Daily Archives: September 9, 2014

Earthquake shakes Iceland volcano, still no ash


Date: 09-Sep-14
Country: ICELAND
Author: Robert Robertsson

Picture shows clouds over a 1-km-long fissure in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which covers part of Bardarbunga volcano system, August 29, 2014.
Photo: Marco Nescher

An earthquake struck the region around Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano on Sunday while fissures in the area continued to spew out lava but still none of the ash that could hamper airline traffic.

The earthquake occurred at 0708 GMT and reached a magnitude of 5.4, making it one of the bigger quakes in the area in central Iceland since significant tremors began on Aug. 16, often producing thousands of quakes per day.

“There was also another quake, magnitude 4.6 at 0330 (GMT) in the night,” said Bergthora Thorbjarnardottir, geologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

“Seismic activity underneath Bardarbunga volcano is still ongoing but remains steady,” she added.

Lava from the fissures around Bardarbunga has so far reached the surface only on land that is not covered by ice, whereas an eruption under an ice cap may be explosive and result in an ash cloud that could under certain circumstances disrupt aviation.

…(read more).

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BBC News – Animated guide: Tsunamis

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America’s East Coast Mega Tsunami Canary Islands explained

william goodnight Published on Feb 9, 2013

Americas East Coast Megatsunami Canary Islands Geologists S. Day and S. Ward consider that a megatsunami could be generated during a future eruption involving the Cumbre Vieja on the volcanic ocean island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands.[12][13]

In 1949, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted at its Duraznero, Hoyo Negro and San Juan vents. During this eruption, an earthquake with an epicentre near the village of Jedy occurred. The following day Rubio Bonelli, a local geologist, visited the summit area and discovered that a fissure about 2.5 km long had opened on the eastern side of the summit. As a result, the western half of the Cumbre Vieja (which is the volcanically active arm of a triple-armed rift) had slipped about 2 m downwards and 1 m westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean[citation needed].

The Cumbre Vieja volcano is currently in a dormant stage, but will almost certainly erupt again in the future. Day and Ward hypothesize[12][13] that if such an eruption causes the western flank to fail, a megatsunami will be generated.

La Palma is currently the most volcanically active island in the Canary Islands Archipelago. It is likely that several eruptions would be required before failure would occur on Cumbre Vieja.[12][13] However, the western half of the volcano has an approximate volume of 500 km3 (5 x 1011 m3) and an estimated mass of 1.5 x 1015 kg. If it were to catastrophically slide into the ocean, it could generate a wave with an initial height of about 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) at the island, and a likely height of around 50 metres (164 ft) at the Caribbean and the Eastern North American seaboard when it runs ashore eight or more hours later. Tens of millions of lives would be lost as New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Miami, Havana, and many other cities near the Atlantic coast are leveled. The likelihood of this happening is a matter of vigorous debate.[14]

The last Cumbre Vieja eruption occurred in 1971 at the southern end of the sub-aerial section without any movement. The section affected by the 1949 eruption is currently stationary and does not appear to have moved since the initial rupture.[15]

Geologists and volcanologists also disagree about whether an eruption on the Cumbre Vieja would cause a single large gravitational landslide or a series of smaller landslides.

Fly-by of La Palma

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BBC News – Canary Island volcano: A new island in the making?

4 December 2011 Last updated at 00:49
By Rob Hugh-Jones PRI’s The World

An undersea volcano erupting just south of Spain’s Canary Islands may be the beginnings of a new island, or an extension to an existing one. For some, it’s a colourful spectacle – for others a major blow to their livelihood.

“It’s angry today. Look at it go!” says fisherman Elio Morales Rodriguez in the village of La Restinga, on the south coast of El Hierro island.

“That green patch on the water is a dead zone,” he says, looking out to sea. “It kills everything. No fishing, no dive schools, no tourists, just dead fish on the surface.”

For more than a month, the underwater volcano has been erupting three miles to the south of El Hierro, the smallest of the seven Canary Islands, about 50km (30 miles) south-west of its nearest neighbour, La Gomera, and 100km (60 miles) from the most populous of the islands – Tenerife.

…(read more).

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BBC News – US drought and dust storms affect crops

2 July 2014 Last updated at 22:11 BST

Parts of the United States are experiencing the worst drought for decades, with farmers warning that harvests are being badly hit.

The state of Oklahoma has endured persistent drought for the past three-and-a-half years and people there are fearful of a return of the so-called Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s.

The BBC’s science editor David Shukman visited one of the worst-affected areas, known as the Oklahoma Panhandle.

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Dust storm swallows Phoenix, Arizona


4 July 2014 Last updated at 15:49 BST

The American city of Phoenix, Arizona, was hit by a massive dust storm on Thursday evening, ahead of the Fourth of July celebrations.

The blinding winds left thousands of homes without power and grounded numerous flights at the city’s international airport.

Catherine Addis reports..

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BBC News – Africa ‘missing out on biotech green revolution’

24 July 2014 Last updated at 21:20 ET
By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

Biotechnology could help improve African agriculture’s resilience to future climate changes
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Sub-Saharan Africa’s agricultural sector needs to harvest the fruits of biotechnology in order to establish sustainable development, says a report.

A key challenge is to attract funding for biotechnology projects on staple crops, such as cassava, it added.

These crops were often ignored by commercial funders because they had a limited market, the authors suggested.

Africa missed out on the previous green revolution that boosted food output in many Asian and Latin American nations.

The report, On Trial: GM Crops in Africa, published by think tank Chatham House, said: “Increasing agricultural productivity and adapting farming to climate change are central to Africa’s development prospects.”

It added that there were opportunities to boost yields and increase resilience by improving existing crop varieties, and that “in some cases, biotechnology, and in particular genetic modification (GM), offers advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches”, such as drought, pest and disease resistance.

However, the continent was in danger of missing out on capitalising on innovations offered by the 21st Century green revolution, just as it had done in the previous century.

“If you look at what happened in Latin America and Asia in the second half of the 20th Century with the Green Revolution, there was a range of technologies, new high-yielding hybrid varieties of wheat, rice and maize, new irrigation platforms, etc,” explained co-author Rob Bailey, research director for energy, environment and resources at Chatham House.

….(read more)

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BBC News – Sowing the seeds for Africa’s green revolution

5 September 2014 Last updated at 10:33 ET
By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

About 1,000 delegates gathered for the high-level meeting in Addis Ababa
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A four-day high-profile gathering aimed at driving forward Africa’s pursuit of food security and a green revolution has ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Green Revolution Forum focused on delivering agriculture-led economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

It was looking to build on an African Union declaration to double food productivity and halve poverty by 2025.

More than 1,000 delegates, including heads of state, business leaders and scientists, attended the conference.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) president Kanayo Nwanze told the Forum: “Whenever I speak on the topic of agriculture in Africa, I am filled with pride and fear.

“Pride, because our continent has achieved so much in recent years, and because it has the most extraordinary potential.

“And fear, because there is a very real danger that it will not fulfil this potential.”

He observed that despite a bourgeoning middle-class in the continent, efforts to stem poverty and chronic hunger were “failing abysmally”.

He told delegates that while many African economies were growing, it was on the back of a boom in extractive industries, such as oil and diamonds.

“Extractive industries do not yield jobs and income for Africa’s poor and hungry,” he said.

“I am proud that many African nations are becoming economic powerhouses, but without a viable agricultural sector and strong rural economy, I do not see a viable future for Africa.”

…(read more).

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BBC News – Ebola crisis: Liberia ‘faces huge surge’ says WHO

8 September 2014 Last updated at 16:40 ET

Ebola treatment facilities in Liberia are overflowing with patients, the WHO says
Ebola outbreak

Ebola is spreading exponentially in Liberia, with thousands of new cases expected in the next three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.

Conventional methods to control the outbreak were “not having an adequate impact”, the UN’s health agency added.

At least 2,100 people infected with Ebola have died so far in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria this year.

The WHO says 79 health workers have been killed by the virus.

Organisations combating the outbreak needed to scale-up efforts “three-to-four fold”, the WHO said.
…(read more)

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BBC News – Food crop wild relatives endangered

8 September 2014 Last updated at 08:14 ET
By Maria Dasi Espuig Science reporter

“Hotspots” are places with a high concentration of different types of crop wild relatives that could be potential reserve areas
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Scientists have released the most complete database of the wild relatives of common food crops.

These wild relatives are closely related to our crops, but grow naturally under a wide range of environmental conditions.

This makes them essential for the development of more resistant and adaptable food sources.

However, many of them grow in conflict zones in the Middle East, where their conservation is threatened.

Scientists from the University of Birmingham have highlighted “hotspots” around the globe, which are areas where many different types of wild relatives are concentrated. Here, they could be conserved to secure future global food resources.

Farmers crossbreed the wild relatives with existing crops to produce varieties of grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and tubers that are more adaptable to local climates.

Lead scientist Dr Nigel Maxted from the University of Birmingham told BBC News: “Our goal is not only crop wild relative conservation, but to promote use of the conserved diversity by farmers and breeders to develop crop varieties with greater resilience to climate change.”

…(read more).

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