Wildlife

Birds Sing Louder, Lower to Be Heard Over Human Noise

The din of modern life has gotten so loud that male bluebirds have learned to “shout” louder when the human-generated noise becomes too blaring.

Researcher Caitlin Kight of the U.K.’s University of Exeter and colleagues made the discovery after recording songs produced by 32 male bluebirds.

Writing in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology, Kight says they found the male bluebirds were able to make real-time adjustments to be heard over noise by producing songs that are both louder and lower-pitched.

The finding suggests the birds are able to perceive the louder background noise and alter their songs accordingly to be heard by potential mates or rivals.

Co-author John Swaddle, from the college of William and Mary, cautions against interpreting the findings as proof that noise pollution has no adverse impacts on wildlife.

“Unfortunately, the world is getting so noisy that even the most flexible of species will eventually reach a threshold beyond which they will have difficulty communicating, which will impact their ability to breed successfully,” said Swaddle.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 122.0 degrees Fahrenheit (50.0 degrees Celsius) at Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 111.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 79.9 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Antarctic research station.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Disease

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 22 and 23 August 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 13 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. Twelve (12) of these reported cases are associated with a MERS-CoV outbreak currently occurring in a hospital in Riyadh city.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits Norfolk Island, Australia.

5.2 Earthquake hits the northern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.1 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.1 Earthquake hits northern Xinjiang, China.

5.0 Earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

Fracking in British Columbia

Fracking triggered a 4.4-magnitude earthquake in northeastern B.C. last year, making it one of world’s largest earthquakes ever triggered by the controversial process.

B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission confirmed the cause of the earthquake in an email statement this week, saying it was “triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing.”

The 4.4-magnitude quake was felt in Fort St. John and Fort Nelson in August 2014. It was preceded by a 3.8-magnitude earthquake in late July, also caused by fracking.

B.C.’s Oil and Gas Commission said that several companies were doing hydraulic fracturing in the area at the time, and several more were disposing of fracking waste.

Hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking, is the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to break rock and free gas.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Tropical Storm Erika is located about 35 mi…55 km N of Guadeloupe and about 30 mi…45 km se of Antigua with maximum sustained winds…50 mph…85 km/h. Present movement…W or 280 degrees at 16 mph…26 km/h.

Hurricane Ignacio is located about 1205 mi…1940 km ESE of Hilo Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…85 mph…140 km/h. Present movement…WNW or 290 degrees at 13 mph…20 km/h.

Tropical Storm Kilo is located about 125 mi…200 km NE of Johnston Island and about 610 mi…985 km WSW of Barking Sands Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…50 mph…85 km/h. Present movement…WSW or 245 degrees at 1 mph…2 km/h.

Tropical Storm Jimena is located about 845 mi…1365 km SSW of the southern tip of Baja California with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…WNW or 285 degrees at 15 mph…24 km/h.

NewsBytes:

North Korea – Heavy rain in North Korea killed 40 people, stranded thousands in flash floods and caused “massive” damage on the weekend after 250 mm (9.5 inches) of rain fell over the weekend. About 155mm (6 inches) fell in just three hours on Saturday. More than 11,000 people were forced from their homes or otherwise affected by the floods, which hit the northeastern city of Rajin, near the border with Russia and China, on Saturday and Sunday.

Disease

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 18 and 21 August 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 29 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 6 deaths.

Twenty-four (24) of these reported cases are associated with a MERS-CoV outbreak currently occurring in a hospital in Riyadh city.

First Native Case Of Mosquito-Borne Tropical Disease Chinkungunya Confirmed In Spain

The European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) confirmed the first case of the tropical disease chinkungunya to be transmitted in Spain on August 21.

“This is the first chikungunya case reported from Spain without travel history to endemic areas,˝ said the ECDC report.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Lava extrusion into the volcano’s lava dome continues at moderate intensity. Small incandescent avalanches are sometimes visible on night-time webcam images. Steaming and weak to moderate ash emissions accompany this activity.

Manam (Papua New Guinea): Ash emissions occurred Tuesday (25th), producing a plume at 8,000 ft (2.4 km) altitude that extended 100 km to the west. (Darwin VAAC)

Raung (East Java): A few days ago, the official alert level of the volcano has been lowered to 2 (out of 4). It seems that no, or almost no eruptive activity has taken place at the volcano over the past days. What probably was the volcano’s most significant eruption in at least 100 years, is probably over.

Dukono (Halmahera): Activity remains intense. Darwin VAAC spotted ash emissions that rose 1-2 km above the volcano and drifted up to 100 km to the west.

Colima (Western Mexico): Activity seems to have decreased over the past days. Explosions have been much weaker and almost absent recently.

Cotopaxi (Ecuador): No significant changes have occurred. The volcano continues to produce near-continuous ash plumes that rise 1-2 km above the summit and drift into westerly directions. Volcanic tremor is continuous at the moment.

Tungurahua (Ecuador): Activity at the volcano increased since Tuesday (25 Aug), the volcano observatory reported. From 03:05 local time, seismic activity increased with the appearance of tremor accompanying ash emissions. Black, hence likely juvenile (from fresh magma) ash fell on Chontapamba Pillate, Bilbao and Juive Grande is recorded. Subsequently, 5 explosions were recorded starting at 05:57. The intensity of these increased progressively, the strongest occurring at 08:05.

Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion): The eruption that began last Monday continues. Lava output is much lower now (approx 10 cubic meters / second) than in the beginning (30 cu m/s), but more or less stable. Bad weather during the past two days prevented more detailed observations. A heavy cloud of volcanic fog (SO2 droplets) encompasses most of the Enclos and parts of the southern La Réunion island.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 Earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits north of Ascension Island.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Tropical Storm Erika is located about 390 mi…630 km E of Antigua with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…W or 280 degrees at 18 mph…30 km/h. Hazards affecting land: wind: tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the warning area in the Leeward Islands tonight, and reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area tonight and early Thursday. Rainfall: Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 2 to 4 inches with maximum amounts of 8 inches across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Friday morning.

Tropical Storm Ignacio is located about 1485 mi…2385 km ESE of Hilo Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…50 mph…85 km/h. Present movement…W or 260 degrees at 7 mph…11 km/h.

Tropical Depression Kilo is located about 160 mi…255 km NE of Johnston Island and about 585 mi…940 km WSW of Barking Sands Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…35 mph…55 km/h. Present movement…WSW or 240 degrees at 5 mph…7 km/h.

Tropical Storm Loke is located about 370 mi…595 km NNE of Midway Island with maximum sustained winds…50 mph…85 km/h. Present movement…NW or 325 degrees at 21 mph…33 km/h.

Invest 96E is an area of disturbed weather in the East Pacific that has the potential for tropical development.

NewsBytes:

Alaska – Searchers in Alaska on Tuesday recovered the third and last body of three people who went missing after a landslide last week on Aug. 18. The landslide that carried mud and trees sweeping down a road occurred after 24 hours of heavy rain in the mountainous community in Alaska’s southeastern tip.

Global Warming

Huge Chunk Breaks Off Greenland Glacier

The evidence that climate change and global warming are real and a threat to mankind continues to pile up. The most recent piece of evidence is news that Greenland’s famous Jakobshavn Glacier has just calved off a huge chunk, in one of the largest glacier calvings ever recorded. The iceberg that sank the Titantic is thought to have broken off from the Jakobshavn glacier.

Based on data from the European Space Agency, the iceberg that separated from the glacier has an area of 12.5 square kilometres and is nearly 1,400 meters deep. The total volume of the massive iceberg is projected at close to 17.5 cubic kilometres. The ice chunk broke off from Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier between August 14 and 16.

There is no doubt that Greenland is a huge contributor to the current rise in sea levels (around a millimetre per year), and all of its ice together represents a potential 20 feet of total sea level rise. However, given all of the area involved and technical limitations, researchers are simply not able to monitor all of the losses of Greenland’s ice sheet with great accuracy.

Environment

Garbage Islands Are Swamping Oceans

Polluted waters

In the oceans, you can find eight million tonnes of garbage, which is enough to choke five carrier bags for every foot of coastline in the world. As these are carried by ocean currents, they pile up to five giant ‘garbage islands’ that swirl around the world’s major ocean gyres.

Annually, the planet spews between 8 million and 12.7 million tons of plastic bottles, bags, toys and other plastic rubbish into the oceans.

Nasa has now created a “visualisation of this pollution” showing how humanity is degrading the oceans. Scientists are releasing some buoys into the oceans to track the progress of the garbage.

Visualisation can be watched here.

Wildlife

Rare Sea Creature Spotted In South Pacific

A type of a sea creature known as a nautilus, not seen for more than 30 years and thought perhaps extinct, has been spotted in the South Pacific, researchers say.

Nautiluses – small, distant relatives of cuttlefish and squid — are ancient animals, sometimes referred to as “living fossils” because the creatures’ distinctive spiral shells have been showing up in the fossil record for the last 500 million years.

The particular nautilus in question, Allonautilus scrobiculatus, was rediscovered in waters of Papua New Guinea’s Ndrova Island by University of Washington biologists Peter Ward after originally discovering it in 1984.

Considered one of the rarest animals on Earth, it hasn’t been seen since.

Allonautilus scrobiculatus

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Santiaguito (Guatemala): A stronger than usual explosion occurred yesterday morning at 08:43 local time, producing a plume that rose approx. 2 km above the lava dome and generated small pyroclastic flows. INSIVUMEH reported that the lava flow to the east side of the dome remains weakly active, generating small avalanches.

Cotopaxi (Ecuador): The eruption continues with similar activity as during the past days, with a gradually increasing trend. Accompanied by near-continuous tremor, the volcano now produces almost constant, dense ash plumes rising up to 2 km and drifting into westerly directions, reaching the Pacific Ocean. The current phase of near-continuous emissions started during the night 22-23 Aug, when volcanic tremor appeared suddenly at 21:41 local time. The next day, after 18 hours, 2 mm of new brown ash fall had accumulated on the western side in the Cotopaxi National Park.

Piton de la Fournaise (La Réunion): The eruption that started yesterday continues, but only one of several fissures (east of the Rivals crater), that opened last night remains active over a length of 100 m. A small cone has been built at its upper end, approx. 140 m east of Rivals crater. Strombolian activity occurs from this vent, while 3 other vents lower on the fissure continue to produce lava fountains and feed a lava flow that slowly advances towards the Grandes Pentes. The volcano observatory reports that both tremor and lava effusion rates have been dropping, first rapidly after the first, most intense two hours last night and more slowly since.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.5 Earthquake hits off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

Tropical Storm Erika is located about 750 mi…1205 km E of the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds…45 mph…75 km/h. Present movement…W or 280 degrees at 20 mph…31 km/h.

Tropical Storm 17w (Atsani), located approximately 1065 nm south of Petropavlovsk, Russia, is tracking east-northeastward at 20 knots.

Typhoon 16w (Goni), located approximately 81 nm northwest of Iwakuni, Japan, is tracking north-northeastward at 13 knots.

Tropical Depression Kilo is located about 185 mi…300 km NE of Johnston Island and about 640 mi…1035 km WSW of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…30 mph…45 km/h. Present movement…N or 360 degrees at 8 mph…13 km/h.

Hurricane Loke is located about 205 mi…335 km E of Midway Island and about 120 mi…195 km ENE of Pearl and Hermes Atoll with maximum sustained winds…75 mph…120 km/h. Present movement…NNE or 25 degrees at 17 mph…28 km/h.

Tropical Depression Twelve-E is located about 1610 mi…2595 km ESE of Hilo Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…35 mph…55 km/h. Present movement…W or 275 degrees at 5 mph…7 km/h.

Invest 96E is an area of disturbed weather in the East Pacific that has the potential for tropical development.

NewsBytes:

Australia – A tornado in the New South Wales town of Dubbo has damaged at least seven houses, scattered debris and uprooted trees. Roads were flooded across Sydney and the Illawarra, with the emergency services rescuing people stranded in cars after driving into floodwaters.

Dubbo tornado image

Turkey – At least eight people have died and two are missing due to floods and landslides in Turkey’s Black Sea province of Artvin. Heavy rainfall has paralysed life in Artvin and its districts of Arhavi, Hopa and Borça. The main road linking the three districts has also been blocked to traffic due to the floods.

Kent, England – Dead rats are floating in the streets of Tunbridge Wells after flash floods swept the town last evening and more rain is expected to fall tonight.