LARGEST QUAKES -
This morning -
5.1 OFF COAST OF O'HIGGINS, CHILE
5.0 OFF COAST OF AISEN, CHILE
5.1 SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS
5.9 LUZON, PHILIPPINES
5.2 SOUTHEAST OF EASTER ISLAND
5.1 SOUTHERN MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
5.1 SOUTH OF FIJI ISLANDS
5.0 SOUTHERN PERU
OKLAHOMA - The U.S. Geological Survey recorded three earthquakes in central Oklahoma in a span of less than seven hours. A 3.7 magnitude quake was recorded near Prague in Lincoln County about 9:35 p.m. Sunday. That was followed by a 2.7 magnitude quake in the same area about 3:20 a.m. Monday and a 2.8 magnitude quake in the area just after 4:15 Monday morning. No injuries or damage are reported. People as far away as Tulsa and Claremore reported feeling the 3.7 quake.
ICELAND - A volcano spouting lava in the south of Iceland showed signs of increased activity on Monday, leading scientists to warn it could trigger a far more powerful eruption at a nearby geological hotspot. The eruption near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, which began shortly before midnight on Saturday, sent steam 4 kilometres up in the air and is gradually intensifying. Another scientist said he was concerned the activity could cause an eruption at Mount Katla, an "enormously powerful" volcano lying under a glacier nearby. "Eyjafjallajokull hardly makes a move without Mount Katla wanting to get in on the action. It is therefore of utmost importance to watch events carefully."
An eruption at Mount Katla could melt huge amounts of ice and cause massive floods, potentially affecting a town of 300 people nearby. Three previous eruptions at Eyjafjallajokull have triggered eruptions at Mount Katla. On Sunday, rescue teams evacuated 500 people from the rural area around the volcano and police declared a local state of emergency. International flights were diverted because of the risk of interference from ash clouds. Iceland sits on a volcanic hotspot in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and has relatively frequent eruptions, though most occur in sparsely populated areas and pose little danger to people or property. The last eruption in Iceland took place in 2004.
There are volcanic eruptions in Iceland every three years on average. The fiercest eruption that has occurred in Iceland in historic times is the 1783-1758 eruption in Lakagígar. Approximately 80 percent of all sheep and 50 percent of horses and cattle died due to fluorine poisoning and at least every fifth Icelander, around 10,000 people, died from hunger. Ash was carried to the European mainland and other continents — thousands died from poisoning in the British Isles. The climate cooled which caused famine in many countries, including France. So the Lakagígar eruption is believed to have helped fuel the French Revolution in 1789.
TROPICAL STORMS -
Tropical depression 02W was 369 nmi SW of Agana, Guam.
Cyclone TWENTYONE was 1920 nmi WNW of Perth, Australia.
The first western Pacific tropical storm of the year could develop in the upcoming days. A cluster of thunderstorms organized into a tropical depression (02W) east of the Philippines on Sunday. As it develops, it will take a track toward the Philippines. It is not expected to become very strong, but it still poses a threat to the central and northern Philippines later this week. It is not unusual to see tropical storms develop this early in the year. The Western Pacific Basin is the most prolific tropical basin in the world. On average, 31 tropical storms develop every year, nearly double any other basin on Earth. (map)
Tropical hurricanes may begin to reach continental Europe’s western shores in 30 to 50 years, said the chief scientist at Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer. There have been two hurricanes in the eastern Atlantic off the coasts of Portugal, Spain and France just in the past five years. “This is a wake-up call for Europe. The areas most affected will obviously be those on the western coasts, including Spain and Portugal.”
Hurricane Vince, which formed in 2005 over the northeast Atlantic near Portugal’s Azores islands in waters considered too cold for a hurricane, was the first to come close to European shores. In October 2005, Tropical Depression Vince became the first ever such weather system to hit Spain. In September 2006, Hurricane Gordon swept through the Azores, before lashing Spain with winds gusting at more than 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour.
Munich Re and other insurance companies are being hit with more claims as damages from natural catastrophes rise. Costs to clean up after storms and other natural disasters reached a record in 2005 at $180 billion, of which insurers covered about half.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
FLORIDA - Winter killed all of Alachua county's mustard greens, much of other crops. The record-breaking cold winter is officially over, but the effects on area crops and plants still are being felt. Four crops in Alachua County were hit hard by the cold. The county's crop of mustard green crops are a 100 percent loss. Collard greens, strawberries and cabbage in the county each were listed as having a 50 percent loss. Tomato growers in the state lost about 70 percent of their crop, causing shortages at restaurants and higher prices in the stores. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in crop damage statewide. The final figure will depend on how much is replanted and sold as temperatures warm up. Gainesville experienced its second-coldest winter ever, tying the average temperature for the winter of 1962-63 with 52 degrees. The coldest winter recorded in Alachua County was the winter of 1963-64 when the average temperature was 51.7 degrees.
The winter of 2009-10 in Europe will make its way into the history books as being THE HARSHEST WINTER BRITAIN AND WESTERN EUROPE HAS SEEN IN THE LAST 31 YEARS.
EXTREME HEAT / WILDFIRES / DROUGHT / CLIMATE CHANGE -
Flowers losing scent due to climate change - A rose may stop smelling like a rose. This is the concern of environmentalists as flowers are losing their scent due to climate change and air pollution. And their fragrance may be lost forever. "The aroma producing chemical compounds in flowers dry up faster now compared with before."
Malaysians can no longer rely on nature to heal itself without the help of science. In Sungai Siput, Perak, the farmers failed to get fruits from their orchards. Upon investigation, they discovered that the flowers were no longer pollinating after dust from a hill blast blocked the growth of stigmas. Climate change is also the reason Kuala Lumpur City Hall is increasingly turning to shady trees, because flowers which previously formed the centrepiece of its beautification programme have been wilting fast. City Hall used to spend $635,100 a month to plant and maintain flowers in the city, but the contractor's services were terminated in March last year. The lack of scent is a plausible reason as to why some pollinators are not spreading flower seeds, a pattern caused by the missing "scent trail" with scent tissues burning easily due to global warming.
The only way out is to genetically modify the flowers so that the effects will not be permanent and the future generation will not be robbed of nature's beauty. "The act is almost like producing essential oils. Scientists add on certain chemicals for stronger scent." Scents in flowers last longer in colder climate as plants can hold onto their essential oils longer. "The flowers may still have strong scents in colder climate. But locally, we fear this might be lost forever." With flowers emitting lesser scent, the insects and butterflies are travelling further and longer to get a share of nectar. Birds and insects are heading towards hilly areas and deeper into the jungles where the weather is cooler. The extreme weather change might affect the life span of trees as a result of lighter or heavier rain. "We should look at how trees can be mutated so that they will not be destroyed." The Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister said given the extreme climate changes, every country should work together and not in isolation. The decline in global biodiversity and ecosystem services urgently calls for proactive measures. "Both policy-makers and researchers need to work hand in hand to strengthen forest genetics, breeding and conservation."
NEW - A free, searchable research site featuring hundreds of important government documents related to natural disasters and extreme weather.
HEALTH THREATS -
Pandemic flu activity remained at uncharacteristically low levels for week 10 of the season, though the virus is still circulating amid anecdotal reports of increased activity in a few southern U.S. locations.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says the state had the nation's highest rates of vaccination against both H1N1 and seasonal flu. The immunization rates in Massachusetts were 36% for H1N1 and 57% for seasonal flu, versus 21% and 37% nationwide.
Limited data point to increasing pandemic flu activity in parts of Central America and the Caribbean. Other hot spots are parts of Southeast Asia and West Africa, including Thailand, Bangladesh, and Ghana. Though flu levels are declining in most of the Northern Hemisphere, influenza B is increasing in some European countries and is dominant in several Asian countries, Iran, Mongolia, and the Russian Federation.
A study of pregnant women treated in intensive care units for pandemic flu in Australia and New Zealand last summer suggests that the risk of critical illness was greater during later pregnancy, when it was about 13 times higher than in nonpregnant young women. Indigenous women and those with chronic conditions such as asthma were at greater risk than other pregnant women.