Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 Earthquake hits east of North island, New Zealand.

5.0 Earthquake hits Nepal.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Babar, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical storm 07w (Dolphin), located approximately 384 nm east-southeast of Andersen AFB, is tracking west-northwestward at 13 knots.

NewsBytes:

New Zealand – Streets have been turned into rivers and homes flooded as heavy rain continues to pound the Wellington region, while commuters are stuck in the city as trains are cancelled and highways blocked. More heavy rain and traffic disruptions are expected on Friday after the deluge that left homes flooded, roads turned to rivers, and trains cancelled. Thousands of commuters were stranded in Wellington, once again highlighting the fragility of the road network. The region was hit by a deluge of rain overnight causing slips and flooding, with 117.4mm falling in Paraparaumu and 96mm in Lower Hutt in the last 24 hours.

Wildlife

Honeybees Still Dying

Just last year, it seemed there was something to celebrate despite planet Earth’s ongoing honeybee apocalypse: Bee colony losses were down. Not by enough, but they were down.

“It’s better news than it could have been,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland entomology professor who led a survey of bee populations that reported a loss of 23 percent of bee colonies — less than 30 percent, the average from 2005 to 2013. “It’s not good news.”

Though scientists cited progress in battles against an Asian mite that has killed many an American bee, they had words of caution.

“One year does not make a trend,” Jeff Pettis, a co-author of the survey who heads the federal government’s bee research laboratory in Beltsville, Md., told the New York Times.

Turns out Pettis was right. VanEngelsdorp and other researchers at the Bee Informed Partnership, affiliated with the Department of Agriculture, just announced more than 40 percent of honeybee hives died this past year, as the Associated Press reported. The number is preliminary, but is the second-highest annual loss recorded to date.

“What we’re seeing with this bee problem is just a loud signal that there’s some bad things happening with our agro-ecosystems,” study co-author Keith Delaplane of the University of Georgia told the AP. “We just happen to notice it with the honeybee because they are so easy to count.”

The cause of the bees’ demise was not noted, but researchers said colony collapse disorder — which causes mass deaths of the bees for reasons not fully understood — was not necessarily the culprit. As the Times put it last year: “What has emerged is a complex set of pressures on managed and wild bee populations that includes disease, a parasite known as the varroa mite, pesticides, extreme weather and poor nutrition tied to a loss of forage plants.”

The state worst affected was Oklahoma, which lost more than 60 percent of its hives. Hawaii escaped relatively unscathed, losing less than 14 percent.

The USDA estimated that honeybees add more than $15 billion to the value of the country’s crops per year.

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Nature – Images

Interesting Images:

Cloudiest Places on Earth Revealed

As a new NASA image reveals, the Earth is a cloudy place. According to the space agency, clouds cover about 67 percent of the Earth’s surface at any given time, and less than 10 percent of the skies over the ocean are sunny and blue. Now, more than a decade’s worth of data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite reveals where clouds gather and where skies tend to be clear.

The blue-and-white image averages daily cloud observations from the satellite between July 2002 and April 2015. It reveals a mostly hazy Earth with three especially cloudy zones.

These zones are linked to the global circulation patterns in Earth’s atmosphere. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, in the mid-latitudes, polar air masses collide with Ferrel cells, which circulate air westward at high altitudes and eastward at the surface. These patterns cause air to rise around 60 degrees north and south of the equator, promoting the formation of clouds in these two zones. These same patterns push air downward between 15 degrees and 30 degrees from the equator, resulting in the cloud-free zones seen in desert areas such as Australia and northern Africa.

The third particularly cloudy zone is found over the equator, where circulation cells called Hadley cells dominate. In these zones, warm air rises and condenses, creating both clouds and storms, according to the Earth Observatory.

On the satellite image, these cloudy zones are seen in bright white; the bluer the region, the clearer the skies.

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Disease

Ebola virus disease – Italy

On 12 May 2015, WHO received notification of a laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Italy. This is the first EVD case to be detected on Italian soil.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Canada

Crews were fighting four new out-of-control wildfires in west-central and northwestern Alberta on Tuesday. Provincial wildfire officials said two of the fires were burning in the backcountry south of Edson. Another fire was southwest of Nordegg near Highway 11. There was also a blaze near Grande Prairie.

Wildfires – Florida, USA

Wildfires in the Big Cypress National Preserve in eastern Collier County grew larger Wednesday, forcing a closure of a large swath of the preserve north and south of Interstate 75. The fire has spread to encompass more than 4000 acres.