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Announcing the 2018 Volcanic Event of the Year!

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No, not Kīlauea, but rather a July 2018 eruption of Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island. Wikimedia Commons.

No, not Kīlauea, but rather a July 2018 eruption of Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island. Wikimedia Commons.

It’s that time, once again, to give out the Pliny. Since 2009, my readers have voted on what they think was the most significant volcanic event of the year. Sometimes the vote is very close and sometimes, well, you can guess what the outcome will be before the envelope is opened. Let’s start off with some honorable mentions that garnered votes from some of you:

Sierra Negra: Back in June of 2018, Sierra Negra in the Galápagos erupted for the first time since 2005. Lava flows poured down the flanks of the volcano, prompting some evacuations but this eruption was overshadowed by events that will come later in the countdown.

Kadovar: At the very start of the year, Kadovar in Papua New Guinea, produced the first major eruption of 2018. This was a big surprise as no known historical eruption had occurred at Kadovar. Residents had to be evacuated from the island and the volcano went on to have explosions for much of the rest of the year.

Mayotte: Now, here was an example of a “volcanic event” that didn’t even produce an eruption … and geologists aren’t even sure if it will. The earthquake swarm and mysterious tremor felt to the east of Mayotte Island in the Indian Ocean intrigued many and may be the signs of potential new volcanic activity deep under the sea’s surface.

Piton de la Fournaise: Most people didn’t know that this shield volcano on Réunion Island had one of its busiest years in decades. Much like Kīlauea, the volcano started erupting in late spring and had a month of continuous eruption in April-May and then erupted again in July and then again through much of September and October.

Now the Top 5:

5. Etna, Italy: Like the Meryl Streep or Jack Nicholson of the Plinys, Etna seems to make it high on the list every year. The Italian volcano didn’t have the stunning paroxysms of years past, but it did have fairly persistent strombolian activity at the summit craters for much of the year. Then, as December was winding down, a new vent opened on the flanks of the volcano for the first time in years, sending lava flows down Etna’s slopes. This could be a sign of a potentially busy 2019 on Sicily.

Etna erupting in late December 2018. Boris Behncke, used by permission.

Etna erupting in late December 2018. Boris Behncke, used by permission.

4. Ambae (Aoba), Vanuatu: Eruptions at this volcano in the South Pacific has created one of the largest humanitarian crises of the year. Persistent explosive activity meant that the island had to be evacuated numerous times and the government of Vanuatu even floated the idea of permanently abandoning the towns on Ambae. This would mean that over 13,000 people would need to find new homes across the archipelago that makes up Vanuatu.

The ash plume from Aoba (Ambae) in Vanuatu, seen by NASA's Aqua satellite on April 11, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory.

The ash plume from Aoba (Ambae) in Vanuatu, seen by NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 11, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory.

3. Fuego, Guatemala: Sadly, Fuego makes such a high showing on the 2018 Plinys because it was one of the deadliest volcanoes of the year. In June, pyroclastic flows unexpectedly swept down the sides of the Guatemalan volcano, killing almost 200 people with hundreds missing. These avalanches of seering hot volcanic gases and debris move at hundreds of kilometers per hour, so the people in the towns at the foot of Fuego had little-to-no time to escape their destruction. The volcano produced ash plumes for much of the year and occasionally volcanic mudflows created by all the debris from the eruptions mixing with heavy rainfall.

An eruption of Fuego in Guatemala during February 2018. Marco Verch, Flickr.

An eruption of Fuego in Guatemala during February 2018. Marco Verch, Flickr.

2. Anak Krakatau, Indonesia:  In one of the most unexpected volcanic events of 2018, the island of Anak Krakatau that formed inside the 1883 caldera of Krakatau collapsed into the sea in late December. This loss of more than half the island created a 3+ meter tsunami that swept onshore along both sides of the Sunda Strait. The end result was hundreds of deaths and many more missing. Although the Indonesian volcano had been active much of the year, the eruptions had mainly been strombolian explosions at the summit and lava flows. However, it seems that all that activity caused the volcanic cone of Anak Krakatau to become unstable and eventually, it slid off into the sea, exposing the vent to ocean water. This has changed the character of the eruptions to ones that are more explosive as magma and seawater mix (called a Surtseyan eruption). Even though the tsunami caught most everyone by surprise, the potential for this kind of disaster generated by Anak Krakatau was studied as far back as 2012.

Rooster tails from a Surtseyan eruption from Anak Krakatau after the December 2018 collapse. PVMBG.

Rooster tails from a Surtseyan eruption from Anak Krakatau after the December 2018 collapse. PVMBG.

1. Kīlauea, United States: This year’s Pliny vote for number one was not close … and that was no surprise for people who followed the volcanic (or any) news this summer. After the summit lava lake overflowed in late April, everything changed. A large earthquake struck on the flanks of Kīlauea and within days, a new eruption had started in the lower East Rift Zone (LERZ), over 30 kilometers from the summit, for the first time in half a century. Unfortunately, it opened in the middle of the Leilani Estates subdivision and over the course of the summer, over 700 homes were destroyed by lava flows. The entirety of Kapoho Bay was filled in by lava as it reached the Pacific and as the lava drained out in the LERZ, the summit collapsed hundreds of meters during a series of explosive eruptions. By September, the largest eruption in the U.S. since 1980 had ended. Now, Kīlauea has gone quiet for the first time in over 30 years. Now we can only wait and see if 2019 bring more eruptions to the Hawaiian volcano or Kīlauea stays quiet for now.

Lava reaching the ocean during the LERZ eruption of Kīlauea, June 2018. USGS/HVO.

Lava reaching the ocean during the LERZ eruption of Kīlauea, June 2018. USGS/HVO.

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Ecology

Globe Climate: Canada’s resource reckoning is coming

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

This afternoon, the Alberta government announced that it is restoring a coal mining policy it revoked last spring. At the time, the move provoked a widespread public backlash detailed by The Globe. The original decision, which opened up more than 1.4 million hectares to exploration, was made without public consultation. Premier Jason Kenney previously defended the changes.

Lots more on coal and Canada’s resources industry in this week’s newsletter edition.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

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Ecology

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change

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As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. recently found 2020 was earth’s second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

“(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said.

Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn’t be farmable anymore,” he said.

According to the federal government, in 2018 Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of “challenging weather.”

“People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged,” he said. “And we’re still at the beginning of this.”

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Ecology

Insect-based dog food aims to cut your pet’s carbon pawprint

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Meat has an enormous carbon footprint, with livestock liable for about 15 per cent of worldwide emissions, as we have beforehand mentioned on this e-newsletter. That is prompted specialists to suggest consuming much less meat for sustainability (and well being) causes.

However what about your pet? One research discovered that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated by canine and cat meals within the U.S. alone had been equal to about 64 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly the quantity produced by 13.6 million automobiles. And it might be getting worse, with a development towards feeding pets “human-grade” meat.

That is prompted some pet meals makers to look to lower-carbon protein sources — together with bugs.

Research present that producing insect-based meals requires far much less feed, land and water and generates far fewer greenhouse fuel emissions per kilogram than meats comparable to beef, pork or rooster.

That is one of many causes increasingly more pet meals containing insect protein are hitting the market. Purina, a model owned by multinational Nestlé, launched a line of canine and cat meals containing black soldier fly larvae in Switzerland in November.

In Canada, Montreal-based Wilder Harrier began promoting canine treats made with cricket protein in 2015 and pet food made with black soldier fly larvae in 2019. It plans to broaden to launch a line of insect-based cat treats later this yr and cat meals in 2022 due to “a ton of demand,” mentioned firm co-founder Philippe Poirier.

Wilder Harrier initially labored with animal nutritionists on insect-based merchandise to unravel a unique downside — specifically, the founders’ canines had allergy symptoms to frequent meats utilized in canine meals. Poirier mentioned now about half its prospects hunt down the product due to their pets’ allergy symptoms and about half for environmental causes.

Dr. Cailin Heinze, a U.S.-based veterinary nutritionist licensed by the American School of Veterinary Vitamin, has written concerning the environmental influence of pet meals. She mentioned we’re typically “not as involved as we probably ought to [be]” concerning the environmental footprint of pets.

Alternatively, she famous that the longer-term influence of newer diets, comparable to vegan meals and people containing bugs, hasn’t been nicely examined in comparison with conventional pet meals.

Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor of animal sciences on the College of Illinois who research novel proteins for pet meals (together with bugs, yeast and plant-based substances), mentioned such substances are rigorously examined to find out their security and diet earlier than being added to pet meals. 

“This can be a very extremely regulated trade,” she mentioned, however admitted it is also evolving.

Relating to bugs, she mentioned constructive information “reveals promise in direction of utilizing them increasingly more in pet meals.” Insect-based proteins have additionally earned the endorsement of the British Veterinary Affiliation, which says some insect-based meals could also be higher for pets than prime steak.

However Godoy famous that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution, and pet homeowners ought to take into consideration the wants of their very own particular person pet and analysis whether or not a specific weight loss plan can be appropriate.

She mentioned that other than the kind of protein, issues like packaging and manufacturing strategies may also make a distinction. For instance, utilizing meat byproducts that may in any other case turn into waste would not drive elevated meat manufacturing the identical approach as utilizing human-grade meat.

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