Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hardliners blame India, US for Pakistan's floods - A rash of reports in the Pakistani media blame India, principally, for the massive floods, purportedly because New Delhi had deliberately diverted waters from dams in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and from the ones it "controlled in Afghanistan”. Some reports also charged that US was manipulating weather patterns over Pakistan. US officials dismissed the idea with incredulity.
The inflammatory reports, in a country that's been dubbed "Paranoidistan", surfaced even as Pakistan's Foreign Ministeri, in an interview to ABC, endorsed a purported ISI report last week that home-grown extremism and not India constituted a primary security threat to the country. The new line, which if genuine, would reverse 63 years of regarding India as the primary threat, is ostensibly aimed at extracting more aid from the US and the international community, which have repeatedly advised Islamabad to give up its India fixation, and have been reluctant to open their purse strings because of, among other things, Pakistan's hardline policies towards India. Pakistan's recalibration, amid unabated floods and fears of extremists getting ahead of the government in providing relief, is already starting to show results. The US has increased its aid to nearly $100 million, the World Bank has sanctioned a loan of $ 900 million, and various western and Gulf/Arab countries have also bumped up their initial modest contribution to help out Pakistan from being completely washed up.

**You could not step twice into the same river;
for other waters are ever flowing on to you.**

This morning -

Yesterday -
8/18/10 -

No current tropical cyclones.

The peak of Atlantic hurricane season is nigh but glancing about the tropics one would hardly know it. So far the Atlantic season has missed the fevered expectations of forecasters who predicted this year might become one of the most active on record.
It's been 11 days since weak little Tropical Storm Colin died in the deep Atlantic, a long stretch to pass without a storm in mid-August.
Although the tropics remain quiet for now, there are indications that may soon change, with the season's first major hurricane potentially developing next week. "Some models are indicating as many as three storms will develop over the next few weeks. Several of these are predicted to be strong hurricanes by the models. I think that this will really be the start of the hurricane season."
The 2010 season began in late June with a bang. Alex, which struck Mexico, became the first Category 2 hurricane to develop in June during the Atlantic hurricane season since 1966. But since then it's been incredibly quiet out there, with only two minimal tropical storms. Historically, for a normal season with 10 or 11 named storms, we'd expect to have had three by now.
Another measure of seasonal activity is accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, which essentially sums up total storm activity across a basin. During a normal hurricane season the ACE value is around 100. Before the season began the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted an ACE value of around 210 this year. It's still early in the season — most of the strongest hurricanes come in late August, September and early October - but the 2010 season's present ACE value of 10.7 is still 50 percent below a normal year at this time.
The season's sluggish start was attributed to a strong ridge of high pressure over the eastern U.S. for much of the summer. In addition to giving Houston its warmest start to August ever, the ridge generally has brought sinking air across the western Atlantic Basin, and sinking air makes it hard for storms to develop. As cool fronts begin pushing into the northern United States, however, the ridge is weakening. In the tropical Pacific Ocean La NiƱa is strengthening as predicted, which also favors storm development. And finally, sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic where most storms develop remain at RECORD LEVELS, even higher than during the record 2005 season. "So there is a tremendous amount of heat energy available."
Instead of initial predictions of 18 named storms and an ACE value of 200, more realistic predictions with the season's slow start are 15 named storms and an ACE value around 150. At present forecasters are watching a tropical wave in the central Caribbean Sea, which isn't expected to develop, and a vigorous tropical wave coming off the African coast. Some models forecast this wave to become an intense hurricane next week, although it appears increasingly likely the system will turn north into the open Atlantic. For Houston, time is running out to see a hurricane strike this year. Although hurricane season does not officially end until Nov. 30, the state of Texas has been hit by a hurricane just three times in the past 150 years after Sept. 24.


Climate change, rather than human hunters, drove the wooly mammoth to extinction. That’s the claim from scientists who say that the hairy beasts lost their grazing grounds as forests rapidly replaced grasslands after the last ice age, roughly 20,000 years ago. “The landscape at the last glacial maximum would have been dominated by grasses and small shrubs and bushes, a perfect vegetation for mammoths and other megafaunal grazers. But as the climate warmed, the mammoths habitat of grassland was completely taken over by forest." The tree takeover was boosted by more intense sunlight and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Not only did this change happen across a vast area covering modern day Europe and North America, it also happened very fast. “We’re talking about a warming over a 2,000 to 5,000 year period. In just a few thousand years the mammoth’s habitat and food source more or less disappeared...A few thousand years would be insufficient time for a large animal like the mammoth with slow regeneration time to adapt quick enough...And as the climate warmed, human hunting may have led to the final demise of an already environmentally stressed species.”

What’s going on with the weather? Plenty of folks are asking that this summer. Record heat, the terrible smoke and heat in Russia. Moscow, Russia reached 100 degrees for the first time ever and the heat and smoke from burning forests has been unrelenting. Now the terrible flooding in Pakistan with thousands of lives lost and hundreds of thousands displaced and without water or proper sanitary conditions. Is this another sign of climate change?
All scientists studying weather, climate, earth systems, oceans, global and climate change agree that one or even several record weather events such as the heat this summer in D.C. or the record heat in Russia do not mean the overall climate of the Earth is changing. But the increasing frequency of record and extreme events does appear to be a “signal” of a changing climate. Extreme weather events are becoming more common.
Some might ask how can a record breaking snowy winter here in DC, followed by a record breaking hot summer both be a sign of a changing climate? The answer may be that with a climate changing, the global circulation patterns are changing. We know the high latitudes are warming at a faster rate than areas near the equator. Look at the recent global temperatures for July - worldwide the second warmest July in weather record. Even Finland almost reached 100°. So far this year, 2010, worldwide is on a track to be the warmest year in weather records. Certainly there are some “cool” spots such as Chile and Argentina this July, a cold winter there, and central Siberia for the year to date but the overall pattern is pretty striking. This has been a warm year and in some areas an extremely warm year for the Earth.
Some of the greatest warming, the highest departures from long term averages, are at the high latitudes across Canada, Greenland and northern Russia. What is interesting is that some of the first very crude global circulation models (GCMs) of the global climate, created about 35 years ago, showed that in an atmosphere with a doubling of carbon dioxide (we’re getting there) global warming would be greatest at higher latitudes. What we’re seeing with this patterns does “prove” anything. But the more and more we see observations agreeing with prediction, the more the evidence mounts that the predictions and the “models” used to make those predictions are valid.


A surge in people presenting with flu-like illness at a New Zealand hospital's emergency department on Aug 16 almost prompted the facility to trigger its crisis plan. Bay of Plenty is on the northern coast of New Zealand's North Island. Crisis measures would have included, for example, discharging patients early and canceling elective surgeries. New Zealand is among the countries currently reporting high levels of pandemic H1N1 activity. Elsewhere in the country, a primary school in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand's South Island, closed after one of its students was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus. The school's janitors are disinfecting surfaces at the school, including tables, chairs, and computers.

Finland checks suspected link between narcolepsy and pandemic vaccine - The suspicion of a link arose when a Finnish pediatric neurologist noted a slight increase in narcolepsy cases this year. A similar pattern has been noted in Sweden. The director of the National Institute for Health and Welfare's vaccine department said that she doubted the existence of a connection but said the question should be examined.

Universal seasonal flu vaccination push (contains the pandemic H1N1 strain) - In February the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended seasonal flu immunizations for everyone except babies younger than 6 months old. It said expanding the recommendation addresses two problems: Flu complications can occur even in healthy people, and many adults with conditions such as diabetes and asthma don't consider themselves at increased risk.
In its new informational materials, CVS is promoting the seasonal flu vaccine, which contains the pandemic H1N1 strain, as an "all in one" flu shot. Based on the new recommendation and the results of a customer survey, CVS expects demand for flu shots to be high. More than a third (37%) of those who did not get vaccinated in 2009 responded that they were more likely to be immunized against the flu this season.