Category Archives: WATER

World Bank issues SOS for oceans, backs alliance

NewsDaily: World Bank issues SOS for oceans, backs alliance.

 

By David FogartyPosted 2012/02/24 at 12:41 am EST

SINGAPORE, Feb. 24, 2012 (Reuters) — The World Bank announced on Friday a global alliance to better manage and protect the world’s oceans, which are under threat from over-fishing, pollution and climate change.



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Oceans are the lifeblood of the planet and the global economy, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told a conference on ocean conservation in Singapore. Yet the seas have become overexploited, coastlines badly degraded and reefs under threat from pollution and rising temperatures.

“We need a new SOS: Save Our Seas,” Zoellick said in announcing the alliance.

The partnership would bring together countries, scientific centers, non-governmental groups, international organizations, foundations and the private sector, he said.

The World Bank could help guide the effort by bringing together existing global ocean conservation programs and support efforts to mobilize finance and develop market-mechanisms to place a value on the benefits that oceans provide.

Millions of people rely on oceans for jobs and food and that dependence will grow as the world’s population heads for 9 billion people, underscoring the need to better manage the seas.

Zoellick said the alliance was initially committed to mobilizing at least $300 million in finance.

“Working with governments, the scientific community, civil society organizations, and the private sector, we aim to leverage as much as $1.2 billion to support healthy and sustainable oceans.”

FISH STOCKS

A key focus was understanding the full value of the oceans’ wealth and ecosystem services. Oceans are the top source of oxygen, help regulate the climate, while mangroves, reefs and wetlands are critical to protecting increasingly populous coastal areas against hazards such as storms — benefits that are largely taken for granted.

“Whatever the resource, it is impossible to evolve a plan to manage and grow the resource without knowing its value,” he said.

Another aim was to rebuild at least half the world’s fish stocks identified as depleted. About 85 percent of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

“We should increase the annual net benefits of fisheries to between $20 billion and $30 billion. We estimate that global fisheries currently run a net economic loss of about $5 billion per year,” he said.

Participants at the conference spoke of the long-term dividends from ocean conservation and better management of its resources. But that needed economists, bankers and board rooms to place a value on the oceans’ “natural capital”.

“The key to the success of this partnership will be new market mechanisms that value natural capital and can attract private finance,” Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Reuters.

He pointed to the value in preserving carbon-rich mangrove forests and sea grassbeds and the possibility of earning carbon offsets for projects that conserve these areas.

“The oceans’ stock is in trouble. We have diminished its asset value to a huge degree and poor asset management is poor economics,” Stephen Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, told the conference.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin : Image of the Day.

Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

acquired May 1 – 31, 2011
Color bar for Record Runoff into the Missouri Basin

As floods along the Mississippi River began to recede, waters rose along the Missouri River. Extending across 10 U.S. states, the Missouri drains nearly one-sixth of the area of the United States. In June 2011, above Sioux City, Iowa, the Missouri River Basin experienced the highest runoff for any single month since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began keeping detailed records in 1898.

Multiple factors contributed to the heavy runoff into the Missouri River Basin, the USACE explained, including heavy snowpack on the plains, near-record snowpack in the western U.S. mountains, and rainfall. This color-coded map shows rainfall anomalies for May 2011, compared to the 1998–2010 average. Below-average percentages are brown, and above-average percentages are blue. Rivers are thin blue lines.

Blue dominates most of the western United States in this color-coded map, testifying to the unusually high rainfall in May 2011. The USACE characterized the rainfall into the upper Missouri River Basin in mid- to late May as a critical factor in subsequent runoff. In May 2011, eastern Montana received 300 to 400 percent of normal rainfall, with some locations receiving more than a year’s average rainfall in just two weeks. Parts of North and South Dakota and Wyoming received more than 200 percent of normal rainfall. In some places, heavy rain continued into June.

By June 2011, the heavy rain had translated into heavy runoff. That month, the USACE reported, runoff into the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City totaled 13.8 million acre feet. (An acre foot is the amount of water required to cover one acre with one foot of water.) It was enough water, the USACE explained, to fill Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, every five minutes throughout the month of June.

The previous record monthly runoff for the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City was set in April 1952, at 13.2 million acre feet. In 2011, the combined runoff for May and June was 24.3 million acre feet, just below the normal annual runoff total of 24.8 million acre feet.

Not all of the western United States was soggy in May 2011. In this image, a brown patch of below-average rainfall extends from southern Colorado and Kansas into New Mexico and Texas. This region experienced deepening drought as the summer of 2011 progressed.

This image is based on data from the Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis produced at Goddard Space Flight Center, which estimates rainfall by combining measurements from many satellites and calibrating them using rainfall measurements from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite.

  1. References

  2. National Weather Service. (2011, July 22). Missouri Basin, Pleasant Hill. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  3. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (2011, July 11). Corps: June 2011 was highest single month of runoff into Missouri River basin.(PDF file) Accessed July 22, 2011.
  4. U.S. Drought Monitor. (2011, July 14). Conditions for July 12, 2011. (PDF file) University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  5. U.S. Geological Survey. (2009, September 8). Missouri River. Accessed July 22, 2011.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using near-real-time data provided courtesy of TRMM Science Data and Information System at Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument: 
TRMM – MPA

Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier

Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier : Natural Hazards.

Ice Island Calves off Petermann Glacier

acquired July 20, 2011download large image (716 KB, JPEG, 2000×2600)
acquired July 20, 2011download GeoTIFF file (7 MB, TIFF, 2000×2600)
acquired July 20, 2011download Google Earth file (KMZ)

In August 2010, the Petermann Glacier along the northwestern coast of Greenland calved an ice island roughly four times the size of Manhattan. Nearly a year later, on July 20, 2011, a piece of that ice island—named Petermann Ice Island-A (PII-A) and about the same size as Manhattan—was still visible to the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer(MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite.

The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) tracked the ice island as it drifted through the Labrador Sea. On July 8, 2011, the CIS reported that the PII-A was approximately 55 square kilometers (21 square miles), and was continuing to lose surface area through calving and melting. On July 20, MODIS observed PII-A slightly south of where it had been a month earlier.

On July 21, 2011, MSNBC reported that PII-A was slowly drifting toward Newfoundland. The glacier was not likely to reach land; its base would probably become grounded on the sea floor off the coast. The ice chunk did, however, pose a potential hazard for shipping lanes and offshore oil rigs.

  1. References

  2. Canadian Ice Service (2011, July 8). Petermann Ice Island Updates. Accessed July 22, 2011.
  3. MSNBC. (2011, July 21). Massive ice island drifts toward Canada. Accessed July 22, 2011.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument: 
Terra – MODIS

10 Biggest Snowstorms of All Time

HowStuffWorks “10 Biggest Snowstorms of All Time”.

Anyone who’s ever lived in a chilly climate knows snowstorms well. Sometimes the weather forecast gives ample warning, but other times these storms catch us by surprise. Plows struggle to keep roads clear, schools are closed, events are canceled, flights are delayed and everyone gets sore backs from all the shoveling and snowblowing.

But there are those rare snowstorms that exceed all forecasts, break all records and cause mass devastation (even if it’s devastation that will melt in a few days or weeks). These storms are the worst of the worst, weather events that seem more like elemental blasts of pure winter rather than a simple combination of wind, temperature and precipitation.

Defining the 10 “biggest” snowstorms can be a tricky task. You can’t simply rely on objective measures like the amount of snow. Often, the worst storms involve relatively modest snowfalls whipped into zero-visibility by hurricane-force winds. Some storms are worse than others because they impact major urban areas, or are so widespread that they affect several major urban areas. Timing can play a role as well — a storm during weekday rush hour is worse than one on a Saturday morning, and a freak early storm when leaves are still on the trees can cause enormous amounts of damage. In fact, meteorologists have developed a system similar to the one used to classify hurricanes to measure the severity of winter storms. The Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS) takes in account a variety of factors and generates a single number that signifies a storm’s severity, usually on a scale from one to 10 — and sometimes higher [source: Science Daily].

With those factors in mind, here is our list of the biggest snowstorms of all time.

10: The Blizzard of 1888 — Northeastern United States

This snowstorm was so massive it became a historical event. In terms of storm severity factors, this one had it all: enormous amounts of snow, frigid temperatures, howling winds whipping up monstrous snow drifts — and a widespread area of effect that covered the entire northeastern United States from New England to the Chesapeake Bay, including major metropolitan areas like New York City [source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]. More than 400 people died during the storm, including more than 100 who were lost at sea.

The storm struck in early March and started out as a serious rain storm. From Sunday night to Monday morning, the temperature plummeted and the rain turned to snow. In the end, New York City received 22 inches (56 centimeters) of snow, shutting the city down and causing floods when the snow melted. Other places received much more: 58 inches (1.5 meters) of snow in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and 45 inches (1.14 m) in New Haven, Conn. Snow drifts as high as 50 or 60 feet (15.2 to 18.3 m) were reported on Long Island, and wind gusts were reported as fast as 80 mph (128.7 kph).

 

The “Storm of the Century” certainly lived up to its name, affecting about half of the population of the U.S. in 1993.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

9: The Storm of the Century, 1993 — Eastern United States

In 1993, an early March storm surged up the east coast of the United States, unleashing snow and wind on a wider area than any other storm in recorded history. Massive snowfalls were recorded from eastern Canada to Alabama. Parts of 26 states were hit; roughly half of the entire U.S. population was affected, including many large cities [source: NOAA]. Two hundred and seventy Americans were killed. This storm is often compared to the Blizzard of 1888 — in many areas, it wasn’t as severe and didn’t drop as much snow, but it covered a much larger area.

This storm broke numerous weather records. A low temperature of minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 24.4 degrees Celsius) was recorded at Burlington, Vt., while even Daytona Beach, Fla., felt the effects, with a low of 31 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 0.56 degrees Celsius). Birmingham, Ala., received more than a foot of snow (30.5 cm), with four inches (10.2 cm) falling as far south as Atlanta, Ga. Snowfall totals were amplified farther north — Syracuse, N.Y. got more than 40 inches (1.02 m), for example. Mountainous areas in the Appalachians and Catskills got the most snow, with recorded totals of 50 inches (1.27 m) or more. Wind speeds topped 70 mph (112.7 kph) in many places, and topped 100 mph (161 kph) in a few locations. Using storm surge and barometric pressure data, meteorologists say the Storm of the Century was the equivalent of a category three hurricane; it ranked a 13.2 on the NESIS scale.

8: New York City Blizzard of 2006

This storm was relatively mild; it covered a smaller area than other major snow storms and didn’t have high winds. In fact, it wasn’t technically a blizzard at all, since the scientific definition of a blizzard requires sustained wind speeds above 35 mph (56.3 kph) and visibility under 500 feet (152.4 meters). But this storm is notable for the one place it did hit: New York City.

The weather station at New York’s Central Park Zoo recorded a total of 26.9 inches (68.3 cm) of snow from the storm. That total equals the greatest snowfall in New York City recorded history and breaks a record that had been set in 1947 [source: NOAA].

 

A group of boys play in the snow in Tibet, site of one of history’s biggest snowstorms.

China Photos/Getty Images

7: Lhunze County, Tibet — 2008

Tibet is known for some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. It gets bitterly cold there in the winter, but the climate is generally very arid. Some passes through the Himalayas remain passable throughout the year because of the low snowfall rates. For that reason, the snow storm that hit Lhunze County in October 2008 was a shock to its citizens.

Chinese officials reported an average snow depth of 59 inches (1.5 m). Some villages experienced continuous snow for 36 hours, dropping five or six feet (1.52 or 1.83 m) of snow on the ground [source: China Daily]. The amount of snow was so great that many buildings collapsed, resulting in seven deaths. Roads were closed for days as rescue crews fought to clear them and bring food to people trapped by the storm.

The economic effects of the storm were particularly harsh, as many locals were forced to slaughter or sell off large parts of their yak herds, or lost them entirely in the storm’s aftermath.

6: Mount Shasta, Calif. — 1959

In 1959, a storm dumped a huge amount of snow on Mount Shasta, Calif. The 189 inches (4.8 m) of snow recorded at the Mount Shasta Ski Bowl is the largest snowfall from a single storm in North America [source: NOAA]. However, many believe that 1993’s “Storm of the Century” has eclipsed this mark in terms of the actual volume of snow, due to heavy snowfall across such a massive area.

Oddly enough, the storm didn’t have much of an effect on locals. For one thing, residents of the Mount Shasta area were used to big snowstorms, so aside from some delays while they waited for plows to clear the wet, heavy snow, it didn’t affect them much. Also, the bulk of the snow fell away from the communities of Weed and Mount Shasta City, covering unpopulated mountainous areas. Few people at the time even noted that the town had broken the single storm snowfall record [source: College of the Siskiyous].

 

5: The Eastern Canadian Blizzard of 1971 — Quebec and Ontario, Canada

This March nor’easter (a powerful storm that blows in from the Atlantic Ocean) created classic blizzard conditions throughout eastern Canada, dumping a foot and a half (45.7 cm) of snow on Montreal and more than two feet (61 cm) elsewhere in the region. On top of the snowfall, the storm produced heavy winds that whipped the snow into the air and obliterated visibility. These conditions, combined with frigid temperatures, resulted in more than 20 fatalities.

Although many Canadians took the wintry blast in stride — residents of Cornwall, Ontario were encouraged to come to work despite the storm — this blizzard caused a event virtually unheard of in Canadian history: the cancellation of a Montreal Canadiens hockey game [source: Envirozine]. It was the first time that a game at the Montreal Forum had been postponed since the flu epidemic of 1918 [source: LCN].

4: The New England Blizzard of 1978

This dreadful storm stalled over New England for more than a day, dropping up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) of snow per hour. Boston, Mass. and several communities in Rhode Island were hit hardest, but even New York City — located some four hours south of Boston — felt the storm’s effects. Meteorologists estimate snow totals between 1 and 3 feet (30.5 and 91.4 cm), with Boston’s total accumulation of 27.1 inches (68.8 cm) setting the city’s single-storm record [source: NOAA]. Wind speeds measured well over 100 mph (161 kph), causing severe visibility and drifting problems.

This storm was worse than most for two additional reasons. First, it struck during a period of high tides, which led to some of the most severe coastal flooding that region had ever seen. Second, it struck in the afternoon. Since the morning had been clear, most people had gone to school and work as usual. The timing of the storm left thousands of people stranded in their cars on roads and highways throughout the area [source: Hurricanes-blizzards-noreasters.com]. This contributed to the storm’s high death rate; more than 100 people died in Massachusetts and Rhode Island [source: NOAA].

 

3: The Great Snow of 1717 — New England

The Great Snow was really a series of four storms that struck in quick succession in late February and early March of 1717. No one is quite sure how widespread the effects were, as record-keeping was spotty in colonial New England. Heavy snow was recorded as far away as Philadelphia, but Boston got hit the hardest.

That winter had already been a snowy one, with reports of five feet (1.5 m) of snow already on the ground when the Great Snow began. Three or four more feet (91.4 or 122 cm) were added to that total, with drifts reportedly reaching 25 feet (7.6 m), burying entire houses or forcing people to exit from second story windows [source: NSIDC].

Such a massive snowfall would’ve hit hard in any era. But at a time when one could travel only by horseback or on foot, when no method of snow removal beyond a shovel and a strong back was available, and when many small communities struggled in ordinary winter conditions, the Great Snow hit especially hard. Roads were blocked for a week or more, and travel between New York City and Boston was impossible. In fact, there wasn’t really anything that could be done about the roads — except to wait for warmer weather to melt the snow.

 

2: The Buffalo Blizzard of 1977

A modest snowfall and brutal winds averaging 45 mph (72.4 kph), with gusts of 75 mph (120.7 kph) would’ve made for a nasty storm at any time, but an unusually cold and snowy winter had left several feet of packed snow already on the ground. As if that weren’t bad enough, snow covered much of the frozen surface of nearby Lake Erie, giving the wind even more snow to drift and blow. The result was zero visibility and roads blocked by snow. The storm brought intense cold (the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees in just a few hours) and stranded people at work or, worse, in their cars [source: NOAA]. The conditions led to 29 deaths in Western New York and Southern Ontario. Storm effects were felt into Canada and as far east as Watertown, N.Y.

Although the city of Buffalo generally gets less snow than other nearby cities and has warmer winter temperatures than many northern regions, this one storm cemented Buffalo’s reputation as the blizzard capital of the United States. In fact, 1977 still holds Buffalo’s record for the most snow in one season — 199.4 inches (5.06 m) [source: NOAA].

 

 

The Midwestern U.S. has seen its share of snowstorms; the Blizzard of 1967 dumped two feet of snow on the region and killed more than 70 people.

Scott Olson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1: The Blizzard of 1967 – Midwestern U.S.

The Midwest has suffered through many brutal blizzards and monstrous snow storms. However, many parts of this region are more sparsely populated than the eastern U.S., so the effects of these storms haven’t been as acute. This storm, however, hit not just Chicago but cities as disparate as Kalamazoo, Mich., and Gary, Ind. [source: NOAA].

Snow totals topped 2 feet (61 cm), and winds exceeded 50 mph (80.5 kph). Sadly, the storm left 76 dead — 26 in Chicago alone [source: Chicago Tribune]. It set the record for a 24-hour snowfall in Chicago (23 inches or 58.4 cm). Strangely, the area saw record high temperatures in the 60s and a severe tornado outbreak in the days before the storm hit.

For more information on snowstorms and other weather-related events, take a look at the links on the next page.

Thailand: Super-canal may prevent floods

Thailand: Super-canal may prevent floods – CNN.

Thai authorities are considering the construction of a super-express waterway through Bangkok to prevent future floods similar to the one that has crippled the Thai capital and brought manufacturing in other parts of the country to a standstill.

A team of disaster experts from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok is now investigating permanent solutions to the disaster that has left hundreds dead.

“One of the urgent solutions is a super-express floodway,” Thanawat Jarupongsakul, from the university’s Unit for Disaster and Land Information Studies, told the Bangkok Post.

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Under the plan, existing natural canals — some of them more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) long — would be linked in a 200-km “super-highway” that would divert the course of floodwaters from the north.

The super-canal would hold 1.6 billion cubic meters of water and drain run-off at a rate of 6,000 cubic meters per second — the equivalent of two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools a second.

“This idea is much cheaper than digging a new river as a floodway,” Thanawat said.

He said the proposed scheme would involve the construction of a kilometer-wide exclusion zone next to the floodway to prevent properties from being inundated, and a raised highway on both side of the canal.

The super-express floodway would then drain upstream run-off directly into the sea.

The university team is also looking at other flood-prevention measures such as a better early-warning system, improved water resource management, a flood tax, the use of a flood-risk map for urban development and groundwater-use controls.

“Now, the government must stop [trying to] solve flood problems with political methods,” Thanawat told the Bangkok Post. He said poor water management rather than excess rain had caused this year’s severe flooding, adding that natural swamps in the west of Thailand’s Central Plains, which once absorbed water flow, had been developed into industrial and residential areas, blocking the natural floodway.

While giant flood tunnels in the Bangkok metropolitan area could drain floodwater from the city, they could not cope with a massive inundation from the north.

“If there is no step forward, foreign investors will eventually disappear from the country and the next generation will be still worried whether flooding will happen or not,” he said.

Climate Change Evaporates Part of China's Hydropower

Climate Change Evaporates Part of China’s Hydropower: Scientific American.

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WATER FALL: Unusually low water levels in many Chinese rivers has contributed to a big drop in hydropower production. Image: Tomasz Dunn/Flickr

SHANGHAI — China has set ambitious goals for itself to develop hydropower to help mitigate the risks of climate change, but increasing extreme weather events likely rooted in climate change are now sabotaging the goals’ foundations.

The latest blow came in September, when many major rivers across China ran into an unusual shrinkage, with less than 20 percent water remaining at some stretches. As a result, the nation’s hydroelectric generation dropped by almost a quarter compared with last year. There has been an ever-widening decrease in power each month since July, according to a recent government statement.

As water stocks in key hydro stations decline, the regular dry season is approaching. The resulting stress on hydroelectric generation will last into next year, the statement said.

The Chinese government has yet to explain why the water flows slumped. But experts blamed it on climate change, warning of more future droughts in areas traditionally blessed with water.

If this expectation comes true, it will hamper China’s hydropower sector, which contributes most of the country’s carbon-free electricity. It will also threaten a national strategy in transmitting electricity from resource-rich western China to feed the country’s power-hungry manufacturing sector, most of which is in the east.

For Guangdong province, located on China’s east coast, this threat has already turned into a daily reality. Since its western neighbors this year failed to send as much electricity as usual, the manufacturing hub, with a capacity to produce more than half of the world’s desktops and toys, is forced to conserve electricity.

Turbines left high and dry
China Southern Power Grid, the region’s electricity distributor, attributed the energy shortage partly to the evaporation of hydropower.

As of July, on average, not even half of its installed hydropower capacity found water to turn turbines, the company’s statistics show. And several major hydro stations, built as part of the west-to-east electricity transmission plan, failed to do their jobs.

Goupitan, the largest hydroelectric generator in Guizhou province, reportedly produced only 10 percent of its normal output per day, due to shrinking water flows. And in another hydro station called Longtan, located in the Guangxi region, this year’s missing rain dropped its reservoir’s water level to a point dozens of meters lower than previous years.

“This will definitely negatively affect our hydroelectric production from now to next summer,” said Li Yanguang, who is in charge of public relations in the power station. Asked whether next summer — a regular rainy season — could make the situation better, Li answered in a cautious tone.

“This totally depends on weather,” he said. “We can’t predict that.”

Hydro growth plan sticks despite falling power output
But Lin Boqiang, one of China’s leading energy experts, is confident that the nation’s hydroelectric generation may just go in one direction: getting worse.

“If climate change caused this year’s water flow decreases, which I think it did, and then its impact [on rivers] will be a long term. It will take a toll on China’s hydroelectric output, and also push up the cost of using it,” explained Lin, who directs the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

But still, from Lin’s point of view, such setbacks can’t compete with the Chinese desire for tapping more water power. China, already the world’s largest hydropower user, plans to add another 120 gigawatts by 2015 — a crucial step toward greening 15 percent of its power mix by the end of the decade.

Yang Fuqiang, a senior climate and energy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed that China’s hydropower plan will stand, though not primarily for energy supply concerns.

Although a climate-resilient approach is factored into the designs of hydro projects, China is still likely to suffer from hydroelectric output decline, says Yang. But the nation can seek more clean energy from the sun or wind, which won’t be affected by climate change, and get the electricity generated elsewhere via a smart grid, he said, referring to an advanced transmission infrastructure China has been building.

So what’s the point of keeping hydro?

“In the future, the importance of hydro projects won’t be on power generation, but on water management,” Yang explained. “It helps control floods, ensure ships transportation and reserve water — a function that [water-scarce] China needs badly.”

Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

Flooding in Southern Pakistan

Flooding in Southern Pakistan : Natural Hazards.

Flooding in Southern Pakistan

acquired October 28, 2011 download large image (8 MB, JPEG)
Flooding in Southern Pakistan

acquired September 11, 2011 download large image (8 MB, JPEG)

Floods were slowly receding in southern Pakistan’s Sindh Province in late October 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these images on October 28, 2011 (top), and September 11, 2011 (bottom).

Both images use a combination of visible and infrared light to better distinguish between water and land. Water is dark blue, vegetation is green, bare ground is pink-beige, and clouds are pale blue-green.

The flooding resulted from unusually heavy monsoon rains over southern Pakistan in late summer of 2011. This flooding occurred one year after historic floods struck the country.

By late October, flooding had receded significantly, but compared to typical conditions at this time of year, water remained very high. On October 27, 2011, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that stagnant water continued to pose serious environmental and health hazards. Waterborne diseases were on the rise, and the onset of winter was expected in many flood-affected areas in mid-November. Ironically, surrounded by standing water, one resource locals lacked was clean drinking water, OCHA said.

  1. References

  2. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2011, October 27). Pakistan Monsoon 2011 Highlights / Key Priorities. Accessed October 28, 2011.

NASA images courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument: 
Terra – MODIS

Will the Thailand floods drown the hard drive?

Will the Thailand floods drown the hard drive? | ExtremeTech.

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There’s fresh news on the imminent hard drive shortages the IT industry is facing, and it isn’t particularly good. Asus’s CFO, David Chang, has warned that the company’s supplies of HDDs will run out by the end of November.

“Substitutes for HDD are very few, so if the situation persists, not only notebook production will be affected but also desktops, and other component shipments will also drop,” Chang told Reuters. Retail prices on HDDs are already skyrocketing. The 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3?s price has risen to $79 at Newegg, up from $69 not two weeks ago. It’s now the only 1TB drive south of a Benjamin. WD’s Caviar Green series is now up to $109 with high performance drives like the Caviar Black all the way back to $169 for a 1TB model.

Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K3000, which debuted this spring at $180 for a 3TB drive, is now selling on Newegg for a cool $399. Consumer prices are being driven by speculation, though its impossible to say if Newegg or the drive manufacturers themselves are responsible. Between the two, Newegg seems the more likely suspect. Raising HDD prices immediately may win the HDD manufacturers greater profits in the short term, but it erodes the crucial cost/GB ratio between HDDs and SSDs. Even at current retail prices, there’s still no real subsitute for a hard drive. At a certain point, however, customers will stop preferring large capacity drives at purchase, and begin opting for smaller SSDs, possibly with plans to pick up a USB 3.0-powered external once HDD prices fall again.

WD Factory, Thailed

The best way to keep that from happening is for the HDD manufacturers to keep as tight a reign on OEM costs as possible. Thus far, the price spikes here have been more modest; Asus reports jumps of 20-40 percent on certain models. Drive sourcing could become a major problem in the months to come as this type of shortage provides explosively fertile ground for a gray market in HDDs and HDD components. OEMs on razor-thin margins are going to be under enormous pressure to keep costs low, and aren’t likely to ask too many questions when it comes to securing drives.

Thailand, meanwhile, has no quick relief to offer. The government has stated that it hopes to have factories up and running again in three months, though it will take still more time for swamped industrial complexes to return to full output.

Floods Inch Closer To Heart Of Thailand's Capital

Floods Inch Closer To Heart Of Thailand’s Capital | Fox News.

BANGKOK — Clamoring aboard bamboo rafts and army trucks, residents living on the heavily inundated outskirts of Bangkok fled waterlogged homes Thursday as floodwaters inched closer to the heart of the threatened Thai capital and foreign governments urged their citizens to avoid all but essential travel.

Most of the city remained dry and most of its more than 9 million residents were staying put to protect their homes. Still, uncertainty over Bangkok’s fate and the start of a government-declared five-day holiday fueled an exodus of thousands of people fearing the worst who took to clogged highways and air terminals to get out of town.

Tears welling in her eyes, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra acknowledged her government could not control the approaching deluge.

“What we’re doing today is resisting the force of nature,” Yingluck told reporters. She said the water bearing down on Bangkok was so massive that “we cannot resist all of it.”

The floods, the heaviest in Thailand in more than half a century, have drenched a third of the country’s provinces and killed close to 400 people. For weeks, they have crept down from the central plains, flowing south toward the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok is in the way, and today it is literally surrounded by behemoth pools of water flowing around and through it via a complex network of canals and rivers.

By Thursday, flooding had inundated seven of Bangkok’s 50 districts, most on the northern outskirts. There, roads have turned into rivers and homes and businesses are swamped. On a flooded key east-west artery, police were turning back small cars, telling them the road had become impassable.

The government has expressed deep concern over higher-than-normal tides expected through the weekend. Yingluck has warned the entire city could flood if the Chao Phraya river, which snakes its way through the heart of the metropolis, crests above flood barriers lining its banks.

The river has overflowed already, sending ankle-high water lapping at the white exterior walls of Bangkok’s gilded Grand Palace, a highly treasured complex that once housed the kingdom’s monarchy and is a major tourist attraction.

The water has receded with the tides, slightly flooding the area in the morning and evening, but leaving it bone dry in the afternoon.

After visiting the Grand Palace on Thursday, American tourist Kathy Kiernan said she wasn’t too concerned about flooding in the capital.

“We were a little worried when we got in to see sandbags around our hotel,” said the 47-year-old from Salt Lake City, Utah. “But so far it’s pretty normal. Everything looks fine, though we know anything can happen.”

Though floods a day earlier swept through Bangkok’s Don Muang airport and shut it down, the city’s main international airport is operating as usual.

Several foreign governments issued advisories urging their citizens against all but essential travel to Bangkok. Britain’s Foreign Office said “flooding is likely to disrupt transport, close tourist attractions and may affect electricity and water supplies.”

The U.S. Embassy cautioned Americans that ground travel around Thailand was difficult and the situation should be monitored closely.

Buses, planes and trains at the city’s transportation hubs were filling up, as many decided to wait out the floods in their home towns or in unaffected beach resorts to Bangkok’s south and east.As fears of urban disaster set in, emergency preparations continued.

Websites posted instructions on the proper way to stack sandbags. Many residents fortified vulnerable areas of their houses with bricks, gypsum board and plastic sheets. Walls of sandbags or cinderblocks covered the entrances of many buildings.

Residents stocking up on necessities have raided supermarket shelves, setting off a cycle of panic buying, and stores have posted notices that flooding has disrupted supply chains and left them unable to restock some items. But food was nevertheless plentiful, as most of the city’s thousands of restaurants, bars and street-side food stalls were operating full-swing.

Nuntaporn Khorcharoen, whose home is adjacent to the heavily inundated Bang Phlat district, said her family had stocked up and was staying put.

“My father is adamant we have to stay to oversee the situation,” the 30-year-old said. “He said even without electricity, we will still have something to live on.”

Wendy Zukerman, Asia-Pacific reporter

bangkokfloods.jpg(Image: Altaf Qadri/AP/PA)

Bangkok’s main river broke its banks overnight forcing thousands of residents to flee the flooding Thai capital.

Last week, Thailand’s government was confident that Bangkok’s elaborate scheme of flood walls, canals, dikes and underground tunnels would protect the city of nine million people from flooding.

But quoting governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, Reuters reports that 90 per cent of Bangkok’s northern Don Muang district is under water and another fifteen city districts were threatened by floods this weekend. “Massive water is coming,” Sukhumbhand said.

Chao Phraya River, which snakes around Bangkok, swelled after floodwaters from the north teamed with increasingly high tides. The BBC reports that Sukhumbhand issued an evacuation alert for residents in three northern districts. “This is the first time I am using the term ‘evacuation’, the first time I’m really asking you to leave,” Mr Sukhumbhand said.

Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinwatra, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that much of Bangkok is now expected to see floodwaters of between 10 centimetres and 1.5 metres depending on area, diversion strategies and the strength of dykes. “After assessing the situation, we expect floodwater to remain in Bangkok for around two weeks to one month before going into the sea,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, this deluge is caused by unusually heavy monsoon rain.

It is Thailand’s worst flooding in fifty years. Since mid July 373 people have died, and the waters have disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million. More than 113,000 people are in shelters and 720,000 people seeking medical attention.

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Hurricane Rina

Hurricane Rina Rages in Space Station Astronaut Video | Hurricane News & Tropical Storms | International Space Station & Human Spaceflight | Space.com.

 

This image of Hurricane Rina was taken by NASA's Terra satellite on Oct. 24, 2011.
This visible image of Hurricane Rina was taken by the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite on Oct. 24, 2011 at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT) when it was off the coast of Mexico. Rina’s southwestern edge was over Honduras at this time.
CREDIT: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

From high above Earth, the astronauts on the International Space Station have a unique view of the menacing Hurricane Rina raging below, and by the looks of a video recorded today (Oct. 25), the view from space reveals quite a storm.

“We have a view of Hurricane Rina in the video camera here,” space station commander Mike Fossum of NASA radioed to Mission Control in Houston. It’s a biggun.”

From Fossum’s perspective, the cloudy white mass of the hurricane can clearly be seen beneath the space station as it passes overhead. The video of Hurricane Rina  from space compiles multiple camera angles from the orbiting lab. The footage was captured at 2:39 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) today as the space station flew 248 miles (399 kilometers) over the Caribbean Sea, east of Belize.

 

“We’re seeing it too, Mike — sustained winds of about 105 miles an hour [169 kph],” Mission Control replied.

 

Rina, which formed over the northwest Caribbean Sea, is the sixth of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. The hurricane is currently a Category 2 storm, but appears to be intensifying as it approaches southeastern Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. It could be bumped up to Category 3 or higher by tonight.

Hurricane Rina is currently located about 300 miles (483 km) east-southeast of Cheturnal, Mexico, and is moving west-northwest at a glacial pace of 3 mph (4.8 kph), according to NASA officials.

Hurricane warnings have been issued for the region stretching from north of Puna Gruesa, Mexico to Cancun.

Storms receive names when they are officially classified as tropical storms or hurricanes. Rina is the 17th named storm of the 2011 season.

Astronauts on the International Space Station often take photos or videos of compelling natural and man-made phenomena that are visible out the windows of the complex, including the northern and southern lights, massive storms or the lights from densely populated cities.