Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The trend continues - few disasters to report.

New science available to help predict extreme weather events - Australia's principle science and research agency, the CSIRO, says it's developed new web-based tools and data portals to help agencies in the Pacific better plan for extreme weather events. The new tools were showcased at a meeting last week in the Solomon Islands, hosted by the Pacific Australia-Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning Program, which is administered jointly by the CSIRO and Australia's Bureau of Meterology.
"The recent science that we've completed indicates more evidence for a trend in the past toward more hot days and more heavy rainfall events. And we are doing more work on understanding how El Nino and La Nina effect individual Pacific Island countries. And interestingly, in terms of the shorter term projections over the next say, one to nine months, we've got some new tools being developed to provide early warning for extreme sea levels and tropical cyclones, and extreme temperatures that might effect coral bleaching.
And finally, we're also looking at a new suite of about 30 different climate models and four new greenhouse gas emissions scenarios that go beyond those considered in the past, to do new projections for things like temperature and rainfall and for extreme events like cyclones, droughts and heavy rainfall. So I think we're getting more information now that is far more relevant to disaster risk management.
We have about seven different web based tools that are very popular and one of those tools for example is on climate futures, which is providing ready access in digestible form to some of these very detailed outputs from global climate models. And it presents the information in a way that I think is quite useful for risk management, because it always you to identify a "most likely" future, a "best case" and a "worst case".
We also have tools for providing access to observed climate data, over the last 50 or 60 years. And that provides a regional overview of how things have been changing. There's also a tropical cyclone data portal that provides information for each of the partner countries about how cyclones have changed in the past and it shows really nice tracks of those cyclones and some of the potential information about impacts. So there's a lot of information there that I think is providing access to science in ways that are much more easy to understand.
All of these data portals or web tools are freely accesible. Some of them have passwords which really just require you to do a training course before accessing the information. And that's just to ensure that people understand what they're looking at without misinterpreting it. So on one of the key, I guess, philosophies, in this program is to provide free and ready access to this information. I think there's a need for more people working directly with the scientists and with people in government, as well those practitioners for example the engineers and the water resource managers to try and bridge some of those gaps. And this is very labour intensive and it goes beyond science itself. And so there's a lot of thought being put into how we do that better in the future.
In the Pacific, there's a lot of variability from year to year in rainfall. This is largely driven by El Nino and La Nina. And this brings in some cases floods and in other cases droughts. And in many of the Pacific countries there are limitations to their flood management systems, to their water storage systems and to their waste disposal systems. So providing more infomation about how the climate has changed in the past as well as how the climate will change in the future, helps to give them a beter understanding of risk management.
And one of the key themes that keeps coming up is around disaster risk management and how to integrate that with climate change. So for example, if we know that there has been a trend towards increases in extreme rainfall in some countries and we expect that to continue in the future, we can design systems to cope with a larger amount of water in a shorter space of time."

**Much of life passes by as we sit and worry.
Estimates are that 40% of what we worry about never happens
and another 30% is worry about what has already happened
which is unchangeable.**
Margaret Lulic


Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)

This morning -
None 5.0 or higher.

Yesterday - 3/19/13 -

Worst-case scenario quake off Japan's southern coast could cost 40% of Japan's GDP - A magnitude-9.1 earthquake off the southern coast of Japan could cause 220.3 trillion yen ($2.33 trillion) in damage, or 42 percent of the country's gross domestic product, a government panel said March 18.

Volcano Webcams

El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands) - By noon Tuesday, more than 80 earthquakes. A clear trend of westward migration is visible, possibly corresponding to magma moving horizontally into new areas. At the moment, the seismic swarm has considerably decreased in energy. Whether this is a pause or already a sign of an end is impossible to say. IF a magmatic intrusion is the cause (there is no proof for this, after all), a plausible scenario could be the build-up of energy while pathways are temporarily blocked. Then, some larger quakes should be expected along with re-appearance of tremor when magma starts moving again.
Tuesday morning, the seismic crisis continued with little changes. A westward lateral migration of epicenters was visible. Depths remained mostly at 15-18 km, with perhaps a slight upwards trend towards shallower areas, but this is not very significant. As of 2am, the total number of earthquakes exceeded 120, most in the range of magnitude 2-3 and at 16-18 km depth beneath the western El Golfo bay. Volcanic tremor ws fluctuating, but still significant, suggesting magma is moving somewhere at depth. It doesn't take much for magma to penetrate the last 15-20 km and rupture the sea floor through a new eruptive fissure, but in many cases, such intrusions remain inside the crust and don't cause an eruption. On Monday, a powerful new earthquake swarm accompanied by volcanic tremor started under the western part of the island. The quakes are mostly at about 20 km depth. A plausible cause was that another magma intrusion from the mantle into the crust under the island has just started. (Map of recent earthquakes at El Hierro)


No current tropical storms.


Australia - Extreme weather plays havoc with the phones. Thousands of Telstra customers in Queensland have been left without home phones as the telecommunications giant struggles to overcome the summer of weather extremes. Telstra said it was worse than 2011 because it was also trying to reconnect phones in the aftermath of extreme weather in NSW and Victoria.
People across Ipswich expressed their frustration and anger. "We have been without a home phone for two weeks now." A Telstra spokeswoman said ongoing extreme weather in Queensland had resulted in 'significantly higher fault levels than normal, in some cases up to four times higher than normal operating levels. At this point we are unable to advise a timeframe for full restoration as some of our infrastructure remains under water and sustained poor weather is expected to continue to hamper restoration efforts. While we have had a few days of good weather across Queensland, water and lightning impacts our network and customers services in different ways - some will have problems straight away and others will start to notice problems over time. So faults keep coming in and this is the situation we are managing."


- Natura Pet Products is voluntarily recalling specific lots of dry pet food because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
- Pro-Amino International Inc. is recalling protein bars which may contain Salmonella. The product is the ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream Bar.