Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Carlsberg Ridge.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

Australia – Two tropical lows tracking toward north Queensland could form into cyclones and cross the mainland, forecasters say. The Bureau of Meteorology says there’s a high chance a low pressure system between PNG and the Solomon Islands, about 1000km northeast of Cairns, will form into a cyclone in the Coral Sea on Saturday.

NewsBytes:

UK – The winter storms that battered the UK caused the greatest loss of trees since the Great Storm of 1987 in some areas. More than 50 sites were surveyed, with some losing hundreds of trees including valued ancient specimens.

South Africa – Four days of heavy rain has caused widespread flooding across eastern parts of South Africa. Roads, bridges, and camps in the Kruger National Park were also affected on Thursday by the flooding with most of the access routes closed to traffic.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 110.7 degrees Fahrenheit (43.7 degrees Celsius) at Dampier, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 78.5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 61.4 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.

Drought

Drought in the Ukraine

Ukraine’s Wheat, Corn Face Mounting Drought Risk – Winter-wheat crops and corn prospects in Ukraine face mounting risk from an intensifying drought in central and eastern areas amid political tensions.

Extreme weather drives surge in price of worldwide food prices. World food prices rose February for the highest amount in 19 months.

Disease

Malaria ‘spreading to new altitudes’

Researchers have found that people living in the highlands of Africa and South America are at an increased risk of catching the mosquito-borne disease during hotter years.

They believe that temperature rises in the future could result in millions of additional cases in some areas.

Areas at higher altitudes have traditionally provided a haven from this devastating disease.

But the scientists say the disease is entering new regions that had previously been malaria-free.

The team believes that because people living in areas that have never been exposed to malaria are particularly vulnerable to the disease, attempts to stop the spread should be focused on areas at the edge of the spread. The disease is easier to control there than at lower altitudes where it has already established.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization, there were about 207 million cases of malaria in 2012 and an estimated 627,000 deaths. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa.

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – update

On 4 March 2014, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health, Hong Kong SAR, China, notified WHO of an additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.