26 multi-kiloton nuclear sized explosions detected in Earth's atmosphere since 2001

The biggest threat to humanity, far bigger than global warming/climate change, is about to get bigger, much bigger

chelyabinsk-asteroid-fireball

The chelyabinsk asteroid fireball, a “near-Earth object” (NEO), an asteroid (likely made of rock) between 15 and 20 meters across (about the length of a school bus), which just happened to arrive in the same place as planet Earth that morning. The mass of the object was about 10 thousand tons. It struck the atmosphere moving at about 40,000 MPH (more than double the speed of the Space Shuttle).

A press release from some former NASA astronauts on the current asteroid impact threat to earth, based on data on in-atmosphere detonations since 2001, gleaned from a nuclear weapon detonation detection system has yielded some startling numbers.

The threat is 3 to 10 times higher than previously predicted. The data will be presented at the Seattle Flight Museum, Tuesday April 22, at 6:00pm PDT.

Just last night, another fireball was seen over Russia, caught on a dashcamera. See video.

Now it becomes apparent why this press release is important.

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:

“This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare—but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them.”

In partnership with Ball Aerospace, the B612 Foundation will build, launch, and operate an infrared space telescope to find and track the hundreds of thousands of threatening asteroids that cannot be tracked with current telescopes. See the mission pager here

Read the press release at:http://b612foundation.org/news/b612-press-conference-on-protecting-earth-from-asteroid-impacts/

h/t to reader “Mac the Knife”.

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milodonharlani

Much better use of public funds than financing ever more absurd GCM runs.

DDP

Ruh roh.

TrueNorthist

Oh great, now we will have to put up with a gratuitous asteriod tax.

Alan Robertson

“…allowing us to easily deflect them.”
_________________
Sure.

Stealing a phrase from Dr. Reynolds of Instapundit: This won’t happen due to insufficient opportunities for graft.
Orion

charles nelson

Eeeeeeek!
No seriously though…these little fellas have been doing this since for ever. We mustn’t confuse the ubiquity of camera phones etc etc with increasing frequency, we’ll be seeing lots more of this type of thing.
As for tracking big ones then doing something about them before they hit…I think this is what you might call a ‘Hollywood’ type solution to the problem. i.e. fantasy.
When a commercial jet the size of several houses can disappear radar controlled, satellite monitored air-space. I don’t hold out much hope for our technology being able to track smaller faster objects approaching our spherical planet from the corners of the cosmos!
Good to know that we’re thickening up the atmosphere with added CO2 though, most of those bad boys will burst and burn up long before they ever hit the ground!
And what about the weather in Murmansk…?

How much Asteroid deflection capability would the annual global warming mitigation budget buy?
Time to stop that fantasy, and spend money where it is really needed.

Don Bennett

Oh, good. The sky really IS falling!

Paul Penrose

I’m sorry Charles Nelson, but you don’t know what you are talking about. Comparing an aircraft that can change course to evade detection and an unguided rock that must follow the rules of orbital mechanics is just silly. Plus the rocks we are really concerned about are a bit bigger than even a 777. We can find and track these objects with the technology that we have now. And if we work at it, we could have the resources in place to deflect one within a few decades. And since a large meteor is a REAL civilization ending event, we must do it.

Windows Vista should be the biggest threat to humanity and the computer industry. Seriously, Bill Gates.

MarkG

“And since a large meteor is a REAL civilization ending event, we must do it.”
1. It won’t be such an event in a hundred years, since we’ll have plenty of people living off Earth by then (or have wiped ourselves out).
2. The odds of a city being destroyed by a meteor in the next hundred years are minute. The odds of civilization ending in the next hundred years due to a meteor impact are barely worth thinking about.
As with ‘Global Warming’, the cost of preventing such an impact would be far more than the likely cost of doing nothing. Few possible impactors could have more than local impact, and so little of the Earth’s surface is built on that most of the others would hit relatively uninhabited areas.

“actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck”
Given that the last extinction level event from one was 65 million years ago, I’m not going to lose much sleep over the infinitesimally small probability of one occurring within my comparative eye-blink of a lifespan.
And really – does anyone think we’d stand a chance of deflecting several hundred thousand tons of metal hurtling towards us, as this stage of our technological advancement? “Armageddon” it ain’t.

hunter

The two largest ground strikes in the past ~100 years have been in the region of Russia. And now two events in less than 12 months in the same region. Strange.

> The biggest threat to humanity, far bigger than global warming/climate change, is about to get bigger, much bigger
No, no – the threat remains the same (per capita), It’s merely the perception of the risk that has narrowed and gone up.
It does make me wish that we had spent a little more time getting some of us off this basket. A planet is a great place to evolve, but it’s a lousy place to preserve a species.

I would rather spend public money on this than Gorebull warming

http://www.mapsofworld.com/russia/distance-calculator/chelyabinsk-to-murmansk.html
hunter says:
April 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm
> The two largest ground strikes in the past ~100 years have been in the region of Russia. And now two events in less than 12 months in the same region. Strange.
Umm, Russia is big. http://www.mapsofworld.com/russia/distance-calculator/chelyabinsk-to-murmansk.html says the recent events are 2000 km apart. Murmansk is near Finland, Tunguska is at longitude 90°E.

milodonharlani

Calculate effect of asteroid impact in your neighborhood:
http://www.purdue.edu/impactearth
Frequency data prior to the study referred to in this post:
http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/363/1837/2793.full
For objects greater than 1 km, forming craters greater than 20 km, we use estimates of flux based on the terrestrial crater population by Grieve & Shoemaker (1994) and Hughes (1999, 2000), and from the NEO population by Rabinowitz et al. (2000), Stuart (2001), Morbidelli et al. (2002) and Harris (2003). To fit these data, rather than simply taking the best-fit power law, we can also use the SFD of lunar craters as a guide. Neukum et al. (2001), Werner et al. (2002) and Ivanov et al. (2003) have demonstrated that the overall shape of the NEO and Main Belt asteroid mass distribution (Rabinowitz et al. 2000; Stuart 2001; Morbidelli et al. 2002) is similar to the cumulative SFD of lunar mare craters (the Neukum or Hartmann Production Functions—NPF or HPF). In addition, NPF and HPF curves are used in crater counting studies to date surfaces of all ages throughout the inner Solar System. Given a maximum factor of 3 error in any particular region of the HPF/NPF curve (Ivanov et al. 2003), we use this curve to fit the large NEO and terrestrial crater dataset. Although other fits to the upper atmosphere data are possible (Bland & Artemieva in press), we note that the resulting curve is a close fit (within a factor of 3) to virtually all the available data. This analysis suggests that we can expect the impact on Earth of a body sufficient to form a 10 km crater once every 200 kyr (craters on land will be formed by these objects every 690 kyr). Bodies big enough to make a 20 km crater will hit every 600 kyr; 50 km events will occur every 3 Myr; 100 km events every 13 Myr; 150 km events every 38 Myr; and 200 km events every 80 Myr.

CodeTech

Darby, compared to Win8, Vista was great.
If you have decades of warning, it doesn’t take much to deflect. The equivalent to a hand grenade exploded in the vicinity, or an Estes model rock engine worth of thrust. However, just because we now realize there are more doesn’t in any way make the threat any greater.

Larry Ledwick

That rate is approximately 2 per year.
If the U.S. occupies about 2% of the worlds surface area and the meteor re-entry locations are totally random then the probability is not all that high. Something in the order of once every 50 years or so a kiloton yield impact should occur over U.S. territory. (yes I know the U.S. is not the world just working out a representative example.) In my 60+ year life time I can recall several nationally publicized fire ball events over the U.S. that had blast pressures significant enough to rattle windows rouse people from deep sleep. How many of those were actually Chelyabinsk class events which simply occurred in remote enough areas they did no damage to human structures?
The hidden message here is that previous estimations of the likelihood of larger bodies striking the earth (Tunguska class events) might also be an order of magnitude lower than reality.
The most recent “known” crater forming impact of significant size is the Barringer crater impact which is estimated to have occurred about 20,000 to 50,000 years ago. A couple other much smaller cratering events have been documented in the middle east deserts and Peru if I recall correctly. Events which only left craters a couple meters wide. Who is to say if a Barringer class event impact at sea would even be detected and recorded in the recent historical record unless it occurred close enough to a populated area for the flash to be seen or the impact tidal wave to have been recorded as associated with a meteor impact.
Even the smaller meter wide crater events could cause a very bad day locally if they struck critical facilities, like dams bridges or occupied sky scrapers.
It is simply good emergency management to consider well known hazards which are inevitable. We plan for 100 year floods, and 50-100 year earth quakes, why not 100-1000 year meteor impacts?
As above, a much more productive use of funds than expenditures to deal with a fantasy threat from a temperature rise that occurs every morning between 8:00 and 8:30 AM in most habitable areas of the globe.

Latitude

makes me wonder…..since all this crap is constantly falling on the earth
Is it really making it bigger?
Messing with the rotation, orbit?
That and sediments, raising sea levels?
…anything?
How much space stuff is actually falling on us?

Dodgy Geezer

…Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world…
NO! This can’t be the case!
I was told that the science was settled on 4 atomic bombs a second. Why has it changed?

A city killer might strike, but since Sodom and Gomorrah we haven’t seen one. As far as “End of the world as we know it” sized asteroids– I’m more likely to get a date tonight with this month’s Playmate of the Month than we are to get hit with one of those things. 65 million years, and Jupiter helping to clean up the place… don’t lose sleep over a “planet killer”.

I believe the threat of falling spacecraft remains larger than that of meteors and asteroids. If not, at least falling aircraft could give the space rocks a run for their money, not to mention ICBMs.
–AGF

milodonharlani

About 35 million years ago, Chesapeake Bay was created by an impact. Chunks of the same bolide might also have struck New Jersey & Siberia (!) at the same time:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesapeake_Bay_impact_crater
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popigai_crater
The regional effects were not droll.

Stan Vinson

Very bad things are going to happen to a lot of people in the next 100 years. Gearing up to deflect an asteroid is ludicrous, both for the cost in resources and time away from more promising ventures……food and energy. It is expected we will watch the asteroid traffic patterns, but only in the way we look at weather. You get out of the way, if you can, and if you can’t then one of those very bad things is about to happen to you.

milodonharlani

A marine impact associated with onset of the Pleistocene glaciations:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eltanin_impact

Dr. Strangelove

Geological evidence show earth has been hit by large meteors (5 km diameter) every 10 to 20 million years. The last big hit was 35 million years ago. We are overdue to be hit again. NASA has mapped out the trajectories of < 1,000 big Near Earth Objects in the asteroid belt. There is still < 100 NEOs in the asteroid belt that can hit earth. However, NASA has not searched the Kuiper belt which has over 100,000 objects and the Oort cloud which has over a trillion objects.

Dr. Strangelove

BTW these large meteors can cause tsunamis higher than the Empire State Building. We have never seen this kind of catastrophe since man evolved from apes.

Louis

“…our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact.”

Have any alarmists made the claim that climate change is causing more asteroid impacts? If not, it’s just a matter of time.

Louis
Have any alarmists made the claim that climate change is causing more asteroid impacts? If not, it’s just a matter of time.
Absolutely – model projections predict that global warming shall cause the atmosphere to expand as it heats, increasing the risk of dragging meteors down onto our heads.

Athelstan.

The catastrophe that will wipe out humanity is unlikely to be man made – naturally.

James the Elder

CodeTech says:
April 19, 2014 at 4:38 pm
Darby, compared to Win8, Vista was great.
====================================
Google “Classic Shell”, Makes W8 look like W7 or even XP. Much easier to live with W8 now.

Dr. Strangelove says:
April 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm
“We are overdue to be hit again.”
======================================
Not necessarily. No matter how any heads you toss, chances of next tossing tails remain 1/2. Asteroid collisions would first need to be shown to be of non-random frequency to make such a claim, and your 35mya collision goes against the usual 100my or so frequency claim. –AGF

Rud Istvan

See Judith Curry yesterday, or the add on wrap she says she will post soon.
Some things are so improbable they are not worth insuring against. The 2014 March Madness perfect bracket is a great example where Warren Buffet made money at ‘asteroid’ expense.
Please do not take this bog in that direction.

Craig Moore

FWIW, it’s not the Seattle museum. It’s The Museum of Flight. At one time it was know as the Boeing Museum of Flight. http://www.museumofflight.org/event/2014/apr/22/saving-earth-keeping-big-asteroids-away-earth-day-presentation-astronauts-tom-jone

charles nelson

What are the chances of a meteorite taking down a commercial jet?

lowercasefred

35 million years does agree with the timing that Raup and Seposky found.

wayne Job

A very large impact on land would do us some serious damage. A very large impact in the middle of the Pacific ocean, would cause some serious ripples that would travel right around the world taking out every thing in it’s path. Goodbye most of us. Has happened before.

Bill Illis

There were three different 5 km wide asteroid impacts 35.5 million years ago. There is no evidence that there was any impacts on the climate from these impacts. The data has 1000 year resolution here and there is no change in the numbers. It was not a good day on planet Earth during those impact days, but these were not extinction events.
It looks like Earth has only been hit by the really devastating 10 km asteroids about 2 or 3 times that we know of. Obviously more than that, but there are no impact craters for the 10 km extinction level events other than 2 of them. The really really bad 50 km wide comet impacts don’t seem to have ever happened that we know about. Large comets coming in at faster speed are the biggest issue, potentially eliminating all life on the planet, including bacteria living deep in the crust.
The question becomes what do we do about the large asteroids that we find. If it is 3 kms wide, do we just take the impact. Easier than 50 smaller impacts causing wide-spread devastation. We have to make sure all the parts miss the Earth. If it is 10 km wide, we better try to stop it. Only people living in mines for 5 years would survive this size. But we don’t want to turn a 10 km impact into 10000 smaller impacts. We still don’t know what the best solution is.

SIGINT EX

The Descent Promenade of the Gods to Battle (transliteration)
Think (i.e. remember hearing Les Préludes). I’lll add that as a bit of fun ;-).
Ha ha

thingadonta

Their claim that the threat from asteriods is ‘3-10 times higher than previously predicted’ is a data hockeystick.
Sounds like a sales pitch to me.

@Ric Werme 4:31 pm:

hunter says:
April 19, 2014 at 4:10 pm
> The two largest ground strikes in the past ~100 years have been in the region of Russia. And now two events in less than 12 months in the same region. Strange.

Umm, Russia is big. http://www.mapsofworld.com/russia/distance-calculator/chelyabinsk-to-murmansk.html says the recent events are 2000 km apart. Murmansk is near Finland, Tunguska is at longitude 90°E.

The first part of hunter’s statement is more or less correct, if he was meaning Tunguska and Chelyabinsk. Many people made the same observation 114 months ago. Hunter DOES say, “and now the two most recent…”, so I think I am reading him right as to Chelyabinsk and Murmansk being the ones being “in less than 12 months.” (Actually 14 months, though…)
You including Tunguska by name when he had not mentioned it is a bit off kilter (me, too). Between his tw0 events in 12 months [sic], Chelyabkinsk and Murmansk are almost on the same latitude (averaged to the nearest degree, they ARE), but 2400 km apart.
That part is a bit freaky.
For comparison’s sake Murmansk-Chelyabinsk are about as close as NYC to Oklahoma City; while Americans think that is not “the same region” many people around the world consider them part of America which is only about 5% of the land area of the world, so it might depend on one’s perspective. Chelyabinsk-Tunguska is about the same as NYC-Amarillo, just a bit further. with the same points being made about the 5% American “region” and perspective…

JohnB

IIRC there was a second “Tunguska” airburst event in around 1932, but it was over the South African rainforest and higher up so it did less damage.
It looks like the Holocene Impact Working Group may have been vindicated.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_Impact_Working_Group

Eric Stevens

I am surprised at the lack of knowledge of the work stemming from that of Clube and Napier exhibeted by those who have already commented. If they are correct, right now we are in a quiet period. Things were much busier in ancient historical time with the events of that period coming down to us as apocryphal legend.

Theo Goodwin

Larry Ledwick says:
April 19, 2014 at 4:38 pm
Thanks for adding perspective. We do not need an asteroid tax.

Your readers, usually a perceptive bunch, are missing the connection to AGW theory. Abrupt climate change that heralded the Younger Dryas cold period, as discovered more or less by Wally Broecker of Columbia, is used to stoke fear that a silent similar “tipping point” may be approaching as a result of CO2 contributions. There might be something to that — if the Younger Dryas had not been caused by an asteroid or comet. The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, if proven, would undermine the effort to portray abrupt climate change as a closed system phenomena. As your tormentors at Real Climate acknowledge here:
“Think about it. If it turned out that rapid climate change events are caused by comets, it would imply the climate system is far more stable than we thought, that abrupt climate change events are not part of the inherent variability of climate during glacial periods. That would perhaps allay fears that we could be pushing the system towards an abrupt climate change in the future. On the other hand, it would also suggest that cometary impacts are far far more common than we thought. Now that would be news. Perhaps further research by Kennett, Firestone and others will indeed show that to be the case. We’re not, however, holding our breath. – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/01/the-younger-dryas-comet-impact-hypothesis-gem-of-an-idea-or-fools-gold/#sthash.5vngrqLQ.dpuf
I would note that they are still holding their breath despite dozens of additional confirmations since the blog post was written.
I am a co-author of several of the important papers supporting the YDB hypothesis and we need all the support we can get. Climate skeptics are one of many important constituencies that need to wake up to mankind’s truly greatest threat. Arguing about AGW is like fighting about the radio station while we sit on the train tracks. Asteroids are not so easily blamed on politics or people.

Tom J

I hate to say it but I doubt anybody’s going to bother doing diddly squat about this because preparing for this would be a strict outlay of money without the ability to make any money. That’s the only reason our world saviors pursue the CAGW meme: It’s very lucrative financially and since that threat is virtually nonexistent it only requires nonexistent remedies, and a nonexistent remedy, by its very definition, is a vanishingly cheap thing to produce but, yeah can you charge for it – hence the financially lucrative aspect.
As an aside:
2900-7300 kilograms per year hit Earth. However, this does not include the small dust particles. Scientists also estimate between 36 and 166 meteorites larger than 10 grams fall to Earth per million square kilometers per year. Over the whole surface area of Earth, that translates to 18,000 to 84,000 meteorites bigger than 10 grams per year. But most meteorites are too small to actually fall all the way to the surface. Estimates for the total mass of material that falls on Earth each year range from 37,000-78,000 tons. Most of this mass would come from dust-sized particles. (This study was led by P. A. Bland and was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.)

Leon Brozyna

Just what we need … another science of disaster out to save us all.
Let’s see if I’ve got the math down … 26 explosions since 2001 or 13 years, which comes to an explosion occurring once every six months on average.
There go those darn skeptic alarm bells, such as … what happened every six months for millennia … we had blind luck all that time?

. . . . . . .
~ The upper atmosphere incinerates the vast majority of small and medium sized space rocks that enter it.
~ Any remaining pieces would likely fall onto the oceans (71% of the Earth’s surface), or onto the deserts and arctic areas.
~ Whole sky surveys assure us that there aren’t any *large asteroids* in our neighborhood that we need to be concerned about.
~ Even if there is a large asteroid sometime in the distant future, mankind now has the ability to nudge it into a safer trajectory.
~ There is zero telescopic evidence from the Earth, and satellites, of any other large objects in the inner solar system.
~ There are many thousands of mostly amateur astronomers around the World who would advise us of any other objects.
. . . . . . .

“No one should be overly concerned about an Earth impact of an asteroid or comet. The threat to any one person from auto accidents, disease, other natural disasters and a variety of other problems is much higher than the threat from NEOs [Near Earth Objects]. Over long periods of time, however, the chances of the Earth being impacted are not negligible so that some form of NEO insurance is warranted. At the moment, our best insurance rests with the NEO scientists and their efforts to first find these objects and then track their motions into the future. We need to first find them, then keep an eye on them.”
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/target.html