Wildlife

Great Barrier Reef’s Biggest Threat is Coal

A recent report found that the Great Barrier Reef had lost 50% of its living coral. This was mainly from cyclones and the damages of Crown of Thorns starfish. Then there are the new threats of coral bleaching and acidification.

This issue of coal lies at the heart of current threats to the Great Barrier Reef, and symbolizes an economic mindset that reef lovers everywhere are up against. Our government has decided that Australia’s economic future lies in selling cheap coal to China and India. To do this the Federal and Queensland state governments need to expand existing coal ports on the Reef because these provide the cheapest and quickest shipping routes to Asia.

Quite apart from discouraging investment in renewable energy by backing fossil fuels, this decision has fraught implications for the health of the Reef and its waters.

Because the reef is too shallow for massive container ships, the new coal ports all entail extensive dredging of the seafloor. Thankfully public agitation has temporarily deflected the government’s original plan to dump three million cubic meters of dredged silt from Abbot Point into the reef channel, where it would choke corals and swamp sea grasses. Even so, dredging will stir up immense amounts of sediment as well as coral-threatening bacteria.

The vastly increased tonnage of container ships churning up and down the tricky reef channel represents a further threat from reef accidents and oil spillages, both of which have occurred a number of times in the recent past. There are plans, too, for several new mega-sized coal mines to be opened nearby, requiring similar access to the Great Barrier coastline and lagoon.

To call this policy short-sighted is an understatement. It sacrifices one of the wonders of the world and a substantial economic asset for Australian tourism; and this at a time when even China is trying to wean itself from using polluting coal.

Coal may prove to be an even bigger threat than the crown of thorns starfish which wasted coral reefs all along Australia – because it is something the reef has never seen and it is on an industrial scale that could threaten even this biggest biological structure on Earth. And all to help China pollute their own air! What happens after you build all these ports, you export the coal and China turns to their vast supplies of natural gas? Dead reef and a dead exporting business!

Dmwhgpnx 1413480490

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Kilauea (Hawai’i): Lava flow only hours away from Pahoa houses The flow continues to remain active and has advanced approximately 275 yards since yesterday morning. The flow front is currently moving in a northeast direction and is approximately 100 yards from the nearest residential property. The flow advancement has been inconsistent however averaging approximately 10-15 yards per hour.

20141026 pahoa cemetery1

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Java, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone (tc) 04a (Nilofar), located approximately 384 nm south-southeast of Masirah Island, and is tracking west-northwestward at 04 knots. The system is expected to continue to intensify through the next 36 hours as the favourable upper-level environment continues to support.

Gl sst mm

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): No major changes have occurred at the volcano: Lava effusion continues from the 650 m vent and feeds active lava flows on the upper Sciara del Fuoco. From the lava flow fronts, incandescent blocks detach and roll down the slope. Tremor has decreased to the lowest values measured during the past months and strombolian activity at the summit craters has almost disappeared.

Bardarbunga (Iceland): The eruption continues with no significant changes. Earthquakes continue to be intense under the Bárðarbunga caldera. The largest today was a magnitude 5.3 event at 01:05 local time under the southwestern rim. Two quakes over 4 occurred at the caldera, an M4.6 at 17:34 yesterday and an M4.3 at 05:48 this morning, as well as a few over 3 in size. A dozen earthquakes were detected in the dike, all small.

Kilauea (Hawai’i): After crossing Apaʻa Street and the cemetery, lava flows continue to advance towards the inhabited main part of Pahoa.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits central Peru.

5.4 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits Iceland.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Java, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical Storm Ana transitioning to an extratropical low over the North Pacific – located about 1330 mi…2140 km N of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…65 mph…100 km/h. Present movement…NE or 55 degrees at 43 mph…69 km/h.

Hazards affecting land – none.

Gl sst mm

NewsBytes:

India – Flash flood in Tamilnadu, India has claimed the lives of at least two people.

Bulgaria – A state of emergency has been declared in Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Burgas due to dangerous weather. Some 50 people have been evacuated from their houses due to heavy rainfall in the suburbs Chernitsa near Burgas.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Kilauea volcano update: Lava flows continue to advance, evacuations possible within days Lava has crossed the Apaʻa Street / Cemetery Road near the driveway to the Pāhoa cemetery and is now spreading mainly over open grassland. Between 40 and 50 households could be evacuated within the next few days, as soon as Tuesday, if the lava continues to advance at current rates (approx. 250 m per day) and follows the most likely paths. The lava flow front, approx. 70 m wide, is headed northeast and only 1 km straight line distance from Pahoa Village Road,” he said. The best guess of HVO is that the lava might cross Pahoa Village Road a little bit west of the Pahoa Post Office.

Bardarbunga (Iceland): The eruption seems to continue with no changes, but there were no visual observations today. IMO writes: “Seismic activity on the Bárðarbunga caldera rim continues at comparably high rates as in recent days. Activity in the dyke intrusion was rather low during the last 26 hours since the last report, seismicity around Herðubreið has slightly decreased.

Kirishima (Kyushu): The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a “near crater warning” for the Shinmoedake vent of Kirishima volcano last Friday. Increased earthquake activity were detected and mean an increased risk of a possible (probably phreatic) explosions. Following last months deadly eruption of Ontake-san, news articles about this (routine) event have exploded, focusing on the potential hazards of a volcanic eruption towards the Sendai nuclear power plant, located in the city of Satsumasendai in the Kagoshima Prefecture, approx. 40 km away from the volcano. While a small to moderate eruption could threaten anybody in the immediate vicinity of the volcano, only an exceptionally large (on a global scale) eruption would likely be a threat to this. At the moment, nothing seems to be pointing towards such a scenario.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): More pyroclastic flows have occurred today. A larger one this morning at 09:47 local time probably reached 3-4 km length and produced an ash plume that rose to 15,000 ft (4.5 km) altitude.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.1 Earthquake hits Greece.

5.1 Earthquake hits the west Chile rise.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Cp201402 5day

Hurricane Ana moving rapidly northeast over the Pacific Ocean – located about 905 mi…1460 km NNW of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…75 mph…120 km/h. Present movement…NE or 45 degrees at 24 mph…39 km/h.

Hazards affecting land – none.

NewsBytes:

England – Several major roads in the West Midlands have been badly flooded as heavy rain swept across the region.

Greece – Flash Floods were caused throughout the day in Athens, Greece, and the entire Attica region due to heavy rainfall that flooded streets, houses and shops. Many of the city’s central streets were closed for hours.

Heavy Storm Floods Athens

Global Warming

Alaskan Outpost Heats Up Under Global Warming

The United States’ northernmost settlement of Barrow, Alaska, has warmed a remarkable 12.96 degrees Fahrenheit during October over the past 33 years because of shrinking summertime sea ice.

Researcher Gerd Wendler of the University of Alaska’s International Arctic Research Center says he is “astonished” by his finding, published in the Open Atmospheric Science Journal.

“I think I have never, anywhere, seen such a large increase in temperature over such a short period,” he told the Alaska Dispatch News.

Climate records show Barrow’s average annual temperature has risen by almost 5 degrees since 1979.

But the warming was far more pronounced during October, when the loss of sea ice in the adjacent Beaufort and Chukchi seas was at the highest.

Wendler and colleagues say that some of the warming can be attributed to north winds picking up stored heat from water that is no longer ice-covered during autumn, then releasing it into the atmosphere.

While the Arctic has seen the greatest amount of warming under recent climate change, the scientists caution that Barrow’s long-term temperature rise has not been uniform.

Ew141024a

Environment

Magnetic Flip Can Happen in Human LIfetime

Earth’s magnetic field has the potential to reverse within less than a century, and scientists say there is evidence the poles are now moving toward such a flip.

Scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkley, say they made the conclusions by looking at paleomagnetic data in sediment around the volcanoes of southern Italy.

Ash layers from prehistoric eruptions captured and stored magnetic field information in sediment as it accumulated at the bottom of an ancient lake.

Those layers reveal the last magnetic reversal occurred approximately 786,000 years ago, long before humans walked the planet.

The flip happened after more than 6,000 years of instability, including two intervals of low magnetic field strength that lasted about 2,000 years each.

Such a quiet period in modern times could expose Earth’s surface to harmful levels of solar radiation, possibly increasing the rates of cancer and disrupting electrical power grids, scientists caution.

The Magnetic North Pole has drifted around Arctic Canada since measurements of its location began.

Ew141024b

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

On 17 October 2014, WHO EURO was notified by the National IHR Focal Point for Turkey of a laboratory-confirmed case of infection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). On 11 October 2014, the patient died. This is the first MERS-CoV case in Turkey.

Ebola – Update

The number of cases in the Ebola outbreak has exceeded 10,000, with 4,922 deaths, the World Health Organization says in its latest report.

Only 27 of the cases have occurred outside the three worst-hit countries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Those three countries account for all but 10 of the fatalities.

Mali became the latest nation to record a death, a two-year-old girl. More than 40 people known to have come into contact with her have been quarantined.

The latest WHO situation report says that Liberia remains the worst affected country, with 2,705 deaths. Sierra Leone has had 1,281 fatalities and there have been 926 in Guinea.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Stromboli (Eolian Islands, Italy): There are no signs the effusive eruption is slowing down. A lava flow is being erupted from the vent at 650 m elevation and currently feeds two active branches on the upper Sciara del Fuoco. Intense degassing and sporadic small explosions occur from the summit vents.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Occasional explosions from the New SE crater seem to continue. Small ash emissions could be observed on the morning of 22 Oct when clear weather allowed clear views of the crater. Tremor remains low at the moment.

Bardarbunga (Iceland): The volcanic eruption in Holuhraun continues at similar rate, and has now been going on for more than 50 days. The erupted lava flow volume approaches 1 cubic kilometers and the lava flows now cover over 63 square km.

Ontake-san (Honshu): The volcano continues to produce white steam plumes rising a few 100 m above the crater. According to press articles, 7 people are still missing from the 27 Sep eruption, but search and rescue operations are being suspended until springtime because of the winterly conditions. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-5).

Sakurajima (Kyushu, Japan): Following a week of relatively low activity, the volcano has become more active again during the past days. A particularly strong vulcanian explosion occurred this morning and produced an ash plume that rose to 15,000 ft (4.5 km) altitude.

Mayon (Luzon Island): PHIVOLCS reported that during 14-21 October white plumes rose from Mayon’s crater and drifted NW, W, WSW, SW, and SE. On 14 October a seismic signal indicating a rockfall was recorded and a brief period of incandescence from the crater was observed. A few volcanic earthquakes were recorded during 18-21 October. On 19 October weak incandescence from the crater was noted. A new lava flow first observed that same day was 300-400 m long on 20 October based on an aerial survey. Weak crater incandescence from the lava dome was again seen on 21 October. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 0-5 scale). (Smithsonian / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report 15-21 October 2014)

Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): A volcanic ash plume at 10,000 ft (3 km) altitude and extending 40 nautical miles to the NW was repoerted by Darwin VAAC Monday morning based on satellite data. This could suggest a small eruption occurred at the volcano.

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): Pyroclastic flows have decreased in size and frequency, but continued to occur at least until yesterday. Cloudy weather prevents detailed observations most of the time.

Kilauea (Hawai’i): The lava flow continues to advance towards Pahoa and might cut the first road very soon. During an overflight on 22 Oct, the most advanced front of the 27 June flow, a narrow lobe, was only approx. 480 m away from the Apa’a road. The rate of advance of the flow, now at 21 km distance from its vent, has been highly variable, from an average rate of about 80 m/day during the previous week to rates as high as 300 m/day (330 yd/day) at times from Monday to Wednesday.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): Although activity has decreased a bit, intense degassing and sporadic small ash emissions as well as crater glow continue at the volcano. SERNAGEOMIN warns of the possibility of sudden explosions and recommends an exclusion zone of 3 km radius around the volcano’s crater.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore O’Higgins, Chile.

5,1 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.1 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore O’Higgins, Chile.