Global Warming

Greenhouse Gas Deadline Down to the Wire: U.N.

The latest report by the U.N. group responsible for assessing climate change says the world is running out of time to keep global warming from exceeding the 2 degrees Celsius limit (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) agreed to in 2010.

If greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed sharply, and soon, climate experts say that by 2100, temperatures will rise by between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees Celsius (6.6 and 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

China, the United States and Europe are the top emitters.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautions in the new report that there must be a “massive shift” to renewable energy to avert more severe heat waves, droughts and rising sea levels.

Last year, the IPCC said there is a 95 percent probability that climate change since 1950 is mainly due to human activities rather than natural variations.

Nations have pledged to work out a deal to limit global warming by the end of 2015. The latest IPCC report was prepared to help almost 200 governments do that.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 113.7 degrees Fahrenheit (45.4 degrees Celsius) at Matam, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 97.1 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 71.7 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 Earthquake hits the Belleny islands.

6.0 Earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.4 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Balleny islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Philippine Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

New Zealand – Storm continues to pose problems. Thousands are without power and roads are closed in many parts of the country as the remnants of tropical Cyclone Ita washes out the start of the easter holiday.

Residents in the South and North Islands are battling stormy conditions. Weather from ex-tropical cyclone Ita bore down across the country yesterday and overnight, bringing widespread power outages, flooding and slips in many areas. Those along the West Coast – one of the worst hit areas – have been working all morning to clear flooded areas and debris, with more bad weather expected tomorrow.

NewsBytes:

A landslide at a goldmine in Guinea has claimed the lives of at least seven people. The landslide occurred in the Kintinian area of Guinea, West Africa.

An avalanche on Mount Everest has killed 13 Sherpa guides. 9 others are still missing.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 17 April 2014, the Ministries of Health of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported an additional 5 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Chirpoi (Kuril Islands, Russia): SVERT reported that on 13 April satellite images over Snow, a volcano of Chirpoi, detected steam-and-gas emissions. Cloud cover obscured views on the other days during 9-15 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Chirinkotan (Northern Kuriles): SVERT reported that satellite images of Chirinkotan showed gas-and-steam emissions on 9 April drifting more than 50 km SE. Cloud cover obscured views during 10-15 April. The Aviation Color Code remained at Yellow.

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands): A possible explosive eruption occurred this morning; VAAC detected an ash plume at estimated 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude drifting east from the volcano. This could have been caused by a stronger phreato-magmatic explosion (sea water coming in contact with magma).

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): The volcano has been unusually calm recently. No significant explosion was recorded since 12 April.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): A pyroclastic flow occurred yesterday afternoon (17:40 WIB) at the volcano. Most likely, it was triggered by a partial collapse of the steep lava tongue that had been emplaced on its southern flank during the past months.

Fortunately, the flow was rather small and only reached the now depopulated area at the feet of the mountain.

Dukono (Halmahera): Ash plumes from stronger explosions have become a more or less daily appearance in VAAC Darwin’s reports of volcanic ash clouds. The volcano clearly is in an elevated state of activity at the moment.

Shishaldin (United States, Aleutian Islands): Alaska’s Volcano Observatory (AVO / USGS) maintains alert status orange: “Minor steaming was observed in web camera images during clear periods over the past day. Satellite images show no evidence of eruptive activity. No significant changes observed in seismic data.”

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): No significant changes have occurred in the volcano’s currently low activity. Small to moderate emissions of steam and minor amounts of ash were observed at rates of approx 1 per hour (CENAPRED counted 22 events during 16-17 April).

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): No significant changes in the currently relatively low activity have been reported. Occasional small to moderate explosions and weak avalanches from the active lava flow on the SE side of the dome occurred during 16-17 April.

Pacaya (Guatemala): INSIVUMEH only reports steaming and internal tremor, but no visible eruptive activity from the Mackenney crater at the moment.

Fuego (Guatemala): Moderate to strong explosions continue at the volcano with ash plumes rising almost 1 km above the crater.

All the explosions generated rumbling and degassing sounds as well as sometimes shock waves. Fine ash fell in the villages Panimaché, Morelia, Santa Sofia and Sangre de Cristo. Incandescent avalanches could be observed from the crater at night.

Reventador (Ecuador): The volcano continues to produce small to medium explosions with ash plumes rising up to 1.5 km. A MODIS hot spot indicates the presence of fresh lava at the summit, but there seems to be currently no lava flow.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity at the volcano remains high with intermittent small to moderate explosions and ash emissions. Plumes of steam and various amounts of ash have been rising up to 3 km above the summit and drifting into westerly directions. Light ash fall occurred in Bilbao, Cusua, Choglontus, and Manzano.

Incandescence was observed at night, suggesting ongoing strombolian activity.

Ubinas (Peru): The latest report by Peru’s Institute of Geophysics (IGP) issued a series of recommendations to authorities, among which to raise the alert level to orange, given that activity has gradually increased and is now comparable to the eruption during 2006.

IGP also recommends to fully evacuate the villages of Querapi and Tonohaya; according to local press Querapi (the closest to the volcano) seems already to have been more or less evacuated.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Bougainville Region, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Celebes Sea.

5.1 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the State of Yap, Micronesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits central Alaska.

Idaho – USA

Hundreds of earthquake rattle nerves in central Idaho – Hundreds of low-level and medium-sized earthquakes have struck central Idaho since last month, puzzling geologists who wonder whether the ruptures portend a much larger temblor to come or are merely the rumblings of a seismic fault previously thought to be dormant.

The recent earthquake swarm, beginning on March 24 and climaxed by a 4.9 magnitude tremor on Saturday, has produced no reports of injuries or severe damage but has rattled nerves in a region where Idaho’s most powerful known quake, measured at 6.9, killed two children in 1983 and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

New Zealand – The remnants of Cyclone Ita are speading down the country, ripping off roofs in Auckland, felling trees in the Waikato and disrupting travel. Wild weather pounding the country has caused widespread road closures, flooding, damaged properties, power outages and treacherous driving conditions.

NewsBytes:

USA – Maine emergency management officials said the flooding in Maine after heavy rains is statewide and the state is likely to remain under a flood warning until late Thursday. One person was reported to have died in the floods.

Canada – The spring thaw and steady rain triggered floods that inundated Quebec towns, washing away homes, forcing evacuations and causing a landslide. In Sherbrooke, Que., in the Eastern Townships, the Saint-Francois river reached a record 25 feet Wednesday and floodwaters cut the city in two.

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Tanzania – At least 14 people have been killed and thousands displaced after heavy floods ravaged Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.

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Disease

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

As of 18:00 on 16 April, the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Guinea has reported a cumulative total of 197 clinical cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), including 122 deaths. To date, 101 cases have been laboratory confirmed, including 56 deaths, 43 cases (33 deaths) meet the probable case definition for EVD and 53 cases (33 deaths) are classified as suspected cases. Twenty-four (24) health-care workers (HCW) have been affected with 13 deaths. Clinical cases of EVD have been reported from Conakry (47 cases, including 16 deaths), Guekedou (117/80), Macenta (22/16), Kissidougou (6/5), Dabola (4/4) and Djingaraye (1/1).

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island.

5.3 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.2 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

Weather Extremes: March 2014

March featured a number of anomalous extreme weather events such as the floods in portions of Egypt and New Zealand, a freak hailstorm in Asmara, Eritrea, RECORD warmth in much of Europe, severe cold and snow in the eastern half of the U.S. and heavy rainfall in the Pacific Northwest that culminated in a deadly landslide in Washington. Globally (land-ocean temperature index), it was the 4th warmest March on record (since 1880).

NORTH AMERICA – It was a long cold month for the eastern and midwestern U.S. with temperatures averaging 7°-10°F (4°-7°C) below normal. In fact, it was the coldest March on RECORD for Vermont and 2nd coldest for Maine and New Hampshire. A blizzard pounded Cape Cod and Nantucket on March 26th where wind gusts reached 83 mph and 10” (25 cm) of snow fell.

Ice coverage on Lakes Michigan and Superior reached their 2nd greatest extent since comprehensive records for such began in 1973. In the West a series of wet storms pounded Washington State resulting in a tragic landslide in the town of Oso where at least 35-40 people died. The airport in Seattle measured 9.44” (240 mm) of precipitation; a March RECORD for the site and Portland, Oregon measured 7.52” (191 mm) for its 2nd wettest March. On the other hand, no precipitation was measured in Las Vegas, Nevada tying with six other March’s for the driest such. Drought conditions worsened in the southern Plains and Southwest. Alaska has gotten off to its 3rd warmest start to the year and in Barrow it was the 3rd warmest March since records began there in 1921.

SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA – Following the extreme rainfall in Asuncion, Paraguay on February 27th, more extreme rainfall deluged the country between March 14-18. EUROPE – March was the warmest such on RECORD for Germany and many other locations in Europe. In Germany the March average temperature was 7.0°C (12.6°F) above normal beating out the March’s of 2012 and 1989, the POR going back to 1881. The temperature peaked at 24.1°C (75.4°F) at Sachsenheim on March 20th and the coldest temperature observed in the country during the entire month was a relatively mild -8.6°C (16.5°F) at Oberstdorf on March 26th.

Record March heat was observed at many locations across the continent including 19.8°C (67.6°F) in Moscow. In the U.K. it was also warmer than normal (1.2°C/2.2°F above average) but not on the scale observed in other parts of Europe. Precipitation ran at 85% of the long-term average.

AFRICA – A freak hailstorm battered Asmara, Eritrea on March 12th. Hail drifts some one meter thick accumulated in downtown Asmara. Also of note was the exceptional rainstorm that deluged portions of the Upper Nile in Egypt on March 9-10. Luxor picked up 30 mm (1.18”) during the event. It’s average annual rainfall is just a little over 1 mm (.04”).

The Comoros Islands came within 0.1°C of setting it’s all-time national heat RECORD on March 23rd when a temperature of 35.5°C (95.9°F) was observed at Grande Comore Airport.

ASIA – Torrential rainfall pounded southern China and Hong Kong on March 30th with 174 mm (6.85”) measured in 24 hours at Guangzhou (Canton). The Kashmir of India and Pakistan experienced a tremendous snowfall on March 10-12 with Srinagar, India picking up 211 mm (8.31”) of melted precipitation and the snowfall ranging from 25-60 cm (10-25”) in and around the city. Avalanches resulted in the deaths of at least 16 and injured 30 in the region.

AUSTRALIA – March was warmer than average overall and the 7th warmest on record for Western Australia. Precipitation was 34% below the long-term average nation-wide although some extreme rain events resulted in flash floods in parts of Queensland and New South Wales. A two-day rainfall of 557 mm (21.93”) was measured at Pacific Heights in Yeppoon, Queensland on March 27-28.

NEW ZEALAND – A terrific storm, said to be the worst in 40 years, battered Christchurch, South Island on March 3-5. Flooding in Christchurch followed the storm which dropped 100-150 mm (4”-6”) of rain on the city in just 24 hours.

Precipitation was low again (50% of normal) for most of the North Island following a dry February. Many locations ranked in their top three for driest March on record. Hamilton experienced its second driest March on record with only 6 mm (0.24”) of rain (POR 1935, 7%), and Palmerston North had 9 mm (0.35”), driest on RECORD for March (POR 1928, 14%). The South Island was drier on the western side and wetter in the east and south.

Christchurch had its wettest March on RECORD , 200mm (7.87”) (POR 1863, 467%) as a result of the big March 3-5 storm. On the west coast of the South Island Westport had just 25mm (0.98”), its driest ever March (POR 1944, 18%).

ANTARCTICA – The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during March was –74.5C (-102.1°F) recorded at Dome A on March 22nd. This was close to the coldest March temperature ever measured in Antarctica during a March which was -76.1°C (-104.1°) at Ago 4 site some years ago.

Wildfires

Chile wildfires

With all of Valparaiso under military rule early Tuesday, 5,000 firefighters, police, forest rangers, soldiers, sailors and civil defence workers joined in a mammoth fight against wildfires licking around the hilltop shantytowns of this picturesque port city as the disaster entered its fifth day.

Helicopters and aeroplanes dropped water on the flames and smouldering ruins of some of the poor neighbourhoods throughout Monday, the third day since flames first erupted in a forested ravine on the outskirts of Valparaiso and then were quickly spread by strong winds that scattered glowing embers into slums.

An estimated 11,000 people were homeless as the toll of destroyed homes rose to more than 2,500. A contingent of sailors in riot gear stood ready to evacuate 700 more families whose homes could be lost if the winds shifted.

The fires have been so hot they created their own fierce winds, spreading flames that consumed a few entire neighbourhoods of ramshackle housing. Homes stood unscathed in other districts but remained in danger from the embers being whipped through the air.

Valparaiso is an oceanside city of 250,000 people surrounded by 42 ills that form a natural amphitheatre. The compact downtown includes Chile’s congress and its second-largest port, and the city owes its status as a Unesco World Heritage Site to the colourful homes built on slopes so steep that many people commute using stairs and cable cars.

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Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 13 and 14 April 2014 United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported a cluster of ten laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection among health-care workers identified through screening of contacts of a previously laboratory-confirmed case from Abu Dhabi who died on 10 April 2014.

Chikungunya Disease in Tonga

Tongan health authorities say there’s been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus affecting more than 10,000 people across the country.

It’s the first time Tonga has had an outbreak of the virus, which causes acute fever and joint pain.

Wildfires

Wildfires USA

More than 30 wind-driven wildfires scorched 2 500 acres across Kentucky Monday.

A number of wildfires broke out Sunday across north-central Pennsylvania and southern New York state.

A number of States have declared the start of the wildfire season on 15 April 2014.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.8 Earthquake his the Bouvet Island region.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Crete.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.