Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits La Rioja, Argentina.

5.2 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Guam.

5.0 earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Tennessee, USA – Tornadoes ripped through Tennessee early on Tuesday, claiming at least 23 lives as they destroyed buildings and toppled power lines, hours before the southern US state voted in Super Tuesday primaries. Devastation could be seen across the rubble-strewn state capital Nashville, where a tornado touched down shortly after midnight. Residents described running for their lives as their homes came down around them, with the authorities reporting that tens of thousands were without power.

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Global Warming

Global warming is shrinking the rainforest’s role as climate protector

The amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide that can be sucked up from the atmosphere and stored by tropical forests is falling as the global climate heats up, researchers said on Wednesday. They warned in a study that rainforests could tip from absorbing carbon to becoming a source of emissions.

The 30-year study, led by the University of Leeds and involving almost 100 institutions, showed that the intake of carbon by “intact tropical forests” peaked in the 1990s and had dropped by a third by the 2010s.

Intact forests are large areas of continuous forest with no signs of intensive human activity like agriculture or logging. They form part of the world’s roughly 5.5 billion hectares of forest.

Trees suck carbon dioxide from the air, the main greenhouse gas heating up the Earth’s climate, and store carbon, which they release when they are cut down and are burned, or rot.

Tropical forests are huge reservoirs of carbon, storing 250 billion tonnes in their trees alone – an amount equivalent to 90 years of global fossil-fuel emissions at current levels.

Researchers, who tracked the growth and death of 300,000 trees in Africa and the Amazon, found that undisturbed tropical forests had started the process of switching from a carbon sink to a source, largely due to carbon losses from trees dying.

In the 1990s, intact tropical forests removed about 46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, declining to an estimated 25 billion tonnes in the 2010s, the study said.

The lost sink capacity was 21 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – the same as a decade of fossil-fuel emissions from Britain, Germany, France and Canada combined

Intact tropical forests removed 17% of human-made carbon dioxide emissions in the 1990s but that fell to 6% in the 2010s.

The decline was because those forests, whose area shrank by 19%, absorbed a third less carbon, while global carbon emissions soared by 46%, the study said.

The tropics lost 12 million hectares of tree cover in 2018, including 3.6 million hectares of old-growth rainforest, an area the size of Belgium, much due to fires, land-clearing for farms and mining, according to monitoring service Global Forest Watch.

Wildlife

Stony Corals Seem to Be Preparing for a Mass Extinction

Stony corals provide habitat for an one-fourth of the ocean’s species. They serve as the centerpiece of a rich and diverse ecosystem, which is why their recent behaviour has scientists concerned. New research shows that stony corals around the world are hunkering down into survival mode as they prepare for a mass extinction event, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.

They noticed a suite of behaviors that correspond to a survival response commensurate with how they behaved during the last mass extinction 66 million years ago. The scientists looked at the traits of corals that survived the last major extinction event. They found that the colourful, wavy corals that attract scuba divers did not last. The ones that did survive are the ones that form small colonies and seek out deep water, which are the same ones showing signs of thriving today.

The researchers witnessed how corals are now exhibiting the same traits as they did at the last major extinction event. Corals seem to be preparing to jump across an extinction boundary, while humans are putting their foot further on the pedal.

Coral reefs around the world are struggling. Recently, a mysterious virus has wiped out large swaths of Caribbean corals, a marine heatwave is threatening the health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the climate crisis threatens to wipe out most corals by 2100, and corals in the Red Sea are struggling to spawn.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Australia

Confirming what had been widely suspected, researchers have found that human-caused climate change had an impact on Australia’s recent devastating wildfires, making the extremely high-risk conditions that led to widespread burning at least 30 percent more likely than in a world without global warming.

The research is the latest in a growing subfield of climate science: attribution studies that look for links, or the lack of them, between climate change and specific weather-related events, often within weeks of an event. The studies usually compare models of current conditions to those of the world around 1900, before large-scale emissions of carbon dioxide and other planet-warming gases began.

Record warmth and dryness last year led to a severe wildfire outbreak in Australia, with an estimated 50 million acres burned, including more than 16 million acres in the southeastern part of the country, which was most affected. All told, at least 34 people were killed and nearly 6,000 homes and other structures were destroyed.

Disease

COVID-19

China – China reported 139 new cases Thursday, compared with 119 the day before. That brings the total number of cases on the mainland 80,409. The number of deaths rose to 3,012 after an additional 31 people died from the illness. The country has also revised its counting methods a few times. At the moment, it does not include those who are asymptomatic – people who have the virus but are not showing symptoms.

South Korea – South Korea has confirmed 438 new cases taking total infections to 5,766. Three more people died from the virus, bringing the total to 35.

Germany – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 109 within a day. As of Thursday morning, there were 349 cases across all but one federal state, up from 240 on Wednesday morning and compared with 262 on Wednesday afternoon, the Robert Koch Institute said.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the Week 26 February 2020 – 3 March 2020

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 30 February-2 March ash plumes from Bagana rose to 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW and N.

Great Sitkin | Andreanof Islands (USA) : AVO reported that seismicity at Great Sitkin had increased during the previous month and by 26 February was above background levels; the Aviation Color Code was raised to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level was raised to Advisory. No eruptive activity was evident in geophysical or satellite data.

Merapi | Central Java (Indonesia) : BPPTKG reported that at 0522 on 3 March an eruption at Merapi produced an ash plume that rose 6 km above the crater rim and pyroclastic flows that descended the SSE flank less than 2 km. The ash plume drifted mainly NE and caused ashfall within 10 km, particularly in areas to the N including Musuk and Cepogo Boyolali. Video of the event showed incandescent material being ejected above the summit and lightning in the ash cloud. The report noted that there were no clear precursors for the eruption. 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.

San Miguel | El Salvador : SNET reported that during 23-28 February activity at San Miguel was low. An increase in the number of very small-magnitude earthquakes was recorded by the VSM seismic station located on the upper N flank. RSAM values were between 45 and 75 units, lower than the normal values of 150.

Semeru | Eastern Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during February and 1-2 March gray eruptive plumes rose 200-500 m above Semeru’s summit. Beginning on 26 February incandescent material was ejected 10-50 m above the Jonggring-Seloko Crater, and by 2 March lava flows had traveled 500-1,000 m down the Kembar, Bang, and Kobokan drainages (on the S flank). The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was reminded to stay outside of the general 1-km radius from the summit and 4 km on the SSE flank.

Yasur | Vanuatu : Based on webcam images, satellite data, and pilot observations the Wellington VAAC reported that during 2-3 March low-level ash plumes from Yasur rose to an altitude of 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W and NW.