Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.3 earthquake hits off the coast of Ecuador.

5.1 earthquake hits Tonga,

5.1 earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island.

5.0 earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

USA – The violent storm system blasting through parts of the central U.S. was linked to four deaths while fueling almost 60 tornado reports Monday and Tuesday – with more damage expected Wednesday. Severe storms, possibly with large hail, were forecast for Wednesday from Texas to the Great Lakes. Flooding was a concern to the south: Residents of some small towns in Oklahoma and Kansas were being urged to leave their homes as rivers and streams rose. The Arkansas River is approaching historic highs, while the already high Missouri and Mississippi rivers were again rising Wednesday.

Wildlife

Botswana Lifts Ban on Hunting Elephants

Botswana, which has the world’s biggest population of elephants, lifted its suspension on hunting, a move that is likely to spark further debate on a politically charged issue in the southern African nation.

The government would ensure that “reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner” and in accordance with the law and regulations, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in emailed statement Wednesday.

The number of elephants in Botswana has almost tripled to 160,000 since 1991, increasing conflict between farmers and the animals, which at times destroy crops and kill villagers.

Critics, including former President Ian Khama, say the drive is politically motivated, being geared to win rural votes in an October election and could damage tourism, which accounts for a fifth of the economy.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Alberta, Canada

Nearly 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in northern Alberta, Canada, to escape a monstrous blaze that has reached nearly 230,000 acres, officials in the province said. The Chuckegg Creek Wildfire, burning in Mackenzie County just two miles south of the town of High Level, has been torching ground for more than two days. It is just one of a “number of out-of-control wildfires” burning in the province.

The town of Slave Lake, where four new wildfires began Tuesday, also is on high alert. Three of the fires had been extinguished and one was “being held,” officials said. The city’s hotels are packed with evacuees fleeing the fire in High Level.

Wildfires – Trinidad and Tobago

Three natural oil seepage pits in Guapo, used for disposal of bio-hazardous water material, ignited on Tuesday. And fire officers battled for almost ten hours to prevent the blaze from spreading to nearby communities. The blaze was triggered by a bush fire.

Volcanos

Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 15 May – 21 May 2019

Azumayama | Honshu (Japan) : The number of volcanic earthquakes at Azumayama increased on 5 May and data from a tiltmeter about 1 km SE of Ohana Crater showed inflation on 9 May, prompting JMA to raise the Alert Level to 2 (on a 5-level scale). Field observations on 7 and 10 May indicated no changes in the fumarolic and thermal areas around Ohana. Seismicity began to decrease on 10 May, though continued to fluctuate through 20 May. Deformation continued but at a slower rate.

Hakoneyama | Honshu (Japan) : JMA reported that the number of earthquakes at Hakoneyama increased during 18-19 May, with epicenters centered around the W bank of Lake Ashinoko and around Komagatake. Fumaroles in the Owakudani hot springs area continued to be active. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) data showed changes in deformation beginning in mid-March. On 19 May JMA raised the Alert Level to 2 (on a 5-level scale). Elevated seismicity continued to be recorded through 21 May.

Pavlof | United States : AVO reported that low-frequency tremor was detected at Pavlof during 14-15 May and a vigorous steam plume rising from the summit was visible in webcam images on 15 May. The Aviation colour Code was raised to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level was raised to Advisory primarily because of increased seismicity. Steam plumes recorded by the webcam, low levels of seismic tremor, and warm surface temperatures identified in satellite data continued during 16-19 May; AVO noted that steam emissions and warm surface temperatures are common at Pavlof.

Sangay | Ecuador : IG reported that a new eruption at Sangay began on 7 May and was continuing as of 21 May. Activity was concentrated at two eruptive centers; the Central Crater and the Ñuñurcu dome (located 190 m SSE of Central Crater). Explosive activity at Central Crater produced ash plumes that rose an average of 1 km above the crater rim and drifted W and NW. Ejected blocks rolled as far as 2.5 km down the SE flank. The Ñuñurcu dome produced a lava flow that had a maximum width of 175 m and traveled about 470 m down the SE flank. Collapses of the lava-flow front generated small pyroclastic flows and numerous block flows; one of the pyroclastic flows traveled 340 m.

Sarychev Peak | Matua Island (Russia) : SVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Sarychev Peak was visible in satellite images on 10, 12, and 17 May. At 0830 on 16 May satellite images showed an ash plume drifting 50 km SE at an altitude as high as 2.5 km (8,200 ft) a.s.l. The Aviation colour Code was raised to Yellow on 16 May.

Sinabung | Indonesia : PVMBG reported that white plumes rose as high as 700 m above Sinabung’s crater rim during 13-21 May. On 20 May the Alert Level was lowered to 3 (on a scale of 1-4), with a general exclusion zone of 3 km and extensions to 5 km on the SE sector and 4 km in the NE sector. PVMBG noted that the seismic activity surrounding the recent ash emissions during 7 and 11-12 May were not indicative of renewed activity.

Disease

Malaria-free – Argentina and Algeria

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that two additional countries have been certified as malaria-free–Algeria and Argentina.

Algeria is the second country in the WHO African Region to be officially recognized as malaria-free, after Mauritius, which was certified in 1973. Argentina is the second country in the WHO Region of the Americas to be certified in 45 years, after Paraguay in June 2018. They reported their last local transmission of malaria in 2013 and 2010, respectively.

Acute Gastro-enteritis – Philippines

Officials with the Pangasinan Provincial Health Office in the western area of the island of Luzon are reporting an increase in acute gastroenteritis cases during the first five months of 2019. 4,282 cases have been reported through May 20.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 earthquake hits the Andaman Islands off India.

5.1 earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits southern Peru.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Atlantic Ocean – Post-Tropical Storm Andrea is located about 230 mi…370 km wsw of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds…35 mph…55 km/h. Present movement…ene or 70 degrees at 8 mph…13 km/h.

NewsBytes:

USA – Dozens of people were rescued from rising floodwaters and felled trees that smashed homes and blocked roadways in Oklahoma, as severe storms unleashing tornadoes and heavy rain roared through the central United States on Tuesday. Parts of the state have received six to eight inches (15-20 cm) of rain since Monday, and some 4 million people remained under a flash flood warning or watch in the region, the National Weather Service said. A tornado that touched down early on Tuesday near Tulsa International Airport was among more than two dozen that have ripped through the region since Monday, according to the weather service. Two deaths, both in Missouri, were blamed on the severe weather that started in the Southern Plains Monday night and moved to the northeast. Missouri and parts of Illinois and Arkansas were in the crosshairs Tuesday with Missouri declaring a state of emergency due to floods, tornadoes and high straight-line winds.

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Global Warming

Global sea levels could rise faster than previously predicted

Global sea levels could rise by two metres (6.5 feet) and displace tens of millions of people by the end of the century, according to new projections that double the UN’s benchmark estimates.

The vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica contain enough frozen water to lift the world’s oceans dozens of metres. The expansion of water as oceans warm also contributes to sea level rise. But predicting the rates at which they will melt as the planet heats is notoriously tricky.

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said its 2013 Fifth Assessment Report that under current emissions trajectories — a “business-as-usual” scenario known as RCP8.5 — would likely rise by up to one metre by 2100.

That prediction has since been viewed as conservative, as the levels of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise year on year, and satellites showing accelerated rates of melt-off from massive ice sheets atop Antarctica and Greenland.

A group of the world’s leading ice scientists this week released a expert judgement on the situation, drawing on their own experience and observations. While there was still a significant margin of error, they found it “plausible” that under the business-as-usual emissions scenario, sea-level rises could exceed two metres by 2100.

The authors said the area of land lost to the ocean could be equivalent to that of France, Germany, Spain and Britain combined and would displace more than 180 million people.

20190115 Antartica AFP

Nature – Images

Interesting Images

The symmetry between the reflection and the majestic bald eagle defiantly gazing into the camera make this image exceptional.

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Disease

Measles and Mumps – Ireland – Update

In an update from the Ireland Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) on May 20, they report 59 measles and 1224 mumps cases since the beginning of the year. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed an outbreak of measles in north Dublin and is advising people who think they have measles to stay at home. This is a community outbreak of measles affecting adults and children. There has already been an outbreak of measles reported in Donegal in 2019.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits San Juan, Argentina.

5.0 earthquake hits Jujuy, Argentina.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Atlantic Ocean – Sub-Tropical Storm Andrea is located about 295 mi…475 km wsw of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds…40 mph…65 km/h. Present movement…n or 360 degrees at 6 mph…9 km/h.

NewsBytes:

USA – Fears of flash flooding followed a series of potentially life-threatening tornadoes that swept through parts of Texas and Oklahoma Monday night. A total of 14 tornadoes were confirmed in central Oklahoma and western Texas, carrying warnings of “considerable” damage to homes, businesses and vehicles. In the past three days, 52 tornadoes were reported across seven states.

USA – The Army Corps of Engineers is looking into strengthening flood control along the Missouri River in response to the record deluge this spring and criticism that the agency is not doing enough to protect communities. The Army Corps is considering realigning its levees along the Missouri and expanding or building new systems such as floodways, easements and retention basins to capture more floodwater.

Wildlife

India’s soaring wildlife crime

In February this year, customs officials at Chennai International Airport in southern India heard unusual squeaks coming from the luggage of a man who had arrived from Bangkok. Inside his bag was a tiny leopard cub in a basket.

The customs department in Chennai has been seizing star tortoises, sea cucumbers and pangolin scales being smuggled out of the country for years. Officials now say exotic species being smuggled in are on the rise. But where the exotic wildlife being smuggled into India is going is anybody’s guess.

The illegal trade in wildlife is driving species all over the globe to the brink of extinction. In India, the trade is expanding rapidly, driven by demand for rare species—headed for the pet market—as well as for species believed to have medicinal properties. The main consumer markets are China and South East Asia, but wildlife—alive or as body parts—is also smuggled to the Gulf, Europe and Northern America. Beyond India, the main transit countries are Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Indian wildlife species and products commonly smuggled out of the country are tiger and leopard skins, their bones and other body parts, rhino horns, ivory, turtles and tortoises, sea horses, snake venom, mongoose hair, snake skins, tokay gecko, sea cucumber, chiru fleece, musk pods, bear bile, medicinal plants, red sanders timber and caged birds such as parakeets, mynas, munias. Most people probably don’t even realize that this wealth of species even exists in India. But they are perishing fast, with a population of only about 25 of the chiru remaining.

The most trafficked species are pangolins, seahorses and tortoises:

– In 2018, TRAFFIC India released a study which revealed that at least 5,772 pangolins were captured in India from 2009 to 2017 for illegal trade.

– The Patagonian seahorse (hippocampus patagonicus) is one of the three sea horse species which is trafficked for its use in medicine.

– The Indian star tortoise is now the most trafficked tortoise worldwide as it is in high demand as a pet.

The tokay gecko has come into the picture recently after a number of seizures, mainly in northeast India. The trade is believed to be fueled by unfounded claims it can be used as a cure for AIDS. A crackdown by agencies in several Indian states has led to the arrest of more than 300 gecko traffickers in the past year. More than 1,000 geckos have been confiscated in India during this period and released back into the wild.

Rat poison affects peri-urban wildlife in Cape Town, South Africa

Urban rat poisons are spilling over into Cape Town’s natural environment, threatening species such as caracal, mongoose, otter and owl, a team of University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers in the Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild) has discovered.

In their recent paper, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the researchers found that anticoagulant rat poisons are infiltrating Cape Town’s peri-urban wildlife food chains. They identified six predator species at risk: caracal, Cape clawless otter, Cape eagle owl, large spotted genet, honey badger and water mongoose. Others are likely affected as well.

They detected at least one of the four most toxic rat poison compounds, all available in over-the-counter products, in six of the seven species tested. Caracals living in or near vineyards had the highest exposure to rat poisons but the route to exposure is unclear.

One of the most significant findings of the study is that exposure occurs at all ages. Several lactating female caracals were sampled in the study and found to be exposed to rat poisons, suggesting that kittens may be exposed through their mother’s milk.

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As consumers, we need more eco-friendly alternatives to rat poison and the simplest solution is well within everyone’s reach – improve the management of waste which attracts rats in the first place.

Environment

Scientists Went to One of the World’s Most Remote Island Atolls. They Found 414 Million Pieces of Plastic

The amount of plastic pollution previously thought to exist around the world may be a dramatic underestimate — because the vast majority of plastic pollution may actually be below the surface.

That’s the takeaway from a survey of plastic pollution on the beaches of Australia’s Cocos Islands, made up of two coral atolls.

An estimated 414 million pieces of debris are now littering the remote islands, and the vast majority of that waste is buried below the surface, according to a new study. But even that is likely an underestimate, a group of researchers reported May 16 in the journal Scientific Reports.

What’s more, because most of this plastic is buried below the surface, and most global surveys don’t look below the surface, the amount of plastic pollution worldwide may be way more than we previously thought, they reported.

The scientists surveyed seven of the 27 islands, which made up 88 percent of the total landmass of the islands, and estimated that they were littered with 262 tons (238 metric tons) of plastic. A quarter of those pieces of debris were single-use or disposable items such as straws, bags and toothbrushes (about 373,000 of them), The researchers also identified some 977,000 shoes.

Roughly 93% of the debris found, most of it tiny micro-debris, was actually buried below the surface. But because they only dug 3.94 inches (10 centimeters) into the sand, and couldn’t access some beaches that are known to have a lot of debris, these numbers are likely conservative.

The amount of debris buried up to about 4 inches (10 cm) below the surface of the beach is 26 times higher than the amount visible on its surface, the researchers wrote.

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