Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

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

5.3 Earthquake hits New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

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

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Chiapas, Mexico.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Cook Strait, New Zealand.

Global Warming

Climate change driving birds to migrate early

Migrating birds are responding to the effects of climate change by arriving at their breeding grounds earlier as global temperatures rise, research has found.

The University of Edinburgh study, which looked at hundreds of species across five continents, found that birds are reaching their summer breeding grounds on average about one day earlier per degree of increasing global temperature.

The main reason birds take flight is changing seasonal temperatures and food availability. The time they reach their summer breeding grounds is significant, because arriving at the wrong time, even by a few days, may cause them to miss out on vital resources such as food and nesting places. This in turn affects the timing of offspring hatching and their chances of survival.

The research included species that travel huge distances, such as the swallow and pied flycatcher, as well as those with shorter migrations, such as the lapwing and pied wagtail. British swallows fly through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara, to spend their winter in South Africa from around September or October.

Migrating swallows can cover 200 miles a day at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour, with a maximum flight speed of 35mph.

The study, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology and supported by the Natural Environment Research Council, will help scientists better predict how different species will respond to environmental changes. Long-distance migrants, which are shown to be less responsive to rising temperatures, may suffer most as other birds gain advantage by arriving at breeding grounds ahead of them.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

DR Congo – Flooding this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo port city of Boma killed at least 50 people and left another 10,000 homeless, authorities told Reuters on Wednesday. Torrential rain on Monday night caused the Kalamu River to overflow, flooding two districts of the southwestern city, said Therese-Louise Mambu, health minister for Kongo Central province. “The damage is very serious,” she said. “We continue to look for other bodies.”

Bolivia – Parts of Bolivia go on ‘orange alert’ after massive flooding kills eight people following heavy rains. At least eight people are dead after torrential rains swept through the country causing massive flooding. Bolivia’s national weather service has issued an orange alert for five areas in the west of the country. The flooding stranded drivers and pedestrians alike in Cochabamba. The heavy rains come in the wake of Bolivia’s worst drought in 25 years.

Philippines – Floods triggered by heavy rains have inundated cornfields, roads and a major bridge, which affected traffic in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Rains have been pounding this city since Tuesday (Dec. 27), prompting operators of the Magat Dam to release water when its reservoir level reached 192.50 meters above sea level.

Wildfires

Wildfire – South Africa

A large vegetation fire near Grabouw in the Western Cape appears to be spreading. Firefighters are battling the blaze on the mountain slopes.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Theo Layne says: “This fire came over from the Grabouw area towards Sir Lowry’s Pass Village area. It’s still quite high on the mountain slopes. There is no immediate danger to any property, but the fire is being fanned by a very strong southeaster in that area.”