Monthly archives: May 2015

May

29
2015

Heat, drought, and early fire

Jodde     Blog     0

India, victims of severe flooding last September, is now straining under outrageous heat.  Temperatures so far have been upward 47ºC (116.6ºF).  The heat, more reminiscent of Death Valley, 42ºC or 110ºF at the time of writing.  The number of most concern, unfortunately, is how many people have died.  Currently the death toll from the latest heat wave exceeds 1,400.  The government has set up ‘water camps” as a solution.  It is giving away free water and buttermilk, and encouraging people to drink.  The heatwave is expected to last into next week.  At least the monsoon is expected to come on time this year.  However, it can take a long time for the monsoons to reach all of India, so the monsoons might not be help many Indians need.

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A vineyard in Lake Country, BC, near Kelowna ©Jodde Mason 2015

Heat, drought, and fire tend to go together, and BC is experiencing dramatic heat and an early   start to the fire season.  Kelowna, a small town in mainland BC known for wine and tourism is at great risk because of the fire season.  We talked before about how smoke can ruin a crop of grapes.  The smoke flavour can get into immature grapes and there is no way of purging it, and it is not a nice smoky taste, which is usually due to smoking a fragrant wood like cherry after the wine is bottled (although even this is not known to make good tasting wine.)  Wine picks up its most subjective flavours of what is around it.  When people talk about tasting say strawberry or lemon in a wine, they are talking about trace quantities of chemicals that resemble these flavours closely enough.  Super tasters will detect these flavours readily, while those with average or poor tasting abilities will usually miss them.  The precursors to these chemicals are found in soil and created during fermentation.  As a side note, the taste of oak, very mild smoke, or vanilla, it is usually from the cask.  If it is undrinkable and tastes like a forest fire, it is probably from smoke compounds that have infiltrated the grape.  Suffice to say that fire is bad news for grapes, and with an impending drought and its attendant higher than usual fire risk, vineyards like this one seen on the left could be in trouble this year.  Of course, drought in and of itself is also a problem for grapes.  All in all this year will probably bering as sparse harvest.  Kelowna and nearby towns are situated on a gigantic lake called Okanagan Lake.  For this reason, coupled with its wine growing, it is a popular tourist destination for western Canadians.  However, the lake is not treated and its water is not potable.  Lake Country, as it is called, is certainly vulnerable to drought.  It would take a wet sprint to avert drought at this point, but according to forecasters, this is not likely.  At the time of writing, there has only been one wild fire in the region, but the full effects of drought there have yet to be felt.

 


May

28
2015

India’s Heat Wave Claims More Than 1,400 Lives

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, Records, red, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Wsj.com reports that...

A severe heat wave hanging over India has claimed more than 1,400 lives so far, and forecasters expect the high temperatures to continue several more days.

Read more at www.wsj.com


May

28
2015

Climate change, a factor in Texas floods, largely ignored

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, Policy, Records, red, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Kxan.com reports that...

Climate change is taking a toll on Texas, and the devastating floods that have killed at least 15 people and left 12 others missing across the state are some of the best evidence yet of that phenomenon, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said in an interview Wednesday. “We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. “And it’s consistent with what we would expect from climate change.”

Read more at kxan.com


May

26
2015

Rain Spreads Destruction in Houston, Killing Four

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, red, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Mobile.nytimes.com reports that...

Flooding brought Houston to a near-standstill on Tuesday and killed at least four people here, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging past their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving roads littered with hundreds of abandoned, ruined cars.

Read more at mobile.nytimes.com


May

26
2015

Zimbabweans go hungry as drought hammers southern Africa

Natalie     Data, green, Records, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Mobile.reuters.com reports that...

Even in the best of times, life is harsh in Siyagijima, a desolate village in southwest Zimbabwe. After the worst regional drought in nearly a decade and the failure of nearby crops, it is likely to be even harsher.

Read more at mobile.reuters.com


May

26
2015

Heat wave kills more than 1,100 in India

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, Records, red, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Cnn.com reports that...

Stifling heat has killed more than 1,100 people in India in less than one week.

The worst-hit area is the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, where authorities say 852 people have died in the heat wave. Another 266 have died in the neighboring state of Telangana.

Read more at www.cnn.com


May

25
2015

This Once-Stable Antarctic Region Has Suddenly Started Melting

Natalie     Data, green, Records, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Theepochtimes.com reports that...

Antarctica’s glaciers have been making headlines during the past year, and not in a good way. Whether it’s a massive ice shelf facing imminent risk of collapse, glaciers in the West Antarctic past the point of no return, or new threats to East Antarctic ice, it’s all been rather gloomy.

Read more at www.theepochtimes.com


May

24
2015

Flooding Hits Oklahoma and Texas, With More Bad Weather on the Way

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, Records, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events, yellow     0

Nbcnews.com reports that...

Flash floods forced more than 1,000 evacuations and numerous rescues across Oklahoma and Texas, as officials warned a historic deluge was still to come on Sunday.

Read more at www.nbcnews.com


May

24
2015

Heavy rain in China kills 35, leaves 13 missing

Natalie     Data, Fatalities, Records, red, Reports & Findings, Severe Events, Weather Events     0

Thestar.com.my reports that...

Heavy rain which caused mudslides and flooding in southern and central China has left at least 35 people dead and another 13 missing, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Read more at www.thestar.com.my


May

22
2015

Problems with snow and ice

Jodde     Uncategorized     0

We have been reporting for the last couple months that the snowpack is fairly sparse.  That low snowpack is likely to cause or exacerbate  drought, which disturbs crops, local economies and ecosystems.  Arid conditions can even trigger flash flooding, which we may soon see in California as they are dealing with exceptional drought.  Now, the Colorado River, which feeds such centers as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and parts of Arizona is running dry.  The snowpacks feed this major river and they have all mostly melted to be whisked away to far away places, not where it is needed.  There is more to be said about drought.  Several nations around the world are experiencing the devastating effects of drought, namely Brazil and Zimbabwe.  However, the biggest story as of late is not about snow melting too early, but ice.  The Larsen B ice shelf in Antarctica, which partially broke away in early 2002, is weaker than ever before.  NASA scientists predict that within the next five years it may break away altogether.  That is 618 square miles (995 square kilometres) of ice that will melt into the ocean.

What’s really bad about that is that it’s not just normal ice.  Glaciers have extremely dense ice.  They form when snow gets buried so deep in new layers of snow that they are compressed into ice.  The process is called firnification.  The firns, later get compacted even further into glacial ice.  Glacial ice is 850kg/m3, and water is 1000kg/m3. That means roughly 85% of that mass will become seawater.  In 2002, the depth of the ice that broke off was 200m.  Assuming it is the size, we will see an increase in seawater of 16,915 liters (4,468 gallons).  While it is hard to predict the exact effects this volume of water will have, it may affect currents and cause some sea level rise.