Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

Today is the two year anniversary of the 9.0 magnitude Earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011.

6.5 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.7 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.4 Earthquake hits southern Xinjiang, China.

5.3 Earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

5.2 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits southern Alaska.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea

Environment

Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North’s Growing Seasons

Vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes increasingly resembles warmer and lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of ground-based and satellite data sets.

An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more. In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.

As a result of enhanced warming and a longer growing season, large patches of vigorously productive vegetation now span a third of the northern landscape, or more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometres). That is an area about equal to the contiguous United States. This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometres) to the south in 1982.

The Arctic’s greenness is visible on the ground as an increasing abundance of tall shrubs and trees in locations all over the circumpolar Arctic. Greening in the adjacent boreal areas is more pronounced in Eurasia than in North America.

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Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from AVHRR and MODIS.

Wildlife

‘Historic’ Day For Shark Protection

Three types of critically endangered but commercially valuable shark have been given added protection at the Cites meeting in Bangkok.

The body, which regulates trade in flora and fauna, voted by a two-thirds majority to upgrade the sharks’ status.

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Campaigners hailed the move as historic and said the vote represented a major breakthrough for marine conservation.

The decisions can still be overturned by a vote on the final day of this meeting later this week.

The oceanic white-tip, three varieties of hammerheads and the porbeagle are all said to be seriously threatened by overfishing.

Their numbers have declined dramatically in recent years, as the trade in shark fins for soup has grown.

Manta rays are killed for their gill plates which are used in Chinese medicine.

Shark supporters have been attempting to get Cites to protect these species since 1994. But there has long been strong opposition to the move from China and Japan.

But a number of factors have changed the arithmetic.

Experts say the critical factor has been a shift in South American nations, who’ve come to understand that sharks are more valuable alive than dead.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Askja (Central Iceland): A swarm of earthquakes at shallow depths, mostly around 2-5 km has been occurring in an area about 12 km NE of the caldera. 27 quakes including 6 between magnitudes 2.1-2.7 were recorded yesterday.

Gorely (Southern Kamchatka): Strong degassing continues to be accompanied by unchanged moderate seismic activity. KVERT reports no eruptive activity.

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): KVERT reports only weak seismicity and steaming/degassing. It seems that the phase of strombolian activity at the summit crater has ceased or only continues at very reduced intensity.

Kizimen (Kamchatka): The lava dome continues to grow at the summit, and produces hot avalanches on the western and eastern volcanic flanks. Moderate seismicity and strong gas-steam activity accompany this process.

Karymsky (Kamchatka): Seismic and external activity have been weak recently. No significant explosions were reocrded in the past days.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): An ash plume, presumably from an explosion at the dome, rose to 19,800 ft (6.0 km) altitude yesterday, KVERT reported. Seismicity continues to be moderate, and strong steaming-degassing accompanies the process of the lava dome growth.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): KVERT reports no significant changes, but the tremor has increased again a bit, suggesting that lava output from the southern fissure vent had been a bit higher as well.

Bezymianny (Central Kamchatka Depression): The strong seismic activity from Tolbachik obscures the seismicity of Bezymianny, but a thermal anomaly at the summit remains visible on satellite data and suggests that the lava dome continues to grow as well.

To-shima (Izu Islands): A swarm of earthquakes can be recognized that has been going on at shallow depths a few km north of the island during the past days. Many quakes have been recorded at magnitudes above 2.

Taal (Luzon, Philippines): Earthquakes have decreased to averages of 2-3 per day, but there is still slight inflation of the Volcano Island in the caldera, PHILVOLCS reports. Recent CO2 emission measurements (from 3 March) showed a modest increase to 947 tonnes per day compared to 720 tonnes per day from the previous measurement on 27 November 2012.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): The dome continues to be very active. An ash plume was observed rising to 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude this morning.

White Island (New Zealand): The recent period of increased activity has apparently come to an end for now. Tremor has dropped again to low levels.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The frequency of emissions has increased to almost 3 per hour, with some explosions producing low ash plumes. Degassing remains strong and an important SO2 plume is drifting eastwards from the volcano.

Galeras (Colombia): Activity has remained generally low, with occasional ash explosions such as on the afternoon of 7 March.

Nevado del Ruiz (Colombia): Since Friday, activity has been elevated. Ash emissions have been causing light ash falls in areas near the volcano. Strong degassing and odor of sulfur was noted in parts of the National Park. INGEOMINAS reports continuous volcanic tremor, and keeps the alert level at yellow (2 on a scale 1-4).

Reventador (Ecuador): Mild activity continues, but is rarely visible. At night, glow from the crater can sometimes be seen. IG reports sporadic weak explosions, and continued elevated seismic activity with numerous long-period events, explosion signals and tremor pulses.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity continues to increase gradually. When the volcano is not hidden in clouds, explosions with incandescent material landing on the upper slopes could be seen, and a low ash plume is rising from the volcano. The seismic signal shows near continuous tremor.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Cyclone Sandra

As of 02:00 UTC, TC Sandra was located 510 nm northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia.

A Cyclone warning is issued for Solomon Islands.

A huge dust storm has surrounded Tokyo, Japan.