Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.9 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore Coquimbo, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits northwest of the Kuril Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits offshore Antofagasta, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits Simeulue, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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Tropical Storm Sandra is located about 115 mi…180 km SSE of Cabo San Lucas Mexico with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…N or 360 degrees at 2 mph…4 km/h.

Tropical cyclone (tc) 04p (Tuni), located approximately 157 nm west of Pago Pago, American Samoa and is tracking east-southeastward at 11 knots.

NewsBytes:

USA – At least three people have died in fast-moving floodwaters in Texas as freezing rain and flooding pummelled the state and other parts of the central U.S. on Friday, with forecasters warning that the chilling weather would worsen over the holiday weekend. Forecasters issued flash-flood watches and warnings from northern Texas up to St. Louis, with up to 4 inches of rain reported in some places as the storm slowly moved to the northeast. Freezing rain and strong winds have been blamed for several fatal accidents in Kansas and Texas since Thursday.

Kenya – At least 4,040 families in Tana River county have been displaced by floods after River Tana burst its banks and flooded their homes. No casualties have been reported. Some victims said they have lost household property, food and livestock.

Global Warming

Interactive: See how global warming is changing the face of our planet

Visit this website for a revealing look at the reality of global warming. [Click the images to see before and after views]

Rising Carbon Dioxide Causes Rapid Growth of Plankton in the Ocean

There’s something strange happening in the world’s oceans due to an excess of carbon dioxide. Plankton is, apparently, growing rapidly in spite of scientific predictions.

Scientists have long thought that the number of coccolithophores, which are chalk-shelled algae, would decline due to an excess of carbon dioxide. These single-shelled algae play a role in the cycling of calcium carbonate, a factor in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. More specifically, researchers believed that more-acidic oceans would be the downfall of these organisms.

In this latest study, though, the researchers analyzed the data from the Continuous Plankton Recorder survey from the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea since the mid-1960s. This revealed that carbon dioxide may actually be causing an increase in the population of coccolithophores.

These algae make it more difficult to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the short term. However, in the long term, they help remove carbon dioxide from the atmospheres and confine it in the deep ocean.

Coccolithophores

Environment

Global Shift in the 1980’s Left Planet Altered

Earth underwent an unprecedented global ecological and climate shift late in the 1980s, which a new report says was triggered by a combination of manmade global warming and a powerful volcanic eruption.

Researchers from the U.K. and Switzerland write in the journal Global Change Biology that they found the shift throughout nature, from the upper atmosphere to the depth of the oceans.

The shift was manifest in atmospheric and ocean temperatures, the pH levels of rivers, the timing of land events, behaviour of plants and birds, wind speeds and the amount of ice and snow, according to the report.

The study found that the shift appeared to have moved regionally around the world from west to east, starting with South America in 1984, then moving through North America in 1985, the North Atlantic in 1986, Europe in 1987 and Asia in 1988.

The researchers say the shift was sparked by the 1982 eruption of Mexico’s El Chichón volcano, interacting with climate change to cause the biggest ecological change in 1 000 years.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia – Update

Nearly 90 homes have been destroyed or made uninhabitable by the deadly Pinery bushfire.

Police said this afternoon that 87 homes had been completely destroyed or significantly damaged, rendering them uninhabitable. Nearly 100 vehicles and more than 380 farm sheds were destroyed in the blaze, as were 89 pieces of farm machinery.

Earlier this afternoon the Country Fire Service announced the bushfire had officially become “contained”. The CFS warned, however, that there was still some active fire well within the control lines.

The blaze has killed two people and five more are in hospital in a critical condition as fears remain that the death toll will rise.

Roads are now open within the 82,600 hectare fire ground, but the CFS warns areas are still burning and flare-ups will continue to produce embers and smoke. Police have warned motorists to take care, because emergency crews are still working to remove fallen trees and power lines.

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Disease

Kissing bugs found in more than half the US – Chagas disease

After recent reports of locally acquired Chagas disease in a dozen people in Texas, plus hundreds of dogs, the media has been flooded with hundreds of reports on the Triatomine bug, or kissing bug and the parasitic infection it can carry, Chagas disease.

In July 2013, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said that 11 different triatomine species were found in at least 28 US states, although most cases diagnosed with Chagas contracted it outside the country.

Chagas disease is transmitted naturally in North, Central, and South America. In parts of Mexico and Central and South America, where Chagas disease is considered highly endemic, it is estimated that approximately 8 million people are infected.

The Triatoma or “kissing” bug frequently carry for life the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi is a comma shaped flagellated parasite and the cause of an acute and chronic disease called Chagas.

The triatoma bug can be found in poorly constructed homes, with cracks and crevices in the walls or those with thatch roofs. They can also be found in palm trees and the fronds.

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Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): We just returned from a 3-days expedition to the island during 23-26 Nov: the volcano’s activity was overall at similar levels as during the previous visits between 2012-June this year, but highly variable from day to day: Phases lasting several hours, or even few days, with mild, ash-rich strombolian eruptions at intervals between 10-30 minutes alternated / were interrupted by much more powerful vulcanian-type explosions that produced shock waves and ejected dense columns of tephra (ash, blocks and incandescent lava bombs) in a single, cannon-shot like explosion. They sent ballistics to several hundred meters of height all over the upper half of the volcano. During the first two observation days, these explosions occurred at intervals between 3-10 hours, but became the dominant type of activity during the last 24 hours of our stay, when they occurred at shorter intervals of 1-2 hours typically.

Telica (Nicaragua): After its powerful explosion on 22 Nov, the volcano has mainly been calm, but weaker, sporadic ash emissions resumed during the past days. It is still thought that the recent activity is only caused by over-pressurized fluids in the upper conduit, and doesn’t involve new magma, but comparing with the past episodes of explosive activity in May and September this year, it is almost likely that new, potentially strong and very dangerous explosions (in particular if you climb the volcano) could follow in the near future with no or little warning.

Copahue (Chile/Argentina): Small to moderately strong ash emissions and explosions have been near continuous during the past days, creating steam/ash plumes that rise up to approx. 1 km. Overall, the volcano’s activity seems to be gradually increasing. A larger landslide occurred yesterday from the eastern flank.

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Since Nov 25 there is a change visible in Etna’s activity. Weak strombolian activity has started from the New SE crater. The activity probably started earlier today, but due to bad weather it was not observed before. Weak strombolian activity continues also from the vent inside the Voragine crater. Tremor remains low at the moment.