EARTHWEEK: DI­ARY OF A CHANG­ING WORLD

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD - Distributed by Uni­ver­sal Uclick; © MMXII Earth En­vi­ron­ment Ser­vice; www.earthweek.com

Ocean suf­fo­ca­tion

Ar­eas of the world’s oceans, bays and lakes with lit­tle or no oxy­gen are dra­mat­i­cally ex­pand­ing, ac­cord­ing to a new study by the Smith­so­nian En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search Cen­ter.

“The de­cline in ocean oxy­gen ranks among the most se­ri­ous ef­fects of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties on the Earth’s en­vi­ron­ment,” said ma­rine ecol­o­gist Denise Bre­it­burg. About half of Earth’s oxy­gen comes from the oceans, and global warm­ing is said to be the main cause of the de­cline. But in coastal dead zones, most of the oxy­gen de­ple­tion is caused by fer­til­izer and sewage runoff from land. Bre­it­burg says re­duc­ing that runoff on a lo­cal level could go a long way to solv­ing that prob­lem.

Ozone hole heal­ing

NASA has found the first di­rect ev­i­dence that the de­ple­tion of strato­spheric ozone is slow­ing, al­low­ing a slug­gish but steady re­cov­ery of the ozone hole above Antarc­tica. The ozone layer pro­tects life on the Earth’s sur­face from harm­ful so­lar ra­di­a­tion. The agency’s sci­en­tists say the 1989 in­ter­na­tional ban on the man-made chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons re­spon­si­ble for most of the de­ple­tion now ap­pears to be work­ing. Those com­pounds were once widely used in aerosols, re­frig­er­a­tors and other ap­pli­ances. But when leaked into the air, they can rise high into the strato­sphere where they are bro­ken down by ul­travi­o­let ra­di­a­tion from the sun, re­leas­ing ozone-killing chlo­rine in the process.

Earth­quakes

One of the strong­est of eight tem­blors that struck the IranIraq bor­der re­gion in­jured at least 21 peo­ple in western Iran.

• A rare tremor around the north­ern Dutch city of Gronin­gen cracked build­ings.

• Earth move­ments also were felt in the western Caribbean and north­ern Ge­or­gia.

Trop­i­cal cy­clones

At least 36 peo­ple were left dead in Mada­gas­car af­ter Cat­e­gory 2 Cy­clone Ava raked the is­land’s east coast.

• Cy­clone Irv­ing churned the open wa­ters of the cen­tral In­dian Ocean as a threat only to ship­ping lanes.

His­toric erup­tion

A vol­cano on a re­mote Pa­pua New Guinea is­land spewed ash for days dur­ing its first erup­tion in recorded his­tory. Some of the 2,000 res­i­dents of Kadovar Is­land were forced to pad­dle to the nearby is­land of Blup Blup, while oth­ers were evac­u­ated to other is­lands. But of­fi­cials warned that a stronger erup­tion could also cre­ate a tsunami ca­pa­ble of strik­ing nearby is­lands.

Itchy in­fes­ta­tions

Fleas from do­mes­tic pets now in­fest wildlife and feral an­i­mals on all con­ti­nents ex­cept Antarc­tica. A Univer­sity of Queens­land-led global study showed that so­called cat fleas — the main flea species found on do­mes­tic dogs and cats — are car­ried by more than 130 wildlife species around the world, rep­re­sent­ing nearly 20 per­cent of all the mam­mal species sam­pled. Dog fleas are less wide­spread and were re­ported on only 31 mam­mal species. The study warns that the fleas have the po­ten­tial to trans­mit harm­ful bac­te­ria back to pets and hu­mans, in­clud­ing those that cause bubonic plague and ty­phus.

Deadly heat

Ar­eas around Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, ex­pe­ri­enced their hottest day in 79 years. The heat that baked three south­east­ern states also melted as­phalt road­ways, sparked dozens of fires and caused bats whose brains were said to have “fried” to fall dead from the trees. Aus­tralia just ex­pe­ri­enced its third-hottest year on record in 2017.

For week end­ing Fri­day

By Steve New­man

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