Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.3 earthquake hits south of Panama.

5.1 earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 earthquake hits El Salvador.

5.0 earthquake hits the central east Pacific rise.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Cuba – A tornado on 27 January 2019 was registered as an EF4 with a speed of winds that reached 300 km/h, higher than a category four hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Four people are reported dead and a total of 195 injured.1,238 homes affected, of which 123 are total landslides and 224 completely lost the roof. Eleven health institutions, 46 schools with different levels of damage and 21 day care centers have been affected. 220,000 people remain affected in the electric service.

Midwest USA – A life-threatening deep freeze gripped the American Midwest on Wednesday as weather colder than Antarctica grounded flights, disrupted travel and brought life to a standstill for tens of millions. Mail deliveries were suspended, schools and business closed, and residents encouraged to stay home in nearly a dozen states where temperatures overnight sank into the negative double digits, the worst cold to grip the region in a generation with all-time records still under threat. America’s third city Chicago, where the morning temperature was -22 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 Celsius), which felt like -50 degrees (-46 Celsius) with wind chill, was colder than Alaska’s state capital and even colder than parts of Antarctica.

Saudi Arabia – At least 12 people have been killed as heavy rain wreaked havoc in Saudi Arabia this week, according to the kingdom’s civil defense authority. The heavy downpours hit mainly the western and northwestern parts of the country close to the border with Jordan. Ten people died in the northwestern city of Tabuk and one each in the holy city of Medina and the northern border areas.

Indonesia – A series of floods struck four areas in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Tuesday evening. “The floods were caused by an overflow of the Bukit Gading Raya Boulevard River Some areas were inundated with floodwater as high as 40 centimeters.

Australia – A Queensland driver has caught the wild moment a 3.5m crocodile walked in front of his car after unprecedented flooding in the north of the state near Cairns.

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Global Warming

Scientists Have Detected an Enormous Cavity Growing Beneath Antarctica

Antarctica is not in a good place. In the space of only decades, the continent has lost trillions of tonnes of ice at alarming rates we can’t keep up with, even in places we once thought were safe.

Now, a stunning new void has been revealed amidst this massive vanishing act, and it’s a big one: a gigantic cavity growing under West Antarctica that scientists say covers two-thirds the footprint of Manhattan and stands almost 300 metres (984 ft) tall.

This huge opening at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier – a mass infamously dubbed the “most dangerous glacier in the world” – is so big it represents an overt chunk of the estimated 252 billion tonnes of ice Antarctica loses every year.

Researchers say the cavity would once have been large enough to hold some 14 billion tonnes of ice. Even more disturbing, the researchers say it lost most of this ice volume over the last three years alone.

The Thwaites Glacier actually holds in neighbouring glaciers and ice masses further inland. If its buttressing force disappeared, the consequences could be unthinkable, which is why it’s considered such a pivotal natural structure in the Antarctic landscape.

Wildlife

Sonar Can Literally Scare Whales to Death, Study Finds

Naval sonar has been linked to mass strandings of otherwise-healthy whales for nearly two decades, but the precise mechanisms of how it affects whales has eluded scientists. Now, researchers have explained key details of how this disruptive signal triggers behavior in some whales that ends in death.

Previously, necropsies of beaked whales from multiple stranding incidents found nitrogen bubbles in their body tissues, a hallmark of decompression sickness, or “the bends.” This dangerous condition also affects scuba divers when they rise too rapidly from deep water; it can cause pain, paralysis and even death.

Whales are adapted for deep-sea diving, and beaked whales are the record-holders for the longest and deepest dives. But the new research explains how sonar in certain frequencies disorients and terrifies some beaked whales so much that the experience overrides an important adaptation for deep diving: a slower heartbeat. Extreme fear accelerates a whale’s heart rate, which can lead to decompression sickness; the intense pain of this condition incapacitates the whales, so they strand on beaches and eventually die.

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Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.5 earthquake hits southern Peru.

5.4 earthquake hits Veracruz, Mexico.

5.3 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 earthquake hits Papua, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Queensland – Update – Hundreds of people remain cut off after a deluge pushed far north Queensland’s Daintree River to a record level. Ferry infrastructure was severely damaged and authorities say the crossing could be out for two days. Almost 500mm of rain fell on the river in 24 hours – 300mm of that in just six hours. Residents have been forced to flee to higher ground in far north Queensland after flood waters submerged homes and swept away sheds. Houses were inundated by more than a metre of water after 300mm of rain fell in four hours at Bluewater, near Townsville. A major flood warning remains in force for the Haughton, Ross, Bohle and Black Rivers. The weather bureau has re-issued a flood watch for numerous catchments north of Townsville.

Philippines – Update – A total of 500 families or 2,074 individuals are still staying in 13 evacuation centers in the municipalities Sta. Josefa, Veruela and Trento after having been forced from their homes by flash floods. Social welfare personnel was mobilized to assist the victims of the flash floods that struck the three towns over the weekend.

Global Warming

Climate change is reshaping how heat moves around globe

The Earth’s atmosphere and oceans play important roles in moving heat from one part of the world to another, and new research is illuminating how those patterns are changing in the face of climate change.

The greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide aren’t the only issues to consider as the planet grows warmer – they are just one part of the equation. The way that the atmosphere and oceans move heat around is changing, too, and this could have significant effects on temperatures around the world.

Without heat transfer, the world’s hottest spots would be sizzling and the coolest spots would be even more frigid. Conditions in both hot and cold climates are affected by the movement of heat from the equator toward the poles in the atmosphere and oceans.

The study concludes that warming temperatures are driving increased heat transfer in the atmosphere, which is compensated by a reduced heat transfer in the ocean. Additionally, the excess oceanic heat is trapped in the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic.

For now, that heat is not re-entering the atmosphere, but at some point it may. If that were to happen, changes in heat transfer could contribute to significant shifts in normal temperatures worldwide. For instance, if we didn’t have heat transfer, Ohio would be 20 or 30 degrees colder than we are right now.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Tasmania

More than 520 firefighters are working across Tasmania as more than 40 bushfires continue to burn. At least 3 houses have been lost, communities are under threat and rare plants in the World Heritage Area have been burnt and others are under threat. Some firefighters have been battling the blazes since before Christmas.

Disease

Classical Swine Fever – Japan

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (MAFF) reported the seventh Classical swine fever outbreak since September 2018. The outbreak was confirmed on a pig farm in Kakamigahara City, Gifu Prefecture. The farm has 127 breeding pigs and 1,535 fattening pigs.

Dengue Fever – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka health officials are reporting 4,825 dengue fever cases through the first four weeks of 2019, according to the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health. At least two dengue-related fatalities have been reported.

Chikungunya – Thailand

The chikungunya outbreak that began last year in southern Thailand continues into the first month of 2019 as country health officials report more than 1,000 cases through Jan. 28. According to the Bureau of Epidemiology, a total of 1075 cases were reported from 14 provinces during the first four weeks. No deaths have been reported.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Riley), located approximately 475 nm west-northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking west-southwestward at 11 knots.

NewsBytes:

Argentina; Summary – In early 2019, heavy rain caused flooding in the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos. At the national level, 4 people have died, more than a third of the impacted provinces’ population had to be evacuated and 30,041 people are reported to have been affected by the rainfall that began in the early morning hours of 8 January 2019 and lasted through 18 January 2019. On 23 January 2019, the Argentine government declared a hydro-meteorological emergency for the province of Chaco.

Environment

Iran’s Capital City Is Being Devoured by Sinkholes

Sinkholes and fissures are opening up the earth around Tehran, Iran’s capital city. And they threaten people’s homes and the local infrastructure.

The ground is cracking open, thanks to a water crisis that has deepened as Tehran’s population has ballooned. The region is in the midst of a three-decade-long drought and ongoing desertification. The problem has been compounded as the city’s population has grown to close to 8.5 million.

Water pumped from underground aquifers has gotten saltier every year as the city has increasingly relied on these underground water sources as opposed to rainwater. At the same time, a great deal of the dwindling water supply gets diverted to thirsty and inefficient agriculture.

As a result, land in the area is physically slumping in on itself. The ground around Tehran, sitting 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level, has subsided an average of 8.6 inches (22 centimeters) per year based on satellite measurements.

All that subsidence has cracked buildings and water pipes, opened holes in the drying earth, and caused miles-long fissures. Residents fear their buildings collapsing, Nature reported. The airport, oil refinery, highways and railroads in the area are all threatened.

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Disease

Measles – Madagascar

In a follow-up on the measles outbreak in Madagascar, the outbreak case count has risen to 28,747 since early October. The vast majority of the outbreak cases have been reported in children. Of this total, 80 fatalities have been reported.

Yellow Fever – Brazil

Twelve confirmed human yellow fever cases have been reported in São Paulo State, including six fatalities, according to the PAHO. Cases have been reported in the municipalities of Eldorado (9 cases) and one each in Jacupiranga, Iporanga, and Cananeia in the southern part of the state.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Riley), located approximately 345 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking west-southwestward at 11 knots.

NewsBytes:

Brazil – Update – Aerial view of destroyed facilities after the collapse of a dam, near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil, on January 25 2019. A dam collapse unleashed a torrent of mud on a riverside town and surrounding farmland, killing 37 people, destroying houses and leaving 250 people missing. Firefighters on Sunday called for the evacuation of about 24,000 people from the Brazilian town as continuing rains added to concerns a second dam could collapse.

Unnamed

Philippines – Nearly 20,000 individuals fled their homes in the Davao Region as the trough or extension of a low pressure area triggered floods and landslides. At least one person reportedly died in the floods. A total of 58 barangays across the Davao Region implemented forced evacuation for around 4,116 families.

Australia – Update – Communities were cut off, farmers stranded and cows washed offshore as heavy rain pelted north-east Australia on Sunday (Jan 27), with one major river breaking 118-year-old floodwater records. The Bureau of Meteorology said Queensland’s Daintree River rose to 12.6m – a level not seen in over a century – and local authorities warned that some residents in remote areas could be cut off for days. The heritage listed Daintree Rainforest received more than 300mm of rain in just 24 hours and Northern Queensland is bracing for monsoonal conditions for the rest of the week.