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CGS’ Ekbal on I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here!

CGS’s Ekbal Hussain is taking part in “I’m a Scientist, Get me Out of Here!”

This is a fantastic outreach event where young school students (7-11 years old in Ekbal’s group) fire questions at a group of scientists who try their best to answer them.

Check out Ekbal’s profile at the link below and read some of the answers to his questions!

http://bariumj14.imascientist.org.uk/profile/ekbalhussain/

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Natural hazards education in the Himalayas

Natural hazards education in the Himalayas

It’s a big month as the Geology for Global Development team embark on a major natural hazards education and sustainable development project in the Himalayas.

The project (part of a broader sustainable development project in the Himalayas) will be aiming to:

  1. Share our knowledge and expertise,
  2. Learn from others about aspects of best practice in both understanding science and understanding culture and social development,
  3. Identify practical skills development opportunities for students in the UK.

CGS academics are also involved with this project. Professor Tim Wright will be giving a keynote lecture at the conference in India later next week and Ekbal Hussain has contributed to a booklet that will be used to teach school children about natural hazards in the Himalaya region (above image).

Read more about the project here:
http://blogs.egu.eu/gfgd/2014/06/09/gfgd-in-the-himalaya-1-project-overview

Ekbal

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Half of the United States in the grip of droughts

Half of the United States in the grip of droughts

The central plains and the American Southwest have been experiencing persistent drought conditions for the past several years. However, recent analysis of satellite images acquired by NASA (figure above) show that, as of May 6th 2014, even larger parts of the U.S. are experiencing drought conditions. Nearly 15 percent of the country is in the grip of extreme droughts.

The entire state of California is in some level of drought, with the period between the last twelve months the driest since records began in 1885. The impact of drought on California’s farms, forests, and wild lands has been widespread. At least 54 percent of the nation’s wheat crop is affected by some level of drought, as is 30 percent of corn and 48 percent of cattle.

The financial and sociological burden of the drought on the country as a whole will only increase as drought conditions persist.

Ekbal

More information:
[1] http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83650&src=fb
[2] http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=83124
[3] http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=79316

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How do the recent earthquakes affect the seismic threat to Mexico City?

What do the recent Mexico earthquakes mean for the seismic threat to Mexico City?

Yesterday Mexico experienced another large earthquake (magnitude 6.4), the latest in a series of large events to hit the western coast of the country, about 300km away from Mexico City. This is the region where a part of the Pacific tectonic plate is being pushed under the north American plate along a large subduction zone fault (a large fracture in the Earth).

Interestingly, most of these earthquakes occurred along a portion of the fault that has not experienced an earthquake in recent times. So are these earthquakes filling in a gap in the seismic activity along the fault in the so called Guerrero Seismic Gap? And how do these relate to the observed slow slip (events that occur over weeks to months instead of seconds) earthquakes in the region? And ultimately how will these affect the seismic threat to Mexico City?

Leeds PhD student David Bekaert wrote a very interesting and informative guest blog on this subject. Read his post here.

Ekbal

Figure courtesy of David Bekaert.

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New Radar Satellite Launch Starts New Era of Earth Observation

New Radar Satellite Launch Starts New Era of Earth Observation

A few academics from the department were invited to mission control in Germany to watch the launch of the first of a suite of earth observation satellites as part of the European Space Agency‘s flagship Copernicus program. Sentinel-1a, launched yesterday, will be the first dedicated satellite to produce around-the-clock radar images of the whole world. CGS academics,

Tim Wright and co-workers will use these images to produce high resolution maps of ground movement around the world’s hazardous tectonics belts. The Sentinel satellites will provide the most accurate and detailed ‘health-check’ for our planet including its biomass, air quality, sea level changes, natural hazards, temperature and other key features.

Ekbal

More information:
[1] http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Observing_the_Earth
[2] http://comet.nerc.ac.uk/current_research_look_inside.html

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UK Smog Alert and Health Risks From Saharan Dust Storm

A large amount of dust has been blown towards the UK from the Sahara Desert where strong winds have blown up sand into a dust storm.

The video below shows how the dust is blown up and carried to the UK. The dust, shown in pink within the red circle, is carried within clouds, shown in red, to the UK, where it falls within rain showers. (Video from the Met office)

Saharan dust is a contributing factor to air quality as well as pollution levels. The dust brings in pollution from Europe and the high pressure over the UK traps it in place. This has resulted in the highest smog alert warnings for London and much of southern UK.

Air pollution forecast for April 2nd 2014. Purple is very high air pollution, orange moderate and low pollution in green. Source: Defra

Air pollution forecast for April 2nd 2014. Purple is very high air pollution, orange moderate and low pollution in green. Source: Defra

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said high to very high air pollution was expected across East Anglia, parts of south-east England and around the Humber on Tuesday. High levels of air pollution in parts of the UK are expected to last until the weekend.

Paul Hutcheon at the Met Office said “We usually see this happen several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly winds to bring that dust here.”

Defra has warned that adults and children with lung and heart problems, including older people, should avoid excessive strenuous activity for the next week or so. It also warned that “people with asthma may find they use their reliever inhaler more often”.

 

 

 

Defra’s Recommended Health Advice and Actions

Health advice and precautions. Source: Defra

Health advice and precautions. Source: Defra

 

Ekbal

More information:
[1] http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk
[2] http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/storm-in-sahara-sends-dust-to-uk
[3] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/apr/01/london-smog-saharan-dust-storms-downing-street

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The World Has More Corrupt Countries Than Not

World Has More Corrupt Countries Than Not

Two thirds of the world’s countries are more corrupt than not.

Transparency International is an international movement aiming to increase transparency, highlight and tackle global corruption. Since 1993 they have published annual reports on the level of international corruption. The figure above is a screenshot image of an interactive map of the world showing global corruption perception index.

The 2013 results show that on a scale where 0 = completely corrupt and 100 = no corruption; two thirds of the world’s countries score below 50!

No country has a perfect score however Denmark and new Zealand came joint top with a score of 91 making them the least corrupt countries in the world. The lowest place (most corrupt nations) was shared by Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia with a score of 8.

With a score of 76 the United Kingdom is 14th on the list of 177 nations and territories covered.

Ekbal

More information:
[1] http://www.transparency.org
[2] http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results
[3] http://blogs.egu.eu/gfgd/2014/01/27/guest-blog-death-by-corruption

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A Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake Recorded in the Bristol Channel

A Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake Recorded in the Bristol Channel

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has confirmed the recording of a magnitude 4.1 earthquake in the Bristol Channel at 13:21 on Tuesday 20th February.

Ground shaking from the earthquake was widely felt in north Devon and south Wales. Little damage is expected from an event of this magnitude and now injuries have yet been reported.

It is not unknown for parts of the British Isles to experience small to moderate size earthquakes. These are due to the sudden release of built-up stress on old fractures and faults in the ground.

The image above shows the seismograph recording of the the earthquake on the Hartland (HTL) seismic station.

A summary of the event is given below

Date 20/02/2014
Origin Time 13:21:30.1 UTC
Location 51.361 -4.184
Depth 5 km
Magnitude 4.1
Locality Bristol Channel

Picture credit: BGS

Ekbal

More information:
[1] http://earthquakes.bgs.ac.uk/earthquakes/recent_events/20140220132017.html#page=summary