The earthquake that shook the two countries is also one of the five deadliest earthquakes in the past 20 years. Photo: VOA_wikimediaCommons

Magnitude 7.8 earthquake hits Turkey & Syria, more than 41,000 people dead

A huge earthquake with a magnitude 7.8 killed more than 41,000 people across Turkey and Syria. In Turkey alone, more than 35,400 people died, making the quake one of the deadliest in the country’s history. It is also one of the five deadliest earthquakes in the past 20 years. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen promised to bolster aid toTurkey, and responded to requests for tents, blankets and heaters after speaking with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Meanwhile, Syria’s death toll stands at around 5,800, including 1,400 in the government-controlled areas and 4,400 in opposition-held regions. A total of 52 UN trucks carrying aid have entered northwest Syria through the only authorized border crossing from Turkey. 

NZ declares national emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle wreaks havoc across North Island

The New Zealand government declared a national state of emergency as Cyclone Gabrielle caused widespread flooding, landslides and huge ocean swells across the North Island. The storm’s damage has been most extensive in coastal communities on the far north and east coast of the North Island—with Hawke’s Bay, Coromandel and Northland among the worst hit. New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) announced a “record” storm surge of 0.7m, in addition to waves of up to 12m off the northern coast. Whereas, national forecaster MetService said it had broken its record for “red” weather warnings issued around the country, and wind gusts of 150-160km/h were recorded. Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand just two weeks after unprecedented downpours and flooding in the same region, which killed four people. Officials said at least 2,25,000 people were without power.

3 million Indians live in areas that can be swept by glacial lake floods: Study

Three million Indians are at risk of a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF), according to a new study published in Nature Communications. Together with two million Pakistanis, they form a third of the total number of people worldwide facing such a risk. The first global assessment of high mountain areas found that 90 million people across 30 countries live in 1,089 basins containing glacial lakes. Of these, 15 million (16.6%) live within 50km of a glacial lake. A majority of the globally exposed population amounting to 9.3 million (62%) is located in the region of high mountain Asia (HMA). Just four highly populous countries accounted for more than 50% of the globally exposed population—India, Pakistan, Peru and China. 

Is Europe headed towards an energy crisis this summer?

A winter as historically mild as the present one does not bode well for Europe’s coming summer temperatures. While climate change kept Europe warm enough this winter, the respite may prove fleeting and may cause a crisis this summer. The immediate effect of a warm winter on the probable summer energy situation is constrained electricity generation. Water levels matter for keeping the lights on. In 2020 and 2021, hydropower was approximately 17% of the EU’s electricity. If this summer even just approaches the heat and dryness of 2022, Europe could lose double-digit generation capacity. The consequences of low water levels affect not just hydropower but other power generation, too, such as nuclear and coal generation. What exact effect this will all have on energy prices and market stability is hard to predict, but considerable volatility and at least some price hikes are more than likely. The extent of these will depend on how short the world is on natural gas, oil, coal, and other fuels, and of course the weather—plus any unforeseen emergencies or crises.

Winter rain causes heavy damage to acres of mustard crop in the northern belt 

India saw a record sowing of mustard in the 2022-23 Rabi season. But fresh spells of rain recorded in January damaged the crops at several places. A dip in temperatures due to cold waves led to ground frost in some areas in the northern belt and maximum damage has been reported from Udaipur, Sirohi, Churu, Ajmer, among other districts. In January, the area under mustard was recorded at 9.7 million hectares (ha), according to data uploaded by the agriculture department. This is almost 700,000 ha more than last season. The increase in acreage was also more than other competing crops. 

Climate change has led to early flowering of the gul toor in the Kashmir Valley 

The Kashmir Valley is experiencing warmer winters and as a result, the flowering period for the dazzling yellow gul toor, has shifted from mid-March to mid-February, revealed a new study. The flowering phenology of the gul toor has significantly advanced by 11.8 days/degrees Celsius increase in maximum temperature and 27.8 days/degrees Celsius increase in minimum temperature, indicating that the climate warming has led to substantial shifts in flowering phenology of the model plant species. The irregular weather pattern has also delayed the flowering of saffron to November when the sunshine is not adequate. About 30% of the flowers get aborted within the sprout because temperature conditions are not optimum.

China to face severe floods and heatwaves in 2023, warns CMA

As the climate crisis escalates, China Meteorological Administration (CMA) warned regional authorities to prepare for more extreme weather this year after record-breaking temperatures and a lengthy drought last summer played havoc with the country’s power supplies and disrupted harvests. China’s southern regions need to brace for more persistent high temperatures and ensure that energy supplies are available to meet the summer demand peak, while northern regions need to prepare for heavy floods.

China was hit last June by a heatwave that lasted more than 70 days, damaging crops, drying up lakes and reservoirs, and causing devastating forest fires throughout the Yangtze river basin. In August, as many as 267 weather stations registered their highest temperatures to date. A sharp drop in rainfall in the southwestern regions of Sichuan and Chongqing also forced hydropower facilities to cut output. Local industries had to restrict operations and electricity deliveries to the eastern coast were also affected.

Chile battles deadliest wildfires on record as heatwave grips the country

The hot and dry weather led to Chile’s deadliest wildfires in recent times killing at least 26 people. Firefighters struggled to control dozens of raging wildfires, which have consumed 270,000 hectares (667,000 acres) of land in south-central Chile. The recent catastrophe

has already made 2023 the second worst year in terms of hectares burned after the so-called ‘firestorm’ that hit the country in 2017. Chile is in the grip of an over a decade-long period of dry weather, which the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) called a “mega drought” last year, adding it was the longest in a thousand years and marked a major water crisis. The heat wave and strong winds have caused a rapid spread of the flames during the Southern Hemisphere summer season.

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