Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 Earthquake hits offshore Chiapas, Mexico.

5.6 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Bougainville region, Papua New Guinea.

5.5 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.4 Earthquake hits Salta, Argentina.

5.0 Earthquake hits France.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Batan Islands in the Philippines.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Ecuador – Natural disasters continue to take their toll on Ecuador after two rivers overflowed, claiming the lives of four people Wednesday. The Damas and Toachi rivers, located near the city of Santo Domingo, caused around 25 landslides in the area after torrential rainfall struck the region Tuesday. The storm hit the town of Alluriquin, around 74 miles to the west of Quito. Much of the area was engulfed by rapidly rising waters as roads were quickly flooded, hampering the rescue operation. Around 80 homes were damaged by the mudslides while scores of cars and buses were unable to complete their journeys after becoming submerged in mud along the Aloag Highway. Meanwhile, Uruguay’s National Emergency System reported earlier this week that 11,943 people have been displaced after heavy rains and floods lashed the country over the past 11 days. Of Uruguay’s 19 provinces 16 have recorded evacuations as heavy rainfall continues to pelt the small South American nation. The Durazno province has been the worst affected with 5,163 people leaving their homes.

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Greenland Warming brings Storms to Britain

Soaring temperatures in Greenland – one of the fastest-warming parts of the planet – are causing storms and floods in Britain, according to a new study that provides further evidence climate change is already happening.

The west coast of the island has seen temperatures rise by up to a staggering 10 degrees Celsius during winter in just two decades.

This surge helps create static areas of high pressure that can block the jet stream which heavily influences the northern hemisphere’s weather. If forced to go south, the jet stream picks up warm and wet air – and Britain can expect heavy rain and flooding. If forced north, the UK is likely to be hit by cold air from the Arctic.

Global Warming

Some Plants Are Adapting To Global Warming

Plants are much more adaptable to temperature changes and global warming than previously thought, according to a 30-year long study by Norwegian scientists published Wednesday.

The study showed that a tree called the Norwegian spruce can adjust its growth rate to cope with different environmental conditions and temperature extremes, rebutting the claim that plants won’t be able to adapt to changing climate conditions.

“There is a kind of flexibility in the genetic material. Environmental conditions during seed development create a memory of those temperature conditions. Much like a ‘molecular thermostat’ that can shift the growth cycle of the plant”, Carl Gunnar Fossdal, a senior research scientist with the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, said in a press statment. “This phenomenon has great importance for the discussion around climate change. It shows that the memory mechanism at least in these plants, and maybe in all, adapt to changes in the environment.”

The Norwegian spruces and other trees may even pass these adaptions to their offspring, according to the research. The scientists suggest that many animals may also have similar ways to adapt to changing global temperatures.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits south of Africa.

5.1 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.0 Earthquake hits San Juan, Argentina.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Haiti – Floods in Haiti caused by torrential rainfall have claimed the lives of at least four people including three children. Several thousand families have been affected by the floods.

Disease

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 19 April 2016, the Department of Health, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region notified WHO of a confirmed, imported case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 19 and 23 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 3 additional cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV).

Zika Virus – Brazil

Brazil’s outbreak of Zika – which has been linked to the devastating microcephaly birth defect in newborns – has topped 91 000 cases, health officials said on Tuesday.

Between January 3 and April 2, 91 387 suspected cases of Zika were reported, with a disproportionate share (30 286) in the poorer northeast of the country, the Health Ministry said.

Three people have died of the mosquito-borne virus, it said.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Israel

Negligence is suspected of being a factor in a number of wildfires on Tuesday, including a forest fire that scorched hundreds of hectares outside Shlomi in the western Galilee.

Police and firefighters deployed helicopters and other aircraft to fight the blaze, which also damaged a power line, causing electrical failures in the area.

On the other side of the Galilee, a forest fire broke out in two spots next to the Jordan River near a popular rafting spot. The cause of this fire was not announced, and all visitors had to be evacuated from the area.

In Jerusalem, two forest fires broke out on Tuesday, where temperatures hit a high of 33 degrees. One broke out near the Mount of Olives, but firefighters managed to contain it before it could cause any damage or injuries. Another blaze began in the city’s Peace Forest near the Abu Tor neighbourhood. It, too, was contained, but residents of a nearby street had to be evacuated due to high levels of smoke.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Myanmar – A severe hailstorm in Myanmar has claimed the lives of at least eight people and destroyed around 7,500 houses.

Ethiopia – Flash floods in drought stricken parts of Ethiopia have killed more than 28 people and numerous drought-weakened livestock and are blocking food aid deliveries to hungry communities. Ethiopia regularly suffers hunger crises as eight out of ten people are farmers who depend upon the rains.

Global Warming

Carbon dioxide making earth greener, reveals new research

The earth is getting greener because of higher carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere, new research shows.

Observations by Nasa satellites over the past 33 years show that there has been a steady increase in leaves on plants and trees, which scientists think is because of the higher CO2 levels. Leaves absorb CO2 and combine it with water to produce food for the plants. The study was done by an international team of 32 scientists from 24 institutions in eight countries and has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Burning oil, gas, coal and wood for energy releases CO2 in to the air. The amount of CO2 in the air has been increasing since the industrial age and currently stands at a level not seen in at least half-a-million years. It is the chief culprit of climate change.

About 85% of the Earth’s ice-free lands is covered by vegetation. The area of all green leaves on Earth is equal to, on average, 32% of the Earth’s total surface area – oceans, lands and permanent ice sheets combined. “The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two-times the size of mainland USA (18 million km2), and has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system.

Every year, about one-half of the 10 billion tons of carbon emitted in to the atmosphere from human activities remains temporarily stored, in about equal parts, in the oceans and plants.

Does this mean that high emissions are beneficial for the earth and humanity? Although many contrarians have argued this, the study authors warn that this is not so.

The fallacy of the contrarian argument is two-fold. First, the many negative aspects of climate change, namely global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and sea ice, more severe tropical storms, etc. are not acknowledged. Second, studies have shown that plants acclimatize, or adjust, to rising CO2 concentration and the fertilization effect diminishes over time.

CO2 fertilization is only one, albeit a predominant, reason why the Earth is greening. The study also identified climate change, nitrogen fertilization and land management as other important reasons.

Environment

Chernobyl Anniversary

Ukrainians held candlelit vigils to mark 30 years since the world’s worst nuclear accident – as Chernobyl spewed radiation across Europe and left several thousand people dead or dying.

At least 30 people were killed on site and several thousand more are feared to have died from the radiation fallout in one of the world’s worst man-made disasters, which forced a global rethink about the wisdom of relying on atomic fuel.

The exact number of dead remains a subject of intense debate because the Soviet authorities kept most of the information about Chernobyl under wraps.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Nepal

Wildfires have been raging on in more than 50 community forests and national forests in Kanchanpur for more than a week, putting more than 10,000 hectares of forestland in peril, Kanchanpur district forest office informed. Shuklafanta wildlife reserve is among the forests that are at risk, the office said, adding that 10,200 hectares of forestland has caught fire.

9 homes were gutted in the Panchthar district by the wildfires.

Wildfires – Scotland

Dozens of firefighters were battling two large wildfires in separate parts of the Highlands last night. Although no evacuations have been ordered, the fires came within a quarter mile of Stroupster wind farm and the nearest residential property.

Disease

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

On 10 April 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Bahrain notified WHO of a fatal case of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This is the first case reported in Bahrain.

Newcastle Disease – Israel

Nine more outbreaks of Newcastle disease have been found in Israel. The outbreaks occurred in the Hazafon, Haifa and Hamerkaz provinces.

Over 70,000 birds died and 260,000 were destroyed in the nine outbreaks, which occurred in broilers, breeders and backyard chickens. Some of the outbreaks were not detected by clinical signs, but rather by active surveillance measures put in place to combat the disease.

The source of the outbreak was unknown, and the authorities are fighting the outbreak by disinfection, stamping out, movement controls, zoning and quarantine measures.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 20p (Amos), located approximately 134 nm east of Pago Pago, American Samoa, and is tracking east-southeastward at 12 knots.

NewsBytes:

China – A coal mine flooded in northern China on Monday, leaving 11 miners missing.

India – Rain, hail and windstorms continue to hit the North East region of the Indian subcontinent, causing landslides and floods affecting thousands of people in the region. Also, heavy rainfall has damaged many houses and caused flooding in low-lying villages in Manipur, officials said on Sunday. Incessant rainfall has also led to mud slips, damage to retaining walls, power infrastructures, houses, road blockage, drainage blockage etc.

China – China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and the Ministry of Water Resources on Sunday evening jointly issued a warning for mountain floods from Sunday night to Monday night. The floods are expected to hit the southeastern part of Tibet, the eastern part of Guangdong and, in particular, the western part of Yunnan.