Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

Two 5.2 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Babar, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Scotland – Flash flooding caused significant problems and disruption to transport in parts of Scotland. Flood warnings have been put in place across the north and west of Britain as Scotland suffered a day of travel chaos and a significant rail signalling problem stopped trains running through Gatwick railway station in West Sussex. The Met Office issued alerts for parts of northern England and Scotland, with up to 80mm of rain expected in Yorkshire, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and parts of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire over the next 24 hours.

Indonesia – Floods were still engulfing areas across the country on Sunday, killing two children in a village in North Sumatra. On Monday, floods engulfing thousands of homes in a number of regions in North Sumatra started to recede. Meanwhile, heavy rains have been pouring over the southern parts of Central Java for the past five days and floods are inevitable. The floods have hit a number of areas in Cilacap regency, Central Java, over the past four days. No casualties have been reported yet, but thousands of homes and tens of thousands of hectares of rice fields have been swamped. Hundreds of families have evacuated as the floods have further expanded following incessant rain.

Global Warming

Pacific Coral Bleaching

An El Nino weather pattern had been developing in recent months, raising ocean temperatures and stressing delicate coral reefs.

The Marshall Islands is experiencing its worst-ever coral bleaching as global warming threatens reefs across the entire northern Pacific.

“The worst coral bleaching event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September,” Karl Fellenius, a Majuro-based marine scientist with the University of Hawaii said.

C Mark Eakin, manager of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch program, said recent observations showed the problem was widespread across the vast waters of the northern Pacific.

“Major bleaching was seen in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati,” he said.

“Thermal stress levels set new record highs in CNMI and the NWHI and we saw the first widespread bleaching event in the main Hawaiian Islands.”

Fellenius said coral bleaching was a naturally occurring phenomenon but not on the scale currently being seen.

“While bleaching can occur on very hot days in pools of water with little circulation (such as) very low tides on reef flats, it has become a global problem due to greenhouse gas emissions causing elevated temperatures under climate change.”

He said sea surface temperatures had been on average half to a full degree Celsius higher than normal for months, adding: “This does not seem like a lot but it makes a big difference to corals.”

Fellenius said the last major bleaching event was in 1997, when an exceptionally strong El Nino system affected about a quarter of the world’s coral reefs.

He said the bleached coral was becoming covered with algae, hindering its chances of recovery.

Disease

Ebola Epidemic Continues in Africa, Despite Progress in Some Places

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has undergone a dramatic change in the past several months, according to U.S. health officials.

There has been “real progress” in the fight against the deadly viral disease, but eliminating Ebola will require much more work, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters.

“The response is inspiring, but the challenges are sobering,” said Frieden, who just returned from a trip to the region of West Africa affected by the outbreak.

In Guinea, officials with Doctors Without Borders said they’d seen “the scariest thing I’ve heard,” Frieden said: For the first time since the outbreak began, there were not enough beds for sick patients in treatment centres in the capital city of Conakry.

And in Sierra Leone, at least 10 people die every day in their communities, rather than in treatment centres, Frieden said. The number of people dying in communities is important because those deaths indicate the region faces a greater risk that the disease will spread to others, compared with places where most deaths occur in treatment centres.

Of the three countries hit hardest by the outbreak — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia — Sierra Leone now has the most cases of Ebola, he said. However, in the country’s capital city Freetown, there is now an “impressive” command centre that is staffed by about 100 people, Frieden said. If the outbreak in Freetown proceeds similarly to how it did in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia, then within the next few weeks, there should be a significant decrease in cases, he said.

Of the three countries, the most hopeful situation is that of Liberia, Frieden said. The number of cases there has decreased quickly, and the country’s Ebola treatment centre is well run, and has only a handful of patients. Moreover, there are now fewer deaths in places where people previously had been barely able to keep up with the number of dead who needed to be buried, he said.

There have been more than 19,000 cases of Ebola since the outbreak began during the early part of 2014, and about 7,400 people have died of the disease, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Fogo (Cape Verde): The eruption continues its destructive work: the lava effusion from the vents remains at moderate intensity and feeds various active flows that spread in the Cha Caldera. While the foremost front that had destroyed Portela and Bangaeira two weeks ago is no longer active, several lateral breakouts continue to spread in the caldera.

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): A moderately strong explosive eruption occurred Saturday night. An ash plume rose to estimated 22,000 ft (6.5 km) altitude and bright glow was visible on webcam imagery, likely from incandescent material deposited during a dome collapse event.

Kilauea (Hawai’i): The lava flow advance has further slowed down, giving Pahoa some hope it might not reach it or at least not as soon as feared. “Since yesterday ,the leading edge of the active flow had advanced about 78 m since Saturday morning flight, and is currently about 0.6 miles (1.0 km) up slope from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pāhoa Village Rd. This number reflects an overall decrease of advancement rate during the past several days.” (HVO)