Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
5.0 Earthquake hits north of Svalbard.
5.0 Earthquake hits the south Atlantic Ocean.
Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant Springs New Leak
One hundred metric tons of highly contaminated water leaked out of a tank at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said on Thursday.
This has been the worst incident since last August, when a series of radioactive leaks happened. But unlike in those leaks, “water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area,” Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for the utility, also known as Tepco, said. The water that did reach the ocean from the earlier leaks was not considered a widespread threat as it becomes diluted by the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.
In the South Indian Ocean:
Tropical cyclone 15s (Guito), located approximately 795 nm southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar and is tracking southward at 17 knots.
Impressively Massive Landslide Detected in Remote Alaska
A massive landslide appears to have pummelled a remote region of southeast Alaska on Sunday (Feb. 16). If confirmed, it may be the largest natural landslide to have fallen anywhere since 2010.
Based on the data collected from the event, it is estimated that the landslide contained about 68 million metric tons of solid rock — equivalent in weight to about 40 million SUVs.
Natural landslides of this large a scale generally consist of solid rock that gets pulverized into smaller stones through the duration of the violent event. The rocks start falling when they loosen from heavy rain, snowmelt or ground-thawing, and the resulting river of rock can travel at velocity of up to 656 feet (200 meters) per second.
Severe storms including tornadoes struck Illinois, USA late Thursday afternoon, knocking out power, damaging buildings and spawning floods.
New Website Tracks Deforestation in Near Real-Time
Forests around the world are disappearing at an astonishing rate. But now, these trees won’t fall without a sound.
A new map and website called Global Forest Watch provides the first near-real-time look at the planet’s forests, using a combination of satellite data and user-generated reports. The website’s developers hope that Global Forest Watch will help local governments and companies combat deforestation and save protected areas.
At globalforestwatch.org, users can scroll across the globe and zoom in on areas of loss.
Ants Build Raft to Escape Flood, Protect Queen
Ants may be small, but they’re certainly resourceful, as evidenced by the discovery that they build rafts to save themselves and their queen during floods.
What’s more, they construct the rafts using themselves — living ants — linked together to form a nearly waterproof buoyant vessel.
Surprisingly, baby ants were used to form the base of the raft. Worker adult ants then joined together to form the rest of the structure. The queen was always placed in the safest spot — right at the centre of the raft.
As for the fate of the rafting ants, nearly all survived!
Global Temperature Extremes
The week’s hottest temperature was 113.2 degrees Fahrenheit (45.1 degrees Celsius) at Vredendal, South Africa.
The week’s coldest temperature was minus 66.3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 54.6 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.
Foot and Mouth Disease
Kenya – Four livestock markets in Baringo County, Kenya have been closed indefinitely following an outbreak of deadly foot-and-mouth disease.
South Korea – South Korea has stepped up disinfection of citizens returning from North Korea after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in pigs in the communist state. Pyongyang this month reported an outbreak of the highly infectious disease to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:
Kelud (East Java): A MODIS hot spot is visible at the crater, suggesting that a new lava dome could be forming there. This would be the effusive continuation of the recent explosion on 13 Feb, as magma with much less gas content continues to arrive at the vent.
Kilauea (Hawai’i): (20 Feb) Summit tilt meters record inflationary tilt & the lava-lake level rises again to an estimated 35 m (115 ft) below the floor of Halema`uma`u.