Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.
Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.
In the Atlantic Ocean:
Tropical wave midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles downgraded – A tropical wave that came off the coast of Africa on Sunday is midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. This disturbance is moving westward at 10 – 15 mph, has a modest amount of spin, but has lost nearly all of the limited heavy thunderstorm activity it had. Wednesday the National Hurricane Centre downgraded the 5-day odds of formation of this disturbance from 30% to 20%. The wave could spread heavy rains and gusty winds to the Lesser Antilles Islands as early as Sunday.
A tropical wave expected to emerge from the coast of Africa on Friday and track over the Cape Verde Islands is developed by some models. This wave is expected to take a northwesterly track, and would likely not be able to make the long trek across the Atlantic to threaten North America or the Caribbean Islands.
In the Western Pacific:
Tropical Storm Juliette formed in the Pacific Ocean about 130 miles (210 kilometers) southeast of the resort town of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
On the forecast track, the centre of Juliette will continue to move near or along the West Coast of the southern Baja California peninsula early today. Juliette is expected to weaken to a depression tonight.
Tropical storm Kong-rey is located approximately 49 nm east of Taipei, Taiwan.
The outlook now calls for Kong-rey to deviate farther south than earlier forecast, skimming the east coasts of Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu islands in Japan before exiting the Kanto Plain and dissipating Monday in the western Pacific. Kong-rey will weaken as it interacts with land and moves over cooler northern waters, passing 16 miles south of Yokosuka Naval Base at 5 p.m. Sunday, packing tropical depression-strength 35-mph sustained winds and 46-mph gusts.
Tropical storm Fernand: Mexico landslides, flooding kill 14
Landslides and flooding in Veracruz and Oaxaca have claimed the lives of at least 14 people.
Landslide in Gold Rock in Yecuatla Township buried six homes with nine people inside. Landslides in Tuxpan and Atzalan claimed lives of four others.
Fast-flowing flood waters swept away a man in Oaxaca.
Flash flood in an underground cave in western Austria has trapped at least 27 hikers. The flood waters closed the entrance to the cave about 320 kilometres west of Vienna. Emergency crews are in voice contact with those trapped inside the cave, rescue officials said. Rescue workers further added that they are not in danger.
Flash floods in Mali’s capital Bamako have claimed the lives of at least 24 people.
Flash floods and heavy monsoon rains have battered Laos, killing at least 20 people, washing away roads and damaging crops.
Spy Satellite Data Reveals Antarctic Ice Vulnerability
Declassified spy satellite imagery of Antarctica dating back to the 1960s has revealed that the world’s largest ice sheet may be more susceptible to climate change than once thought.
East Antarctica reaches higher elevations than elsewhere on the continent and experiences some of the coldest temperatures on Earth, hitting well below zero degrees Fahrenheit throughout much of the year. As a result, a massive ice sheet has accumulated, measuring more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) thick in some regions, holding enough water to raise global sea level by more than 160 feet (50 meters) if it were to completely melt.
Due to its thickness and high elevation, researchers have regarded the East Antarctic Ice Sheet as relatively stable and more resilient against climate change than the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which sits much closer to sea level and experiences warmer average temperatures.
Now, researchers from Durham University in the United Kingdom have used declassified spy satellite imagery covering the years from 1963 to 2012 to study changes in the outer margin of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, and have compared these patterns with climate data from the region. The team has found that periods of expansion and retreat of the ice sheet’s glaciers, essentially rivers of ice, appear to correspond with periods of warming and cooling in the atmosphere within the past 50 years.
“We’ve shown for the first time that these glaciers are in concert with climate,” Chris Stokes, a professor of geography at Durham University and an author of the paper, told LiveScience. “So the concern would be that if it does start to get warmer, then we would expect to see the glacier retreat.”
While the researchers did note periods of growth and retreat, they did not detect a notable net change in the size of the ice sheet during the study period. Future warming could, however, push the region into a more significant retreat phase that could potentially cause net reduction in ice thickness in the region, Stokes said.
Cooler Pacific Ocean May Explain Climate Change Paradox
Cooling sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean — a phase that is part of a natural warm and cold cycle — may explain why global average temperatures have stabilized in recent years, even as greenhouse gas emissions have been warming the planet, according to new research.
The findings suggest that the flattening in the rise of global temperatures recorded over the past 15 years are not signs of a “hiatus” in global warming, but are tied to cooling temperatures in the tropical or equatorial Pacific Ocean. When the tropical Pacific naturally switches back into a warm phase, the long-term trends in global warming, including more steeply rising global temperatures, will likely increase, said study co-author Shang-Ping Xie, a climate scientist at the University of California, San Diego.
“The engine driving atmospheric circulation on global scales resides in the tropical Pacific,” Xie told LiveScience. “When the natural cycle shifts the next time to a warmer state, we’re going to see more extreme warming on the global scale.”
In early May, a carbon dioxide monitor in Hawaii recorded the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as being more than 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history, breaking a 3-million-year-old record. (Parts per million means that, in this example, for every million molecules of air, 400 of them are carbon dioxide.) But, over the past 15 years, global average temperatures have stabilized rather than sharply increased, as previous predictions suggested they should have, mystifying climate scientists and adding fuel to the fire for climate change skeptics.
“We had this puzzle — the concentration of carbon dioxide was over 400 ppm, last year we had record summer heat waves in the U.S., record retreat of Arctic sea ice. All of these things are consistent with the general warming of the climate,” Xie said. “Yet, if you plot the global temperature, you see a flattening average over the last 15 years. On the one hand, scientists are saying carbon dioxide is causing the general rise of global temperatures, but on the other hand, in recent years there is no warming, so something very strange is going on.”
Xie and his colleagues set out to solve this mystery using climate models to reproduce the long- and short-term trends based on global climate records from the past 130 years. The researchers found that sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, in spite of anthropogenic or manmade effects of global warming, were key ingredients in creating the flattening global temperatures seen in the past 15 years.
“In our model, we were able to show two forces: anthropogenic forces to raise global average temperature, and equatorial Pacific cooling, which tries to pull the temperature curve down, almost like in equilibrium,” Xie said.
The effect is similar to the El Niño and La Niña cycles, which are parts of a natural oscillation in the ocean-atmosphere system that occur every three to four years, and can impact global weather and climate conditions, Xie explained. El Niño is characterized by warmer-than-average temperatures in the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, while La Niña typically features colder-than-average waters.
The warm and cool phases in the Pacific Ocean studied by Xie and his colleagues appear to last much longer than the El Niño and La Niña cycles. Previously, the Earth experienced cooling in the tropical Pacific from the 1940s to the 1970s, before oscillating into a warm state from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Current scientific models are unable to predict when the current cooling period will end, Xie said, but when the ocean swings back into a warm phase, parts of the planet may experience warmer temperatures.
“The equatorial Pacific Ocean is associated with distinct regional patterns, like the Pacific coast of North America,” Xie said. “Because of equatorial cooling, this area has not been warming as rapidly as before, but when the equatorial Pacific shifts into a warm state, those regions might expect rapid warming, on the order of 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] over 15 years.”
Wildfires in California. USA
California’s massive Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park continues to grow, but firefighters took advantage of less windy conditions on Tuesday and had attained 23% containment of the fire as of 9:20 am EDT on Wednesday. The Rim Fire has burned 187,000 acres. This ranks as the 7th largest fire in state history, and largest fire on record in the California Sierra Mountains.
California’s Rim Fire as captured by a member of the International Space Station on August 26, 2013. Lake Tahoe is visible at the top, and smoke from the fire obscures the northern portion of Yosemite National Park, and streams into Nevada. Image credit: NASA.
Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia (MERS)
WHO has been informed of an additional eight laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.
Polio in Pakistan
Health officials in Pakistan on Wednesday warned of a serious polio outbreak after the disease was detected in 16 children in a tribal district.
Rome airport volcano erupts!
A small volcano vent has suddenly appeared near Rome’s International Fiumicino airport.
The geyser-like vent has been shooting out steam and mud over the weekend. The little volcano is nearly two metres wide.
Geologists and engineers expect it to be a fumarole, a vent of steaming-hot hydrothermal water that erupts at the Earth’s surface.