Environment

The images below show the Antarctic ozone hole on September 16 (the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer) in the years 1979, 1987, 2006, and 2011.

Stratospheric ozone is typically measured in Dobson Units (DU), which is the number of molecules required to create a layer of pure ozone 0.01 millimeters thick at a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius and an air pressure of 1 atmosphere (the pressure at the surface of the Earth). The average amount of ozone in Earth’s atmosphere is 300 Dobson Units, equivalent to a layer 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) thick — the height of 2 pennies stacked together.

Ozone 1979 2011

In 1979 — when scientists were just coming to understand that atmospheric ozone could be depleted — the area of ozone depletion over Antarctica grew to 1.1 million square kilometers, with a minimum ozone concentration of 194 Dobson Units. In 1987, as the Montreal Protocol was being signed, the area of the hole reached 22.4 million square kilometers and ozone concentrations dropped to 109 DU. By 2006, the worst year for ozone depletion to date, the numbers were 29.6 million square kilometers and just 84 DU. By 2011, the most recent year with a complete data set, the hole stretched 26 million square kilometers and dropped to 95 DU.

The Antarctic hole seems to be stabilizing and may be slowly recovering. The focus of scientists now is to make sure that it is healing as expected. The amount of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in the atmosphere has stopped rising in recent years, and may actually be decreasing. Changes in the ozone hole now are not significantly driven by changes in CFCs, but instead driven by year-to-year changes in weather in the stratosphere.

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Plans to open up a new Australian “coal export rush” could turn a single Queensland region into the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, undermining international efforts to keep global warming below 2C.

Nine proposed “mega mines” in the Galilee Basin would, at full capacity, result in 705m tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere. This level of emissions would surpass those of all but six nations in the world. By comparison, the UK emitted 549.3 million tonnes of CO2 from all sources in 2011.

Damian blog coal in Aust 007

Volcanos

A third Indonesian volcano erupts. Soputan volcano in North Sulawesi has had a new explosive eruption which produced lava fountains of several hundred meters height and an ash plume rising to 30,000 ft [10 km].

Another new explosion occurred at Shiveluch volcano in Kamchatka, Russia.

Wildfires

NASA captured this image of fires burning in Tomsk, a region of south central Siberia where severe wildfires have burned throughout the summer. Thick smoke billowed from numerous wildfires near the Ob River and mixed with haze and clouds that arrived from the southwest. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected the unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.

Russia amo 2012255

More than 17,000 wildfires had burned more than 30 million hectares (74 million acres) through August 2012, according to researchers at the Sukachev Institute of Forest in the Russian Academy of Sciences. In comparison, 20 million hectares burned last year, which was roughly the average between 2000 and 2008.

Earthquakes

5.4 Earthquake hits the New Britain region, Papua New Guinea.

5.3 Earthquake hits the Kodiak Islands region, Alaska.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Talaud Islands, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.1 Earthquake hits south-west of Sumatra, Indonesia.

5.1 Earthquake hits the northern Molucca Sea.

4.9 Earthquake hits the Loyalty Islands off New Caledonia.

Environment

Many of the world’s glaciers and ice sheets are retreating in the face of global warming, but a few are stable or growing — including glaciers in the western Himalaya Mountains, according to a new report. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for about 1.5 billion people.

Himalaya ali 2009359

The US National Weather Service in Los Angeles released two notices of triple-digit record-breaking temperatures in Long Beach over the weekend. On Friday, a high of 104 degrees was recorded, breaking the old record of 96 set in 1979.

Drought

Severe drought in Poland reveals 400-yr-old sunken treasures. A huge cargo of elaborate marble stonework that sank to the bottom of Poland’s Vistula river four centuries ago has re-appeared after a drought and record-low water levels revealed the masonry lying in the mud on the river bed.

Volcanos

Indonesia’s Mount Gamalama volcano Molucca Islands unleashed two strong eruptions over the weekend, sending volcanic ash as high as 1 kilometer, showering nearby Ternate with ash.

It has been reported that another Indonesian volcano, Mt Lokon has erupted, sending ash plumes up to 1,500-meters.

Offshore volcanic activity on Spain’s El Hierro island has resumed far below the Earth’s surface in a similar manner to last July, but on a somewhat stronger scale.

Underwater volcano spain

Disease

Legionnaires outbreak in Carmarthen, Wales. Three confirmed cases have been linked to the area. Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in droplets from contaminated water sources. Symptoms include breathlessness, chest pain and a dry cough, as well as fever, muscle aches, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea. Legionnaires’ disease can lead to pneumonia and can be fatal.

Cholera Outbreak: Six dead in the Volta Region, Ghana.

A cumulative total of 18,508 cases including 271 deaths (with a case fatality ratio of 1.5%) has been reported in the ongoing cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone since the beginning of the year.

46 cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) have now been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Wildfires

Firefighters continue battle against the E. Washington wildfires, USA. More than 240 wildfires are now burning in Washington. The Yakima complex fire is burning at about 6,000 acres, and Kittitas was at 3,500 on the last update. Officials are now calling in Canadian fire crews to assist with Washington and Oregon fire fighting. About 3,500 crews from both states are fighting five large fires in Washington.

The Sheep fire burning seven miles north of Riggins, Idaho, is 24 percent contained and had burned a total of 29,171 acres.

A 100-foot-high (30-meter) whirlwind of fire tore around a patch of Australian Outback on Tuesday near Alice Springs.

Fire tornado

Storms and Floods

Floods in northern Cameroon kill at least 30 people, affect more than 26000.

Massive Floods Kill At Least 70 in Nigeria. About 12,000 people have been displaced by flood disaster that ravaged many communities in Kano and Jigawa states where no fewer than 400,000 farmlands and 36,000 houses have been destroyed by the floods.

Tropical storm Nadine was located about 490 mi. [790 km] WSW of the Azores.

Category 1 Hurricane Lane was located about 1180 mi. [1895 km] WSW of the southern tip of Baja California. Lane should weaken into a tropical storm today and further weakening is expected on Wednesday. No threat to land.

Typhoon Sanba Reaches Vladivostok, Russia, floods the city’s streets.

Environment

Coral reefs around the world are under severe threat.

Caribbean corals are under immediate threat and urgent action was needed to limit pollution and aggressive fishing practices. Average live coral cover on Caribbean reefs has declined to just 8 percent today compared to more than 50 percent in the 1970s.

As more and more carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere, sea water turns more acidic which can hinder calcification which is crucial for corals’ growth.

Warmer sea surface temperatures are likely to trigger more frequent and more intense mass coral bleaching, which is when reefs turn pale. Although corals can survive bleaching, if the heat persists they can die. This happened in 1998 when 16 percent of corals were lost in a single, prolonged period of warmth worldwide.

Warmer ocean temperatures and acidification are also placing the Great Barrier Reef off Australia under stress.

Coral reefs are home to almost a quarter of the world’s ocean species, they provide coastal protection and can support tourism and fishing industries for millions of people worldwide.

Storms and Floods

Powerful typhoon Sanba lashed North and South Korea with strong wind and heavy rain Monday, killing at least one person, leaving dozens of others homeless and cutting power to many homes and businesses in the South. The storm is expected to make a final landfall in northern South Korea/Russia.

Earthquakes

5.8 and 5.2 Earthquakes hit south of Java, Indonesia.

5.5 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the coast of Costa Rica.

5.0 Earthquake hits Irian Jaya, Papua, Indonesia.

4.9 Earthquake hits off the coast of northern Sumatra.