Environment

Plastic Winds

The scattering of plastic pollution in the world’s waterways and atmosphere is now resulting in the “plastification” of the planet, with the debris “spiraling around the globe” in the wind.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that smaller microplastics can remain in the atmosphere for nearly a week, which is long enough for them to be carried across an ocean or a continent. A lot of the airborne particles are from decades-old, broken-down items such as plastic bags, wrappers and bottles.

But the biggest sources are roadways, where the tires of large trucks and other vehicles degrade into tiny bits as they rumble along and are picked up by the wind.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47.2 degrees Celsius) in Matam, Senegal.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 95.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70.6 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.

Space Events

Space Dust

The Earth gains quite a bit of weight each year as dust from comets and asteroids rains down on the planet.

Writing in the journal Earth & Planetary Science Letters, researchers say their 20-year study collected samples of the space debris, ranging from 30 to 200 micrometers in size, near the Franco-Italian Concordia research station in Antarctica. The scientists from France’s National Center for Scientific Research then calculated that Earth receives about 14 tons of the micrometeorites each day. They believe 80% comes from comets and the remainder from asteroids.

Disease

Covid-19

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

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Dengue Fever – Mauritius

In a follow-up on the Dengue fever epidemic in Reunion Island, officials report 994 additional confirmed cases from March 29 to April 4. The circulation of the virus continues to intensify with surveillance indicators (confirmed cases, emergency room visits, weekly hospitalizations) on the increase in Reunion Island.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the Week 7 April 2021 – 13 April 2021

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that at 0641 on 5 April and explosion at Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) produced an ash plume that rose as high as 3 km above the crater rim and ejected material 800-1,000 m away from the crater. Five explosions were recorded during 9-12 April. The highest ash plume rose 2.1 km and bombs were ejected as far as 900 m from the crater. Crater incandescence was visible nightly. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Dukono – Halmahera (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 6-10 April ash plumes from Dukono rose 100-700 m above the summit and drifted E, SE, and S. Weather conditions prevented visual observations during 11-12 April. 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 2-9 April that sent ash plumes to 4.5 km (14,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Ibu – Halmahera (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 6-13 April gray-and-white ash plumes from Ibu rose 200-1,000 m above the summit and drifted mainly N, E, and S. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater and 3.5 km away on the N side.

Kilauea – Hawaiian Islands (USA) : HVO reported that the W vent on the inner NW wall of Kilauea’s Halema`uma`u Crater continued to supply the lava lake during 31 March-6 April. Lava flowed at a low rate from the main vent into the lake through crusted-over channels and submerged inlets. The total depth of the lake measured about 226 m and lava continued to circulate in the W part; the E half of the lake remained solidified and expanded toward the W. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 1,200 tons/day on 1 April. HVO field crews observed weak spattering from two areas at the W vent during 1-2 April. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Watch.

Lewotolok – Lembata Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the Strombolian eruption at Lewotolok continued during 6-13 April. Gray-and-white ash plumes rose as high as 750 m above the summit and drifted in multiple directions. Incandescent material was ejected 300-500 m above the summit on most days and 500 m SE on 8 April. Incandescent material was ejected to the E during 9 and 11-12 April. Rumbling was occasionally audible. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4) and the public was warned to stay 4 km away from the summit crater.

Merapi – Central Java (Indonesia) : BPPTKG reported that the lava dome just below Merapi’s SW rim and the lava dome in the summit crater both continued to grow during 1-8 April. The SW rim lava-dome volume was an estimated 1,098,000 cubic meters on 7 April, with a growth rate of about 12,800 cubic meters per day, and continued to shed material down the flank. A total of 13 pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum of 1.5 km down the SW flank. Incandescent avalanches, recorded 119 times, traveled as far as 1.1 km down the SW flank. The summit lava dome had grown to 75 m tall. Minor ashfall was reported in Ngipiksari (8 km SSW), Klangon (4 km S), and Deles (3 km SE) on 3 April. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay 5 km away from the summit.

Raung – Eastern Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that daily gray-and-white ash plumes rose 50-600 m above Raung’s summit during 6-13 April and drifted mainly N, E, and S. 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.

Semeru – Eastern Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 7-13 April, though weather conditions often prevented visual confirmation. Gray-and-white ash plumes rose as high as 500 m during 9 and 11-12 April. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), with a general exclusion zone of 1 km and extensions to 5 km in the SSE sector.

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 2-9 April. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Sinabung – Indonesia : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Sinabung continued during 6-13 April. Weather conditions sometimes prevented visual observations of the volcano, though white fumarolic plumes were visible almost daily rising as high as 700 m above the summit and drifting in multiple directions. An eruptive event on 7 April produced a gray ash plume that rose 1 km. Two eruptive events the next day generated ash plumes that rose as high as 700 m. Avalanches traveled as far as 1.5 km E and SE during 8-11 April. Ash plumes rose 500-1,000 m high on 10 April. 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.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 earthquake hits the Nias region, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits the Near Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits the Mariana Islands.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 earthquake hits the Philippine Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the northwest Pacific Ocean: Tropical storm (ts) 02w (Surigae), located approximately 106 nm east-northeast of Kayangel, Palau, is tracking westward at 03 knots.

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Global Warming

Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ close to tipping point

The glacier could be melting at the key points anchoring it to the land.

Thwaites Glacier, a gigantic ice shelf in West Antarctica, has been on climate scientists’ radars for two decades now. But they didn’t know just how fast the glacier was melting, and how close it was to complete collapse, until researchers sent an unmanned submarine below the ice shelf.

The first measurements ever performed in the dark waters under the 74,000 square mile (192,000 square kilometers) chunk of ice revealed a disquieting piece of information: A previously underestimated current of warm water is flowing from the east, whittling away at several vital “pinning points” that anchor the shelf to the land.

As one of Antarctica’s fastest melting glaciers, Thwaites Glacier, cheerfully nicknamed the “Doomsday Glacier,” has lost an estimated 595 billion tons (540 billion metric tons) of ice since the 1980s, contributing to a 4% rise in global sea levels since that time. The glacier acts like a cork in a wine bottle, stopping the rest of the ice in the region from flowing into the sea, so Thwaites Glacier’s collapse could potentially take the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with it, causing a 10-foot (3 meter) rise in global sea levels.

Wildlife

4 dead gray whales wash up around San Francisco

Four dead gray whales have washed up on the shores of the San Francisco Bay Area in just eight days, prompting fears that the species is under threat from human activity in the area. The whales probably represent just a small fraction of the number dying in the area.

In 2019, 73 dead gray whales were found washed up along the west coast of North America during a six-month period.

Necropsies have revealed that the main causes of death for gray whales are malnutrition due to climate change, entanglement in fishing gear and trauma from ship strikes.

Environment

Millions of tons of nuclear wastewater from Fukushima will be dumped into the sea

Japan’s government announced on Tuesday (April 13) that it will dump more than a million tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, beginning in two years.

Roughly 1.25 million tons (1.13 million metric tons) of water have accumulated around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan since 2011, after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the region. The twin disasters killed nearly 20,000 people, according to NPR, and caused meltdowns in three of the plant’s six reactors, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

To keep the remaining reactor cores from melting, officials with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have been pumping nearly 200 tons (180 metric tons) of cooling water through the site every day. That contaminated wastewater is stored in more than 1,000 enormous tanks on site and automatically filtered to remove most of the radioactive material, except for tritium — a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is considered hazardous to human health in large amounts.

Now, 10 years after the disaster, TEPCO is running out of room to store the wastewater. The disposal plan, which was approved in a government cabinet meeting on Tuesday, will see the wastewater gradually discharged into the Pacific Ocean, most likely over the course of several decades.

Disease

Covid-19

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

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Syphilis – USA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that annual cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States continued to climb in 2019, reaching an all-time high for the sixth consecutive year.

The newly released 2019 STD Surveillance Report found:

2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, the three most commonly reported STDs in 2019.

A nearly 30% increase in these reportable STDs between 2015 and 2019.

The sharpest increase was in cases of syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis), which nearly quadrupled between 2015 and 2019.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the Week 7 April 2021 – 13 April 2021

Karymsky – Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that the explosive eruption that began at Karymsky on 3 April continued through 11 April. A thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images during 2-6 April; weather conditions obscured views on other days. The 3 April explosion generated an ash plume that rose to 8.5 km (27,900 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 255 km NE. At 1745 on 11 April explosions produced ash plumes that rose to 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted at least 65 km SE. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange (the second highest level on a four-color scale) on 3 April.

Krysuvik-Trolladyngja – Iceland : IMO reported that the fissure eruption in the W part of the Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula, continued during 7-13 April. Lava from the third fissure flowed S into Geldingadalur and NE towards the Meradalir valley site. Flows from the three fissures connected into one flow field on 7 April. Another new fissure opened at around 0300 on 10 April, halfway between two existing fissures, and all four fissures were simultaneously active. Lava flowed towards Geldingadalur. Gas-rich emission plumes were visible in webcam images rising 1.1-1.3 km (3,600-4,300 ft) a.s.l. At least two new vents opened on 13 April based on webcam views. On 14 April IMO noted that lava was flowing from at least eight vents and unverified reports form the morning suggested two additional vents had opened. Sulfur dioxide gas flux was 29 kilograms per second, comparable to measurements collected during the previous few weeks.

IMO warned visitors that new fissures could open without adequate visible warning, especially in an area just S of Keilir, by Litla-Hrút, where seismicity was concentrated. They also warned of increased gas emissions hazards. The Aviation Color Code remained Orange due to the lack of ash and tephra emissions.

Pacaya – Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that the eruption at Pacaya’s Mackenney Crater continued during 7-13 April. Explosions during 6-7 April produced ash plumes that rose 1 km above the summit and drifted 10 km W and SW. Ballistics were ejected 50-150 m above the summit. Explosions during 8-9 and 11-12 April produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1 km and drifted as far as 10 km NE, W, and SW.

The lava flow on the W and SW flanks was 3.7 km long and continued to be fed. Incandescent lava blocks were spalled from the flow front and vegetation was set on fire. The lava advanced W onto the La Breña farm and SW towards El Patrocinio and El Rodeo, near the Campo Alegre farm. On 12 April the flows burned La Breña coffee and avocado plantations. By 13 April the lava flows were 3.8 km long, and within 370 m of houses in El Patrocinio. Another flow front was 250 m E of El Rodeo, and obstructed the road that connects El Rodeo, El Caracol, and Los Pocitos.

Piton de la Fournaise – Reunion Island (France) : OVPF reported that a seismic crisis at Piton de la Fournaise began at 1457 on 9 April and was accompanied by rapid deformation beneath the S flank. Seismicity indicated that a fissure opened at 1900 but could not be visually confirmed due to weather conditions. The Alert Level was raised to 2-2. During an overflight at 0840 on 10 April scientists observed a NNW-oriented fissure, 700 m S of Château Fort. Activity was focused at two vents, each producing lava fountains that were no higher than 30 m tall, though fountains also rose from other parts of the fissure. Slow-moving ‘a’a lava flowed SE and then curved E and advanced 1.6 km to 1,800 elevation. The N end of the fissure was no longer active. Two cones had formed over the main vents and were growing larger; by 11 April the more northern vent was the larger of the two. Fountains rose 30-60 m and the lava flow had advanced to 1,750 m elevation. By 1900 on 11 April the lava flow was 3.2 km long and had reached 1,690 m elevation. Lava fountaining continued at the two vents during 12-13 April, rising 20-60 m. The lava flow continued to advance; by 13 April the flow was about 3.6 km long and had reached 1,500-1,550 m elevation.

Semisopochnoi – Aleutian Islands (USA) : AVO reported that low-level ash emissions from Semisopochnoi were visible in satellite images on 12 April along with a steam plume drifting E beyond the island. Additionally, new ash deposits extending SE at least to the coastline were also visible. The event was recorded by the regional infrasound network. The Aviation Color Code and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Orange and Watch, respectively.

Soufriere St. Vincent – St. Vincent : University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWI-SRC) and National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) reported that the effusive eruption at Soufrière St. Vincent (often simply referred to as “La Soufriere”) became explosive on 9 April after a period of increased seismicity, gas emission, and rapid dome growth. Earthquake swarms were recorded during 22-25 March and 5 April, signifying a change in the eruption pattern. Small earthquakes associated with dome growth were recorded on 7 April. Episodes of tremor indicating movement of magma and fluids close to the surface began at 0300 on 8 April and were again recorded at 0530, 0800, 1015, and 1300, slowly increasing in magnitude. Five long-period earthquakes and two brief swarms of VT events occurred in between the tremor episodes; ash venting occurred with the last episode. Sulfur dioxide emissions were identified in satellite data, and clouds of steam and gas were visible from the Belmont Observatory. Later that evening, incandescent material over the vent area was visible in webcam images, and views from the observatory indicated that the dome had grown significantly. The Alert Level was raised to Red at around 1830, and the Prime Minister issued an evacuation order for the Red Zone at the N part of the island, affecting 16,000-20,000 people.

An explosive eruption began at 0840 on 9 April when an ash plume rose to 8 km (27,900 ft) a.s.l. and drifted mainly ENE. Ash fell across the island, affecting communities including Chateaubelair and Petite Bordel, the observatory, Belmont and surrounding areas at the S end of the island, and forcing the closure of the Argyle International Airport (20 km S). NEMO stated that evacuations in the Orange and Red zones were impeded by significant ashfall and poor visibility, but by the evening most residents had been evacuated. A second period of vigorous ash venting began at 1445 and initially rose about 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. Lightning was visible in the rising plume. Successive explosions and ash pulses fed the plume for hours and it rose to 16 km (52,000 ft) a.s.l. A third explosive series began at 1835. Ash venting occurred through the night, causing ashfall across St. Vincent and reaching Barbados, about 165 km E, significantly impacting residents on that island.

Periods of banded tremor began at 0330 on 10 April, lasting for periods of 20-30 minutes with 1-3-hour gaps. The tremor episodes were associated with explosive activity and stronger pulses of ash emissions to higher altitudes; ash plumes rose to 10.6-16 km (35,000-52,000 ft) a.s.l. throughout the day. The Washington VAAC stated that ash plumes during 9-10 April had drifted as far as 1,200 km ESE and about 3,000 km ENE. The Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) in Barbados also closed.

Ashfall continued to be widespread on 10 April; deposit thickness varied from less than 1 mm in Colonaire (~12.5 km SSE) to 10-15 mm in Rabacca (~7.4 km SSE). Scientists reported darkness at the observatory at 1617; video showed intense and continuous ashfall. Satellite data confirmed that explosions had excavated the 2020-2021 lava dome and parts of the 1979 dome, leaving a large crater.

Overnight during 10-11 April ash again fell island-wide, and also in the Grenadines (to the SSW), Barbados, and Saint Lucia (50 km NNE). Explosions early on 11 April were followed by widespread power and water outages on the island as reported by NEMO, and some houses had collapsed under the significant ashfall. Beginning around midday the periods between episodes of high-amplitude tremor lengthened from 1.5-4 hours to 5-8 hours. The VAAC reported that through the day ash plumes rose 12.2-16 km (40,000-52,000 ft) a.s.l. and continued to drift long distances to the ENE, E, and SE. A large explosion at 0415 on 12 April produced an ash plume that rose to 12.8 km (42,000 ft) a.s.l. Pyroclastic flows descended several valleys on the S and W flanks, reaching the coast at Morne Ronde (4.3 km W), Larikai (3.5 km WNW), and Trois Loupes Bay (3.5 km NW). Damage to vegetation was extensive along the W coast, stretching from Larikai Bay to Turner Bay. The pattern of seismicity again changed; high-amplitude tremor episodes ceased, but two low-amplitude and one high-amplitude episode were recorded during 0600-1700. Explosivity or notable ash venting coincided with the episodes; the spacing between explosive events increased.

A series of Vulcanian explosions began at 0630 on 13 April and lasted about 30 minutes. The VAAC stated that a dense ash plume rose to 11 km (35,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E and SE, as well as N and NE. Pyroclastic flows traveled about 6 km WSW, reached the ocean at Wallibou Bay, and extended past the coastline over the sea. Scientists observed the western coastline later in the day and noted that pyroclastic flows had descended all valleys from Larikai (W) to Wallibou, a stretch about 5 km long. Lahar deposits were observed in the Sandy Bay area. The VAAC noted that at 1850 a new ash emission rose to 7.6 km (25,000 ft) a.s.l. and was associated with a thermal anomaly. UWI-SRC stated that a large explosion was recorded around 2300. Pyroclastic flows overnight were channeled to the E into the Rabacca River drainage. The Montserrat Volcano Observatory stated that a sulfur odor and minor ashfall from Soufrière St. Vincent was observed on their island (390 km NNW).

Daily satellite-based measurements of SO2 were notable beginning on 9 April. Though the initial explosion at 0840 showed relatively minor SO2 emissions, stronger, continuous ash and SO2 emissions began later on 9 April (at 1445) and continued into the next day, transitioning into discrete explosive events that continued a least through 14 April. Satellite data showed about 0.4 teragrams (Tg) of SO2 in the plume on 10 April, with some stratospheric injection. Simon Carn noted that this makes the La Soufriere eruption the largest tropical SO2 emission since the 2011 Nabro eruption, and the largest in the Caribbean since satellite measurements began in 1979. The SO2 plume initially fanned out to the NE, E, and SE across the Atlantic Ocean. Measurements during 11-13 April showed similar results of 0.4-0.6 Tg SO2 depending on altitude. The eastern edge of the gas plume reached about 4,700 km to the W coast of Africa by 12 April, and another 2,000 km inland to Mali and Niger on 13 April.

Suwanosejima – Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that incandescence from Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible at night during 5-9 April. Four explosions generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.6 km above the crater rim and ejected bombs 600 m away. Ashfall was reported in Toshima village (4 km SSW) during 8-9 April. The Alert Level remained at 2 and the public was warned to stay 1 km away from the crater.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits the Dodecanese Islands and Turkish border region.

5.2 earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.1 earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.1 earthquake hits the Molucca Sea.

5.1 earthquake hits the Galapagos triple junction region.

5.1 earthquake hits Java, Indonesia.

5.1 earthquake hits the Dodecanese Islands and Turkish border region.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the northwest Pacific Ocean: Tropical storm (ts) 02w (Surigae), located approximately 55 nm southwest of Yap, is tracking northwestward at 05 knots.

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Newsbytes:

Australia – Authorities have closed roads and issued warnings to motorists as dust storms move across South Australia. Numerous motor vehicle accidents have occurred due to lack of visibility.

Peru – Overflowing rivers have damaged homes, roads and crops in several provinces of of Loreto Region and parts of San Martin Region. Flooding from the the overflowing Marañón River damaged buildings, including a school, in the town of Maypuco, Urarinas district. n 10 April the Morona River overflowed, flooding the surrounding areas in the district of Morona, damaging homes and crops.

Colombia – Heavy rain caused flash floods in the city of Villavicencio in Meta Department of Colombia. Heavy rain fell from 11 April, triggering severe floods across Villavicencio. Local government said 200 families were affected.