Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.7 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.7 earthquake hits the Philippines.

5.4 earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.3 earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.2 earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

5.1 earthquake hits southeast of the Loyalty Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Malaysia – Various roads leading to shops, housing areas and oil palm estates in Sandakan were flooded following a continuous downpour. The flash floods in Kampung Garinono and the areas surrounding it led to a traffic standstill yesterday after many roads were left impassable.

Argentina – It has been a wet year so far in the low Pampas of South America. Northeast Argentina and the adjacent parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding. Since the beginning of the year, the area has received about five times the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm, recorded in January 1994. Eastern Pampas has good farming land but the first soybean crop was a complete loss in some areas because of the rain. The ground is still water-logged. In the province of Corrientes, water is nearly two metres deep, displacing the herds of cattle. In Paso de Los Libres, a border city in what is known as the Argentine Mesopotamia, January brought 483mm of rain so far. The average rainfall for January is 128mm. There is now a 65 percent chance of a proper El Nino developing, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it is El Nino conditions that tend to disrupt the normal rainfall pattern in this part of the world. The Atacama Desert in Chile benefits from El Nino rains, but the Peruvian fishing industry suffers.

Global Warming

Antarctica Is Dumping Hundreds of Gigatons of Ice into the Ocean Right Now

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The southern, frozen continent lost an average of 252 gigatons of ice a year to the sea between 2009 and 2017. Between 1979 and 1990, it lost an average of just 40 gigatons per year. That means that ice loss on Antarctica has accelerated by 6.3 times in just four decades, according to new research published Jan. 14 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As the sea ice at the North Pole melts away, the melting causes negative consequences and ripple effects for the global climate. However, that melting doesn’t directly raise sea levels. North polar ice is already floating on the ocean, so turning it from solid to liquid doesn’t add to the total volume of water in the seas, according to NASA.

But Antarctica is a landmass buried beneath ice. And it holds the largest reserve of frozen, landlocked water anywhere on the planet. Any ice loss on Antarctica directly contributes to the total volume of water in the oceans, and raises sea levels.

Hidden Beneath a Half Mile of Ice, Antarctic Lake Teems with Life

The dark waters of a lake deep beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet and a few hundred miles from the South Pole are teeming with bacterial life, say scientists — despite it being one of the most extreme environments on Earth.

The discovery has implications for the search for life on other planets — in particular on the planet Mars, where signs of a buried lake of liquid saltwater were seen in data reported last year by the European Space Agency’s orbiting Mars Express spacecraft.

The drill team bored through about 3,504 feet (1,068 meters) of ice, and the water below was a chilly 30.8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 0.65 degrees Celsius), so that scientific researchers could take water samples and sediment cores from the lake, which was about 49 feet (15 m) deep at that spot and covers an area of about 54 square miles (139 square kilometers) under the ice sheet.

Early studies of water samples taken from Lake Mercer — which is buried beneath a glacier — showed that they contained approximately 10,000 bacterial cells per milliliter. That’s only about 1 percent of the 1 million microbial cells per milliliter typically found in the open ocean, but a very high level for a sunless body of water buried deep beneath an Antarctic glacier.

The scientists said that the high levels of bacterial life in the dark and deeply buried lake were signs that it might support higher life-forms, such as microscopic animals like tardigrades.

Upper-ocean warming is making waves stronger

Sea level rise puts coastal areas at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, but new research shows they face other climate-related threats as well. Scientists found that the energy of ocean waves has been growing globally, and they found a direct association between ocean warming and the increase in wave energy.

The new study focused on the energy contained in ocean waves, which is transmitted from the wind and transformed into wave motion. This metric, called wave power, has been increasing in direct association with historical warming of the ocean surface. The upper ocean warming, measured as a rising trend in sea-surface temperatures, has influenced wind patterns globally, and this, in turn, is making ocean waves stronger.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Tasmania

About 5,500 lightning strikes were recorded across the state overnight on Monday, sparking dozens of wildfires across the State. There were 61 active fires reported across the state on the TFS website at 10:00pm, with fires at Wattle Grove, Great Pine Tier Central Plateau and Gell River listed at an advice level.

Disease

Measles – Ukraine – Update

In 2018, Ukraine saw an astounding 54,000 measles cases and 16 fatalities. As 2019 begins, it appears the measles problem continues in Ukraine as health officials has already reported 5,059 measles cases from December 28, 2018 to January 11, 2019 and two deaths.

Ebola – DR Congo

The death toll from the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo has passed the 400 mark in the east and northeast, health authorities said Tuesday.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the total number of cases is 658 — 609 confirmed and 49 probable. In total there have been 402 deaths” in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, a health ministry bulletin stated.

Health authorities also confirmed 237 cases of “persons cured”, with a further “200 suspect cases still under investigation”.