Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.5 Earthquake hits Minahasa, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

5.4 Earthquake hits Chiapas, Mexico.

5.4 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.1 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Kamchatka.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

5.0 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Australia – Northern New South Wales farmers are reporting the biggest flood they have seen in more than 50 years. Flooding rivers swamped towns along Australia’s east coast on Friday forcing tens of thousands of people to be evacuated as fast-flowing waters cut roads and destroyed bridges after the remnants of a powerful cyclone swept through the region. The disaster zone from ex-Cyclone Debbie stretched 1,000 kms (612 miles) from Queensland state’s tropical resort islands and Gold Coast tourist strip to the farmlands of New South Wales state, with more than 100,00 homes reportedly without power. Six large rivers had hit major flood levels and were still rising, said the Bureau of Meteorology. Flood sirens sounded before dawn at Lismore when the Wilsons River surged over the town’s levee. By daybreak the center of the town of 25,000 people in the Northern Rivers region of NSW was underwater. Throughout the day several towns suffered the same fate and were submerged under floodwaters. Stranded residents climbed onto roofs of flooded homes to await rescuing, but fast-moving water and high winds hindered emergency crews reaching some people. Farmers moved livestock to higher ground, while others sandbagged property, desperately trying to stop floodwaters. NSW police said they had recovered the body of a woman from floodwaters on Friday, the first reported death since Cyclone Debbie hit on Tuesday. Authorities had feared that people may have died overnight as floodwaters rose swiftly in the dark.

Malawi – Over 395 people have been affected by floods which were caused by heavy rains coupled with poor drainage systems in Chikhwawa.

Wildlife

Japan kills 333 whales in annual Antarctic hunt

A Japanese whaling fleet returned to port Friday after an annual Antarctic hunt that killed more than 300 of the mammals as Tokyo pursues the programme in defiance of global criticism.

The fleet set sail for the Southern Ocean in November, with plans to slaughter 333 minke whales, flouting a worldwide moratorium and opposition led by Australia and New Zealand.

The fleet consisted of five ships, three of which arrived in the morning at Shimonoseki port in western Japan, the country’s Fisheries Agency said.

In a press release, the mission was described as “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea”.

But environmentalists and the International Court of Justice (IJC) call that a fiction and say the real purpose is simply to hunt whales for their meat.

Japan also caught 333 minke whales in the previous season ending in 2016 after a one-year hiatus prompted by an IJC ruling, which said the hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as science and ordered Tokyo to end it.

Under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to which Japan is a signatory, there has been a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986.

Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for “scientific research” and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting. But it also makes no secret of the fact that whale meat ends up on dinner tables and is served up in school lunches.

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Global Warming

There’s a reason Arctic sea ice is turning green: Global warming

In 2011, researchers observed something that should be impossible — a massive bloom of phytoplankton growing under Arctic sea ice in conditions that should have been far too dark for anything requiring photosynthesis to survive.

Using mathematical modelling, researchers from the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) found that thinning Arctic sea ice may be responsible for frequent and extensive phytoplankton blooms, potentially causing significant disruption in the Arctic food chain.

Phytoplankton underpins the entire Arctic food web. Every summer, when the sea ice retreats, sunlight hitting the open water triggers a massive bloom of plankton.

These plumes attract fish, which attract larger predators and provides food for indigenous communities living in the Arctic.

Phytoplankton should not be able to grow under the ice because ice reflects most sunlight light back into space, blocking it from reaching the water below.

However, over the past decades, Arctic ice has gotten darker and thinner due to warming temperatures, allowing more and more sunlight to penetrate to the water beneath.

Large, dark pools of water on the surface of the ice, known as melt ponds, have increased, lowering the reflectivity of the ice. The ice that remains frozen is thin and getting thinner.

Twenty years ago, only about three to four per cent of Arctic sea ice was thin enough to allow large colonies of plankton to bloom underneath. Today, the researchers found that nearly 30% of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean permits sub-ice blooms in summer months.

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Disease

Somalia: Cholera

The number of cholera cases reported by the Ministry of Health in Somalia has reached a cumulative 17 211 cases and 388 deaths with a case fatality rate of 2.25%, which is nearly 4 times as many as were recorded for the same period in 2016.

China – Foot and Mouth Disease

China’s Ministry of Agriculture reported on Thursday 37 pigs on a farm in the southern Guangdong province had been killed after contracting the O-type strain of foot-and-mouth disease. The ministry said that all pigs on the farm have been killed and the outbreak is under control.

New Zealand – Typhoid

Ten people are in hospital in Auckland after contracting typhoid and public health officials are investigating whether anyone else has been infected.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has confirmed the outbreak and says it is tracing people who have been in contact with those who have been diagnosed with the disease and “following usual protocols” to stop it spreading further.

Shellfish sourced from sea beds contaminated by sewage have caused earlier outbreaks in New Zealand.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 22 March-28 March 2017

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 27-28 March a minor ash plume from Bagana rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 110 km SW and W.

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : AVO reported that no significant volcanic activity at Bogoslof was detected in seismic or infrasound data during 22-28 March, and satellite views were often obscured by clouds or showed nothing noteworthy. Weakly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite images during 21-23 March. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange and the Volcano Alert Level remained at Warning.

Cleveland | Chuginadak Island (USA) : A small explosion at Cleveland was detected in both seismic and infrasound data at 0815 on 24 March, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation Color Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. Cloud cover at 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. obscured satellite observations of the volcano, and no ash cloud was observed from this event. Cloud cover prevented views during 25-27 March, and slightly elevated surface temperatures were identified in satellite data during 27-28 March; nothing significant was detected in seismic or infrasound data.

Colima | Mexico : On 24 March the Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia – Universidad de Colima reported that during the previous week the seismic data revealed 70 high-frequency events, 25 long-period events, over one hour of tremor, four landslides, and four low-intensity explosions. The sulphur dioxide flux was 11-74 tons/day, reflecting low volcanic activity.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 22-28 March ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted in multiple directions.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 20-22 March several explosions at Ebeko, observed by residents of Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island) about 7 km E, generated plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.7-1.8 km (5,600-5,900 ft) a.s.l. Minor amounts of ash fell in Severo-Kurilsk on 21 March. The Aviation Colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Fuego | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 25-28 March explosions at Fuego generated ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim and drifted 10-12 km SW and S. Ashfall was reported in areas downwind including Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Morelia (9 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), Los Yucales, and El Porvenir. Shock waves and rumbling from the explosions were sometimes heard; structures in local areas were rattled from explosions during 26-27 March. Incandescent material was ejected as high as 300 m above the crater rim, and sometimes landed 250 m away. Avalanches of material were confined to the crater. INSIVUMEH noted that activity had become more intense on 27 March.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 22-28 March HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. A small collapse of the S part of the crater wall at 0035 on 23 March was followed by a short time of increased spatter.

Webcams recorded incandescence from long-active sources within Pu’u ‘O’o Crater, from a vent high on the NE flank of the cone, and from a small lava pond in a pit on the W side of the crater. The 61G lava flow, originating from a vent on Pu’u ‘O’o Crater’s E flank, continued to enter the ocean at Kamokuna from the end of the lava tube, about 20 m above the water; the ocean entry was not consistently visible during the week. Surface lava flows were active above the pali, with most of the activity located 1.9-2.9 km from the 61G vent. During 24-25 March HVO noted that a delta had begun to form at the ocean entry, for the first time since the previous one had collapsed on 31 December 2016.

Klyuchevskoy | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : On 24 March KVERT reported that gas-and-steam emissions continued to rise from Klyuchevskoy’s crater, and a weak thermal anomaly was occasionally identified in satellite images. The Aviation Colour Code was lowered to Green (the lowest level on a four-colour scale). On 28 March a gas, steam, and ash plume identified in satellite data rose to altitudes of 5-6 km (16,400-19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 108 km ENE. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Yellow. The next day an ash plume rose as high as 7.5 km (24,600 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 75 km SW. The Aviation Colour Code was raised to Orange.

Nevado del Ruiz | Colombia : Based on info from Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales, the Washington VAAC reported that on 26 March ash plumes from Nevado del Ruiz rose to an altitude of 7 km (23,000 ft) a.s.l. On 27 March the observatory reported that at 1029 a gas-and-ash plume rose 1.6 km above the crater rim and drifted E. The emission was associated with a seismic event and was also recorded by a webcam.

Pacaya | Guatemala : In a special report from 24 March INSIVUMEH noted that lava fountains 25-50 m high rose from a new cone forming in the crater of Pacaya’s Mackenney’s cone. The accumulated material had been filling up the cone, causing lava to flow through the crater breach formed in 2010. During 25-28 March small Strombolian explosions ejected material as high as 30 m above the cone.

Sabancaya | Peru : Based on webcam images, satellite views, and seismic data the Buenos Aires VAAC reported sporadic gas-and-ash puffs from Sabancaya during 24-27 March, sometimes rising as high as 9.1 km (30,000 ft) a.s.l. Weather clouds often hindered observations of the volcano, especially during 22-3 and 25 March.

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 17-24 March lava-dome extrusion onto Sheveluch’s N flank was accompanied by strong fumarolic activity, dome incandescence, ash explosions, and hot avalanches. Satellite images showed a daily thermal anomaly over the dome, and ash plumes that drifted 126 km WNW on 19 and 21 March. The Aviation Color Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Sinabung | Indonesia : Based on PVMBG observations, satellite data, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 22, 24-25, and 27 March ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes of 3.3-4.3 km (11,000-14,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S, SE, and E.

Suwanosejima | Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : Based on JMA notices and satellite-image analyses, the Tokyo VAAC reported that on 28 March an explosion at Suwanosejima generated a plume that rose to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE.

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that a weak ash emission from Turrialba was visible during 1800-1940 on 25 March. Periods of more intense crater incandescence, from possible Strombolian activity, corresponded to higher tremor amplitude during 0330-0530 on 26 March. Later that day a small plume with a minor amount of ash rose 500 m above the crater and drifted S and SE. An event at 0752 on 28 March generated an ash plume that rose 300 m and drifted S.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.0 degrees Fahrenheit (46.1 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.