Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.3 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Komandorskiye Ostrova region, Russia.

5.3 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.2 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Valparaiso, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Philippine Islands region.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits Java, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits southern Sumatra, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindamao in the Philippines.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Low pressure system Invest 93E forms off the coast of Baja California. This area of disturbed weather has the potential for tropical storm development.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin officially commences on June 1. Forecasters suggest 8 – 12 named storms for 2014.

NewsBytes:

Philippines – Floods spawned by days of heavy rain have swamped the homes of at least 19,000 people in low-lying villages in North Catabato.

Environment

Ice Wall To Contain Fukushima Groundwater Contamination

Japanese authorities have approved the construction of an underground “ice wall” around the meltdown-plagued Fukushima nuclear power plant to keep groundwater from becoming contaminated before pouring into the Pacific.

The frozen barrier will be created by inserting a network of pipes to a depth of 100 feet, which will circulate a coolant that has a temperature of minus 40 degrees.

The designers say the resulting 1-mile frozen barricade of earth will help prevent a large volume of groundwater from flowing into the basements of the reactor buildings and mixing with highly radioactive water already accumulating inside.

About 300 tons of radioactive water from the plant are believed to be pouring into the adjacent Pacific each day.

Currently, a so-called groundwater bypass system pumps out some of the water before it reaches the reactor buildings.

The ice wall under construction will stretch for 1 mile and will surround reactors 1 to 4.

 

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Disease

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

Cases and deaths attributable to Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak continue to be reported from new (Telimele and Boffa) and some affected districts (Conakry and Macenta) that did not report cases for more than 42 days. Since the last update of Disease Outbreak News of 28 May 2014, 10 new cases and 7 new deaths have been reported. The current evolving epidemiological situation could be partly explained by persistent community resistance in some communities in Gueckedou, Macenta, and Conakry.

Cholera outbreak, South Sudan

On 15 May 2014, the Ministry of Health of South Sudan declared a cholera outbreak in Juba. The index case was retrospectively identified with onset of illness on 23 April 2014. Four cases have been laboratory confirmed following tests conducted by the African Medical Research Foundation laboratory in Nairobi, Kenya.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Although tremor dropped significantly yesterday evening, mild strombolian activity from the New SE crater continued throughout the night. This morning, new ash emissions from the Bocca Nuova occurred again. Whether this announces a new phase of (different) activity will have to be seen.

Sangeang Api (Indonesia): Eruptions continue at the volcano after yesterday’s major explosion. Dense ash plumes rising from the summit crater can be seen on this morning’s satellite images, and a MODIS hot spot is visible on the latest satellite data, suggesting fresh magma continues to arrive at the volcano’s summit crater. In the meanwhile, the ash and SO2 plume has drifted and spread over more than 3000 km to the E and SE, covering a vast area that includes parts of northern and eastern Australia. All flights from Darwin airport have been cancelled because of the hazardous ash cloud.

San Miguel (El Salvador): Small ash emissions were reported at Chaparrastique volcano yesterday. Local observers heard rumblings and noticed ash fall in the area of Alpina Carreto. Apart from a possible eruption, a major hazard is posed by mud slides and mud flows at the slopes of the volcano. Civil protection ordered new evacuations. According to local press, school classes were suspended in 12 schools located within 5 kilometres radius of Chaparrastique due to landslides in the area generated by the rains.

Wildlife

More Whales Bringing More Collisions With Ships

A bumper population of whales feeding off the coast of New England appears to be responsible for the unusually high incidence of ships striking the marine mammals during recent weeks.

Of the three strikes during May, one involved a cruise ship hitting a sei whale and inadvertently dragging it into the Hudson River.

The attached dead animal was not discovered until the ship reached port.

The U.S. agency NOAA said another sei was found dead and attached to a container ship that was docking near Philadelphia three days later.

NOAA believes the whales may be following food sources unusually close to shore when they haplessly swim into shipping lanes.

Operators of whale-watching excursions in coastal waters off Boston report 20 to 30 whales are being spotted on every cruise — 10 times the usual number.

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Extinction Rates Soar to 1,000 Times Normal

Species on Earth are going extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they would be without human influence, new research finds. But there’s still time to save the world from this biodiversity disaster.

Between 100 and 1,000 species per million go extinct every year, according to the new analysis. Before humans came on the scene, the typical extinction rate was likely one extinction per every 10 million each year, said study researcher Stuart Pimm, a Duke University biologist.

These numbers are a big increase from the previous estimates, which held that species were going extinct 100 times faster than usual, not 1,000 times faster or more. But despite the bad news, the research is “optimistic.” New technology and citizen scientists are allowing conservationists to target their efforts better than ever before.

Pimm and his colleagues have long worked to understand the effect of humanity on the rest of the species that share the planet. In the history of life on Earth, five mass extinctions have wiped out more than half of life on the planet. Today, scientists debate whether humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction.

This question is trickier than it may seem. Certainly, humans have driven species from the dodo to the Tasmanian tiger to the passenger pigeon to extinction. There’s no doubt that continuing deforestation and climate change will destroy even more species, including some humanity will never get the chance to discover. But researchers don’t even know for sure how many species exist on the planet. About 1.9 million species have been described by science, but estimates as to how many are out there range from 5 million to 11 million.

“People often say that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction,” Pimm said. “We’re not in the middle of it — we’re on the verge of it. And now we have to tools to prevent it.”

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 120.2 degrees Fahrenheit (49.0 degrees Celsius) at Jacobabad, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 84.5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 64.7 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.

Disease

US Measles Cases Reach 20-Year High

The numbers of measles cases in the United States so far this year marks a 20-year high, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced.

Just in the first months of 2014, from January 1 through May 23, a total of 288 confirmed measles cases have been reported to the CDC, surpassing the highest number of reported cases happening in a full year since the disease was eliminated in the country almost 15 years ago.

The largest number of cases in previous years had occurred during 2011, with 220 cases. The number of cases so far in 2014 is the largest reported in the first five months of a year since 1994, CDC officials said.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Pagan (Mariana Islands): USGS reports that “low-level unrest continued at Pagan Volcano throughout the past week. Seismic activity remains above background. A vapor plume was visible in web camera and satellite images. Volcanic gas from Pagan may be noticed downwind of the volcano as a distinctive sulfurous odor.” The Aviation Color Code remains at YELLOW.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Ongoing rainfall has been causing a number of mud flows (lahars) in the rivers draining from Santiaguito, including Samala, San Isidro and Tambor. A first large hot lahar descended the Nima I river bed yesterday. The sulfur-smelling mud flow was about 25 m wide and 3 m deep, carrying blocks of up to 50 cm in diameter and pieces of tree trunks and branches of up to 2 m. On its passage near the observatory, it made the ground vibrate. The lahar drained into the Samala river.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has decreased a bit. Strombolian explosions produced incandescent ejections to up to about 100 m and ash plumes rose to approx. 500 m.

San Miguel (El Salvador): The amplitude of internal vibration (tremor) at Chaparrastique volcano has suddenly dropped during the past 24 hours indicating that the volcanic system remains unstable, MARN informs in its latest special bulletin. Gas emissions remain elevated. The possibility of an eruption from a summit or flank vent remains high and monitoring continues at highest level.

Galeras (Colombia): Activity at the volcano is currently low. Seismic activity and gas emissions are at low to moderate levels. No recent ash emissions have occurred.

Cumbal (Colombia): Seismic unrest continues at the volcano, still on alert status Yellow, with little variation over the past months. The Pasto volcano observatory reported a 50% increase in earthquakes during the past week. Most earthquakes were associated with internal fluid movements. The other quakes, all very small, were due to rock fracturing at shallow depths. No other signs of unrest were observed at the volcano recently.

Sotará (Colombia): Seismic activity associated with rock fracturing processes under the volcano showed a slight increase during the past week. The earthquakes occurred mainly under the Paletará valley, approximately 12 km northeast of the volcano at depths between 6 and 10 km, and had local magnitudes between 0.3 and 2.2 on the Richter scale. Slight deformation has been detected at the volcano, but no changes or signs of activity are visible at the surface. The volcano remains at Yellow alert.

Cerro Negro de Mayasquer (Colombia): Unrest at the volcano continues in the form of earthquakes under the Chiles-Cerro Negro volcanic massif. During the past week, the monitoring network recorded around 6500 quakes, mostly located less than 4 km SW from the summit at depths ranging between 1 and 8 km and with magnitudes of up to 4.0 on the Richter scale. Most of the earthquakes are volcanic-tectonic, i.e. associated with the fracturing of rock due to fluid pressure underground. On May 21, 3 earthquakes at 02:53, 15:44 and 18:46 local time were felt felt by local inhabitants.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits the Mona Passage in the Dominican Republic.

5.3 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands off New Zealand.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Tropical Storm Amanda is located approximately 455 mi (735 km) SSW of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula and is moving east near 7 mph (11 kph).

The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 35 mph (55 kph).

Hurricane Amanda unexpectedly regained strength briefly Tuesday, before resuming a predicted weakening far off Mexico’s Pacific coast where it posed no threat to land. The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds were about 105 mph (165 kph) Tuesday afternoon, after rising to 120 mph (195 kph) Tuesday morning. Weakening should continue and Amanda is likely to become a tropical storm by Thursday.

Tsunami Debris

Three years after the Japan tsunami, suspected bits of debris arrive on Washington shores. The disaster’s aftermath is still being felt in ways large and small, far and wide. On a beach in southern Washington, approximately 4,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean, debris that may be from the tsunami is washing ashore. Experts have yet to confirm the debris, which includes small fishing boats, foam blocks, and water bottles are all a direct result of the tsunami. However, many of the water bottles and assorted items of trash appear to have originated in Japan.

There are portions of the beach that look like a dump truck just emptied a huge pile of trash. Washington state has been keeping track of the debris that is confirmed to be from the tsunami. Items include boats, portions of docks, and volleyballs have all washed ashore over the past three years. Alaska, California, and Oregon have also been monitoring their coasts.

The most recent series of debris began to arrive on beaches on Friday. Authorities are investigating to see if the boats and other items can be identified. They will also be checked for invasive species. In addition to the mass destruction and thousands of deaths, the earthquake that caused the tsunami altered the spin of the planet, according to reports.

Wildlife

Shark Sanctuary Established in British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands recently became the third Caribbean territory to declare its waters a safe haven for sharks. The decision to establish a shark sanctuary bans shark fishing throughout the territory.

Five Alaska Wolf Pups Rescued by Firefighters

Firefighters rescued five wolf pups from an abandoned den as they battled the massive Funny River Fire in southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The pups had not been hurt by the blaze. Medics with the fire crew fed the fuzzy brown puppies glucose (sugar water) and plucked porcupine quills from their skin.

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Disease

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

From 23 May 2014 to 27 May 2014, 4 new districts reported 14 new clinical cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 5 deaths as follows: Boffa, 5 cases and 1 death; Telimele, 7 cases and 4 deaths; Boke, 1 case and 0 death; and Dubreka, 1 case and 1 death. Community and nosocomial transmission are still occurring in Gueckedou, Macenta, and Conakry.

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

On 25 May 2014, the National IHR Focal Point of Jordan reported to WHO an additional Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) case in Amman, Jordan.

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

On 26 May 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 3 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): The volcano produced a steam and ash plume during today that rose to estimated 20,000 ft (6 km) altitude and drifted east.

Dukono (Halmahera): Activity continues to be elevated at the volcano. An ash plume at estimated 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude extended 35 nautical miles to the west this morning.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The number of steam-gas and sometimes ash emissions has increased a bit to approx 8 per hour. No other significant changes occurred at the volcano.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): The new lava flow on the eastern flank of the Caliente dome continues to advance slowly and produce avalanches. Small explosions occurred, generating ash plumes up to 700 m high. Rainfalls caused a medium-sized lahar in the Nima I river yesterday at dawn.

Fuego (Guatemala): The lava flow has disappeared and explosive activity in turn increased. The observatory reported ash plumes up to 600 m high and drifting SW to 8 km distance. Shock waves accompanied the stronger explosions. Rainfalls triggered a lahar in the Las Lajas river canyon.

Reventador (Ecuador): Weak to moderate effusive and explosive activity continues at the volcano. Cloud cover prevents direct observations most of the time, but the seismic signal shows tremor and explosion signals. A thermal hot spot indicates that lava continues to build up at the summit lava dome.

Ubinas (Peru): Activity continues to show an overall decreasing trend. A small explosion occurred this morning at the volcano, producing a dark ash plume that rose several hundred meters.