Disease

Yellow fever – Brazil

From 1 December 2016 to 22 February 2017, a total of 1336 cases of yellow fever infection (292 confirmed, 920 suspected, and 124 discarded), including 215 deaths (101 confirmed, 109 suspected, 5 discarded), have been detected in six states (Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte, São Paulo, and Tocantins). The estimated case fatality rate is 35% for confirmed cases and 12% for suspected cases. To date, the majority (86%) of the confirmed cases are men and of which, approximately 81% are aged between 21 and 60 years.

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA – Texas & Oklahoma

Crews are working to contain a wildfire that’s burning in a rural area of the Texas Panhandle while firefighters in Oklahoma fought back several blazes that popped up on an unseasonably warm and windy day. Crews attacked a fire that had burned nearly 11 square miles in Oldham County in the Panhandle. Texas A&M Forest Service said early Friday that the blaze was 50 percent contained and that the fire’s behaviour “has moderated.”

In Oklahoma, multiple fires broke out, and Oklahoma Army National Guard helicopters were dispatched to help battle the blazes.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 15 February-21 February 2017 – cont.

Nevado del Ruiz | Colombia : Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales reported that during 14-20 February seismicity at Nevado del Ruiz continued to indicate unrest. Earthquakes were located at depths of 1.1-1.7 km, in areas N, NE, SE, and SW of the volcano, but mainly beneath Arenas Crater. The largest event was a local M 1.4. Signals indicating fracturing rock increased in both size and number as compared to the previous week. Significant amounts of water vapour and gas continued to be emitted. Gas, steam, and ash plumes rose 1.2 km above the crater rim on 18 February and drifted NE, SE, and SW. Thermal anomalies were identified by the MIROVA system during 14, 16-17, and 19-20 February. The Alert Level remained at III (Yellow; the second lowest level on a four-colour scale).

Reventador | Ecuador : During 15-21 February IG reported a high level of seismic activity including explosions, long-period earthquakes, harmonic tremor, and signals indicating emissions at Reventador. Although cloud cover often prevented visual observations, activity was noted almost daily. Minor ashfall was reported on 15 February, and the next morning crater incandescence was visible. During 17-19 and 21 February steam, gas, and ash plumes rose 1-2 km above the crater rim and mainly drifted S and W. “Gunshot” sounds were heard on 18 February.

Sabancaya | Peru : Based on webcam views, satellite images, and seismic data the Buenos Aires VAAC reported that during 14-21 February sporadic gas-and-ash puffs rose from Sabancaya, and during 16-17 and 20 February rose to altitudes of 7.3-8.2 km (24,000-27,000 ft) a.s.l. Weather clouds often hindered observations of the volcano.

Santa Maria | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 16-17, 19, and 20-21 February a few explosions at Santa María’s Santiaguito lava-dome complex generated ash plumes that rose 700 m above the complex and drifted SW. Minor ashfall was reported in La Florida (5 km S) on 19 February and in Monte Claro (S) during 20-21 February.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 10-17 February lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by strong fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, ash explosions, and hot avalanches. Satellite images showed a daily thermal anomaly over the dome. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange.

Sinabung | Indonesia : Based on PVMBG observations, satellite and webcam images, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-18 and 20-21 February ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes of 3-4.3 km (10,000-14,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W, SW, and S.

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that during 15-16 February high-amplitude tremor at Turrialba remained constant, and sporadic gas emissions with minor amounts of ash drifted S and E. Occasional ballistics were ejected from the crater. During 16-17 February sporadic gas emissions with low ash content rose no higher than 300 m and drifted NW and SW. Tremor amplitude had decreased to moderate levels. Similar emissions were observed during 20-21 February, although they drifted NW and NE.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.8 Earthquake hits Lake Tanganyika, Africa.

5.4 Earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.3 Earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.3 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits southern Peru.

5.0 Earthquake hits north of Severnaya Zemlya.

5.0 Earthquake hits northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

South Africa – Three people have been killed during heavy rains in the North West province, the provincial government said on Thursday. A primary school boy drowned in Leporung, near Makgobistad, while attempting to cross a stream, and two others died in Phokeng, near Rustenburg, after their vehicle was swept away by water while trying to cross a flooded bridge.

Wildlife

Deep Sea Harbingers

The sudden appearances of giant oarfish, which typically live deep in the ocean near the seafloor, have sparked fears in parts of the Philippines that the fish are warning signs of an impending large earthquake.

Three have been found off the northern coast of Mindanao since Feb. 8, with the first appearing just two days before a 6.7 magnitude temblor rocked the island.

The fish can weigh up to 600 pounds and are known in Japan as “Messengers from the Sea God’s Palace.”

Ocean Suffocation

Earth’s oceans have lost more than 2 percent of their oxygen during the past 57 years in a trend scientists warn could threaten the future of marine life.

A study at Germany’s Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research confirmed earlier predictions that if climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for it continue unabated, ocean oxygen loss will accelerate and reach up to 7 percent on average by the year 2100.

“Since large fish in particular avoid or do not survive in areas with low oxygen content, these changes can have far-reaching biological consequences,” said lead researcher Sunke Schmidtko.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 109.0 degrees Fahrenheit (42.8 degrees Celsius) in Bourke, New South Wales, Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 69.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 56.1 degrees Celsius) at Oimyakon, Siberia

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.

Disease

Meningococcal disease – Togo

Since 1 January 2017, 201 suspected cases of meningitis with 17 deaths were reported by 19 health districts. In week 2, the district of Akebou which is part of the Plateau Region issued an alert after four cases of meningitis were reported. In week 4, the epidemic threshold was reached with nine cases and an attack rate of 12.4 per 100 000 inhabitants. From 2 January to 12 February 2017, 48 suspected meningitis cases with three deaths were reported (case fatality rate of 6.3%).

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 15 February-21 February 2017

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16 and 18-20 February ash plumes from Bagana rose to altitudes of 2.4-3.4 km (8,000-11,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SSE, S, and SW. Ash plumes drifted as far as 85 km during 19-20 February.

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that during 15-16 February cloud cover prevented satellite views of Bogoslof; no other data indicated eruptive activity. At 0955 on 17 February seismic data indicated the beginning of an explosive event, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Colour Code (ACC) to Red and the Volcano Alert Level (VAL) to Warning. Individual pulses of seismicity was recorded until 1140, and then afterwards seismicity was low. Satellite images and pilot observations indicated that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 11.6 km (38,000 ft) a.s.l. The event was also verified by infrasound and lightning data. Another short-lived explosive event began at 1546, detected in infrasound and seismic data. A volcanic cloud identified in satellite images rose as high as 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l.

An explosion at 0450 on 18 February was detected in seismic, infrasound, and lightning data. The seismic data suggested that ash emissions lasted several minutes, and then seismicity decreased. A preliminary evaluation of satellite data indicated that a cloud rose at least as high as 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l.; the cloud drifted SW. On 19 February the ACC was lowered to Orange and the VAL was lowered to Watch. Later that day seismic and infrasound data recorded a series of short-lived explosive pulses during 1708-1745. The ACC was raised to Red and the VAL was raised to Warning. A plume identified in satellite images rose as high as 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 160 km SE over Unalaska Island. AVO geologists on the island described the cloud has having a white upper portion and a slightly darker lower portion. Storms in the region impacted data communications at AVO’s facility in Dutch Harbour on 20 February, limiting AVO’s ability to forecast and detect eruptions at Bogoslof.

Cleveland | Chuginadak Island (USA) : AVO reported that although weather clouds mostly prevented satellite and webcam views of Cleveland during 15-21 February, slightly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite imagery during 18-19 February. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Colima | Mexico : Based on Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia – Universidad de Colima observations, the Unidad Estatal de Protección Civil de Colima reported that during 10-16 February there were 10 low-intensity explosions at Colima. Gas emissions were at low-to-moderate levels. The report noted that the public should not enter the 8-km-radius exclusion zone.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 14 and 16-21 February ash plumes from Dukono rose to altitudes of 2.1-2.4 km (7,000-8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 15-21 February HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise and fall, circulate, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook vent. Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater and from a vent high on the NE flank of the cone. All surface flows were active within 2.4 km of Pu’u ‘O’o. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna.

Langila | New Britain (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 17-18 February ash plumes from Langila rose to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.0 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the South Pacific: Tropical cyclone 08p (Eight), located approximately 388 nm south-southwest of Tonga, is tracking southeastward at 35 knots.

Newsbytes:

California, USA – Flooding in San Jose, Calif., has prompted the evacuation of at least 14,000 residents. The mandatory evacuation orders began overnight, and will remain in effect for at least another day. Flooding along Coyote Creek came after a series of heavy rainstorms combined with water rushing down the spillway of nearby Anderson Reservoir, which is now filled to capacity. In addition to the 14,000 mandatory evacuations, some 22,000 people were encouraged to leave their homes.

Global Warming

Global warming, overfishing threaten Earth’s “super-zoos,”

The six ocean hot spots that teem with the biggest mix of species are also getting hit hardest by global warming and industrial fishing, a new study finds.

An international team looked at more than 2,100 species of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and even tiny plankton to calculate Earth’s hot spots of marine biodiversity.

These underwater super-zoos are in patches of ocean that are overfished and warming fast, and these pressures hurt the lush life there, according to a study appearing in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances.

While scientists in the past have identified key areas of biodiversity, the new work is more detailed. Researchers found the liveliest ocean hot spot also happens to be where the science of evolution sprouted: the Pacific Ocean off the central South American coast. It includes the area around the Galapagos Islands.

Other hot spots include the southwestern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina; the western Indian Ocean off the African coast; the central western Pacific Ocean surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; the southwestern Pacific off Australia’s southern and eastern coast; and the Oceania region of the Pacific around the international date line. Four of the six hot spots are in the Pacific; all are either in the southern hemisphere or just north of the equator.

Space Events

Astronomers Find 7 Earth-Size Planets Where Life Is Possible

Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, bolstering the prospect of discovering extra-terrestrial life, research published on Wednesday showed.

The star, known as TRAPPIST-1, is a small, dim celestial body in the constellation Aquarius. It is located about 40 light years away from Earth, close by astronomical standards, but about 44 million years away at the average cruising speed of a commercial passenger jet.

Researchers said the proximity of the system, combined with the proportionally large size of its planets compared to the small star, make it a good target for follow-up studies. They hope to scan the planets’ atmospheres for possible chemical fingerprints of life.

“The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when,” Nasa chief scientist Thomas Zurbuchen said at a news conference on Wednesday.

This is the first time that so many Earth-sized planets are found around the same star,” lead researcher Michael Gillon, with the University of Liege in Belgium, told reporters.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Chile’s wildfires continue to burn

Chilean authorities said that 40 homes and almost 3,500 hectares of forest were destroyed by fires overnight. The Parral region, he said, some 345 kilometres south of Santiago, remained on red alert.

Disease

Mystery outbreak on São Tomé and Príncipe

An unknown disease that has afflicted some 2,000 people on the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe remains a mystery as Portuguese doctors try to figure out the etiology and cure, according to Portugal media.

WHO sent a specialist from Benin because the pathology was similar to a common disease in Africa, particularly in Benin; however, a conclusion has yet to be met.

Earlier this month, media accounts reported the mystery disease may have been Buruli ulcer.

Mumps outbreak reported in Toronto

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is currently investigating 14 lab-confirmed cases of mumps involving individuals 18 to 35 years of age. While TPH continues to follow up with exposed individuals who are known to the confirmed cases, the investigation to date has identified that many of these cases have frequented bars in the west downtown core area.

Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 4 February 2017, Taipei Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported one laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus. This is the fifth human case with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus reported from Taipei CDC.