Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit (48.0 degrees Celsius) at Akjoujt, Mauritania.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 110.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 79.2 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research 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.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.2 Earthquake hits eastern Kashmir.

5.1 Earthquake hits Oaxaca, Mexico.

5.1 Earthquake hits the southwest Indian ridge.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

A massive dust storm that formed over the Sahara Desert early this week has now pushed out over the tropical Atlantic, and will sharply reduce the odds of tropical storm formation during the first week of August. The peak of hurricane season is approaching later this month, but storm activity is now unlikely for the first half of August.

In the Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane Gil is located about 1230 mi (1975 km) WSW of the southern tip of Baja, California.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical strom Jebi is located approximately435 nm east-southeastward of Hanoi, Vietnam in the South China Sea, west of the Philippines, and is moving westward. Jebi is forecast to strike China on Friday, August 2.

Other News:

A landslide in Norway has isolated more than 500 residents in a village in central Norway. The landslide blocked the access road to Todalen in Nordmøre. The landslide also downed power poles and disturbed communication lines.

A landslide in Uttarakhand, India has claimed the lives of at least nine people. Another landslide in Sulat division of Almora district damaged nine houses. Relief efforts are being hampered by heavy rain.

Flash flooding in the Bagh and Chitral regions of Pakistan have claimed the lives of at least four people and left two missing.

Landslide in Panama has claimed the lives of four members of a single family, including a six-year-old girl.

Wildlife

Orca Spotted with Plastic Bag in Mouth

Researchers snapped a picture of a baby killer whale in the Pacific Northwest holding a plastic bag in its mouth, just the latest example of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Last month, scientists from the Centre for Whale Research monitoring orcas in the Salish Sea say they spotted a calf playing with what at first looked like a small scrap of blubber. When the baby whale dropped the item from its mouth, they realized it was actually a plastic bag.

Rogue plastic trash can be a problem when it gets into the mouths of the ocean’s animals like whales, turtles and seals, but it can even harm creatures deep beneath the surface. One group of researchers recently published a database of trash on the seafloor from California to Canada and offshore of Hawaii. They found that most garbage in their catalogue was plastic, and of those items, more than half were plastic bags, some choking corals nearly 7,000 feet (2,115 meters) below.

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Global Warming

Global Warming’s New Natural Disaster: “Himalayan tsunamis”

This summer’s devastating “Himalayan tsunami” is a grim omen for the future of the millions of people living downstream from the majestic mountain range.

The June floods wiped out the Hindu pilgrimage town of Kedarnath and may have killed as many as 6,000 people.

According to preliminary studies, dozens of houses were smashed and hundreds of religious pilgrims were swept away when a lake above the eighth century Kedarnath Temple burst its natural dam of loosely packed glacial sediment, sending a sudden deluge of water down on the town.

Many now believe it was an accident waiting to happen — and similar accidents will happen again and again as the region gets warmer.

Rising temperatures due to global warming are fast creating thousands of glacial lakes across the region. The growing volume of meltwater is dangerously increasing the risk of sudden glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), according to the Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

As the volume of water increases, so does the pressure on the dams of ice or glacial sediment, called moraine, which hold the lake in place on the side of the mountain. Once that pressure reaches the tipping point, heavy rainfall from a sudden cloudburst, a landslide, or an earthquake can breach the dam, sending a deadly torrent of ice, rock and water down on the people living below.

The results can be catastrophic.

In the weeks following the June 17 flood disaster, tens of thousands of residents, tourists and religious pilgrims were successfully evacuated. But officials still believe there are at least 5,748 people missing across the north Indian state of Uttarakhand.

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Wildfires

Wildfires in Spain

About 130 residents have been evacuated after a wildfire in Spain raged out of control. The fire is burning near Valdepenas de la Sierra, some 80 kilometres northeast of Madrid.

Nearly 350 emergency workers with 21 aircraft and 43 ground vehicles are struggling to control the blaze.

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Argentina

A fire has burned an ecological reserve in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve, Reserva Ecológica de Buenos Aires is considered as the “lung” of Buenos Aires and lies on the Río de la Plata riverbank on the east side of Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires CBD.

Wildfires – Washington, USA

A wildfires in Kittitas County, Washington has caused the evacuation of residents of about 75 homes and cabins.

The wildfire is burning across 93 square miles of grass, sagebrush and timber in Chelan and Kittitas counties.

Fire danger is expected to remain high in Eastern Washington through Thursday.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Etna (Sicily, Italy): A cluster of earthquakes of magnitudes 2-3 occurred yesterday under the eastern flank near Sant Alfio, at depths around 7-8 km.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone (North of Iceland): A (probably tectonic) swarm of earthquakes has been occurring since yesterday in the eastern part of the TFZ, about 10-15 km north of the shore at various depths mostly below 15 km. It includes more than 100 quakes yesterday including 6 above magnitude 3 (up to 3.8 yesterday morning).

Avachinsky (Kamchatka): A (so far small) seismic crisis has started about a week ago. The earthquake hypocentres are currently located at depths around 30 km SE of the volcano. The new quakes superimpose to the normal seismic activity at shallow depth. It is not clear whether this indicates that magma has started to accumulate at the mantle-crust boundary beneath the volcano, or whether the seismic activity there is purely tectonic and related to the subduction of the Pacific Plate.

Yellowstone (Wyoming, USA): The famous Steamboat Geyser erupted again during the past night breaking a 8 years period of dormancy. Known as the currently largest geyser in the world, its jets are known to reach up to 90 m height. It is located in the Norris Basis in the northern part of Yellowstone. Its eruptions are very irregular, with intervals ranging between several weeks (29 eruptions in 1964) to decades (record was 50 years pause with no eruption).

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Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits the Rat Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Cook Strait, New Zealand.

Oil Companies Begin ‘Fracking’ in China’s Most Dangerous Earthquake Zone

The Chinese want to join the shale gas revolution, even if it means drilling for oil in China’s earthquake hot bed in the Sichuan region, where nearly 70,000 died in an earthquake in 2008.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and China National Petroleum have started ‘fracking’ operations in the province.

China hopes to boost annual shale gas production to 6.5 billion cubic meters by 2015, and reserves are estimated at about 1,115 trillion cubic feet, according to the US Energy Information Administration, higher than the estimated 665 trillion gas reserves on American soil.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Pacific:

Tropical storm Gil is located about 985 mi (1585 km) SW of the southern tip of Baja, California. Gil could become a hurricane by Thursday. Not yet a threat to Hawaii.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical storm Jebi forms in the South nChina Sea and is located approximately 567 nm southeastward of Hanoi, Vietnam. Tropical Storm Jebi is unlikely to threaten Taiwan directly.

Other News:

Floods have hit seven provinces in Thailand claiming the lives of at least three people since Monday. Around 25,000 people have been evacuated to relief camps.

Floods in Vietnam have claimed the lives of at least five people and left one other missing. The floods also injured seven others and damaged more than 200 houses.

25,000 people have been evacuated to relief camps after floods in Karen State, Myanmar. The evacuees are living in 80 different relief camps.

A team from the National Weather Service has confirmed the touchdown of a small tornado in southeast Kansas, USA this week.

Environment

Heat Wave in China

More than ten people have died in a record heat wave in Shanghai, prompting a level two emergency heat alert for the first time.

Heat alerts have been issued in nine different provinces of China, including Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Hubei, Shanghai and Chongqing. Shanghai temperatures have been recorded as being the hottest in 140 years.

On July 26, Xujiahui meteorological observation station in Shanghai observed 40.6℃, which is the highest since 1872.

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Global Warming

Lake at the North Pole – Update

The North Pole lake that had started forming at the North pole in mid-July has had its fill of Internet notoriety. The stunning blue meltwater lake that formed on the Arctic ice disappeared on Monday (July 29), draining through a crack in the underlying ice floe.

Now, instead of 2 feet (0.6 meters) of freshwater slopping against a bright-yellow buoy, a remote webcam shows only ice and clouds.

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Disease

Rabies outbreak jumps species in Taiwan

Health authorities on the island have been battling to contain a rabies outbreak among so-called ferret-badgers, with at least 18 cases among the weasel-like animals confirmed so far.

On Wednesday officials confirmed the disease had spread to a shrew, fuelling fears that it could mutate further to affect domestic pets – greatly increasing the risk to humans.

Drought

Australia

Waste water set to ‘drought proof’ Perth. Treated waste water from toilets, showers and washing machines will be pumped back into Western Australia’s water system following a three-year trial.

The state took another step towards becoming the first in Australia to rely on recycled waste water for drinking, after the trial at a $50 million treatment plant was successfully completed. Officials are satisfied the treated water is safe for human consumption – with every one of the 62,300 water samples passing strict health and safety guidelines. They have now revealed progression to the next stage, where seven billion litres of treated water will be returned to the system via ground aquifers.

The recycled water will start flowing in 2016. The Water Minister countered the “yuck factor” by confirming it will be about 30 years before the water is actually being consumed. “The water is actually pure before we put it back in the aquifers for naturalisation – it will be there for potentially up to 30 years before it will flow out of taps again. By the time the water is extracted, it will be the same as any other groundwater.”

Since 1992, concerns over Perth’s future water supply have become increasingly urgent, with increased water consumption coupled with a drastic reduction in the flows into dams. Desalination plants have bridged some gaps, but by 2060 it is feared Perth’s water usage will overtake supply by a massive 365 gigalitres. So the state government, the CSIRO and water bosses embarked on the ambitious trial, which treated 2533 megalitres of water through micro filtration, reverse osmosis and ultra-violet disinfection to produce high quality recycled water. As much as 28 billion litres a year could be recycled from the Craigie facility if the scheme is given the full green light.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Pacaya (Guatemala): A surge in activity with increased strombolian explosions and the effusion of a lava flow occurred during 4 hours on 30 July, similar to the event from 30 May. Explosions from the Mackenney crater reached heights of 250-300 m and a new lava flow started to flow onto the south side of the mountain through a deep notch in the crater.

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): Recent satellite images suggest that a lava lake is most likely currently active in the summit crater of Mawson Peak. NASA satellite infrared images show a very hot circular object of about 100-150 m in diameter that plausibly could only be produced by the strongly heat-radiating surface of a lava lake. Currently, no lava flows seem to be present on the other hand.