Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits the central Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.6 Earthquake hits near the coast of Nicaragua.

5.4 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honahu, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Greater Los Angeles Area, California.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the coast of Nicaragua.

Wildlife

Earthworms Stunted by Pesticide Use

Worms are struggling to cope with the use of pesticides, which a new study reveals alters both the physiology and behaviour of the important soil-aerating creatures.

A Danish-French research team studied earthworms that had been living for generations in soil sprayed with a fungicide.

“They spend a lot of energy on detoxifying, and that comes with a cost,” said researchers Nicolas Givaudan and Claudia Wiegand, whose report was published in the journal Soil Biology and Biochemistry.

And that cost is that they are less successful at reproducing and are much smaller than worms living in organic farming fields.

That means there are often two to three times more earthworms in unsprayed soil than in soil treated with pesticide.

Earthworms are important to the environment because they help in the decomposition of decaying leaves, as well as eat parts of fungus and bacteria.

Their burrowing activity brings air into the soil.

Earthworms living in ground treated with fungicide weigh half as much as those living in untreated fields.

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Wildflower Blooming Expands Under Global Warming

Climate change has stretched the wildflower blooming season in the Rocky Mountains by more than a month, with half the flowers beginning to bloom weeks earlier than before.

But researcher David Inouye of the University of Maryland says that the flowering plants’ response to climate change is complex, with different species responding in unexpected ways.

Inouye began counting flowers in the Rockies in 1974, long before climate change was even on the scientific radar.

He and his students have since amassed an enormous amount of data on wildflower blooming, and say the blooming times are now changing rapidly.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he says that the peak time of wildflowers bursting into bloom has moved up five days per decade during his study.

But he says that as the bloom season lengthens, the plants are not producing more flowers.

The same number of blooms is spread out over more days, so at peak bloom there may be fewer flowers.

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Global Warming

A Global Warming for the Ages Is Developing: UN

The head of the United Nations weather agency says that global warming has not changed and will continue for at least centuries due to the burning of fossil fuels by humans.

Michel Jarraud made the pronouncement as he presented the World Meteorological Organization’s annual review of the world’s climate.

The report concludes that last year tied with 2007 as the sixth-hottest since reliable records began over 150 years ago.

It also says that 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have occurred in this century.

“The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90 percent of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans,” Jarraud told a news conference.

“Greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable,” Jarraud added.

Wildfires

Wildfires in Nebraska, USA

Firefighters are working to contain wildfires that charred crop fields, rangeland and pasture, including one that blackened nearly 11 square miles in central Nebraska.

The biggest fire, north of St. Paul, had been mostly contained Wednesday, but it flared up again Thursday and ignited some trees near the burned pastureland.

At least 17 fire departments were involved Wednesday when winds gusting over 40 mph helped spread the blaze. The fire destroyed one abandoned home and barn, and it killed several cattle but it was unclear how many. One firefighter also sustained minor injuries.

In southeast Nebraska, firefighters from several departments battled a fire that charred an estimated 300 acres north of U.S. Highway 34, near Union.

In northeast Nebraska, firefighters from Battle Creek, Humphrey, Norfolk, Madison and Stanton were dispatched to handle a wildfire along U.S. Highway 81 south of Norfolk.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Fuego volcano (Guatemala): The volcano’s activity has dropped again a bit. During 27-28 March, 34 moderate explosions with ash plumes up to 800 m high were reported by the volcano observatory. Light ash falls occurred in areas to the west and many explosions were accompanied by shock waves. The recent lava flow, though, seems to be inactive again.

Karymsky volcano (Kamchatka) activity update: Activity at the volcano seems to have been on comparably high levels, since ash plume reports have become more frequent recently. VAAC Tokyo reported ongoing ash emissions with a plume drifting eastwards at estimated 7,000 ft (2.1 km) altitude.

Reventador volcano (Ecuador): elevated activity, lava flows and ash emissions. The volcano’s activity has remained high since the beginning of the current eruptive phase since 25 March. Fresh lava continues to extrude at the summit crater, adding to the dome that had been active since 2011, and producing incandescent avalanches, small pyroclastic flows on its flanks and ash emissions. Seismic activity has remained at high levels, showing continuous tremor and emissions signals. IGPEN reports that the pyroclastic flows on the E, SE and S flanks have traveled up to 1.5 km from the summit. Additionally, there seems to be at least 2 lava flows that descend the south-eastern and eastern flank of the volcano, with fronts reaching approx. 500 m distance.

Shishaldin volcano (Aleutian Islands, Alaska): alert level raised, likely new lava dome growing incrater The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the alert level for the volcano to Aviation Color Code ORANGE and Alert Level WATCH: “Elevated surface temperatures were detected in satellite data beginning on March 18 and have persisted to the present time. Analysis of this data shows that temperatures are consistent with the eruption of lava within the summit crater. The current activity appears to be confined to the deep summit crater and there have been no observations of lava on the flanks of the volcano or surrounding the summit crater. Web camera images, satellite data and pilot observations over the past week show only minor steam emissions from the mountain’s summit crater. There has been no evidence of ash emission.

Disease

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

BOn 27 March 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of an additional laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.