Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 Earthquake hits Java, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Chiapas, Mexico.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Tarapaca, Chile.


Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.


Japan – A snowstorm has claimed the life of one person in Obihiro city in Hokkaido, Japan. On Tuesday, at least 19 people were injured in traffic accidents in Hokkaido caused by low visibility amid the heavy snowfall. Hokkaido is expected to brace for its worst blizzard in years on Tuesday, and airlines and railways halted some operations.

Sumatra – Heavy rains since Friday (05/02) have caused severe landslides and flooding in several parts of West Sumatra, killing seven and forcing thousands to flee while also destroying key local infrastructure. The worst affected districts are Agam, South Solok, Lima Puluh Kota and Solok. On Monday, floods in various parts of the province reached up to one-and-a-half meters deep. At least 2,000 homes and 100 hectares of paddy fields in South Solok as well as 100 houses in Nagari Pangkalan subdistrict of Lima Puluh Kota were hit by the floods. In the latter subdistrict, one man was carried away by strong currents only to be found dead later on.

Peru – The authorities in Peru are sending the military to help areas affected by floods that have afflicted several parts of the country. Scientists blame El Niño, the warm ocean current, for the heavy rains that turned roads into rivers in Arequipa, setting cars adrift in the torrent. The southern province has been particularly badly hit; at least two people were reportedly killed. Local media reported that 3,000 people in the area had been left homeless, with 30,000 affected. The Andean nation has struggled for over a week to cope with violent weather that has also caused landslides and power cuts.

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Lions Poisoned in Kruger National Park

Two lions and over 100 vultures in the Kruger National Park died after eating the poisoned carcass of an elephant, officials said Wednesday, suggesting a new poaching trend in the heavily-guarded reserve.

“It seems poachers have resorted to wildlife poisoning in the national parks and other protected areas in Southern Africa,” Glenn Phillips, the park’s managing executive, said in a statement.

It was unclear when the poisoning occurred, but the animals’ carcasses were discovered by rangers at the weekend.

Initial investigations showed the elephant was shot in the head, its tusks removed and its carcass laced with poison. Two lions, 110 white-back vultures and two jackals then died after feeding on the poisoned carcass.

In Zimbabwe, more than 370 elephants have died after being poisoned over the past two years, with the deaths blamed on poachers.

Last year, an elephant, four African lions and 46 vultures also died from poisoning in the Kruger National Park.

The park, which is faced with a poaching crisis targeting rhino, is one of the most heavily-protected in the country.

Rangers are equipped with infra-red binoculars to try and catch poachers who normally operate at night.

Global Warming

How Much Ice Can Antarctica Afford to Lose?

Over the past 20 years, ice shelves in Antarctica that normally support the rest of the continent’s glaciers have been shrinking, and some have disappeared entirely. How much more ice can disintegrate before Antarctic glaciers start freely tumbling into the ocean?

A recent study led by researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, in Germany, has mapped out which Antarctic ice shelves are buttressing the most ice and which are more “passive” and thus can stand to lose a large area without any immediate effect on the rest of the ice shelf.

Ice shelves are slabs of ice several hundred meters thick that extend from the edges of the mainland and float on the surface of the sea. They are firmly linked to glaciers and ice streams in mainland Antarctica, which slowly push the floating ice farther seaward, according to the researchers. When the seaward fronts of these ice shelves break off, they form new icebergs and the loss of ice is naturally replenished by the glacier ice from the mainland flowing in.

Some of the ice shelves, however, also push back on the glaciers, providing resistance and reducing the speed at which the glaciers flow into the ocean, said lead study author Johannes Fürst, a research assistant at the Institute of Geography at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität.

“Ice shelves restrain the outflow from upstream like a plug in a bathtub,” Fürst told Live Science. “If you take the plug out, the water runs out, except this is frozen water and if you take out the ice shelves its flow will accelerate out into the ocean and eventually raise sea levels.”

In 1995, Antarctica’s Larsen A ice shelf collapsed, removing ice cover from an area equivalent to the size of Berlin, according to Fürst. Seven years later, the much larger Larsen B ice shelf also broke apart. While the disintegration of the two shelves did not have an immediate effect on sea levels, the ice loss resulted in upstream glaciers accelerating by up to eight times their normal flow, according to the researchers.

Overall, the researchers found that 13 percent of the continent’s ice shelf area can be classified as passive — an area about twice the size of Spain. This includes the Larsen C ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, which the researchers found is almost entirely a passive ice shelf.

Ice shelves in the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas, however, are the most susceptible to further ice loss, according to the research findings. They are made up of 7 percent and 5 percent passive ice, respectively, the researchers found.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

The only wild jaguar known to be living in the United States was captured by remote sensor cameras outside of Tuscon, AZ. Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity have been monitoring the Santa Rita Mountains for the endangered animal.

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Zika virus infection – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

On 25 February 2016, the National IHR Focal Point of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines notified PAHO/WHO of the country’s first case of Zika virus infection.

Syphilis Outbreak in Las Vegas, USA

Nevada is experiencing the highest rate of syphilis in the Western U.S. following an outbreak in Las Vegas.

It’s part of a national spike in cases tied to increased testing, a rise in anonymous sex via social media and less consistent use of condoms, health officials say.

Clark County health officials declared an outbreak in Las Vegas last week after noting a 128 percent increase in reported syphilis cases since 2012 — with 615 of the 694 cases involving men diagnosed last year. This makes Nevada’s rate of syphilis the highest in the Western U.S.

There has been an uptick in other parts of Nevada, too, but that could be tied to a population increase, the state health department said. Meanwhile, youth in the state are having sex at younger ages and using condoms inconsistently or improperly.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): After a period of relative calm since last October, a new phase of strombolian activity occurred this morning at the volcano.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The activity of the volcano seems to have picked up. Sinabung increases its activity after the big pyroclastic flow on 26 Feb which burned the remaining houses left from the previous damaged village (Simacem)…- this and the occurrence of highly hybrid tremors means there is deformation of the lava dome that grows continuously and increases the intensity of rock falls followed by pyroclastic flows.

Fuego (Guatemala): The activity of the volcano continued to increase into its 4th paroxysm (called “eruption” by local press) of 2016. Lava effusion rate increased gradually and continued to feed the lava flow on the eastern side into the Las Lajas ravine, where it reached approx 600 m length yesterday and started to produce small pyroclastic flows (by collapse of parts of the flow on the steep slope).

Pulsating lava fountains at the summit vents generated an steam and ash plume that rose 2-3 km above the volcano, reaching altitudes of 17-20,000 ft(5.2 – 6 km). The plume drifted southwest for up to 20 km before dissipating. Constant moderate to strong rumblings can be heard and felt in nearby areas.

Telica (Nicaragua): (1 Mar) A new eruption seems to be underway at the volcano. Bright glow has become visible from the crater since around midnight (local time). This probably indicates that a new eruptive fissure is opening up there, possibly erupting lava onto the crater floor.

Momotombo (Nicaragua): Two moderately strong explosions occurred during the past 24 hours at the volcano, covering the upper slopes of the cone with fresh lava bombs and producing ash plumes that rose approx 2 km. This followed a period of calmer activity that had lasted a few days.

Erta Ale (Danakil depression, Ethiopia): The level of the active lava lake in the volcano’s southern pit crater of the summit caldera has sunk a bit again after its last overflow in mid January, but remains highly agitated. Erta Ale is going down again to 5-7 Meters from the rim of the caldera, but the activity is getting very wild at this time and it was very hard to walk on the the recently crusted flow. The last flow went in every direction from the crater and covered the whole rim with fresh crust of gaseous basaltic pahoehoe lava.”