Earthquake

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits Fiji.

5.2 earthquake hits near the coast of northern Peru.

5.0 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 20s (Ferdinand), located approximately 436 nm north-northeast of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking southwestward at 04 knots.

NewsBytes:

Indonesia – Parts of Indonesian capital and its suburbs were flooded after two tropical cyclones off the nation’s coast triggered extremely heavy rainfall, inundating houses in low-lying areas and forcing evacuation of hundreds of residents. More than 200 spots of flooding were reported in Jakarta and the satellite cities of Bekasi and Tangerang with the water level in Ciliwung river that runs through the capital rising to dangerous level.

UK – Hundreds of schools have been forced to close across Northern England due to heavy snow and rain battering the region. The Met Office has issued several yellow warnings as wintry conditions continue across Britain in the wake of Storm Dennis and torrential rain threatens to flood more towns. The yellow warnings indicate a “danger to life”, and drivers are being advised to exercise caution while travelling.

Wildlife

Blinding solar storms could be the cause of whale strandings

Assets newatlas

Grey whales may be “blinded” by solar storms, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology. The solar activity interferes with the whales’ internal magnetic navigation system, causing them to become stranded on the shore, often resulting in death.

Many species of whales have been observed undertaking mammoth seasonal migrations that take them from ocean regions rich with food to their traditional breeding grounds. Depending on the species, a whale can travel upwards of 10,000 miles (16,100 km) on a single migratory round trip, which often takes the vast marine mammals close to shorelines.

Sadly, each year seemingly healthy whales are found stranded on shorelines across the globe, where, without intervention, they inevitably die.

During a solar storm high-energy particles are ejected from our Sun’s atmosphere, and rush outward into the solar system. These particles interact with Earth’s geomagnetic field, sometimes disrupting it to such an extent that it can affect the behavior of organisms that rely on it to navigate.

The study revealed that the chance of a stranding was around twice as high on days during which spots occurred on the Sun’s surface, than on randomly selected days when they did not. This suggests that the whales rely on a form of magnetic navigation to maintain a true course during their long migrations.

The research details two ways that the solar activity could have confused the whales’ magnetic instinct.

It is possible that the whales were becoming stranded as a result of a deviation in Earth’s magnetic field brought on by an interaction with charged particles from the Sun, tricking the whales into thinking that they are in the wrong place.

Secondly, the solar particles could lead to an increase in solar radio flux, which according to the study is the “globally averaged measure of radio frequency (RF).” This radio noise has been known to interfere with several species’ magnetic navigation capabilities, and so could be “blinding” the whales’ biological sensors.

Visiting Hippo

Customers were treated to a rare sight when a big hippo dropped by a petrol garage in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa over the weekend. The animal was spotted strolling into the Engen/OK Express garage in St Lucia on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Sunday night and was recorded by a passerby.

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Disease

COVID-19

China – China reported 508 new cases and 71 new deaths on Tuesday in an outbreak of the coronavirus that has spread to other parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, North America and Europe, infecting more than 80,000 globally. The updates bring mainland China’s totals to 77,658 cases and 2,663 deaths.

South Korea, which reported 144 more cases of the new virus, bringing its total to 977 with ten deaths. Meanwhile, Iran’s death toll has risen to 15 among 64 reported cases.

The Italian Ministry of Health reports 219 people are infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Italy. Of these 5 people have died and one person has recovered.

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

From 1 December 2019 through 31 January 2020, the National IHR Focal Point of Saudi Arabia reported 19 additional cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 8 associated deaths.

Measles – DR Congo

The measles outbreak that affected more than 300,000 people and killing more than 6,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year continues into 2020, albeit slowing. Since the beginning of the year, 20,475 measles cases and 252 deaths have been reported.