Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 Earthquake hits the Sambawa region, Indonesia.

5.2 Earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

Turkey – Heavy snowfall and rains along with cold weather across Turkey paralyzed ordinary life for people while precipitating deadly floods in the southern part of the country and suspending education at many schools in central and northern provinces due to snow. Two people were killed in the southern province of Mersin on Dec. 29 due to a flood that was caused by heavy rains in the region. With many trapped inside their vehicles, the municipality issued a warning statement calling on people to stay at home throughout the day if possible. While the rainfall affected life negatively in Mersin, heavy snowfall also halted life in central and northern Anatolia. Authorities in 21 provinces, mostly in central Turkey but also in northern Anatolia, said schools had been closed for the day due to heavy snow and icy conditions that were expected to follow.

Environment

Climate Change Killing the World’s Oldest Trees

Bristlecone

These ancients were around when ancient Sumerians scratched their cuneiform on clay tablets, and they were standing when Alexander the Great swept across Asia. They bore witness to both the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, survived Columbus’ colonization of the New World, and saw the birth and expansion of the United States.

But now, because of climate change, the oldest trees on the planet may be facing their eventual extinction, a new study suggests.

Ancient bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva), which thrive in the upper reaches of the White Mountains in California, could be supplanted by younger trees from an upstart species as temperatures warm and baby trees begin to grow higher on the mountain.

The world’s oldest genetically unique trees reside just below the tree line, where the scant rainfall, frigid air, and rocky limestone soil eliminates all but the hardiest of species. From about 9,500 to 11,500 feet (2,900 to 3,500 meters), bristlecone pines dominate the landscape. In the few patches with sandier, more granite-like soils, native limber pine trees (Pinus flexilis) cluster, according to the statement.

The oldest individual tree in the world is a 5,062-year-old P. longaeva in the White Mountains, and the second-oldest tree, dubbed Methuselah, is also a Great Basin bristlecone pine living nearby.

Above the tree line, temperatures are too cold to support trees, but global warming has shifted the tree line higher up the mountain. Because temperature typically governs where trees live, that would ordinarily mean that trees such as the bristlecone pine would simply start growing at higher altitudes.

Most of the baby trees colonizing the higher altitudes above the tree line appear to be limber pines, the researchers found. It turns out that limber pines got an assist from the Clark’s nutcracker, a local bird that munches on and disperses the trees’ seeds. This process speeds up how quickly limber pines can colonize new locations, the study found.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 126.0 degrees Fahrenheit (52.2 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, Californiaa.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 115.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 81.6 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok Base, Antarctica.

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.

Wildfires

Wildfire – Switzerland

A month without precipitation in southern Switzerland has led to several wildfires breaking out on the south side of the Alps. Three military Super Puma helicopters are assisting the firefighters on the ground.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 21 December-27 December 2016

Bezymianny | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported strong gas-and-steam emissions at Bezymianny during 16-23 December; a gas-and-steam plume drifted about 60 km SW on 18 December. A daily thermal anomaly was detected over the volcano. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that the explosive eruption at Bogoslof, which was reported by several pilots around 1530 on 20 December and produced an ash plume that rose to 10.3 km (34,000 ft) a.s.l., lasted about 30 minutes. The ash plume detached and dispersed S. AVO had raised the Aviation Colour Code (ACC) to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Warning, but since no further activity was detected or observed the ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch. On 21 December periods of discrete earthquakes and continuous seismic tremor were recorded by instruments on nearby volcanoes. At 1610 an explosive eruption detected in satellite data and by seismic instruments on nearby islands again lasted about 30 minutes. An ash plume rose to an altitude of 10.7 km (35,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N. The ACC and VAL were raised to Red and Warning, respectively. Seismicity declined rapidly afterward and remained low; the ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch. Strong continuous seismic activity started abruptly at about 1340 on 22 December.

AVO noted that the eruption had dramatically changed the island. Satellite images showed that a small new island had formed just offshore of the NE end of the main island, the previous shore and much of the NE side of Bogoslof Island adjacent to the new island had been mostly removed (and was likely the site of the new, underwater vent), and deposition of material had occurred on the W side of the island.

An explosion occurred at 0930 on 23 December. A Coast Guard ship in the vicinity reported ash emissions, lightning, and ejected lava and fragmented material. The ash plume rose to an altitude below 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. Coast Guard observers noted that ash emission subsided around 1037. The ACC/VAL were raised to Red/Warning. On 24 December seismic unrest was periodically detected by nearby island networks, but levels were generally low. The ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch. A period of tremor detected in the evening on 25 December may have been associated with a minor, low-level ash emission (below 3 km or 10,000 ft a.s.l.); several lightning strikes in the area were recorded. Lightning strikes, seismic data, and satellite images indicated a continuing eruption that began at 1405 on 26 December. An ash plume rose to an altitude of 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WSW. The ACC/VAL were again raised to Red/Warning.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that, according to observers in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island) about 7 km E, gas-and-steam plumes containing a small amount of ash rose from Ebeko to an altitude of 1.5 km (4,900 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 8 km N and NE on 17 and 20 December. Minor amounts of ash fell in Severo-Kurilsk during 18-22 December. Ash plumes rose as high as 2 km (6,600 ft) a.s.l. on 27 December. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Klyuchevskoy | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : On 26 December KVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Klyuchevskoy had been detected after the April-November eruption. Gas-and-steam plumes sometimes contained small amounts of ash. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow (the second lowest on a four-colour scale).

Langila | New Britain (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 21-24 December ash plumes from Langila rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N, NW, S, and SE.