Wildlife

More Locust Swarms

Kenyan officials began aerial spraying for hordes of arriving desert locusts that have ravaged vegetation across parts of Ethiopia and Somalia in recent weeks.

The worst infestation in 70 years has already destroyed 175,000 acres of crops across the Horn of Africa and parts of northeastern Kenya, threatening famine in a region that had already suffered devastating flooding last year.

“We have seen drought and torrential rains kill our people and animals, and now we have locusts,” Kenyan legislator Adan Keynan told reporters at the country’s parliament in Nairobi.

Microplastics Affect Coastal Wildlife

Microplastics (plastic particles under 5 mm) are an abundant type of debris found in salt and freshwater environments. In a Limnology & Oceanography Letters study, researchers demonstrated the transfer of microplastics through the food chain between microscopic prey and larval fish that live in coastal ecosystems. They also found that microplastic ingestion interferes with normal growth in fish larvae.

The investigators also looked at the effects of a common pollutant (the pesticide DDT) that attaches to microparticles in coastal waters. Organisms were not able to detect or discriminate against ingesting microparticles with high levels of DDT.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Australian authorities issued new warnings and evacuation notices across the country’s heavily populated southeast on Thursday as a return of hot weather fanned huge bushfires threatening several towns and communities.

A disaster notice in Victoria state, already in place for the past week, was extended by two days and people in danger zones were told to leave. In neighbouring New South Wales state, authorities told residents to prepare for worsening weather conditions on Friday.

The ongoing Australian firestorms that have caused such misery and death to the human population may have also killed billions of animals in recent weeks.

Beyond the scorched koalas and kangaroos, scientists also fear the long-footed potoroo marsupial may now be extinct in the wild due to the southeastern bushfires.

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Experts fear the ecosystems there will never recover, with several other animal and plant species left critically endangered or extinct.

Snipers were dispatched in helicopters to cull up to 10,000 feral camels that were nearing remote aboriginal towns in search of water.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) in Penrith, New South Wales.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 61.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 51.7 degrees Celsius) at Thomsen River, North West Territory.

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

Ebola – DR Congo

Twelve new confirmed cases were reported from 1 to 7 January in the ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces.

Dengue Fever

Bangladesh – The number of dengue fever cases in Bangladesh dropped to 1247 in December 2019 in a year that saw more cases reported in the country than was seen since the first cases in 2000. The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) closed out the record year with 101,354 cases and 164 deaths.

Vietnam – According to data from the General Department of Preventive Medicine with the Ministry of Health in VietNam, the number of dengue fever cases reported in 2019 was a significant increase compared to 2018. Since Jan. 1 through Dec. 14, 2019, there have been a total of 320,702 cases with 54 deaths reported.

Measles – Gaza Strip

From 1 January through 19 December 2019, a total of 124 laboratory confirmed cases of measles, including two deaths, were reported in the Gaza Strip (case fatality ratio=1.6%).

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the Week 1 January 2020 – 7 January 2020

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported nighttime crater incandescence at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 30 December-6 January. Small eruptive events were occasionally recorded by the seismic network. An explosion on 6 January produced an ash plume that rose 1.7 km above the crater rim and ejected material as far as 1.1 km away from the crater. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on satellite and wind model data, and information from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 1-4 and 6 January ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was 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 1-2 January that sent ash plumes up to 3 km (10,000 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted N. Satellite images showed a thermal anomaly over the dome on 1 January and an ash cloud drifted almost 30 km N on 2 January. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Karangetang | Siau Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 30 December-5 January lava continued to effuse from Karangetang’s Main Crater (S), traveling as far as 1.8 km down the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense drainages on the SW and W flanks. Sometimes dense white plumes rose to 600 m above the summit. Incandescence from both summit craters was visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Kerinci | Indonesia : The Darwin VAAC and PVMBG reported that during 3-6 January brown ash plumes rose 200-600 m above Kerinci’s summit and drifted S and ESE. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Klyuchevskoy | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Klyuchevskoy was identified in satellite images during 28-30 December and 2 January, and ash plumes drifted 150 km SE during 29-30 December. Strombolian and Vulcanian activity were observed during 29-31 December. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that a relatively high number of deep volcanic earthquakes were recorded at Merapi during 30 December-5 January. The seismic network recorded a pyroclastic flow that began at 2036 on 4 January and lasted for one minute and 45 seconds. The event was not visually observed due to foggy weather conditions. Minor ashfall was reported in Cepogo (4 km NE) and Boyolali (16 km E). The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and residents were warned to stay outside of the 3-km exclusion zone.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 27 December-3 January. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Shishaldin | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that the eruption at Shishaldin continued during 1-7 January. Seismicity was low during 1-2 January and elevated surface temperatures identified in several satellite images indicated continuing lava effusion. Seismicity began increasing at 0930 on 3 January and within several hours a brief period of sustained ash emissions produced plumes that rose as high as 8.2 km (27,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted about 120 km SE. The ash plume produced minor amounts of volcanic lightning. Seismicity declined abruptly after the event. Satellite images acquired the next day showed no noteworthy activity; ash deposits from the day before mantled the upper flanks, lahars on the upper parts of the edifice and on the SW flank were visible, and lava flows on the upper NW and NE flanks were 1-2 km long. During 5-6 January seismicity was low but above background levels and elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite images. A photo taken from Cold Bay (93 km NE) on 6 January showed glowing lava flows on the flank. Seismicity increased at around 0500 on 7 January and was followed by observations of an ash plume drifting NE at an altitude of about 5.8 km (19,000 ft) a.s.l. Seismicity then decreased for a few hours. Another episode of elevated seismicity was accompanied by an increase in the altitude of the ash plume; it rose to 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and seemed to have a denser ash content. The Aviation colour Code was raised to Red and the Volcano Alert Level was raised to Warning. Volcanic lighting was detected in the cloud and volcanic infrasound signals were detected at regional stations. Seismcity significantly decreased around 1200 and remained low. Later that day the Aviation colour Code was lowered to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level was lowered to Watch.

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that on 28 December a very small eruptive event was recorded at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater. Explosions occurred on 31 December and 3 January; the latter explosion produced a gray ash plume that rose 800 m above the crater rim and entered the weather clouds. Crater incandescence was visible at night during 28 Deecmber-3 January. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

Ulawun | New Britain (Papua New Guinea) : RVO reported that during 16-22 December 2019 white vapor plumes rose from Ulawun’s Main Crater with some brief periods of no emissions. Occasional emissions rose from the new WSW flank and along the lava flow. A webcam sometimes recoded nighttime incandescence from the area. Seismic activity was low with RSAM values between 100 and 200 units. The Alert Level remained at Stage 1.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 earthquake hits Chukotka, Russia.

5.2 earthquake hits the southwest Indian ridge.

5.1 earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.1 earthquake hits Dominica in the Leeward Islands.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the Week 1 January 2020 – 7 January 2020

Kirishimayama | Kyushu (Japan) : The number of volcanic earthquakes with hypocenters just below Shinmoedake (Shinmoe peak, a stratovolcano of the Kirishimayama volcano group), increased around 1600 on 2 January prompting JMA to raise the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 1-5). There were a high number (22) of earthquakes recorded during 2200-2400.

Krakatau | Indonesia : PVMBG reported that gray ash plumes from Anak Krakatau rose as high as 2.2 km above the summit on 31 December and then rose only as high as 500 m through 5 January. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 2-km-radius hazard zone from the crater.

White Island | North Island (New Zealand) : On 6 January GeoNet reported that White Island remained in an elevated state of unrest. Very hot steam and gas emissions continued to rise from the 9 December vents, causing incandescence to be recorded on near infrared cameras. Volcanic tremor decreased to low levels on 14 December 2019 and remained low. Sulfur dioxide emission rates were at normal levels. Continuing movement of the back-crater wall W of the 1914 landslide deposits was detected and will continue to be monitored. Small amounts of ash sometimes rose from the active vent due to wall collapses, as on 23 and 26 December. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 and the Aviation colour Code was lowered to Yellow.

Disease

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – The United Arab Emirates

On 29 December 2019, the National IHR Focal Point of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reported one laboratory-confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to WHO.

Mystery Disease Identified – China

The mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people and put China on edge is from the same family of viruses as the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to Chinese scientists.

They’ve found a new coronavirus in 15 of 57 patients with the illness in the central city of Wuhan, Hubei province saying it has been preliminarily identified as the pathogen for the outbreak.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

6.0 earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.2 earthquake hits Nicaragua.

5.2 earthquake hits Potosi, Bolivia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Souther4n Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 06s (Blake), located approximately 66 nm east-southeast of Port Hedland, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 12 knots.

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NewsBytes:

Turkey – Flooding triggered by heavy rainfall has claimed the lives of two people in Southern Turkey.

Global Warming

Russia unveils plan to ‘use the advantages’ of climate change

The Russian government has unveiled a plan to adapt the country’s economy and population to climate change. Climate change, the report says, poses a threat to public health, endangers permafrost, and heightens the likelihood of infections and natural disasters. Russia will likely see longer and more frequent droughts, extreme precipitation and flooding, increased risk of fire as well as the displacement of different species from their habitats, according to the plan.

Expected positive effects of climate change, the plan says, include the reduction of energy consumption during warm periods, shrinking levels of ice which will foster increased access to navigational opportunities in the Arctic Ocean, and expanded agricultural areas.

Russia is warming faster than the global average — its average annual air temperature has increased 2.5 times more rapidly than the average global air temperature since the mid-1970s.

The country is one of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change, with large arctic areas and infrastructure that is built on permafrost. In recent years, Russia has experienced flooding and fires, with the massive wildfires in Siberia in 2019.

Global warming found to give rise to earlier springs

An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests global warming is giving rise to earlier springs in some parts of the world, which contributes to drier summers—at least in the northern hemisphere. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of satellite data over a 30-year period.

The researchers report that they found that earlier greening led to water earlier water depletion from the soil by plants, which led to drier soil as summer came on. Noting that most of the water that is pulled by plants makes its way into the air through pores in leaves, the researchers wondered if that might contribute to more rainfall. The researchers found that it did contribute to more rainfall, but not enough to offset the amount of water pulled from the soil by plants. They suggest that in addition to making conditions more difficult for plants, the drier soil could also lead to higher temperatures in the drier areas due to less evaporative cooling in the summer. They report also that they found drying is worse in Europe, east and west Asia and some parts of North America.

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Disease

Measles – DR Congo

The number of measles fatalities in the world’s worst measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has topped 6,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The 6,000 deaths are part of the astounding 310,000 measles cases reported since January 2019. UN officials say this massive outbreak is due to multiple factors: low vaccination coverage among vulnerable communities, malnutrition, weak public health systems, outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases, difficult access by vulnerable populations to health care and insecurity that has hampered response in some areas.

Unidentified Virus – China

The unidentified viral illness that has sickened dozens in the Chinese city of Wuhan is not severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to local health officials. Oficials also confirmed that the mystery illness is not Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), bird flu or an adenovirus.

As of Sunday (Jan. 5), 59 people in Wuhan have been diagnosed with the unidentified disease, presenting with symptoms of fever, body aches, breathing difficulties and lung injury. The total number of infected people is up from the 44 cases reported last week.

In addition, 21 people who recently visited the city were hospitalized in Hong Kong between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6, according to a report from the Hong Kong health department.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.5 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

6.2 earthquake hits Simeulue, Indonesia.

5.6 earthquake hits eastern New Guinea, Papua New Guinea.

5.5 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

5.3 earthquake hits south of Sumbawa, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

5.1 earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits north of Svalbard.

5.0 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Souther4n Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 06s (Blake), located approximately 176 nm east-northeast of Port Hedland, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

Indonesia – The death toll from flooding in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has risen to 66, authorities say, with two people still missing after the megalopolis was hit by some of the most powerful monsoon rains seen in years. Jakarta and its surrounding areas have been pounded by torrential downpours since New Year’s Eve, causing flooding and landslides that forced thousands to flee their homes. More than 173,000 residents were seeking refuge on Friday. In the days ahead. Jakarta and the central area of Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, are expected to receive as much as 4 inches (102 mm) of rain.