Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Dying Earth - extreme weather report - 05/02/2016

India and Pakistan

This  article has a recent date but it has been pointed out that it relates to the heatwave of 2015.

I am leaving it up as a reminder.

The death toll from Pakistan's killer heatwave rose past 1,000 on Thursday, with more fatalities expected, as cloud cover and lower temperatures brought some relief to the worst-hit city Karachi. Morgues and gravediggers in Karachi, 
Pakistan's largest city and economic hub, have struggled to keep up with the flow of bodies since the scorching temperatures began last weekend.

Hospitals have been on a crisis footing and dedicated heatstroke treatment centres have been set up around the city to treat the tens of thousands affected by heatstroke and dehydration.

"The death toll is more than 1,000 and it may reach up to 1,500," Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman for the Edhi Foundation, Pakistan's largest welfare charity and a leading provider of emergency medical care in Karachi, told AFP.

According to figures collected by AFP from hospitals around the city, a total of 1,079 people have died as a result of the heatwave.

Karachi hospitals have treated nearly 80,000 people for the effects of heatstroke and dehydration, according to medical officials.

After days of temperatures hovering at highs in the mid-40s Celsius (around 110 Fahrenheit), sea breezes and cloud cover have brought some respite to the port city in the last two days.

The Met Office forecast temperatures of around 34 degrees Celsius on Thursday, with 75 percent cloud cover.

The Edhi Foundation said their mortuaries in the city had received such an influx of bodies that they were struggling to keep them properly chilled.

Victims' families have also faced challenges in burying their dead, as grave-diggers have struggled to keep up with demand in the scorching heat.

While temperatures of 45 C and higher are not uncommon in parts of inland Pakistan, Karachi normally remains cooler thanks to its coastal location.

This year's heatwave has also coincided with the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, during which millions of devout Pakistanis abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset.

Under Pakistani law, it is illegal for Muslims to eat or drink in public during daylight hours in Ramadan.

The majority of the deaths in Karachi have been among the elderly, the poor and manual labourers who toil outdoors, prompting clerics to urge those at risk of heatstroke not to fast
Doctor Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association in Karachi said that a lack of understanding of heatstroke among the public - how to spot symptoms and treat them - had contributed to the deaths.

"The main reason was a lack of awareness among the public - no-one knew how to cope in such a situation," he said.

The situation has not been helped by power cuts - a regular feature of life in Pakistan - which have stopped fans and air conditioners from working and interrupted Karachi's water supply.

India's Himalayas are on fire due to high temperatures and low rains

Deadly forest fires across India’s Himalayan state of Uttarakhand have burned more than 2,300 hectares of forests and killed six people. The fires started three months ago, but had increased in intensity in the last few days.

While forest fires are an annual summer occurrence in the region, officials say that the increased intensity this year is because of the forests being drier due to unexpectedly high temperatures and low rainfall in the last two years. Others have argued that the fires were started illegally by timber traders.

uttarakhand fire

NDRF personnel douse the flames and conduct rescue operation at Pauri Garhwal District, on April 30, 2016 in Uttarakhand, India.

According to India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar, 70% of the blazes had been doused by May 2 and their numbers reduced from 1,200 to 60. The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF), the Indian army, air force and 6,000 fire-fighters are involved in the efforts to save the forests....[ ]

Fire out in 70 per cent of affected areas in Uttarakhand
Latest satellite images show that of the 427 forest fires in Uttarakhand, 70 per cent have been doused, the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF has said. The Army, the Air Force, three teams of the NDRF and 6,000 firefighters have been working round the clock to save the forest covers in the state

Armed guards at India dams as drought leaves farmers dry
About 330 million people are suffering from drought in India, as the country reels from severe water shortages. Desperate farmers from a neighbouring state regularly attempt to steal water from the Barighat dam, forcing authorities in central Madhya Pradesh to protect it with armed guards to ensure supplies.

This is clearly NOT Fukushima

Carcasses of blue buttons wash ashore Odisha coast

Carcasses of thousands of blue button jellyfish were found along Konark-Astaranga coastline in Odisha’s Puri district since last two-three days raising concerns among the environmentalists and wildlife experts.
While the blue button jellyfish are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, the sight of dead hydroids along the Bay of Bengal is rare as they survive in warm waters and seldom found here.

Experts opine that the aquatic species might be dying due to drastic climate change.


Major sandstorm sweeps through northwest China

A major sandstorm has swept through parts of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May 1, 2016, and continued into May 2, disrupting traffic and causing severe air pollution.

The sandstorm has struck some counties in south Xinjiang since Saturday night, April 30. In Kuche County, the storm reduced the visibility to less than 200 meters (650 feet) in urban areas, made vehicles parked in the open air covered with dirt and caused inconvenience for residents' travel, CCTV reports.

The event also led to the cancellation of many flights from Kuche to Urumchi, the regional capital of Xinjiang. 

In Korla and Makid counties, it significantly slowed down traffic and caused residents to suffer breathing difficulties. Local traffic police have reinforced their troops to direct traffic at major road sections. 

Another sandstorm, coupled with winds of up to 70 km/h (43.5 mph), has also hit Golmud County in Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province

Satellite imagery below, courtesy of Suomi NPP, shows the extent of the sandstorm on May 1 and 2. The first image is taken on April 30, before the sandstorm.
Image credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP / VIIRS. Date acquired: April 30, 2016
Image credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP / VIIRS. Date acquired: May 1, 2016
Image credit: NASA/NOAA/DoD Suomi NPP / VIIRS. Date acquired: May 2, 2016
Featured image: Sandstorm hits northwest China on May 1, 2016. Credit: CCTV

Massive Wildfire Blazes across China-Mongolia Border

Over 50 Chinese firefighting specialists have worked hard to get a wildfire on grassland under control before putting it out on the Chinese side of the China-Mongolia border.


Widespread flooding in Kenya, massive building collapse in Nairobi kills 16 people
Torrential downpours over the last couple of days have caused severe flooding across parts of Kenya. The floods have affected more than 2 000 people across several counties and led to a major collapse of a residential building in Huruma, Nairobi, where 16 people died. A total death toll from flood-related incidents in Nairobi is currently at 20.

Turkana, Wajir, Marsabit, and Nairobi were strongly hit by the flooding. The intense rainstorm brought down a residential building in Huruma on April 30, 2016, causing injuries to 135 people while 75 people went missing and 16 were reported dead. The collapse occurred at about 21:30 (local time), after some of the strongest rainfalls since the start of the season.

Another collapse occurred on April 29, in the Kilimani area, as a perimeter wall in the neighborhood of Russian Embassy and Department of Defence was brought down, leaving 4 people dead and 3 injured.

eNCA | Dozens missing,130 rescued following Kenya building collapse
Widespread flooding affected 792 homes in Nairobi, 1 800 families are displaced in Vanga, Kwale County, 312 in Marsabit County while 230 families were forced to leave their homes in Moyale, and 81 in Laisamis. 210 homes in Garissa, Bungoma, Baringo, Embu, and Murang'a were affected to a lesser extent

More than quarter of population face food shortages as country hit by severe drought, with cattle dying and crops destroyed

Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has declared a state of disaster in rural areas hit by a severe drought, as more than a quarter of the population face food shortages.

A regional drought worsened by the El Niño weather phenomenon has affected South Africa, Malawi and Zambia as well as Zimbabwe, leaving tens of thousands of cattle dead, reservoirs depleted and crops destroyed.

Formerly known as the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe has suffered perennial shortages in recent years and has relied on importing grain from neighbouring countries to meet its needs.

Initial indications were that 1.5 million people were food-insecure with all the 60 rural districts being affected,” the public works minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, said in a statement.

Overall, the food insecure population has since risen to 2.44 million – 26% of the population.

[With] the continued threat of the El Niňo-induced drought, his excellency the president has declared a state of disaster in regard to severely affected areas.”

SHEPHERD Tavaruva, a previous Masvingo Farmer of the Year winner, says he won’t be adding to his medal tally any time soon.

Zimbabwe’s worst drought since the new millennium is driving farmers like Tavaruva off the land. The 34-year-old, who won the provincial accolade in 2006 and 2007, now runs a security company where he says the risk is lower.

Do I miss the land? Yeah, big time,’’ Tavaruva, son of Masvingo businessman Tanda Tavaruva, said in an interview in the provincial capital. “But I am not going back until I have the right equipment – a proper irrigation system which will enable me to survive these mad weather patterns.’’

Zimbabwe is losing farmers at the same time it’s losing its industries, slashing economic output in a country with 80 percent unemployment and now facing its worst drought in more than three decades. This is, worsening hunger as the two sectors have traditionally worked in tandem, with farmers relying on industry for their inputs and equipment.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries estimated industrial capacity utilization at 34 percent in 2015, down 23 percentage points from 2012 due to antiquated machinery and lack of capital. The government says it’s now rationalizing farm ownership ahead of an audit of the land reform programme it claims saw some 300,000 families resettled on about 14.5 million hectares...[ ]

North America

Canada: Wildfire Danger Increasing

Wildfires are starting to break out in British Columbia, Canada. The wildfire on the image belowstarted on May 1, 2016 (hat tip to Hubert Bułgajewski‎).

The coordinates of the wildfire are in the bottom left corner of above map. They show a location where, on May 3, 2016, it was 26.0°C (or 78.8°F). At a nearby location, it was 27.6°C (or 81.8°F) on May 3, 2016

These location are on the path followed by the Mackenzie River, which ends up in the Arctic Ocean. Wildfires aggravate heat waves as they blacken the soil with soot. As the Mackenzie River heats up, it will bring warmer water into the Arctic Ocean where this will speed up melting of the sea ice.

It’s going to be another perfect day to be outdoors. A persistent high pressure ridge over Southern B.C. could lead to more temperature records being broken across Metro Vancouver today.

According to Environment Canada, temperatures are expected to reach a high of 30°C within inland areas, such as Surrey and Burnaby, and 24°C by the water at Vancouver International Airport.

Dangerous weather continues in the South

Large hail pelted parts of Louisiana on Sunday, where severe storms also caused flash flooding. In New Orleans, dangerous weather forced the cancellation of the city's acclaimed jazz fest. Manuel Bojorquez has more.

Wildfire potential large for Hawaii due to drought conditions

Chesapeake Energy workers at the company's drilling site near Big Wells, Texas, May 17, 2011. Advocates of extracting oil from tightly packed rock, or the technique known as fracking, say it could increase the nation's oil output by 25 percent but opponents point to the risk to water supplies it creates. (Michael Stravato/The New York Times) 05292011xNEWS 11232012xNEWS
Fracking, or extracting oil from tightly packed rock, has stirred opponents’ fears of dangers to water supplies for years. (Michael Stravato/The New York Times)

Recent floods across Texas have inundated oil wells and fracking sites, flushing crude oil and toxic fracking chemicals into the state’s rivers.

State emergency management officials have taken dozens of photographs that show sheens and plumes spreading from tipped tanks and flooded production sites during the March flood of the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border.
Earlier photos showed similar scenes from last year’s floods of the Trinity, Red and Colorado rivers.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling and production sites, said it has responded effectively to those incidents.

I’m confident that once the agency is notified, we’re taking appropriate measures,” commission spokesman Rich Parsons said.

Scientists and environmentalists are not so sure.

One leading expert, Dr. Walter Tsou, is a physician and past president of the American Public Health Association and published an article on an environmentalist website about the possible risks posed by the unleashing of fracking fluids in the environment.

That’s a potential disaster,” Tsou said. “I’m sure it will get into the groundwater and streams and creeks. In other areas, cattle that drank the fracking fluid actually died an hour after drinking it. There are potential carcinogens that can lead to leukemia, brain cancer and other endocrine disruptors that can affect premature births. So it is not good to drink fracked wastewater.”

State emergency officials mobilize the Civil Air Patrol to photograph potential spills and leaks, and the Railroad Commission responds quickly to reports of spills or other releases, spokeswoman Ramona Nye said.

If a release or spill is identified, the agency dispatches an inspector to investigate. Alleged violations are documented and appropriate action is taken based on the nature of the alleged violation,” she said.

Critics worry that the commission is soft on holding the oil and gas industry responsible for such incidents, because — according to one watchdog group’s accounting — commissioners receive more than half of their campaign contributions from that sector.

However, Nye insists that spill prevention is the commission’s top priority, a statement echoed by Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.

Oil and natural gas companies utilize the latest technologies to establish and maintain safe operations in any weather condition,” Staples, a former Texas agriculture commissioner, wrote in an email. “The Railroad Commission provides direction and oversight in the unlikely event that an environmental cleanup project is necessary. Operators who do not comply with regulations or remediation directives should face enforcement and can lose their permit to operate in Texas.”

However, with some climatologists expecting storms to become more intense in the future, it’s critical to strengthen measures to prevent such flood-related runoff, said Ken Kramer, water resources chairman of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

We just know they’re going to recur all the time,” he said.

Ocean acidification takes a toll on California's coastline at nighttime

A new study, based on the most-extensive set of measurements ever made in tide pools, suggests that ocean acidification will increasingly put many marine organisms at risk by exacerbating normal changes in ocean chemistry that occur overnight. Conducted along California's rocky coastline, the study from Carnegie's Ken Caldeira and Lester Kwiatkowski shows that the most-vulnerable organisms are likely to be those with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons. It is published by Scientific Reports

The Middle East

plan to make it rain: Build a mountain

The United Arab Emirates — home to the world’s tallest building, ATMs that dispense gold bars, and a ski resort in a shopping mall — has a water problem. Average precipitation in Dubai, UAE’s most populous city, is less than four inches a year, and summer temperatures regularly hit 113 degrees. Dubai, however, is rich in both cash and ingenuity, which are big components of its latest solution to the water problem: A man-made mountain.

The Washington Post reports that the UAE is exploring the possibility of building a mountain to increase rainfall. Crazy? Maybe, but physics says there’s some rationale there: Mountains push moisture-laden winds upwards, cooling and condensing water in the air and turning it into rain.

As the Post notes, building a mountain isn’t the first rain-making project UAE has looked to: In March, shortly after several attempts at cloud seeding — a technique by which dry ice or silver iodide aerosols are injected into clouds — over 11 inches of rain fell in the UAE in less than 24 hours, causing widespread flooding.

So far, according to the Post, UAE has invested $400,000 in the rain mountain concept. But the eventual cost would be much, much greater — maybe too great even for the hugely wealthy UAE: Estimates to build a mountain in the Netherlands several years ago were as high as $432 billion.

1 comment:

  1. Building a mountain for rain... Using blowers to put out grass fires... Seems all like absurd desperation.