the tombs in a Leeville, Louisiana cemetery. What's left of the old Leeville cemetery is only accessible by boat. Some headstones are barely visible above the water, and waves lap at the bricks and concrete surrounding caskets buried at the site since the late 1800s.

At least two dozen cemeteries across the southeast Louisiana coast that are rapidly sinking or washing away. (AP).
This is due to soil erosion and subsidence accelerated by the tropical punch of storms such as
Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Lee and Isaac. (AP).
Some 11 cemeteries in Jefferson Parish have repeatedly flooded since Katrina, and in Lafourche, Terrebonne and Plaquemines parishes, more than a dozen others have succumbed to tidal surges. Much of the ground has subsided to barely sea level, and during Hurricane Isaac, about seven feet of land washed away in the tidal.

Many coastal Louisiana cemeteries are just skeletons of what they used to be. The few trees still standing have been killed by saltwater intrusion from the Gulf. Their leafless branches are suspended above marsh grass left brown and soggy from saltwater that has crept up from beneath the graves. South Lafourche Levee District General Manager Windell Curole, who also serves on the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said saltwater from the Gulf is causing a crippling subsidence problem. - Yahoo.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursor - Jellyfish "Plague" Invades Black Sea Bay In The Ukraine!

January 03, 2013 - UKRAINE - A jellyfish “plague” in a Black Sea bay in Ukraine has ruined swimming season for local residents.


The area has been invaded by so many jellyfish that locals are describing it as a "plague", however fishermen are hoping that the thousands of jellyfish clogging the bay in Balaclava will draw in more fish to the area.

 WATCH: Jellyfish 'plague' invades Black Sea bay.

BIG BROTHER NOW: Rise Of The Police State - These Wild New DVRs Will Spy On Your Living Room With Cameras And Microphones!

January 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - Google TV, Microsoft, Comcast, and now Verizon have all submitted patent applications to create televisions and DVRs that will watch you as you watch TV.

Jeff Golden via Flickr.
Earlier this month, news came out that Verizon applied for a patent to create a DVR sometime in the future that has cameras and microphones that can see and hear what you're doing and saying, while watching TV. Sounds, actions, food choices, and your ethnicity -- all tracked by the DVR -- will influence what you see in your commercial breaks. According to the patent application, here are the ways you can be targeted:
  • If your DVR hears you getting frisky on the couch, it will input terms like "romance, love, cuddle" into the system and play "a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers, a commercial including a trailer for an upcoming romantic comedy movie."
  • "Additionally or alternatively, if detection facility 104 detects that a couple is arguing/fighting with each other, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated marriage/relationship counseling."
  • Your DVR will be able to know what kind of beer you're drinking: "If detection facility 104 detects a particular object (e.g., a Budweiser can) within a user's surroundings, advertising facility 106 may select an advertisement associated with the detected object (e.g., a Budweiser commercial)."
  • If you seem stressed, to be considerate the DVR will show you an ad for "aromatherapy candles."
The DVR will also build a profile about you, picking up on your  "preferences, traits, tendencies."  While some in the media have gone crazy at the idea of a Big Brother-like device entering your living room, Verizon thinks that this is an overreaction. According to a statement sent to BI, "Articles focusing on what is a patent application were highly speculative. Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications, but such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine."  A source familiar with the Verizon patent process told Business Insider that given the other contenders, it's very remote that Verizon would win the bid.   In fact, according to the patent's transaction history, the application was given a non-final rejection days before the DVR was first reported on by Fierce Cable. - Business Insider

MASS FISH DIE-OFF: Ice Age Now - Thousands Of Milkfish "Freeze To Death" In Yunlin County, China!

January 03, 2013 - CHINA - With a cold front moving in during the New Year’s holidays, fish farmers in Changhua and Yunlin counties’ coastal areas reported the estimated loss of thousands of milkfish.

Fish pond workers remove dead milkfish from another area in China earlier this year. Photo: AP / Bullit Marquez.
The cold weather over the past few days drove the temperature at Changhua and Yunlin’s coastal areas to below 10°C, killing a large number of farmed milkfish. An estimated 3,000 milkfish froze to death in Yunlin County’s Taisi Township, as the lowest temperatures plunged to about 8°C in the past few days, and fish farmers had to use nets to scoop up the dead milkfish.

Many fish farmers in Changhua County that breed clams and milkfish in the same ponds — with the milkfish helping to eat up the lichen that grows in the ponds — have also reported that thousands of milkfish died in the freezing water. Some milkfish farmers said that if dead fish are found floating in the breeding ponds, they have to quickly scoop them up to give to friends and relatives, or sell them at cheaper prices at fish markets or food processing factories while they are still fresh. Others pumped groundwater into their fish ponds, in an effort to raise the temperature, they said Some village residents took advantage of the opportunity and directly approached the fish farmers to purchase fresh fish. - Taipei Times.

HIGH STRANGENESS: 8 Foot "Alien Being" Recorded In Taitung, Taiwan - Declared By Experts To Be Real?!

January 03, 2013 - TAIWAN - The following video features several media reports out of Taitung in Taiwan about the strange sighting of an "alien being". According to the translation from the original report, the sighting took place near Jiaming Lake. The Experts at the Taiwan Unidentified Flying Object Society (TUFOS) measures it at approxiametly 250 centimetres or 8.2 feet tall. TUFOS indicate that the being had webbed-like hands, almost transparent skin with an head similiar to that of a praying mantis. They concluded that it originated from an underground alien base near to the lake.


Here is the original translated report:

Taiwan alien trace it? Domestic ufology today announced a public Jiaming Lake in Taitung photographs, the original mountain scenery, actually had a body type similar to humans is unknown objects, the first minister like insects,hand there are webbed, and after repeatedly identified the photo has not been modified or fraud, so learn to a high degree of suspicion, this may be an alien. Whether it is inside the jungle, or hiding outside the windows, will spread people all over the world From time to time, shoot the alien sight, Taiwan also reported aliens show up. Photos of mountain views, at first glance nothing, but lo and behold, a shape similar transparent unidentified object on the hillside, close watchmen found the head like a mantis, webbed hands, push sentenced a height of about 250cm people last year, May 25 Jiaming Lake in Taitung, shooting photos, UFO Society of extreme suspicion, which is alien.

Looking for expert analysis of the photos, and have not found a photo fraud or manipulated now learn to plan with foreign research groups, analysis Apart from Taitung also reported, Taipei Qixingshan, turned left pyramid ruins. Is the top of a mountain, the pyramid-like appearance, in addition to the tetrahedral just aligned north, south, east, and west direction, there are around special magnetic field, but geological experts recognized as volcanic terrain line into processes polarized views, but the rumors Qixingshan is early Star transmitters station, although the true and false to be investigated, has let local add to the mystery of the "alien base". - TUFOS. [Translated].

WATCH: 
"Alien" seen in Taiwan.


MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: UFO Alert in Cardwell, North Queensland - Silent Lights Phenomenon Hover Over Town?!

January 03, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - A tiny town in north Queensland is on full UFO alert following sightings of strange lights in the night sky. Cardwell businessman Greg Smith said he and his son watched the lights for 15 minutes and are convinced that what they saw was some sort of UFO.


"This was a couple of months ago. I used to be the world's biggest sceptic about this stuff, but I'll tell you what, this really rattled me and my son,'' he told The Townsville Bulletin. Mr Smith said they watched the lights from the front of the Lyndoch Motel on the highway towards the northern end of the town. "There were two large orange lights. There was no beam and no noise. It was absolutely silent and they were moving slowly across the sky towards the north-west. We couldn't tell if the lights were from one or two machines. At first we thought they were over buildings between the highway and the beach, but other people said they were just out over the water,'' he said.

Mr Smith said he thought it must have been one or two helicopters, but discounted the possibility due to the fact there was no noise. Another Cardwell resident, Phil Mulley and his wife Helen saw the lights on two consecutive nights. "We thought it was a chopper coming up the channel. We watched it for a few minutes and then it disappeared in cloud. The next night my sister rang me and said to look outside. I went and looked and there were two lights. We watched them for a while until they disappeared in cloud,'' he said. Mr Mulley said he knew of at least six or seven people who saw the lights. President of UFO Research Queensland Sheryl Gottschall said she could not say what the lights were, but added she had no qualms in saying there were extraterrestrials which visited earth from time to time. "I've been with this organisation for 25 years and in that time I've spoken to 3000 people who have seen strange lights and objects and to another 600 to 700 who have had close encounters,'' she said. - Courier Mail.

WATCH: Light phenomenon over Cardwell.


HIGH STRANGENESS: Something Weird Is Happening In Iran - Officials Order 1.5 Million Residents To Flee Isfahan, Over Radioactive Leak Fears?!

January 03, 2013 - IRAN - Iranian officials have instructed residents of Isfahan to leave the city, renewing concerns that a nearby nuclear site could be leaking radioactive material.  An edict issued Wednesday by Iranian authorities orders Isfahan’s one-and-a-half million people to leave the city “because pollution has now reached emergency levels,” the BBC reported.  However, outside observers suspect that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports indicating that a uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan had been leaking radioactive material.  Tehran went to great lengths in December to deny these reports, telling state-run media outlets that “the rumors about leaking and contamination at Isfahan’s [Uranium Conversion Facility] are not true at all.” 


November reports indicated that a radioactive leak might have poisoned several workers at the nuclear plant, which converts highly toxic yellowcake uranium into material that could be used in the core of a nuclear weapon.  The head of Iran’s emergency services agency said at the time that residents have no reason to worry about possible contamination resulting from a possible leak.  Stories about the potential leak soon disappeared from state-run news websites, Trend reported in late November.  Iranian officials denied that a leak has occurred and blamed Western media outlets for creating “tumult” in the region.  Wednesday’s evacuation order is now fueling concerns that Iranian officials are trying to hide something, including further fallout from a possible radioactive leak. 

“Pollution in Isfahan is a problem but in the past, Iranian authorities respond by closing schools and the government to keep people at home and let the pollution dissipate, not by evacuating people,” said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq who has written about Isfahan’s battle against pollution.  “Mass evacuations suggest a far more serious problem,” Rubin explained. “There are two possibilities here: There is a radiation leak and the regime is lying or there is really bad pollution and no one believes the regime’s explanations.”  Rubin also pointed out that Iranian officials have a history of lying to both Western officials and their own citizens.  It remains unclear whether the technology has been properly inspected for safety because Iran has denied Western officials access to many of its nuclear sites.  The nuclear site at Isfahan has been targeted for attack in the past.  An unexplained explosion at the plant in 2011 is reported to have damaged the facility.  The nuclear plant also sits on an active fault line. The city of Isfahan has been destroyed at least six times from past earthquakes, a point of concern among regional experts.  “Given that Iran is on an earthquake zone and has lost tens of thousands of people with regularity suggests that a devastating nuclear accident is only a matter of time,” said Rubin. - Free Beacon.

SHADOW WARS: Escalating Towards World War III - Russia To Hold Large-Scale Mediterranean, Black Sea Naval Drills; Iran Stages "Cyber War Drills"; US And Israel Cyber Warfare Against Iran Is Very Much Underway; 'Iran Captures Two US-Made Surveillance Drones'; IDF Preparing Hospitals For Chemical Attacks; Syria Death Toll Tops 60,000!

January 03, 2013 - MIDDLE EAST - Russia will hold large-scale naval drills in the Mediterranean and Black Seas in late January with the involvement of warships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific Fleets, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press office reported on Wednesday. “The Russian Navy’s drills of this scope will be held for the first time over the past few decades and are designed to improve control, ensure and practice multiservice force interaction of the fleets in the far-off maritime zones,” the press office said.

Russia to Hold Large-Scale Mediterranean, Black Sea Naval Drills.
Russia To Hold Large-Scale Mediterranean, Black Sea Naval Drills.
The drills will be held in line with the Russian Armed Forces’ 2013 combat training plan and will aim to “practice the issues of establishing a multiservice grouping of forces (troops) outside Russia, planning its use and conducting joint actions as part of a united naval grouping based on a common plan,” the press office said. The naval task forces from the Russian Fleets are currently heading towards the designated areas of the naval exercises. The drills will also simulate operations to load marine troops and paratroopers from the rough coast of the North Caucasus onto amphibious ships and will help the Navy’s personnel acquire necessary marine practice skills during the performance of “combat training missions in the Black and Mediterranean Seas,” the press office said. - RIANOVOSTI.

Iran Stages "Cyber Warfare Drills".
Iranian forces have combined cyber warfare tactics and maritime war games in a drill for the first time as the Islamic republic's naval units staged maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz, media reports said on Monday. The navy "launched a cyber attack against the computer network of the defensive forces in order to infiltrate the network and hack information or spread virus," the English-language Iran daily reported, quoting Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari. Rastegari said the cyber attack was successfully detected and blocked. Over the past three years, Iranian industrial facilities including oil and nuclear sites, as well as communications networks and banking systems, have all come under cyber attacks the regime blamed on the United States and Israel. Tehran maintains that it has developed civil and military cyber units to counter such attacks. - Israel National News.

U.S. And Israel Blamed By Iran For New Cyber Attacks.
Key computer systems in Iran have again come under attack from a powerful malware that was first unleashed three years ago by the United States and Israel to thwart Tehran’s plans to develop nuclear weapons. Iranian officials blamed the Christmas Day attacks, which targeted computer systems at a power plant and other industries, as well as a Culture Ministry information center, on American and Israeli hackers. In 2009, the Stuxnet worm infiltrated computers operating Iran’s nuclear power program, resulting in uranium enrichment centrifuges spinning out of control and becoming damaged. The cyber attack reportedly set back the country’s clandestine effort to build a nuclear arsenal of weapons. - ALLGOV.

Photo: Reuters / Handout.
'Iran Captures Two US-Made Surveillance Drones'.
Iran has captured two miniature US-made surveillance drones over the past 17 months, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. Several drone incidents over the past year have highlighted tension in the Gulf as Iran and the United States flex their military capabilities in the vital oil exporting region in a standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear program. The lightweight RQ11 Raven drones were brought down by Iranian air defense units in separate incidents in August 2011 and November 2012, Rear Admiral Amir Rastegari told Fars news agency. "Much of the data of these drones has been decoded by the Army's jihad and research center," he said, without elaborating. - Jerusalem Post.

US And Israel Cyber Warfare Against Iran Is Very Much Underway.
Beneath the public surface of six-party negotiations, inspections and reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, and repeated promises from Iran and threats from the U.S., a quieter war is already underway. A covert campaign of assassination, offensive cyber operations, sabotage, and other forms of coercion is being waged among the U.S., Iran, and Israel. But two fundamental questions arise from this unspoken conflict: what effect might this have on rising tensions and the prospects for war in 2013 with Iran? And what precedent might this set, both for future conflicts with pariah states and the future of warfare as we know it? The answer to both of these fundamental questions, whatever they are, might make this complex policy problem more critical than even a nuclear-armed Iran. The economic warfare, to the contrary, has been very public. The crippling effect of that U.S.-led sanctions are preventing the Iranian regime from meeting basic economic needs, and have induced a critical loss of control of the regime, illustrated by the extreme drop in value of the Iranian currency in October. - Policymic.

Photo: Reuters / Handout.
IDF Preparing Hospitals For Chemical Attacks.
The IDF Home Front Command is preparing all hospitals in Israel for a range of security threats, including large-scale missile attacks and chemical attacks, a senior military source told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. The preparations have been planned three years in advance, and bear no relation to current events or recent threat assessments. Exercises include training hospital staff to deal with conventional missile attacks, mass-casualty incidents and “mega-mass casualty incidents,” – involving 1,000 or more injuries. “We train a lot for chemical weapons,” a Home Front Command source said. “This is our business, and only ours. There is no room for error.” - Jerusalem Post.

UN: Syria Death Toll Tops 60,000.
At least 60,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday, citing an "exhaustive" UN-commissioned study. Over five months of analysis, researchers cross-referenced seven sources to compile a list of 59,648 individuals reported killed between March 15, 2011, and November 30, 2012. "Given there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013," Pillay said. "The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking." The UN refugee agency said about 84,000 people fled Syria in December alone, bringing the total number of refugees to about a half-million. Many more are displaced inside Syria. - YNET News.

STORM ALERT: Code Red Warning - Tropical Storm Dumile Hits Reunion, As Tropical Storm Sonamu Pushes Into The South China Sea Bringing Rain & Gale Force Winds!

January 03, 2013 - REUNION - Officials on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion issued a code red warning as tropical storm Dumile made landfall.


Heavy rains and gusts of winds of up to 140 kilometres per hour continue to lash the French territory. Both of the island’s airports have been closed and around 25,000 homes are without electricity after falling trees cut power lines. Dumile was expected to become a full cyclone as it passed over the island. Locals and tourists had been told to stock up on emergency supplies and remain indoors. Lying west of Madagascar, Reunion has a population of around 800,000. The island is also visited by several hundred thousand tourists each year. Its other neighbour, Mauritius, which lies about 200 kilometres northeast, is also watching Dumile’s progress. - Euro News.

WATCH: Tropical strom Dumile hits French island of Reunion.



Tropical Storm Sonamu Pushes Into The South China Sea Bringing Rain And Gale Force Winds.
We now have our first Pacific Ocean Tropical Storm of 2013, Sonamu formed in the Sulu sea the evening of the 3rd and now pushes in to the South China Sea bringing rainfall and gale force winds to to Palawan, Visayas northern Bornea and eventually southern Vietnam. As far as damage there is reports in critical danger. The MV Zamboanga did not make it in to port and 228 aboard had to be rescued amidst the height of this form. Why, because no warnings were put in place ahead of the storm giving everyone the all clear to travel on the seas. Now as the storm does push over Palawan warnings are in place and most sea traffic has been suspended. - Western Pacific Weather Center.

WATCH: Tracking Tropical Storm Sonamu (Auring).

MASS UFO SIGHTINGS: The Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around the World?

January 03, 2013 - WORLDWIDE UFOs - Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.


Russia - 26th of December, 2012.


New York City, United States - 31st of December, 2012.


New York City, United States - 1st of January, 2013.


Phoenix, Arizona, United States - 1st of January, 2013.


International Space Station - 1st of January, 2013.


King's Lynn, United Kingdom - 1st of January, 2013.


Elsinore, California, United States - 2nd of January, 2013.


The Sun - 2nd of January, 2013.

EXTREME WEATHER: Tropical Cyclone Freda Brings Big Swell, Stingers To Gold And Sunshine Coasts, As Inland Queensland Swelters - NASA Sees Freda Affecting New Caledonia!

January 03, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - Lifesavers are bracing for another dangerous day, with cyclone-fuelled swell and stingers threatening holidaymakers lured to southeast Queensland beaches by hot weather. Beachgoers are being warned to swim between the flags, with dozens rescued from the wild surf yesterday and dangerous seas set to continue over the next few days. On the Gold Coast, lifesavers treated hundreds of swimmers for bluebottle stings yesterday and rescued 27 people on Main Beach alone. Beaches from Miami to Southport had the most dangerous rips High winds were expected to continue bringing more stingers and strong swells today, with waves possibly reaching 2m. Southport Surf Life Saving Club patrol captain Brooke Phelps said New Year's Day was the busiest of the season. "It was absolutely chaotic down here and with more north-easterly winds predicted and big swells, we are reminding people to listen to lifeguards and stay between the flags," she said.

On Dec. 31, NASA's TRMM satellite 3-D Precipitation Radar data showed that the tops of some of the powerful storms with heavy rainfall (red) on Freda's southern side reached heights of 16 km (~9.9 miles).
Cyclone Freda Brings Big Swell, Stingers To Gold And Sunshine Coasts, As Inland Queensland Swelters.
"The bluebottles are out in force and how long they are around will depend on the wind. "The stings are quite painful if the tentacles wrap around an arm or leg. We treat the stings with ice and went through four eskies during the peak period." On the Sunshine Coast, two young swimmers had a lucky escape yesterday when a roving jet ski patrol came to their rescue after they were swept to sea at a treacherous river mouth. Two 11-year-old boys were fortunate to be saved by jet ski patrols at Maroochydore River mouth at 3pm. Sunshine Coast Surf Life Saving Queensland duty officer Sebastian de Paula said there had been several rescues outside flagged areas. "We have had about a dozen rescues on the Sunshine Coast," he said. Two other swimmers, who had been trying to swim from Caloundra to Bribie Island, were saved earlier in the day, while there were also two rescues at Noosa. Weatherzone meteorologist Ben Domensino said Tropical Cyclone Freda would bring more gloomy weather and big seas.

Lifesavers on patrol as wild seas pound the coastline at Surfers Paradise. Picture: Luke Marsden.
Source: The Courier-Mail.
"The change will come through tonight but will fortunately only last a couple of days," he said. "On Friday night the system will begin to pass, but it will be dangerous on the beach until that time." Mr Domensino said showers and storms were also on the cards for the next few days. "There is a chance of showers and storms, but any rainfall will be minimal," he said. The big seas are expected to peak at 3m tonight but holidaymakers have been warned dangerous conditions could continue for the next day or two. While the coast is expecting large swells and dangerous conditions, the south of the state is set to swelter, with temperatures 6C to 7C above average today. Weather bureau senior forecaster Jonty Hall said Brisbane should expect a top of 34C in the city, while Ipswich will reach a high of 37C. At the beach temperatures will be cooler, with temperatures at the Gold and Sunshine Coasts in the early 30s. "If you're inland from the coast at all temperatures are likely to be warmer than that," Mr Hall said. Temperatures in the southwest of the state will hover about 40C. - Courier Mail.

NASA Sees A Struggling Post-Tropical Storm Freda Affecting New Caledonia.
Tropical Storm Freda may no longer be a tropical storm, but as a low pressure area it is bringing rainfall and gusty winds to New Caledonia. Two NASA satellites captured two different looks at the storm. Wind shear has punched Freda down to tropical storm status on Jan. 1 and weakened it to a remnant low pressure area on Jan. 2. NASA's Aqua satellite showed strong thunderstorms were over New Caledonia early on Jan. 2, while NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite peered under the hood of Freda's clouds and measured some moderate to heavy rainfall the day before. On Jan. 2 Eastern Daylight Time (Jan. 3 local time New Caledonia) Freda had lost its tropical characteristics and became a remnant low pressure area. Freda's remnants were north-northwest of New Caledonia and moving southeastward over the island. New Caledonia is under a yellow alert. Freda went from a powerful cyclone to a remnant low pressure area over three days time, and NASA satellites recorded the decline. On Dec. 31, TRMM's 3-D Precipitation Radar data showed that the tops of some of the powerful storms on Freda's southern side reached heights of 16 km (~9.9 miles). Intense rainfall in these storms returned a reflectivity value of greater than 59 dBZ to TRMM's Precipitation Radar instrument. To see a video of the TRMM satellite flyby, go to: http://trmm.gsfc.nasa.gov/trmm_rain/Events/freda_31_december_2012_0907_utc_flyby.mpg

The AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this infrared image of Tropical Cyclone Freda over New Caledonia on Jan. 2, 2013 at 0211 UTC. The purple areas indicate the coldest, highest clouds with heaviest rainfall covering most of the island.
On Jan. 1, 2013 at 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST) Cyclone Freda's maximum sustained winds fell below cyclone strength near 45 knots (51.7 mph/83.3 kph). On that day, forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) noted that "animated infrared satellite imagery, corroborated by a SSMI-S microwave pass, shows the main convection sheared and eroded southeastward of the low level circulation center." That's because Freda had moved into an area where the vertical wind shear is moderate to strong, blowing between 20 and 30 knots (23 and 34.5 mph /37 and 55.5 kph). By Jan. 1 at 1549 UTC (10:49 a.m. EST), Freda's clouds overspread New Caledonia and light rain was falling in Noumeau. On Jan. 2, showers and thunderstorms covered most of the island and winds increased. On Jan. 2, 2013 at 0211 UTC (Jan. 1 at 9:11 p.m. EST), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Tropical Cyclone Freda. The AIRS image showed that eastern side Freda's clouds covered most of New Caledonia, and infrared data indicated that the coldest, highest clouds with heaviest rainfall covered most of the island. By 1651 UTC (11:51 a.m. EST/3:55 a.m. New Caledonia Time, Jan. 3) Freda had moved further west and New Caledonia was covered by clouds in the storm's eastern quadrant. Freda's low pressure center was located near La Foa, New Caledonia, approximately 21.0 south latitude and 165.7 east longitude. The forecast for Noumea (located in southern New Caledonia) for Thursday, Jan. 3 calls for rain with a warm high temperature of 88 Fahrenheit (31.1 Celsius). Sustained winds are expected to blow from the south up to 21 knots (25 mph/40 kph) and are expected to continue at that speed overnight before weakening the next day. By Friday, Jan. 4, the winds are expected to wane over New Caledonia as Freda moves away in an easterly direction. The JTWC noted that "there is a possibility the system could regenerate over the next few days." - Eurek Alert.

WEATHER ANOMALIES: Australia's Weather Was All Over The Shop In 2012 - Fire Continue To Cause Major Concern In Tasmania!

January 03, 2013 - AUSTRALIA - IT might seem bleeding obvious to those people about to endure a week of scorching weather, but new data shows the past decade was one of the hottest on record in Australia.


The Bureau of Meteorology's climate snapshot of 2012, released on Thursday, found days were hot and nights were cool last year, with daytime maximum averages half a degree higher than usual. Tasmania, the mainland's southern coast and the southwestern half of Western Australia experienced above-average temperatures. But it was cooler than average in eastern Australia, while the Northern Territory - where temperatures normally soar - experienced it's coldest winter on record. Balmy Darwin shivered through its chilliest August night ever. While it wasn't Thredbo, the mercury fell to a respectable 13.1C. The first half of 2012 was cooler and wetter than average, with an ongoing La Nina event in the tropical Pacific dumping rain across most of the country, causing some flooding. Australia had its third wettest March on record, while in late February and early March southeast Australia experienced one of its most extreme rainfall events on record.

For the Murray-Darling Basin, this event across a broad part of northern Victoria, southern NSW and eastern South Australia was the wettest seven-day period on record since at least 1900. The cooler daytime temperatures, widespread cloud cover and rain associated with La Nina gave way during winter and spring to the drier El Nino weather system, which caused rainfall to drop 25 per cent below average. By the end of 2012, despite January to March being the seventh wettest on record, Australia had experienced rainfall just a touch above average. The bureau also found numerous winter and spring heat records were broken across the country from August onwards as maximum temperatures peaked above average. Much of eastern Australia was hit by one of the most significant spring heatwaves on record at the end of November, with Oodnadatta smashing South Australia's record for the warmest overnight November temperature with a minimum of 32.3C. No stranger to hot weather, Roxby Downs and Oodnadatta in SA's outback are about to sizzle again with six days in a row above 45C. Overall, the 10 years to 2012 was the fifth-warmest decade in Australia's history, while, globally, last year was the ninth hottest on record. - Herald Sun.

Fire Continue To Cause Major Concern In Tasmania.
A bushfire threatening the historic southern Tasmanian town of Richmond has been brought within containment lines, but crews are wary of an imminent heatwave throughout the state. Dozens of people were evacuated from the town after the fire breached containment lines and put properties under direct threat around 2pm (AEDT) on Thursday. A Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) spokesman said the fire was back within the containment lines by Thursday evening. "The last operational information received was that the fire was holding within containment lines, and crews are working on a number of flanks to bring the fire to a central area," he told AAP. There were no reports of property damage, he said. One of the town's main access routes, Middle Tea Tree Road, was closed to all traffic for several kilometres. Elsewhere, a large number of crews battled hard to bring a blaze at Forcett under control, while campers were moved on from Lake Repulse because of a nearby bushfire. The TFS spokesman said firefighters would work hard in the cooler evening conditions ahead of another predicted scorcher on Friday. "We are expecting worse fire behaviour tomorrow, with poorer weather indicators," he said. Hobart is tipped to reach 39C on Friday, with strong northwesterly winds forecast. A total fire ban has been declared for the state. - Herald Sun.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Deadly Apophysomyces - Joplin's Tornado Spurs Rare Flesh-Eating Fungus?!

January 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - The Joplin tornado took more than 150 lives on May 22, 2011. Now, new studies reveal another killer lurked in Joplin that day: A deadly, flesh-eating fungus. The deadly Apophysomyces fungus killed five people in the days immediately following the tornado, according to studies by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Debris stretched for miles across Joplin, Missouri.
Together, researchers tracked 13 people who were infected by the swift-moving, devastating fungus. Typically, Apophysomyces is found in soil, water and wood, TGen explains. Its mere existence in nature doesn't usually infect humans. But the EF-5 twister that hit Joplin launched massive debris through the air. Some people who survived the initial tornado were left with deep wounds which were infected with the fungus when they came in contact with debris.

It's even possible the tornado carried the contaminated soil or debris for miles along its path, according to findings printed in the journal PLUS One on November 27. What makes the Apophysomyces fungus so potent is it moves swiftly through the human body, shutting down vital blood flow to tissue, leaving it to rot. Researchers say the ability to recognize this rare fungal infection quicker is the key to saving lives. You can read more about the findings at TGen's website, as well as in the New England Journal of Medicine. - The Weather Channel.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - More Than 100 Dead As Cold Snap Hits India!

January 03, 2013 - INDIA - Police say more than 100 people have died of exposure as northern India deals with historically cold temperatures.

Police say more than 100 people, many homeless or poor, have died as a cold snap hits India. AAP.
Police spokesman Surendra Srivastava said on Thursday at least 114 people have died from the cold in the state of Uttar Pradesh, at least 23 of them in the previous 24 hours.

Srivastava said many of the dead were poor people whose bodies were found on footpaths or in parks.

The weather department said temperatures in the state were 4 to 10 degrees below normal.

Temperatures in New Delhi, which borders Uttar Pradesh, hit a high on Wednesday of 9.8 degrees Celsius, the lowest maximum temperature in the capital since 1969. - Herald Sun.

DELUGE: Weather Anomalies - Extreme Rainfall In The United Kingdom "Increasing"!

January 03, 2013 - UNITED KINGDOM - The frequency of extreme rainfall in the UK may be increasing, according to analysis by the Met Office. Statistics show that days of particularly heavy rainfall have become more common since 1960. The analysis is still preliminary, but the apparent trend mirrors increases in extreme rain seen in other parts of the world. It comes as the Met Office prepares to reveal whether 2012 was the wettest year on record in the UK. The study into extreme rain is based on statistics from the National Climate Information Centre, the UK's official climate record.

Last year, extreme rain fell around once every 70 days.
Extreme rain is defined as the sort of downpour you would expect once in 100 days. There are big swings in rainfall from year to year, but the overall trend is upwards since 1960. Last year, for instance, extreme rain fell around once every 70 days. The phenomenon of more frequent downpours has already been noted elsewhere, particularly in China and India. Scientists say that as the world has warmed by 0.7C, the atmosphere is able to hold 4% more moisture, which means more potential rain. The change in the UK trend is slight, but if the trend is confirmed it will clearly increase the risk of flooding. This year is already the wettest in England's recorded history. And a series of downpours in late November brought one of the wettest weeks in the last 50 years, causing major disruption. Professor Julia Slingo, chief scientist at the Met Office, said the preliminary analysis needed further research but was potentially significant. "We have always seen a great deal of variability in UK extreme rainfall because our weather patterns are constantly changing, but this analysis suggests we are seeing a shift in our rainfall behaviour," she said.

"We have always seen a great deal of variability in UK extreme rainfall because our weather patterns are constantly changing, but this analysis suggests we are seeing a shift in our rainfall behaviour," she said. "There's evidence to say we are getting slightly more rain in total, but more importantly it may be falling in more intense bursts - which can increase the risk of flooding. "It's essential we look at how this may impact our rainfall patterns going forward over the next decade and beyond, so we can advise on the frequency of extreme weather in the future and the potential for more surface and river flooding. "This will help inform decision-making about the need for future resilience both here in the UK and globally." The Met Office no longer publishes a seasonal forecast and will not speculate on whether 2013 will produce frequent extreme rain. The immediate forecast, however, is for more stable weather. - BBC.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: New Submarine Volcanic Eruption Off Turkey's Coast Suspected!

January 03, 2013 - TURKEY - A new submarine volcanic eruption might have recently started off Turkey's west coast in the Marmaris Sea between the mainland and the Greek Island of Simi near Rhodes.

Location of earthquakes during Dec 2012 between Simi and Turkey.
Scientists from Istanbul's Technical University announced that they have found evidence of 2 active vents at about 200 m water depth along a north-south trending fissure of 2.5-3 km length. According to local newspapers, a rise in sea temperature was detected which suggests that lava might be erupting from the vents. According to Prof. Ahmet Ercan, it might take 1-3, or 20 years for the volcano to surface if at all.

The area is located at the eastern end of the volcanically active Hellenic Arc and volcanic activity here would not be a huge surprise, in fact. Possibly preceding the eruption, as magma was rising through the crust, the area was affected by a series of seismic swarms during the past months. According to the scientists, a previous submarine eruption already occurred here in 2009. - Volcano Discovery.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: 306 Children Die In Measles Outbreak In Pakistan - Five Times That Of The Previous Year!

January 03, 2013 – PAKISTAN – Measles cases in 2012 have surged by almost five times of that the previous year in Pakistan, leading to the deaths of hundreds of children, according to an international health body. Maryam Yunus, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that 306 children died in Pakistan because of the infectious disease in 2012, a dramatic surge from to the 64 children in 2011.


The WHO said the jump was most pronounced in southern Sindh province, where measles killed 210 children in 2012. Twenty-eight children died there the year before. The organisation did not give a reason for the increase in deaths, but a provincial health official in Sindh said that the disease hit areas where poor families did not vaccinate their children. A provincial health minister said 100 children died in Sindh province in December alone, mostly in areas where many people were not vaccinated. He said health officials recently launched a campaign to vaccinate 2.9 million children in the affected areas of the province and urged parents to get their children vaccinated. “We are vaccinating more than 450 patients per day. We are working on vaccination since the outbreak of measles in the area,” Dr. Shahid Hafeez Shahani, a government official, said.

Pakistan has a poor health care system, unsanitary conditions in many regions due to poverty, and a lack of education about how to prevent disease. Pakistani officials believe that the worst-hit areas are poverty stricken areas where children did not receive vaccination. Many Pakistanis, especially in rural areas, view vaccination campaigns with suspicion as a western plot to sterilize Muslims. Sindh province, the area hardest hit by the measles outbreak, has also been battered by repeated floods in recent years that have damaged hospitals and clinics. Measles is an extremely infectious disease spread by coughing and sneezing or personal contact. It causes a fever, cough and a rash all over the body. Most people who contract the disease recover, but it can be fatal for malnourished children. According to WHO, 139,300 people died of measles worldwide in 2010. – Al Jazeera.

WATCH: Rise in measles kills many in Pakistan.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Unseasonable Snow Falls In South Island, New Zealand; As Australia Faces Heatwave!

January 03, 2013 - NEW ZEALAND - A sodden South Island will have the chance to dry off over the next few days, after a front which brought gales, torrential rain, thunderstorms and unseasonal snow to the south moves off the country.  MetService this afternoon said weather conditions had now settled and the storm had abated. 

Thirsty Creek near Inchbonnie. Photo / Kasey Miles.
The winter-like weather brought down a vital bridge and fibre optic cable on State Highway 6, just north of Harihari, cutting off communication for about 1000 residents.  Floodwaters prevented structural engineers from inspecting the bridge today.  "Teams of contractors are working 15 hours while there's daylight to clear the flood debris and divert the river," New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) spokesman Mark Pinner said. "Once water levels drop we can get in quickly to inspect the bridge and then start re-building that section of the highway lost in the flood."  NZTA was hoping to have a clearer picture tomorrow on how long it would take to reopen the road, although it was expected to take days.  The West Coast road via Lewis Pass through Murchison also had to be closed, forcing travellers to make a seven-hour detour around Blenheim and Kaikoura to get to the east coast of the South Island.

State Highway 65 between Murchison and Springs Junction remains closed due to flooding, Mr Pinner said.  State Highway 6 in the upper Buller Gorge had been closed due to flooding, but that reopened this afternoon.  Last night, eight vehicles spent four hours stranded in the remote Buller Gorge after slips trapped them.  Four trampers spent a cold and wet night stranded in the Kahurangi National Park when they were cut off by a landslip.  They camped for the night above the slip, and were winched to safety this morning when the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter was able to fly into the area.  More than half a metre of rain fell in some areas of the West Coast over the past two days.  Snow fell on the Lindis Pass in Otago overnight, forcing travellers to abandon their vehicles near the summit.  MetService forecaster Peter Kreft said weather conditions had generally settled down, and New Zealand now had a ridge of high pressure sitting over it for today and tomorrow.  The weekend was likely to be warm just about everywhere, with temperatures in the east of both islands expected to be around the 30 degree mark, Mr Kreft said.  However, come Monday a south-west flow would reach the country, cooling things down again.  "Timing of weather events beyond Monday is still a little uncertain,'' he said. - NZ Herald.

Australia Faces Heatwave.
As Australians swelter in a heatwave, it's been snowing in New Zealand's South Island. For the second summer in a row, snow has fallen in Central Otago in January. But forecasters say the winter woollies will not be needed for long.  Kids were pictured making snowmen, the Gimmerburn range near Ranfurly looked like a winter postcard and travellers near the summit of Lindis Pass abandoned vehicles on Wednesday night.  "There was quite a lot of snow but it's not landing on the town. It's on the hills surrounding," Misha Wilkinson of Misha's Vineyard near Cromwell told AAP.  She said the snow did not damage the vineyard, which was about two weeks behind a normal season due to cooler weather.  She said unseasonably hot temperatures are predicted for a wine and food festival in the Old Cromwell town precinct on Saturday.  A hailstorm was also reported in Oamaru late on Thursday afternoon.  The snow came after heavy rain and gales disrupted travellers on the West Coast of the South Island from Wednesday but the MetService says a ridge of high pressure will bring fine weather on Friday.  "The weekend is likely to be warm just about everywhere," MetService Chief Forecaster Peter Kreft says. - Herald Sun.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise of the Machines - We Must Embrace The Robot Uprising, Say Experts!

January 03, 2013 - UNITED STATES - It’s hard to believe you’d have an economy at all if you gave pink slips to more than half the labor force. But that—in slow motion—is what the industrial revolution did to the workforce of the early 19th century. Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines. But the displaced workers did not sit idle. Instead, automation created hundreds of millions of jobs in entirely new fields. Those who once farmed were now manning the legions of factories that churned out farm equipment, cars, and other industrial products. Since then, wave upon wave of new occupations have arrived—appliance repairman, offset printer, food chemist, photographer, web designer—each building on previous automation. Today, the vast majority of us are doing jobs that no farmer from the 1800s could have imagined.

Jimmy Fallon welcomes our new robot overlords. Photo: Peter Yang.
It may be hard to believe, but before the end of this century, 70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation. Yes, dear reader, even you will have your job taken away by machines. In other words, robot replacement is just a matter of time. This upheaval is being led by a second wave of automation, one that is centered on artificial cognition, cheap sensors, machine learning, and distributed smarts. This deep automation will touch all jobs, from manual labor to knowledge work.

First, machines will consolidate their gains in already-automated industries. After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting. Next, the more dexterous chores of cleaning in offices and schools will be taken over by late-night robots, starting with easy-to-do floors and windows and eventually getting to toilets. The highway legs of long-haul trucking routes will be driven by robots embedded in truck cabs.

All the while, robots will continue their migration into white-collar work. We already have artificial intelligence in many of our machines; we just don’t call it that. Witness one piece of software by Narrative Science (profiled in issue 20.05) that can write newspaper stories about sports games directly from the games’ stats or generate a synopsis of a company’s stock performance each day from bits of text around the web. Any job dealing with reams of paperwork will be taken over by bots, including much of medicine. Even those areas of medicine not defined by paperwork, such as surgery, are becoming increasingly robotic. The rote tasks of any information-intensive job can be automated. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawyer, architect, reporter, or even programmer: The robot takeover will be epic.

And it has already begun. - WIRED.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Across The World - Storm Turns The Taklimakan Desert In China White!

January 03, 2013 - CHINA - Snow-covered deserts are rare, but that’s exactly what the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite observed as it passed over the Taklimakan Desert in western China on January 2, 2013.

NASA Earth Observatory of the Taklimakan Desert. Acquired January 2, 2013.
Snow has covered much of the desert since a storm blew through the area on December 26. The day after the storm, Chinese Central Television (CNTV) reported that the Xinjian Uygyr autonomous region was one of the areas hardest hit.

The Taklimakan is one of the world’s largest—and hottest—sandy deserts. Water flowing into the Tarim Basin has no outlet, so over the years, sediments have steadily accumulated. In parts of the desert, sand can pile up to 300 meters (roughly 1,000 feet) high. The mountains that enclose the sea of sand—the Tien Shan in the north and the Kunlun Shan in the south—were also covered with what appeared to be a significantly thicker layer of snow in January 2013. - Earth Observatory.