Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.4 Earthquake hits offshore Bio-Bio, Chile.

6.1 Earthquake hits the North Pacific Ocean.

5.6 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Bio-Bio, Chile.

Environment

How Human-Caused Extinction Affects the Planet

Diverse animals across the globe are slipping away and dying as Earth enters its sixth mass extinction, a new study finds.

Over the last century, species of vertebrates are dying out up to 114 times faster than they would have without human activity, said the researchers, who used the most conservative estimates to assess extinction rates. That means the number of species that went extinct in the past 100 years would have taken 11,400 years to go extinct under natural extinction rates, the researchers said.

Much of the extinction is due to human activities that lead to pollution, habitat loss, the introduction of invasive species and increased carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification, the researchers said.

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Wildlife

1 Ton of Illegal Ivory Crushed in NYC

More than 1 ton of illegal ivory was destroyed today (June 19) in New York City. The public demonstration, held in Times Square, was designed to raise awareness about elephant conservation and promote anti-poaching regulations. Carved tusks, trinkets and other ivory objects were pulverized, in an effort to stop worldwide demand for the material. Approximately 1,500 people showed up to witness the ivory being crushed.

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Environment

Humans Pumping Groundwater at Unsustainable Levels

New studies of the world’s groundwater reveal that human activity is using the precious resource at an unsustainable level despite uncertainty about just how much water remains underground.

About a third of the world’s largest subterranean basins are being depleted without anyone knowing when the water will run out, according to two reports by an international team of scientists published in the journal Water Resources Research.

The studies are the first to estimate groundwater losses by using data from NASA’s twin GRACE satellites.

Instruments aboard the orbiters detect the contours of Earth’s gravity, which can be shaped by the weight of water.

The Arabian Aquifer System, a key source for more than 60 million people in the Middle East, was found to be the most overstressed in the world.

The Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan came in second while North Africa’s Murzuk-Djado Basin was third.

The team urgently recommends that further research be conducted to determine just how much water is left.

“In a water-scarce society, we can no longer tolerate this level of uncertainty, especially since groundwater is disappearing so rapidly,” said researcher Alexandra Richey.

Saudi Arabia’s Anaam Agricultural Project in the northwest of the country pumps out vast amounts of water each year from the Arabian Aquifer System. In this astronaut photo from the International Space Station, each dot is an irrigated field, thousands of feet across.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Wildfires have destroyed more than 45,000 acres in the West this week. At least ten major fires are burning in Arizona, California, Oregon and Alaska.

One of the biggest is in the San Bernardino Mountains, east of Los Angeles. Helicopters are attacking the 11,000-acre fire from above, as hundreds of firefighters battle it on the ground. About 400 campers and residents were ordered to evacuate the heavily-wooded area.

Further north in California, a wildfire in the Sierra National Forest south of Yosemite National Park has grown to over 500 acres. For now, the fire threatens few buildings but it destroyed several homes.

Even in Alaska fire season has started with a vengeance. The 7,000-acre Sockeye Fire burned right across the Parks Highway, between Anchorage and Fairbanks.

With conditions so dry after four years of drought, work to prevent wildfires is particularly urgent this year. North of San Francisco, work crews have been busy where forest grows to the edge of densely-populated towns.

In preparation for a worst-case fire season, California has added two additional large air tankers to its fleet and hired 300 extra firefighters.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Republic of Korea

Between 17 and 19 June 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of the Republic of Korea notified WHO of 12 additional confirmed cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) alongside 5 additional deaths.