Disease

Ebola – DR Congo

Fourteen new confirmed cases were reported from 8 to 14 January in the ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the Week 8 January 2020 – 14 January 2020

Aira | Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported nighttime crater incandescence at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 6-14 January. Small eruptive events were occasionally recorded by the seismic network. Explosions were recorded during 6, 10, and 12-14 January; ash plumes rose 1.8-2.3 km above the crater rim and material was ejected as far as 1.3 km away from the crater. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on satellite and wind model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 9 January ash plumes from Dukono rose to 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW. On 13 January ash plumes rose to 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. 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 3, 5, and 9 January that sent ash plumes up to 2.9 km (9,500 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes drifted NE and SE, and caused ashfall in Severo-Kurilsk on 8 January. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Karangetang | Siau Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 6-12 January lava continued to effuse from Karangetang’s Main Crater (S), traveling as far as 1.8 km down the Nanitu, Pangi, and Sense drainages on the SW and W flanks. Sometimes dense white plumes rose 100-400 m above the summit. Incandescence from both summit craters was visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

Klyuchevskoy | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a weak thermal anomaly over Klyuchevskoy was identified in satellite images during 3-10 January. Strombolian activity was visible all week and Vulcanian explosions were noted on 6 January. Ash plumes drifted 55 km ENE. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Popocatepetl | Mexico : CENAPRED reported that each day during 8-14 January there were 76-268 steam-and-gas emissions from Popocatépetl, some of which contained ash (during 8-9 December). An explosion at 0631 on 9 January produced an ash plume that rose 3 km above the crater rim and drifted NE. The event also ejected incandescent material onto the flanks as far away as 1 km from the crater. The Alert Level remained at Yellow, Phase Two (middle level on a three-colour scale).

Sabancaya | Peru : Instituto Geofísico del Perú (IGP) reported that an average of eight daily low- to medium-intensity explosions occurred at Sabancaya during 6-12 January. Gas-and-ash plumes rose as high as 3 km above the summit and drifted NE, E, and SE. There were six thermal anomalies identified in satellite data, originating from the 282-m-diameter lava dome in the summit crater. The Alert Level remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale) and the public were warned to stay outside of a 12-km radius.

Sangay | Ecuador : Based on information from the Guayaquil MWO, satellite and webcam images, and wind model data, the Washington VAAC reported that during 1-11 January ash plumes from Sangay rose to 5.2-6.7 km (17,000-22,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. Crater incandescence was identified in satellite images during 9-10 January.

Semisopochnoi | United States : On 9 January AVO lowered the Aviation colour Code for Semisopochnoi to Yellow and the Volcano Alert Level to Advisory, noting that explosions had not been detected since 19 December 2019. In addition, seismic tremor had last been recorded on 29 December 2019; seismicity subsequently declined but remained above background levels.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 3-10 January. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Shishaldin | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO summarized the 7 January eruptive activity at Shishaldin, characterizing the period of activity during 0500-1200 as the most sustained explosive activity of the eruptive sequence so far. Ash plumes drifted over 200 km ENE, were ash rich during 0900-1200, and caused several flight cancellations and minor ashfall in Cold Bay. Elevated surface temperatures continued to be identified in satellite images during 7-10 January, indicating lava effusion; seismicity decreased but remained above background levels. Satellite images acquired during 10-14 January showed weak surface temperatures, indicated cooling lava; seismicity remained above background levels.

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA recorded 13 explosions at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater during 3-10 January. Eruption plumes rose as high as 1.4 km above the crater rim and material was ejected as far as 600 m from the crater. Explosion and rumbling sounds, as well as ashfall, were reported in areas 4 km SSW. Crater incandescence was visible at night. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a 5-level scale).

White Island | North Island (New Zealand) : On 15 January GeoNet reported that White Island remained in an elevated state of unrest. Very hot (440 degrees Celsius) and strong steam and gas emissions continued to rise from the 9 December vents. Three short-lived episodes of tremor recorded during 8-10 January were accompanied by minor explosions at the active vents. Sulfur dioxide emission rates were within normal ranges, suggesting no additional magma movement since just after the December eruption. The Volcanic Alert Level remained at 2 and the Aviation colour Code remained at Yellow.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.3 earthquake hits southern Xinjiang, China

5.3 earthquake hits Timor, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Puerto Rico.

5.2 earthquake hits north of Ascension Island.

5.0 earthquake hits Mendoza, Argentina.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Scotland – Storm Brendan has been followed by wintry showers, flooding and more gales in parts of Scotland, causing further travel disruption. The severe weather has led to problems across the country with trees brought down and ferry sailings cancelled. A yellow wind warning covering the Highlands and Argyll and Bute has been issued. Trains have been disrupted due to damaged overhead power lines on several sections of the railway in Ayrshire.

Global Warming

Ocean Warming

After analyzing data from the 1950s through 2019, an international team of scientists determined that the average temperature of the world’s oceans in 2019 was 0.075 degrees Celsius (0.135 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 1981–2010 average.

That might not seem like a significant amount of warming, but given the massive volume of the oceans, an increase even that small would require a staggering influx of heat – 228 sextillion Joules’ worth, according to the scientists’ study, which was published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on Monday.

That’s a hard number to contextualize, so one of the scientists behind the study did the math to put it into an explosive frame of reference – by comparing it to the amount of energy released by the atomic bomb the United States military dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

“The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules,” author Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a press release.

“The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions.”

That averages out to four Hiroshima bombs’ worth of energy entering the oceans every second for the past 25 years. But even more troubling, the rate isn’t holding steady at that alarming figure – it’s increasing.

Wildlife

A blob of hot water in the Pacific Ocean killed a million seabirds

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As many as one million seabirds died at sea in less than 12 months in one of the largest mass die-offs in recorded history — and researchers say warm ocean waters are to blame.

The birds, a fish-eating species called the common murre, were severely emaciated and appeared to have died of starvation between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016, washing up along North America’s west coast, from California to Alaska.

Now, scientists say they know what caused it: a huge section of warm ocean water in the northeast Pacific Ocean dubbed “the Blob.”

A years-long severe marine heat wave first began in 2013, and intensified during the summer of 2015 due to a powerful weather phenomenon called El Nino, which lasted through 2016.

The heat wave created the Blob — a 1,000-mile (1,600 km) stretch of ocean that was warmed by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (5.4 to 10.8 Fahrenheit). A high-pressure ridge calmed the ocean waters — meaning heat stays in the water, without storms to help cool it down.

Those few degrees of warming wreaked havoc on the region’s marine ecosystems. There was a huge drop in the production of microscopic algae that feed a range of animals, from shrimp to whales. The warmth caused a massive bloom of harmful algae along the west coast, that killed many animals and cost fisheries millions of dollars in lost income.

Other animals that experienced mass die-offs include sea lions, tufted puffins, and baleen whales. But none of them compared to the murres in scale.

About 62,000 dead or dying murres washed up on shore — but the total number of deaths is likely to be closer to one million since only a small fraction of birds that die at sea wash up, said researchers from the University of Washington,

The murres likely starved to death because the Blob caused more competition for fewer small prey. The warming increased the metabolism of predatory fish like salmon, cod, and halibut — meaning they were eating more than usual. These fish eat the same small fish as the murres, and there simply wasn’t enough to go around.

Wildfires

Australia’s prehistoric Wollemi pine trees saved from bushfires

An ancient grove of pine trees whose ancestors are thought to have stood tall among dinosaurs some 200 million years ago has been saved from Australian bushfires in a covert firefighting mission.

Firefighters in New South Wales (NSW) were enlisted by the local government to save the prehistoric Wollemi Pine grove, which exists in a secret location within the 5,000-square-kilometre (1,930-square-mile) Wollemi National Park northwest of Sydney.

The oldest fossil of the rare pine species dates back 90 million years and the pines are thought to have existed during the Jurassic period.

Large air tankers of fire retardant were dropped inside the remote grove as part of the mission, while specialist firefighters attached to helicopters were winched down to set up an irrigation system to protect the trees from catching alight. There are fewer than 200 Wollemi Pines left in the wild.

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Disease

Novel Coronavirus – First Case in Japan

The Japanese Ministry of Health reported a case of the novel coronavirus in Kanagawa Prefecture. The individual recently traveled to Wuhan City, Hubei province, China.

Dengue Fever – Yemen

First it was cholera, then diphtheria, now it appears the latest infectious disease epidemic to hit war-stricken Yemen is dengue fever. In a recent Save the Children press release, the NGO warns of a dengue epidemic. This comes after more than 52,000 suspected cases have been recorded across the country, including 192 deaths.

African Swine Fever – Serbia

Serbia has seen an outbreak of the pig disease African swine fever (ASF) in wild boars in the east of the country, close to the country’s borders with Bulgaria and Romania, the state Tanjug news agency said on Wednesday.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the Week 8 January 2020 – 14 January 2020

Fernandina | Ecuador : IG reported that a M 4.7 earthquake was recorded at 1642 on 12 January at Fernandina and followed by a swarm of 29 local earthquakes all below M 3.1. A new eruption began just before 1810 from a circumferential fissure located near the E edge of the caldera, at elevations around 1300-1400 m above sea level. Several lava flows descended the E flank; Galapagos National Park rangers witnessed the eruption from the Bolívar Channel station. A gas cloud rose 1.5-2 km above the fissure and drifted WNW. A second peak in seismicity was recorded 30-40 minutes after the eruption onset and then gradually decreased. Gas emissions decreased sometime after 2100 and thermal anomalies began to gradually diminish.

Krakatau | Indonesia : PVMBG reported that during 6-12 January dense white gas plumes rose 50-200 m above the bottom of Anak Krakatau’s crater. An eruptive event on 7 January produced a dense ash plume that rose 200. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to remain outside of the 2-km-radius hazard zone from the crater.

Kuchinoerabujima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : An eruption at Kuchinoerabujima began at 1505 on 11 January and produced ash plumes that rose 2 km above the crater rim, drifted E, and then faded into a weather cloud. Tephra was ejected 300 m from the crater, and ashfall was reported on neighboring Yakushima Island. The eruption continued until 0730 on 12 January, producing ash plumes that rose 400 m above the crater rim and drifted SW; afterwards only white plumes were visible rising 600 m. The Alert Level remained at 3 (the middle level on a scale of 1-5).

Taal | Luzon (Philippines) : PHIVOLCS reported that seismicity at Taal began to increase on 28 March 2019 and fluctuated between moderate and high levels throughout the year and into 2020. A seismic swarm beneath Taal began at 1100 on 12 January and a phreatic eruption commenced at 1300. The initial eruptive activity was characterized by increased steaming from at least five vents in Main Crater and phreatic explosions that generated 100-m-high plumes. PHIVOLCS raised the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 0-5) and reminded the public that the entire Volcano Island (the main cone of Taal) is in a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ).

Booming was heard at 1400 in Talisay, Batangas (4 km NNE, all distances are measured from the center of Main Crater lake). Activity escalated at 1404; volcanic tremor and earthquakes felt locally were accompanied by an eruption plume that rose 1 km. Ash fell in the SSW part of Taal. The Alert Level was raised to 3 and the evacuation of high-risk barangays was recommended. Activity again intensified around 1730, prompting PHIVOLCS to raise the Alert Level to 4 and recommend a total evacuation of the island and high-risk areas within a 14-km radius. The eruption plume of steam, gas, and tephra significantly intensified and rose 10-15 km (32,800-49,200 ft) a.s.l., producing frequent lightning. Wet ash fell in areas downwind, including as far N as Quezon City (75 km). According to news articles schools and government offices were ordered to close and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (56 km N) in Manila suspended flights. About 6,000 people had been evacuated but the number was expected to rise. Residents described heavy ashfall, low visibility, and fallen trees.

Ashfall was reported in a wide area; in a statement issued at 0320 on 13 January PHIVOLCS noted that ashfall was reported in Tanauan (18 km NE), Batangas; Escala (11 km NW), Tagaytay; Sta. Rosa (32 km NNW), Laguna; Dasmariñas (32 km N), Bacoor (44 km N), and Silang (22 km N), Cavite; Malolos (93 km N), San Jose Del Monte (87 km N), and Meycauayan (80 km N), Bulacan; Antipolo (68 km NNE), Rizal; Muntinlupa (43 km N), Las Piñas (47 km N), Marikina (70 km NNE), Parañaque (51 km N), Pasig (62 km NNE), Quezon City, Mandaluyong (62 km N), San Juan (64 km N), Manila; Makati City (59 km N) and Taguig City (55 km N). Lapilli (2-64 mm in diameter) fell in Tanauan and Talisay; Tagaytay City (12 km N); Nuvali (25 km NNE) and Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Felt earthquakes (Intensities II-V) continued to be recorded in local areas.

The eruption progressed to a magmatic eruption during 0249-0428 on 13 January, characterized by weak lava fountaining accompanied by thunder and flashes of lightning. Activity briefly waned then resumed with sporadic weak fountaining and explosions that generated 2-km-high, dark gray, steam-laden plumes. New lateral vents opened on the N flank, producing 500-m-tall lava fountains. Heavy ashfall impacted areas SW including in Cuenca (15 km SSW), Lemery (16 km SW), Talisay, and Taal (15 km SSW), Batangas. News articles noted that more than 300 domestic and 230 international flights were cancelled as the Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed during 12-13 January; some flights could depart in the early afternoon of 13 January. Some roads from Talisay to Lemery and Agoncillo were impassible and electricity and water services were intermittent. Ashfall in several provinces caused power outages. Authorities continued to evacuate high-risk areas within a 14-km radius of Taal; by 13 January more than 24,500 people had moved to 75 shelters out of a total number of 460,000 people within 14 km.

In a bulletin posted at 0800 on 14 January PHIVOLCS noted that lava fountaining continued and steam plumes rose form Main Crater. Fissures on the N flank produced 500-m-tall lava fountains. Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 5,299 tonnes/day on 13 January. By 1300 lava fountaining generated 800-m-tall, dark gray, steam-laden plumes that drifted SW. New ground cracks were observed in Sinisian (18 km SW), Mahabang Dahilig (14 km SW), Dayapan (15 km SW), Palanas (17 km SW), Sangalang (17 km SW), and Poblacion (19 km SW) Lemery; Pansipit (11 km SW), Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5 (all around 17 km SW), Talisay, and Poblacion (11 km SW), San Nicolas. A fissure opened across the road connecting Agoncillo to Laurel, Batangas.

At 0800 on 15 January PHIVOLCS stated that activity was generally weaker; dark gray, steam-laden plumes rose about 1 km and drifted SW. Since 1300 on 12 January the seismic network had recorded a total of 446 volcanic earthquakes, with 156 of those felt with Intensities of I-V. New ground cracking was reported in Sambal Ibaba (17 km SW), and portions of the Pansipit River (SW) had dried up. Satellite images showed that the Main Crater lake was gone and new craters had formed inside Main Crater and on the N flank. According to the Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) there were a total of 53,832 people dispersed to 244 evacuation centers by 1800 on 15 January.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 earthquake hits Timor, Indonesia.

5.3 earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.3 earthquake hits near the coast of central Peru.

5.2 earthquake hits Oaxaca, Mexico.

5.0 earthquake hits Hokkaido, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 07s (Claudia), located approximately about 449 nm north-northwest of Learmonth, Australia. Claudia is moving southwestward at 12 knots.

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NewsBytes:

Pakistan, Afghanistan – Avalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan in recent days, leaving others stranded by heavy snowfall, officials said on Tuesday. At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan – with several still missing – while a further 39 were killed in Afghanistan, according to officials in both countries. Forecasts suggest more harsh weather is on the way.

Australia – Heavy rain, flash floods and severe thunderstorms have swept over Melbourne and rain is forecast to hit bushfire-affected parts of New South Wales and Victoria later this week. In just 30 minutes, 44mm of rain fell at Avalon on Wednesday afternoon, and wind gusts reached 110km/h as wild weather hit the state’s south and moved north.

Mississippi, USA – Flooding left roads in Mississippi underwater on Jan. 14. Authorities in Mississippi urged residents to evacuate in the northern part of the state Tuesday after heavy rains spawned a flash-flood emergency and put a dam at “imminent” risk of failing. A flash flood emergency was issued in Oktibbeha County, located in the east-central portion of the state. Oktibbeha County Lake Dam is in imminent danger of failing.

Global Warming

Global Warming – Thinner Clouds – More Heat

A new study suggests global warming effect is underestimated. The most up-to-date computer simulations suggest that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity will leave the planet hotter than previously thought, researchers have found.

A study that combines the outputs of nearly 30 new computer models that simulate the Earth’s climate suggests that, if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, then the average global temperature should increase by 3.9 degrees C. This figure is around 0.6 degrees C more than previous simulations predicted.

Reflecting the findings of recent research, newer simulations assume that cold clouds thin out more as the atmosphere becomes warmer. Thinner clouds reflect less of the sun’s energy back to space—meaning more warming on the Earth’s surface. Over the whole planet, this effect could be amplifying global warming. Clouds are Earth’s sunscreen, reflecting away sunlight and keeping the planet cooler than it would otherwise be.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 earthquake hits south of Fiji.

5.1 earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.0 earthquake hits eastern Honshu, Japan.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 07s (Claudia), located approximately about 298 miles (480 km) northwest of Karratha and 320 miles (515 km) north of Exmouth. Claudia is moving west-southwest at 18 miles (29 kilometers) per hour.

Global Warming

Oceans hotter than ever

The world’s oceans are warmer than ever — and they are getting warmer faster, according to a new report.

In a development that provides yet further evidence of global warming, the study, published in the Chinese journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, found that ocean temperatures in the last decade have been the warmest on record.

In addition, the research illustrates the influence of human-induced warming on the Earth’s waters and indicates that sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather could get worse as the oceans go on absorbing excess heat.

The rate of ocean warming is increasing at an alarming rate, according to the report. It showed that, from the period 1987 to 2019 compared with the period 1955 to 1986, the rate of warming accelerated almost 4 1/2 times in the latter timespan.