Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.0 earthquake hits Pakistan.

5.0 earthquake hits New Caledonia.

5.0 earthquake hits the Pagan 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) 05p (Owen), located approximately 362 nm east-southeast of Darwin, Australia, is tracking eastward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

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Australia – Drivers trapped on the roofs of their cars have been dramatically airlifted to safety after becoming caught in rising floodwaters on the Hume Freeway as torrential rain lashes Victoria. Flash flooding also disrupted traffic in Melbourne.

Vietnam – The death toll from flooding in central Vietnam has risen to 14, state media reports say. Towns across central Vietnam began reporting rapid flooding beginning on Saturday as the region was hit by an unseasonal monsoon.

Global Warming

Climate Change will Strengthen El Niños

El Niños will be stronger and more frequent in the decades ahead because of global warming, causing “more extreme events” in the United States and around the world, a study said Wednesday.

A natural phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average seawater in the tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is Earth’s most influential climate pattern. A weak one is forecast to form at some point this winter, scientists have said.

Rather than once every 15 years, powerful El Niños will occur roughly once every 10 years. They found that the physical processes in the ocean and atmosphere that produce strong El Niños will be supercharged by human-caused climate change.

The entire natural climate cycle is officially known as El Niño – Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which swings between warmer and cooler seawater in the tropical Pacific. Cooler-than-average ocean water is known as La Niña. The cycle is the primary factor government scientists consider when announcing their winter weather forecast.

Strong El Niños can lead to floods in the western United States, Ecuador and northeast Peru and to droughts in nations that border the western Pacific Ocean, the study finds.

During extreme El Niños, marine life in the eastern Pacific can die off, and mass bleaching of corals across the Pacific and beyond can occur.

Disease

Lassa Fever – Benin

Benin health officials announced this week of three Lassa fever cases (2 confirmed, 1 probable) reported in the municipality of Parakou in Borgou Department in the northern part of the country.

Chikungunya – Thailand – Update

Since our last report on the chikungunya outbreak, primarily in the southern provinces of Thailand one month ago, the number of cases has quadrupled from 538 to 2,143 cases through Dec. 10. No deaths have been reported.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 5 December – 11 December 2018

Manam | Papua New Guinea : The Darwin VAAC reported that on 6 December ash plumes from Manam were identified in satellite images rising to an altitude of 5.2 km (17,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifting SE. RVO noted that at 1215 on 8 December seismicity increased and indicated an eruption had begun, according to a news article. The eruption was characterized by forceful ash emissions, explosions that ejected lava fragments above the crater, and rumbling and roaring noises. Around 1300, based on pilot observations, information from RVO, and satellite images, large ash plumes rose as high as 15.2 km (50,000 ft) a.s.l and drifted E. Island reports noted that ejections of material ceased around 1900; audible noises ended around 1930. Satellite data indicated that ash from the high-altitude plume had begun to dissipate by 2020, and that on-going ash emissions rose to 8.2 km (27,000 ft) a.s.l. Island residents described heavy ashfall and that the sun was blocked by airborne ash, based on second-hand social media posts. News reports indicated that residents in Bokure and Kolang (NE and ENE flanks, respectively) had evacuated. Seismicity had declined by the end of the day. Dark ash plumes continued to be visible the next day, rising as high as 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifting E, though were less frequent.

Mayon | Luzon (Philippines) : PHIVOLCS reported that during 5-11 December white steam plumes periodically emitted from Mayon drifted mainly WSW. Crater incandescence was sometimes visible at night. A four-minute long event recorded by the seismic network began at 1224 on 9 December, and produced a grayish-brown ash plume that drifted W. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 0-5 scale) and PHIVOLCS reminded residents to stay away from the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone on the SSW and ENE flanks.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.3 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.3 earthquake hits Kepulauan Mentawai, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.2 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.2 earthquake hits Magallanes, Chile.

5.1 earthquake hits eastern Tennessee, USA.

5.0 earthquake hits the Nias region, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 05p (Owen), located approximately 349 nm east-southeast of Darwin, Australia, is tracking westward at 06 knots.

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Global Warming

The Arctic Is Not Doing Well (at All)

A new “report card” from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Arctic Program paints a dire picture for the frozen North. According to the program’s 2018 Arctic Report Card, Arctic surface air temperatures are warming twice as fast as in the rest of the globe, while populations of wild reindeer and caribou have tumbled by 50 percent over the last 20 years.

And the Arctic is setting alarming new records all the time. Air temperatures from 2014 to 2018 in the Arctic were warmer than in any prior year dating back to 1900, according to the report. The past 12 years have shown the lowest extents on record of Arctic sea ice. And the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than it has in at least 350 years.

The annual report is the 13th issued by NOAA’s Arctic Program. One of the most dramatic changes in today’s Arctic, the report found, is the loss of the region’s sea ice. The winter maximum sea ice of 2018, measured in March, was the second lowest in 39 years of record-keeping, behind only 2017. In 1985, the report authors wrote, ice that had survived multiple years of freezing and thawing made up 16 percent of the Arctic’s sea ice. Today, that number is a mere 1 percent. The thinner, single-year ice that makes up 99 percent of the ice pack is more prone to melt and flow.

Warming temperatures, lost sea ice and long-term declines in snowpack on land have caused chaos for the Arctic’s wildlife. While reindeer are mythologized in Christmas carols, real herds are suffering. Wild reindeer and their fellow foragers, tundra caribou, have been in decline since the 1990s, according to the report. Where there were once 4.7 million animals combined, there are now 2.1 million. Of 22 herds being monitored by researchers today, 20 are on the decline.

Climate is to blame for much of the decline, according to the report. Longer, warmer summers mean more parasites and heat stress for the winter-adapted grazing animals, along with a greater risk of grass-killing drought.

Meanwhile, toxic algal blooms driven by warming waters represent a new threat to marine life in the Arctic, the researchers wrote. Algal toxins have been found in ill or dead animals ranging from seabirds to seals to whales.

East Antarctica glacial stronghold melting as seas warm

A group of glaciers spanning an eighth of the East Antarctica coastline are being melted by the warming seas, scientists have discovered.

This Antarctic region stores a vast amount of ice, which, if lost, would in the long-term raise global sea level by tens of metres and drown coastal settlements around the world.

Freezing temperatures meant the East Antarctica region was until recently considered largely stable but the research indicates that the area is being affected by climate change.

The vast Totten glacier was known to be retreating but the new analysis shows that nearby glaciers in the East Antarctica area are also losing ice.

To the east of Totten, in Vincennes Bay, the height of the glaciers has fallen by about three metres in total since 2008, before which no loss had been recorded.

To the west of Totten, in Wilkes Land, the rate of height loss has doubled since 2009, with glaciers losing height by about two and a half metres to date.

The data comes from detailed maps of ice movement speed and height created by Nasa from satellite information.

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Environment

Researchers suggest broiler chicken is the hallmark of the Anthropocene

A team of researchers from several institutions in the U.K. and one in South Africa has come to the conclusion that the broiler chicken offers perhaps the most striking evidence of the rise of the Anthropocene. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group outlines their reasons for choosing the chicken as a signal of human biosphere reconfiguration.

Scientists have begun suggesting that we are now living in a new epoch, which thehy call the Anthropocene—the age of man-made impacts on the planet. In this new effort, the researchers suggest the broiler chicken is a prime example of the changes we have wrought. They note, for example, that the broiler chicken is now by far the most populous bird on the planet—at any given moment, there are approximately 23 billion of them. The second most populous bird, by comparison, is the red-billed quelea, and there are just 1.5 billion of them.

There are so many chickens that their body mass is greater than all other birds combined. And they are not anywhere close to their initial native state—the modern broiler is unable to survive and reproduce in the wild. It has been bred to eat non-stop, allowing it to grow to a desired size in just five to nine weeks. And as it grows, its meaty parts outgrow its organs, making it impossible for many to survive to adulthood. And all these chickens are being cooked and eaten, and their bones are discarded. Billions of bones wind up in landfills where they are covered over in an oxygen-free environment, making it likely that they will, over time, become fossilized. If we do not survive due to global warming, pandemics or nuclear warfare, the researchers suggest, the next dominant life form will likely dig up our landfills and find evidence of our love for the broiler chicken.

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Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) update for November

During the month of November, a total of 8 laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) were reported globally (all from Saudi Arabia), including 2 associated deaths.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.1 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Thailand – The Bang Saphan Noi municipality was flooded again on Monday after overnight heavy rains pounded the town and nearby areas. The downpour made reservoirs overflow, flooding Bang Saphan Noi district. The water levels downstream are still rising. Municipality workers are reinforcing sandbags in the town centre to prevent more water flowing into the area.

Global Warming

Climate change is not only influencing extreme weather events, it’s causing them

Extreme weather events that spanned the globe in 2017 have been directly linked to — and in some cases were even caused by — continued warming of the planet via human influence through greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.

For the second year in a row, the annual report from the American Meteorological Society found weather extremes that could not have happened without human-caused warming of the climate. Advances in scientific modeling and additional climbs in temperatures are making the connection between global warming and extreme weather much more concrete.

Scientists found that record warm waters in the Tasman Sea in 2017 and 2018 “were virtually impossible without global warming,” and they concluded that a crippling drought in East Africa that has led to food shortages for millions of people would not have occurred naturally before the Industrial Revolution, when humans began to interfere with the climate system.

Included in the 17 events identified in the report in which global warming played a role were major floods such as those with Hurricane Harvey, fires, heat waves over land and in the ocean, and even record low sunshine in Japan in August 2017.

The findings are part of an annual report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective,” which reveals clear ties between recent extremes in weather and human influences of the climate

Environment

Scientists Reveal a Massive Biosphere of Life Hidden Under Earth’s Surface

Earth is not the home you think it is. Far below the scant surface spaces we inhabit, the planet is teeming with an incredibly vast and deep ‘dark biosphere’ of subterranean lifeforms that scientists are only just beginning to comprehend.

Hidden throughout this subsurface realm, some of the world’s deepest and oldest organisms thrive in places where life shouldn’t even exist, and in new research, scientists have quantified this ‘dark matter’ of the microbial world like never before.

In a preview of results from an epic 10-year collaboration by over 1,000 scientists, Lloyd and fellow researchers with the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) estimate the deep biosphere – the zone of life under Earth’s surface – occupies a volume of between 2 to 2.3 billion cubic kilometres (0.48 to 0.55 billion cubic miles).

That’s almost twice the volume of all the world’s oceans – another enormous natural environment that lies largely unexplored by humans.

And just like the oceans, the deep biosphere is an abundant source of countless lifeforms – a population totalling some 15 to 23 billion tonnes of carbon mass (between 245 to 385 times greater than the equivalent mass of all humans on the surface).

The findings, representing numerous studies conducted at hundreds of sites around the world, are based on analyses of microbes extracted from sediment samples sourced 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) under the seafloor, and drilled from surface mines and boreholes more than 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) deep.

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Space Events

Voyager 2 Spacecraft Reaches Interstellar Space

It’s time to say goodbye to one of the most storied explorers of our age: Voyager 2 has entered interstellar space, NASA announced Dec. 10.

Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, has spent more four decades exploring our solar system, most famously becoming the only probe ever to study Neptune and Uranus during planetary flybys. Now, it has joined its predecessor Voyager 1 beyond the bounds of our sun’s influence, a milestone scientists weren’t able to precisely predict when would occur.

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