Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 earthquake hits east of the Kuril Islands.

5.5 earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.0 earthquake hits the Peru-Ecuador border.

5.0 earthquake hits south of the Mariana Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 22s (Joaninha), located approximately 622 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking southward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

USA – Severe flooding in the Midwest is damaging fields, disrupting shipments and dealing a costly blow to growers and agribusinesses as a downturn in the farm economy stretches into a sixth year. Swollen rivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states after months of heavy snow and rain have swamped grain bins and washed away cattle. The deluge has impeded crop shipments for U.S. grain traders and inundated roads and rail lines that companies including Hormel Foods Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. use to move meat. Meanwhile the White River in South Dakota is in flood and has broken its banks.

Global Warming

Climate vs Lifestyle

A new study finds that the public won’t be willing to do the most important things necessary to cut their carbon footprint unless they are forced to through the introduction of new regulations.

Because household consumption and travel habits contribute 72 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a team of scientists asked urban residents in five European countries what they would be willing to do to combat climate change.

The lifestyle changes they said they would be willing to adopt would cut only about 50 percent of the emissions needed by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While those interviewed were somewhat more willing to change what they eat, such as consuming less meat, they were far less inclined to fly less and cut back on their vehicle use.

“We are entering territory that is very much taboo,” says one of the report’s authors, Benjamin Sovacool. “The things we may have to force or nudge people to do are more intertwined with identity. They are stickier, harder to change.”

The Svalbard ‘Doomsday Vault’ is succumbing to global warming

Just over a decade after it first opened, the world’s “doomsday vault” of seeds is imperiled by global warming as the polar region where it’s located warms faster than any other area on the planet.

Embedded deep in the permafrost of a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built to withstand the test of time – including climate change – and the challenge of any natural or man-made disasters.

Opened in 2008, the seed vault contains nearly one million packets of seeds, all carefully labeled. The seeds come from almost every country in the world and are a vast sampling of unique varieties of major African and Asian food staples such as maize, rice, wheat, cowpea, and sorghum to European and South American varieties of lettuce, eggplant, squash, and potatoes.

The seed vault was built to be indestructible but in May of 2017, soaring Arctic temperatures, coming at the end of the world’s hottest year on record proved the scientists to be wrong. The extreme temperatures and rainfall started thawing the permafrost deep inside the mountain where the vault is located.

A 105-page report based on research published by the Norwegian Centre for Climate Services (NCCS) released this year, revealed that the islands that make up the Svalbard archipelago where the Seed Vault is located are experiencing rapid warming.

The thawing permafrost, once as hard as rock, has made the ground unstable, causing great cracks to form in buildings and structures to sink.

Wildlife

Zambia’s Looming Hippo Cull

Wildlife advocates have slammed Zambia’s plan to slaughter 2,000 hippopotamuses beginning in May because officials claim the herbivores’ habitat can’t sustain the current population.

Hippos are listed as “vulnerable,” with only 115,000-130,000 living in the wild.

The conservation group Born Free says Zambia is overstating the country’s hippo population to justify the cull, which will be carried out by trophy hunters who pay to kill the semi-aquatic animals.

“Hippo lives are on the line in order to line the pockets of a few hunting operators and government officials,” said Born Free’s president, Will Travers.

Amphibian-Killing Invasive Fungus Causes Record Wildlife Loss

The chytrid fungus has hit 500 species of amphibians, driving dozens to extinction in recent decades

A fungus that kills amphibians by invading their skin has become one of the most destructive invasive species ever recorded, a new research report says.

Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a type of chytrid fungus, has caused declines in 500 amphibian species and driven dozens of them to extinction, according to the report, published Thursday in Science. This is the first time scientists have taken global stock of the problem.

The creeping destruction of B. dendrobatidis (commonly known as Bd) was first noticed in the 1980s, and identified and named in the 1990s. The spores of the fungus infect amphibian skin, causing it to harden and slough off. Because amphibians drink through their skin, the resulting disease (called chytridiomycosis) disrupts their hydration and electrolyte balance, killing them.

The researchers found Bd caused declines in 500 amphibian species, 90 of which are now extinct in the wild. Another 124 have lost more than 90 percent of their population.

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Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) in Diffa, Niger.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 72.8 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Vostok base, 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.

Disease

Dolphins – Health Sentinels

The brains of dead dolphins recently found stranded on the beaches of Florida and Massachusetts contained the same amyloid plaques responsible for Alzheimer’s disease in humans, along with toxic contamination.

Researchers from the University of Miami and other institutions detected an environmental toxin in the brains of the marine mammals that is produced by green algae blooms, which are becoming more common in coastal waters worldwide because of pollution runoff.

Since the dolphins are considered a “sentinel species” for toxic exposure in the ocean, the scientists warn that the toxins from the algae could be triggering the same plaque buildup and contamination in human brains.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

From 1 through 28 February 2019, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported 68 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 10 deaths.

Ebola – DR Congo – Update

The ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces saw a rise in the number of new cases this past week. During the last 21 days (6 – 26 March), a total of 125 new cases were reported.

Cholera – Mozambique

Cholera cases in Mozambique among survivors of a devastating cyclone have shot up to 139, officials said, as nearly 1 million vaccine doses were rushed to the region and health workers desperately tried to improvise treatment space for victims. Cholera causes acute diarrhea, is spread by contaminated food and water and can kill within hours if not treated. The disease is a major concern for the hundreds of thousands of cyclone survivors in the southern African nation now living in squalid conditions in camps, schools or damaged homes.

Volcanos

Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 20 March – 26 March 2019

Agung | Bali (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that at 0018 on 21 March an event at Agung was recorded for 1 minute and 47 seconds by the seismic network. Weather conditions prevented visual observations of the summit. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4) with the exclusion zone set at a 4-km radius.

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that during 18-22 March there were two events and one explosion recorded at Minamidake crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano). Plumes rose at least as high as 1.7 km above the crater rim. Small events occasionally occurred during 22-25 March; crater incandescence was visible at night on 24 March. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 20-22 and 24 March 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. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and visitors were warned to remain outside of the 2-km exclusion zone.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : Volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island), about 7 km E of Ebeko, observed explosions during 15, 16-19, and 21 March that sent ash plumes up to 4.5 km (14,800 ft) a.s.l. Ash fell in Severo-Kurilsk during 15-16 and 21 March. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Fuego | Guatemala : On 22 March INSIVUMEH reported that activity at Fuego had increased during the previous few days. There were 15-20 explosions per hour producing ash plumes that rose as high as 1.3 km above the summit and drifted 20-30 km E, SE, S, SW, and W. Ashfall was reported in communities downwind including La Rochela, Ceylán, San Andrés Osuna, Las Palmas, Siquinalá, and Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa (23 km SW). Shock waves vibrated residential structures within 20 km. The explosions also caused avalanches of material from the crater that traveled down the Seca (W), Ceniza (SSW), Taniluyá (SW), Trinidad (S), Las Lajas (SE), and Honda ravines. In the evening on 21 March and early morning hours of 22 March lava fountains rose 350 m above the summit. During 23-26 March explosions occurred at a rate of 15-25 per hour, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.2 km and drifted 15-20 km W, S, and SE. Explosions sometimes vibrated nearby residences. Incandescent material was ejected 200-300 m high and caused avalanches of material that traveled down Seca, Taniluyá, Ceniza, Trinidad, Las Lajas, and Honda ravines, sometimes reaching vegetated areas. Ashfall as reported in areas downwind including Panimache I (8 km SW), Morelia (8 km SW), Santa Sofia (12 km SE), La Rochela, and San Andrés Osuna.

Ibu | Halmahera (Indonesia) : The Darwin VAAC reported that a minor ash plume from Ibu rose to an altitude of 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l., drifted about 17 km NE, and dissipated. An ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. later that day, and to 2.4 km on 23 March; both plumes drifted E. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater, and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Karymsky | Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Karymsky was visible in satellite images on 17 March. The volcano was quiet or obscured by clouds on the other days during 15-22 March. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : HVO reported that during the previous several months monitoring data at Kilauea showed relatively low rates of seismicity, deformation, and gas emissions at the summit and East Rift Zone (ERZ) (including the area of the 2018 eruption). As a result, HVO lowered the Volcano Alert Level to Normal and the Aviation colour Code to Green.

Krakatau | Indonesia : PVMBG reported that a total of six explosions at Anak Krakatau were recorded on 18 March, with dense white plumes rising as high as 500 m from the summit. During 18-24 March no other plumes were noted although weather conditions often prevented visual observations. Events were recorded at 0301 and 0305 on 24 March, though ash plumes were not visible. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to remain outside of the 5-km radius hazard zone from the crater.

Manam | Papua New Guinea : The Darwin VAAC reported that during 19-22 March ash plumes from Manam rose to an altitude of 4.6 km (15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E and SE based on satellite data and ground-based observations.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the slow extrusion of a lava dome in Merapi’s summit crater continued during 17-24 March. By 21 March the lava dome had grown to an estimated size of 472,000 cubic meters based on analyses of drone footage. There were no apparent morphological changes; most of the extruded lava fell into the upper parts of the Gendol River drainage on the SE flank. Block-and-ash flows traveled as far as 1,500 m down the Gendol drainage during 18-19 and 23 March. 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.

Rincon de la Vieja | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that a small event at Rincón de la Vieja was recorded at 1851 on 19 March.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch’s lava dome was identified daily in satellite images during 15-22 March. Strong gas-and-steam emissions containing variable amounts of ash rose 3.5-4 km (11,500-13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 105 km E during 15-17 March. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that crater incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible at night during 22 15-22 March. Small events were occasionally recorded, generating plumes that rose as high as 600 m above the crater rim. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported a period of continuous emissions from Turrialba during 20-22 March. The emissions were characterized as white water vapor plumes with periodic pulses of diffuse ash rising 300 m above the vent rim and drifting W and SW. A sulfur odor was noted in Tierra Blanca de Cartago on 22 March. Only water vapor plumes with a low concentration of magmatic gases were visible during 23-26 March.