Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Scotia Sea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

India – Unseasonal rain over the past couple of days has left fields full of flattened crops in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and caused large-scale damage to farms in UP and MP, too. Andhra Pradesh appeared to have borne the brunt of the damage, with officials reporting crop losses in nearly one lakh hectares. In Telangana, various crops planted in 11,628 hectares were destroyed in strong thunderstorms and incessant rain.

India – More than 200 birds have been found dead after a hailstorm in Ahmedabad, Gujarat State, India. Parrots, kites and crows were among the 217 birds which died or were found critically injured at Vasna barrage, in Paldi and other parts of new west zone. Street dogs were also seen to suffer as the icy water was too cold. In just two-and-half-hours, many areas in the rain-lashed city had literally become inaccessible for commuters.

Bangladesh – Multiple lightning strikes in Bangladesh have claimed lives of at least eight people in four different districts.

Philippines – A powerful tornado in Cotabato, Philippines on Sunday afternoon has caused damage to infrastructure and houses.

Environment

‘Warm Blob’ of Water Causing Extreme Weather across USA

Scientists say a mass of warm water off the U.S. West Coast is to blame for the bizarre weather affecting the country. From the unusually dry weather gripping the West to the miserably cold and wet systems pinging the East, the one common trait has been extremity, and climate scientists are linking the extreme weather to above average sea surface temperatures off the West Coast.

The study links a warm water mass that’s around 2-7 degrees Fahrenheit above average with the coast-to-coast anomalous weather. “In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen for that time of year.” The patch of water spans 1,000 miles in each direction and runs 300 feet deep. Since 2013, the blob has continued to push against the coast, and is expected to persist throughout 2015.

“Right now it’s super warm all the way across the Pacific to Japan. For a scientist it’s a very interesting time because when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.”

The blob developed after a high-pressure ridge caused a calmer ocean over the past two winters. With less winter cooling, warmer temperatures have thrived. The warm water patch has led to drier conditions and diminished snowfall in California because air that passes over the blob carries more heat into the West Coast. The warm water blob is not only affecting the country’s weather, it also has the potential to impact the marine food web off the West Coast.

Simply put, marine animals that rely on colder temperatures to thrive will diminish and vice-versa for marine animals that rely on warmer temperatures. The Pacific Coast salmon and steelhead, for instance, will decline in numbers if this trend continues, as both species harness cold-water nutrients to survive. NOAA surveys, however, found that sea nettle jellyfish, ocean sunfish and handful of different shark species have popped up off the West Coast, drawn by the increasing sea surface temps.

Over the past three months, hundreds of emaciated sea lion pups have washed up on the southern California Coast, and the new study could explain why the marine mammals are starving.

Global Warming

China to Overtake USA as Largest Contributor to Global Warming

China is set to overtake the United States as the leading cause of modern global warming at some point within the next two years, a dangerous benchmark for a country that’s also aiming to curb its dependence on coal.

China is already the top emitter of greenhouse gases, having surpassed the United States in 2006, but two separate estimates now indicate that its cumulative emissions since 1990 are on pace to exceed those of the United States, which would make China the largest contributor to modern climate change.

According to Reuters, the Norway-based Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research estimates that China’s cumulative emissions since 1990 will overtake the United States’ this year. Using “slightly different data,” the U.S.-based think tank World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates China’s cumulative emissions will surpass the United States’ in 2016. According to the WRI, China’s 1990-2016 emissions will reach 151 billion tons in 2016, while the U.S. will total 147 billion tons.

Drought

Drought – USA

California may be snagging all the headlines, with Governor Jerry Brown’s strict statewide water restrictions, but other states are suffering from a major drought, too. The entire West — including Texas, Arizona, and Colorado — is facing the consequences of raised temperatures, little to no rainfall this month, shrunken snowpacks (by half!), hastened evaporation, and reduced reservoirs.

The Rio Grande technically runs for 1,900 miles, stretching from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But as of late, farms and cities have been using up almost all of it before it even reaches El Paso — hundreds of miles from the gulf. So, federal officials are being forced to managing the waterway for drought for a fifth consecutive year.

For a second year, cities that rely on San Juan-Chama water, like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, will see their allocations cut. Like the Colorado River in the Rockies and the Sacramento River in California, the Rio Grande gets much of its water supply from melting mountain snow — and those snowpacks just keep getting smaller, faster. Rising temperatures are the reason. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages much water in the West, reported in 2013 that average temperatures in the upper Rio Grande, in Colorado and New Mexico, rose almost 2.8 degrees during the 40 years ending in 2011.

Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease in Asia

The number of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases in Asia so far this year sees one country reporting tens of thousands, and others reporting thousands of cases of the viral, typically childhood infection.

In China, the number of cases of HFMD in 2015 has exceeded 90,000 during the first two months of the year, a similar case count as seen in previous recent years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region. China has also seen 10 HFMD fatalities to date.

Japan has reported in excess of 13,000 cases to date, a number higher than what has been seen in recent years. For example, for the period 12 March to 1 April 2015, there were 4,252 cases reported compared with 776 over the same reporting period in 2014. As of 28 March, there were 6,510 HFMD cases reported in Singapore for 2015. The situation in Singapore has prompted the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice for travellers to the city-state today.

Vietnam has also reported a significant number of HFMD cases in 2015 to date. For the period 1 January to 22 March 2015, there were 9,334 cases of HFMD reported in Vietnam, including two deaths.

HFMD is typically a benign and self-limiting disease. Most common in young children, it presents as fever, oral lesions and rash on the hands, feet and buttocks. The oral lesions consist of rapidly-ulcerating vesicles on the buccal mucosa, tongue, palate and gums. The rash consists of papulovesicular lesions on the palms, fingers and soles, which generally persist for seven to 10 days, and maculopapular lesions on the buttocks.