Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.4 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.2 earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.1 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.1 earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.0 earthquake hits near the coast of Ecuador.

5.0 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 22s (Joaninha), is weakening and is located approximately 796 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking south-southwestward at 10 knots.

NewsBytes:

Cyclone Idai – Update

The following is an outline of the disaster, according to government and United Nations officials:

MOZAMBIQUE

Cyclone Idai landed on the night of 14 March near the port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains. Two major rivers, the Buzi and the Pungue, burst their banks, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the water.

People killed: 501

People injured: 1,523

Houses damaged or destroyed: 99,317

Crops damaged: 669,903 hectares

People affected: 1.85 million

ZIMBABWE

On 16 March, the storm hit eastern Zimbabwe, where it flattened homes and flooded communities in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

People killed: 185, according to the government. The UN migration agency puts the death toll at 259.

People injured: 200

People displaced: 16,000 households

People affected: 250,000

MALAWI

Before it arrived, the storm brought heavy rains and flooding to the lower Shire River districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, in Malawi’s south. The rains continued after the storm hit, compounding the misery of tens of thousands of people.

People killed: 60

People injured: 672

People displaced: 19,328 households

People affected: 868,895

Global Warming

Alaska bakes under heat wave linked to climate change

Alaska residents accustomed to subzero temperatures are experiencing a heat wave of sorts that is shattering records, with the thermometer jumping to more than 16.7 degrees Celsius above normal in some regions.

Cities and towns in the northern half of the state, including Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Kaktovik and Barrow (also known as Utqiagvik), could see temperatures soar 14 to 22 degrees Celsius above normal this weekend as the warm trend continues.

The dramatic warming Alaska has experienced in recent years — which is partly linked to a decline in sea ice and Arctic ocean warming – had wreaked havoc on local communities, wildlife and the economy.

Many recreational sled dog races have had to be canceled this year and the routing of the famed Iditarod race had to be changed as what is normally solid sea ice was open water on part of the race route.

Crab fishing has also been affected as the sea ice used as a platform for fishermen was non-existent or too thin in some areas.

Seal population is also likely to be affected in the coming months as some of the species give birth on solid ice.

The warmer temperatures have melted the rive ice to the extent it is no longer safe for truck or car travel.”

Global warming had led to the lowest ice levels in the Bering Sea — which connects with the Arctic Ocean – since 1850, when sea ice records began.

Wildlife

Australia’s Wildlife in Crisis

A new report, which reveals that record numbers of threatened forest dwelling fauna and many species are heading towards imminent extinction.

Released by the Wilderness Society this week, the report identified 48 federally-listed threatened species of forest-dwelling vertebrate fauna living in areas subject to state-run logging operations.

Four of those species – the leadbeater’s possum, swift parrot, western ringtail possum and regent honeyeater – are among the 20 bird and 20 mammal species most likely to become extinct within 20 years.

It also found that in the last 20 years, since the government allowed logging, 11 forest vertebrate species had been raised to “endangered” or “critically endangered” categories, bringing the total to 24, and none had been lowered. Another 15 species were listed as threatened for the first time.

The report called for an end to exemptions for logging operations from federal environmental laws, an overhaul of those laws, and the establishment of new assessment and regulatory bodies.

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Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.5 earthquake hits the mid-Indian ridge.

5.2 earthquake hits Greece.

5.2 earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

5.1 earthquake hits the Flores region, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 22s (Joaninha), located approximately 748 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking south-southeastward at 10 knots.

Drought – Philippines

Recent PAGASA’s climate monitoring and analyses indicate that the unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (CEEP) which started since November 2018 is expected to become a full-blown El Nino. During the past three months, rainfall analyses showed that impacts of below normal rainfall conditions in provinces of Western Mindanao and Ilocos Norte were already experienced and are expected to continue. Drought conditions are being reported in the MIMAROPA Region, Region IX, and Region XII, BARMM and Metro Manila, where ten provinces have declared a State of Calamity according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Wildlife

Diving lizard creates its own oxygen pockets

Lizards in Costa Rica may have evolved a technique to recycle their own air using bubbles that form on their heads as they hide from predators underwater. These lizards often dive into nearby water sources in response to threats and stay submerged until danger passes. The lizards manage to stay underwater for as long as 16 minutes. They exhale air bubbles that stick to the top of their heads before re-inhaling the air — essentially recycling it.

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Global Warming

State of the Climate in 2018 shows accelerating climate change impacts

The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization.

The WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2018, its 25th anniversary edition, highlights record sea level rise, as well as exceptionally high land and ocean temperatures over the past four years. This warming trend has lasted since the start of this century and is expected to continue.

“Since the Statement was first published, climate science has achieved an unprecedented degree of robustness, providing authoritative evidence of global temperature increase and associated features such as accelerating sea level rise, shrinking sea ice, glacier retreat and extreme events such as heat waves,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

These key climate change indicators are becoming more pronounced. Carbon dioxide levels, which were at 357.0 parts per million when the statement was first published in 1994, keep rising – to 405.5 parts per million in 2017. For 2018 and 2019, greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to increase further.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

A number of buildings have been damaged or destroyed by fire in central Victoria, with several grassfires burning west and south of Ballarat.

One fire had been threatening homes at Bunkers Hill, Cardigan, Haddon, Kopke, Lucas and Smythes Creek and a second larger fire earlier threatened properties at Mount Mercer, about 30 kilometres south of Ballarat.

Both fires have now been contained or brought under control and the crisis has eased.

Disease

Congolese don’t believe Ebola outbreak is real

A quarter of people interviewed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo last year during the ongoing Ebola outbreak there didn’t believe the deadly virus was real, according to a new study. The survey released Wednesday found that a deep mistrust of Ebola response workers resulted in those people being 15 times less likely to seek medical treatment at a health center.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 22s (Joaninha), located approximately 622 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

USA – Severe flooding in the Midwest is damaging fields, disrupting shipments and dealing a costly blow to growers and agribusinesses as a downturn in the farm economy stretches into a sixth year. Swollen rivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states after months of heavy snow and rain have swamped grain bins and washed away cattle. The deluge has impeded crop shipments for U.S. grain traders and inundated roads and rail lines that companies including Hormel Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. use to move meat. Meanwhile the White River in South Dakota is in flood and has broken its banks.

Global Warming

Climate vs Lifestyle

A new study finds that the public won’t be willing to do the most important things necessary to cut their carbon footprint unless they are forced to through the introduction of new regulations.

Because household consumption and travel habits contribute 72 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a team of scientists asked urban residents in five European countries what they would be willing to do to combat climate change.

The lifestyle changes they said they would be willing to adopt would cut only about 50 percent of the emissions needed by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While those interviewed were somewhat more willing to change what they eat, such as consuming less meat, they were far less inclined to fly less and cut back on their vehicle use.

“We are entering territory that is very much taboo,” says one of the report’s authors, Benjamin Sovacool. “The things we may have to force or nudge people to do are more intertwined with identity. They are stickier, harder to change.”

The Svalbard ‘Doomsday Vault’ is succumbing to global warming

Just over a decade after it first opened, the world’s “doomsday vault” of seeds is imperiled by global warming as the polar region where it’s located warms faster than any other area on the planet.

Embedded deep in the permafrost of a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built to withstand the test of time – including climate change – and the challenge of any natural or man-made disasters.

Opened in 2008, the seed vault contains nearly one million packets of seeds, all carefully labeled. The seeds come from almost every country in the world and are a vast sampling of unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of lettuce, eggplant, squash, and potatoes.

The seed vault was built to be indestructible but in May of 2017, soaring Arctic temperatures, coming at the end of the world’s hottest year on record proved the scientists to be wrong. The extreme temperatures and rainfall started thawing the permafrost deep inside the mountain where the vault is located.

A 105-page report based on research published by the Norwegian Centre for Climate Services (NCCS) released this year, revealed that the islands that make up the Svalbard archipelago where the Seed Vault is located are experiencing rapid warming.

The thawing permafrost, once as hard as rock, has made the ground unstable, causing great cracks to form in buildings and structures to sink.

Wildlife

Zambia’s Looming Hippo Cull

Wildlife advocates have slammed Zambia’s plan to slaughter 2,000 hippopotamuses beginning in May because officials claim the herbivores’ habitat can’t sustain the current population.

Hippos are listed as “vulnerable,” with only 115,000-130,000 living in the wild.

The conservation group Born Free says Zambia is overstating the country’s hippo population to justify the cull, which will be carried out by trophy hunters who pay to kill the semi-aquatic animals.

“Hippo lives are on the line in order to line the pockets of a few hunting operators and government officials,” said Born Free’s president, Will Travers.

Amphibian-Killing Invasive Fungus Causes Record Wildlife Loss

The chytrid fungus has hit 500 species of amphibians, driving dozens to extinction in recent decades

A fungus that kills amphibians by invading their skin has become one of the most destructive invasive species ever recorded, a new research report says.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a type of chytrid fungus, has caused declines in 500 amphibian species and driven dozens of them to extinction, according to the report, published Thursday in Science. This is the first time scientists have taken global stock of the problem.

The creeping destruction of B. dendrobatidis (commonly known as Bd) was first noticed in the 1980s, and identified and named in the 1990s. The spores of the fungus infect amphibian skin, causing it to harden and slough off. Because amphibians drink through their skin, the resulting disease (called chytridiomycosis) disrupts their hydration and electrolyte balance, killing them.

The researchers found Bd caused declines in 500 amphibian species, 90 of which are now extinct in the wild. Another 124 have lost more than 90 percent of their population.

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