Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Mendoza, Argentina.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Bali Sea.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

Peru – At least 14 people have died and some 30,000 people have been affected by heavy flooding throughout Peru, the government and Operation Centre for National Emergencies (Indeci) reported on Wednesday, as a state of emergency was declared in the capital, Lima. Rain triggered floods which destroyed a bridge and blocked the Central Highway in Lima, the main route connecting the capital with the centre of the country. The intense rainfall caused the Huaycoloro River to overflow and burst its banks. This river empties into the Rimac River but the flooding spread water through the streets of Lima until it flooded the Ramiro Priale highway, causing road closures and traffic chaos. The river crosses the Lima neighbourhood San Juan de Lurigancho, where at least 18 people have been injured. Rains are expected to continue, bringing more overflowing rivers and more mudslides.

South Africa – Days of heavy rain have left parts of South Africa under water. The flooding has been at its worst across northeastern parts of the country, where one person is feared dead. The seasonal showers have been particularly heavy during the past week, many parts getting daily rainfall totals of around 50 to 70mm of rain. Located to the east of Johannesburg, Witbank and Lydenburg had 60mm and 65mm of rainfall respectively in just 24 hours at the start of the week. The subsequent floods left the main highway into Johannesburg impassable after the Mbembesi River burst its banks.

Wildlife

Whale found dying off coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach

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Scientists in Norway found more than 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste inside the stomach of a whale stranded off the coast. Wardens had put the whale down after realising it wasn’t going to live, and had clearly consumed a large amount of non-biodegradable waste.

Despite the huge volume of plastic clogging up the whale’s stomach, the fact it died from ingesting the waste was “not surprising”, said researchers, as the volume of plastic in our seas continues to grow.

The Cuvier’s beaked whale was found stranded in shallow waters off the island of Sotra, and was in such poor condition the wardens decided to put it down. The creature had very little blubber and was emaciated, suggesting the plastic had lead it to become malnourished.

Dr Terje Lislevand, a zoologist who studied the whale, said: “The whale’s stomach was full of plastic bags and packaging with labels in Danish and English.” He also said the intestines were probably blocked up with plastic, causing severe pain.

Mexico’s vaquita porpoise close to extinction, 30 left

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Mexico’s vaquita marina is edging closer to extinction as scientists warned Wednesday that only 30 were left despite navy efforts to intercept illegal fishing nets killing the world’s smallest porpoise. At the current rate of loss, the vaquita will likely decline to extinction by 2022, unless the current gillnet ban is maintained and effectively enforced.

An analysis of acoustic data from the upper Gulf of California in northwestern Mexico found that, as of November, only about 30 vaquitas likely remained in their habitat, the report said.

A previous census between September and December 2015 had found around 60 vaquitas. There were 200 of them in 2012 and 100 in 2014.

Authorities say the vaquitas have been dying for years in gillnets that are meant to illegally catch another endangered specie, a large fish called the totoaba. Smugglers ship the totoaba’s dried swim bladder to China, where it fetches tens of thousands of dollars and is eaten in soup.

Known as the “panda of the sea” because of the dark rings around its eyes, the 1.5-meter (five-foot) cetacean has rarely been seen alive.

In a possibly last-ditch effort to save the vaquita, scientists plan, after getting government approval, to capture specimens and put them in an enclosure in the Gulf of California where they can reproduce.

Shark Fin Fast

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Indonesia cautions that there is an urgent need for shark fin soup enthusiasts to refrain from serving or eating the dish as some of the shark species in the archipelago are nearing extinction.

WWF says about 110,000 tons of shark fins are taken from Indonesian waters each year, leading to the sharp decline in shark populations.

“Indonesia largely depends on fisheries, so this is about food security too — if all the sharks are gone, we would have to start eating plankton soup,” said WWF leader Imam Musthofa Zainudin.

Global Warming

Human Heaters

People have been found to be the cause of a noticeable warmup of big cities during the workweek as commuters flock into the urban landscape from the suburbs.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia, found that the heat generated by human bodies, cars and public transport vehicles, along with the operation of office buildings, causes a slow warmup from Monday through Friday.

The effect is broken and temperatures drop over the weekend as most people stay home and activity in the central business districts is relatively calm.

The pattern was observed in the Australian state capitals of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“Nothing in nature occurs on a weekly cycle, so it must be due to human activity,” said researcher Nick Earl.

Fish migrating to unusual regions due to global warming

Sightings of fish outside their usual regions could be a sign of marine species shifting in response to climate change, an Australian study has found.

The study, lead by Hannah Fogarty from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and the University of Tasmania (UTAS), revealed that initial reports of fish in unaccustomed waters are often a sign of impending species-wide change.

Fogarty compiled a list of verified first sightings from around the world and compared it with long-term data on warming oceans and found a correlation between the early stages of a species range shift and climate change.

“Climate change is leading to global changes in species distribution patterns and the reshuffling of biodiversity is already well underway,” Fogarty said in a UTAS media release on Friday, February 3.

“In Australia, for example, a Lemonpeel Angelfish was found off Lord Howe Island, more than 1,000 kilometres south of its usual coral reef habitat. Tropical and sub-tropical fish such as this are increasingly being found in temperate waters, with species such as wrasse, parrotfish, flounder, and eels well-represented in global reports of unusual sightings.””

“New marine species arriving in an area may become pests, modify the local ecosystem, or represent challenges or opportunities for fisheries and recreation.”

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 112.0 degrees Fahrenheit (44.4 degrees Celsius) in Moomba, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 63.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 52.8 degrees Celsius) at Seymchan, Siberia.

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.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Oklahoma, USA

Crews are battling two wildfires in rural eastern Oklahoma that have burned more than 10 square miles combined.

Oklahoma Forestry Services fire management chief Mark Goeller said the first fire in Haskell County was about 50 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon, but might continue to burn for another two days. Goeller said no homes or other structures were immediately threatened.

A second fire was burning about 5 miles northwest of Wilburton in Latimer County, but Goeller said officials haven’t determined how much of it has been contained.

Both counties are located in part of the state experiencing the worst drought conditions.

Wildfires – Australia

A large bushfire that forced the evacuation of residents from their homes at Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast this afternoon has been brought under control. Residents who had evacuated their homes have been allowed to return home.

Disease

‘Diarrhoea’ outbreak in Sudan is cholera

All reports and symptoms of an outbreak of deadly and acute watery diarrhoea in eastern Sudanese states point to the spread of cholera, according to a Sudanese epidemiology specialist based in the United Kingdom.

The so-called widespread acute watery diarrhoea in El Gedaref and Red Sea is in fact cholera, UK-based epidemiology and infectious diseases specialist Dr Ezzeldin Gamar told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday.

The disease has continued to claim lives over the past five months: there have been a number of deaths and the federal Health Ministry has acknowledged the spread of the “watery diarrhoea epidemic” in eastern Sudan and Khartoum. The Ministry reported that last week that 333 people were suffering from the deadly disease in El Gedaref, Red Sea, and Khartoum states, but did not announce clear measures to contain the disease.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 25 January-31 January 2017

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 25 January an ash plume from Bagana rose to an altitude of 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE.

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that no further emissions were detected at Bogoslof after an explosion at 0453 on 24 January; the Aviation Color Code (ACC) was lowered to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) was lowered to Watch the next day. An hour-long seismic increase began at 0134 on 25 January though no evidence of eruptive activity was evident. Based on lightning and seismic data an explosive event began at 0650 on 26 January, and another burst of seismicity was recorded at 0706. The ACC was raised to Red and the VAL was raised to Warning. An ice-rich cloud, first identified in satellite data at 0700, likely contained ash, and rose as high as 9.8 km (32,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE at lower altitudes, and NE at altitudes above about 6.1 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. The ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch later that day. Lightning and seismic data again indicated an explosive event at 0824 on 27 January, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Colour Code (ACC) to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Warning. An ice-rich cloud that likely contained ash rose to an altitude of 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E; seismicity related to ash emissions remained elevated for 48 minutes. The ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch later that day.

Several short bursts of seismic activity were detected at 0520 and 0608 on 30 January. An infrasound signal accompanied the first event indicating an explosion; an eruption cloud was identified in satellite data at 0530, rising to an altitude of 6.1 km (20,000 ft) a.s.l. later that day AVO noted that bursts of explosive activity continued and intensified; more than 10 short-duration explosions were detected in seismic, infrasound, and lightning data. The Aviation Colour Code (ACC) was raised to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) was raised to Warning. Ash plumes rose as high as 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 125 km SE. Trace amounts of ashfall and a sulphur odour were reported in Unalaska/Dutch Harbour (98 km E). By the next day the explosions had subsided or ended. Satellite images acquired on 31 January showed significant changes to the island. AVO stated that freshly erupted volcanic rock and ash had formed a barrier that separated the vent from the sea, suggesting that the change had resulted in the more ash-rich emissions occurring during 30-31 January.

Colima | Mexico : Based on webcam and satellite images, the Mexico City MWO, and model data, the Washington VAAC reported that during 25-29 January ash plumes from Colima rose to altitudes of 4.7-7 km (17,000-26,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE. Ash plumes were identified in satellite images at least 370 and 650 km NE of Colima on 25 and 27 January, respectively.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 25-26 and 29-31 January ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 1.5-2.4 km (5,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE, E, ESE, and SW.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that moderate gas-and-steam emissions possibly containing small amounts of ash may have continued at Ebeko during 20-27 January. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Fuego | Guatemala : Based on INSIVUMEH notices, CONRED reported that at 1345 on 25 January a Strombolian phase began at Fuego. Weak-to-moderate explosions generated ash plumes that rose 750 m above the crater rim and drifted 10 km W and SW. Lava fountains rose 200 m above the crater rim and fed lava flows that traveled 1 km SSW down the Ceniza drainage. Avalanches of material advanced more than 300 m down the Ceniza and Trinidad (S) drainages into vegetated areas. Ash fell on the SW and W flanks. The report also noted that a previous Strombolian phase had begun on 3 January.

INSIVUMEH reported that during 27-31 January explosions generated ash plumes that rose 500-900 m and drifted 5-10 km W, SW, S, and SE. Avalanches of material descended the Ceniza, Trinidad, and Santa Teresa (W) drainages.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 25-31 January HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise and fall, circulate, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook vent. Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater and from a vent high on the NE flank of the cone. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna. All surface flows were active within 2.4 km of Pu’u ‘O’o.

HVO noted that thermal images showed a high-temperature area about 5-10 m from the edge of the sea cliff, with hot cracks running parallel to the cliff around the entry point, suggesting sea cliff instability. HVO scientists did not observe significant delta development from ground vantage points on 29 January. A stream of lava continued to pour into the ocean from an opening in a lava tube about 20 m above the water.

Langila | New Britain (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 25-27 January ash plumes from Langila rose to altitudes of 1.8-3 km (6,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW and N.