Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.4 earthquake hits the Kuril Islands.

5.3 earthquake hits southern Alaska.

5.3 earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.3 earthquake hits near the north coast of Papua, Indonesia.

5.2 earthquake hits Guam.

5.1 earthquake hits the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 earthquake hits the Myanmar-India border.

5.0 earthquake hits offshore Oaxaca, Mexico.

5.0 earthquake hits Tonga.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

Iran – More severe flooding has affected parts of southern Iran over the last few days, with around 1,200 homes damaged and thousands of people displaced in Kerman Province. Flooding has affected 300 villages in 11 counties of Kerman Province since around 18 January. IRCS teams have supported over 12,000 people affected by the floods, and provided emergency shelter to 1,050 households. Roads have been blocked, hindering access to some affected areas. Furthermore, severe weather conditions until late 19 January, including heavy rain, fog and wind, made it impossible to carry out relief and rescue efforts by air.

Zambia – An estimated 15,000 people from 3,500 households have been affected by flooding in Southern Province in Zambia over the last few days. As of 17 January 2022, flooding had affected wide areas of Namwala District, Southern Province, which is situated close to the Kafue River. Flooding has inundated land and homes and disrupted the lives of at least 3,000 households. Flooding was also reported in Choma district of Southern Province, close to Lake Kariba and the border with Zimbabwe. Around 500 families are thought to be affected and 110 households displaced. Flooding has cut road access in parts of both districts, making it impossible for some affected families to relocate.

Wildlife

Manatee Deaths

A record number of Florida’s protected manatees died during 2021, with the 1,101 deaths more than double the five-year average. Most were along the state’s eastern coast, where pollution-fed algae blooms were the main cause. The blooms are responsible for wiping out thousands of acres of seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon, a major feeding area for manatees.

Pristine Coral Reef Discovered

Scientists have discovered a vast, pristine reef of giant rose-shaped corals off the coast of Tahiti apparently unharmed by the bleaching effects of the warming ocean due to climate change, UNESCO announced Thursday.

Mapping approximately 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) long and up to 65 meters (213 feet) wide, UNESCO said it was “one of the most extensive healthy coral reefs on record.”

The United Nations heritage agency said it was “highly unusual” to find healthy coral in cooler waters between 30 and 65 meters deep and that it could suggest that there are more reefs in that ocean depth range that are safer from the impacts of warming waters.

Fish-Breeding Seabed

Scientists say they have discovered the world’s largest fish-breeding area, located in the south of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea.

Trolling with underwater cameras, they captured images of thousands of Jonah’s icefish nests on the seabed, with a density of about one nest per 30 square feet, which suggests about 60 million breeding sites blanket the seabed. “I went on an expedition to this region about 25 years ago, and one of the big questions then was where do these icefish breed,” said British Antarctic Survey scientist Katrin Linse. “Finding an assemblage on this scale is just mind-blowing to me.”

Global Warming

No Quick Fix for Global Warming in Greenland

The warming that humans cause today may have ripple effects far into the future, scientists warned in a study yesterday that finds the vast Greenland ice sheet could continue melting for centuries after greenhouse gases are stabilized. Greenland has a delayed response to changes in the Earth’s climate, and even if the planet stopped warming tomorrow, Greenland may continue losing ice for hundreds or even thousands of years.

During periods of natural cooling, for instance, the ice sheet has begun to grow—and then it continued to grow for some time even after the climate starts warming again. Eventually, the ice sheet flips and starts to shrink again. Then it continues shrinking even after temperatures stop rising.

That’s because the Greenland ice sheet is such a large, complex system. The ice sheet is so large that once it starts losing ice at faster and faster speeds, it can take a long time to slow back down again.

Environment

Mass Extinction

Earth’s sixth mass extinction is currently accelerating, and a new study points out that it is the only one in the planet’s history to be caused by human activity.

“Drastically increased rates of species extinctions and declining abundances of many animal and plant populations are well documented, yet some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction,” said lead researcher Robert Cowie. Writing in the journal Biological Reviews, he and his colleagues estimate that between 7.5% and 13% of Earth’s 2 million known species may already be lost. Some critics of the alarm over the man-made “biological annihilation” of wildlife say this it merely a new and natural trend, with humans just playing the dominant role in Earth’s evolutionary history.

Environment

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 46.7 degrees Celsius (116 degrees F) at Oodnadatta, South Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 51.7 degrees Celsius (-61 degrees F) at Oimyakon, 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 – Australia

For the past two weeks, pastoralists, including Tim and Chris Higham, in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region have been battling ferocious bushfires that have destroyed property and livestock. When lightning struck on January 6, three fires broke out in the area, plus another further north. Combined with strong winds and a significant fuel load, two of the fires joined together to form one mammoth blaze.

More than 340,000 hectares have been burnt across the Gascoyne Complex fires, according to DFES incident controller Peter Norman. Although the fires have now been brought under control, firefighters remain cautious about possible flare-ups.

Disease

Covid-19

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

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Dengue Fever – Brazil

Health officials in Minas Gerais, Brazil are reporting 814 probable and 178 confirmed dengue fever cases through January 20. No deaths from dengue have been confirmed to date.

DR Congo

Monkeypox – Health authorities reported an additional 189 total monkeypox cases. including two deaths in the past two weeks, bringing the country total for 2021 to 3,087 cases with 83 deaths (CFR 2.7%) through December 26.

Plague – Eight additional human plague cases were reported in the DRC since the last update two weeks prior. This year through December 26, 138 suspected pneumonic plague cases including 14 deaths (CFR: 10.1%) were reported in eight health zones in Ituri province.

Polio – The World Health Organization reports two additional circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases, bringing the total for 2021 to 19 confirmed.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – Ongoing Activity for the week 12 January – 18 January 2022

Aira – Kyushu (Japan) : JMA reported that incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible at night during 10-17 January. Seismic data showed a decreasing number of volcanic earthquakes.

Fuego – Guatemala : INSIVUMEH reported that 6-13 explosions per hour were recorded at Fuego during 12-18 January, generating ash plumes that rose as high as 1.1 km above the crater rim. The ash plumes mainly drifted 10-20 km S and SW causing almost daily ashfall in areas downwind including Morelia (9 km SW), Panimaché I and II (8 km SW), Santa Sofía (12 km SW), El Porvenir (8 km ENE), Sangre de Cristo (8 km WSW), and La Rochela. Ash plumes drifted as far as 20 km E and NE during 14-16 January. Daily, periodic shock waves rattled structures in communities around the volcano. Block avalanches descended the flanks in all directions, but most commonly were visible in the Ceniza (SSW), Seca (W), Trinidad (S), Taniluyá (SW), Honda, and Las Lajas (SE) drainages, often reaching vegetated areas. Explosions ejected incandescent material up to 150-350 m above the summit during 12-16 January.

Great Sitkin – Andreanof Islands (USA) : AVO reported that slow lava effusion at Great Sitkin continued during 12-18 January, though cloudy conditions prevented satellite and webcam confirmation. Seismicity was very low and small events were occasionally recorded. Steam emissions were observed in webcam views during 14-15 January.

Karymsky – Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported increased explosive activity at Karymsky and a thermal anomaly visible in satellite images during 7-8 and 11-12 January. Explosions during 11-13 January produced ash plumes that drifted almost 130 km in various directions.

Kilauea – Hawaiian Islands (USA) : HVO reported that lava effusion resumed at the vent in the lower W wall of Kilauea’s Halema`uma`u Crater at around 1840 on 11 January. The level of the lava lake had increased 13 m by about 0300 on 12 January, slightly surpassing the level prior to the pause that began on 10 January; the lake has risen a total of 70 m since the beginning of the eruption. During 12-14 January the lake was active and lava oozed out along the crusted-over E margins. A surge in lava effusion at the vent was recorded at 0545 on 15 January, coincident with a peak in summit inflation. Effusion had paused by the afternoon, though minor activity at the vent on the N side of the spatter cone, minor overturns of the lake, and small oozes of lava at the lake’s margins persisted. The lake level dropped 10 m by the morning of 16 January. Small overturns of the crusted lake were visible during 16-17 January. By 18 January the lake was completely crusted over and a small wispy plume rose from the vent.

Lewotolok – Lembata Island (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Lewotolok continued during 11-16 January. Ash plumes rose as high as 700 m above the summit and drifted E, SE, and W during 11-14 January. Incandescent material ejected up to 300-700 m SE from the vent was accompanied by rumbling and banging noises. Eruption noises persisted through 16 January but weather prevented visual confirmation of activity during 15-16 January.

Merapi – Central Java (Indonesia) : BPPTKG reported no significant morphological changes at Merapi’s lava domes, located just below the SW rim and in the summit crater, during 6-13 January. The intensity of the seismic signals remained at high levels. As many as 123 lava avalanches traveled a maximum of 2.2 km SW down the Bebeng drainage, and four pyroclastic flows traveled a maximum of 2.5 km SW.

Pavlof – United States : AVO reported that elevated seismicity at Pavlof during 12-18 January was characterized by daily periods of tremor. Elevated surface temperatures consistent with lava effusion near the vent and the active lava flow on the SE flank were identified in satellite images almost daily; weather clouds prevented views for periods of time during 12-13 January.

Rincon de la Vieja – Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that at 0024 on 13 January a two-minute eruption was recorded at Rincón de la Vieja, though weather clouds prevented visual confirmation. Residents to the N heard the eruption and felt vibrations, and lahars were seen in the Rio Azul. Small eruptive events were recorded at 1153 on 15 January and 1243 on 18 January, but plumes were not visible due to weather clouds.

Semeru – Eastern Java (Indonesia) : PVMBG reported that the eruption at Semeru continued during 12-17 January. White steam plumes that were sometimes dense rose as high as 1 km above the summit almost daily, and crater incandescence was visible nightly. Incandescent avalanches traveled as far as 500 m down the Kobokan drainage on the SE flank during 11-12 January. White-and-gray ash plumes rose 300 m during 14-15 January. At 1020 on 16 January a collapse from the end of the active lava flow in the Kobokan drainage produced a pyroclastic flow, and an ash plume that rose 1.5 km and drifted N. An eruptive event at 0534 on 17 January generated an ash plume that a ground observer reported rising 400 m.

Semisopochnoi – Aleutian Islands (USA) : AVO reported that low-level eruptive activity and elevated seismicity at Semisopochnoi’s North Cerberus cone continued during 12-18 January. A small explosion was recorded by local seismic and infrasound sensors during 12-13 January. The weather was mostly cloudy, though low-level ash clouds were occasionally visible in webcam images during 12-15 January. Steam emissions were visible in 15-16 January webcam images.

Sheveluch – Central Kamchatka (Russia) : KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Sheveluch was identified in satellite images during 8-14 January. Intense steam-and-gas emissions with ash were visible during 6-7 and 9-11 January; plumes rose as high as 5 km (16,400 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 175 km W.

Suwanosejima – Ryukyu Islands (Japan) : JMA reported that incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible nightly during 10-17 January. There were 157 explosions recorded, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 2 km above the crater rim and ejected material up to 800 m away from the crater. Eruption sounds were heard in Toshima village (4 km SSW). Volcanologists observed ash-and-steam plumes rising from the crater during an overflight on 17 January.

Turrialba – Costa Rica : OVSICORI-UNA reported that incandescence from Turrialba’s West Crater was visible overnight during 15-16 January. Eruptive events were recorded at 2126 and 2132 on 17 January; the second event was stronger and produced an ash-and-gas plume that rose 1 km above the crater. Ashfall and a sulfur odor were reported by residents in Coronado, Tres Rios (30 km SW), Alajuela (50 km W), and Santa Ana (46 km WSW). At 1115 on 18 January an eruptive event produced a plume that rose 300 m and drifted SW.

Whakaari/White Island – North Island (New Zealand) : On 18 January GeoNet reported results from an overflight of Whakaari/White Island the week before, noting a significant decrease of temperatures at the active vent area and a small decrease in gas emissions. Temperatures in the main vent area were as high as 191 degrees Celsius, a decrease from a high value of 516 measured in December. Gas emissions had slightly decreased since December; both sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide gas emission rates were slightly below the 10-year average. Both the gas-emission and temperature data were consistent with a degassing magma body below the surface. Very minor ash emissions continued to be visible with deposits only extending around the active vents. The water in the lake had receded likely due to recent dry weather conditions.

Yasur – Vanuatu : The Wellington VAAC reported that on 15 January intermittent low-level ash plumes from Yasur rose 1.5 km (5,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SE. Ashfall was reported in nearby villages. A Sentinel satellite image acquired that same day showed a strip of ash deposits in areas to the NW. Continuous, low-level ash plumes were visible in satellite and webcam images on 17 and 18 January rising to 1.5 km a.s.l. and drifting SE and W, respectively.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

5.7 earthquake hits Seram, Indonesia.

5.0 earthquake hits near the coast of Nicaragua.

5.0 earthquake hits the southwest Indian ridge.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Texas, USA

A wildfire in a Central Texas state park forced the evacuation of dozens of homes Tuesday in the city of Bastrop and officials said a prescribed burn may be to blame. The fire started in Bastrop State Park as wind gusts of up to 20 mph (32 kph) spread the flames. About 640 acres (249 hectares) have burned.

Disease

Covid-19

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

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Botulism – Ukraine

The Ukraine Ministry of Health reported 88 outbreaks of botulism in 2021, as a result of which 98 people became ill, including three children. Ten cases were fatal.

Syphilis – Japan

Health officials in Japan reported 7,873 syphilis cases in 2021, the highest number of cases in years.

Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity – New Activity for the week 12 January – 18 January 2022

Barren Island – Andaman Islands (India) : The Darwin VAAC reported that during 1700-2200 on 8 January and 1200-1700 on 9 January ash plumes from Barren Island rose to 1.2 km (4,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted W and WSW.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai – Tonga Islands : Large eruptions at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai on both 14 and 15 January produced plumes that reached the stratosphere and caused significant regional effects. Activity on the 14th apparently removed approximately the middle third of the island that had been expanded over the previous few weeks, revealed by a Planet Lab image acquired at 1525 on 15 January. About two hours after that image was taken an even stronger eruption activity produced a stratospheric plume seen in satellite images, sent pressure waves across the atmosphere, and caused tsunami that traversed the Pacific. Following these explosions, a Sentinel image acquired on 17 January showed that most of the previous combined island had been destroyed, leaving only small parts of the NE island of Hunga Tonga (200 m long) and the SW island of Hunga Ha’apai (700 m long) above the ocean surface.

A sub-aerial eruption that began at 0420 on 14 January produced mushroom-shaped ash, steam, and gas plumes that rose as high as 20 km (65,600 ft) a.s.l., into the stratosphere, and expanded radially at the top of the plume to 240 m in diameter, according to the Tonga Geological Services (TGS). Geologists observing from a boat around 1700-1830 in the afternoon noted that the plume was about 5 km wide at its base, with Surtseyan pulses ejecting dark dense material into the air, and pyroclastic flows expanding over the ocean. The eruption plume drifted over the island groups of Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai, and Vava’u, carrying an estimated sulfur dioxide mass of 0.05 Tg (50,000 tonnes) based on satellite data. Sulfur odors were reported in Tongatapu (70 km S), near the capital on Motutapu Island, and on ‘Eua (106 km SSE). Ashfall was reported on many islands, including Fonoi and Mango (75 km ENE). The Tonga Meteorological Services (TMS) issued tsunami warnings for areas including ‘otu Mu’omu’a in Ha’apai (Nomuka, Mango, Fonoifua), ‘Atataa, ‘Eueiki, and Tongatapu mo ‘Eua. At 2000 on 14 January a tsunami with a height of 20 cm was recorded by the Nuku’olofa tide gauge. TMS warned residents to stay away from low-lying coastal areas, beaches, and harbors. The Wellington VAAC noted that the eruption was intermittent during 0043-0604 on 15 January; plumes rose to altitudes of 14 km (45,900 ft) a.s.l. The Global Lightning Detection Network (GLD360) ground-based network detected 191,309 lightning events during a 21-hour period (0334 on 14 January-0134 on 15 January), or up to 30,000 events per hour; for comparison, during 22-28 December 2018 the partial collapse eruption of Krakatau generated 337,000 events. TGS noted that at 0720 on 15 January an eruption lasting 10-15 minutes sent an ash plume to 14 km (45,900 ft) a.s.l. that drifted E.

A larger, submarine eruption began at 1700 on 15 January. According to news reports and social media posts, residents in Nuku’alofa (65 km S) heard multiple loud booms and saw a large expanding eruption plume that eventually covered all of the Tongan islands. According to the Wellington VAAC the plume had risen to 15.2 km (50,000 ft) a.s.l. by 1819; the top of the plume as seen in satellite images was at least 600 km in diameter by 1903. During 1719-2300 there were almost 400,000 lightning events recorded in the plume by the GLD360 network, with 200,000 of those during 1800-1900. By 0343 on 16 January the plume had risen to 19.2 km (63,000 ft) a.s.l. Analysis of other satellite datasets suggested that the plume may have risen to 30 km (98,400) a.s.l. The sulfur dioxide mass of the plume was 0.4 Tg (400,000 tonnes) derived from satellite-based estimates; the cloud drifted W consistent with stratospheric winds. Significant ashfall was reported on populated islands of Tonga, 70-100 km E. News articles noted that some residents had difficulty breathing from the ash in the air.

Most domestic and international communications on the islands were severed due to a break in an underwater cable, and ashfall has delayed both damage assessment and relief assistance. An update on 18 January from the Government of Tonga provided details about the eruption and its effects, noting that tsunami warnings issued after the eruption began had triggered evacuations. Tsunami waves up to 2 m high, based on a news article, arrived on the W coasts of the Tongatapu, ‘Eua, and Ha’apai islands, and three people in Tonga were confirmed to have died as a result, with many others injured. Extensive damage was reported on Mango, Fonoifua, and Nomuka islands, and on the W part of Tongatapu. Aerial surveillance by the New Zealand Defence Force’s showed brown, damaged vegetation and landscapes, debris, and modified coastlines with sediment-laden waters. The Government of Tonga also noted that communications to the outer islands were accomplished with a patrol boat on 17 January, and limited communication with residents of Vava’u and Ha’apai was possible the next day. Evacuation efforts were underway for some remote islands. Ashfall contaminated fresh water supplies, hindered sea transportation and harbor access, and caused flights to be cancelled. According to a news report the small island of Atata, near Nuku’alofa, had been completely submerged. Tsunami warnings were also issued in several other countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean. Several news sources reported flooding and damage caused by the tsunamis at locations as far away as Peru (over 10,000 km), where it caused two deaths. Warnings were issued for the N and E coasts of New Zealand’s North Island and the Chatham Islands; multiple boats were destroyed. Thousands in Japan evacuated after tsunami warnings, and the waves there reached 80 cm, disrupting train services, flights, and damaging harbors and boats. In Anchorage, Alaska, the US National Weather Service reported maximum waves heights of 20-100 cm on Alaskan coastlines, and along the British Columbia coast waves were 16-29 cm on 15 January.

The explosions produced multiple pressure (shock) waves that rippled through surrounding weather clouds, though the pressure wave from the largest explosion propagated across the planet. The sonic boom from this wave was heard at great distances, including in Fiji (about 500 km NW), within about two hours in New Zealand (1,600-2,000 km), and within about nine hours in Alaska, USA (9,370 km NE). The pressure wave was also recorded by infrasound and weather instruments worldwide as it circled the Earth, with instruments picking up the wave a second time as it arrived from the opposite direction. Very small perturbances in the ocean waves recorded in the Caribbean, which some referred to as meteotsunamis, were likely generated by atmospheric disturbances from the pressure waves after they passed over South America.

Piton de la Fournaise – Reunion Island (France) : OVPF reported that the eruption at Piton de la Fournaise continued during 10-16 January. Weather clouds often obscured views of the vent, though visual observations were made daily. Lava was sometimes ejected above the crater rim. The lava lake periodically rose and overflowed the cone during 10-13 January, sending flows down the flanks, and several breakouts of lava were visible on the flow field. The flow on the S margin of the field slowly advanced to the S wall of Enclos Fouqué. Activity decreased for a period of time during 14-15 January. Activity increased again during 15-16 January, though no overflows of the lake were recorded and lava was only periodically ejected above the rim. Some small vegetation fires were visible near the base of the caldera wall. Tremor decreased and the eruption ceased at 0210 on 17 January.

Wolf – Isla Isabela (Ecuador) : On 13 January IG reported that the eruption at Wolf was continuing, but at decreasing levels. Lava from at least three fissures had traveled about 16.5 km SE, and covered an estimated 7.4 square kilometers, but had not reached the coast. Daily counts of thermal anomalies were in the hundreds but had progressively decreased in quantity and intensity in recent days, interpreted as a decrease in the effusion rate and cooling flows. Notices of ash-and-gas plumes were issued by the Washington VAAC on 7-8 January, noting that plumes decreased from 2.6 km to 300 m above the vent. Additionally, sulfur dioxide emissions decreased from 60,000 tons per days recorded on 7 January to 8,100 tons per day on 12 January. Seismicity also trended downward.

Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 earthquake hits southwest of Africa.

5.0 earthquake hits Taiwan.

5.0 earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic ridge.

5.0 earthquake hits west of Macquarie Island.