Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 earthquake hits the Flores region, Indonesia.

5.4 earthquake hits the southern mid-Atlantic ridge.

5.3 earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits the Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea.

Environment

Magnetic Mystery

Scientists are struggling to understand a new weakening of Earth’s magnetic field in a region that stretches from South America to Africa and is causing technical problems in some of the satellites orbiting the planet.

The anomaly is allowing the inner Van Allen radiation belt to dip to an altitude of about 120 miles, sometimes exposing satellites to several minutes of higher-than-normal radiation. Astronauts have reported disturbances in their eyesight, known as cosmic ray visual phenomena, when passing through it.

EWCOLOR

Massive Ozone Hole

The ozone hole in the stratosphere above Antarctica reached its annual peak on Oct. 1, which scientists say was the largest and deepest in 15 years. This was in contrast to an unusually small and short-lived ozone hole in 2019, caused by unusual weather conditions.

Global Warming

Greenhouse Earth

Scientists predict that Earth’s atmosphere will soon contain the same high level of carbon dioxide that existed at the peak of the Pliocene Epoch warmth 3 million years ago. That’s when temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer and sea levels were 65 feet higher.

Wildlife

Avian Tragedy

Scientists believe that the untold thousands of migratory birds that fell from the sky dead or dying across parts of the southwestern U.S. in September were probably victims of smoke from the West’s catastrophic firestorms. The songbirds could have either choked in the massive pall of toxic smoke and gas or used up their fat reserves trying to fly around it.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) in Death Valley, California.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 108.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 77.8 degrees Celsius) at Vostok, 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

COVID-19

The countries with the 10 greatest number of Covid-19 cases:

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Cholera – West Africa

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released statistics on the ongoing cholera outbreak in West Africa, and noted certain increases in cases in the region, with 22,366 cases and 475 deaths of cholera recorded within 48 weeks of observation. The Congo River Basin remains to be the epicenter of the outbreak.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the Week 23 December 2020 – 29 December 2020

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that during 21-28 December incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was often visible nightly. The sulfur dioxide emission rate remained high, with 2,900 tons measured on 21 December. Six explosions were recorded, generating plumes that rose as high as 2.4 km above the crater rim and ejected bombs 0.6-1.3 km away from the crater. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono – Halmahera (Indonesia) : PVMBG and the Darwin VAAC reported that on most days during 23-29 December ash plumes from Dukono rose 100-600 m above the summit. Weather conditions sometimes prevented visual observations. 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 18-21 and 24 December; ash plumes rose up to 5 km (16,400 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and SE. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images during 18-19 December. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Karymsky – Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Karymsky was visible during 19-20 and 24 December. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Klyuchevskoy – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that Strombolian and sometimes Vulcanian activity at Klyuchevskoy continued during 18-25 December and lava advanced down the Kozyrevsky drainage on the S flank. Lava first flowed down the S flank on 8 December. A large bright thermal anomaly was identified daily in satellite images. Steam-and-gas plumes with some ash rose to 6 km (19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 340 km mainly E. The Kamchatka Volcanological Station field team visited the area on 24 December to do work on field stations. They observed explosions that ejected incandescent material 300 m above the crater rim. A growing cinder cone in the summit crater was about 75 m higher than part of the crater rim. The lava flow ended at about 3,700 m elevation and spalled off incandescent material, descending an additional 350 m. The Aviation colour Code remined at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Merapi – Central Java (Indonesia) : BPPTKG reported that during 12-17 December white emissions from Merapi rose as high as 150 m above the summit. A comparison of photos taken on 11 and 15 December showed some slight morphological changes in the summit area; drone footage from 14 December revealed no new lava dome material in the summit crater. Rock avalanches traveled as far as 1.5 km down the Senowo drainage on the NW flank on 14 December. Seismic activity was less intense than the previous week. Electronic Distance Measurement (EDM) data continued to measure a distance shortening between points in the NW at a rate of 9 cm per day. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4).

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 18-25 December. Two strong explosive events on 22 and 24 December generated large ash clouds that rose as high as 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 625 km E. The Aviation colour Code was briefly raised to Red (the highest level on a four-colour scale) on 22 December, but then was lowered back to Orange.

Sinabung – Indonesia : PVMBG reported that white plumes rose 100-500 m above Sinabung’s summit during 23-29 December. At 1751 on 28 December an ash plume rose 500 m above the summit and drifted S. At 1227 on 29 December an ash plume drifted SW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), with a general exclusion zone of 3 km and extensions to 5 km in the SE sector and 4 km in the NE sector.

Villarrica – Chile : POVI reported that increased seismicity, more intense crater incandescence, and a notable sulfur odor was noted at Villarrica during 18-19 December. Minor ash emissions rose to low heights above the crater rim on 22 December. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, the second lowest level on a four-colour scale. ONEMI maintained an Alert Level Yellow (the middle level on a three-colour scale) for the municipalities of Villarrica, Pucón (16 km N), Curarrehue, the commune of Panguipulli, and the exclusion zone for the public of 500 m around the crater.

Whakaari/White Island – North Island (New Zealand) : GeoNet reported that beginning around 1500 on 29 December a series of small steam explosions at Whakaari/White Island were recorded for about 30 minutes by local seismic and acoustic instruments. Vigorous steam plumes rising from the main vents were observed in webcam images. Ash was not evident in satellite images though ash may have been present in the plumes near the vent. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 1 and the Aviation colour Code remained at Green.