Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.3 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Sangihe, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Guatemala.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Antahan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Sumbawa region, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Texas, USA – A snowstorm in Dallas, Texas has caused hundreds of traffic accidents and led to more than 600 flight cancellations.

Bolivia – Heavy rains in Bolivia have collapsed a bridge connecting two parts of the country. A truck which was crossing at the time was swept away in the floodwaters.

Global Warming

Global Warming Fuels Coral Killer

Global warming worsens a disease that has almost wiped out Caribbean coral reefs, according to a new study by researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology.

In only 40 years, the iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that have dominated Caribbean reefs for 3.5 million years have declined by more than 90 percent. The main culprit: a disease that causes dead, white bands across the coral. And ocean warming is playing a bigger role in the so-called “white-band” disease than previously thought, the researchers found.

Both elkhorn and staghorn coral are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. They are especially of concern because they form the foundations of reefs that support economically important fish and other marine species.

White-band disease has already devastated Florida corals, especially in the Florida Keys.

The Florida Tech researchers compared sea temperature data with white-band disease records from 473 coral sites in the Caribbean and the Keys.

They found white-band disease is more common where waters have warmed most rapidly and stayed unusually warm during winter.

It seems that warmer waters may be making marine microbes more infectious and/or weakening the coral’s innate immunity.

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Environment

Intensive Fertiliser Use Dampening Natural Nutrition

The widespread use of nitrogen fertiliser is causing a significant evolution in soil bacteria that naturally help bring nitrogen to many plants, making the organisms less beneficial to legumes.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say the changes in soil rhizobia could have “far-reaching ecological and environmental consequences,” not only in farmland, but also in the plants of the surrounding environment.

Writing in the journal Evolution, the scientists say the problem isn’t limited to the application of fertiliser on legumes.

Lead author Katy Heath says emissions of nitrogen oxides from the burning of fossil fuels are also causing a change in the quality of soil rhizobia, leading to altered plant growth.

“Worldwide, the nitrogen cycle is off. We’ve changed it fundamentally,” said Heath.

The research reveals that in areas polluted with fertiliser runoff, legumes decline while other plants become more common.

Root nodules house soil bacteria, like rhizobia, which fix nitrogen for the plant. The bacteria cannot fix the nitrogen on their own and need a plant host.

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Disease

Ebola – Update

A Sierra Leonean village is currently on lockdown after the discovery of 31 new cases of Ebola.

Health officials say that the new infections were caused by one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown and sought help from a traditional healer in his hometown.

The affected community, which is home to 500 people, is close to the town of Makeni.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.0 Earthquake hits the Flores Sea.

There was no tsunami threat due to the depth of the earthquake (355.4 miles deep).

5.7 Earthquake hits the Anatahan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Flores Sea.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Alamagan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Alamagan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Guatemala.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 14s (Glenda), located approximately 723 nm southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking south-southwestward at 14 knots.

NewsBytes:

UAE – A sandstorm in the Fujairah region of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today claimed the lives of two people.

Madagascar – More flooding in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo and the surrounding areas has claimed the lives of at least 14 people and displaced more than 21,000.

Environment

Chinese Pollution Chokes Korean Peninsula

South Korea was hit by the highest concentration of toxic yellow dust in five years as winds from China’s industrial centres, located to the north and west, blew in the acute air pollution.

The chemical-laden dust typically arrives each winter from southern Mongolia and northern China, where deserts have experienced meagre precipitation and swirling low-pressure areas.

Residents across most of South Korea were advised to stay indoors or to wear protective masks and goggles when venturing outdoors.

The pollution is known to cause cardiac and respiratory problems, especially among the very young and the aged.

Seoul skyline dulled by thick pall of yellow dust as a pedestrian tries to protect herself from the pollution.

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Disease

Cholera in Malawi

U.N. aid agencies are increasing operations in flood-stricken Malawi in a desperate attempt to stave off a potentially large-scale cholera epidemic. The United Nations Children’s Fund says Malawi is on high alert following a cholera outbreak in southern border areas, near Mozambique.

U.N. aid workers are alarmed at the prospect of a large, nationwide outbreak of cholera in Malawi. This is because the disease is located in the southern border areas where flood victims are living in overcrowded camps, an environment in which cholera flourishes.

The last time the country experienced a large-scale outbreak was in 2009, when well over 1,000 people were infected.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): Strombolian activity from the summit vents continues slowly to increase but always below normal levels. In the morning of Feb the 15th a brief but energetic series of 7-8 strong explosions occurred less than 2 minutes:it was characterized by the most powerful explosion observed since the end of the effusive activity. …27 Feb: Strombolian activity from the summit vents continues slowly to increase but always below normal levels.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Pakistan.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.1 Earthquake hits the west Chile rise.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Ryukyu Islands off Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 14s (Glenda), located approximately 573 nm east=southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking southward at 07 knots.

NewsBytes:

Bolivia – Flooding in Bolivia’s Pando Province has displaced more than 4,000 people in the town of Cobija after the river Acre burst its banks. Heavy rains have also caused the nearby river Tahuamanu to burst its banks. The river waters rose to 14m [46ft] above their normal level, so between community and the authorities have decided to rebuild a new town to avoid more damage,

Bolivia flooding 2015

Pakistan – Heavy rains and hailstorms have claimed lives of at least six people in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Nepal – Heavy rainfall together with hailstorm have destroyed crops in various parts of Kailali and Doti districts. Heavy snowfalls have been reported in Mugu and Rasuwa districts. 2 people died after being struck by lightning.

Global Warming

Cool Pacific Ocean Slowed Global Warming

The Pacific Ocean has been a planetary air conditioner for the past two decades, but the relief may soon end, a new study finds.

The Pacific and Atlantic oceans undergo decades-long natural oscillations that alter their sea surface temperatures. These natural cycles flip-flop between cooler and warmer phases. Over the past 130 years, the tempo of global warming has revved up or slowed down in tune with changing ocean temperatures, researchers reported today (Feb. 26) in the journal Science.

“The Pacific Ocean appears to be driving the slowdown in warming over the past 15 years,” said lead study author Byron Steinman, a climate scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

The period since 1998 is often called a global warming pause or global warming hiatus, because the planet’s thermometer slowed its steady climb. However, it’s more accurate to call the intervening years a global warming slowdown. Temperatures never stopped rising, and the 10 hottest years ever recorded have all happened since 1998. And though global surface temperatures have plateaued, the oceans are still warming — studies have found the “missing” heat is going into deeper layers of the sea.

“We are in a turning point right now, and the slowdown will presumably reverse in the decades ahead,” Mann said. “When we do, we may see warming even faster than what the models are predicting.”

Environment

Surge in Radiation From Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Fresh leaks of highly radioactive water have been detected at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant four years after a massive tsunami disaster resulted in explosions and meltdowns at the facility.

Sensors detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already high levels of radioactive cesium and strontium-90.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says the leaks came from gutters that sent accumulated rainwater on top of the highly contaminated facility into a drainage ditch that carries runoff to the Pacific.

The company concedes it has known about the leak since last April, but failed to disclose the finding.

A spokesman said workers have blocked the gutters from sending any more roof runoff into the ocean.

The company is also plagued by a flow of groundwater from mountains to the west, which becomes contaminated as it passes beneath the plant and into the Pacific.

Efforts to freeze the ground with refrigeration equipment and halt that flow are underway, but are being met with great public skepticism.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit (47.0 degrees Celsius) at Wad Madani, Sudan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 66.5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 54.7 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.