Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

7.2 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said there is no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Drake Passage.

5.2 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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Tropical Depression Koppu is located approximately 362 nm south of Taipei, Taiwan, and is tracking eastward at 07 knots.

Typhoon Champi is located approximately 134 nm south-southwest of Iwo To, Japan, and is tracking northward at 02 knots.

Hurricane Olaf is located about 940 mi…1515 km se of Hilo Hawaii and about 1150 mi…1855 km se of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…135 mph…215 km/h. Present movement…WNW or 300 degrees at 9 mph…15 km/h.

Tropical Storm Patricia is located about 330 mi…530 km se of Acapulco Mexico with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…W or 265 degrees at 9 mph…14 km/h.

NewsBytes:

Philippines – The death toll following the powerful typhoon Koppu in the Philippines has risen to 47, while tens of thousands of people still remain in evacuation centres.

Wildlife

Sunscreen – Killing The World’s Coral Reefs

Just two weeks ago, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) raised the alarm about the terrible plight facing the Earth’s coral reefs. For the third time in history, the world is in the midst of a global coral bleaching event, the agency said.

“We are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally,” said Mark Eakin, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator, citing climate change and events like the current El Niño as primary reasons for the mass die-off.

A new study published this week is bringing even more bad news about the world’s dying corals. According to researchers, there may be another, oft-overlooked threat to reefs worldwide: sunscreen.

Scientists who conducted their research in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands found that the chemical oxybenzone — used in more than 3,500 sunscreen products worldwide, including those by popular brands such as Coppertone, L’Oreal and Banana Boat — was extremely harmful to fragile coral reefs.

“The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly,” a news release reported.

The researchers said even a tiny amount of oxybenzone-containing sunscreen can damage corals. As The Washington Post noted, “the equivalent of a drop of water in a half-dozen Olympic-sized swimming pools” was sufficient to cause harm.

Every year, approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in coral reefs worldwide.

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Global Warming

Cornerstone krill under threat from global warming

The world’s oceans are warming according to many scientists. According to the EPA, the layer of ocean waters is now warming at a rate of .2 degrees Fahrenheit. Given how fragile ocean ecosystems are, this could wreak havoc. Indeed, experts are warning that vital krill populations in the southern oceans are under threat.

Krill are tiny ocean crustaceans, and are part of the “base” for many ocean ecosystems. Just as many land herbivores depend on grass, and many predators, in turn, depend on these herbivores for food, entire oceanic food chains depend on krill.

Even the massive blue whale, the largest known creature to ever exist on earth, and also massive whale shark, depend on krill. These tiny crustaceans are members of the plankton family of tiny organisms that form a sort of “grass of the sea.”

The biggest threat to krill is currently in the southern Antarctic ocean, where increased acidification caused by carbon dioxide absorption appears to be disrupting the krill’s life cycle. Researchers believe that fewer krill are reaching adulthood, with larvae failing to survive, and/or eggs failing to hatch.

Dr. So Kawaguchi, a researcher for the Australian government, has warned that “if we continue with business as usual, and we don’t act on reducing carbon emissions, in that case, there could be a 20 to 70 percent reduction in Antarctic krill by 2100. By 2300, the Southern Ocean might not be suitable for krill reproduction.”

While 2100 might seem like a long way off, any substantial reductions in krill populations could disrupt fragile ocean ecosystems. Many of those fish and other ocean going animals that don’t consume krill directly, eat animals that do consume krill.

If those prey animals die off due to a lack of krill, animals up the food chain will almost certainly starve too.

Right now, the krill are facing a threat not just from global warming, but also overfishing. Each year, massive industrial fishing operations suck up thousands of tons of krill in a single fishing season.

In the past, such operations might have been sustainable, but with so many krill dying before they reach adulthood, researchers fear that the tiny crustaceans won’t be able to cope.

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Disease

Cholera – Tanzania

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) of the United Republic of Tanzania has notified WHO of new foci of cholera outbreaks in the country. As of 13 October, 13 regions have been affected, namely Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Pwani, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Iringa, Dodoma, Geita, Mara, Singida, Shinyaga, Mwanza and Zanzibar. As of 19 October, the cumulative number of cases is 4,835 cases, including 68 deaths. The region of Dar es Salam accounts for 72% of all reported cases (3,460). Zanzibar has reported 140 cases.

Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak – USA

An outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease has been reported at Princeton University, affecting 13 students, according to a University spokesman.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Nishino-shima (Volcano Islands, Japan): The eruption that had started in Nov 2013 still continues with no significant changes. During the most recent survey on 18 Oct by the Japanese Coast guard, strombolian activity was observed at the central vent, but lava flows no longer reached the coast of the young island, which is being affected and modified by wave erosion. According to a bathymetric analysis conducted between June 22 and July 9, the total lava volume erupted so far is approx. 160 million cubic meters, of which 74 million m3 are under sea level.

Karangetang (Siau Island, Sangihe Islands, Indonesia): The volcano remains very active, producing lava flows that generate many incandescent avalanches.