Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.3 earthquake hits offshore Male, Chile.

5.2 earthquake hits the Bonin Islands, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 17s (Herman), located approximately 7559 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking southeastward at 06 knots.

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Colombia – Heavy rain in the Cauca Department of Colombia has taken its toll over the last few days, with hundreds of families affected by flooding and landslides in the municipalities of Suarez, Caloto, La Vega, Jambaló and Santander de Quilichao. Several rivers including the Quilichao River broke their banks in Santander de Quilichao on 24 March 2023. The local government reported one fatality and more than 500 families affected.


Inbreeding in Orcas

Southern Resident killer whales, a small population of orcas living in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of North America, are so isolated that they’ve taken to inbreeding, which has contributed to their decline, a new study finds. One reason for this decline is the group’s limited geographic range, which stretches between British Columbia and Oregon.

In general, killer whales begin reproducing when they’re 10 years old, hitting their reproductive prime in their early 20s. However, the Southern Resident orcas had less than half the chance of surviving through their prime years to reach 40, compared to the least inbred individuals. Additionally, females with the lowest level of inbreeding can expect to have 2.6 offspring in their lifetimes, while highly inbred females will have an average of 1.6 calves.

Monarch Decline

The number of endangered monarch butterflies that reached their winter habitat in the mountains of western Mexico dropped by 22% this season, the victims of illegal logging, habitat loss and climate change. The World Wildlife Fund Mexico reports that extreme 2022 temperatures in the United States contributed most to the decline.

Droughts, frosts and the loss of the migrating monarchs’ food source, milkweeds, across North America are also major factors. The monarchs once clustered in trees covering more than 18 hectares of forest in Michoacan state before logging, fires, drought and removal of sick or weak trees brought that number down to only around 2.5 hectares this year.


Too Hot to Live

Heat stress from steadily rising temperatures in India is pushing some of its human population to the limits of survival. After India’s hottest February on record, there are growing fears there will be a repeat of last summer’s record heat waves, which killed hundreds, caused massive crop losses and triggered power blackouts.

With temperatures last summer comparable to those in the Sahara and Saudi Arabia, South Asia’s much higher humidity made sweating much less efficient for the population, or not effective at all. A recent World Bank report warned that India could become one of the first populated places where mounting heat and humidity could rise above survivable limits.


Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 45.0 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F) at Kayes, Mali.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 67.0 degrees Celsius (-89 degrees F) 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.


Rabies – New Zealand

New Zealand health officials confirmed the country has had its first case of rabies. The overseas traveller died from the disease last week, but this person posed no health risk to any member of the public while in New Zealand. The disease was contracted overseas and then the person was diagnosed in New Zealand.

Vietnam – Chickenpox, Dengue Fever

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Hanoi reported this week the number of cases of chickenpox and dengue fever in the city continued to increase. Last week, Hanoi recorded 86 cases of chickenpox. From the beginning of 2023 until now, the city has had 634 cases of chickenpox (while in the same period in 2022, there were only 6 cases).

In the past week, 17 cases of dengue fever were recorded. Thus, accumulated from the beginning of 2023 until now, Hanoi has had 189 cases of dengue fever (an increase of nearly 19 times compared to the same period in 2022).


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing activity for the week 22 March – 28 March 2023

Ahyi – Mariana Islands (USA) : Unrest at Ahyi Seamount continued during 21-28 March. A plume of discolored water was observed in high-resolution satellite images acquired on 21 and 22 March. No observations indicated that activity has breached the ocean surface. One possible underwater explosion was detected by pressure sensors on Wake Island, 2,270 km E, during 26-27 March.

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported ongoing eruptive activity at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 20-27 March, with crater incandescence visible nightly. Two explosions recorded on 21 and 22 March produced ash plumes that rose 1.2 km above the crater rim and ejected large blocks 1-1.3 km from the vent. Two eruptive events during 24-27 March produced volcanic plumes that rose 1.1 km.

Asosan – Kyushu (Japan) : The amplitude of volcanic tremor signals at Asosan increased in December 2022, and then further intensified on 30 January. The amplitude fluctuated at high levels for a few weeks, and then decreased on 19 February and again on 14 March. Daily sulfur dioxide emissions had exceeded 1,000 tons per day starting in December 2022; emissions declined to below that threshold by mid-January and remained at lower levels.

Cotopaxi – Ecuador : IG reported that eruptive activity at Cotopaxi was ongoing during 22-28 March. Gas-and-steam emissions were visible during 21-24 March rising as high as 1 km above the crater rim and drifting E; weather clouds prevented views of the volcano on 23 March. Ash emissions rose 500-800 m above the crater rim and drifted SW and SE during 25-26 March. Ash plumes rose 1.1 km above the crater rim and rifted SE, NE, and NW on 27 March. Ash plumes rose as high as 2 km above the crater rim on 28 March and drifted NW, causing minor ashfall in the Machachi parish on the N flank, in Parque Nacional Cotopaxi.

Ebeko – Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that moderate activity at Ebeko was ongoing during 16-23 March. According to volcanologists in Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island, about 7 km E) explosions during 18 and 21-22 March generated ash plumes that rose as high as 2.8 km (9,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE and E. Ash plumes were identified in satellite images drifting 76 km E during 22-23 March.

Fuego – South-Central Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that 4-10 explosions per hour recorded at Fuego during 22-28 March generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted at least 25 km in multiple directions. Ashfall was reported almost daily in areas downwind including Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Finca Palo Verde, La Rochela, Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Finca Asunción, Aldeas, and San Pedro Yepocapa (8 km NW). Ashfall was not confirmed during 23-24 March Explosions ejected incandescent material up to 200 m above the crater. Daily block avalanches descended the flanks in various directions towards the Ceniza (SSW), Santa Teresa, Seca (W), Taniluya (SW), Trinidad (S), Las Lajas (SE), Honda (E), and El Jute (ESE) ravines, sometimes reaching vegetated areas. Shockwaves caused structures to shake in communities around the volcano.

Great Sitkin – Andreanof Islands (USA) : AVO reported that a 23 March satellite image confirmed that lava continued to slowly erupt at the summit of Great Sitkin, producing a thick lava flow. The flow advanced to the E and likely continued to be fed through 28 March.

Karangetang – Sangihe Islands : Webcam images of Karangetang posted in PVMBG daily reports during 23-28 March showed incandescent material at the summit Main Crater (S crater) and on the flanks.

Krakatau – Sunda Strait : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Anak Krakatau continued during 22-29 March and multiple ash plumes were visible rising from the vent during 28-29 March. Ash plumes recorded at 0412, 0743, 1221, 1513, and 1935 on 28 March were dense and dark gray and rose as high has 2.5 km above the summit. The ash plumes drifted NE and W. Webcam images captured incandescent material being ejected above the vent at 0415 and around the summit area at 2003. At 0041 on 29 March a dense dark ash plume rose 600 m and drifted W. A webcam image from 0047 showed incandescent material at the vent.

Lewotolok – Lembata Island : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok was ongoing during 22-28 March. Daily ash plumes, sometimes dense, were visible rising as high as 800 m above the summit and drifting mainly W and NW. VONAs issued on most days described dense gray or gray-to-white ash plumes at 0517, 1623, and 2016 on 22 March, at 1744 on 24 March, at 0103 on 26 March, at 0845 and 1604 on 27 March, and at 0538 on 28 March. A webcam image at 2220 on 22 March showed incandescent material around the summit area and being ejected above the summit. Another webcam images at 0103 on 26 March captured a Strombolian explosion at the summit.

Merapi – Central Java : BPPTKG reported that the eruption at Merapi (on Java) continued during 17-23 March and seismicity remained at high levels. The SW lava dome produced 160 lava avalanches that traveled as far as 1.8 km down the SW flank (upstream in the Bebeng and Boyong drainages). Two pyroclastic flows traveled 1.3 km down the SW flank, upstream of the Bebeng/Krasak drainage. Morphological changes to the SW lava dome were evident in webcam images due to continuing collapses of material, though the volume remained unchanged at 1,686,200 cubic meters.

Santa Maria – Southwestern Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that the Santa Maria-Santiaguito lava dome complex remained highly active during 22-28 March. On most days steady degassing from the dome produced gas plumes that drifted S and SW. Incandescence from the dome and along lava flow margins was visible most nights or early mornings. The lava flow that extended 4.3 km down the SW flank in the San Isidro and Zanjón Seco drainages was active. Activity from the lava dome included explosions and avalanches, and small pyroclastic flows during 22-23 March. Daily weak to moderate explosions generated ash plumes up to 1 km above the crater that drifted SW and W, and avalanches traveled down multiple flanks.

Semeru – Eastern Java : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 22-28 March, with daily emissions of dense ash plumes. At 0605 and 0810 on 23 March gray and white-to-gray ash plumes rose 800 m above the summit and drifted NW and SW. At 0548 on 24 March a white-to-gray ash plume rose 1 km and drifted S. On 25 March at 0600 a white-to-gray ash plume rose 500 m and drifted S and SW, at 0705 a gray ash plume rose 700 m and drifted SE and S, and at 0738 a gray-to-brown ash plume rose 1.2 km and drifted SE. At 0619 and 0659 on 26 March dense white-to-gray ash plumes rose 1 km and drifted SE. At 0756 on 27 March a white-to-gray ash plume rose 800 m and drifted S. At 0130 on 28 March a dense gray ash plume drifted NE and at 0759 a somewhat dense white-to-gray plume rose 800 m and drifted N.

Semisopochnoi – Aleutian Islands (USA) : AVO reported that low-level unrest continued at Semisopochnoi during 22-28 March. Steam emissions from the N crater of Mount Young were visible during 22 and 26-27 March. No explosive activity was detected in seismic or infrasound data.

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that the ongoing eruption at Sheveluch was generally characterized by explosions, hot avalanches, lava-dome extrusion, and strong fumarolic activity. A daily thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images during 16-23 March.

Stromboli – Aeolian Islands (Italy) : INGV reported that both explosive and effusive activity at Stromboli occurred during 20-26 March, though inclement weather conditions prevented views on most days. Activity was centered at three vents in Area N within the upper part of the Sciara del Fuoco, and from four vents in Area C-S (South-Central Crater) on the crater terrace. Explosions at two vents in the N1 crater and one vent in the N2 crater in Area N were low to medium intensity and ejected coarse material (bombs and lapilli) 80-150 m at a rate of 6-12 explosions per hour. Explosive activity at three active vents at the S2 sector in Area C-S ejected coarse material generally as high as 150 m above the vent at a rate of 5-7 explosions per hour; material was ejected as high as 300 m on 23 March. Sector C was characterized by occasional low-intensity explosive activity through the week and intense spattering on 22 March. No activity was recorded at sector S1. A strong explosion at 1549 on 25 March at Area C-S and was followed by two minor explosions; the sequence lasted about three minutes. A lava overflow event at one of the N1 vents began at 2242 on 23 March and was preceded by spattering activity in Area N. After about an hour lava flowed along the Sciara del Fuoco in the ravine that had formed in October 2022. The flow rate notably increased during 0200-0400 on 26 March and caused avalanches of material from collapses at the advancing flow front. By that afternoon the flow was cooling down and no longer being fed. It was unknown due to weather conditions if material reached the coastline.

Suwanosejima – Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that the eruption at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater continued during 20-27 March. Eruptive activity including three explosions sent ash plumes as high as 2 km above the rim and ejecting large blocks as far as 300 m from the vent. Crater incandescence was visible nightly. Occasional ashfall was reported in Toshima village (3.5 km SSW).

Villarrica – Central Chile : The eruption at Villarrica was ongoing during 21-28 March. POVI reported that on 21 March Strombolian explosions ejected material 100 m above the crater rim. SERNAGEOMIN reported that at 0551 on 24 March a long-period earthquake was associated with low-intensity crater incandescence. According to POVI a cone with a vent that was about 13 m in diameter had formed on the crater floor and was visible during a recent overflight. Sometimes lava fountains rose over 100 m. At 2249 on 26 March Strombolian explosions ejected incandescent material more than 110 m above the crater rim.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits the Bonin Islands, Japan.

5.0 earthquake hits Halmahera, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 17s (Herman), located approximately 738 nm northwest of Learmonth, Australia, is tracking east-southeastward at 09 knots.

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Kenya – At least 12 people have lost their lives and hundreds have been displaced from their homes in Kenya after storms, heavy rain and flooding affected several regions of the country over the last week. One person died, hundreds of homes were destroyed and families were displaced after heavy rain caused damage and flooding in the capital Nairobi and surrounding areas on 23 March 2023. More recently, heavy rain triggered flash flooding in Gilgil in Nakuru County on 27 March. Seven bodies have been recovered and 5 people were injured and transferred to a local hospital.

Brazil – Rising levels of the Acre River along the borders of Acre state in northwestern Brazil and Pando Department in northern Bolivia. Heavy rain and the overflowing Acre River flooded wide areas of the city of Rio Branco, the capital of the state of Acre in Brazil, on 23 March 2023. The city recorded 124.4 mm of rain in 24 hours to 23 March 2023, according to figures from Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (INMET). The Acre River at Rio Branco jumped from around 8 metres to 15.80 metres in 24 hours. The flood level here is 14 metres.

Global Warming

Countries could be forced to take climate action

At the United Nations in New York more than 130 member states have voted for the International Court of Justice to pronounce on “the obligations incumbent on states” to protect the climate “for present and future generations”.

The resolution, which has been years in the making, was proposed by the tiny Pacific island state of Vanuatu.

It means the world’s highest court will now clarify what countries must do legally to defend the environment from climate harm. However, the resolution is non-binding (for the time being) and represents a step forward particularly for those countries, like Vanuatu, which face an existential threat from climate change.


Bird Flu Kills Mountain Lions

The Eurasian strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) was detected in two mountain lions in Mono County in December 2022 and January 2023, according to wildlife health experts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).


Wildfires – Australia

Water bombing has being used for the first time in a decade in Central Australia to fight a fire that has been burning in the West MacDonnell Ranges since early March. The blaze has already burnt 100,000 hectares in the region. The AS350 B3 helicopter, capable of lifting 1 000 litres, was flown in from Katherine on Wednesday.

At least one home has been destroyed and several other dwellings impacted by a bushfire that tore through an Alice Springs rural area Friday afternoon. More than a dozen vehicles and a number of other structures were burnt out by the blaze which has since been brought under control and the alert level downgraded.


Bird Flu in Humans – Chile

The Ministry of Health reports the first case of bird flu in humans in Chile, reported in northern Chile. The individual is a 53-year-old man affected by a severe influenza case. He is currently stable.

Covid-19 – Brazil

Three years after the first case of Covid-19 registered in the country, Brazil reached another sad milestone this Tuesday, March 28: 700,000 deaths caused by the disease.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New activity for the week 22 March – 28 March 2023

Asamayama – Honshu (Japan) : JMA reported that inflation on Asamayama’s W flank began to be detected on 15 March, and the number of shallow volcanic earthquakes increased on 21 March. On 22 March JMA warned the public that very small eruptions may impact areas within 500 m of the crater.

Bezymianny – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that at 1825 on 29 March an ash plume from Bezymianny rose as high as 6 km (19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE.

Kita-Ioto – Volcano Islands : JMA reported that a submarine eruption occurred at Funka Asane, a submarine vent 4-5 km NW of Kita-Ioto, at around 1800 on 27 March based on satellite images.

Ulawun – New Britain (Papua New Guinea) : RVO reported a short eruption at Ulawun, during 0408-0425 on 28 March, based on seismic data. A local volcano observer reported minor ashfall in areas to the NW including Ubili village, and the Ulamona Mission, Saltamana, and Ibana Village Oil Palm areas. According to the Darwin VAAC at 0600 an ash plume was visible in a satellite image drifting W at 3.4 km (11,000 ft) a.s.l.; the plume had dissipated by 1000.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.0 earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

5.4 earthquake hits southern Italy.

5.2 earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits northwest of the Ryukyu Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the Santa Cruz Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits south off Fiji.