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5/24/2014

Monsoon Season

Filed under: bangladesh,climate change,disaster,india,png,weather — admin @ 4:19 am

Monsoonal flow develops in Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal The past week has seen the appearance of low-level monsoon flow in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, with an increase in rainfall activity in the region. This monsoonal flow is expected to strengthen and deepen with further advancement towards India likely this week. When the onset of the southwest monsoon arrives over Kerala, it signals the arrival of the monsoon over the Indian subcontinent. Based on the recent appearance of monsoonal flow in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, the India Meteorological Department expect onset at Kerala on 5 June (plus or minus four days). The normal date of monsoon onset over Kerala is 1 June. This past week has also seen enhanced tropical convection along the equator over Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and the western Pacific Ocean. Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) has recently weakened over the Indian Ocean. Climate models indicate it will remain weak over the next two weeks, with the chance of a very weak signal propagating eastwards along the equator over Southeast Asia and into the western Pacific. The MJO is not expected to be strong enough to have a substantial influence on tropical weather during the next fortnight.

A Bangladeshi ferry with around 200 passengers on board capsized in a river near the capital Dhaka. Police have stated six bodies have been recovered but more are still missing. The M.V. Miraj-4 ferry capsized in stormy weather in the Meghna river at Rasulpur in Munshiganj district, 27 kilometres from Dhaka. The accident occurred at around 3:30 pm (0930 GMT). So far six bodies had been recovered, including that of a child, according to Oliur Rahman, a police officer at the scene. With the monsoon season setting in more weather flooding and storm related problems can be expected.

4/7/2014

All Native Now

It was Good Friday, 50 years ago on March 27, 1964, that according to seismologists, the snow peaks of Prince William Sound jumped 33 feet into the air and fell back down. Emergency warnings about an earthquake-spurred tsunami went out to towns from Valdez, Alaska, to Malibu, Calif., but no one thought to send a message to the Chugach Natives in Chenega, Alaska.

Chenega chief Nikolas Kompkoff watched the mountains leap and the waters around his island disappear over the horizon.

Knowing the water would return with a vengeance, he ran his four daughters up a hill toward high ground. But the nine-story-tall tsunami was moving too fast for their little legs. Kompkoff made a decision: He grabbed the two girls closest to him, tucked them under his arms and ran up the slope, leaving the other two to be seized by the wave.

Days later, a postal pilot on his weekly mail drop could not find Chenega because every single house and a third of the residents had been washed out to sea.

When he circled back to the site he saw the village’s church on the hill with survivors waving.

Kompkoff found the body of his youngest daughter stuck in the high branches of a pine tree. He buried her, then left to join the survivors, all refugees scattered throughout Alaska. The government told the village of seal hunters they could never return. No longer able to hunt, Kompkoff became an Orthodox priest and a notorious drunk.

On Good Friday each year, Father Nikolas would return to his island with the remainder of his flock to place a cross among the broken sticks of the old village. Each year he swore they would rebuild.

The years passed, and the oath to rebuild seemed increasingly ludicrous. After a decade of helplessness, Father Nikolas put a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger. The bullet passed through his jaw. Embarrassed church bishops defrocked him in response. On Good Friday, 1989, the 25th anniversary of the earthquake, Kompkoff led his congregation (they still considered him “Father” Nick) in a commemoration of the tsunami’s dead at the church they built at New Chenega. The village had been resurrected stick by stick by Kompkoff’s nephew Larry Evanoff after Evanoff returned wounded from Vietnam.

What the celebrants did not know was that that very night another tsunami would head toward them, a wave of oil from the Exxon Valdez.

As the oil slick spread from the grounded tanker through Chugach waters, Exxon made the Old Chenega area what the industry calls a “sacrifice zone.” The company’s executives allowed it to be slathered by tons of crude.

Weeks after the spill, the president of Exxon stopped by New Chenega for a “we care” television photo-op. Village patriarch Paul Kompkoff, Nikolas’ brother, asked him, “Are my parents’ bones covered with oil?”

The official answer was that the bones were undisturbed. In fact, as I reported in my book, Vultures’ Picnic (http://www.palastinvestigativefund.org/?id=46) , both the oil and bones were being scooped up by Exxon bulldozers at that very moment.

The Chugach hired me to investigate the spill’s true cause and the true culprits. Paul Kompkoff asked me to arrange a secret meeting with Exxon in hopes of getting a few dollars so the new village could survive. In particular, the Chenegans wanted Exxon to hire them to clean up the beaches and fishing grounds still contaminated with Exxon’s gunk.

With Chenega leader Gail With Chenega leader Gail Evanoff, Kompkoff and I flew from Alaska to San Diego to corner Exxon USA General Manager Otto Harrison. It was now three years after the spill and still no money had been forthcoming. The Exxon honcho, an enormous Texan, took us to a corporate meeting room, and from across the giant conference table looked down at the diminutive Evanoff and said, “Now, Gail, ah cayn’t be payin’ a bunch o’ Natives to go ’round picking up oil that ain’t there, can I?”

In 2010, I returned to Prince William Sound for British television. On the Chugach’s islands, I picked up gobs of the “oil that ain’t there” in my (carefully gloved) hand. It was more than two decades after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Then I flew down to the Gulf of Mexico where I collected giant hunks of Deepwater Horizon oil nearly a year after the spill, more “oil that ain’t there” at least according to our government and BP television ads.

* In 2011, 22 years after the Alaska spill, Exxon paid for the damages but only after the Supreme Court cut the payout by 90 percent. Part of Chenega’s money was meant for a new fishing boat for Paul Kompkoff. But he was long dead by then, as were a third of my Native clients.

* I was in Chenega on the second anniversary of the Exxon spill. Paul Kompkoff and I snacked on dried salmon while we watched the first Gulf War on CNN. The U.S. Air Force was bombing the bejesus out of Baghdad.

The old man watched a long while in silence. Then said, in his slow, quiet voice, “I guess we’re all some kind of Native now.”

Flash Floods Worst Ever

Head of the National Disaster Management Council says today’s heavy rains and flash floods are the worst he’s ever witnessed for Honiara.

Loti Yates made the statement on national radio today when announcing the NDMO’s evacuation program for people worst hit by today’s heavy torrential rains and its consequential flash floods.

Reports reaching SIBC state communities in White River, Rove, Mataniko, Koa Hill and other areas located near rivers and streams are among the worst hit areas.

Other unconfirmed reports state that the flooding Mataniko River swept away homes, livestock and a number of people – with some of the people being found in seas outside of Point Cruz.

Heavy flooding also swept away the old Mataniko Bridge in Chinatown, and most businesses and offices were forced to close early today.

One shop owner in Chinatown reportedly opened his shop and invited people to take goods for free after the behind of the building was swept away by the flooding Mataniko River.

Director of National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates told SIBC News this current bad weather is the worst he’s seen since he took up his job as head of the NDMO.

“This event is the worst I’ve ever seen since taking up the job, that there are so much heavy rain around this area that creates this massive flash foods. Not only that, it won’t help when our drainage systems in the city are not working properly, contributing to the floods. Driving around to assess the situation myself today I was sad to notice the fact that there were children and women carrying little kids in the rain trying to evacuate themselves from the flooded areas and in some places it seems people’s belongings have been washed away by the Mataniko floods.”

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Office has urged road users to drive back to their homes and garage their vehicles.

NDMO Head Loti Yates told national radio today the road needs to be cleared for police and emergency response workers.

“It would be good if people just head straight to their homes rather than creating extra hurdles for emergency response workers. The police will need space to run their vehicles if we are to engage them to evacuate people from the high risk areas, we will all need space and it won’t help when everyone else wants to witness the events, creating extra traffic on our roads. I think for safety purposes please drive back to your homes, pack your vehicles and remain in the safety of your homes. That will be the biggest message I want to tell people because now the emergency response workers, like police and others working to help those affected will need space on the roads to carry out their duty.”

2/19/2014

Caribbean Climate Change

Filed under: antigua,caribbean,climate change,global islands,weather — admin @ 7:26 am

JONAS ROAD, Antigua , Feb 17 2014 – Antigua is one of the most drought-prone countries in the Caribbean. So whenever it rains, the inhabitants generally regard the weather as “showers of blessing”.

But that is starting to change. Many farmers now see the rains as a curse and are now fighting an uphill battle to save their crops, vital for both the local and foreign markets. “The yield and lifespan [of crops in a greenhouse] basically are three times as much as open-field production.” — Delrie Cole

“We are a drought-prone country,” Ruleta Camacho, senior environmental officer in the ministry of agriculture, said. “The issue now is that due to the impact of climate change, we are having exacerbated drought and exacerbated rainfall events.”

Heavy rainfall can damage crops and high humidity brings with it an infestation of pests and diseases, increasing the consumption of pesticides.

“We are having large amounts of rain in very short times. There are a number of communities that are affected by flood conditions, communities where the livelihoods of the population could be affected,” Camacho added.

One such community is Jonas Road where Delrie Cole has been farming for the last three years. But since Cole introduced greenhouse technology to his farm, he is no longer at the mercy of the rains.

With the greenhouses he is also able to grow his vegetables – cilantro, parsley, basil, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, pumpkins and tomatoes – during periods of drought or deluge.

“The need for the greenhouses came about because of climate change and a lack of production in the summer season when you have more stressful conditions,” he said.

“Due to the changing climate we are having hotter summers and it’s a pretty difficult time when you have the plants being stressed and the fruits are falling from the trees.

“The greenhouse basically gives you that edge where you can better operate in terms of control, cutting down some of the humidity that you would have during the summer,” he explained.

Greenhouse farming, which is cultivation of plants inside a building with glass walls and roof under controlled conditions, has become necessary with climate change.

Climate-proofing the tiny island of Petite Martinique includes a sea revetment 140 metres long to protect critical coastal infrastructure from erosion.

SANCHEZ, Petite Martinique, Feb 5 2014 – Sanchez is a small central business district in Petite Martinique, the tiny island that forms part of the tri-nation state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Petite Martinique’s 586 acres are dominated by communal, recreational, artisanal and industrial land in close proximity to each other, and in some cases sharing the same space. The local population of about 900 people use the beachfront land on Sanchez for boat-building, sports, recreation and other outdoor activities. “The coastal assets are being degraded at a rate that is clearly visible without measurements using scientific tools.” — Bentley Browne

But over the last two decades, the area has experienced extensive erosion. Authorities say that at least 30 metres have been lost over a 15- to 20-year period – a rate equal to 1.5 to 2.0 metres per year – causing severe destruction to the only level piece of land on the island.

The rocky coast located at the north of the beach shifts to a small coral reef, but it’s not enough to protect all of the shoreline from swells and currents. Incoming waves from the Atlantic Ocean regularly pound the shoreline at Sanchez. As a result, any sand moving along the near shore is automatically swept away and lost from the littoral system.

“Our vulnerabilities to natural disasters are tremendous and while we cannot prevent disasters, we can focus on mitigating and building resilience against impacts,” the minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique affairs, said Elvin Nimrod.

The erosion has exposed the soft ash-cinder layers, which are light grey to light brown in colour. Authorities worry that if the erosion is allowed to continue, the roadway leading from the end of the recreational field will be undermined and eventually collapse.

At the northernmost section of this eroded area, the headland has been protected by a retaining wall. However, sections of this wall have failed, and although it was recently rebuilt, even parts of that newer wall are also now failing. In addition, the armour stones that have been used to protect this wall are much too small to withstand storm waves, and this has likely contributed to the failure of this structure.

But Sanchez is finally getting help to deal with the problem. It is the first completed climate change intervention under the 10.5-million-dollar Reducing the Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (RRACC) Project being funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and administered by the St. Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat.

In 2012, Grenada requested support from the secretariat in addressing issues of coastal erosion and reduce compounding impacts from climate change.

The initiative for Carriacou and Petite Martinique was three-fold, outlining a comprehensive approach to address the issues with support from the RRACC.

The coastal restoration works in Sanchez were the first of 11 examples of climate change adaptation interventions to be undertaken under the RRACC Project that will help the nine-member OECS grouping build resilience to climate change and reduce vulnerabilities to its impacts.

The project here included the reclamation of land lost to the sea, as well as the placement of one sea revetment 140 metres long to halt the ongoing erosion of the playing field area and protect critical coastal infrastructure and the armouring of the headland to the north with the construction of a revetment to withstand storm surges and strong wave action.

The director of social and sustainable development at the OECS Secretariat, Bentley Browne, said these frequent bombardments of the coastlines have resulted in significant loss of fertile land and coastal forestation, including mangroves.

“Today, the coastal assets are being degraded at a rate that is clearly visible without measurements using scientific tools, and it was recognized that this growing problem requires immediate and appropriate mitigation response measures to reduce the vulnerability of these islands to the impacts of climate change,” he said.

Browne said small island developing states (SIDS) like those in the OECS can do little to stop or reverse climate change, and thus “must do all in our power to cope with its consequences”.

“The impacts on small islands have been explored by many scientists and in general, it is expected that sea level rise will lead to greater coastal flooding and damage to shorelines and infrastructure, erosion and threats to livelihoods. As persons who inhabit the small land spaces in the OECS, this is particularly worrisome,” he said at a ceremony in late January marking the completion of the restoration works in Sanchez.

“As a region, we recognize the challenges that confront us. However, we will not be deterred or thrown off our course towards our quest for sustainable development. Our intentions on this matter are clearly etched in pivotal policies and agreements that guide our region’s growth and development.”

He said the OECS Economic Union Treaty, along with the St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the OECS (SGD), mandate that each member state minimize environmental vulnerability, improve environmental management and protect the region’s natural resource base, thereby increasing its resilience to climate change impacts and allowing continued social and economic benefits.

Mikell O’Mealy, the Eastern Caribbean climate change coordinator with USAID-Caribbean, said the Sanchez project represented a “shining example of a how community can address the very serious issues facing the region with regard to climate change”.

She said once the coral reefs bleach and die, as occurred in Petite Martinique, they no longer provide a critical buffer to protect the shoreline from currents, waves and storms.

“Here, as in so many places in the region and worldwide, the loss of coral reefs and coastal mangroves has led to severe coastal erosion, threatening critical community infrastructure, such as the road that connects your community around the island and the power plant adjacent to the road that supplies the island’s electricity,” O’Mealy said.

She said the restoration project here demonstrates how climate change-induced erosion can be effectively addressed by combining technical expertise and a strong, collaborative community effort.

In addition to this project in Petite Martinique, USAID was funding 10 other projects across the Eastern Caribbean and supporting the OECS Secretariat “in helping us all learn from each other … [on] what works best, what didn’t work so well, and how the most successful approaches can be scaled-up in each country and region-wide in the most cost effective way.

“Climate change is unfortunately not going away, and we know at this point that the impacts are predicted to worsen in the coming years. We therefore must continue to try new approaches, learn from each other, and scale-up what works,” she added.

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