Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 Earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

Quake Swarms Wreck Homes in Northern Indonesia

Hundreds of tremors as powerful as magnitude 4.9 jolted Indonesia’s North Maluku province during the latter half of November, prompting the evacuation of nearly 10,000 people.

The country’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency said that residents of 19 villages in the Jailolo subdistrict of West Halmahera were forced from their homes.

The Antara news agency reports the continuous tremors have caused serious damage to 237 houses with several hundred structures, including public facilities receiving at least some damage.

The seismic activity also created 1,600-foot cracks in the ground through the village of Galala.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

India – The death toll in the Chennai floods has risen to 300. Government is undertaking extensive relief efforts to assist flood victims.

Britain – Britain is back on storm alert with 80mph gales and torrential downpours threatening a weekend of weather mayhem – with up to a month’s worth of rain expected to fall over the next two days.

Wildlife

More Than 300 Whales Die On Southern Chile Coast

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An aerial scientific survey in southern Chile’s Patagonia found 337 dead whales in a remote fjord.

The discovery was made in June, but Chilean press broke the story before the scientists could present the conclusions of their site study.

The researchers say they don’t know exactly what caused one of the largest die-offs on record, but red tide, or algal blooms have caused fatalities in the past.

Those on the aircraft flying over the carcasses say they didn’t see any wounds, suggesting the marine mammals may have died from a virus or an algal bloom known as “red tide.”

Because of the amount of decay in the whale carcasses at the time they were discovered, it was impossible to determine what species they were.

But based on their size and location, it’s believed they were sei whales. The species numbers about 80,000 worldwide.

The coast of southern Chile became a graveyard for 337 whales that were found beached in what scientists say is one of the greatest whale strandings on record.

Habitat loss threat to world’s migratory birds

Habitat destruction along routes taken by the world’s migratory birds poses an increasing peril to these long-distance fliers, with a vast majority crossing terrain that nations are inadequately protecting, according to scientists.

The researchers said on Thursday they tracked the migratory routes, stopover locations, breeding grounds and wintering locations of 1,451 migratory species and assessed about 450,000 protected areas like national parks and other reserves.

They found 1,324 species, about 91 percent, journeyed through locales that were not safeguarded from threats like development.

“This is important because migratory species cover vast distances and rely on an intact series of habitats in which they can rest and feed on their long journeys,” said conservation scientist Richard Fuller of the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and the University of Queensland.

If even a single link in this chain of sites is lost for a species, it could lead to major declines or even its extinction. The birds traverse many different countries where conservation efforts vary.

The problem was most acute in North Africa, Central Asia and along the coasts of East Asia. Countries in these regions maintain relatively few protected areas, and existing ones do not overlap sufficiently with the routes of migratory birds.

For small birds, the opportunity to feed and build up energy reserves for the next leg of their journeys is essential for survival. Loss of these critical sites means they no longer have the energy needed to make the journeys, and they simply perish along the way.

The study called for creating new protected areas in key locations, improving management of existing protected areas and coordinating conservation actions across international borders.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 113.0 degrees Fahrenheit (45.0 degrees Celsius) at Curtin Air Force Base in Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 49.9 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45.5 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Siberian outpost of Oimyakon.

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

Newcastle Disease in Romania

Romania has reported an outbreak of Newcastle disease for the first time since 2007.

Over 500 birds died in a flock of laying hens in Bucov, Prahova. Another 1070 birds were destroyed to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

Romania’s report to the World Organisation for Animal health described the affected farm as ‘non-commercial, and said the birds were aged seven and a half months. They were vaccinated at 1 and 3 weeks old with a live attenuated vaccine, administered orally.

In addition to the stamping out operation, the country is enacting screening measures, tracing of the outbreak and movement controls.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): After gradually increasing the already mentioned strombolian activity from Voragine during the evening of 2 Dec, it escalated into a short, but very violent phase of lava fountaining (paroxysm), with high lava fountains and an eruption column several kilometres high. The climax of the paroxysm occurred between 03:20 and 04:10 local time, (local time = -1) or so, when a sustained lava fountains reached heights of over 1km; some jets of hot material reached the height of 3 km above the summit of the volcano. The strombolian activity in the Voragine crater that started about a month ago has today increased its intensity. While until yesterday the explosions were too small to reach the top of the crater rim, now they are large enough to be seen from the various Etna webcams. Due to poor visibility the glow from Voragine was incorrectly attributed to the New SE crater earlier. The New SE crater however did show some weak ash emissions this afternoon.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): Impressions of strombolian and vulcanian activity from Batu Tara volcano observed during our recent expedition from 23-26 Nov 2015.

Erta Ale (Ethiopia): During our recent volcano expedition to the Danakil depression, we have observed the active lava lake of Erta Ale – which had been at very high level just a few meters before overflowing – for three continuous days (19-21 November 2015). Upon our arrival on the morning of the 19th, the lava lake was only about 2-3 m below us. Our local guide explained that the lava lake had been very active in the past few weeks and risen so highly for the first time since its overflow in late 2010. Standing on the rim of the active vent within the large Erta Ale caldera, we observed a second terrace no more than 1 m below us. The fresh black pahoehoe lava of this level had been erupted and solidified a few days before.