Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits the Drake Passage.

5.6 earthquake hits the Ceram Sea, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Potosi, Bolivia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 14s (Damien), located approximately 180 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking southward at 07 knots

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NewsBytes:

Kentucky, USA – Heavy rains caused extensive flooding across eastern Kentucky this week, and city and county officials say it could take weeks to fix some of the damage. Some residents were evacuated from their homes, and officials across the region declared states of emergency.

Johannesburg, South Africa – Heavy rainfall has caused extensive flooding across the city, closing a number of major roads and causing havoc in informal settlements.

Global Warming

The World’s oceans are speeding up

Three quarters of the world’s ocean waters have sped up their pace in recent decades, scientists reported Wednesday, a massive development that was not expected to occur until climate warming became much more advanced.

The change is being driven by faster winds, which are adding more energy to the surface of the ocean. That, in turn, produces faster currents and an acceleration of ocean circulation.

The new research found that 76% of the global ocean is speeding up, when the top 2,000 meters of the ocean are taken into account. The increase in speed is most intense in tropical oceans and especially the vast Pacific.

Scientists aren’t certain of all the consequences of this speedup yet. But they may include impacts in key regions along the eastern coasts of continents, where several currents have intensified. The result in some cases has been damaging ocean hotspots that have upended marine life.

They found a global increase in wind speed over the ocean of about 2% per decade since the 1990s, which translates into about a 5% increase per decade in the speed of ocean currents.

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Wildlife

The future is looking dire for bumblebees

Bumblebees are vanishing at a rate consistent with widespread extinction, and climate change is playing a big role. The dire analysis comes from a new study published in the journal Science today. The authors found that the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place within North America and Europe has dropped by an average of 30 percent as temperatures have risen.

Pesticides, habitat loss, and pathogens have already hit bumblebee populations hard. The new study, however, is able to isolate the effect that hotter temperatures are having on bumblebees. Sadly, bees are having a hard time adapting to a warming world.

Some bee populations are colonizing new territories that were previously too cold. But those gains are overshadowed by losses in areas where the bees once thrived but are now too hot.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Colombia

Members of the Bogotá Fire Department are attempting to control three wildfires blazing out of control near the departmental border of Cundinamarca and Meta. The fires are located in a sector of the Sumpaz mountain range known as San Luis Cubarral and have consumed since Thursday 30-square kilometers of high-altitude wetland.

Sumapaz was declared a National Park in 1977 and covers an area of 221,000 hectares. The park also accounts for 43% of the total high altitude wetland in the world, and fragile habitat for deer, Andean condor, spectacled bears, armadillo and many other endangered species. The wetlands are also known for their towering frailejón (espeletia) plants.

The department of Cundinamarca has registered 61 fires since the start of the year.

Sumapaz

Disease

Novel Coronavirus

Origins found in Pangolins – The deadly novel coronavirus pandemic has been traced to pangolins, the world’s most trafficked and endangered mammal, according to researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. This had been confirmed by researchers at the South China Agricultural University. DNA analysed by the Baylor researchers appears to offer a near-perfect match for the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (nCoV-2019). Importantly, the analysis also shows that nCoV-2019 may be present in trafficked pangolins beyond the outbreak epicentre in Wuhan, a metropolis of 11-million people in Hubei province, where market wildlife is thought to have infected traders. The analysis found it in pangolins in Guangdong. Hubei province and Guangdong province are both major nerve centres for China’s pangolin trade. It is probable that the virus originated in bats, with pangolins being the vector into humans. In past epidemics, vectors have been pigs, chickens, ducks and camels.

Singapore – The Singapore Ministry of Health reported an additional three novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases today, all with no links to previous cases or travel history to China. This brings the total in the country to 33.

Japan – Another 41 people on a cruise ship quarantined off Japan have the new coronavirus. The newly diagnosed infections mean at least 61 people from the ship have contracted the virus. There were more than 3 700 passengers and crew on the ship when it arrived off Japan’s coast on Monday evening. The ship will remain in quarantine until February 19.

Hong Kong – Hong Kong has begun a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China, in a fresh effort to contain the deadly new coronavirus. Visitors must isolate themselves in hotel rooms or government-run centres. Residents must stay inside their homes. Anyone caught flouting the new rules faces a fine and a prison sentence.

Thailand – The Thai health minister has called for any tourists who refuse to wear medical face masks to be kicked out of the country. He was frustrated by tourists who refuse to wear face masks putting Thai residents at risk of contracting the disease and also suggested the Thai government impose a travel ban on Chinese nationals in order to help prevent the Coronavirus pandemic spreading.

Botulism – Argentina

In Argentina, the Ministry of Health of Córdoba confirmed two cases of botulism in the province. The patients were visitors to the province who “bought pickled wild boar and got sick”. They were both in critical condition in hospital.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever – Mali

Government officials in the governorate of Mopti are reporting seven human Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) deaths. In the village of Samoa, 14 cases were detected and 7 people died. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family.