Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.7 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.2 earthquake hits south of Panama.

5.2 earthquake hits the mid-Indian ridge.

5.0 earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Northwest Pacific Ocean: Typhoon 28w (Rai), located approximately 278 nm south-southwest of Manilla, Philippines, is tracking westward at 12 knots.

Tropical depression 29w (Twenty-nine), located approximately 190 nm north-northwest of Singapore, is tracking westward at 10 knots.

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NewsBytes:

Iraq – At least 8 people have died and more are feared missing after flash floods struck in the city of Erbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, for the second time in 6 weeks. Authorities said heavy rain began to fall late on 16 December 2021, causing floods in the city of Erbil and surrounding areas of Erbil governorate early the following day. Cars, buses and trucks were swept along streets in a repeat of the flash floods that struck in Erbil in late October this year.

Wildlife

True ‘Millipede’ Discovered

Scientists have discovered the world’s first true millipede, a study said Thursday, describing a long, thin and segmented creature with a whopping 1,306 legs – more than any other animal ever.

The record-setting species was discovered 60 metres underground in a drill hole in a mining area in Western Australia and has been dubbed Eumillipes persephone. The string-like creature is less than a millimetre wide but nearly 10 centimetres long and has a cone-shaped head with enormous antennae and a beak for feeding.

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Rodent Resistance

Efforts to entirely eradicate invasive mice from a remote South Atlantic island appear to have failed, causing the project’s leader to say he is “heartbroken.”

Gough Island is roughly midway between the southern tip of Africa and South America, and is home to one of the world’s largest seabird nesting colonies. Mice brought there by sailors in the 19th century have since eaten untold numbers of eggs and chicks. Early this year, scientists targeted the mice with poison. But footage from a remote camera recently revealed that at least one mouse had survived.

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Environment

Plastic Pollution

Scientists say they have found evidence that microbes in the soil and sea are evolving to eat plastic.

Scientists at Sweden’s Chalmers University say the evolution is occurring most rapidly in places containing the most plastic pollution. The global proliferation of plastic over the past 70 years has given the microbes enough time to evolve and to produce enzymes to degrade different plastics. “Currently, very little is known about these plastic-degrading enzymes, and we did not expect to find such a large number of them across so many different microbes and environmental habitats,” said systems biologist Aleksej Zelezniak.

He added that further research could potentially create new, powerful microbial enzymes designed to eat specific types of plastic.

Global Warming

Climate change is fueling new violent conflict in Africa

Violent confrontations over increasingly scarce water in Africa have broken out in northern Cameroon, causing more than 30,000 people to flee into neighboring Chad, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Since Sunday, 22 people have been killed and 30 others seriously injured in fighting between fishermen and farmers, which follows an eruption of violence in August, which led to 45 deaths and forced 23,000 Cameroonians to leave their homes.

The root cause, according to the United Nations, is the dramatic decrease of water levels in Lake Chad, which has lost 90 percent of its surface area since 1963 due to overuse and climate change. The water body is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of the population who need water to carry out their daily activities. The dwindling of water resources has led to fighting over what is left.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 45.0 degrees Celsius (113 degrees F) at Mardie, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 52.2 degrees Celsius (-62 degrees F) at Shologonsky, Siberia.

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.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Brazil

Amid the bleakness of 2020, scientists in Brazil concluded a particularly grim conservation study – attempting to count the animals killed by huge wildfires in the Pantanal wetlands.

They estimate that as many as 17 million vertebrates – including reptiles, birds and primates – died.

Wildfires burned between January and November, destroying 30% of the world’s largest tropical wetland. These fires were unusual because of their scale and were clearly linked to the mega-drought that [the area] was experiencing at that time.

The extremely high number of snakes that were killed makes us wonder about the cascade effects. “nakes are usually predators on small mammals, frogs. This impact may result in an unimaginable unbalance in the ecosystem.

Wildfires – Kansas, USA

Several towns and counties in northwest and northcentral Kansas had to battle wildfires. At least a dozen homes burned, and KSN knows of at least three people being hospitalized.

Fires were reported in Sheridan, Trego, Ellis, Russell, Osborne and Rooks County. Fires were also reported in other counties.

Disease

Covid-19

The countries with the 10 greatest number of Covid-19 cases:

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Ebola – DR Congo

In a follow-up on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Beni health zone, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday the 13th EVD outbreak in the country has been declared over. 42-days have passed, or two incubation periods after the last confirmed case.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week 8 December – 14 December 2021

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible at night during 6-13 December. As many as five eruptive events generated plumes that rose 1.2 km above the crater rim.

Etna – Sicily (Italy) : INGV reported that during 6-12 December activity at Etna was characterized by gas emissions from all summit craters and ash emissions from Southeast Crater (SEC); weather conditions prevented views during most of the week. During 6-7 December Strombolian activity at SEC produced almost continuous ash emissions that dispersed ENE. On 8 December the ash emissions were diffuse and discontinuous, and dissipated near the summit. At 1805 on 13 December a new vent opened at the base of the W wall of the Valle del Bove, at 2,180 m elevation. A lava flow emerged from the vents and descended a few hundred meters.

Great Sitkin – Andreanof Islands (USA) : AVO reported that slow lava effusion at Great Sitkin continued during 8-14 December and very low seismicity persisted. Elevated surface temperatures at the summit, that were sometimes intense, were detected overnight during 10-11 and 13-14 December. A radar image acquired during 12-13 December showed a growing flow field.

Karymsky – Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that during 2-3 December explosions at Karymsky generated ash plumes that rose as high as 4.5 km (14,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 235 km ENE. A thermal anomaly was visible in satellite images during 2-4, 7, and 9 December. Dates are based on UTC times.

Kilauea – Hawaiian Islands (USA) : HVO reported that lava effusion continued at a vent in the lower W wall of Kilauea’s Halema`uma`u Crater on most days during 8-14 December. The vent contained ponded and sometimes spattering lava that fed the lake through the E part of the W wall cone. The size of the active part of the lake varied, and lava periodically oozed from the cooler, outer margins of the lake onto the lowest of the exposed down-dropped caldera floor blocks. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was about 3,500 tonnes per day on 9 December. The eruption paused on 11 December then resumed at 2100 on 13 December.

La Palma – Spain : The eruption at La Palma continued during 8-13 December, characterized by sporadic Strombolian activity, occasional lava jetting, advancing and sometimes branching lava flows, and daily ash-and-gas emissions. Seismicity was low at depths of 10-15 km and very low at depths of 30-40 km. Volcanic tremor levels were also generally low, though they fluctuated near the end of the week concurrent with explosive activity. During 8-12 December activity at several vents in the central and SE part of the main cone was low, with only sporadic pulses of Strombolian activity and ash emissions. Ash-and-gas plumes rose as high as 3.7 km a.s.l. and drifted SSE, SSW, SW, and W. Very intense gas emissions were recorded during 9-11 December. Small landslides from fractured areas in the upper part of the secondary cone (on the E flank) descended the interior part of the crater as well as the flanks. Lava from the vents moved through tubes towards the western part of the flow field, though two main breakout flows traveled W over older flows. The most active area was along the S margin of flow 9, where 9 and 11 had joined, as lava continued to descend the sea cliff and widen in the area of Las Hoyas. During 11-12 December lobes from the S margins of the flow traveled S over new ground in the Las Norias area. On 12 December several strong pulses of tremor were accompanied by intense Strombolian activity, with the most intense events at 1200 and 1730 and decreased activity during 1300-1700. A small overflow of lava from one of the vents traveled N over older flows. One of the more intense periods produced dense dark ash plumes that rose 6 km a.s.l. and ejected bombs (some several meters in diameter) as far as 500 m away from the vent. New collapses were visible in the main cone, enlarging the crater, and at the secondary cone. During 12-13 December lava continued to travel W through tubes in the central part of the flow field. At the S margins lava filled in uncovered areas between flows 9 and 11. On 13 December tremor levels fluctuated with pulses of intense signals. A period of major explosive activity during 1745-1900 ejected bombs towards the N flank and produced ash-and-gas plumes. At 1820 video showed lava jetting above the vent and incandescent material falling onto the flanks. Activity at the vents quieted afterwards; tremor decreased at 2000 and by 2200 had reached background levels. Gas emissions from the vents were at high levels through 14 December. Lava continued to advance from the W base of the main cone on 14 December, though at a much lower rate compared to the day before. Small breakouts were visible near Montaña Cogote and Las Norias. Gas and ash emissions continued to impact island residents. Daily measurements indicated that sulfur dioxide emissions persisted at “high” levels (between 1,000 and 29,999 tons per day). Suspended ash and high concentrations of volcanic gases, specifically sulfur dioxide, triggered periodic air-quality alerts mostly affecting the W part of the island including Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso, and Tazacorte; authorities warned residents of affected areas to stay indoors. Residents and essential personnel were often barred from entering the exclusion zones to irrigate crops, gather belongings, and remove ash from streets and buildings, especially in Las Manchas, Las Norias, and La Bombilla. During 12-13 December diffuse carbon dioxide emissions were 6.9-7.2 times average background levels, specifically impacting the La Bombilla area where dead birds were observed.

Lewotolok – Lembata Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok continued during 8-14 December. Daily white-and-gray ash plumes that were sometimes dense rose as high as 700 m above the summit, though weather conditions prevented visual confirmation during 11-12 December. Incandescent material was ejected from the vent up to 300 m during 7-11 December, and was accompanied by faint rumbling.

Merapi – Central Java (Indonesia) : BPPTKG reported that Merapi’s lava domes, located just below the SW rim and in the summit crater, had both grown during 3-9 December. The estimated dome volumes were almost 1.63 million cubic meters for the SW dome and just over 3 million cubic meters for the summit dome. The intensity of the seismic signals remained at high levels. As many as 190 lava avalanches traveled a maximum of 2 km SW down the Bebeng drainage. Four pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum of 2.2 km SW.

Pavlof – United States : AVO reported seismicity at Pavlof was elevated during 8-14 December, and weak explosive activity was detected by geophysical sensors during 8-11 and 13-14 December. No ash emissions were visible, though satellite and webcam views were often cloudy. Elevated surface temperatures were visible in satellite images during 11-14 December; a lava flow on the E flank was visible in images during 12-13 December.

Semisopochnoi – Aleutian Islands (USA) : AVO reported that low-level eruptive activity and elevated seismicity at Semisopochnoi’s North Cerberus crater continued during 8-14 December. Several daily explosions were detected in seismic and infrasound data. Small ash clouds drifting at least 185 km SE were identified in satellite images during 8-9 December. Persistent steam emissions occasionally punctuated by ash emissions were visible in webcam views during 10-11 December, and ash emissions were visible the next day even though conditions were mostly cloudy.

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 3-10 December.

Suwanosejima – Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that crater incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible nightly during 6-13 December. No explosions were detected by the seismic network, though eruption plumes rose 1-3.4 km and material was ejected 400-700 m away from the crater. Ashfall was reported in Toshima village (4 km SSW).

Whakaari/White Island – North Island (New Zealand) : GeoNet reported results from a 10 December overflight of Whakaari/White Island, noting a significant increase of temperatures at the active vent area. Temperatures in the main vent area were as high as 516 degrees Celsius, an increase from the range of 202-264 degrees Celsius measured in both September and November; temperatures over 500 degrees Celsius were last recorded during July-August. Very minor ash emissions continued to be visible with deposits only extending around the active vents. Gas emissions had possibly decreased, though measurements had not been taken since 18 November. The water in the lake has receded likely due to recent weather conditions.