Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week of 20 December – 26 December 2017

Agung | Bali (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that during 20-26 December gray-and-white plumes rose as high as 2 km above Agung’s crater rim and drifted W and E; weather clouds and fog sometimes prevented visual observations. Incandescence from the crater was sometimes observed at night. BNPB reported that during 22-23 December events generated dense gray ash plumes that rose as high as 2.5 km above the crater rim and drifted NE. Ash fell on the flanks and in Tulamben, Kubu. As of 25 December there were 71,045 evacuees spread out in 239 shelters. The Alert Level remained at 4 (on a scale of 1-4), and the exclusion zones continued at a general 8-km radius and 10 km in the NNE, SE, S, and SW directions.

Bezymianny | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that ash plumes from the 20 December explosive eruption at Bezymianny rose as high as 15 km (49,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 320 km NE. A thermal anomaly over the volcano was identified in satellite images during 21-22 December. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Kanlaon | Philippines : PHIVOLCS reported that during 19-20 December there were 412 volcanic earthquakes detected at Kanlaon. A low-energy, explosion-type earthquake was detected at 0233 on 21 December associated with gas emissions from the summit area. Later in the day steam plumes rose 400 m and drifted NE. The number of daily volcanic earthquakes increased to 957 the next day and then decreased to less than 20 per day during 22-23 December; the daily count increased to 382 and 776 events on 24 and 25 December, respectively, and then decreased to 82 on 26 December. White plumes rose 300 m and drifted NE, NW, and SW on 21 December, and 700 m on 26 December; weather clouds prevented views on the other days. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 0-5).

Klyuchevskoy | Central Kamchatka (Russia) : Based on satellite observations KVERT reported that gas-and-steam plumes from Klyuchevskoy contained some ash and drifted about 140 km E during 16-19 December. A weak thermal anomaly was visible on 16 December. The Aviation colour Code remained at Orange.

Pacaya | Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that during 24-26 December Strombolian explosions at Pacaya’s Mackenney cone ejected material as high as 50 m above the main cone. A 100-m-long lava flow on the W flank was visible.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.


Philippines – Floods hit 4 towns in Camarines Sur. Some rivers and spillways in Camarines Sur’s first district overflowed due to heavy rainfall, causing a surge of water in low-lying areas. In Ragay town, flooding reached to hip-deep in Barangay Poblacion Ilaod, affecting 175 families (735 persons in total). In Barangay Panaytayan, also in Ragay, at least 269 families (1,022 people) were affected when the Ragay River overflowed. Other villages affected by flooding were Apad, Amomokpok, and Laguio. The public market in Barangay Sinuknipan in Del Gallego town was also flooded.

Global Warming

Spring foliage appearing early in the Alps

Because of global warming, trees in the Alps are coming into leaf earlier than they used to – which could have negative consequences for forest ecosystems.

In the early 1960s, spring came to the mountains about five weeks after arriving in the lowlands – as observed by the appearance of leaves on the trees. Today, that delay is only about three weeks, says the Swiss Federal Research Station for Forest, Snow and Landscape in a report published on Monday.

Researchers came to this conclusion after assessing more than 20,000 observations recorded by volunteers and collected over the past six decades by MeteoSwiss, the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology. The data set pertains to beech, spruce, larch and walnut trees.

Premature leaf and needle development is even more pronounced at higher altitudes, meaning that those trees sprout foliage much faster after a warm winter.

The researchers explain the phenomenon in part by how long the trees are exposed to temperatures of 0-8°C (32-46°F) at the end of winter. The trees need this frost-free cold phase so that the buds can awake from their hibernation and develop normally in spring.

According to the study, this in turn has consequences for the structure and functioning of forest ecosystems, especially the interactions between plants and animals.

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Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 Earthquake hits the Mid-Indian ridge.

5.3 Earthquake hits north of the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits Guerrero, Mexico.

5.0 Earthquake hits Kepulauan Talaud, Indonesia.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

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In the Western Pacific: Tropical Depression 33w (Tembin), located approximately 198 nm southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and is tracking westward at 05 knots.


Vietnam – Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a tropical storm Tembin approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.

New Zealand – Parts of Wellington have been hit by flooding as the summer dry spell breaks in a dramatic fashion. On Tuesday morning, more rain fell in the Capital in one hour than in the past 48 days.


Wildfires – Iran

While winter is not normally thought of as wildfire season, a number of small wildfires have swept across several locations in its first week. At least three incidents have been reported this week following the huge blaze in the drought-stricken Meiqan Wetland located in Markazi Province on Dec. 22, which was linked to human activity. On Sunday, fire broke out in Abr Forest in Shahroud, Semnan Province and Bandar-e Gaz in Golestan Province saw flames erupted in the county’s woodlands in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Wildfires – California

On Christmas Doay 1,500 firefighters and crew members worked around the clock to douse hot spots, maintain containment lines and mop up parts of the more than 280,000 acres charred by the massive Thomas Fire. Since it ignited Dec. 4, the fire has destroyed more than a thousand structures, spread from Santa Paula to Ventura and wrapped around Ojai before pushing toward Santa Barbara and inland forests. The fire is mostly contained now and is not expected to grow further.


Malaria – Angola

Health officials in Uíge Province in northwestern Angola have reported 275,000 malaria cases for the first 11 months of 2017. In addition, 700 malaria-related deaths were recorded, primarily in children.

Listeriosis – South Africa

In a follow-up on the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, since the beginning of the year through Dec. 21, a total of 658 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). In addition, the number of fatalities has risen to 61. Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (62%, 408/658).

Hepatitis E – Namibia

Officials with the Namibian Ministry of Health are reporting an hepatitis E outbreak in the capital city of Windhoek. 27 Cases have been reported with one death. The majority of hepatitis E cases during the current outbreak have reported in informal settlements where water and sanitation are compromised.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits St Martin, Leeward islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits south of Panama.

5.0 Earthquake hits central Peru.

5.0 Earthquake hits Samoa.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Western Pacific: Tropical storm 33w (Tembin), located approximately 208 nm southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and is tracking westward at 10 knots.

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Hepatitis A outbreak: Europe

An Hepatitis A outbreak has expanded to 22 European countries since the end of September – including England and Wales – and has affected almost 1,000 people. Twenty two countries were affected by the outbreak, including England, Wales, France, Germany and Italy. Since the outbreak started in June 2016, 3,813 cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed. The viral infection was mainly affecting “men that have sex with men”.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Uganda

Nakaseke district Veterinary Authorities have suspended the slaughter of cattle ahead of Christmas. This follows an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in four of the districts sub-counties.


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.


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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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”.