Global Warming

Retreating Ice Exposes Arctic Landscape Unseen for 120,000 Years

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The retreat of Arctic glaciers on Baffin Island is exposing landscapes that haven’t seen the sun for nearly 120,000 years.

These rocky vistas have very likely been covered in ice since the Eemian, a period in which average temperatures were up to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than present, and sea levels up to 30 feet (9 meters) higher.

The island is ringed with dramatic fjords, but its interior is dominated by high-elevation, relatively flat, tundra plains. These tundra plains are covered with thin ice caps. Because the landscape is so flat, the ice caps don’t flow and slide like typical glaciers. Instead, they simply sit on the underlying rock and soil, preserving everything beneath them like the glass of a museum case.

What’s preserved includes tiny Arctic plants and mosses that were last alive when the ice enveloped the land. As the ice melts, it exposes this ancient, delicate vegetation. Wind and water destroy the long-lost plants within months, but if researchers can get to them first, they can use radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the vegetation. The samples were at least as old as the oldest age that radiocarbon dating can detect: 40,000 years. That’s a direct indication that the plants had been under ice for at least that long.

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Over 70,000 march for the climate in Brussels

At least 70,000 people marched on January 27 in Brussels, braving the cold and rain to urge politicians to uphold their promises on countering climate change.

Chanting and holding placards with slogans such as, “Stop denying the Earth’s dying” and “What I stand for is what I stand on,” demonstrators walked through the streets of the Belgian capital towards the European Parliament building to send a message about climate change to European lawmakers.

Protests Across France Call for Action on Climate Change

Thousands gathered in Paris and across France on Sunday to denounce political inaction on battling climate change.

More than 100 demonstrations were planned across France for a weekend of action on the environment. Organisers called on people to come together to discuss practical ideas on how to advance an agenda that would halt or at least slow global warming.

Hundreds of people battled heavy rain and winds in Paris to attend a protest at Place de la République that included representatives from NGOs, scientists and activists as well as the general public.

Throughout the afternoon moderators will run workshops exploring how to make the planet greener and how lawsuits can be an effective tool against climate change. More than 2 million people signed a petition in December to sue the French government for not doing enough to combat climate change, France’s most successful petition ever.

Germany Sets Goal to End Coal Use by 2038

In a pioneering move, a German government-appointed panel has recommended that Germany stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2038 at the latest, as part of efforts to curb climate change.

Germany gets more than a third of its electricity from burning coal, generating large amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Tasmania

Emergency services in Tasmania are battling 72 separate bushfires. Smoke from Tasmania’s numerous bushfires is being spotted as far away as New Zealand as parts of the state remain at threat from blazes up to 20,000 hectares in size. The greatest threat on Monday was posed by an “erratic” fire burning near Geeveston, southwest of Hobart, where about 400 people have evacuated their homes.

Disease

Lassa Fever – Nigeria

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, last week Tuesday January 22, 2019 confirmed 16 deaths from 60 cases of Lassa fever even as 590 out of 593 contacts are currently under watch in eight states of the federation. The affected states are Edo, Ondo, Bauchi, Nasarawa Ebonyi, Plateau, Taraba, and FCT. Case fatality rate in confirmed cases is 26.7 percent.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.5 earthquake hits Colombia.

5.2 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.1 earthquake hits Samar in the Philippines.

5.1 earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.1 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 earthquake hits the Sumba region, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Riley), located approximately 283 nm north of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking westward at 10 knots.

NewsBytes:

Queensland, Australia – In the Sunshine State, water levels at the Daintree River have exceeded nine metres and residents along its tributaries, the Mossman River and other waterways in the shire have been warned to prepare as waters continue to rise. In far north Queensland, ferry services have been shut down. Heavy rain and strong winds have been forecast for the state’s far north in coming days, although communities were spared a cyclone that fizzled out after crossing land.

Malaysia – The number of evacuees due to floods in Sabah continue to rise following heavy rainfall on Sunday (Jan 27). A total of 2,555 people from five districts have been displaced and are taking shelter at 17 different evacuation centres. The flood victims from some 549 families are from Kota Marudu, Matunggong, Pitas, Kota Belud and Sipitang districts.

Volcanos

Global Volcanic Activity – Volcanoes Today, 27 January 2019

Shiveluch (Kamchatka): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Anchorage warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 20000 ft (6100 m) altitude or flight level 200 and is moving at 20 kts in N direction.

Dukono (Halmahera): Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Darwin (VAAC) issued the following report: CONTINUOUS VA EMISSIONS TO FL060 EST VA DTG:27/0000Z

Reventador (Ecuador): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Washington warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 15000 ft (4600 m) altitude or flight level 150.

Sabancaya (Peru): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Buenos Aires warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 25000 ft (7600 m) altitude or flight level 250.

Planchón-Peteroa (Central Chile and Argentina): Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Buenos Aires warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 15000 ft (4600 m) altitude or flight level 150.

Barren Island (Indian Ocean): Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Darwin (VAAC) issued the following report: CONTINUOUS VA EMISSIONS TO FL030 HAVE CEASED

Disease

Ebola – DR Congo

WHO has advised countries sharing a border with DR Congo to urgently strengthen their surveillance and alert systems for early detection, and timely and effective response to potential cases.

Nine neighbouring countries were put on high alert: Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, and Burundi are ranked Priority-1. Angola, Congo, Central African Republic, Tanzania, and Zambia are ranked Priority-2.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.2 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.8 earthquake hits Kepulauan Kai, Indonesia.

5.7 earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.5 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits Kyushu, Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Riley), located approximately 334 nm north-northeast of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 04 knots.

NewsBytes:

Turkey – Heavy rains have caused floods in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya.

Brazil – A mining dam collapsed in southeastern Brazil on Friday, Jan. 25. The dam flooded a nearby community, raising concerns of widespread contamination. Brazilian mining company Vale SA said in a statement that it didn’t yet have information on deaths or injuries at the dam in Minas Gerais state but said that tailings have reached the community of Vila Ferteco and an administrative office. Parts of the city were evacuated and local firefighters were rescuing people by helicopter and ground vehicles.

Connecticut, USA – Rain, some of it heavy, arrived in the state on Thursday leading to flooding for some areas. A flash flood watch and flood warning were in effect for the entire state.

Indonesia – The number of people killed after days of torrential rain triggered flash floods and landslides on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island has climbed to 59 with 25 others missing, a disaster official said Friday.

Global Warming

Climate Change – Migrant Crisis in Bangladesh

The country, already grappling with the Rohingya crisis, now faces a devastating migration problem as hundreds of thousands face an impossible choice between battered coastlines and urban slums.

Bangladesh, a densely populated, riverine South Asian nation, has always survived its share of tropical storms, flooding, and other natural disasters. But today, climate change is accelerating old forces of destruction, creating new patterns of displacement, and fueling an explosion of rapid, chaotic urbanization

Bangladesh holds 165 million people in an area smaller than Illinois. One-third of them live along the southern coast, a lush honeycomb of island villages, farms, and fish ponds linked by protective embankments. Most of the country’s land area is no higher above sea level than New York City, and during the rainy season more than one-fifth of the country can be flooded at once.

For tens of thousands of years, people living in the vast Ganges Delta accepted a volatile, dangerous landscape of floods and tropical storms as the cost of access to rich agricultural soil and lucrative maritime trade routes.

Climate change is disrupting traditional rain patterns—droughts in some areas, unexpected deluges in others—and boosting silt-heavy runoff from glaciers in the Himalaya Mountains upstream, leading to an increase in flooding and riverbank erosion. Every year, an area larger than Manhattan washes away. Meanwhile, sea-level rise is pushing saltwater into coastal agricultural areas and promising to permanently submerge large swaths.

Over the last decade, nearly 700,000 Bangladeshis were displaced on average each year by natural disasters, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. That number spikes in years with catastrophic cyclones,

As people flee vulnerable coastal areas, most are arriving in urban slums—particularly in Dhaka, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most densely populated megacities. The city is perceived as the country’s bastion of economic opportunity, but it is also fraught with extreme poverty, public health hazards, human trafficking, and other risks, including its own vulnerability to floods. Already, up to 400,000 low-income migrants arrive in Dhaka every year.

Disease

Circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 – Mozambique

On 17 January 2019, two genetically-linked circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) isolates were reported from Molumbo district, Zambezia province, Mozambique.

Ebola – DR Congo

The number of people killed in an Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has risen to 443, health authorities have announced, as new President Felix Tshisekedi began his first full day in office on Friday. The rising death toll – up by more than 40 in the past 10 days – emphasises the challenge of controlling the epidemic in the strife-torn east and is just one of a host of complex issues facing Tshisekedi.

African Swine Flu – France

France will deploy the army to fight the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) found in wild boars, the Agriculture Minister has confirmed. These rapid measures will provide “logistical support” and are tasked with culling wild boar in a border zone next to Belgium. The virulent swine disease was first confirmed in Belgium near the borders with Luxembourg and France in September 2018. However since then the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has reported 245 cases of the disease in the Luxembourg region this month.

The drastic move by French authorities was enforced after the disease had spread to just one kilometre from mainland France in recent days.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 earthquake hits near the coast of central Peru.

5.3 earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 earthquake hits central Peru.

5.1 earthquake hits the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Riley), located approximately 398 nm northeast of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking westward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

Indonesia – Floods and landslides in a central Indonesian province hit by torrential rains this week have killed 30 people and left more than two dozen missing, the national disaster agency said Thursday. Ten districts and cities in South Sulawesi province including the capital, Makassar, have been affected by flooding that began late Tuesday, forcing more than 3,000 people to flee their homes.S of the victims had been electrocuted while others were buried by landslides.

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Environment

Doomsday Clock Hovers at 2 Minutes to ‘Midnight’

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Humanity might be running out of time to turn away from a path toward our utter annihilation — at least, according to the hypothetical Doomsday Clock.

Experts with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) updated the imaginary timepiece, which measures the proximity of humanity’s destruction based on the position of the clock’s hands relative to midnight — the hour of the impending apocalypse.

Last year the Doomsday Clock’s hands were set at 2 minutes to midnight, the closest it had ever been to “doomsday.” And, citing similar risks of humanity’s destruction, BAS representatives announced today that the clock will remain at 2 minutes to midnight.

But even though the clock’s hands haven’t moved, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the relentless progress of climate change — aided by widespread misinformation and fake news — are still a cause for grave concern, BAS representatives declared at a press event.

South Australia heatwave

Temperatures in southern Australian neared 48 degrees on Thursday, shattering previous records as sizzling citizens received free beer to help weather heatwave of historic proportions.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported temperatures of 47.9 Celsius (118 Fahrenheit) north of Adelaide, while inside the city temperatures reached 46.2 Celsius, a fraction above a record that had stood since 1939.

More than 13 towns across South Australia have smashed their own heat records, with some of the state forecast to see temperatures of 50 degrees by the end of the day.

Wildlife

Spider ‘Rain’

Residents in a rural area of Brazil’s Minas Gerais state reported being alarmed after seeing spiders “raining” from the sky, which experts say was due to the region’s hot and humid weather.

While it did appear as if the arachnids were falling from above, experts said they were actually hanging in a giant web to catch prey.

Parawixia bistriata is a rare “social” spider that nests in a giant ball during the day in vegetation. It emerges at night to catch small insects and even birds in its nearly invisible but massive webs.