Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits Seram, Indonesia.

5.8 Earthquake hits the Nias Region, Indonesia.

5.6 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.4 Earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island.

5.2 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.2 Earthquake hits off the coast of Tarapaca, Chile.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Pulau Region.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.


World’s Ocean Floor Is Now a Vast Garbage Dump: Study

Litter from modern civilization has become so pervasive that scientists conducting the first comprehensive study of its undersea distribution couldn’t find any place they looked, including in some of the deepest oceans, where it didn’t exist.

Using video from underwater drones and samples dredged off the seabed, researchers from 16 European organizations say they found rubbish everywhere from the Mediterranean to the mid-Atlantic ridge, about 1,250 miles from land.

They found that plastic was the most common type of litter found, with items associated with fishing coming in second. But an extensive distribution of glass, metal, wood, paper and cardboard was also observed.

Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, the researchers said the most dense accumulations of litter were found in deep underwater canyons.

“Submarine canyons form the main connection between shallow coastal waters and the deep sea,” said mapping team leader Veerle Huvenne.

“Canyons that are located close to major coastal towns and cities … can funnel litter straight to water depths of 4,500 meters (14,800 feet) or more,” he added.

He added that the accumulation of marine litter is now a worldwide problem.

Examples of debris found littering the ocean floor.



Starving NYC Rats Ate Trees During Polar Vortex Winter

The past winter, dominated by the polar vortex, was so harsh that it drove New York City rats to eat trees to survive, according to a U.S. Forest Service scientist.

“With the deep snow and the cold winter, probably they didn’t have access to the normal food supply and it was a lot colder this winter,” research ecologist Rich Hallett told WNYC.

“So they went after the trees.” The tenacious rodents gnawed through the bark to get to a sugary layer for nourishment and energy.

In some of the most extreme cases, the rats can chew all the way around the base of a trunk in a practice called girding, which usually kills the tree.

But experts warn that some of the coldest winter weather on record is not likely to have made a significant dent in the rat population.



Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.2 degrees Fahrenheit (46.2 degrees Celsius) at Nawabshah, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 104.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 76.0 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.


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

On 25 and 28 April 2014, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 3 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus.

Middle respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 26 April 2014, the Ministry of Health of Egypt reported the first laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the country.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Cerro Negro de Mayasquer (Colombia): The alert level of the twin-volcanoes Cerro Negro and Chiles has been raised to yellow in response to an ongoing seismic crisis and deformation that has been detected since November 2013, when a new monitoring network had been installed.

INGEOMINAS reported that seismic activity has remained elevated and that so far, more than 60,000 small earthquakes at shallow depths (1-6 km) have been recorded since November 2013. The epicenters were between 3-5 km SW of the Chiles volcano, while deformation affects neighboring Cerro Negro volcano to the west. Several of them were felt by people living close by. The largest quake so far was a magnitude 4.5 event that was felt widely.