Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water map shows billions at risk of 'water insecurity' - About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. In western countries, conserving water for people through reservoirs and dams works for people, but not nature. They urge developing countries not to follow the same path. Instead, they say governments should to invest in water management strategies that combine infrastructure with "natural" options such as safeguarding watersheds, wetlands and flood plains.
More people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. "What we're able to outline is a planet-wide pattern of threat, despite the trillions of dollars worth of engineering palliatives that have totally reconfigured the threat landscape." Those "trillions of dollars" are represented by the dams, canals, aqueducts, and pipelines that have been used throughout the developed world to safeguard drinking water supplies. Looking at the "raw threats" to people's water security - the "natural" picture - much of western Europe and North America appears to be under high stress. However, when the impact of the infrastructure that distributes and conserves water is added in - the "managed" picture - most of the serious threat disappears from these regions. Africa, however, moves in the opposite direction.
"The problem is, we know that a large proportion of the world's population cannot afford these investments. In fact we show them benefiting less than a billion people, so we're already excluding a large majority of the world's population. But even in rich parts of the world, it's not a sensible way to proceed. We could continue to build more dams and exploit deeper and deeper aquifers; but even if you can afford it, it's not a cost-effective way of doing things." According to this analysis, and others, the way water has been managed in the west has left a significant legacy of issues for nature. Whereas Western Europe and the US emerge from this analysis with good scores on water stress facing their citizens, wildlife there that depends on water is much less secure, it concludes.
For developed countries and the Bric group - Brazil, Russia, India and China - alone, "$800bn per year will be required by 2015 to cover investments in water infrastructure, a target likely to go unmet." For poorer countries, the outlook is considerably more bleak. "In reality this is a snapshot of the world about five or 10 years ago, because that's the data that's coming on line now. It's not about the future, but we would argue people should be even more worried if you start to account for climate change and population growth. Climate change is going to affect the amount of water that comes in as precipitation; and if you overlay that on an already stressed population, we're rolling the dice." (map)

**Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.**
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - S. T. Coleridge

This morning -

Yesterday -
9/29/10 -

Indonesia on Thursday cancelled a tsunami alert issued after a major quake struck off West Papua. The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency measured the earthquake at 7.4 while the US Geological Survey recorded two closely spaced quakes measuring 6.2 and 7.2. "The tsunami alert has been lifted and also the quake had no potential for destruction but it was felt in several areas." There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the remote area. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said no warnings were in effect following the quakes in the remote area located between the island of New Guinea and northern Australia. A 7.1-magnitude quake off the north coast of Papua in June killed 17 people and left thousands homeless.

TAIWAN - The Central Weather Bureau on Wednesday welcomed 10 mild earthquakes, including a magnitude 5.1 temblor, that shook eastern Taiwan's Hualien County over 15 hours beginning Tuesday night. No casualties reported. The director of the bureau's Seismology Center said a series of mild quakes in a short period of time helps reduce the likelihood of a powerful temblor in the area as the intense seismological activity releases large accumulations of tectonic pressure. Following a magnitude-4.3 earthquake that occurred at 9: 10 p.m. Tuesday, nine other temblors had hit the area northeast of the Hsiulin seismic observation station in Hualien County as of noon Wednesday. Of the 10 jolts, the greatest one was the magnitude 5.1 temblor. Both the magnitude 4.3 and magnitude 5.1 earthquakes were centered near the Taroko Gorge area.
Eastern Taiwan is located on a juncture between the Philippine Sea and the Eurasian tectonic plates, where underground activity is common and tectonic pressure regularly builds up.Thus the eastern coastal areas, including Hualien, Yilan and Taitung, are quake-prone. "Although it was RARE to have an area hit by 10 earthquakes in one day, it was not unprecedented." Similar incidents occurred in the Hualien area in April 2005 and June 2009, and in Jiasian, Kaohsiung County in March this year.


Drilling into an active volcano doesn't sound like the safest idea, but a plan to do so along a volcano near Naples, Italy, could help protect the city from a potentially catastrophic eruption. Geologists will drill into the volcanic formation, called Campi Flegrei, early next month. The volcano, part of a larger volcanic arc that includes Mount Vesuvius, last erupted in 1538. The ground around the volcano, however, has been swelling for the past 40 years, stoking fears of an eruption that would threaten the roughly 1 million residents of Naples.
The drilling will let scientists pull out rocks that will allow them to trace the volcano's evolution, and predict its future. In early October, drillers will test the waters with a short well, and if everything looks good, the drills will plunge thousands of feet into the volcano in the spring of 2011. The researchers hope to pinpoint the center of the magma simmering beneath the caldera and to lower monitoring equipment into the well to keep tabs on the volcano.
Locals can't help but cast a wary eye on Campi Flegrei these days, due to a phenomenon called bradyseism, or the alternate uplifting and subsiding of the ground over the span of several years. This activity centers on the town of Pozzuoli, which suffered damage from two major uplifts between 1970 and 1972 and between 1982 and 1984. The scientists have not said whether an eruption might occur anytime soon. Critics say the drilling project will be too close to Naples — the caldera is about 9 miles (15 km) west-southwest of the city — and could lead to earthquakes, or an explosion. Their fears aren't just the cries of volcano-drilling not-in-my-backyarders. A similar project in Iceland was halted last year after it unexpectedly found magma at a depth of just 6,900 feet (2,100 meters). Hitting magma close to the surface could, in theory, trigger an explosion in the well or set off small earthquakes. Having a big city nearby makes these dangers even more worrisome. Scientists estimate that magma lies at least 23,000 feet (7,000 m) below the surface of the caldera — nearly twice as deep as they plan to drill.

-Tropical storm NICOLE was 78 nmi SSE of Miami, Florida [Nicole has dissipated. A new low, not considered to be the remnant of Nicole, is forecast to move northward along the east coast of the U.S. as a gale center during the next couple of days. Heavy rainfall associated with the remnants of Nicole are likely to continue affecting portions of eastern Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas during the next day or so.]

Tropical Storm Nicole to Bring Heavy Rain to New York and U.S. East Coast - Tropical Storm Nicole dropped heavy rains that cut roads, washed away bridges and homes and may have killed at least one child as it moved through Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands before dissipating over the Straits of Florida. One child was reported swept away when a house succumbed to flood waters. Cuba’s meteorological institute reported “intense and heavy rains” were falling in its central provinces and warned of flooding in low-lying areas from east of Havana to Guantanamo.
Nicole has since become untrackable, according to a National Hurricane Center advisory at 5 p.m. East Coast time. The disappearance of Nicole doesn’t mean that New York and the rest of the U.S. East Coast will be spared heavy rains starting overnight Wednesday. “The weather forecast hasn’t changed much, you just can’t attach a name to it. Regardless whether Nicole existed or not, the situation was going to remain the same, a tremendous amount of tropical moisture is coming up the East Coast.” Flood watches are now posted from South Carolina to New Hampshire in advance of the storm.
As much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain may fall in New York’s five boroughs. Some areas may receive more. The heaviest rain will arrive in two waves, the first will be today from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., followed by a second late tonight. “Torrential rains could be falling from the Carolinas all the way up to New York City."
Washington and Baltimore were forecast to receive as much as 4 inches of rain, as were New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, and Delaware. Some areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware may get 7 inches. In addition, the weather service has issued a high-wind watch for eastern Long Island, parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as eastern Maine. Wind gusts as intense as 60 miles (96 kilometers) per hour may occur through Friday after tomorrow.
Before it dissipated, Nicole was the 14th storm with winds of at least 39 miles per hour of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The average season produces 11 storms. The center is also tracking two tropical waves over the central Atlantic that it says have a 10 & 20 percent chance of becoming tropical cyclones within two days.


MEXICO - A new mudslide has killed 16 people and left four missing in Chiapas, near the southern state of Oaxaca, where 11 people went missing following a previous landslide. The 16 were killed in the village of Reforma, in the town of Amatan in Mexico's southernmost Chiapas state. Another mudlside in Chiapas was reported earlier in the village of Nueva Colombia, where a woman and two children were missing. Mexico's southernmost state -- bordering Guatemala to the south, and Oaxaca to the west -- is among its poorest, and has been among the hardest hit by RECORD RAINFALLS in recent months. Since May, at least 80 people have been killed and more than 810,000 have lost their homes, with the flooding and mudslides causing damage topping four billion dollars.