Disease

Squirrel Virus in Germany

Three people in Germany who worked as squirrel breeders and who all died from brain inflammation may have contracted a new strain of virus from their squirrels, according to a new report of the cases.

The new virus strain belongs to a group of viruses called bornaviruses, which typically infect animals such as horses, sheep and birds. Researchers have debated whether this group of viruses can cause disease in people.

The new findings suggest such viruses do cause disease, and moreover, raise the question of whether this virus “represents an emerging threat” to people in the area, according to a recent statement from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Typhoon 09w (Chan-Hom), located approximately 197 nm south-southeast of Kadena AB, is tracking northwestward at 13 knots.

Tropical storm 10w (Linfa), located approximately 85 nm east-northeast of Hong Kong, is tracking westward at 10 knots.

Typhoon 11w (Nangka), located approximately 144 nm north of Saipan, is tracking west-northwestward at 11 knots.

Tropical Storm Ela is located about 650 mi…1050 km E of Hilo Hawaii and about 840 mi…1350 km E of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…NW or 320 degrees at 12 mph…19 km/h.

Invest 91C and 92C are areas of disturbed weather in the East Pacific which have the potential for tropical development.

NewsBytes:

Afghanistan – Flash flood in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan has claimed the life of one person and damaged more than 80 houses.

Venezuela – Flood waters up to 10 feet high have receded to at least three feet in the town of Guasdualito, Venezuela, allowing for recovery and aid efforts to help about 9,000 affected families. There is no potable water or electricity and means of communication and access to food is limited in Guasdualito. The town in Venezuela’s Apure state has been under state of emergency because of heavy rainfall last week that resulted in floods. The floods have affected about 200,000 hectares of productive agricultural land. The neighboring states of Mérida and Táchira have been alerted about possible flooding due to persistent heavy rains.

Environment

Earth’s Groundwater Basins Are Running Out of Water

One-third of Earth’s largest groundwater basins are under threat because humans are draining so much water from them, according to two new studies. What’s more, researchers say they lack accurate data about how much water remains in these dwindling reservoirs.

The studies found that eight of the world’s 37 biggest aquifers are “overstressed,” meaning not enough water is replenished to offset the usage. Topping the list of overstressed aquifers is the Arabian Aquifer System, located beneath Yemen and Saudi Arabia, from which 60 million people draw their water.

The studies used data collected between 2003 and 2013. In addition to the Arabian Aquifer System, the most taxed aquifers are located in the world’s driest regions, the researchers found. For instance, the Indus Basin aquifer, which straddles northwestern India and Pakistan, was labeled the second-most overstressed in the world, and northern Africa’s Murzuq-Diado Basin rounded out the top three.

Groundwater pumping in California’s Central Valley is also rapidly depleting the state’s vast aquifer system, the researchers said. This overpumping is exacerbated by the extreme drought in California, which is now in its fourth year. Currently, 99 percent of California is experiencing drought conditions, and 47 percent of the state is considered to be in “exceptional drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

There is little information available on how much groundwater is left in the world’s largest basins. In some cases, existing estimates were based on information from decades ago, the researchers said. Adding in the GRACE (NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) measurements caused large fluctuations in the estimates. For example, the “time to depletion” for the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System was estimated at anywhere between 10 and 21,000 years, the researchers said.

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