Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

8.3 Earthquake hits the Sea of Okhotsk.

The quake hit 373 miles below the surface in the Sea of Okhotsk. The epicentre is 223 miles west southwest of Esso, Russia. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre was quick to report that no Pacific-wide tsunami was expected. Tremors were felt as far away as Moscow, 7 000 miles from the epicentre of the quake.

It has been a busy 24 hours in the Pacific, seismically speaking. There was a magnitude 7.4 quake and later a 6.3 near Tonga. Then a 5.7 quake struck 11km west northwest of Greenville, California. No tsunamis were generated in any of the events.

7.4 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

6.5 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

6.6 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.8 Earthquake hits south of Tonga.

5.8 Earthquake hits the south Indian Ocean.

5.7 Earthquake hits northern California.

5.3 Earthquake hits the MacQuarrie Island region.

5.2 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.1 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

Storms and Floods

Tornado in Russia

At least 200 people have been injured by a tornado in Efremov, near Tula in central Russia. The Tula Governor has declared a state of emergency The tornado damaged 179 houses, five schools and two kindergartens.

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Flash floods in Kathmandu, Nepal

Heavy rainfall swept away at least two houses in Kathmandu, Nepal. The flood also closed Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal’s only international airport, for a short time.

Flooding in Norway

Hundreds of people have been evacuated following mudslides and flooding in Norway. Train services through Gudbrandsdalen and Østerdalen that connect Oslo and Trondheim have been closed. The flooding in Norway this year is expected to be the worst since 1995.

Storm in Bucharest, Romania injures 18

Heavy rain and strong storms in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania have injured at least 18 people including one in critical stage. The storms have left more than 17,000 residents without power.

Environment

Russia To Evacuate Arctic Station Over Melting Ice

A Russian drifting Arctic research station is to be evacuated because the ice field around it is melting, the environment ministry in Moscow reports. The ministry has ordered an evacuation plan to be drawn up within three days for North Pole 40 and its staff of 16. It is sending a nuclear-powered icebreaker to help move the station, located near Canada’s economic zone.

Arctic ice melted at record speed in 2012, one of the warmest years on record. The research station will be relocated to Bolshevik Island in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago.

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 122.0 degrees Fahrenheit (50.0 degrees Celsius) at Jacobabad, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 102.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 74.8 degrees Celsius) at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

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.

Space Events

Jupiter, Venus and Mercury – Planets Form Rare Conjunction

If you look up at the sky tonight, you may be in for a spectacular treat. A celestial dance between three different planets will occur on Friday and into the weekend. The triple conjunction will include Venus, Jupiter and Mercury – and should make for some great sky gazing.

The three planets will group together in the west-northwest evening sky. While you should be able to see the planets tonight, the closest they’ll be will on the evening of May 26 where they’ll appear to form a triangle just above the horizon. The best time to see them will be about 30 to 60 minutes after the sun sets below the horizon, while the orange glow still hangs in the sky.

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Global Warming

Warming Slows but Greater Impact Is Inevitable: Study

Since 1880, the average global surface temperature of Earth has risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The oceans have absorbed far more heat than that.

Global warming is occurring at a slower rate than previous models have predicted, according to a study published in the science journal Nature Geoscience.

Authored by an international team of climatologists from eight countries, the article argues that in light of this slowing trend current projections of extreme climate change in the near future should be revised.

But the report argues that over the longer term, global temperatures are still expected to ratchet upward in the absence of significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Though the ten warmest years on record have all been since 1998, the year-over-year increase in average temperatures has actually slowed in the last two decades compared to the 1980s and 1990s.

Building a climatological forecast based on this more recent slowdown, the report estimates that a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide above pre-industrial levels will raise temperatures by 1.6 to 3.6 degrees over a 50-to-100-year period.

This is a somewhat less extreme impact than the 2007 projection published by the United Nations panel on climate science, which linked a doubling of carbon dioxide to a short-term temperature increase of between 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The more muted warming response to a steady uptick in greenhouse gas emissions is likely due to the absorption of excess atmospheric heat by the world’s oceans, the new report says.

Reto Knutti, a Swiss climatologist and one of the authors of the study, tells Reuters that the ocean’s moderating influence will only be temporary.

“We are still looking at warming well over the two degree goal that countries have agreed upon if current emission trends continue,” he said.

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Wildlife

US Amphibians in Sharp Decline

Scientists have been tracking the dramatic population decline of frogs, salamanders and toads around the world for years. A new study brings more bad news stateside: Amphibians are vanishing from U.S. habitats faster than feared, and even populations thought to be protected are in trouble, too.

A team of researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studied nine years worth of data on 48 species living in 34 different habitats across the country. They found that from 2002 to 2011, amphibian populations disappeared from their habitats at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year. That means within just two decades, you won’t be able to find frogs or their relatives in half of the country’s current amphibian habitats if that pace continues.

The prognosis is worse for more severely threatened species. American amphibian populations on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) “Red List” have been shrinking at a rate of 11.6 percent each year, the study found. At that alarming speed, these endangered creatures will disappear from half of their habitats in about six years, the researchers said.

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Disease

Mystery Respiratory Illness Infects 7, Kills 2 in Alabama, USA

All of the victims have shown signs of fever, cough and shortness of breath, but the Alabama Department of Public Health hasn’t been able to identify the disease. Officials collected samples from all of the victims and sent them to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, but results aren’t available yet. One of the test samples tested positive for H1N1 influenza A, but officials aren’t sure if that’s what caused the illness.

UPDATE – Unusual pathogens ruled out in Alabama illness cluster. Test results on a cluster of Alabama patients hospitalized with similar respiratory symptoms indicated no unusual pathogens but instead a variety of common respiratory viruses and bacteria, a combination of influenza A, rhinovirus, and bacterial pneumonia, state health officials announced Thursday.

Meningitis in Princeton, New Jersey, USA

The state health department has officially declared a meningitis outbreak at Princeton University after the fourth case of the disease since March was linked to the school.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Pavlov (Alaska Peninsula, USA): Weak activity (probably minor lava effusion) continues at the volcano, visible on satellite imagery as a thermal anomaly. AVO only observed degassing and almost no ash emissions, but maintains orange alert level in case eruptive activity restarts.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): SERNAGEOMIN has raised the alert level to orange. Since May 15, a progressive increase in seismic activity as well emissions of gas and now some ash have been observed. Both earthquakes related to rock fracturing and fluid movements have picked up in numbers and possibly indicate a new magmatic intrusion on its way. This scenario is confirmed by the start of small ash emissions and glow at the crater which is visible at night. The plume of gas and ash could be seen from space by the MODIS sensor, stretching about 100 km to the southeast.