Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.4 Earthquake hits the Mid-Indian ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits eastern Iran.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Atlantic:

Tropical Storm Karen is heading for the Gulf Coast this weekend. In the past 24 hours Karen has been less successful in fighting the battle against hostile atmospheric conditions, which has led to weakening.

Tropical Storm Karen has prompted state of emergency in the U.S. state of Louisiana which is forecast to hit the Gulf Coast between the state and the Florida Panhandle in the next few days.

Extremely heavy rainfall, high tides and flash floods is predicted in the coastal and inland parishes of emergency declared Louisiana.

As of 7 a.m. CDT (1200 UTC) October 4, Tropical Storm Karen was located about 445 km south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

In the Western Pacific:

Typhoon Fitow is headed for China; east of Fitow, another tropical storm has developed and is also expected to track toward Asia. It is headed for a landfall in China by Monday.

Tropical Storm Danas has formed east of Fitow; the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s latest forecast is for it to become a typhoon and track toward South Korea or Japan next week.

NewsBytes

A tornado hit Wayne and Sioux City, Iowa, USA at about 6:30 p.m local time, the National Weather Service said.

Tornado damage photo

Environment

Historic Cargo Shipped Across Northwest Passage

A Danish-owned cargo ship carried a 73,500-ton load of coal through northern Canada’s Northwest Passage in September, making it the first such bulk carrier in history to navigate the Arctic route.

The Nordic Orion left Vancouver on Sept. 17 en route to Finland on a shortcut that saved the owners nearly $200,000 in costs and trimmed about 1,000 nautical miles off the voyage.

The ship was also able to carry about 25 percent more coal since the depth of the Panama Canal, through which it normally would have passed, is too shallow for such a bulky load.

Despite this past summer’s more limited Arctic sea ice melt, a growing number of shippers are looking to use the Northwest Passage in the years ahead as the Arctic becomes more ice-free.

Edward Coll, CEO of Bulk Partners, which owns the vessel, said that beyond saving money with this single shipment, it was about making history.

“We would have done it just to do it, to pioneer it,” said Coll.

The ship was said to have encountered only one small choke point during its trip across Arctic Canada, around Baffin Island.

But the captain said the most dangerous portion of the voyage was off the western coast of Greenland, where icebergs littered the ocean.

The hardened hull of the Nordic Orion allowed it to navigate through areas of relatively thin ice.

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Wildlife

Koalas in Danger as Aussie Temperatures Soar

Australia’s native koala could face a wipeout from increasing temperatures unless “urgent” action is taken to plant trees for shelter as well as eucalypts to eat, a study found Thursday.

Lead researcher Mathew Crowther from the University of Sydney said the three-year study tracked 40 koalas by satellite in north-western New South Wales to examine their nesting and feeding habits.

It was the first research to compare where the tree-dwelling marsupials spent their days against their nights and found that large, mature trees with dense leaves were critical to their survival, particularly during extreme weather events like bushfires and heatwaves.

“Our research confirmed koalas shelter during the day in different types of trees to the eucalypts they feed on at night,” said Crowther. “We found the hotter it is during the day the more koalas will tend to seek out bigger trees with denser foliage to try to escape those temperatures.”

According to the non-profit Climate Council think tank, this September was the hottest ever recorded in Australia, with national average temperatures 2.75 degrees higher than the long-term average.

In a report published Thursday on the latest Bureau of Meteorology data, the council said 2013 was on track to become Australia’s hottest year on record, surpassing the previous mark set in 2005.

Thought to number in excess of 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788, there are now believed to be as few as 43,000 left in the wild, though their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

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Global Warming

Rough Waters Ahead: Climate Change Report Ups Sea-Level Projections

The latest international climate-change report has upped the expectations for rising sea levels as the globe warms — a change scientists anticipated thanks to an improved understanding of the potential contribution from melting ice sheets.

Six years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Assessment Report 4 (AR4) projected that sea levels would increase by as much as 1.9 feet (0.58 meters) by the end of this century. In a summary released Friday (Sept. 27), and in a draft unveiled today (Sept. 30), the latest report — the Assessment Report 5 (AR5) — projects sea level increases of as much as 3.2 feet (0.98 m) by 2100.

The primary reason for the increase is that the new report takes into account the potentially large contributions from the enormous ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica.

“Projections in previous reports did not account for things like the speed-up of glaciers, which carry ice from the ice sheets to the ocean, or the melting of glaciers that are in direct contact with the oceans,” said Josh Willis, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who has been involved in drafting both the current and past IPCC reports. “Although today’s projections are not perfect, they are a bit better than the ones from the last IPCC report (AR4).”

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Space Events

Giant Impact That Formed the Moon Blew Off Earth’s Atmosphere

The moon came into existence after several planet-size space bodies smashed into the nascent Earth one after the other, with the final one actually forming our satellite, while several impacts repeatedly blew off our planet’s atmosphere, according to a new study.

Until now, scientists thought it was unlikely that the early Earth could lose its atmosphere because of a giant moon-forming impact. But the new research, based on recent studies showing that at its infancy our planet had magma oceans and was spinning so rapidly that a day was only two or three hours long, argues that this may have been possible.

That research argued that the moon is actually a giant merger of bits and pieces of our own planet, partially destroyed by a catastrophic collision with a space body 4.5 billion years ago.

Back then, the Earth had a two- or three-hour day, she said, and the impact made it throw off enough material to coalesce into what became our satellite, making it the Earth’s geochemical twin. [How the Moon Evolved: A Video Tour]

This ultra-rapid spin is one of the important conditions necessary to make the atmospheric loss theory work, Stewart said.

The other criterion is the presence of terrestrial magma oceans — and this hypothesis has now got support thanks to new data obtained from volcanoes.

Moon born violence

Disease

Novel Coronavirus – Saudi Arabia – Update

WHO has been informed of an additional six laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection in Saudi Arabia.

Measles in Southern Sudan.

Southern Sudan has announced a Measles outbreak in Upper Nile region. Officials said 44 cases of the deadly disease were reported in Malakal county, since August.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Tjörnes Fracture Zone (North of Iceland): The earthquake swarm has decreased in intensity. At least some scientists believe that the cause has been a magmatic intrusion in Iceland’s northern rift zone that activated the Húsavík-Flatey (HFF) transform fault at the southern limit of the TFZ where the earthquakes were concentrated.

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): Ash explosions regularly produce plumes up to about 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude, such as this morning. Activity (strombolian-type) on the remote island remains strong.

Dukono (Halmahera): An eruption produced an ash plume observed on satellite data. Estimated altitude was 6,000 ft (1.8 km). (VAAC Darwin)

Popocatépetl (Central Mexico): No changes in the currently low activity have occurred. Moderate steaming, occasional weak ash venting / small explosions (at rates of approx once / 2 hours) and glow at the summit at night characterize the current phase. CENPARED’s alert level remains “Yellow Phase 2”.

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): INSIVUMEH reported no explosions and no movements at the blocky lava flows on the dome’s flanks, but heavy rainfalls inhibit detailed observations. Strong degassing is observed.

Pacaya (Guatemala): (Strombolian) Explosions occur every 3-5 seconds, INSIVUMEH reports.

Fuego (Guatemala): Activity is very low. Almost no explosions have occurred recently. The lava flow on the upper south flank seems to be still weakly active.

Sangay (Ecuador): During a recent overflight on 20 Sep, IGP found the crater of the volcano cold and partly covered with snow. No explosions were observed, different from most previous times in the past 11 years when the remote volcano had been surveyed. The highest temperatures measured in the crater area were about 67°C and the youngest lava flows had temperatures of about 31°C. A large warm zone (part of the summit dome) is located between the central and the northeast crater, which already had been noted during the last overflight in April. The observations made during the overflight seem to indicate a decrease in the activity of Sangay compared to that observed in the last 10 years. This fits well to ground observations from August and September when no explosions were seen or heard from the volcano.

Reventador (Ecuador): Activity has remained unchanged at moderate levels. Weak glow from the summit, intense steaming and few ash explosions occur.

Cotopaxi (Ecuador): IGPEN surveyed the volcano on 20 Sep. Maximum temperatures in the active crater were found at 55.7 °C and no unusual signs of activity or significant morphological changes compared to recent years were observed.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity has been low. During an overflight on 20 Sep, IGPEN staff measured the diameter of the inner crater to be slightly larger (230 m) than compared to August, likely as a result of landslides from its walls. Temperatures at fumaroles inside the crater were relatively low and their activity weak. Low seismic activity and snow inside the crater also suggests that the volcano is currently “sleeping”.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): The volcano is emitting a weak plume of gas and steam. Minor ash venting could be observed yesterday evening. No glow was visible on night-time webcam images. SERNAGEOMIN has not posted new activity reports.