For me the main point of George Monbiot’s article about Hurricane Harvey is that the course we are currently on to achieve 3.5 to 4°C of warming by the end of the century is equivalent in magnitude to the change between the last ice age and the balmy times of the Holocene. To talk about whether this or that extreme weather event was caused by anthropogenically induced climate change seems beside the point.
The short answer is that everything about the climate has changed, so we are experiencing a climate that is different from how it would have been, and it will change much more during the life spans of the next few generations. Generally speaking, as Climate Central’s Climate Extremes Index indicates, extreme weather events are on the increase: Continue reading Storms for our grandchildren→
a revised worst-case sea-level rise scenario of 2.5 metres by 2100, 5.5 metres by 2150 and 9.7 metres by 2200. It says sea level science has “advanced significantly over the last few years, especially (for) land-based ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica under global warming”, and hence the “correspondingly larger range of possible 21st century rise in sea level than previously thought”.
Mercifully Cyclone Marcia made landfall at Shoalwater Bay, a military training area between Yeppoon and Sarina, south of Mackay. The ABC coverage shows how it zigged and zagged after getting up steam in the Coral Sea:
It headed for Mackay and then side-stepped. Perhaps Kolobok Norris was out there on the beach waving his fists! I do hope he and Graham Bell were safe.
It gathered strength to become a category 5, but not nearly as big bad or ugly as Yasi. Nor will it penetrate as far into the inland, where large tracts remain parched.
There was a three metre tidal surge and with significant erosion a tourist cabin fell into the sea on Great Keppel Island:
There will be a lot of personal stories of danger, escape and loss:
Some people, especially surf board riders, seem to be energised by these events. Here at Noosa they line up for their turn:
Here in South-east Queensland we’ve had a substantial rain depression for a couple of days. I gather it is related to Marcia but there is clear air between them as seen from this BOM screenshot late on Friday:
Considerable swells have already battered then Gold Coast:
Here in Brisbane we await the remnants of Marcia. I gather we are in a 12 hour interval which is like being in the eye of the storm. So far at our place we’ve had about 150 mm or six inches in the old money. We are assured that the main issues will be creek flooding and wind, with the possibility of trees bringing down power lines, hence blackouts and/or blocked roads. We are assured that it will be nothing like the floods of 2011. In fact we may get our reservoirs recharged which currently sit at a bit over 80%.
At time of posting (2 am) it looks as though Marcia has significantly fizzled and is mainly sliding through to the west of us. We’ve certainly had enough rain and it might do some good in agricultural areas.
Update: Geoff Henderson has sent me a link to a CNN map shown on Facebook, with Tasmania labelled Queensland. Here it is:
Over the last few days we’ve received a stream of information and images about cyclone* Haiyan which devastated central Philippines, especially the city of Tacloban. Zoe Daniels compiled a graphic report for the 7.30 Report program last night. She mentions that they went to see a coastal village where the devastation was complete.
Donations can be made through the Philippine Red Cross and Oxfam. Please feel free to post links to other charities in comments.
According to this link you can donate to the Red Cross by via credit card by phoning 1800 811 700. The hyperlink given there is broken.
Dr Jeff Masters’ Wunderbloghas a post which reports the damage initially as $14 billion, breaking The Philippines’ record for damages for the third time in 12 months. Initial estimates of the death toll were put in excess of 10,000, but the SMH suggests the toll from Tacloban alone may have exceeded that figure. Some 9 million people have been affected.
The cyclone has been reported as the strongest ever to make landfall. An article in The Guardian quotes Jeff Masters as putting it at number four with the note that NOAA has stated that the maximum sustained winds estimated for typhoons during the 1940s to 1960s were too strong. The other three were in 1958 and 1961. In his linked post above Masters has compiled an unofficial top ten, with Haiyan at the head. Five of the ten were in The Philippines.
There are two aspects where I’d like better information. Firstly, I heard one report that the wind remained at Category 5 intensity for either six or eight hours (can’t remember which). The system was very large. Secondly, I heard of a storm surge of up to eight metres. Apparently this caused more damage than the wind and was responsible for many of the deaths. In many cases only the lowest areas were evacuated. Continue reading Cyclone Haiyan→
As you know I’m always up for a thread of doom, so when I heard talk of asteroid strikes happening more frequently than previously thought I decided to investigate.
The story starts with an asteroid that exploded in the air in the Chelyabinsk region in February 2013. There was a collection of videos at Slate. Car alarms were set off by the shock wave, but I gather most of the damage came from broken glass. Over 1000 people were injured. There are some stills of damage here.
The rock was about 19 metres across (equivalent to a six-story building), with a mass of about 12,000 tons. When it hit the atmosphere at a speed of 20 kilometers per second (many times faster than a rifle bullet) the energy released was equivalent to about 500,000 tonnes of TNT, and the brightness around 30 times that of the sun.
This Slate article has a description of what happened physically. Broadly:
It came in over Russia at a low angle, slamming into our atmosphere, violently compressing the air in front of it. That created a vast amount of heat and pressure, which simultaneously melted and broke up the asteroid into smaller fragments. Within seconds, the huge energy of motion of the rock was suddenly and violently dissipated, creating an explosion equal to about 500,000 tons of TNT detonating.
I think 500,000 tonnes of TNT is about the equivalent of 40 Hiroshima bombs.
As that article says (see also the BBC and the ABC) asteroid strikes are now thought to happen more frequently than previously thought (paywalled research here and here), perhaps as much as ten times more. Chelyabinsk-type events were thought to happen every 150 years on the average. Now the estimate has moved to every 25 to 30 years. And then there’s all the others in the range from say 1 to 50 metres. Previously we relied on visual records, but some, over the sea, for example, have escaped notice.
Three cyclones, actually. Cyclone Bianca is threatening to hit Perth, Bunbury and Busselton, possibly weakening to a category one.
Bianca is not expected to be as bad as Cyclone Alby which hit Perth in 1978. Alby claimed five lives and caused widespread damage in the Perth metropolitan area.
Before the rain comes the wind, and ironically the first danger could be fire from the high winds.
Does anyone know how often Perth experiences cyclones? I recall one a few years ago that started in the Coral Sea, I think, possibly the Gulf of Carpentaria, which headed west and ended up giving Perth a dousing, probably as a rain depression.
Meanwhile Cyclone Anthony re-formed into a category one storm and is currently about 950 kilometres north-north-east of Townsville. Continue reading Cyclone watch→