Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.7 Earthquake hits the southeast Indian ridge.

5.2 Earthquake hits Jujuy, Argentina.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Kuril islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits offshore Antofagasta, Chile.

5.0 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.0 Earthquake hits southwestern Sakha, Russia.

5.0 Earthquake hits the southern Mid-Atlantic ridge.

Global Warming

Arctic Sea Ice Is ‘Well Below Average’ for November

Sea ice on both sides of the Arctic Ocean was well below average in November, according to an update released Wednesday by the United States National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado.

According to the centre, sea ice covered 3.9 million square miles of the Arctic Ocean at the end of November — an area 351,000 square miles smaller than the 1981 to 2010 average extent, although 230,000 square miles greater than 2006’s record low. “At the end of the month, extent was well below average in both the Barents Sea and the Bering Strait regions,” the centre reported. “Extent was above average in eastern Hudson Bay, but below average in the western part of the bay.”

The low growth of winter sea ice is a continued signal that climate change is rapidly transforming conditions in the Arctic, which are important drivers of climate and weather conditions around the Northern Hemisphere. Sea ice is also crucial to the survival of polar bears, narwhals,ice seals, and other species. U.S. federal wildlife officials declared polar bears a “threatened” species in 2008 because of diminishing Arctic sea ice, and gave similar protections to populations of Arctic bearded and ringed seals in 2012. The Pacific walrus is also being considered for endangered species protections. For the past several years, the walruses have been turning up in unprecedented numbers during early autumn on shorelines around the Chukchi Sea, in Alaska and Russia, as the loss of Arctic sea ice forces them to come to land.

Above-average air temperatures above the region contributed to the slow growth of winter sea ice, reported the snow and ice data centre. “The area north of the Barents Sea, between Svalbard and the Taymyr Peninsula, was unusually warm, at 11 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit above average,” and 2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average in other parts of the Arctic. The absence of sea ice around Svalbard this fall could affect the region’s pregnant polar bears, which need the ice to reach traditional denning sites in the archipelago’s eastern islands.


Radiation from Fukushima nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores

Radiation from Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster has spread off North American shores and contamination is increasing at previously identified sites, although levels are still too low to threaten human or ocean life, scientists said on Thursday.

Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak radioactive isotopes more than four years after its meltdown, said Ken Buesseler, marine radiochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Trace amounts of cesium-134 have been detected within several hundred miles (km) of the Oregon, Washington and California coasts in recent months, as well as offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island.

Another isotope, cesium-137, a radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons tests conducted from the 1950s through the 1970s, was found at low levels in nearly every seawater sample tested by Woods Hole, a nonprofit research institution.

“Despite the fact that the levels of contamination off our shores remain well below government-established safety limits for human health or to marine life, the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific,” Buesseler said in an email.

Space Events

Vast hole opens in sun’s atmosphere

A vast hole in the sun’s atmosphere – a “coronal hole” – has opened up in the sun’s northern hemisphere, and it is spewing a broad stream of solar wind into space. Coronal holes are places where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape.

Hot plasma flows outward at speeds exceeding a million mph. Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole will reach Earth beginning ~Dec. 6th, and our solar wind environment will be dominated the stream for days after first contact. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.


Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – Saudi Arabia

Between 2 and 27 November 2015, the National IHR Focal Point for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia notified WHO of 3 additional cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection, including 2 deaths.

Zika virus infection – Venezuela

On 27 November 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Venezuela received notification of 7 suspected cases of Zika virus infection. Four samples tested positive for Zika virus by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The results were re-confirmed by Colombia’s National Institute of Health (INS). The cases, whose age ranges from 40 to 55 years old, are all women from areas that border Brazil. Venezuelan health authorities are implementing prevention and control measures. Investigations are ongoing.

Zika virus infection – Mexico

On 26 November 2015, national health authorities in Mexico notified PAHO/WHO of 3 cases of Zika virus infection, including two autochthonous cases (residents of Nuevo León and Chiapas) and one imported case (with history of travel to Colombia). The diagnoses were made by the national reference laboratory using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Mexican health authorities are implementing the corresponding prevention and control measures. Investigations are ongoing.

Zika virus infection – Paraguay

On 27 November 2015, the National IHR Focal Point of Paraguay notified PAHO/WHO of 6 laboratory-confirmed autochthonous cases of Zika virus infection in the city of Pedro Caballero, which is located in the northeast of the country and shares borders with Brazil.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Etna (Sicily, Italy): After the third paroxysmal phase (tall lava fountaining) at the Voragine yesterday evening around 22:00, activity in the form of strong, frequent strombolian explosions and lava spattering continued all night and into the morning. Tremor remains high, suggesting that the current phase is in fact not over (and more paroxysm could occur). Small incandescent ejections and ash emissions also take place from the small new pit crater on the upper eastern flank of the New SE crater. After only about 12 hours since this morning’s lava fountaining episode, another paroxysm occurred this evening. Activity from the Voragine (and minor activity from New SE crater) had in fact not ceased at all after the peak of the paroxysm this morning, but remained with intense strombolian explosions and ash emissions. Tremor had remained elevated.

Rinjani (Lombok): The volcano continues to erupt, but activity has decreased a lot. When visited during 30 Nov – 2 Dec, “the volcano erupted just 2-3 times eruption per day”, but some explosions were fairly big.

Bromo (East Java, Indonesia): An eruption warning was issued this morning – PVMBG raised the volcano’s alert status to “siaga” (alert), or 3 on a scale of 1-4. Seismic activity and degassing from the crater have sharply increased, suggesting that a new eruption could occur any time at the volcano.

Telica (Nicaragua): The volcano has calmed down, at least at the surface during the past week. Since 29 Nov, no more significant explosions / ash emissions have taken place. Whether this is in connection with the new eruptive activity at neighbouring Momotombo volcano or pure coincidence is up to speculation.

Momotombo (Nicaragua): Activity at the volcano continues, but at lower intensity than during the first days of the new eruption. Strombolian explosions at the summit crater accompany the emission of a steam-ash plume rising up to approx. 1000 m, an possibly still continued, but very weak lava flow extrusion. After the more vigorous onset of the eruption on 2 Dec, the new lava flow had reached the base of the summit cone by next morning, where it had branched into two lobes.