Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.3 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Sangihe, Indonesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Guatemala.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Antahan region in the North Mariana Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Sumbawa region, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Texas, USA – A snowstorm in Dallas, Texas has caused hundreds of traffic accidents and led to more than 600 flight cancellations.

Bolivia – Heavy rains in Bolivia have collapsed a bridge connecting two parts of the country. A truck which was crossing at the time was swept away in the floodwaters.

Global Warming

Global Warming Fuels Coral Killer

Global warming worsens a disease that has almost wiped out Caribbean coral reefs, according to a new study by researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology.

In only 40 years, the iconic elkhorn and staghorn corals that have dominated Caribbean reefs for 3.5 million years have declined by more than 90 percent. The main culprit: a disease that causes dead, white bands across the coral. And ocean warming is playing a bigger role in the so-called “white-band” disease than previously thought, the researchers found.

Both elkhorn and staghorn coral are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. They are especially of concern because they form the foundations of reefs that support economically important fish and other marine species.

White-band disease has already devastated Florida corals, especially in the Florida Keys.

The Florida Tech researchers compared sea temperature data with white-band disease records from 473 coral sites in the Caribbean and the Keys.

They found white-band disease is more common where waters have warmed most rapidly and stayed unusually warm during winter.

It seems that warmer waters may be making marine microbes more infectious and/or weakening the coral’s innate immunity.

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Environment

Intensive Fertiliser Use Dampening Natural Nutrition

The widespread use of nitrogen fertiliser is causing a significant evolution in soil bacteria that naturally help bring nitrogen to many plants, making the organisms less beneficial to legumes.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign say the changes in soil rhizobia could have “far-reaching ecological and environmental consequences,” not only in farmland, but also in the plants of the surrounding environment.

Writing in the journal Evolution, the scientists say the problem isn’t limited to the application of fertiliser on legumes.

Lead author Katy Heath says emissions of nitrogen oxides from the burning of fossil fuels are also causing a change in the quality of soil rhizobia, leading to altered plant growth.

“Worldwide, the nitrogen cycle is off. We’ve changed it fundamentally,” said Heath.

The research reveals that in areas polluted with fertiliser runoff, legumes decline while other plants become more common.

Root nodules house soil bacteria, like rhizobia, which fix nitrogen for the plant. The bacteria cannot fix the nitrogen on their own and need a plant host.

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Disease

Ebola – Update

A Sierra Leonean village is currently on lockdown after the discovery of 31 new cases of Ebola.

Health officials say that the new infections were caused by one man who escaped quarantine in Freetown and sought help from a traditional healer in his hometown.

The affected community, which is home to 500 people, is close to the town of Makeni.