Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More of that so called freaky weather chaos lah..

54,000 evacuated in Brazil flooding

At least 84 people have been killed and more than 54,000 forced to flee by flooding from heavy rain that has pounded southern Brazil for nearly two months, regional Civil Defence officials said Tuesday.

With the latest figures released Tuesday the death toll climbed from 67 to 84, and the number of evacuees from 52,000 to more than 54,000.

The region faces "the worst weather tragedy in history," Santa Catarina Governor Luiz Henrique da Silveira told reporters on Monday.

Making matters worse, torrential rain hitting the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina actually has intensified in recent days, officials said.

Civil Defence workers, firefighters, soldiers and police across the area have been busy for weeks rescuing people trapped by the flooding.

Civil Defence officials also said the death toll could rise considerably as casualty reports come in from rural areas.

More than 1.5 million people have been affected by the heavy rains, and eight cities remained cut off by waters and blocked roads. The region has been under a state of emergency since Saturday.

The most heavily affected towns are Ilhota (population 22,000, 18 dead) and the tourist town of Blumenau (population 297,000, 20 dead) where many German immigrants settled.

The head of Santa Catarina Civil Defence operations, Marcio Alves, said that most people were killed by landslides. "Most deaths happen when the rain stops and people go out believing that all is well," he said.

Another Civil Defence official, Robert Guimaraes, said "nearly 80 percent of the region is under water," though levels were dropping.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has ordered six military helicopters and 350 soldiers to the area to help in relief operations.

The latest flooding resulted from freak rains on Sunday that delivered a month's amount of precipitation in just five hours.

Boats were the only means of transport in many areas, and witnesses spoke of the bodies of dozens of drowned cows littering the road near Blumenau.

"We heard people crying for help. We also heard explosions. With the ground saturated, several gas pipelines exploded," one Santa Catarina resident forced to leave her home, Beatriz Heusi, 30, told AFP by telephone.

More than 160,000 people were without electricity and fresh water supplies were cut to several towns.

Other southern Brazilian states, principally Rio Grande do Sul and Espirito Santo were affected to a lesser extent by flooding and mudslides.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Surprise for you! Hornbags!

Yes one again, one's local suburb turns out the hornbags for you, me, and everyone!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Today's doom for you...floaties r us!

Sea levels to rise by one metre: experts
October 27, 2008, 3:23 pm

Sea levels will rise by one metre this century, according to German scientists who warn that global warming is happening faster than previously predicted.

Citing UN date on climate change, two senior German scientists say that previous predictions were far too cautious and optimistic.

Earlier estimates predicted a rise of 18cm to 59cm in sea levels this century.

That estimate is woefully understated, according to Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who heads the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects, and Jochem Marotzke, a leading meteorologist.

"We now have to expect that the sea level will rise by a metre this century," said Schellnhuber in Berlin.

He said it is "just barely possible" that world governments will be able to limit the rise in average global temperatures to just two degrees Celsius by the end of the century, if they all strictly adhered to severe limits in carbon dioxide emissions.

Those restrictions call for halving greenhouse emissions by 2050 and eliminating CO2 emissions entirely by the end of the century.

But the German researchers said the resulting limited increase in temperature is predicated on strict adherence to those restrictions without exception, and even then there are many variables which could thwart the goals.

Schellnhuber, who is official adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues, said the new findings employed data unavailable to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its most recent global warming report.

The two experts said the IPCC report had been based on data up to 2005 only but since then ice loss in the Arctic had doubled or tripled.

Schellnhuber charged that 20 per cent of the loss of the ice sheet on Greenland could be directly linked to the added carbon dioxide emissions from new Chinese coal-fired power stations.

The new sea level predictions, according to Schellnhuber, are based on studies of melting Himalaya glaciers and the shrinking Greenland ice cap.

He blamed the rapidly diminishing size of the Greenland ice cap on soot particles from Chinese coal-fired power plants.

"That is truly a global effect," he said.

Soot settles on the ice, preventing the ice from reflecting as much sunlight back into space.

The result is that the ice absorbs sunlight rays, raising the temperature of the ice and causing it to melt.

"Air pollution plays a massive role in the accelerating pace of climate change, he said.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Doom...coutesy of Lateline ABC lah!

Action on climate change more urgent than ever
Print Email
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 23/10/2008

Reporter: Margot O'Neil

Scientists are concerned that the will to tackle climate change has waned in the midst of the financial crisis, with the latest data showing climate change is moving more rapidly than they ever expected.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well as governments remain transfixed by the financial crisis, some of Australia's top scientists are concerned that the will to tackle the potentially more dramatic global nightmare of climate change may be waning.

Well tonight they tell Lateline how the latest data shows climate change is moving more rapidly than even their worst expectations.

In a moment we'll be joined Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the world's preeminent scientific body on climate change.

But first Margot O'Neill reports on the rapidly rising levels of anxiety among some of Dr Pahcauri's colleagues in Australia.

MARGOT O'NEILL, REPORTER: Meet three of Australia's, and the world's, top climate change scientists. Each of them shared in last year's Nobel Prize for their work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And each is usually most comfortable with cautious, measured public discussion. Well, not any more.

PROF. ANN HENDERSON-SELLERS, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY: A lot of people like myself, and I believe many, many scientists now, who are frantically, hysterically worried.

PROF, DAVE GRIGGS, MONASH UNIVERSITY: Another one of these facts comes in that catches even you unawares and you think, "Oh shit! Not another one! I wasn't expecting that."

PROF. DAVID KAROLY, MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY: The only way that I could see the climate system in 50 years time or 100 years time being cooler than at present is if the earth got hit by an asteroid and basically human civilisation was destroyed.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Australia's climate change scientists are stirring, goaded by inaction in the face of a potential cataclysm, they're picking up megaphones because they need everyone to know it's speeding up.

From the loss of Arctic sea ice to early signs of melting permafrost, to sea level rises, to carbon dioxide emissions. Many of the projections contained in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just a year ago are being overtaken.

DAVE GRIGGS: When we made predictions a couple of years ago that the Arctic sea ice might disappear by the end of the century people were sceptical. Now people think, "Well, it actually might be gone by mid-century."

And if you talk to the scientific community people are just, "Oh, yeah, yeah, we know that now. That's gone." And only a few years ago that was a really dramatic and controversial finding because it was something that was so far beyond our concept.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Dave Griggs now leads Monash University's new Sustainability Institute after heading up the British Government's Hadley Institute and the IPCC's Science Working Group.

What most of us don't understand, he says, is that no matter what we do, the planet is now locked into dramatic temperature and sea level rises by 2050 because of the greenhouse gasses already trapped in the atmosphere. A two-degree temperature rise was once projected towards the end of the century and regarded as a tipping point for dangerous climate change. It's now likely to occur in our lifetime.

DAVE GRIGGS: Maybe two, two to three degrees by mid-century.

MARGOT O'NEILL: I mean, that almost is the end for the Great Barrier Reef.

DAVE GRIGGS: Inherently scientists are very conservative, and they won't come out and make a statement in public unless they are very confident about it. But the kind of sort of thing that are going around in private, you know, oh, the Barrier Reef's gone, the Murray Darling's gone.

ANN HENDERSON-SELLERS: We should be exercising triage. We should be looking at the parts of the world that are already dead, they're just still walking around. And we just need to leave them alone, and maybe the Murray Darling Basin is one of those.

MARGOT O'NEILL: Ann Henderson-Sellers returned to Australia last year after heading the UN's World Climate Research Program in Geneva. She believes it's time for climate scientists to break ranks with the consensus science of the IPCC.

ANN HENDERSON-SELLERS: It is not true that all scientists agree with everything that is in the IPCC fourth assessment report. Some of us, including me, think that it is worse, it is more frightening, more dangerous, happening faster. And I now think that we perhaps have not done the right thing in seeming as if we're of a single mind, a single view. We did it for all the right reasons, for wanting not to open up a "Well, this scientist says one thing and this scientist says something different." But now I don't think that that's right any longer.

MARGOT O'NEILL: She also wonders how the next IPCC report can be any more persuasive.

ANN HENDERSON-SELLERS: We've now said for four reports the world is getting warmer, this is a serious concern. The world really is getting warmer. This is a quite serious concern, and the time for action has already passed. What will we say in the fifth IPCC report? I simply don't know, I have no idea how we can couch the terms anymore. What degree of anxiousness can you add to that?

DAVID KAROLY: We can't say whether this is due to climate change but it is exactly what you'd expect for some of the moral predictions for like 50 or 100 years time, but we're seeing it now.

DAVID KAROLY: David Karoly returned to Australia last year from the University of Oklahoma after working as a lead author on the 2007 IPCC Report. He says it can be difficult and exhausting continually battling governments, big business and climate sceptics, but his lowest point came during negotiations in 2007 when news reports revealed that China, Russia and Saudi Arabia tried to derail even the conservative scientific consensus of the IPCC. David Karoly says he almost walked out.

DAVID KAROLY: There were clear, vested interests from some countries that were lying, raising scientific misinformation. And I was prepared, as were a lot of other scientists at that meeting, prepared to give up. The system was so close to being broken. The system fortunately didn't break.

MARGOT O'NEILL: The current financial turmoil has proven the world can act quickly when faced with a crisis, the scientists say. The same drastic intervention is the only solution for global warming.

Margot O'Neill. Lateline.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A break from the doom...hornbags lah!

Once again, mwah has been out and about, sourcing world's best practice, quintessentail ISO 9002 hornbags for you to enjoy, purvey, and perhaps get a little bit steamed over!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Arctic on thin ice

Oh dear, start packing those floaties, soon every house will have a water view!

October 17, 2008 - 11:10AM

Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record levels, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers have claimed.
"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter [to the rest of the world]," Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card.
The report, compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, looks at a variety of conditions in the Arctic.
The region has long been expected to be among the first areas to show impacts from global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is largely a result of human activities adding carbon dioxide and other gases to the atmosphere.
"Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions," said James Overland, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington.
"It's a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways."
For example, autumn air temperatures in the Arctic are at a record 5 degrees Celsius above normal.
The report noted that last year was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, leading to a record loss of sea ice. This year's sea ice melt was second only to that of last year.
Rising temperatures help melt the ice, which in turn allows more solar heating of the ocean.
That warming of the air and ocean affects land and marine life and reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer.
The study also noted a warming trend on Arctic land and an increase in greenness as shrubs move north into areas that were formerly permafrost.
While the warming continues, the rate in this century is less than in the 1990s due to natural variability, the researchers said.
In addition to global warming, natural cycles of warming and cooling occur, and a warm cycle in the 1990s added to the temperature rise.
Now with a cooler cycle in some areas the rise in temperatures has slowed, but Overland said he expects that it will speed up again when the next natural warming cycle comes around.
Asked if an increase in radiation from the sun was having an effect on the Earth's climate, Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Centre in Columbus, Ohio, said that, while it was important, increased solar output accounts only for about 10 per cent of global warming.
"You can't use solar to say that greenhouse gases are not a major factor," Overland added.
Other findings from the report include:
- The Arctic Ocean continued to warm and freshen due to ice melt. This was accompanied by an "unprecedented" rate of sea level rise of nearly 0.25 centimetres a year.
- Warming continued around Greenland last year resulting in a record amount of ice melt. The Greenland ice sheet lost 101 cubic kilometres of ice, making it the largest single contributor to global sea level rise.
- Reindeer herds that had been increasing since the 1970s are now showing signs of levelling off or beginning to decline.
- Goose populations are increasing as they expand their range within the Arctic.
- Data on marine mammals is limited, but they seem to have mixed trends. They are adapted to life in a region that is at least seasonally covered in ice. There is concern about the small numbers of polar bears in some regions. The status of many walrus groups is unknown. Some whales are increasing, others declining.
"This is a very complicated system and we are still working diligently to sort out its mysteries," Richter-Menge said.
In addition to Richter-Menge, Overland and Box, lead authors of the report included Michael Simpkin of NOAA and Vladimir Romanovsky of the Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some early morning doom to ease into the day...

Climate change 'sinking Pacific nation'
September 28, 2008, 5:30 pm

An immigrant from a tiny Pacific Ocean nation is appealing to the Australian government to assist in evacuations because she says her homeland is sinking under rising sea levels.

Currently bedridden with pneumonia, Kiribati Australia Association member Wanita Limpus in a statement told the Climate Emergency Week rally outside Queensland's Parliament House how climate change was destroying her home nation.

Ms Limpus said since she left Kiribati in 1976 to marry her Australian husband, she had returned to see clear signs of rising sea levels in 1991, 2004 and 2005.

"In 1991 I was having breakfast in my sister's home one morning when there happened to be a king tide and waves crashed over a retaining wall and swept into the house and we found ourselves up to our ankles in sea water in the kitchen," she said.

"I was shocked at this, but my sisters were laughing ... they were used to it.

"In 2004, when I returned I had to move my grandfather's grave from its resting place, and bury him more inland."

Mrs Limpus called on the Australian government to help Kiribati begin the evacuation process, saying the land would become uninhabitable long before it was submerged.

"Salt water is mixing with the groundwater and contaminating wells. Soon vital food providing plants and trees are going to die.

"Our people are inevitably going to have to abandon their land. They will be scattered, families will be split.

"(We need) to prepare the evacuation in a way which is the least traumatic for both them and the countries that will receive them."

"Kiribati, pronounced Kiribas, is a small nation of just over 100,000 people scattered across 33 coral atolls in the Central Pacific Ocean," she said.

"The coral atolls of which Kiribati consists, are flat, just a few hundred metres wide and no more than a metre above sea level."

She said Kiribati was the place of origin of the Hawaiian skirt and was the scene of the Battle of Tarawa, a major World War II battle between the United States and Japan .

Her husband Leonard Limpus said while Kiribati still had a few decades left, things like education had to be altered to make integration easier.

"But you can't put a timetable on it because things seem to be happening a lot faster than they are being forecasted for," he said.

Climate Emergency Week organiser Paul Benedek said the Kiribati people were just one of many being affected by climate change and more needed to be done than "weak" emissions cut talks.

"We have heard those in positions of power calmly talking of giving up on the Great Barrier Reef ; we see growing evidence of our major river systems dying and permanent drought; and Arctic ice is near its lowest level on record," Mr Benedek said.

"We are rallying to demand a massive shift to renewable energy, to public transport and to sustainability."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yes, more of those hornbags.....

Local hornbags, at work, play, and er, whatever goes on in hornbaggeryland lah...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Huge ice sheet breaks loose in Canadian arctic

'Shocking event' another sign of warming in polar frontier, say scientists.....
Above...Large pieces of ice float off after separating from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf July 29. That shelf has lost about eight square miles and the Serson shelf 47 square miles as the Markham Ice Shelf has separated and gone adrift.
TORONTO - A chunk of ice shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island in Canada's northern Arctic, another dramatic indication of how warmer temperatures are changing the polar frontier, scientists said Wednesday.
Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario, told The Associated Press that the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf separated in early August and the 19-square-mile shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean.
"The Markham Ice Shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared. We went under cloud for a bit during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf. It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Mueller.
Mueller also said that two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, shrinking that ice feature by 47 square miles — or 60 percent — and that the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has also continued to break up, losing an additional eight square miles.
Mueller reported last month that seven square miles of the 170-square-mile and 130-feet-thick Ward Hunt shelf had broken off.
Greenland glacier also threatened.......
This comes on the heels of unusual cracks in a northern Greenland glacier, rapid melting of a southern Greenland glacier, and a near record loss for Arctic sea ice this summer. And earlier this year a 160-square mile chunk of an Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated.
"Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer," said Luke Copland, director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. "And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years."
Formed by accumulating snow and freezing meltwater, ice shelves are large platforms of thick, ancient sea ice that float on the ocean's surface but are connected to land.
Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s. All that is left today are the four much smaller shelves that together cover little more than 299 square miles.
Martin Jeffries of the U.S. National Science Foundation and University of Alaska Fairbanks said in a statement Tuesday that the summer's ice shelf loss is equivalent to over three times the area of Manhattan, totaling 82 square miles — losses that have reduced Arctic Ocean ice cover to its second-biggest retreat since satellite measurements began 30 years ago.
"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," said Mueller.
During the last century, when ice shelves would break off, thick sea ice would eventually reform in their place.
'Scary scenario'"........
But today, warmer temperatures and a changing climate means there's no hope for regrowth. A scary scenario," said Mueller.
The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University's Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.
"The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it's disappeared, we're looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction,' said Mueller.
Along with decimating ecosystems, drifting ice shelves and warmer temperatures that will cause further melting ice pose a hazard to populated shipping routes in the Arctic region — a phenomenon that Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems to welcome.
Harper announced last week that he plans to expand exploration of the region's known oil and mineral deposits, a possibility that has become more evident as a result of melting sea ice. It is the burning of oil and other fossil fuels that scientists say is the chief cause of manmade warming and melting ice.
Harper also said Canada would toughen reporting requirements for ships entering its waters in the Far North, where some of those territorial claims are disputed by the United States and other countries.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hornbags in abundance!

Lots of random net hornbags, found, located, examined, and generally got a little bit worked up over.