Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 09p (Gita), located approximately 170 nm south of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking west-southwestward at 08 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 10s (Kelvin), located approximately 119 nm west-southwest of Broome, Australia, is tracking east-southeastward at 02 knots.

Newsbytes:

Ohio, USA – Emergency officials found themselves busy with area flooding in creeks, streams, and even streets in the city of Wheeling, Thursday night after a drenching downpour brought flash floods to the Ohio Valley; while the potential for the Ohio River to overflow this weekend concerns those in both West Virginia and Ohio.

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Wildlife

Climate Change Affecting Bat Migrations

What started out as a simple study of how to safely monitor migrating bat colonies turned into a major discovery. Climate change is causing bats to migrate sooner, and in some cases, not migrate at all.

When they travel, bats usually do so in a swarm consisting of millions. When Mexican free-tailed bats bats migrate from Mexico to the Bracken Cave in San Antonio, Texas, the size of the swarm is so large it can be tracked using weather radar.

The researchers found that the bats are migrating to Texas roughly two weeks earlier than they were 22 years ago. They now arrive, on average, in mid March rather than late March.

Additionally, as of 2017, roughly 3.5 percent of the bat population is staying through the winter. Climate change is causing spring to begin sooner, in turn prompting insects to move to Texas sooner and giving the bats something to eat without having to migrate.

180116 bracken cave 1 credit Phillip Stepanian TEXT1 0 1200x500

Environment

Light pollution – Chile

It seems nothing can escape the inexorable spread of light pollution — not even the giant telescopes probing the heavens above northern Chile, a region whose pristine dark skies, long considered a paradise for astronomers, are under increasing threat.

The Atacama desert, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) north of the capital Santiago, provides ideal conditions where astronomers study the stars in darkness so profound they appear like diamonds on velvet.

Scientists estimate that by 2020, Chile — a critically important country for optical and radio astronomy — will host 70 percent of the globe’s astronomical infrastructure.

But the ever-expanding use of cheap light-emitting diode (LED) lighting in the booming South American country is starting to concern astronomers desperately trying to safeguard some of the world’s darkest skies.

“Unfortunately, as we have more and more white lights, the deterioration of the skies has increased by up to 30 percent compared to the end of the last decade,” said scientist Pedro Sanhueza.

Chile takes the problem of light pollution so seriously that Sanhueza heads up an organization called the Office for the Protection of Quality of the Sky (OPCC).

Its main task is to make the people of northern Chile aware of the particularly high night-sky quality and the negative impacts of light pollution.

At the Paranal Observatory deep in the Atacama desert, staff are doing all they can to limit light leaking out into the atmosphere

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Disease

Rabies – Democratic Republic of the Congo

An outbreak of rabies has killed at least 11 displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and African media reports that thousands are at risk. Dogs are the main source of the rabies in the conflict-torn North Kivu Province where a lack of capacity to respond to the disease has been noted.

Novovirus – Olympics

In a follow-up on the norovirus outbreak at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Korean health officials now put the number of confirmed cases at 261, as of Friday, with 111 cases reported from the Horeb Youth Centre, 74 from PyeongChang and 76 from Gangneung. Forty-four of the cases remain under quarantine, according to officials. The Swiss Olympic team reports that two of its athletes have been affected.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.2 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 earthquake hits the Rota region in the north Mariana Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 09p (Gita), located approximately 174 nm east-southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking west-southwestward at 10 knots.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 10s (Ten), located approximately 46 nm west of Broome, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 10 knots.

Newsbytes:

La Nina Fading – The La Niña ocean cooling across the tropical Pacific is predicted to disappear during the next few months, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. The phenomenon is typically less disruptive to weather patterns than its warming counterpart, El Niño. But the last two months have seen much of North America, Europe and Asia plunged into the coldest polar vortex chills in years. And drought-prone California has suffered from a protracted dry spell this winter.

Global Warming

First ship crosses Arctic in winter without an icebreaker

A ship has made a winter crossing of the Arctic without an icebreaker for the first time during the coldest period of winter as global warming causes the region’s ice sheets to melt.

The tanker, containing liquefied natural gas, is the first commercial vessel to make such a crossing alone during the winter months.

The voyage is a significant moment in the story of climate change in the Arctic and will be seized on by those with concerns about thinning polar ice and its implications for the environment.

Wildlife

Ant Triage

A species of sub-Saharan ant has been observed administering medical care to wounded comrades after battle by intently licking the injury.

Matabele ants are among the largest on Earth, and were already known to carry those wounded in battle back to the nest for treatment, where most lived to fight again.

In further studies, lead researcher Erik Frank of the University of Lausanne found that the soldier ants actually conduct a type of triage on the battlefield.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Frank said it is actually the wounded ant that decides whether it lives or dies by simply not cooperating with the helpers if it feels too injured to recover.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44.4 degrees Celsius) in Boulia, Queensland.

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

Disease

Lassa fever – Nigeria – Update

In a follow-up on the Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria, nineteen new confirmed cases were recorded from seven States– Edo (3), Ondo (7), Bauchi (2), Nasarawa(1), Ebonyi(2) Kogi(2) and Taraba(2) with six new deaths in confirmed cases from four states Ondo (2), Edo(1), Bauchi (2), and Nasarawa (1).

Yellow fever – Brazil Update

According to the Ministry of Health today, from July 1, 2017 to February 15 of this year, 409 cases of yellow fever were confirmed in the country, 183 in São Paulo, 157 in Minas Gerais, 68 in Rio de Janeiro and 1 in the Federal District. There were also 118 deaths throughout the country.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 7 February – 13 February 2018

Agung | Bali (Indonesia) : On 10 February PVMBG reported that activity at Agung had declined during the previous month or two leading the observatory to lower the Alert Level to 3 (on a scale of 1-4) and adjusted the exclusion zone to a 4-km radius. The report noted that the tallest eruption plume in January was 2.5 km above the crater rim, occurring on 19 January, and the last event on 24 January generated a plume that rose 1 km. The volume of erupted lava was an estimated 20 million cubic meters in December 2017, and had not significantly changed. Seismicity continued to fluctuate, though the number and magnitude of events had declined. Satellite data showed a decrease in thermal output reflective of a reduced lava flow rate. PVMBG warned that activity at Agung is still high and unstable; tiltmeter data showed low rates of inflation (GPS patterns were stable) and gas-emission data indicated magma movement at depth, though at a lower intensity compared to values measured at the end of November 2017. An event at 1149 on 13 February generated as ash plume that rose 1.5 km above the crater rim.

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that very small events occurred at Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 7-9 February. Crater incandescence from the summit crater was visible during 8-10 February. An event at 2201 on 11 February generated a plume that rose 1 km above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Ambae | Vanuatu : Based on satellite, pilot, and webcam observations, the Wellington VAAC reported that during 8-9 February ash plumes from Aoba rose to altitudes of 2.7-3 km (9,000-10,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N and E.

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 7-8 February ash plumes from Bagana rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE.

Cleveland | Chuginadak Island (USA) : AVO reported that there was no evidence of significant activity at Cleveland since the last explosion was detected on 18 December 2017. The Aviation colour Code was lowered to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to Advisory. AVO noted that low-level unrest continued.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 7-13 February ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE, E, and SE.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : Based on observations by volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, explosions during 5-8 February generated ash plumes that rose as high as 2.4 km (7,900 ft) a.s.l. Ash fell in Severo-Kurilsk on 8 February. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Karymsky | Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Karymsky was identified in satellite images on 3 February. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 7-13 February HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. Webcams recorded incandescence from a small lava pond in a pit on the W side of Pu’u ‘O’o Crater. Surface lava flows were active above and on the pali, and on the coastal plain.

Pacaya | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 7-13 February Strombolian explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater ejected material 30 m above the main cone. Lava flows were at most 150 m long on the SW and W flanks.

Popocatepetl | Mexico : Each day during 7-13 February CENAPRED reported 25-101 emissions from Popocatépetl, with emissions during 11-13 February containing slight amounts of ash. Explosions were detected at 0130 and 2213 on 7 February, at 0457 on 8 February, at 1729 on 12 February, and at 0631 on 13 February. Minor crater incandescence was visible on the morning of 9 February, and at night during 11-12 February. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two.

Sabancaya | Peru : Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur del IGP (OVS-IGP) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that explosive activity at Sabancaya was similar to the previous week; there was an average of 18 explosions recorded per day during 5-11 February. Seismicity was dominated by long-period events, with signals indicating emissions. Gas-and-ash plumes rose 3.9 km above the crater rim and drifted 50 km NW, SW, S, and SE. The MIROVA system detected three thermal anomalies. The sulfur dioxide flux was high, at 2,062 tons per day on 10 February. The report noted that the public should not to approach the crater within a 12-km radius.

Santa Maria | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that explosions at Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex, detected by the seismic network during 7-13 February, generated ash plumes that rose as high as 700 m and drifted SW. Avalanches of material descended the E and SE flanks of the lava dome. Ash fell on La Florida ranch (5 km S) on 10 February.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 1-4 and 7 February. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Shishaldin | Fox Islands (USA) : On 7 February AVO reported that seismic and infrasound activity from Shishaldin declined to background levels during the previous month, prompting the observatory to lower the Aviation colour Code to Green and the Volcano Alert Level to Normal.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Western Pacific: Tropical depression 02w (Sanba), located approximately 70 nm south -southeast of Puerto Princesa, Philippines, is tracking north-northwestward at 08 knots.

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 09p (Gita), located approximately 407 nm east of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking west-southwestward at 08 knots.

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Global Warming

Fiji – Rising Waters

In Fiji, villages need to move due to climate change.

The headman of Vunidogoloa village was born here in 1960 on a river estuary in Natewa Bay, on Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu.

Today, all that remains of his childhood home is the concrete bathroom foundation and three wooden stumps sticking out of the dark, muddy sand. The beach is just a few metres wide, precariously situated between a grassy elevation leading to the main part of the old village and the bay.

By 2006, regular flooding, soil erosion and the unabated rise of water surrounding their community forced the villagers to ask the Fijian government for help.

In January 2014, Vunidogoloa moved two kilometres inland, becoming the first village in Fiji to relocate because of the effects of climate change.

For much of the world, climate change is a catastrophe unfolding in slow motion, with consequences that can still seemingly be ignored.

But in island nations across the Pacific, climate change has well and truly arrived and is already posing an existential threat to communities.

Rising sea levels have swallowed up five of the Solomon Islands since the mid-20th century.

For Kiribati, a small island nation made up of coral atolls, rising waters pose a threat so dire that in 2014 the government purchased a 20-square-kilometre piece of land in Fiji, to be used to re-settle climate refugees.

Fiji itself has recorded a six-millimetre sea level increase each year since 1993.

Disease

China reports 1st known human H7N4 avian influenza case

The Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) reported confirming a human case of avian influenza A (H7N4). According to the NHFPC, this is the first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N4) in the world.

The patient had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms. Upon analysis, the genes of the virus were determined to be of avian origin.