Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
5.8 Earthquake hits Tonga.
5.8 Earthquake hits the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan.
5.2 Earthquake hits off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
5.1 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia.
5.0 Earthquake hits Tarapaca, Chile.
5.0 Earthquake hits Samar in the Philippines.
Fracking operation closed indefinitely after earthquake
A hydraulic fracturing operation near Fox Creek, Alberta, Canada, has been shut down after an earthquake hit the area Tuesday.
The magnitude 4.8 quake was reported at 11:27 a.m., says Alberta Energy Regulator, which ordered the shutdown of the Repsol Oil and Gas site 35 kilometres north of Fox Creek.
The energy regulator automatically shuts down a fracking site when an earthquake hits a magnitude of 4.0 or higher in the area in which a company is operating.
The quake was “quite large for the area, larger than normal”, according to the regulator.
Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:
Tropical cyclone 06p (Ula), is located approximately 443 nm north of Auckland, New Zealand, and is tracking east-southeastward at 12 knots.
Hurricane Pali is located about 825 mi…1330 km S of Johnston Island and about 1455 mi…2340 km SW of Honolulu Hawaii with maximum sustained winds…90 mph…150 km/h. Present movement…S or 190 degrees at 7 mph…11 km/h.
Invest 90L is an area of disturbed weather in the North Atlantic that has the potential for tropical development.
Iraq – The Mosul Dam in Iraq faces the danger that it may collapse because of insufficient maintenance, which would overwhelm major communities downstream with floodwaters. In the worst-case scenario, an estimated 500,000 people could be killed while more than a million could be rendered homeless if the dam, Iraq’s largest, were to collapse in the spring, when the Tigris is swollen by rain and melting snow.
Syria – Snow and cold weather grip war-torn Syria – Millions of Syrians are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, aid workers say. Buildings have collapsed under the weight of snow.
El Niño – Australia’s weather bureau said the 2015-16 El Nino weather event has peaked in the recent weeks and is likely return to ENSO Neutral by Quarter 2 of 2016.
5 sperm whales die after beaching on Dutch island
Five sperm whales that beached on the Dutch island of Texel, northern Netherlands, have died before anyone could attempt a rescue operation. The whales were first spotted stranded on a beach on Tuesday. Experts confirmed on Wednesday that all five were dead. It was not clear how the whales came to beach themselves on the island in the shallow Wadden Sea off the northern coast of the Netherlands.
Scientists stunned to find what’s really causing Greenland’s ice loss
Scientists have achieved a tremendous breakthrough in understanding the gradual loss of the Greenland ice sheet, and they’ve determined that clouds are what’s accelerating it.
The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is cause for great concern as climate change worries rise to the forefront. The melting of this ice sheet could cause the global sea level to rise dramatically. But the fact that clouds are likely behind this phenomenon, based on a new study, is sending some ripples through the scientific community, according to a Washington Post report.
It’s an important discovery that could allow scientists to make more accurate predictions about the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. If climate change causes more cloud cover over the ice sheet, it could accelerate the process.
Clouds can accelerate warming by trapping heat on the surface of the Earth, resulting in higher surface temperature and thus increasing the rate of melting.
The highest amount of melting actually occurs at night, when the clouds prevent temperatures from cooling as much as they normally would. The clouds also keep ice that has melted from refreezing.
Still, the subject remains somewhat controversial, as many scientists disagree on how much effect cloud cover has on Greenland’s ice sheet. There haven’t been many studies that have enough scale to truly tackle the problem.
It’s tough to conduct such research as it is hard for scientists to observe clouds by satellite, as clouds and ice look similar from the air. Infrared techniques don’t work that well either, as clouds and ice cover have a similar temperature.
However, this discovery does provide a new lead for scientists who are hoping to understand more about the effects of climate change, and create better models to predict ice loss.
Wildfires – Australia
Two bushfires sparked by lightning in South Australia have been contained amid dangerous fire conditions across the state.
An estimated 414 farms and 30,853 hectares of agricultural land have been affected by the bushfires still burning in south-west Western Australia. A DAFWA spokesman said there was still limited access to the region and much of the extent of fire damage was still unknown, including the number of livestock lost. DAFWA South West regional director Neil Guise said with the bushfire continuing to burn in the region it was vital that farmers work closely with the department. Mr Guise said that farmers and landholders still required permits for vehicle access to affected regions.
Human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus – China
On 8 January 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 2 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N6) virus.
Lassa Fever in Nigeria – Update
Echoes of the Ebola Virus Disease that ravaged six West African countries from March 2014 are reverberating in Nigeria as Lassa fever, also a viral disease, begins laying a trail of deaths across the country.
With officially recorded cases now 93 with 41 deaths, the Federal Government has announced plans to set up an inter-ministerial committee from which ideas would come, as in the case of EVD, that would “deliver a final blow on Lassa fever and other related diseases.”
Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity
Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): A powerful explosive eruption occurred at the volcano during 4-6 January. It began with a series of at least 4 powerful explosions between 20:50 on 4 Jan and up to the next morning, producing tall ash plumes that rose 4-6 km above the volcano and drifted north. At least some of the explosions also triggered pyroclastic flows reaching the southern base of the summit cone. Moderately strong ash fall of 1-2 cm occurred in villages about 10 km to the NE of the volcano. Apart from significant damage to farmland because of the ash cover, no injuries or damage to infrastructure were reported. The airport of Manado had to be closed for 2 days.
Colima (Western Mexico): The activity of the volcano has remained fairly stable over the past days, with small to moderate vulcanian-style explosions every 4-8 hours on average.
Karymsky (Kamchatka): Activity at the volcano, in continuous intermittent explosive activity for many years, seems to be elevated at the moment. Several explosions have been reported during the past days through observations of ash plumes reported reaching up to 18,000 ft (5.5 km) altitude (Tokyo VAAC).
Momotombo (Nicaragua): A strong vulcanian explosion occurred yesterday at 12:10 local time at the volcano. An ash plume rose approx 3 km from the summit and generated a small pyroclastic flow.