Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.5 earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.4 earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.4 earthquake hits Halmahera, Indonesia.

5.3 earthquake hits off the coast of Tarapaca, Chile.

5.0 earthquake hits sought of Fiji.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 12s (Funani), located approximately 502 nm east of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southeastward at 10 knots.

Tropical cyclone 13s (Gelena), located approximately 492 nm north-northwest of St. Denis, Reunion, is tracking eastward at 03 knots.

Gl sst mm

Wildlife

Humans Are Eating Most of Earth’s Largest Animals to Extinction

It’s hard to argue that the world is not made more interesting by singing whales the size of school buses, dinosaur-footed bird monsters that can leap clean over your head or slimy, cannibal salamanders that grow as large as crocodiles.

Giant animals like these are known as megafauna. Beyond being awesome in every sense of the word, these mammoth species are crucial to keeping their respective ecosystems balanced — and, according to a new study, about 60 percent of them are hopelessly doomed.

In new research published today (Feb. 6) in the journal Conservation Letters, scientists surveyed the populations of nearly 300 species of megafauna around the world, and saw some troubling trends emerge. According to the authors, at least 200 species (70 percent) of the world’s largest animals are seeing their populations dwindle, and more than 150 face the risk of outright extinction.

The primary threat in most of these cases appears to be human meat consumption.

“Megafauna” is a broad biological term that can apply to any number of large animals, equally apt for describing a chunky Australian codfish as a long-dead T. rex. To narrow down things in their new study, Ripple and his colleagues defined megafauna as any non-extinct vertebrate above a certain weight threshold. For mammals, ray-finned and cartilaginous fish (like sharks and whales), any species weighing more than 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) was considered megafauna. For amphibians, birds and reptiles, species weighing more than 88 lbs. (40 kg) made the cut.

This left the researchers with a list of 292 supersize animals. The list includes a cast of familiar faces like elephants, rhinos, giant tortoises and whales, as well as some surprise guests like the Chinese giant salamander — a critically endangered, alligator-size amphibian that can weight up to 150 lbs. (65.5 kg).

As humans got better at killing from a distance over the past several hundred years, megafauna have started dying at an increasingly quick rate, the authors wrote. Since the 1760s, nine megafauna species have gone extinct in the wild, all thanks to human over-hunting and habitat encroachment.

Today, most of the threatened megafauna species face a lethal cocktail of human-induced dangers, including pollution, climate change and land development. However, the researchers wrote, the single biggest threat remains harvesting — that is, being hunted and killed for their meat or body parts.

“Meat consumption was the most common motive for harvesting megafauna for all classes except reptiles, where harvesting eggs was ranked on top,” the researchers wrote in their study. “Other leading reasons for harvesting megafauna included medicinal use, unintended bycatch in fisheries and trapping, live trade and various other uses of body parts such as skins and fins.”

According to the researchers, establishing legal barriers to limit the trade and collection of megafauna products is an essential step toward slowing this mass-extinction-in-progress.

Global Warming

Study: Melting ice sheets may cause ‘climate chaos’

Billions of tonnes of meltwater flowing into the world’s oceans from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could boost extreme weather and destabilise regional climate within a matter of decades, researchers said yesterday.

These melting giants, especially the one atop Greenland, are poised to further weaken the ocean currents that move cold water south along the Atlantic Ocean floor while pushing tropical waters northward closer to the surface, they reported in the journal Nature.

Known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc), this liquid conveyor belt plays a crucial role in Earth’s climate system and helps ensures the relative warmth of the Northern Hemisphere.

“According to our models, this meltwater will cause significant disruptions to ocean currents and change levels of warming around the world,” said lead author Nicholas Golledge, an associate professor at the Antarctic Research Centre of New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington.

The Antarctic ice sheet’s loss of mass, meanwhile, traps warmer water below the surface, eroding glaciers from underneath in a vicious circle of accelerated melting that contributes to sea level rise.

Most studies on ice sheets have focused on how quickly they might shrink due to global warming, and how much global temperatures can rise before their disintegration — whether over centuries or millenia — becomes inevitable, a threshold known as a “tipping point.”

But far less research has been done on how the meltwater might affect the climate system itself.

One likely result of weakened current in the Atlantic will be warmer air temperatures in the high Arctic, eastern Canada and central America, and cooler temperatures over northwestern Europe and the North American eastern seaboard.

Disease

Measles

Philippines – Philippines health officials officially declared a measles outbreak in National Capital Region (NCR), which includes Manila on Wednesday. The DOH Epidemiology Bureau (DOH EB) has reported nearly 200 confirmed cases through January 19 in the region. In addition, 861 suspected cases have been reported in the Metro Manila area during the first month of the year.

Ireland – Ireland health officials declared a measles outbreak in Donegal after two confirmed cases were reported. Officials say the outbreak is linked to a third level institution in Galway.

Washington, USA – Since the beginning of the year, Clark County Public Health has reported 50 confirmed measles cases and another 11 suspect cases. Forty-eight of the cases are in children 18 years and younger and all the cases either were unvaccinated, undervaccinated or an unknown vaccination status.

Volcanos

Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 30 January-5 February 2019

Barren Island | Andaman Islands (India) – Based on analysis of satellite imagery and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 26 January ash plumes from Barren Island rose to an altitude of 0.9 km (3,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W.

Karangetang | Siau Island (Indonesia) – PVMBG reported that the current eruption at Karangetang began with increased seismicity and thermal anomalies in November 2018. Since then activity was dominated by lava-dome growth, avalanches, and pyroclastic flows. A gray ash plume rose above the summit craters on 30 January. By 2 February ’a’a lava from Kawah Dua (North Crater) had traveled 2.5 km NNW down the Melebuhe River drainage, prompting the evacuation of eight families (about 21 people). A section of the local road was closed, from W of the Batuare River to Kali Melebuhe. According to a news article the flow was 50 m thick in some areas. Seismic signals indicating avalanches sharply increased on 3 February. Lava and pyroclastic flows originated from the Kawah Dua crater, traveling as far as 1 km W down the Sumpihi River drainage, 2 km NW down the Batuare River, and 2.9 km NW down the Malebuhe drainage. BNPB reported that 112 residents (from Niambangeng, Kampung Beba, and Batubulan villages) had evacuated by 1730 on 4 February, and according to a news article the lava crossed the highway at 1800. The lava flow continued to progress and reached the ocean during 5-6 February.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia) – PVMBG reported that during 25-31 January the volume of the lava dome in Merapi’s summit crater was 461,000 cubic meters, relatively unchanged from the previous week. During 0000-2000 on 29 January as many as nine incandescent rockfall events were recorded, with material traveling 200-700 m SE in the Gendol River drainage. Three pyroclastic flows, recorded at 2017, 2053, and 2141, traveled 1.1-1.4 km down the Gendol drainage, and produced minor ashfall in areas E including Boyolali (17 km E), Mriyan (5 km E), and Mojosongo (44 km E). The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to remain outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Planchon-Peteroa | Central Chile-Argentina border – Observatorio Volcanológico de los Andes del Sur (OVDAS)-SERNAGEOMIN and ONEMI reported an increase in ash emissions at Planchón-Peteroa beginning at 1700 on 1 February, with ash plumes rising as high as 2 km and drifting E. This activity was accompanied by the appearance of discrete, very-low-frequency seismic events which were only recorded that day. On 3 February webcams showed gas-and-ash plumes rising to heights less than 2 km. The Alert Level remained at Yellow (the middle level on a three-colour scale) for the volcano, and ONEMI maintained Alert Level Yellow for the communities of Molina (66 WNW), Curicó (68 km NW), Romeral (75 km NW), and Teno (68 km NW).