Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage, and no tsunami warning was issued.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Gulf of California.

5.2 Earthquake hits southern California.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.1 Earthquake hits western Uzbekistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Nicobar Islands off India.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Eastern Indian Ocean:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 17p (Gillian), located approximately 890 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, and is tracking southwestward at 4 knots. Gillian has regenerated and is strengthening.

In the Western Pacific:

Tropical depression 04w (four), located approximately 428 nm southeast of Manila, Philippines, and is tracking west-northwestward at 07 knots.

Environment

Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Another Milestone

Levels of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere have already surpassed a troublesome record set in May 2013, researchers said Wednesday (March 19). The week ending Tuesday, March 18, was the earliest to average more than 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, according to the Keeling Curve, one of the best climate records available. The 400-ppm milestone in 2013 was the first time carbon dioxide reached such a high level in human history.

The Keeling Curve is a continuous daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, running since March 1958. That year, the greenhouse gas was at 313 parts per million. (Parts per million denotes the volume of a gas in the air; in this case, for every 1 million air molecules, 313 are carbon dioxide.)

While carbon dioxide levels have steadily climbed since 1958, every year there are seasonal variations. The yearly rise and fall reflects plant growth and death, which withdraws and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa typically peak in May, but the high levels set in 2013 are appearing two months earlier this year. “We’re already seeing values over 400. Probably we’ll see values dwelling over 400 in April and May. It’s just a matter of time before it stays over 400 forever,” researcher Ralph Keeling said in a statement.

Wildlife

 Nine US Fisheries Waste ‘Almost Half A Billion Seafood Meals,’ – New Report

What the United States wastes annually is nearly equivalent to what the rest of the world catches in the same time period.

A new report published by the nonprofit conservation group Oceana exposes nine of the “dirtiest” U.S. fisheries. When fishermen target a specific fish, it’s common for other species to get caught in their nets. This is known as bycatch, and it’s a growing concern among nine U.S. fisheries.

“Anything can be bycatch. Whether it’s the thousands of sea turtles that are caught to bring you shrimp or the millions of pounds of cod and halibut that are thrown overboard after fishermen have reached their quota, bycatch is a waste of our ocean’s resources.” Depending on the type of fishing gear used, fishermen tend to catch everything from dolphins to sea turtles and sharks. These inadvertent catches are usually thrown overboard and tend to be injured, dead or dying.

The majority of bycatch tends to come from open ocean trawl, longline and gillnet fisheries. Researchers estimate that 20 percent of what fishermen catch in the U.S. is thrown away each year. This amounts to 2 billion pounds of wasted seafood. “The figures are astounding — four fisheries discard 63 to 66 percent of everything they catch. If you can’t quite grasp just how much that is, think of it this way: These nine fisheries waste almost half a billion seafood meals.”

The nine fisheries are: Southeast Snapper-Grouper Longline Fishery; California Set Gillnet Fishery; Southeast Shrimp Trawl Fishery; California Drift Gillnet Fishery; Gulf of Alaska Flatfish Trawl Fishery; Northeast Bottom Trawl; Mid-Atlantic Bottom Trawl Fishery Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Longline Fishery; and the New England and Mid-Atlantic Gillnet Fishery.

According to the report, the Southeast Snapper-Grouper Longline Fishery is the biggest offender, discarding 66 percent of whatever is caught. In one year, more than 400,000 sharks were caught attached to longlines. Despite the staggering numbers, the group maintains there’s a solution to bycatch.

“The good news is that bycatch is a fixable problem. We need to accurately count everything that we catch, limit the amount of wasted catch in each fishery using science-based limits, and avoid catching non-target species by using more selective fishing gear.” Besides benefiting ocean life, reducing bycatch will help fishermen too. “By eliminating wasteful and harmful fishing practices we can restore and maintain fish populations that are essential to renewed abundance and healthy oceans, while also preventing the deaths of whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles.”

Disease

Monkey Fever Outbreak in India.

Monkey fever, a viral disease characterised by headache and haemorrhage, is sweeping through parts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada districts.

Also called the Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD), it spreads through the bite of a forest tick which carries the disease-causing virus from monkeys and other hosts to humans. The Health Department has already recorded 74 cases of monkey fever, and has stepped up efforts to identify the affected, and take preventive measures in Thirthahalli and Hosanagar taluks of Shimoga and other affected districts.

Wildfires

Wildfires in Nepal

Wildfires have engulfed a vast swathe of forest land in Bara, Sarlahi and Rautahat districts in Nepal amidst gross apathy of government authorities, including district forest offices, to extinguish them.

According to locals, authorities have not taken initiatives to bring under control the infernos that have been raging for days.

“We used to see such wildfires in previous years too. I don’t know why forest officials are doing nothing to control the flames that have been destroying precious timber and the habitats of a number of wildlife species.”

Chief officer at the Chandranigahapur-based Rautahat district forest office, Baburam Bhandari, described the wildfires as a normal phenomenon.

He, however, expressed sadness at the inability to control the fires that have been raging for days.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): SERNAGEOMIN raised the alert level of the volcano to orange yesterday after an increase in seismic activity. A pulse of volcanic tremor was detected that could indicate magma moving into the volcano’s plumbing system. On the surface, no unusual activity has been seen at the volcano so far, except that an increase in SO2 emissions (approx 2,300 tons / day) was measured. This supports the idea that magma has risen under the edifice.