Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Guatemala.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

Earthquake swarm continues around El Hierro in the Canary Islands. Around 230 earthquakes have been recorded west of Frontera, from yesterday (March 27) till today (08:00 GMT). Most of the earthquakes are less than magnitude 3.0.

Storms and Floods

Landslide in Washington State, USA.

A landslide thundered through a subdivision in Washington state’s Whidbey Island north of Seattle on Wednesday, destroying one home and threatening more than 30 others.

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Landslide in Puchong, Malaysia

A landslide in Puchong, Malaysia has displaced about 300 people. However no casualties have been reported.

Hailstorm in Assam, India

Hailstorm in Assam, India has injured six people and damaged more than 50 houses.

The hailstorm caused damage in the following areas: Titabor, Rajabahar, Madhupur, Tipomia, Majuli, Numaligarh and Bongaon.

Wind Gust in Australia Claims 2

A wall collapsed due to strong wind gust on Swanston Street in Melbourne has claimed the lives of two pedestrians. A 19-year-old woman was also injured.

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Floods in Malawi

Thousands of residents have been rendered homeless in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula in Karonga district following severe floods that have destroyed their houses.

Nature – Images

Interesting Images:

An undersea volcano is seen erupting off the coast of Tonga, sending plumes of steam, ash and smoke hundreds of feet into the air on March 18, 2009.

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Mount Fuji lenticular clouds.

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Environment

Arctic Ice Loss May Drive Extreme Weather Patterns

Several researchers say that warming conditions in the Arctic may be weakening jet stream currents and causing extreme weather systems to linger in northern mid-latitudes.

Climate scientists have blamed melting sea ice for causing extreme winter in North America and Europe during this winter. Thickness of the ice is also a concern among the environmental scientists.

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The jet stream is a band of very strong winds that blow from west to east, several miles above the earth’s surface. Normally, these powerful winds push weather systems around, preventing them from staying in one place for very long.

However, the loss of sea ice in recent decades has allowed Arctic waters to absorb more heat energy from the sun, which has in turn heated the atmosphere above the water.

This heating influences atmospheric pressure and appears to be slowing the westerly jet stream. Instead of flowing quickly and in a relatively straight line, like a river down a mountain, the winds mimic a slower, meandering river.

Arctic sea ice is referred to as the planet’s air conditioner, due to its influence on global temperatures. Last year, Arctic sea ice reached its lowest level in the satellite age.

This rate of sea ice loss is faster than what models predicted. Now, some experts say, the Arctic could experience a nearly ice-free summer by 2020.

Wildlife

Madagascar Hit By ‘Severe’ Plague Of Locusts

A severe plague of locusts has infested about half of Madagascar, threatening crops and raising concerns about food shortages. Billions of the plant-devouring insects could cause hunger for 60% of the population.

Currently, about half the country is infested by hoppers and flying swarms – each swarm made up of billions of plant-devouring insects. About two-thirds of the island country will be affected by the locust plague by September 2013 if no action is taken.

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Wildfires

Two bushfires threaten Victoria towns

A fast-moving bushfire west of Melbourne has claimed several buildings, with at least 40 more houses under threat. Three firefighters and one resident have been reportedly injured.

An emergency warning was also issued for a separate bushfire at Hallston, east of Melbourne. The fast-moving, out-of-control fire was expected to threaten the communities of Hallston, Dickies Hill Junction, Allambee South, Berrys Creek.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): It seems that activity has shifted a bit from effusive to explosive. The tremor signal has shown an increase today and includes very powerful explosion signals. On the other hand, lava overflows from the NE vent have decreased during the past days.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): 10 days since the last paroxysm, tremor is still low and doesn’t suggest a new eruption is imminent. Bad weather mostly prevented observations during the past days. No glow could be seen last night from any of the summit craters.

Askja (Central Iceland): Small earthquakes have also been more frequent under and near the Askja caldera and Bardabunga volcano (to the SW of Askja) in the past few days.

Krafla (Northeastern Iceland): A weak swarm of earthquakes has occurred at Krafla over the past days.

El Hierro (Canary Islands, Spain): After a day of weakened activity, the seismic swarm has increased with higher energy tremor and stronger earthquakes than ever. Hundreds of earthquakes have occurred so far, including about 25 > magnitude 3 and no less than 4 above magnitude 4 (M4.1-4.6). It seems plausible that magma has once again built up pressure and has broken new fractures into the low crust beneath the NW part of the volcanic edifice. Many quakes are now at 11-15 km depth, i.e. the epicenters, or the likely present location of the intruding magma, has perhaps started to rise. The likelihood of a new eruption in a possible near future thus once again increased.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): A weak SO2 plume is visible today above Manam, indicating some ongoing activity. A hot spot at the summit is visible on MODIS data, likely indicating that a lava dome is growing there.

Paluweh (off Flores Island, Indonesia): Another ash plume was reported today rising to about 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and drifting 20-30 nautical miles to the NE.

Colima (Western Mexico): Activity has continued to increase both internally and at the surface, with frequent explosions and glowing rockfalls and small pyroclastic flows traveling down the flank of the volcano.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): The rate of steam and sometimes ash emissions climbed to over 3 per hour yesterday. The larger emissions produced plumes with some ash content up to 1 km above the crater. SO2 emission remains elevated.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Activity remains more or less unchanged, but relatively weak. The volcano observatory reported to have heard 5 explosions during the past night, and notes ongoing weak to moderate avalanches from the active lava flows on the flanks of the Caliente lava dome.

Pacaya (Guatemala): Weak explosions producing small plumes of steam and some ash and degassing were reported this morning.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity remains at weak levels, with 9 small to moderate explosions generating ash plumes rising up to 800 m above the crater and drifting W and SW where fine ash fall occurred.

Telica (Nicaragua): The earthquake swarm still continues and appears to show a slow trend towards increasing magnitude earthquakes including a magnitude 3 event two days ago.

San Cristobal (Nicaragua): A series of probably volcanic earthquakes of magnitudes between 2.8 and 4.9 shock the volcano during last Sunday evening (local time), and INETERS has increased monitoring of the volcano.