Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.1 Earthquake hits the southern East Pacific Rise.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Falcon, Venezuela.

5.1 Earthquake hits La Rioja, Argentina.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kermedec islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the South Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone Guito is located approximately 850 nm south-southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar.

Gales and locally heavy rain from the storm’s spiral bands brushed Madagascar and Mozambique as the eye of the Category 1 storm remained well offshore.

Guito was mainly a threat to fishing boats and shipping in the region.

NewsBytes:

Ireland – Extreme weather has left farmers and fishermen on brink of ruin. Relentless bad weather has caused thousands of hectares of farmland to remain submerged under flood waters while hundreds of trawlers and their fishing crews have been unable to fish for several weeks.

Wildlife

Lemur Crisis Prompts Conservationist Call-to-Action

Lemurs, which are found only in Madagascar, are the most threatened mammal group on Earth. Up to 94 percent of lemur species are threatened, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) SSC Red List. The situation has only worsened for these puppy-eyed primates in the wake of the ousting of Madagascar’s president in 2009 during a military-backed coup.

Humans have been destroying the lemurs’ habitat for thousands of years, but the political upheaval has brought things to a head, Irwin said. International donors withdrew funding from environmental programs, and conservation laws haven’t been enforced.

The Malagasy people are some of the poorest in the world, living on less than $2 per day. Following the political crisis, the lemurs’ habitat has been under siege from an illegal trade in precious hardwoods, forest burning to clear space for crops and a thriving bushmeat trade.

The remaining forest habitat is an estimated 36,000 square miles (92,200 square kilometres), just 10 to 20 percent of the original forest cover, down from 41,000 square mi. (106,600, square km) in 1990, according to the article. And most of the habitat is inadequately, or not at all, protected.

Lemurs fulfil important ecological roles in maintaining the island’s forests, and their loss would likely trigger extinction cascades.

The researchers called for the adoption of an emergency conservation action plan described Aug. 1, 2013, on the IUCN’s website. To prevent lemur extinction, the plan calls for community-based, protected-habitat management, promotion of ecotourism and a steady researcher presence in Madagascar.

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Space Events

Meteor

A meteor exploding over northern Argentina caused such a loud noise and strong shaking that many residents feared they had been hit by an earthquake.

Cloud cover prevented residents from seeing the trail left by the space debris when it entered the atmosphere above Santa Fe province on the morning of Feb. 18.

Officials said the explosion, which occurred at an altitude of about 45 miles, was heard in a nearly 200-mile radius.

Despite the loud blast, there were no reports of damage on the ground and no fragments were immediately found.

The director of the Santa Fe Astronomical Observatory, Jorge Coghlan, told the country’s Clarín daily that the object could have originally been about 20 inches in diameter.

It arrived at about the same time a large asteroid passed about 9 times the distance the moon is from Earth.

The two events were said to not have been related.

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