Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Kai, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

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

Seismic Roundup: 2014

Twelve large earthquakes shook the globe in 2014, seven fewer than in 2013, according to a final tally of the year’s temblors by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The raw numbers: At 12 quakes, the past year tied with 2008 for the number of earthquakes with a magnitude of 7.0 or higher. Eleven of those 2014 quakes had magnitudes between 7.0 and 7.9, while the biggest quake of the year came in at magnitude 8.2. That shaker hit Iquique, Chile, on April 1, triggering a 7-foot-high (2.1 meters) tsunami.

However, the deadliest quake of 2014 was far smaller. On Aug. 3, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake hit Ludian Xian in the Chinese province of Yunnan. That quake killed 617 of the 664 people who died in earthquakes worldwide in 2014. Poorly constructed, unreinforced buildings were a major factor in the high fatality rate during the Yunnan quake.

The largest earthquake in the United States hit the Aleutian Islands of Alaska on June 23. It was recorded as a magnitude of 7.9, making it the second-biggest quake of the year globally. The quake generated a 6-inch-high (15 centimetres) tsunami nearby, but there was little damage in the remote, sparsely populated region.

On average, the USGS records 14,500 earthquakes a year of magnitude 2.5 or greater in the U.S. and magnitude 4.0 or greater internationally. Since 1900, about 18 quakes a year are magnitude 7.0 or higher, according to the agency.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Hurricane (tc) 05s (Bansi), located approximately 169 nm north of Port Louis, Mauritius, and is tracking northeastward at 04 knots. In less than 24 hours after it formed, Bansi strengthened from a minimal tropical storm into a major hurricane (Category 3).

NewsBytes:

Syria – A snowstorm in Syria has claimed the lives of at least 11 people this week, including 7 children.

Philippines – More than 5,000 families were evacuated from their homes due to floods in the Caraga area in Mindanao over the weekend.

Global Warming

Study: Global Warming ‘Pause’ Caused By Small Volcanic Eruptions

Small volcanic eruptions have helped cause a “pause” in global warming over the last 15 years, according to a recent study from scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

When volcanoes erupt, they emit tons of sulphur dioxide into the sky, which can have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. Scientists at Livermore labs now say that a series of small volcanic eruptions during the 21st century could explain up to one-third of the so-called pause in global warming.

Scientists have been struggling to explain why global temperatures have not risen in accordance with their climate models. Dozens of explanations have been put forward to explain why global temperatures have not been rising. Such theories include natural ocean cycles, declining sunspots and even Chinese coal plant emissions.

Satellite datasets now show that global temperatures have not significantly trended upwards for the past 18 years and three months. Surface temperature data shows a global warming pause of 10 to 15 years.

Some scientists and environmentalists, however, have argued that the Earth is still warming. They point to a recent determination by the Japan Meteorological Agency that 2014 was the warmest on record globally by 0.05 degrees Celsius.

“If we wish to accurately simulate recent climate change in models, we cannot neglect the ability of these smaller eruptions to reflect sunlight away from Earth,” according to the report.

Disease

Foot and Mouth Disease in Bunyala

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease has been reported in some parts of the Bunyala subcounty, Kenya. Livestock farmers in Bunyala have expressed fear of losing animals if steps are not taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

Legionnaires’ Disease: Hong Kong

Two additional cases have been reported in Hong Kong. Both cases had urine samples that tested positive for Legionella pneumophila.

Ebola Outbreak Will Continue For Some Time to Come

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Even though Ebola has been snuffed out of the news cycle these days, the epidemic continues to burn in West Africa. The world is, in fact, still facing the biggest Ebola epidemic ever, mainly concentrated in West Africa. To date, there have been more than 20,000 cases and 8,000 deaths in nine countries; that’s four times the combined total of every previous Ebola outbreak in history.

This epidemic has also outlasted every prior outbreak, leaving observers to wonder if and when the human-to-human chain of transmission will end.

Ebola will never, ever be eradicated. That’s not only because of the outrageous scale of the current epidemic, but because Ebola is a zoonotic disease meaning it lives in animals (most scientists think fruit bats) and only seldom makes the leap into the human population. This happens when unlucky brushes between species occur. Unless those animals are completely killed off (very unlikely), the virus can’t be wiped from the planet. We will always have to deal with Ebola.

But the hope is that we won’t always have to deal with Ebola at the current scale. To get a sense of the view from the ground, what challenges remain, and whether the end is in sight, the views of some of the leading Ebola doctors and researchers from around the world were canvassed.

They all emphasized that while we seem to have passed peak-Ebola, this epidemic is nowhere near over and getting near zero cases will require more than pouring dollars and doctors into the region — it’ll involve changing beliefs and behaviors in furthest corners of West Africa.

Ebola deaths 0

Wildfires

Wildfires – Chile

A total of 101 wildfires in different parts of Chile burned 14,158 hectares (34,958 acres) of woodland, brush and pastureland over the weekend while destroying 15 homes, officials said Monday.

Some of the fires had high resistance to control” and continued to blaze Monday while being fought by land and air. The most dangerous blazes were in the Maule region, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Santiago, particularly the one in the Canelillo Valdes sector that scorched some 12,150 hectares (30,000 acres), chiefly in reforested areas.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Fuego (Guatemala): During the past days, explosive activity has been relatively intense at the volcano. Strong strombolian-type explosions have been occurring at rates of 6-8 per hour, sometimes ejecting incandescent bombs to more than 1000 m above the crater and producing glowing avalanches. Some of these reached the vegetation and caused small fires. Ash plumes rose to 1-1.5 km above the crater and drifted 10-15 km to the west and southwest.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Tonga, Tonga Islands): The submarine eruption has apparently breached the surface. A steam and possibly ash plume was reported to have reached up to 30,000 ft (10 km) above sea level today and yesterday, New Zealand’s VAAC Wellington reported, based on pilots’ observations. According to local news, the domestic Real Tonga airline cancelled some flights in the area. Unconfirmed reports mention ash fall on Ha’apai Island. An Air New Zealand flight bound to Tonga was diverted to Samoa.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): Eruptive activity, strombolian explosions from the summit vent, has picked up during the past 1-2 days. A lava flow is now active on the southeastern flank and ash plumes have been reaching 28,000 ft (8.5 km) altitude. KVERT raised the volcano’s alert level to orange. Incandescent material from the explosive summit activity is ejected to several hundred meters above the crater. Relatively intense ash emissions have been causing ash fall in up to 30 km distance to the west of the volcano.