Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Maug Islands in the North Mariana Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits the State of Yap, Micronesia.

5.0 Earthquake hits south Island, New Zealand.


China reports more H7N9 avian flu cases

The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health is today closely monitoring four additional human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) in the Mainland, and again urged the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.

Dengue Fever in Malaysia – Update

After reporting more than 100,000 dengue fever cases in 2016, Malaysia’s dengue fever case count continues into 2017. For the first month of 2017, the Malaysia Ministry of Health has reported 8,033 dengue cases through the end of January. Like most months and years, Selangor state accounts for more than half the cases.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 25 January-31 January 2017

Chirinkotan | Kuril Islands (Russia) : Based on satellite images, SVERT reported that on 26 and 29 January ash plumes from Chirinkotan rose to an altitude of 3.5 km (11,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted at most 105 km E and S. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow (on a four-colour scale).

Erta Ale | Ethiopia : According to Volcano Discovery, visitors noted changes at Erta Ale’s lava lake during 16-20 January characterized by waves in the lava lake, intense spattering, fountaining, and rim overflows (mainly on 17 January) which traveled as far as 1 km. During the evening of 20 January explosions of very large gas bubbles ejected spatter 30 m high. Crater rim collapses affected the N crater where a new oval-shaped pit crater (150 x 30 m and 20 m depth) formed during a 24-hour period. A large collapse also occurred in the S part of the crater. The activity was accompanied by ash emissions that rose as high as 800 m. The report noted that on 21 January new fissures opened SSE from the summit caldera, producing large amounts of lava.

Satellite images acquired and processed by Planet Labs showed the new lava flows and gas-and-steam emissions from several vents (about 1.5 km SE from the overflow area at the SE caldera rim) on 23 January, and more new lava flows on 27 January. Both images showed lava flows advancing WSW, about 2.5 km S, and about 3 km NE. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, a satellite image acquired on 26 January showed two distinct infrared hotspots representing the SE lava flows. On 27 January Simon Carn stated that the eruption produced the largest SO2 emissions from Erta Ale ever measured from space.

Etna | Sicily (Italy) : INGV reported that on the morning of 15 December 2016 minor emissions of brownish ash rose from the vent in the saddle between the newer cone and the old cone of Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC). That evening some of the emissions were more energetic, ejecting incandescent material out of the crater which landed on the steep S flank of the SEC cone. Analysis of samples of the ejected rock revealed no new material, only older material from the conduit walls. During the following five weeks weak ash emissions from the vent were observed, without being accompanied by incandescence.

During the early morning of 20 January the saddle vent was again active, with small black ash puffs and thermal anomalies identified by the surveillance camera. People on the SEC observed ejected incandescent material along with ash and blocks. Cloudy weather prevented visual observations for a few days; the evening of 23 January was cloud free and mild Strombolian activity was observed, accompanied by frequent emissions of small, black ash puffs. The activity gradually intensified through the night, with some explosions launching incandescent material as far as the base of the SEC cone. Fluctuating incandescence was also visible at the 7 August 2016 vent of the Voragine (VOR) crater. The frequency of explosions and ash emissions increased on 24 January but then slightly decreased the next morning.

Takawangha | Andreanof Islands (USA) : On 27 January AVO stated that the seismic swarm that began at Takawangha on 23 January had significantly decreased during the previous day. The rate of earthquakes peaked at 190 events on 24 January and had steadily decreased to 22 detected on 27 January. Most of the events were located 7-8 km ESE, at shallow depths. The swarm continued at a decreased rate and intensity through 31 January. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Advisory.

Unnamed | Tonga Islands : Based on analysis of satellite images, GeoNet reported that a submarine eruption at an Unnamed volcano (GVP volcano number 243030) about 46 km NW of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa began on 23 January. Activity was also identified in images from 26, 28, 29, and 31 January, characterized by discoloured water, and a volcanic plume on 31 January.


Yellow Fever Taking Heavy Toll on Monkeys in Brazil’s Rainforest

The worst yellow fever outbreak in decades is not just killing Brazilians, it threatens to wipe out monkeys in the Atlantic rainforest that are already close to extinction, experts warned on Tuesday.

So far 400 monkeys have been found dead in the state of Espirito Santo where the fever outbreak has spread from neighbouring Minas Gerais.

At greatest risk is the muriqui monkey, Brazil’s largest primate and one of the planet’s 25 most-endangered species of primates, said biologist Roberto Cabral at the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama.

“The monkeys are vulnerable to yellow fever just like humans but we have vaccines to protect us, they don’t,” Cabral said. “They are being decimated.”

Farmers first alerted authorities about the dying animals when they realized that the forest had gone silent and the monkeys had disappeared.

Global Warming

Coastal Wetlands Mitigate Global Warming, Study

Scientists from the University of Maryland demonstrated in a study released today the positive impact of coastal wetlands in mitigating the effects of global warming. To get to that hypothesis, they analyzed marine systems such as coral reefs, seaweed forests, phytoplankton and fish, according to a paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Coastal wetlands store a lot of carbon in their soils and they are important natural carbon sinks in the long term, while kelp – a kind of seaweed – corals and marine wildlife are not.

To give you an idea, they can capture and store more than 200 metric tons of carbon per year around the world. That is why, when we destroy coastal wetlands for coastal development or aquaculture, we transform these natural carbon sinks into additional man-made sources of greenhouse gases. They also recommended protecting other ecosystems, such as coral reefs and seaweed forests, because they safeguard against storms and erosion, and are key habitats for fish

For the authors, blue carbon coastal habitats can be considered as the single most efficient biological reservoirs of carbon stored on Earth.