Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 earthquake hits the Bismarck Sea.

5.4 earthquake hits the Bismarck Sea.

5.3 earthquake hits the Gulf of California.

Two 5.3 earthquakes hit the Bismarck Sea.

5.1 earthquake hits southwest of Africa.

5.0 earthquake hits east of the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Bolivia – At least 10 thousand hectares of banana plantations were flooded in the Cochabamba tropic, causing millions in losses to the community and producers. More than 7 500 families were affected by the floods.

Argentina – Intense rainfall in Northeast Argentina has caused devastating floods, amplifying the economic burdens of the country’s record inflation. About 3,500 people have evacuated the region, and millions of hectares of crops have been sent underwater. The flooded region, which extends into Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, has received about five times more rain than expected since the beginning of the year. Some areas received a whole year’s worth of rainfall in the first 15 days of the calendar year. 2.4 million hectares of soybeans are flooded. The greatest losses come from the Pampa Húmeda region, one of the main food producers in the world. Other crops like corn and cotton, along with livestock have been wiped out across the Northeast. Just last year, Argentina was plagued with severe drought, the worst that had hit the country in half a century. This drought crushed the country’s agricultural sector and strained the country’s economy. It’s blamed in part for the current run on Argentine currency.

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California, USA – Heavy rain, snow and wind pummeled much of California Thursday, causing at least five deaths, leaving thousands without power and forcing wildfire victims threatened by floods to flee their homes. Southern California authorities concerned with rising streams and excessive runoff ordered evacuations in parts of Malibu and other areas scarred by wildfires. Malibu schools canceled classes. In harder hit Northern California, authorities warned of imminent floods and debris flows in the wildfire-ravished city of Paradise and the surrounding region denuded of protective trees and vegetation, telling residents to prepare to flee their homes on a moment’s notice.

Environment

Desalination Brine

The nearly 16,000 desalination plants around the world that extract fresh water from the sea are discharging far greater amounts of toxic brine back into the ocean than previously thought, a new U.N. study reveals.

It says the salt-laden liquid is increasing the density of salinity where it is released, and poses a significant risk to marine life and ecosystems.

More than half of the 5 billion cubic feet of brine discharged each day worldwide comes from desalination plants operating in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait.

Magnetic North Pole Shift

The erratic and rapid shift of the Magnetic North Pole since 2014 has prompted scientists to update a year earlier than scheduled a model used in crucial navigation systems.

The unprecedented update was requested by the U.S. military due to the mounting level of inaccuracies in guidance across the Arctic for ships, planes and submarines.

Scientists believe the wayward pole is being influenced by changes in the flow of iron in Earth’s outer core.

But some experts believe the planet’s magnetic poles are on the verge of reversing, which is long overdue.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius) in Port Augusta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 70.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.7 degrees Celsius) at Olenek, Siberia.

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

Measles – Madagascar

From 4 October 2018 to 7 January 2019, 19 539 measles cases and 39 “facility-based” deaths have been reported by the Ministry of Public Health (MoH) of Madagascar. Cases were reported from 66 of 114 total districts in all 22 regions of Madagascar.

Foot and Mouth Disease – Algeria

More than 12,000 livestock have died in Algeria following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

The Algerian Interior Ministry has classified the outbreak as a “major danger” after it spread to 28 states and killed thousands of livestock, causing markets to shut down for fear of selling infected meat. The crisis has been aggravated by the fact that livestock owners are still waiting for vaccines, which have been delayed until the end of the month.

Volcanos

Global Volcanic Activity – Volcanoes Today, 18 January 2019

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Tokyo warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 13000 ft (4000 m) altitude or flight level 130 and is moving at 20 kts in E direction.

Kuchinoerabu-jima (Ryukyu Islands): (17 Jan) Following renewed unrest and a minor eruption beginning last August, earlier today a more significant explosion occurred, sending ash to 20,000ft (6km) and generating a moderate pyroclastic flow which travelled 1.5km (~1 mile) down the southwest flank, though fortunately did not affect adjacent communities. No injuries have been reported and this event was smaller than the powerful explosion in 2015. JMA has kept the alert level at 3 (on a scale of 1-5).

Kadovar (Northeast of New Guinea): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Darwin warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 10000 ft (3000 m) altitude or flight level 100 and is moving at 10 kts in W direction.

Cleveland (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): (17 Jan) A new lava dome has been observed to be growing in the summit crater following a small explosion on January 9- continuing a pattern of behaviour typical of Cleveland since it began a period of regular activity in 2005. AVO raised Cleveland to ORANGE/WATCH.

Reventador (Ecuador): Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Washington (VAAC) issued the following report: VA DETECTED IN STLT IMAGERY

Sabancaya (Peru): Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Buenos Aires (VAAC) issued the following report: continuous ash emissions

Planchón-Peteroa (Central Chile and Argentina): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Buenos Aires warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 15000 ft (4600 m) altitude or flight level 150 .

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.3 earthquake hits north of Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 earthquake hits north of Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits the Chagos Archipelago.

5.0 earthquake hits near the south coast of Papua, Indonesia.

Global Warming

Climate Change to Affect Human Health

Climate change is on its way to “halt and reverse” progress made in human health over the last century.

The grim analysis comes from one of the authors of a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests rising global temperatures could lead to many more deaths than the 250,000 a year the World Health Organization predicted just five years ago.

In 2014 the WHO said that climate change will bring with it malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and malnutrition, killing that many more people annually around the world from 2030 to 2050.

In reviewing the research on the topic, study co-author Sir Andrew Haines thinks our health is much more vulnerable to climate change — and he believes 250,000 deaths is a “conservative estimate.”

Due to climate change-related food shortages alone, the world could see a net increase of 529,000 adult deaths by 2050, the report said. Climate change could force 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 and poverty makes people more vulnerable to health problems.

The depletion of freshwater resources, the unprecedented biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution, deforestation and the spread of invasive species, that are related to climate change, but are environmental problems on their own, all compound these public health threats he said.

Global study – permafrost warming

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Large areas of permafrost around the world warmed significantly over the past decade, intensifying concerns about accelerated releases of heat-trapping methane and carbon dioxide as microbes decompose the thawing organic soils.

One quarter of the Northern Hemisphere and 17 percent of the Earth’s exposed land surface is underlain by permafrost. Most of these regions have been permanently frozen since the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.

The permafrost, especially in the Arctic, can be 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mile) deep, trapping large amounts of carbon in the frozen organic matter. Global warming – particularly in the Arctic regions – has increased the potential for thawing of the permafrost and the release of carbon dioxide and methane gasses.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications on January 16, 2018. Using detailed data from the GTN-P, researchers found that on average, permafrost regions around the world—in the Arctic, Antarctic and the high mountains—warmed by a half degree Fahrenheit between 2007 and 2016.

The most dramatic warming was seen in the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures in the deep permafrost increased by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. “There, in regions with more than 90 percent permafrost content, the soil temperature rose by an average of 0.30 degrees Celsius within ten years.

In Arctic regions with less than 90 percent permafrost, the frozen ground only warmed by 0.2 degrees Celsius on average.

Besides the most obvious impact – the release of vast amounts of carbon dioxide and methane – there are other concerns to take into account, especially for four million people living in Arctic permafrost areas.

We have already seen the damages that thawing permafrost leaves behind. The buckling ground, holes, destabilized roads and bridges and buildings and homes shifting on their foundations.

We can add ecosystems to the economic and infrastructure issues. Massive discharges of silt and sediments have been dumped into our rivers and coastal areas due to the melting permafrost, forcing families to move away in some communities.

Permafrost coastal alaska erosion

Space Events

Tiny Cotton Sprouts China Grew on the Moon

A handful of cotton seedlings poked themselves up from the dirt inside a small biosphere on China’s lunar lander, Chang’e-4.

Yes, the plants were stunted compared with the earthbound control plants. But they had just survived a space launch and difficult journey to the moon, and were growing in the low gravity and high radiation of extraterrestrial space. They were the first plants ever to grow on the lunar surface. None of the other species that made the trip with them showed any similar signs of life.

Now they’re dead. And it’s all the moon’s fault. As night fell on the region of the far side of the moon where Chang’e-4 sits, temperatures plunged in the 5.7-lbs. (2.6 kilograms) mini biosphere. Hanlong reportedly said that the temperature inside the chamber had fallen to minus 62 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 52 degrees Celsius), and could continue to plunge to minus 292 degrees F (minus 180 degrees C).

Disease

Measles – Vancouver, Washington, USA

In a follow-up on the measles situation in Clark County, Washington, health officials are now reporting 14 confirmed cases and three suspected cases, all among children. One child required hospitalization for their illness. The bulk of the children are under the age of 10 and 13 of the cases were not vaccinated.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

From 1 December 2018 through 31 December 2018, the International Health Regulations (IHR) National Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported five additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

African Swine Fever Spreads to Mongolia

Asian pork producers need to redouble efforts to combat African swine fever after Mongolia reported its first outbreak, just five months after the deadly pig disease was first discovered in China.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.7 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.7 earthquake hits the Philippines.

5.4 earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.3 earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.2 earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

5.1 earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Malaysia – Various roads leading to shops, housing areas and oil palm estates in Sandakan were flooded following a continuous downpour. The flash floods in Kampung Garinono and the areas surrounding it led to a traffic standstill yesterday after many roads were left impassable.

Argentina – It has been a wet year so far in the low Pampas of South America. Northeast Argentina and the adjacent parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding. Since the beginning of the year, the area has received about five times the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm, recorded in January 1994. Eastern Pampas has good farming land but the first soybean crop was a complete loss in some areas because of the rain. The ground is still water-logged. In the province of Corrientes, water is nearly two metres deep, displacing the herds of cattle. In Paso de Los Libres, a border city in what is known as the Argentine Mesopotamia, January brought 483mm of rain so far. The average rainfall for January is 128mm. There is now a 65 percent chance of a proper El Nino developing, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it is El Nino conditions that tend to disrupt the normal rainfall pattern in this part of the world. The Atacama Desert in Chile benefits from El Nino rains, but the Peruvian fishing industry suffers.

Global Warming

Antarctica Is Dumping Hundreds of Gigatons of Ice into the Ocean Right Now

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The southern, frozen continent lost an average of 252 gigatons of ice a year to the sea between 2009 and 2017. Between 1979 and 1990, it lost an average of just 40 gigatons per year. That means that ice loss on Antarctica has accelerated by 6.3 times in just four decades, according to new research published Jan. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As the sea ice at the North Pole melts away, the melting causes negative consequences and ripple effects for the global climate. However, that melting doesn’t directly raise sea levels. North polar ice is already floating on the ocean, so turning it from solid to liquid doesn’t add to the total volume of water in the seas, according to NASA.

But Antarctica is a landmass buried beneath ice. And it holds the largest reserve of frozen, landlocked water anywhere on the planet. Any ice loss on Antarctica directly contributes to the total volume of water in the oceans, and raises sea levels.

Hidden Beneath a Half Mile of Ice, Antarctic Lake Teems with Life

The dark waters of a lake deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet and a few hundred miles from the South Pole are teeming with bacterial life, say scientists — despite it being one of the most extreme environments on Earth.

The discovery has implications for the search for life on other planets — in particular on the planet Mars, where signs of a buried lake of liquid saltwater were seen in data reported last year by the European Space Agency’s orbiting Mars Express spacecraft.

The drill team bored through about 3,504 feet (1,068 meters) of ice, and the water below was a chilly 30.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 0.65 degrees Celsius), so that scientific researchers could take water samples and sediment cores from the lake, which was about 49 feet (15 m) deep at that spot and covers an area of about 54 square miles (139 square kilometers) under the ice sheet.

Early studies of water samples taken from Lake Mercer — which is buried beneath a glacier — showed that they contained approximately 10,000 bacterial cells per milliliter. That’s only about 1 percent of the 1 million microbial cells per milliliter typically found in the open ocean, but a very high level for a sunless body of water buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier.

The scientists said that the high levels of bacterial life in the dark and deeply buried lake were signs that it might support higher life-forms, such as microscopic animals like tardigrades.

Upper-ocean warming is making waves stronger

Sea level rise puts coastal areas at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, but new research shows they face other climate-related threats as well. Scientists found that the energy of ocean waves has been growing globally, and they found a direct association between ocean warming and the increase in wave energy.

The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. This metric, called wave power, has been increasing in direct association with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea-surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Tasmania

About 5,500 lightning strikes were recorded across the state overnight on Monday, sparking dozens of wildfires across the State. There were 61 active fires reported across the state on the TFS website at 10:00pm, with fires at Wattle Grove, Great Pine Tier Central Plateau and Gell River listed at an advice level.

Disease

Measles – Ukraine – Update

In 2018, Ukraine saw an astounding 54,000 measles cases and 16 fatalities. As 2019 begins, it appears the measles problem continues in Ukraine as health officials has already reported 5,059 measles cases from December 28, 2018 to January 11, 2019 and two deaths.

Ebola – DR Congo

The death toll from the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo has passed the 400 mark in the east and northeast, health authorities said Tuesday.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the total number of cases is 658 — 609 confirmed and 49 probable. In total there have been 402 deaths” in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, a health ministry bulletin stated.

Health authorities also confirmed 237 cases of “persons cured”, with a further “200 suspect cases still under investigation”.