Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits Mendoza, Argentina.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Fox Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

Wildlife

California tortoises died trying to reproduce during drought

Scientists examining the deaths of female desert tortoises in Southern California said it appears the animals died while exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs during California’s historic drought.

Researchers want to know why female tortoises are dying in greater numbers than males in the Joshua Tree National Park.

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jeffrey Lovich said he believes the tortoises died during a desperate attempt to fight extinction. He called it an “evolutionary gamble” — choosing to try and reproduce despite harsh conditions.

“Females will go out of their way to produce a clutch of four or so eggs,” Lovich told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They’ll do it during a drought, when they can’t find the water they need, to have a chance to win at the game of life.”

Over the past three decades, Joshua Tree’s tortoise population has plummeted from about 30,000 to an all-time low of roughly 3,000.

Desert tortoises are a threatened species that typically have 50-year lifespans in the wild, with some living 80 years.

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Chimp Extinction

Tanzanian experts fear that chimpanzees could join elephants and rhinos as the most threatened wildlife species in the country due to their dwindling populations.

“A hundred years ago, there were probably 2 million, but now only 150,000 to 200,000,” said Anthony Collins, a baboon researcher at Gombe Stream National Park.

He told Tanzania’s The Citizen daily that destruction of habitat, illegal hunting and capture for medical research are the greatest threats to the chimps’ survival.

Disease

Cholera Outbreak in Nairobi, Kenya

The Nairobi county has activated cholera treatment centres following an outbreak of the disease in the city.

Health executive Bernard Muia and chief officer Sam Ochola yesterday said five cases of the disease have been confirmed. There were also reports that three people died after contracting the disease in the city.

Global Warming

Antarctica is going green – not in a good way

Plant life is growing on Antarctica like never before in modern times, fueled by global warming which is melting ice and transforming the landscape from white to green.

Scientists studying moss in an area spanning 400 miles (640 kilometers) have found a sharp increase in growth over the past 50 years, said the report in the journal Current Biology.

Plant life exists on only about 0.3 percent of Antarctica.

Five moss cores — or column-like samples drilled from the Earth — showed evidence of what scientists called “changepoints,” or points in time after which biological activity clearly increased.

Areas sampled included three Antarctic islands — Elephant Island, Ardley Island, and Green Island — where the deepest and oldest moss banks grow, said the report.

The polar regions are warming more rapidly than the rest of the Earth, as greenhouse gasses from fossil fuel burning build up in the atmosphere and trap heat.

The Arctic is warming the fastest, but Antarctica is not far behind, with annual temperatures gaining almost one degree Fahrenheit (half degree Celsius) each decade since the 1950s.

“The sensitivity of moss growth to past temperature rises suggests that ecosystems will alter rapidly under future warming, leading to major changes in the biology and landscape of this iconic region,” said researcher Dan Charman, a professor at Exeter.

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Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 10 May – 16 May 2017

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : According to JMA, fieldwork at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano revealed that the sulfur dioxide flux rose from 300 tons on 28 April to 1,700 tons on 8 May; the last time sulfur dioxide flux was above 1,000 tons was 23 June 2015. At 1312 on 12 May an explosion at Showa Crater generated a plume that rose 700 m above the crater rim, into a weather cloud. Four events were detected during 13-15 May; one of the events, an explosion at Showa Crater on 14 May, produced a plume that rose 2.3 km above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Fuego | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 9-16 May explosions at Fuego generated ash plumes that rose as high as 950 m above the crater rim and drifted 7-12 km W, SW, S, and E. Ashfall was reported in San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km N), Morelia (9 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), and Panimache I and II (8 km SW) during 9-12 May. On 14 May a hot lahar descended the Río Ceniza (SSW) and Santa Teresa (W) drainages, carrying blocks 2 m in diameter, branches, and tree trunks. Sounds from colliding blocks were audible more than 1 km away, and steam plumes rose from the lahar. During 14-16 May avalanches descended the Ceniza and Las Lajas (SE) drainages, and gas emissions rose from pyroclastic-flow deposits in the ravines.

Manam | Papua New Guinea : RVO reported that during 11-14 May Manam’s Main Crater was quiet, emitting only dense white vapor. On 12 May Southern Crater emitted dark gray ash plumes, and on 13 May only whitish-blue vapor emissions were observed. During 0100-0400 on 14 May roaring and explosions were heard in Bogia Station; incandescent lava fragments were ejected from the crater. Seismicity was low (RSAM averaged 50 units) and dominated by low-frequency events during 11-12 May. RSAM increased on 13 May, peaking at 450 units at 2330, and then dropped to 110 units at 0500 on 14 May. RSAM increased to 250 by 0800 and remained at that level through 14 May. The Alert Level remained at Stage 2.

Masaya | Nicaragua : The Washington VAAC reported that on 13 May a west-drifting ash emission from Masaya was identified in satellite images and observed by a pilot.

Poas | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA noted ash emissions at Poás on 10 May. Gas emissions were measured by an instrument mounted on a drone, revealing a gas plume rich in sulfur dioxide and low in carbon dioxide. During 10-11 May tremor amplitude was variable but low, and several volcano-tectonic events were detected. During 11-13 May tremor was constant, and volcano-tectonic and long-period events were detected; the seismicity possibly indicated small eruptions. Deformation was high, with vertical inflation of 3 cm since February.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported continuing lava-dome extrusion at Sheveluch’s N flank during 5-11 May. A daily thermal anomaly over the dome was identified in satellite images, and ash plumes drifted 90 km NNE and NW on 8 and 10 May. Strong explosions on 12 May generated ash plumes identified in satellite images that rose 9-10 km (29,500-32,800 ft) a.s.l., spread 70 km wide, and drifted 115 km NW. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red. A few hours later satellite images showed a thermal anomaly and no ash emissions; the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Orange. Explosions on 16 May generated ash plumes that rose 8-9 km (26,200-29,500 ft) a.s.l., prompting KVERT to again raise the Aviation Color Code to Red. Pyroclastic flows descended the flanks and produced ash plumes that rose 3.5-4 km (11,500-13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE. Within a few hours satellite images showed a thermal anomaly and no ash emissions; the Aviation Color Code was lowered to Orange. An ash cloud with the dimensions of 51 x 43 km was still visible in satellite images, moving E.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.0 degrees Fahrenheit (46.0 degrees Celsius) in Kaédi, Mauritania.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 103.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 75.0 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, 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

Wildfires – Florida, USA

State Wildland Firefighters are assisting Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range with an approximately 8,000-acre brush fire on the Highlands/Polk County line Wednesday night.

The wildfire is located south of Arbuckle Lake and southeast of Lake Wales Ridge State Forest. The fire is currently zero percent contained. No one in the area has been evacuated. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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