Archive for Floods
e360.yale.edu 15th June 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The Gulf of Mexico’s hypoxic zone, an oxygen-depleted area created by excessive nutrient pollution, isexpected to reach record proportions this year as a result of the extreme flooding in the Mississippi River basin, according to a forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using nutrient load data compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists calculate that the hypoxic zone, also known as the “dead zone,” could cover 8,500 to 9,421 square miles, an area about the size of New Hampshire. The dead zone — which is created when algal blooms remove oxygen from the water and suffocate marine life — has reached an average 6,000 square miles during the last five years. But with the flow rate of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers nearly double the normal rate this spring, the quantity of nutrients entering the Gulf is about 35 percent higher than usual, according to NOAA. The dead zone, located along the coast, forces Gulf fishermen farther offshore.’
www.nytimes.com 8th February 2011
The latest severe drought to befall the world has hit China resulting in a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) alert warning of wheat shortages from the region. The drought is the worst for 60 years in the country, which is the largest wheat producer in the world. For Shandong province, one of the main provinces for wheat growing, the drought could be the worst in 200 years, unless substantial rain falls by the end of the month. The reduced crop yield could have wider implications for global wheat prices, which are already seen as being behind the popular protests in Madagascar, Tunisia and Egypt. The widespread droughts and wildfires in Russia last Summer, as well as the recent severe floods in Australia, have brought international attention to the wheat market as the two countries are also large exporters. However, China has previously been self-sufficient in wheat. The current droughts, which are affecting 5.16 million hectares of China’s 14 million hectares of wheat fields, will force the Chinese government to buy from abroad forcing up the cereal’s prices even further.
www.bbc.co.uk 6th December 2010
The heaviest rainfall in four decades has caused a huge landslide in the Colombian Andes, possibly killing as many as 50 people in the city of Medellin. Although only one body has been recovered from the rubble so far by rescue teams with sniffer dogs, more than 50 homes were buried in the La Gabriela district of Bello, north of Medellin. One Red Cross worker has claimed that as many as 200 are missing. Seven have been rescued alive. The confirmed dead bring the total amount of lost life due to landslides this year to 176 in Colombia alone, according to the Red Cross. Many more have had to leave their homes. In response to the devastation, the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said: “this tragedy we are experiencing, not only in the Atlantic coast but across the country, has no precedent in our history. We estimate that there will be more than two million people affected”. In the adjacent country of Venezuela, 70,000 have been displaced by similar flooding. The President Hugo Chavez has stated that he will seize private land to shelter those who have lost their homes. The extreme weather has been caused by the La Nina climatic phenomenon.
www.guardian.co.uk 18th November 2010
Last year’s devastating floods in Cumbria, particularly in the towns of Cockermouth, Keswick, Warrington, has instigated local government to rethink its approach to flood prevention. With the government reducing the budget for flood defence and coastal erosion prevention by £260 million, as well as decentralising flood management, local planning bodies, together with the Environment Agency are mulling over the idea of restoring the meanders, flood meadows and plantations of the Lake District’s natural landscape. It is hoped that the restoration will ‘slow-down’ heavy rainfall from the Pennine chain and Cumbrian fells. The most drastic change in the landscape came in the 1960s when a series of open channels were cut into absorbent peat moors to improve ‘sterile’ land. They are now considered to reduce the natural sponge effect of the terrain. As such they aided last year’s flood which saw over five miles of the Windermere River rise above eight feet, destroying local homes, hotels, and boat-houses.
www.independent.co.uk 14th November 2010
Under plans drawn up by Richard Benyon, the Water Minister, people in the UK living near the sea or rivers will be hit by a controversial flood tax so that the government can fill a £260 million hole in flood defence spending. In return for the tax, which would be on top of higher insurance premiums already imposed on people susceptible to flooding, local communities would have more of a say in where the defences are erected. A consultation for the plan will go ahead this week despite coinciding with the anniversary of the Cumbria floods last year which displaced hundreds of people. The recent budget cuts undertaken by the coalition government saw the Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which oversees flood defence, have its funding cut by 27%, the second largest reduction after the treasury. This involved the total budget for coastal erosion and flooding dropping by £260 million to £2.1 billion.
Sources: news.sky.com 11th September 2010
A day long thunderstorm has caused the Dragone River in Southern Italy to burst its banks causing devastating floods in the nearby village of Atrani. One woman is missing and presumed dead after water swept through the village picking up cars on the way. Firefighter and coastguards continue to search the water-logged streets but, so far, to no avail. An underground sewer system designed to take surface run-off out of the village was over-run when the river’s waters, on their way down from the mountains to the Mediterranean, hit the settlement.
Sources: news.sky.com 5th September 2010
More than 250 homes have been evacuated in the Australian state of Victoria as 200mm of rain fell in 24 hours. The heavy rainfall caused the worst flooding in the region for 15 years yet the water levels are not thought to have peaked yet. A further 40,000 homes are believed to have no power and the state government are preparing to evacuate more families from stricken areas. So far 50 army personnel have been called in to help with the situation.
Sources: http://www.newscientist.com 3rd September 2010
This years hurricane season was predicted to be a busy one with Colorado State University predicting 18 tropical storms of which 10 would reach hurricane force. Record sea-temperatures and a weather system known as La Niña were cited as the cause to such activity. However, compared to the last few years which saw larger hurricanes forming before 20th August, this year has been unusually quiet, defying predictions. The reason for this is a weather pattern over Pakistan and Russia that has disrupted the jet stream. This weather pattern is also responsible to the severe floods in Pakistan and the heat-wave that struck Russia over the Summer (causing widespread wildfires and food shortages). As a result, instead of the humid air needed for the development of tropical storms, dry air is sitting above the Atlantic’s surface.
Is this the beginning of a wider shift in climatic patterns? Are anomalies such as this merely that, i.e.: a glitch in the records? Or is it due to something more disturbing such as global warming? Although the USA and the Caribbean Islands may have been given some much needed respite from hurricane season, the environmental consequences of Russia’s extreme weather may prove to have a far more profound impact on the world.