Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.8 Earthquake hits south of Panama.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

5.8 Earthquake hits the southern east Pacific rise.

5.3 Earthquake hits off the coast of Oregon.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Maug Islands in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

Environment

Catastrophic Collapse of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Begins

The catastrophic collapse of the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet is underway.

The biggest glaciers in West Antarctica are haemorrhaging ice without any way to stem the loss, according to two independent studies. The unstoppable retreat is the likely start of a long-feared domino effect that could cause the entire ice sheet to melt, whether or not greenhouse gas emissions decline.

“These glaciers will keep retreating for decades and even centuries to come and we can’t stop it,” said lead study author Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “A large sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has passed the point of no return.”

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet holds 10 percent of Antarctica’s ice. Glaciers here sit in a giant bowl, with their base below sea level, making melting a concern since the 1970s. As the ice retreats into the bowl, it shrinks back into deeper water, making the glaciers unstable. Like frozen levees, the retreating glaciers pin back more stable parts of the Greenland-size ice sheet. Their collapse threatens the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Two papers published today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and Science used different approaches to forecast the future of West Antarctica’s shrinking glaciers. One study tracked the region’s biggest glaciers for 40 years, and concluded from direct observations that the ice is unstoppable. The other relies on sophisticated computer models to predict the future melting of Thwaites Glacier, the biggest of West Antarctica’s frozen ice rivers.

Both studies conclude that even dramatic changes in climate won’t stop the retreat, because the glaciers are shrinking back into deep valleys with no ridges or mountains to halt their rapid pace. Any high topography can act like a speed bump and slow the galloping glaciers.

The good news is that sea-level rise will be relatively small in the coming centuries, according to the Thwaites Glacier model published today in the journal Science. “Over the next few centuries, the rate of sea level rise will be pretty moderate,” said lead study author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

But the rapid retreat seen in the past 40 years means that in the coming decades, sea-level rise will likely exceed this century’s sea-level rise projections of 3 feet (90 centimeters) by 2100, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If all of West Antarctica melts, the collapse is predicted to raise sea level by 11 to 13 feet (3.3 to 4 meters).

The Antarctic Peninsula has been warming rapidly for at least a half-century, and continental West Antarctica has been getting steadily hotter for 30 years or more. But researchers suspect the ice is melting from below, not from above. Changing wind patterns are believed to be driving warm water up beneath West Antarctica’s glaciers, “eating away at their feet”.

From satellite observations such as radar interferometry, Rignot and his colleagues conclude a common cause underlies the retreat of West Antarctica’s largest glaciers, including Pine Island Glacier, known for cleaving massive icebergs, and its neighbour, Thwaites Glacier. The others are Haynes, Smith and Kohler glaciers.

“One of the most striking features is they have been reacting almost simultaneously,” Rignot said. “We do think this is related to climate warming.”

Antarctic Melt 0acf6

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Texas Panhandle Wildfire Destroys 156 Buildings, Including 89 Homes, Near Fritch

A grass fire that swept through Hutchinson County in the Texas Panhandle on Sunday destroyed 156 structures, at least 89 of which were homes, authorities said late Monday.

Hutchinson County Emergency Management officials said no injures have been reported. But about 2,100 people remain evacuated from roughly 1,300 homes, said Troy Duchneaux, Texas A&M Forest Service spokesman.

The fire, which burned near Fritch, town of about 2,100 located 30 miles northeast of Amarillo, was about 65 percent contained as of late Monday night, and humidity and lower temperatures from area storms were helping, Duchneaux said.

New Mexico wildfire forces evacuations, threatens college town

A wind-fed wildfire in New Mexico raged out of control on Monday, sending heavy smoke wafting over the outskirts of a college town and forcing local authorities to warn residents of a nearby community to evacuate, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The so-called Signal Peak Fire has burned 3,000 acres since erupting on Sunday in the Gila National Forest, fed by tinder-dry conditions and high winds, with gusts exceeding 25 miles per hour, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Brian Martinez.

No injuries have been reported but the small mountain town of Pinos Altos, home to 198 year-round residents, is under voluntary evacuation conditions with an unknown number of structures in danger.

Thick smoke is spreading toward Silver City, a town of just over 10,000 people and home to Western New Mexico University, Martinez said. The edge of the fire was burning 11 miles outside the town.

Disease

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

As of 18:00 on 10 May 2014, the Ministry of Health (MOH) of Guinea has reported a cumulative total of 233 clinical cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), including 157 deaths. Since the last update of 9 May 2014, there have been no new cases confirmed by ebolavirus PCR and no new deaths bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 129, including 83 deaths.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

On 3 and 6 May 2014, the IHR National Focal Point of Jordan notified WHO of two additional laboratory-confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) infections.

A second case of a relatively new and deadly virus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus has been reported in the United States, the CDC said.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Kilauea (Hawai’i): Some big changes in eruption activity here on Kilauea over the past few days. In the past 24 hours alone, 65 earthquakes were strong enough to be located beneath Kilauea Volcano! Gas emissions continued to be elevated at the summit over the past week as well.

Perhaps the biggest change in eruption activity was that the summit tiltmeters recorded almost 4 microradians of (possibly DI) deflationary tilt. The lava-lake level dropped slightly but is still at a measured 51m (167ft) below the floor of Halema’uma’u crater.

On the east rift zone at Pu’u ‘O’o cinder cone, the USGS recorded about -2.3 microradians of deflationary tilt over the past 2 days. Via webcams glow is persistent from the north, south, and northeast spatter cones on the Pu’u ‘O’o crater floor. From our observations, it looks as though the lava that spilled over the edge of the cinder cone last week to the south is forming a channel and, possibly a lava tube in turn, pointing towards the ocean. We are excited about this new activity on the east rift zone, which may allow us to safely and legally access surface flows once again here on Kilauea!

Currently erupting volcanos:

Ambrym (Vanuatu): active lava lakes in several craters

Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): ash explosions

Barren Island (Indian Ocean): intermittent activity, likely strombolian-type and/or lava flows

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): strombolian explosions, ash plumes up to 500 m, extrusion of a small lava dome with rockfalls

Colima (Western Mexico): extrusion of lava flow from summit, intermittent explosions

Dukono (Halmahera): thermal anomaly, probably small explosive activity in summit crater

Erebus (Antarctica): active lava lake in summit crater

Erta Ale (Ethiopia): active lava lake in northern pit crater, active hornito with intermittent flow in southern crater

Fuego (Guatemala): frequent moderate to large strombolian explosions

Gamalama (Halmahera): ash eruptions since 17 Sep

Grozny (Iturup Island): fumarolic activity

Heard (Australia, Southern Indian Ocean): likely lava lake in summit crater

Ibu (Halmahera, Indonesia): growing lava dome, occasional ash emissions

Karkar (Northeast of New Guinea): possible ash eruption on 1 February

Karymsky (Kamchatka): occasional small explosions, thermal anomaly

Kavachi (Solomon Islands): no eruption since 2007

Kilauea (Hawai’i): lava lakes in Halemau’uma’u and Pu’u ‘O’o, lava flows on coastal flat and weakly active ocean entries

Kizimen (Kamchatka): degassing

Lokon-Empung (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): small explosions, lava flow?

Manam (Papua New Guinea): degassing, occasional ash venting

Marapi (Western Sumatra, Indonesia): sporadic explosions

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands): lava effusion enlarging the new island

Nyiragongo (DRCongo): active lava lake in summit crater

Ol Doinyo Lengai (Tanzania): effusion of natrocarbonatite lava inside the crater

Reventador (Ecuador): intermittent explosions, lava fountaining and lava flow emission on 23-24 April

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): ash venting, intermittent explosions

Santa María / Santiaguito (Guatemala): Santiaguito volcano (Guatemala): lava flow on south flank of dome becomes more active

Semeru (East Java, Indonesia): growing lava dome, ash venting and small to moderate explosions

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): growing lava dome, incandescent avalanches, occasional explosions

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): effusion of viscous lava, steaming, ash emissions

Slamet (Central Java): strombolian explosions from central crater

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): continuing lava overflows

Suwanose-jima (Ryukyu Islands): strombolian activity in summit crater

Tinakula (Santa Cruz Islands, Solomon Islands): increased activity at the volcano

Tungurahua (Ecuador): strombolian activity, effusion of lava flow on upper NW flank

Yasur (Tanna Island, Vanuatu): ash emissions, weak strombolian explosions