Environment

Melting Glaciers Will Reveal Cold-War-Era Nuclear Waste

Melting glaciers have revealed a number of surprises over the past few years, from Viking artifacts in Norway to World War I burials in the Italian Alps. And one day, if global warming continues its current course, Greenland’s retreating ice sheet could expose a more troubling relic of the past: a Cold War military base and whatever biological, chemical and radioactive waste is left inside, scientists say.

NASA’s Earth Observatory posted maps today (Jan. 31) that show the changes expected to take place near the site of Camp Century, a once-secret U.S. military base built in 1959 primarily to test the possibility of launching nuclear missiles from the Arctic to the Soviet Union.

The site was abandoned in 1967 and is now buried about 100 feet (30 meters) beneath a crust of snow and ice. But the maps, analyzed as part of a study published in August 2016 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, show that because of ice loss, Camp Century could become an environmental hazard by the end of this century.

These maps show the surface mass balance of ice, or the net change between the accumulation and ablation of ice and snow on a glacier’s surface. Ablation happens when ice thins due to evaporation, melting and wind. The dark red indicates areas where the ice surface is likely to drop by 10 feet (3 meters) or more per year.

Greenland camp century ice balance

Global Warming

Trump ‘will definitely pull US out of Paris climate change deal’

A former climate change adviser to Donald Trump has said the US President will pull America out of the landmark Paris agreement and an executive order on the issue could come within “days”. Myron Ebell, who took charge of Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team, said the President was determined to undo policies pushed by Barack Obama to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

He said the US would “clearly change its course on climate policy” under the new administration and claimed Mr Trump was “pretty clear that the problem or the crisis has been overblown and overstated”.

“He could do it by executive order tomorrow, or he could wait and do it as part of a larger package. There are multiple ways and I have no idea of the timing.”

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits the Southwest Indian ridge.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Drake Passage.

5.1 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits Guam.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

Floods2 630x393Philippines – Forced evacuation and rescue operations are ongoing in several areas in the Caraga region in Mindanao due to widespread floods caused by days of continuous rain from a low-pressure area. Waist-deep to above-roof-level floods hit several areas in the region as its river systems overflow. Floodwater has swamped a national highway in Agusan del Sur’s Rosario town. Residents in flooded towns of San Francisco and San Luis have been forced to use bamboo rafts as their means of transportation. Houses in some areas in the municipality of Lapaz have been submerged, especially those in Barangay Panagangan. Also, low-lying areas in Agusan del Norte’s Buenavista town are flooded.

Zimbabwe – At least 70 people have died in floods since October last year. More than 1038 rural homesteads have been damaged, 40 schools destroyed and hundreds of families rendered homeless. Floodwaters breached more than 67 small dams countrywide while numerous rivers burst their banks. The heavy rains have also had a detrimental affect on the chickpea crop which is rotting, while the maize crop is waterlogged.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Chile – Update

At least 11 people have died due to what Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has called the largest and most difficult wildfires in the country’s history.

A total of 127 fires were reported as of Sunday in an area of 396,089 hectares, and from those 63 are still burning, 50 have been controlled, and 14 have been put out, according to Chile’s National Forestry Corporation. This has forced the evacuation of at least 4,000 people, according to officials.

According to the government, 44 official aircrafts, including planes and helicopters, are being used in different regions of the country to fight the fires. Also, about 7,000 people are working on fire control, including members of the Armed Forces, firemen and volunteers, as well as people from local governments and private companies.

At least 2,970 people have been affected by the fires, 1,061 have seen their homes destroyed and 1,343 people are living in shelters. Authorities confirmed they had detained 30 people for suspicion of premeditated arson.

Disease

Romania – Huge Increase in Measles Cases

Romania saw 15 measles cases in 2015. Since 2016, this number has blown-up to 2,165, including 13 fatalities. This is largely due to bogus claims from anti-vaccination campaigns in the country.

Mercury in vaccines, vaccines introduce foreign elements and vaccines cause asthma are some of the arguments made by the anti-vaccination movement. This misinformation has resulted in vaccination rates in the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine falling from 95% of children in 2013 to 80% in 2016, and it continues to drop.

The Ministry of Health has been denouncing “the irresponsible campaigns against the vaccination of children” for months; however, there are many parents who do not vaccinate their children for lack of confidence towards the authorities.

Vanuatu dengue outbreak

The South Pacific Ocean nation island chain of Vanuatu has had an increase in dengue cases since November that exceeds the trends in recent years. The island country has reported 919 suspected and 142 confirmed dengue fever cases as of Jan. 23, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) Friday.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical cyclone 03s (Three), located approximately 321 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking northwestward at 03 knots.

Newsbytes:

Northern Territory, Australia – Three people are dead after being trapped inside a vehicle that was swept away in floodwaters in the Northern Territory after a crowded troop carrier with 20 people on board attempted to cross the Moyle River, around 14km from the remote Aboriginal community of Peppimenarti and approximately 320km south west of Darwin. The three people were trapped in the vehicle after it became submerged in water. Police divers located the bodies. The 17 survivors escaped from the vehicle and floodwaters and climbed to safety on the river banks.

Philippines – About 745 individuals or 215 families fled to safety for temporary shelters in Cagayan de Oro City as strong winds and heavy rains caused flooding in major areas in the city. The displaced families crowded the evacuation centers in barangays Bonbon, Iponan, Cugman, Puerto, Macansandig, Gusa and Camaman-an. Thousands were evacuated in Butuan City amid floods after the Agusan River overflowed due to heavy rains brought about by a low pressure area and the tail end of a cold front.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits eastern Sichuan, China.

5.3 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.3 Earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

5.2 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits Ethiopia.

5.1 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone 03s (Three), located approximately 130 nm north-northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking westward at 17 knots.

Newsbytes:

Iran – Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency is reporting that flash floods triggered by heavy rains have killed six people and damaged some 1,700 houses in the country’s southeast. Most of the houses were built of mud bricks. Six villages have been evacuated due to the floods in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-and-Baluchestan as rescue operations continue in the area.

Indonesia – Heavy rains have poured down on Central Sulawesi for the last two days causing flooding in several areas and claiming one life in Buol regency on Friday with many houses damaged. Ten districts and 48 villages are affected by floods in the regency.

Wildlife

Lions Killed for their Paws and Heads

Three lions have been killed for their paws and heads at a farm outside Polokwane, South Africa.

Officials say they are concerned about the rising killing of the animals in the province, with a total of 9 lions being found dead in the last few months in Tzaneen, Hoedspruit and Mara areas.

Police say a preliminary investigation suggests that the wild cats were poisoned.

Canned hunting – or officially “the hunting of captive bred lions” – remains legal in South Africa.

Recently, at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, a motion was adopted to terminate captive-bred hunting of lions and other predators, as well as breeding them in captivity for commercial, non-conservation purposes.

South Africa has shown little regard for this overwhelming response by the key global conservation leaders who voted 82% in favour of Motion 009.

Captive-bred predators fell through the “legislative cracks” in South Africa, and there was little doubt that the legalisation of trade in domestic lion body parts would grow the demand for wild lion bones.

2008x1130

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

2-Mile-Long Crack Opens in Arizona Desert

A gaping, 2-mile-long crack has opened in the barren earth in Arizona, and it will likely continue to grow, geologists say.

Recent footage from a flyover by an Arizona Geological Survey drone revealed the extent of the huge fissure in Pinal County, between Casa Grande and Tucson, showing the enormous gash splitting the barren land. The crack is so big that it dwarfs people walking along its edges.

The northern part of the fissure, which is older and partially filled in, is shallow, while the southern portion is tens of feet deep in some spots.

Water withdrawal, primarily for agriculture, is the culprit. As groundwater is pulled up, it leaves a void and the land above it subsides, leading to cracks. Arizona is full of these cracks. We see earth fissures forming around the margins of these subsidence areas and along mountain fronts within the subsidence areas.

Giant crack arizona depth

Disease

H5N8 avian influenza in Europe: 24 countries report bird flu since June

Since June 2016, at least 24 countries in the WHO European Region have reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) virus in wild birds and domestic poultry. At least 3 of these countries have reported outbreaks in the last 2 weeks. Outbreaks have also been reported in countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

This has prompted WHO to call for heightened vigilance and strengthened surveillance efforts to prevent and detect potential human cases of avian influenza as it continues to spread in birds across Europe.

This is the second time that this virus has caused outbreaks in Europe with the autumn migration of wild birds. The virus was first detected in birds in Asia in 2014, where it has continued to circulate. In June 2016 the virus was detected in waterbirds in the southern part of the Russian Federation, and by September 2016 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations had issued an alert for countries along the West Eurasian and Afro-Eurasian migration routes to watch for this virus.

Like other HPAI viruses, A(H5N8) can cause severe disease in birds, especially chickens. No human cases of avian influenza A(H5N8) have been reported to date. However, because similar influenza subtypes have caused human disease in the past, the possibility of transmission cannot be excluded.

Yellow Fever Spreading – Brazil

On 24 January 2017, Brazil’s International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Point (NFP) provided the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) with an update on the yellow fever situation. The geographical distribution of confirmed yellow fever human cases is expanding and includes, in addition to Minas Gerais State, the States of Espírito Santo and São Paulo. In addition, Bahia State reported 6 yellow fever human cases under investigation. The Brazil Health Ministry is now reporting suspected yellow fever cases in the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul as well.