Wildfires

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.

Rimfire iss aug26

Disease

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.

Volcanos

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.

Volcano rome airport

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands off New Zealand.

5.9 Earthquake hits the North Pacific Ocean.

5.5 Earthquake hits southern Sumatra, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits central Alaska.

5.0 Earthquake hits central Iran.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Sichuan-Yunnan border region, China.

Fukushima Update

Japan’s nuclear regulator has upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale.

Nuclear Regulation Authority official Yukiko Fukui said on Wednesday the severity of the August 19’s leak was raised to level 3 from the original level 1.

300 tons (300,000 liters, 80,000 gallons) of water had escaped from one tank and some may have reached the sea through a rainwater gutter.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical storm Kong-rey is located approximately 275 nm south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan. Forecast to turn and reach Japan on Friday.

‘Nando’ [Kong-rey] won’t make landfall in the Philippines. The cyclone will continue to move upward via the eastern side of the country and head towards Taiwan by Thursday. Public storm warning signal number 1 has been raised over the Batanes Group of Islands. The cyclone will enhance the southwest monsoon and bring light to moderate rains and thunderstorms over Southern Luzon, Metro Manila and Western Visayas.

Wildfires

Wildfires in California. USA

More than 3,500 firefighters are still battling a raging wildfire in California’s Yosemite National Park, which has rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of water to San Francisco.

Wildfires rage in Spain and Portugal.

Firefighters and local residents struggled on Tuesday to tackle raging wildfires amid hot weather and strong night-time winds that have consumed large swathes of forest in Portugal and Spain and cost the lives of four emergency workers.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Kliuchevskoi (Kamchatka): A small lava flow has started to descend on the upper northern flank of the volcano. Sometimes intense strombolian continues at the summit vent. Glowing blocks from the lava flow often detach from the front and roll down the steep slope of the volcano. No significant ash emissions have occurred so far.

Tolbachik (Kamchatka): The eruption seems to be coming to an end. Seismic activity dropped from still moderately high levels (2.4 mcm/s) to very low (0.12 mcm/s) on 24 Aug, and the effusion of lava has stopped. No incandescence was spotted in the area of the vent during the past days. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to yellow.

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Activity remains at high levels. Over the past 24 hours, the volcano has had 8 explosions recorded by VAAC Tokyo, with ash plumes rising to up to 12,000 ft altitude. The following shows an explosion this morning seen from Kagoshima:

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): The volcano has entered an eruptive phase with frequent explosions, which over the past 2 days produced several ash plumes rising as high as 12,000 ft (3.6 km) altitude.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): Another ash plume was spotted earlier today reaching 10,000 ft and suggesting that the volcano has stepped up its activity recently.

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): Activity has been low over the past days with little changes overall. The volcano continues to produce important degassing and has occasional small explosions. Glow at the summit can be seen when the weather is clear, indicating that lava continues to slowly extrude in the crater.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): A moderate explosion took place yesterday morning at 03:24 h local time, generating an eruption column rising 1.3 km, a pyroclastic flow on the SW flank of the dome, and an ash plume that drifted southwest and caused ashfall on Palajunoj. The viscous lava flow on the southern flank of the dome remained active.

Pacaya (Guatemala): INSIVUMEH reports ongoing mild strombolian activity and the appearance of a new lava flow yesterday. The explosions occurred at rhythms of 4-10 minute intervals and ejected glowing lava to about 75 m height. The lava flow on the western flank of the Mackenney crater reached a length of 150-200 m. Judging from the seismogram, activity has decreased a bit today.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity has not seen significant changes over the past days. Mild to moderate explosions (14 during 26-27 Aug counted) produce ash plumes of 200-500 m height and weak to moderate glowing avalanches of bombs on the upper slopes.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic Ocean:

Fernand has moved inland over Mexico and is currently located sixty miles from Veracruz, Mexico. The system is ninety miles from Tuxpan, with maximum winds of 30kts. TS Fernand is moving slowly towards the NW at 8kts.

Fernand is expected to weaken and eventually dissipate over the next 12-18hrs over Mexico.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical Storm Kong-rey has formed. Its centre of circulation is offshore but thunderstorms are bursting on the southwest side of that, which could result in heavy rain in the flash-flood-prone northern Philippines.

Kong-rey (Nando) is expected to accelerate toward Japan by later this week but weaken and become non-tropical in the process.

NewsBytes:

A rain-triggered landslide in Yiliang in Yunnan province, China damaged part of the People’s Hospital, Monday morning. Patients and residents were evacuated. No casualties have been reported.

Yunnan china landslide hospital

Disease

Foot and Mouth Disease in Eastern Russia

Cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) involving several hundred cattle and sheep have been reported in two villages in the Amur region of eastern Russia.

Dealing with the outbreaks has been made difficult by severe flooding in the area, according to the National Veterinary Authority.

Bubonic Plague in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s health officials are on alert after a local teenager died of bubonic plague caught from eating barbecued marmot, the apparent vector for the deadly disease.

A medical check confirmed a 15-year-old boy, who died last Thursday, died of bubonic plague, Kyrgyzstan’s Health Minister said Monday.

The teenager told doctors upon hospitalization that he got sick after eating marmot meat he ate while visiting relatives in the country’s south.

The 105 people Isakunov contacted since his ill-fated rodent meal have all been quarantined, although none have showed symptoms of the disease so far.

Kyrgyzstan’s sanitary services have launched a marmot extermination campaign in the country in response.

Bubonic plague – the disease behind the Black Death epidemic that ravaged Europe in the 14th century – is transmitted by fleas living on small rodents. Humans can catch the disease through flea bites or close contact with infected rodents, such as dressing or consuming their meat. It is transmitted between people via coughs or sneezes once they are infected.

Though no major epidemics of bubonic plague have taken place since the early 20th century, small-scale outbreaks of the disease – which can be treated by antibiotics – continue to occur across the world, particularly in Asia. Mountainous Kyrgyzstan last saw a death from a bubonic plague in 1981, though no epidemic followed.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earth hits the north Pacific Ocean.

5.4 Earthquake hits the southwest Indian Ridge.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits northern Colombia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic Ocean:

Tropical storm Fernand is located about 5 mi (10 km) N of Veracruz, Mexico. Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Gulf Coast of Mexico from Veracruz northward to Barra de Nautla. Some additional strengthening is possible before Fernand makes landfall along the Gulf Coast of Mexico early this morning.

In the Eastern Pacific:

Post-Tropical storm Ivo is located about 190 mi (310 km) WNW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The remnants of Ivo are expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 1 to 3 inches, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches, across the central and northern portions of the Baja California peninsula. Moisture from this system will also spread into the southwestern United States during the next day or so, bringing a threat of heavy rain and flash flooding. The last advisory has been issued on this system.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical Depression Fourteen is located approximately 300 nm east-northeastward of Manila, Philippines.

Philippines – Cyclone develops near Surigao, named ‘Nando’. “Nando” is the 14th cyclone to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this year and the fourth this August.

Punjab’s Chenab River floods 170 villages

170 villages have been flooded along Larkana Aqil Agani Loop embankment in Punjab, Pakistan.

The water flow at Head Panjnad in the river Chenab was recorded at 3,00,000 cusecs.

According to the disaster management officials, Pakistan floods and heavy monsoon rains have claimed the lives of 178 people and affected 1.5 million in the last three weeks. More than 350 relief camps have been set up in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan areas of Pakistan.

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NewsBytes:

Lightning strike has claimed the life of two brothers on a beach in northern Colombia; and lightning in Jefferson County in eastern Oregon, USA has injured at least one person.

Image of lightning over Sydney Harbour wit Fireworks

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Global Warming

Rising ocean acidity will exacerbate global warming

German scientists say they’ve identified a previously overlooked factor in climate change.

In a study published today, they say one effect of global warming is that the oceans will release less of a gas which helps shield the Earth from the sun’s radiation. Carbon dioxide soaked up by seawater will cause plankton to release less cloud-forming compounds back into atmosphere.

The slow and inexorable increase in the oceans’ acidity as they soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could itself have an effect on climate and amplify global warming, according to a new study. Acidification would lead certain marine organisms to emit less of the sulphur compounds that help to seed the formation of clouds and so keep the planet cool.

Atmospheric sulphur, most of which comes from the sea, is a check against global warming. Phytoplankton — photosynthetic microbes that drift in sunlit water — produces a compound called dimethylsulphide (DMS). Some of this enters the atmosphere and reacts to make sulphuric acid, which clumps into aerosols, or microscopic airborne particles. Aerosols seed the formation of clouds, which help cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight.

As more CO2 enters the atmosphere, some dissolves in seawater, forming carbonic acid. This is decreasing the pH of the oceans, which is already down by 0.1 pH units on pre-industrial times, and could be down by another 0.5 in some places by 2100. And studies using ‘mesocosms’ — enclosed volumes of seawater — show that seawater with a lower pH produces less DMS2. On a global scale, a fall in DMS emissions due to acidification could have a major effect on climate, creating a positive-feedback loop and enhancing warming.

Researchers agree that despite the dangers of extrapolating data accumulated over a relatively short time to changes that occur over decades, it remains important to recognize that marine organisms will be affected by environmental changes and that this may impact the climate in return. CO2 that is absorbed by the ocean should be considered to be climate-relevant.

HIRES small C0060535 Marine phytoplankton Diatom bloom SPL

Wildfires

Wildfires in California. USA

Yosemite National Park Wildfires Continue to Spread

The California wildfire is threatening a major reservoir providing 85% of San Francisco’s water. The fire is burning some four miles away from the reservoir which serves some 2.6 million customers. More than 5000 homes in danger. Only 7% contained. So far it is the 16th-largest wildfire on record in California. The blaze is also threatening power lines that bring electricity to San Francisco.

Evacuations, some voluntary and some mandatory, are taking place.

The “Beaver Creek” fire in Idaho has destroyed some 45,000 hectares near the ski resort of Sun Valley. Meanwhile, five wildfires in Yellowstone National Park have scorched about 18 square miles of mostly remote areas.

Disease

Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia (MERS)

The global Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak has topped 100 cases this week as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the total count at 103 as of Friday.

The Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health announced registering two new virus-injured incidences in Asir.