Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Nepal.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Australia – Five people died in flooding north of Brisbane after storms dumped more than 17 centimetres (7 inches) of rain near the capital of Queensland state.

Global Warming

Global Warming Threat to 1 in 6 Species

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, Mark Urban, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut, found that as the planet warms in the future, species will disappear at an accelerating rate.

Global warming has raised the planet’s average surface temperature about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution. Species are responding by shifting their ranges.

If emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to grow, climate researchers project the world could warm by as much as 8 degrees Fahrenheit. As the climate continues to change, scientists fear, some species won’t be able to find suitable habitats.

For example, the American pika, a hamsterlike mammal that lives on mountains in the West, has been retreating to higher elevations in recent decades. Since the 1990s, some pika populations along the species’ southernmost ranges have vanished.

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Hundreds of studies published over the past two decades have yielded a wide range of predictions regarding the number of extinctions that will be caused by global warming. Some have predicted few extinctions, while others have predicted that 50 percent of species face oblivion.

There are many reasons for the wide variation. Some scientists looked only at plants in the Amazon, while others focused on butterflies in Canada. In some cases, researchers assumed just a couple of degrees of warming, while in others they looked at much hotter scenarios. Because scientists rarely were able to say just how quickly a given species might shift ranges, they sometimes produced a range of estimates.

To get a clearer picture, Dr. Urban decided to revisit every climate extinction model ever published. He threw out all the studies that examined just a single species, such as the American pika, on the grounds that these might artificially inflate the result of his meta-analysis. (Scientists often pick out individual species to study because they already suspect they are vulnerable to climate change.)

Dr. Urban ended up with 131 studies examining plants, amphibians, fish, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates spread out across the planet. He re-analyzed all the data in those reports.

Overall, he found that 7.9 percent of species were predicted to become extinct from climate change. Estimates based on low levels of warming yielded much fewer extinctions than hotter scenarios.

Disease

Bird Flu – USA

With a quarter of Iowa’s laying hens doomed from bird flu, Gov. Terry Branstad declared a state of emergency Friday that activates a coordinated response and increases biosecurity measures to check the infectious disease in the USA’s leading egg-producing state.

Iowa now becomes the third state to declare an emergency because of the outbreak, which either has led or will lead to the extermination of some 21 million chickens and turkeys nationwide. Minnesota and Wisconsin declared states of emergency last month.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Axial sea Mount (Oregon, USA) An underwater volcano off the coast of Oregon has risen from its slumber and may be spewing out lava about a mile beneath the sea. Researchers were alerted to the possible submarine eruption of the Axial Seamount, located about 300 miles (480 kilometres) off the West Coast, by large changes in the seafloor elevation and an increase in the number of tiny earthquakes on April 24. Axial Seamount is an underwater mountain that juts up 3,000 feet (900 meters) from the ocean floor, and is part of a string of volcanoes that straddle the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a tectonic-plate boundary where the seafloor is spreading apart.

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