Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.4 earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

5.3 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 earthquake hits the Ryukyu Islands off Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean: Tropical Storm Flossie is located about 965 mi…1550 km sw of the southern tip of Baja California with maximum sustained winds…65 mph…100 km/h. Present movement…w or 280 degrees at 16 mph…26 km/h.

In the Central Pacific Ocean: Tropical Storm Erick is located about 1015 mi…1635 km ese of Hilo Hawaii and about 1225 mi…1970 km ese of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…80 mph…130 km/h. Present movement…w or 280 degrees at 17 mph…28 km/h.

NewsBytes:

Italy – Freak storms and flash flooding following last week’s heatwave in Italy claimed three lives over the weekend, including a young woman caught up in a mini-tornado near Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Wildlife

More Than 200 Reindeer Found Dead from Starvation in Norway

Researchers recently found more than 200 dead reindeer on the island of Svalbard in Norway; the animals starved to death due to climate change, which is disrupting their access to the plants that they typically eat.

Climate change is bringing warmer temperatures to Svalbard, which means more precipitation. And heavy rainfall in December is thought to be responsible for the unusually high number of reindeer deaths.

After the December rain hit the ground, the precipitation froze, creating “tundra ice caps,” a thick layer of ice that prevented reindeer from reaching vegetation in their usual winter grazing pastures. This forced the animals to dig pits in shoreline snow to find seaweed and kelp, which are less nutritious than the reindeer’s usual fare.

With their pastures locked in ice, the reindeer also have to travel farther to find food. And when there is little to eat, the youngest and oldest animals are usually the first to die.

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Environment

Nuclear Cloud Mystery Solved

A vast cloud of nuclear radiation that spreadover continental Europe in 2017 has been traced to an unacknowledged nuclear accident in southern Russia, according to an international team of scientists.

The experts say the cloud of radiation detected over Europe in late September 2017 could only have been caused by a nuclear fuel-reprocessing accident at the Mayak Production Association, a nuclear facility in the Chelyabinsk region of the Ural Mountains in Russia, sometime between noon on Sept. 26 and noon on Sept. 27.

Russia confirmed that a cloud of nuclear radiation was detected over the Urals at the time, but the country never acknowledged any responsibility for a radiation leak, nor has it ever admitted that a nuclear accident took place at Mayak in 2017.

Although the resulting cloud of nuclear radiation was diluted enough that it caused no harm to people beneath it, the total radioactivity was between 30 and 100 times the level of radiation released after the Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011.

Space Events

Close Call

Scientists revealed an asteroid dubbed by some as a “city killer” came closer to the Earth than the moon this week. The Washington Post reported that scientists apparently had no idea it was coming.

Asteroid 2019 OK came hurtling toward Earth at a speed of nearly 15 miles a second, before flying past. According to NASA, it was about 45,000 miles from Earth on Thursday.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Siberia

Massive wildfires sweeping through Russia have spread to an area the size of annexed Crimea as regional authorities have been slow to declare emergencies and firefighting efforts have been scaled back.

Scientists have observed an “unprecedented” number of wildfires in Siberia and the Russian Arctic since June. Russian authorities have said a combination of lightning and human activity may have sparked the flames.

More than 2.7 million hectares of remote forest is currently burning across six Siberian and Far East regions, according to Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency, an area roughly equal to the size of Crimea.

Regional emergency authorities have opted against extinguishing the more than 300 forest fires that are engulfing hard-to-reach areas, saying inhabited areas are “not under threat” and “projected extinguishing costs exceed their projected harm.”

It’s “pointless and at times even harmful” to try to extinguish the flames, Krasnoyarsk region governor Alexander Uss was quoted as saying by the Vedomosti business daily. Speaking at a youth forum on Sunday, Uss compared the wildfires to a summertime equivalent of winter blizzards.

More than 11 million hectares have been affected this wildfire season, Greenpeace Russia said in a statement Friday, calling on the authorities to step up firefighting efforts in the affected areas.

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Disease

Measles – DR Congo

In a follow-up on the measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), health ministry officials report 120,635 total cases through July 7. 2,162 measles deaths have been recorded. In the most recent week alone, 2,125 measles cases including 60 deaths have been reported.

Malaria – Burundi

In a follow-up on the malaria epidemic in the East-Central African country of Burundi, the Ministry of Public Health has reported 5,738,661 cases this year through July 21. This represents a 97 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2018. This is up from 3.2 million cases reported in late May.