Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.4 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Sea of Othotsk.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Sumbawa region, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Canada – Heavy rain washes out roads, causes flooding in southern Quebec. Several spots around Quebec are coping with the aftermath of heavy rainfall on Wednesday with one town declaring a local emergency.

Environment

The heat is on in Greenland

It’s been a hot June at Kangerlussuaq, where the temperature peaked at 73°F on June 15. That’s not far below the all-time hottest temperature ever recorded in Greenland of 78.6°F, set just last year on July 30 at nearby Maniitsoq Mittarfia. The unusual warmth this year melted nearly 40% of the Greenland Ice Sheet in mid-June – far above the usual 15% figure.

The warm June temperatures could be setting the stage for a big Greenland melt season this summer, and scientists with the Dark Snow Project are on the ice, 48 miles east Kangerlussuaq, conducting a two-month field experiment on the causes and implications of Greenland ice melt. The results, soon to be published, showed a pronounced spike in black carbon at the critical layer, and indicated the strong need for more research.

The “burning question”: How much does wildfire and industrial soot darken the ice, increasing melt? Was the record melt and record darkness of the ice sheet in 2012 a harbinger of the future? A darker ice sheet absorbs more solar energy, in a vicious cycle that raises temperatures, melts more ice, and further darkens the ice sheet.

The amount of melting that was caused by soot from forest fires is important to know, since global warming is likely to increase the amount of forest fires in coming decades. However, the amount of forest fire soot landing on the Greenland Ice Sheet is almost completely unknown.

Greenland’s ice sheet holds enough water to raise global sea levels by 7.36 meters (24.15 feet) were it all to melt, and civilization would be hard-pressed to deal with 10 – 13 feet of sea level rise from West Antarctica, let alone another 20+ feet from Greenland. “If we’ve committed to 3.3 meters (10.8′) from West Antarctica, we haven’t committed to losing Greenland, we haven’t committed to losing most of East Antarctica. Those are still out there for us.”

Unfortunately, the Greenland Ice Sheet is much more vulnerable to melting than previously thought, found a May 2014 study. Deeply incised submarine glacial valleys beneath the Greenland ice sheet. The researchers found that widespread ice-covered valleys extend much deeper below sea level and farther inland than previously thought, and would likely melt significantly from steadily warming waters lapping at Greenland’s shores.

The ice core study found that black carbon from forest fires helped caused a RARE, near-ice-sheet-wide surface melt event that melted 97% of Greenland’s surface on July 11 – 12 2012, and a similar event in 1889. Another factor contributing to a darker Greenland Ice Sheet and more melting may be additional wind-blown dust landing on the ice. “Our hypothesis is that now that seasonal snow cover in the Arctic is retreating earlier than before, and bare soil is available earlier in the Spring for dust transport.”

Drought

Drought – USA

Drought brings disaster declaration for all of Utah – Every county in Utah will be covered by a disaster declaration because of the ongoing drought.

Drought Nudges Nevada Wildlife Toward Urban Areas – Three years of drought in Nevada is drying up fisheries in the valleys and pushing some animals to urban areas looking for food and water.

Environment

Oceans Under Threat of Collapse

The Global Ocean Commission is out with a scathing report on the state of our oceans. To put it bluntly, our oceans are on the brink of collapse. One area the report points out is the heavy subsidizing of fishing fleets. It isn’t advances of fishing technology allowing them to catch around 10 million per year, it’s the massive fuel subsidies that keeps the industry afloat.

In addition to the overfishing, the oceans are also suffering from increased pollution. Plastics are harming the ecosystem in a way that is causing a collapse in some species. Outside of pollution, habitat destruction, climate change and ocean acidification also pose dangers to the ecosystem.

In the report, the commission is urging governments to put the hammer down on these threats quickly. If not, it may be necessary to ban industrial fishing in some areas. Already, governments have implemented marine reserves and imposed off-limits areas that ban industrial fishing.

The issue with the zones and reserves are that they are not well guarded, and fishing vessels get into them without regard to the law.

This renewed call to protect the ocean comes about a week after President Obama outlined plans to create the world’s largest protected area in the south-central Pacific Ocean.

What the report shows is that you may create an area, but you better be ready to police it. Without enforcing the rules, who is to stop vessels from encroaching on designated off-limits zones.

To read the full report, jump over to this PDF document. It outlines threats facing the world’s oceans today.

Disease

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

On 17 June 2014, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 2 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Update on polio in central Africa

On 17 March 2014, WHO elevated the risk assessment of international spread of polio from central Africa, particularly Cameroon, to very high. A new exportation event from Equatorial Guinea demonstrates that the risk of international spread from central Africa remains very high (http://www.who.int/csr/don/2014_03_17_polio/en/). On 18 June 2014, Brazil reported that wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) had been detected in a sewage sample collected in March 2014 at Viracopos International Airport in Sao Paolo state. Genetic sequencing indicates that this virus is most closely related to the virus that is circulating in Equatorial Guinea.

Four wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases have been reported in Equatorial Guinea in 2014. The index case – Equatorial Guinea’s first case to be reported since 1999 – had onset of paralysis on 28 January 2014; the country’s most recent case occurred on 3 April 2014. Genetic sequencing indicates these cases are linked to an ongoing WPV1 outbreak in Cameroon (Cameroon’s most recent case was on 31 January 2014). Equatorial Guinea is implementing outbreak response activities, with three National Immunization Days (NIDs) with bivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) in April and May, and plans for further NIDs in July and August. NIDs are deemed essential to stop the outbreak as an estimated 40% of children are fully immunized against polio through the routine immunization programme in the country.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Pavlof volcano (Alaska) activity update: eruption ends. Eruptive activity at the volcano appears to have ceased, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) reports:

“Clear web camera and satellite images over the past several days have shown no evidence of continued lava fountaining from the summit. Only weakly elevated surface temperatures in the vicinity of recent lava flows northeast of the summit have been recorded. AVO has observed no evidence of ash emission from the volcano since early June.”