Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.1 Earthquake hits the Indian Ocean Triple Junction.

5.0 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Western Pacific: Tropical storm 33w (Tembin), located approximately 413 nm east-southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and is tracking westward at 11 knots.

Newsbytes:

Philippines – At least 200 people have been killed and scores are missing in the southern Philippines after a tropical storm triggered severe flooding and landslides that also wrecked Christmas for tens of thousands of survivors. Tropical Storm Tembin lashed Mindanao island, home to 20 million people, on Friday with strong gusts and torrential rain, wiping out at least one mountain village and prompting a massive rescue operation. Police said 144 people remained missing while more than 40,000 had fled their homes to evacuation camps as Tembin roared out into the South China Sea early Sunday.

Global Warming

Climate change in Lapland

Environmental changes in the far north are having disastrous effects on the region’s indigenous people and tourism industry.

Besides being the name of Swedish and Finnish provinces, Lapland is the English name for a region largely above the Arctic Circle that stretches across the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Research has revealed the disproportionate impact of climate change in the Arctic, where temperatures are currently rising at double the rate of the global average.

The far north is bearing the brunt of global warming, and, as much of Lapland’s population relies on its polar climate for their livelihoods, the effects are starting to be felt.

The wider region is the ancient home of the indigenous Sami people, who refer to it as Sapmi. Owing to its remote location and freezing temperatures, much of Lapland remains relatively pristine wilderness, and it is this wilderness that provides the Sami with space to practise their ancient tradition of reindeer herding.

The reindeer herders have become acutely aware of the impact climate change is having on their animals.

Unpredictable weather patterns and specifically rain replacing snow during the coldest months lead to crusts of ice forming on the ground, where normally there would be a soft layer of snow.

Reindeer, which typically feed by digging into the snow and grazing on lichen, are unable to either smell food under the ice or dig to access it. You can have herds starving to death just because they didn’t dig for food.

The role that reindeer have in shaping everything from the Sami language to their handcrafting traditions, which rely on products like reindeer skin and antlers. It’s an entire culture that would disappear with the reindeer.

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Wildlife

Bees Stop Elephants From Trampling Trees

The humble bee is helping to keep elephants from destroying trees and wiping out crops in their quest for food. A project launched near South Africa’s Kruger National Park in 2015 has found success.

An elephant’s skin is thick but sensitive. The animals will try to avoid a bee sting whenever possible, experts say. They’re terrified of it coming up the trunk and then they could potentially suffocate.

Project founder Michelle Henley says beehives have proven to be “significantly effective” at protecting indigenous trees from being trampled. “It’s amazing how a creature so small can actually scare away an elephant”.

Disease

Bird Flu – Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has confirmed an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu in Riyadh that led to the culling of nearly 16,000 ducks.

The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain infected and killed 14 birds at an unspecified location in the Saudi capital, says the World organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which is based in Paris. Other birds in a flock of around 60,000 exposed to the virus were culled.

Bird flu strains have hit poultry flocks in a number of countries across the world in recent years, with some types of the disease also causing human infections and deaths.