Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.5 Earthquake hits Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.2 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Samoa Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Turkmenistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the North Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone Madi is located approximately 255 nm east of Chennai, India. Madi is forecast to strike India as a tropical storm on December 13.

Winter Storm – USA

The powerful storm that crept across the US has dumped a mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet on the mid-Atlantic region and headed northeast, threatening as much as a foot of snow in Delaware and New Jersey. The storm on Sunday forced the cancellation of thousands of flights across the US and slowed traffic on roads, leading to a number of accidents.

But the heavy snow wasn’t limited to the East Coast. A snowstorm that hit along the Utah-Arizona border left hundreds of travellers stranded on Interstate 15 overnight into Sunday. The Arizona Highway Patrol said passengers in about 300 vehicles became stranded after up to 10 inches of snow and slick road conditions prompted the closure of part of the highway

Smog Shrouds China

The smog choking central and eastern China has caused the number of people seeking treatment in hospitals for respiratory problems to jump. The pollution reduced visibility to a soup, disrupted flights and caused many people to stay home. “It stinks like smoke. The air really scratches in your throat. We’ve never experienced such terrible smog.”

Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Henan provinces have suffered smog for six consecutive days, while other central and eastern regions have experienced three to five days.

Environment

Sub-Arctic Lakes Shrinking Due to Climate Change

A trend toward drier summers and less snowy winters in sub-Arctic Canada is leading to an unprecedented drying up of the region’s expansive network of lakes, according to a new study. In a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers from four universities found that the shift in climate and the shrinking of the lakes that followed has not happened for at least the past 200 years.

Some lakes first began showing signs of losing water in 2010, but observers say it became far more pronounced during this past summer.

Researchers made the discovery after studying 70 lakes near Old Crow, Yukon, and Churchill, Manitoba. Most of the lakes there are less than 3 feet deep.

“With this type of lake, precipitation in the form of snow represents 30 to 50 percent of the annual water supply,” explained lead author, Frédéric Bouchard, from Université Laval’s Department of Geography and Canada’s Center for Northern Studies.

Average winter precipitation from 2010 to 2012 dropped by almost 3 inches compared to the 1971-2000 average.

“It’s difficult to predict all the repercussions of this habitat loss,” Bouchard concludes, “but it’s certain that the ecological consequences will be significant.”

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Global Warming

Study Links Arctic Melting, Extreme Weather

As ice at the North Pole disappears at an alarming rate, researchers are finding a link with recent bouts of extreme weather.

A new study suggests rapid warming in the Arctic may be altering weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere.

But skeptics say the case is far from proven.

An “unbelievable amount of change” is happening in the Arctic, says Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis. Just half as much area is covered by ice compared to 30 years ago.

“And if you take into account the thickness as well, we’ve lost almost three-quarters of the volume of the sea ice,” she said.

At the same time, the Northern Hemisphere has seen some unbelievable weather in the last decade: Record-breaking heat waves and droughts in North America and Europe, and devastating floods in East Asia, to name a few.

Francis and colleagues went back through three decades of weather data and measurements of Arctic ice and snow cover in northern latitudes. They found that, “when there was less ice or less snow in any given year during the summertime, that that was more likely to occur at the same time as the occurrences of heat waves,” she says.

They published their findings in Nature Climate Change.

Francis says the loss of ice and snow are affecting the high-altitude wind patterns called the jet stream, which push weather patterns around the Northern Hemisphere.

The jet stream is driven by the difference in temperature between the Arctic and the temperate zones. The bigger the difference, the faster the jet stream flows.

But Francis notes that the Arctic is warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

“If we warm the arctic faster,” she said, “it’s decreasing the temperature difference and causing the jet stream to get weaker.”

Global greenhouse gas emissions will continue to melt the Arctic for decades to come.

“The loss of sea ice will go from 50 percent to 100 percent in the next 20 years or so, it will end up with an increased chance of more of these extreme weather events.”

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Marapi (Western Sumatra, Indonesia): Another small ash eruption occurred yesterday morning 10:10 am local time, the Jakarta Post wrote. According to the article, the explosion produced a small ash plume rising 350 m. VSI maintains the volcano on unchanged alert level 2 (out of 4, “Waspada”, “alert”).