Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.3 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the coast of western Turkey.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical Cyclone “Carlos” (04S) turned southwards over the south-west Indian Ocean. Its centre is located approximately 364 km south-west of La Reunion (France).

Newsbytes:

Afghanistan – The death toll from avalanches and freezing weather conditions across Afghanistan has risen to 191, officials said Friday, as rescue operations were underway in the worst-affected areas. Twenty-two provinces in Afghanistan have been blanketed by days of heavy snowfall, triggering avalanches, destroying buildings and leaving many trapped in their snowbound homes. The worst-hit province is northeastern Nuristan where at least 68 people have been killed. More than 300 people have been injured while more than 500 were rescued in various parts of the country.

Idaho, USA – Much of southern Idaho is in a state of flood warnings and advisories after heavy rain. A number of houses in Elmore Country were flooded due to a swollen creek. Many homeowners resorted to sandbagging their homes. Several raids in the area were closed or blocked by floodwaters.

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Wildlife

Massive Whale Standing in New Zealand

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Rescuers were engaged in a race against time on Friday to save the lives of a large group of whales, after more than 400 of the animals swam aground along a remote beach in New Zealand.

About 275 of the pilot whales were already dead when Cheree Morrison and two colleagues found them on Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island. Within hours, hundreds of farmers, tourists and teenagers engaged in a group effort to keep the surviving 140 or so whales alive in one of the worst whale strandings in the nation’s history.

Getting the large animals back out to sea proved to be a major challenge. As many as half of the 100 refloated whales managed to strand themselves again, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The adult and baby whale carcasses were strewn three or four deep in places for hundreds of yards, often rolled over on the sand with their tail fins still up in the air.

Morrison’s group alerted officials, and volunteers soon began arriving in wetsuits and carrying buckets. Dressed in her jeans and sandshoes, Morrison waded into the water and did what she could to try to maneuver the surviving whales upright so they could breathe more easily.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of whale strandings in the world, and Friday’s event is the nation’s third-biggest recorded stranding.

The largest was in 1918, when about 1,000 pilot whales came ashore on the Chatham Islands. In 1985 about 450 whales stranded in Auckland.

Endangered penguins hunting for fish in wrong place

Endangered penguins are hunting for fish in the wrong place because climate change has prompted sardines and other prey to move to another part of the ocean, researchers have discovered.

The plight of the African penguin – found in Namibia and South Africa – highlights the dangers to wildlife of the sudden rise in temperature caused by human-induced global warming.

For the penguins have learned to look for places with lower sea temperatures and large amounts of a type of chlorophyll. These are tell-tale signs of plankton and, in turn, the fish that feed on them.

These once sure-fire ways to find large shoals are now leading the penguins into an “ecological trap” that is pushing them closer to extinction.

And the situation has been made worse by industrial-scale fishing and a raft of other problems, mostly caused by humans.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are about 80,000 adult African penguins left. But oil slicks in 1994 and 2000 killed some 30,000 birds and the death toll “may increase” if planned harbour developments go ahead, the IUCN says.

In the new study, researchers from Exeter and Cape Town universities tagged 54 juvenile birds from eight different colonies to find out where they go to look for fish.

The areas they chose were once rich hunting grounds for sardines and anchovies.

But changes in water temperature and salt content have prompted the fish to move hundreds of kilometres away.

The problems in finding food have produced low survival rates among juvenile African penguins, previously known as jackass penguins.

It is thought breeding numbers are about 50 per cent lower than they would be if the birds were able to find enough to eat.

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Environment

Invading Armyworm

International agricultural experts say that hordes of crop-destroying armyworm caterpillars are spreading rapidly across Africa, and could invade tropical Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years.

Such an expansion could pose a major threat to agricultural trade worldwide, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International.

The fall armyworm pest, native to North and South America, can devastate maize crops by attacking young plants and burrowing into the cobs. It can also damage a variety of other crops such as rice, soybean, pasture grass and potato.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 116.0 degrees Fahrenheit (46.7 degrees Celsius) in Moomba, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 85.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 65.0 degrees Celsius) at the South Pole, Antarctica.

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.

Qatari Chill

The desert state of Qatar experienced its coldest temperature on record with the mercury dipping to just above freezing on the morning of Feb. 5.

The Abu Samra weather station, in the southwest of the country, recorded a minimum temperature of 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the old record of 38.8 degrees set in January 1964.

The country’s meteorological department blamed the chilling north winds on the same Siberian high pressure area that also brought a deep freeze to Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Disease

Hong Kong hepatitis A – update:

In a follow-up on the outbreak of hepatitis A cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-positive) in Hong Kong, The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) reports that retrospective investigations into previously reported cases further identified 11 hepatitis A cases among MSM from September 2015 to 2017 as of February 3, bringing the total to 24 cases affecting MSM aged from 22 to 51, with 20 who were known to be positive for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

China reports dozens of additional H7N9 bird flu cases

The National Health and Family Planning Commission in China announced that 45 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) were recorded from January 30 to February 5. The 31 male and 14 female patients aged from 27 to 83 had their onset from January 16 to February 1.

Chad – Hepatitis E Outbreak

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported Wednesday that hepatitis E outbreak is escalating across Am Timan, in the Salamat region of South-Eastern Chad and more help is needed.

MSF identified the first hepatitis E cases five months ago and has treated 885 patients with Acute Jaundice Symptoms (AJS), with numbers increasing to an average of around 60 new cases a week. AJS, which commonly causes the yellowing of the skin and eyes, can indicate if a person has hepatitis E. Since September, 70 patients have confirmed cases of hepatitis E (HEV RDT+), 64 have been hospitalized, and 11 have died, including four pregnant women.

Foot and Mouth Disease in South Korea

The South Korean government has placed the country on highest alert as a second strain of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed three days after a first outbreak was reported, officials said Thursday.

The A-type strain of foot-and-mouth disease was discovered at a Yeoncheon dairy farm, some 50 miles north of the capital Seoul, where at least 10 cows were found to have contracted the strain, according to food industry policy deputy minister Kim Kyeong-kyu.

After the O-type of the strain was detected southeast of the country, the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ministry raised the country’s alert status one level to the maximum. The ministry has since then issued a travel ban for all livestock in South Korea, while ordering tougher quarantine and sterilization protocols

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 1 February-7 February 2017

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that no further emissions were detected at Bogoslof after an explosion at 0520 on 31 January; the Aviation Color Code (ACC) was lowered to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) was lowered to Watch the next day. A burst of tremor lasting nine minutes was detected starting at 0457 on 3 February. A second burst, starting at 0533 and lasting 20 minutes, was also detected by infrasound instruments, indicating an explosion. No ash cloud was detected above the meteorological cloud deck in satellite data. An event that began at 1642 produced a small volcanic plume that drifted about 40 km N below an altitude of 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. Seismic tremor significantly decreased later that evening. Weakly elevated surface temperatures were observed in two satellite images acquired on 5 February, possibly related to hot deposits from explosive activity the day before.

Colima | Mexico : The Washington VAAC reported that on 1 February an ash emission was recorded by the webcam rising from Colima. Weather clouds prevented satellite observations of the event. Based on webcam and satellite images, the Mexico City MWO, and model data, the VAAC noted that during 3-6 February ash plumes rose to altitudes of 5.2-7.6 km (17,000-25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW, W, SW, and S.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 1-2 and 5-7 February ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted at least 130 km SE and E.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that moderate gas-and-steam emissions possibly containing small amounts of ash continued at Ebeko during 27 January-3 February. Minor ashfall was reported in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island) about 7 km E on 30 January. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale).

Fuego | Guatemala : In a special report from 2 February, INSIVUMEH noted increased activity at Fuego characterized by explosions occurring every 5-15 minutes. Ash plumes rose as high as 750 m and drifted 15 km W, causing ashfall in areas downwind including Sangre de Cristo and San Pedro Yepocapa. During 2-7 February explosions generated ash plumes that rose 0.4-1.1 km above the crater and drifted at most 12 km NW, W, SW, and S. Incandescent material was ejected 150 m high, and avalanches traveled down the Taniluyá (SW) and Ceniza (SSW) drainages. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Rochela, and Panimaché I and II (8 km SW). Shock waves from explosions rattled nearby structures.