Cloud formations could help predict earthquakes, Chinese scientists believe.
Read aloud Certain cloud formations could be heralds of an approaching earthquake: In the analysis of satellite imagery, Chinese scientists have discovered unusual cloud gaps that occurred in the run-up to two severe earthquakes in southern Iran. These gaps follow the course of tectonic fault lines, according to geophysicists Guangmeng Guo and Bin Wang of Nanyang Normal University in Henan. Along these faults the sky remained uncovered for several hours, although the surrounding clouds moved. At the same time, in both cases, the scientists observed an increase in soil temperature along the fault lines. About two months after this phenomenon, severe earthquakes occurred in the areas. Researchers want to use their results to predict earthquakes, but peers are skeptical. As early as the 1980s, Russian scientists had observed temperature changes and unusual cloud formations in the run-up to earthquakes, the researchers write in their original work. However, reports of the cloud structure before earthquakes have remained rare, they explain. In their study, they therefore explicitly examined the cloud formations before two major earthquakes in Iran.

On satellite imagery from December 2004, Guo and Wang first noticed the unusual gap in the eye. A similar phenomenon was observed in pictures taken in December of the following year. About 60 days after the occurrence of these gaps, there were earthquakes of magnitude 6 or higher in the immediate vicinity on the Richter scale. The researchers suspect that the clouds were dissolved by gases leaving the fault line. This could also explain the temperature increase in this area, they continue to describe.

However, earthquake researchers like Mike Blanpied of the US Geological Survey are not yet convinced of the results of the two scientists. "There is no physical model to explain why something occurs two months before an earthquake and then disappears without returning."

New Scientist, Vol. 198, p. 12 Original work of researchers: Guangmeng Guo and Bin Wang (Nanyang Normal University, Henan): International Journal of Remote Sensing, Vol. 29, p. 1921 ddp / Markus Zen's ad


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