Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits Leyte in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Pagan region in the North Mariana Islands.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical cyclone 05s (Dineo) has dissipated as it moved in over Mozambique and eastern South Africa, although heavy rains and winds associated with its remnants remain hazardous.

The storm has killed seven people in Mozambique and already displaced 130,000 people and 20,000 houses, as well as clinics and schools, have been destroyed. It’s now made landfall in South Africa, in parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Newsbytes:

Israel – Winter storm buffets Israel with freezing rain, floods. Snow falls on Golan but not expected to reach Jerusalem, where temperatures forecast to hover above freezing. Flood warnings were issued for the Judean Desert and Dead Sea regions, and Israeli rescue units have warned citizens against approaching rivers in those areas either by car or foot. The Sea of Galilee rose one centimetre on Wednesday.

British Columbia, Canada – High temperatures in Prince George broke a weather record more than 100 years old this week, flooding homes and streets as ice from a recent deep freeze clogged up storm drains.

Saudi Arabia – Saudi authorities have reported the death of one person on Wednesday and the rescue of hundreds of others after severe flooding in Saudi Arabia’s Asir region. Flooding in the region caused road closures and the launch of warning sirens in Abha dam area.

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Wildlife

Polar Bears – Good News

Polar bear populations are growing despite global warming, according to new research.

The new population estimates from the 2016 Scientific Working Group are somewhere between 22,633 to 32,257 bears, which is a net increase from the 2015 number of 22,000 to 31,000. The current population numbers are a sharp increase from 2005’s, which stated only 20,000 to 25,000 bears remained — those numbers were a major increase from estimates that only 8,000 to 10,000 bears remained in the late 1960s.

Until the new study, bear subpopulations in the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin (KB) were thought to be in decline due to over-hunting and global warming. The new report indicates this is not the case.

Scientists are increasingly realizing that polar bears are much more resilient to changing levels of sea ice than environmentalists previously believed, and numerous healthy populations are thriving.

Winged Extinction

The buzzing wings of crickets and grasshoppers could fall silent across the European landscape if action isn’t taken to protect the insects’ habitats, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The grassland inhabitants are an important food source for birds and reptiles, but more than a quarter of their species have been driven to extinction in recent decades. The disappearance has mainly been due to loss of habitat to wildfires, intensive agriculture and tourism development, according to the conservation group.

Monarch Losses

The number of monarch butterflies has dropped by 27 percent during recent months at the insects’ winter home in western Mexico. The plunge followed last year’s apparent recovery from the historically low numbers two years ago. Experts at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán state say some of the decline could be due to storms late last winter that felled more than 100 acres of forests where the colourful butterflies winter. The monarchs also suffered a high level of mortality due to the same cold, wet and windy storms.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 117.0 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius) in Walgett, New South Wales, Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 62.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 52.2 degrees Celsius) at the Vostok, 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.

Global Warming

NASA Satellite Spots Mile-Long Iceberg Breaking Off of Antarctic Glacier

A massive, 1-mile-long (1.6 kilometers) chunk of ice has broken off Antarctica’s fast-changing Pine Island Glacier, and NASA satellites captured the dramatic event as the icy surface cracked and ripped apart.

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Pine island glacier

Disease

Chikungunya Outbreak in the Philippines

Health officials M’lang, North Cotabato on the southern island of Mindanao have declared a chikungunya outbreak after some 50 people contracted the mosquito borne viral disease in the past week.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in Vietnam

After reporting about 50,000 hand, foot and mouth disease cases in 2016, Vietnamese health officials with the General Department of Preventive Medicine are warning the public to take protective measures as more than 2100 cases have been seen in 57 localities so far in 2017.

More Bird Flu Cases in China

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (February 16) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission that 61 additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9), including seven deaths, were recorded from February 6 to 12.

New Antibiotic Discovered

A new antibiotic, produced by bacteria found on a species of African ant, found in Kenya is very potent against antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ like MRSA according to scientists. Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the John Innes Centre (JIC) discovered a new member of the Streptomyces bacteria family, isolated from the African fungus-growing plant-ant Tetraponera penzigi.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 8 February-14 February 2017

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that during 8-12 and 14 February cloud cover prevented satellite views of Bogoslof; no other data indicated eruptive activity. At 0724 on 13 February seismicity significantly increased, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Colour Code (ACC) to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Warning. Satellite images acquired through 0930 showed no ash emissions above the 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. cloud deck, and no lightning was detected. AVO concluded that, despite the intensity of seismic activity, a significant ash emission was not produced during this event; the ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch.

Colima | Mexico : The Universidad de Colima reported that a large explosion at Colima was recorded at 1732 on 3 February, generating an ash plume that rose 6 km above the crater rim and drifted SSW. A small pyroclastic flow traveled down the E flank. The report stated that the internal crater is about 250 m in diameter and 50-60 m deep; previous lava domes had been destroyed in late September and mid-November 2016. On 9 February the sulphur dioxide gas flux was low (19 tons/day). Based on webcam and satellite images, the Washington VAAC reported that on 11 February an ash plume rose to an altitude of 4 km (13,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W. On 14 February an ash plume rose to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 8-14 February ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S, SE, and E

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : On 10 February KVERT reported that activity at Ebeko had declined, though gas-and-steam emissions continued. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Yellow (the second lowest level on a four-colour scale).

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 8-14 February 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. All surface flows were active within 2.4 km of Pu’u ‘O’o. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna. A portion of the sea cliff just W of the ocean entry collapsed on 11 February.