HAMNET Report 7th August 2022

In an update to news of the magnitude 7 earthquake which struck Philippines on 27th July, GDACS reports that the human and material toll of the earthquake that struck Abra Province in the Northern Philippines continues to increase. Close to 2,000 aftershocks have struck the area since then, the strongest of which was of magnitude 5.1.

On 1st August, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that 10 people had died and 394 had been injured. 50,514 people were displaced, more than 380,000 were affected, and 24,901 houses had been damaged across Ilocos region and Cordillera administrative region. 27 cities and municipalities were declared to fall under a State of Calamity, and, in the 24 hours to 2nd August, 246 aftershocks were recorded out of total of 2,202 aftershocks so far.

Writing in prnewswire.com, The Salvation Army says that, as natural disasters become more frequent and destructive across the U.S., it is prepared to assist millions of survivors and first responders with critical services. Many communities are in increasing need of a helping hand as inflation rises and the impacts of past disaster events linger.

As one of the largest disaster relief organizations in the country, The Salvation Army is already on the front lines of meeting needs, and can quickly activate response efforts unique to each community affected. In 2021 alone, The Salvation Army responded to 8,441 disasters; assisted over 2.3 million people in the aftermath of hurricanes, wildfires, winter storms, heat waves, tornadoes, and other events; and provided more than $8.3 million in financial aid to survivors.

The Salvation Army is on the ground now in Southeast Kentucky after historic flooding impacted the area and is coordinating their efforts with state and local officials, as well as other participating relief agencies. Salvation Army teams, responding to the disaster, plan to continue providing meals, drinks, snacks, clean-up kits, and emotional and spiritual care for as long as their services are needed.

Trained Salvation Army staff and volunteers have served in the wake of every major disaster since 1900. In addition to offering disaster-preparedness training programs across the country to get individuals and communities ready for emergencies, The Salvation Army also has a disaster preparedness handbook available.

When a disaster strikes, The Salvation Army works with organizations and federal authorities to identify and mobilize resources through their national network of disaster professionals and service locations positioned in all 50 states, and support survivors and first responders through mobile units that provide food, hydration, hygiene products, and emotional and spiritual care.

So, a huge congratulatory pat on the back definitely goes to this very dynamic emergency response organization!

In world news from Ukraine, we hear that the head of the UN‘s nuclear agency has warned that a massive nuclear power plant captured by Russia during the Ukraine invasion is “completely out of control”.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (pronounced “Zap-or-ritzia”), the largest such plant in Europe and responsible for one fifth of Ukraine’s energy needs, was seized by advancing Russian forces on March 4.

Under Russian control, it continues to generate electricity. However there are reports that it is also being used as a weapons store with several rocket launchers moved to the station’s grounds on the banks of the strategically important Dnipro River.

UN nuclear official Rafael Grossi warned that the Zaporizhzhia plant needed an urgent inspection and repairs.

“You have a catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility,” he said at a UN conference in New York.

“The situation is very fragile. Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated one way or the other and we cannot allow that to continue.”

He said communication with staff at the plant had been “patchy”, warning the region will only have itself to blame if a nuclear disaster unfolds.

“While this war rages on, inaction is unconscionable,” he said. ”If an accident occurs at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we will not have a natural disaster to blame – we will have only ourselves to answer to. We need everyone‘s support.”

Writing in Newsweek on Thursday, Ed Browne noted that a sunspot on the far side of the sun is so large that it’s changing the way sound moves through our star—and it could be revealed to us in days.

Sunspots are a known source of eruptions from our sun known as solar flares—bursts of radiation that travel to Earth at the speed of light. These flares, along with other potentially disruptive eruptions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), are released whenever the intense magnetic fields associated with sunspots suddenly reorganize themselves.

Thus, scientists like to keep track of sunspots as they can be useful indicators of how active the sun is at a given moment. Flares, CMEs, and other solar phenomena that can affect Earth may be referred to as space weather.

Because the sun is a sphere, we can only directly see the sunspots that are facing us. However, it is also possible to detect sunspots on the back of the sun as well. Scientists can detect far-side sunspots and other hidden solar activity using a technique known as helioseismology.

Helioseismology is similar to regular seismology here on Earth. It works on the basis that sound waves, or vibrations, can travel through the interior of the sun and can be used to measure the star’s internal structure and dynamics.

These sound waves can be measured by observing the light released from turbulent gas on the sun’s surface on our side. By observing changes to the wave patterns on the sun’s visible side, it is possible to detect sunspots that are occurring on the other side, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). Using this method, it’s possible to produce an activity map of the entire sun every 12 hours.

“The detection of active regions on the far side of the Sun’s surface is of great importance for space weather predictions,” the U.S. National Solar Observatory (NSO) states on its website.

Currently however, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Centre (SWPC) does not have any significant space weather warnings or alerts in place. We’ll have to see what happens in the next week, as the far side of the sun rotates into view.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.