Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.3 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Mentawai, Indonesia.

5.2 Earthquake hits Catamarca, Argentina.

5.2 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits southeast of Easter Island.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the North Atlantic Ocean: Tropical Storm Arlene is centered more than 930 miles west of the Azores in the central Atlantic Ocean, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 50 mph. Arlene is the first tropical storm in April to exist in the Atlantic Basin since Ana in 2003, which also formed on April 20, just a few hours earlier. It’s also the farthest north a tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic so early in the season.


Kazakhstan – Heavy floods have hit regions across northern Kazakhstan, destroying hundreds of buildings, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people, and leading to accusations of a botched state response. Residents have linked about six deaths to the recent flooding, while authorities in the Central Asian nation say it has caused no casualties. On April 20, officials in the North Kazakhstan region said the water level in a main reservoir was almost three meters above the allowed maximum, adding to the concerns of residents hit by the flooding that follows snowmelt. Thousands of local residents have been evacuated and tens of thousands of head of livestock were moved to safer districts.

Colombia – The death toll in the floods and landslides in Colombia this week have risen to 16, with a number of people still missing.


The Arctic Ocean May Soon Have Its Very Own ‘Garbage Patch’

In findings published this week, a 2013 Arctic Ocean expedition found plastic “was abundant and widespread” in the waters east of Greenland in the Barents Sea, off the coasts of northern Russia and Scandinavia.

A multinational expedition that skimmed the Arctic Ocean in 2013 found plastic “was abundant and widespread” in waters east of Greenland in the Barents Sea, off northern Russia and Scandinavia. In some parts of those waters, they found hundreds of thousands of pieces of plastic per square kilometer of surface, the researchers reported this week.

“The growing level of human activity in an increasingly warm and ice-free Arctic, with wider open areas available for the spread of microplastics, suggests that high loads of marine plastic pollution may become prevalent in the Arctic in the future,” the researchers warned.

Nearly all the plastic was concentrated in the stretch between Greenland and the Russian islands of Novaya Zemla. Those waters “constitute a dead end” for the currents that flow northward from the Atlantic, bringing with them trash from the coasts of Europe and North America, the study found.

“The total load of floating plastic for the ice-free waters of the Arctic Ocean was estimated to range from around 100 to 1,200 tons, with 400 tons composed of an estimated 300 billion plastic items as a midrange estimate,” the scientists wrote.


Out of Thin Air

A new device that can harvest water out of air with humidity as low as 20 percent, using only sunlight for energy, could revolutionize life in remote, arid regions.

The new invention uses an extremely porous material called a metal-organic framework that absorbs 20 percent of its weight in water from even low-humidity air.

Sunlight heats the substance, releasing water vapor that condenses into ample water per day for household use. Developers say the invention could be upscaled to also irrigate fields or greenhouses in areas otherwise too arid to grow crops.


Living Fossil

A reclusive mud-dwelling worm has been found alive for the first time, even though the fossils it leaves behind have hinted at its existence for more than 200 years.

About a dozen live specimens of the baseball bat-sized giant shipworm were finally discovered in the mud of a shallow Philippine lagoon after an extensive search.

Experts soon found that bacteria living in the gills of the creature produce enough food for the worm, which is encased inside a long tube made of the calcium carbonate it secretes. The gunmetal black bivalve also uses hydrogen sulphide in the water as an energy source.

The shells, in all likelihood, contributed to the myth of the Unicorn.

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Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 118.0 degrees Fahrenheit (47.8 degrees Celsius) in Sibi, Pakistan.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 72.8 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.


Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus – China

On 14 April 2017, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China (NHFPC) notified WHO of 15 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in mainland China.

Anthrax in Zimbabwe

In a follow-up to a report last week of a suspected anthrax outbreak among hippos in the Binga District of Zimbabwe, health officials the Ministry of Health and Child Care has recorded nine cases of suspected human cutaneous anthrax from the individuals who ate meat from dead hippos at Mlibizi in Binga.

Uganda – Foot and Mouth Disease Outbreak

The government has imposed a quarantine on Kalwanga parish, Katikamu North constituency in Luweero District following an outbreak of the food-and-mouth disease. As a result of the quarantine, no meat or animal products including milk and ghee are allowed out of the area.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week of 12 April – 18 April 2017

Bagana | Bougainville (Papua New Guinea) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery and model data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 16-17 April ash plumes from Bagana rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.1 km (6,000-7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted N, SE, and S.

Bezymianny | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 7-14 April lava continued to advance down the NW flank of Bezymianny’s lava dome. A thermal anomaly was identified in satellite images daily. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Bogoslof | Fox Islands (USA) : Increased seismicity at Bogoslof was recorded by stations on nearby islands starting around 1501 on 15 April, prompting AVO to raise the Aviation colour Code to Orange and the Volcano Alert Level to Watch. The seismic activity subsided a few hours later; there was no evidence of renewed eruptive activity from infrasound, lightning, or satellite data during 15-18 April.

Colima | Mexico : On 14 April the Centro Universitario de Estudios e Investigaciones de Vulcanologia – Universidad de Colima reported that during the previous week seismic data revealed 48 high-frequency events, 30 long-period events, 3.3 hours of tremor, 10 landslides, and two explosions.

Dukono | Halmahera (Indonesia) : Based on analyses of satellite imagery, wind model data, and notices from PVMBG, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 12-18 April ash plumes from Dukono rose to an altitude of 2.1 km (7,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S, SW, W, and N.

Ebeko | Paramushir Island (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 7-14 April several explosions at Ebeko were observed by residents of Severo-Kurilsk (Paramushir Island) about 7 km E. Ash plumes rose as high as 2.6 km (8,500 ft) a.s.l. Minor amounts of ash fell in Severo-Kurilsk on 12 April. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Etna | Sicily (Italy) : INGV reported that the effusive eruption from a vent in the saddle between Etna’s Southeast Crater (SEC) – New Southeast Crater (NSEC) cone complex ended during 8-9 April. During 10-11 April lava effused from a vent located at the S base of the SEC. The lava flow traveled SE and flowed several hundred meters down the W wall of the Valle del Bove. In the evening of 13 April short-lived explosive activity occurred at a vent at the S flank of the SEC cone at about 3,200 m elevation. That vent and another at 3,150 m elevation produced lava flows for a few hours. Lava also effused from the vent at the S base of SEC, 3,010 m elevation, during 13-14 April, traveling SE and down the W wall of the Valle del Bove on top of the flows from 10-11 April.

Kilauea | Hawaiian Islands (USA) : During 12-18 April HVO reported that the lava lake continued to rise, fall, and spatter in Kilauea’s Overlook crater. 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. A growing lava delta is building where the lava enters the water. Surface lava flows were active above the pali.

Nevado del Ruiz | Colombia : Servicio Geológico Colombiano’s (SGC) Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Manizales reported that at 1822 on 14 April a seismic event at Nevado del Ruiz was recorded, associated with a gas-and-ash emission recorded by the webcam that rose almost 1.2 km above the crater. The Alert Level remained at III (Yellow; the second lowest level on a four-colour scale).

Nevados de Chillan | Chile : The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that on 17 April a webcam recorded the ejection of incandescent material from Nevados de Chillán, and a possible ash plume that rose to 3.7 km (12,000 ft) a.s.l.

Sabancaya | Peru : Observatorio Vulcanológico del Sur del IGP (OVS-IGP) and Observatorio Vulcanológico del INGEMMET (OVI) reported that during 10-16 April seismicity at Sabancaya increased compared to the previous week, with an average of 37 explosions recorded per day. Ash plumes rose as high as 3 km above the crater rim (13 April) and drifted more than 40 km NW and SE. The Buenos Aires VAAC reported that on 17 April ash plumes rose to an altitude of 7.9 km (26,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE. The next day ash emissions were recorded by the webcam. The Alert Level remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Sheveluch | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 7-14 April 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 an ash plume that drifted 82 km SW on 10 April. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange (the second highest level on a four-colour scale).

Sinabung | Indonesia : Based on PVMBG observations, satellite images, and wind data, the Darwin VAAC reported that during 12-15 and 17 April ash plumes from Sinabung rose to altitudes of 3-4.6 km (10,000-15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W, SW, and E.

Turrialba | Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported a passive ash emission from Turrialba on 16 April. An event at 0751 on 17 April generated a plume with minor ash content that rose 500 m above the crater and drifted SW. A diffuse plume consisting of gas and sometimes ash rose 1 km above the crater and drifted W on 18 April.