Environment

US Environment Agency Releases First Climate Adaptation Plan

For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has publicly released a draft plan on how the department’s programmes will adapt to global warming, in a move that could lay additional groundwork for important new emissions rulemaking the agency may announce in coming months.

The EPA is tasked with oversight of the health of both human communities and natural systems, mandated with creating and implementing standards relating to air and water quality, among others. As such, the agency has emerged at the frontlines of Washington’s attempts to push through stricter climate-related regulations while circumventing the U.S. Congress, which remains fractious and politicised over the reality of human responsibility for global warming.

Coal plant 350

Environment

Global Hottest and Coldest Temperatures

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.3 degrees Fahrenheit (46.3 degrees Celsius) at Mardie, Western Australia.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 68.3 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 55.8 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Siberian outpost of Oiymakon.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

_________________________________________

U.S. Greenhouse Emissions Drop to 20-Year Low

Carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell to their lowest levels since 1994 last year, with greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s power plants seeing a 4.6 percent drop for 2012 alone.

Overall CO2 emissions fell by 13 percent over the past five years as new energy-saving technologies were adopted, including a switch from coal to wind, solar and cleaner-burning natural gas.

Geothermal and hydroelectric sources also helped reduce air pollution.

But America got 31 percent of its energy from natural gas, which came about due to an explosive use of fracking.

America’s improvement in greenhouse gas emissions is offset by the burst in air pollution being generated in developing countries such as China.

Ew130208a

Transportation

South Africa Commuter Trains Collide Near Pretoria

At least 300 people, including many school children, have been injured when two passenger trains collided near the South African capital, Pretoria. Medical workers say 28 people were seriously hurt.

The theft of copper cables used for signalling, compounded by human error, caused the crash, said the head of South Africa’s rail authority.

The early morning accident happened when a train crashed into a stationary train near Attridgeville, a township west of Pretoria.

SA Train

Transportation

Passenger Plane Crash in Kazakhstan

A passenger plane crashed in thick fog near Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty on Tuesday and broke into pieces when it hit the ground, killing all 21 people on board.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Cyclone Felleng

(13s) was located approximately 460 nm north of La Reunion. Felleng is predicted to continue to intensify as it nears Madagascar. Felleng will travel between eastern Madagascar and La Reunion Island by Feb. 1.

Landslide in Turkey

At least seven people have been killed in a landslide in Turkey. The landslide also hit a football pitch in Sirnak, Turkey.

Turkey

Flooding in UK

Flooding has been reported in Devon, Somerset and south-east Wales. Heavy rain and strong wind warnings have been issued in these regions.

Flooding in Ireland

Heavy rainfall has caused flooding in the Spanish Arch, Galway city of Ireland.

The gale force winds, high tides and heavy rain caused flash flooding in Galway city. Galway city is currently on high alert.

Floods also closed Wolfe Tone Bridge and Lough Atalia Road.

Flooding in Queensland, Australia

Massive summer floods have killed four people and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes across two Australian states on Tuesday, disrupting air and rail travel and coal production.

A deluge fed by the ex-tropical cyclone Oswald dumped more than 200 millimetres (8 inches) of rain in some areas of the Queensland and New South Wales states over the past three days, swelling rivers and swamping towns.

The worst-hit areas were around Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Ipswich in the Queensland state, and around the northern New South Wales towns of Grafton and Lismore.

A fleet of 14 helicopters rescued more than 1,000 people across Queensland overnight and rescue efforts continued on Tuesday.

Natural disaster areas have been declared in ten local government areas hit by flooding in northern NSW.

Drought

Heatwave – South Africa

Several parts of South Africa are currently experiencing an intense heatwave. Temperatures were between 35 to 40 degrees in the Free State, the Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

Temperatures

Global Temperature Extremes

The week’s hottest temperature was 115.7 degrees Fahrenheit (46.5 degrees Celsius) at Penrith, NWS, Australia, (western suburb of Sydney,) which broke its all-time record high with 114.4 F (45.8 C) the same day.

The week’s coldest temperature was minus 66.1 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 54.5 degrees Celsius) at Russia’s Siberian outpost of Oimyakon.

Temperatures were tabulated from the more than 10,000 worldwide synoptic weather stations. The United Nations World Meteorological Organization sets the standards for weather observations, and provides a global telecommunications circuit for data distribution.

Drought

Wheat Prices Rise as US Drought Persists

Wheat futures rose for the second time in three sessions on renewed concern that the worst U.S. drought since the 1930s is eroding prospects for crops in the southern Great Plains. Little or no rain has fallen in parts of south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma in the past three months, according to the National Weather Service. As much as 25 percent of the wheat crop may go unharvested this year, when farmers begin collecting grain in June.

Transportation

Vienna Trains Crash Head-on, 41 People Injured

Two trains packed with morning commuters crashed head-on Monday on Vienna’s outskirts after a state railway employee apparently forgot to activate a signal. Railway officials said 41 people were injured, five seriously.

A statement from OBB, Austria’s state railway, said initial investigations show that a supervisor neglected to trip a signal after manually activating a rail switch.

Vienna Train Collision

Drought

Dry Weather Persists In Drought-Stricken US Wheat Region

The U.S. Plains remain in the grip of a severe drought, according to a report issued by a consortium of federal and state climatology experts, raising fears that another hot, dry year could lie ahead for crop-growing and cattle-grazing regions.

Transportation

Crew Adrift in Indonesia

Fifteen crew members of the ship KM Tirta Samudra XXI, which sank in the Java Sea early Friday, have been drifting on a lifeboat near Karimun Jawa Island, have remained unreachable due to extreme weather and 4 metre high waves. Latest rescue attempts failed to find the lifeboat at the co-ordinates given.

Space Events

Solar Flare

A huge sunspot known as AR1654 produced an M1-class solar flare, which is heading towards the Earth. The sun is in an active phase of its current 11-year weather cycle, which scientists call Solar Cycle 24. The sun’s activity cycle is expected to reach its peak (or “solar maximum”) in 2013.

Environment

Deep Freeze in China

China is experiencing unusual cold this winter with the national average temperature hitting the lowest in 28 years. Snow and ice have closed highways, cancelled flights, stranded tourists and knocked out power in several provinces.

The China Meteorological Administration attributes plunging temperatures partly to southward-moving polar cold fronts, caused by melting polar ice from global warming. It said the air was moist and likely to dump heavy snow in China, Europe and North America.

The national average temperature was -3.8° C since late November 2012, the coldest in nearly three decades. The average in northeastern China dipped to -15.3°C, the coldest in 43 years, and dropped to a 42-year low of -7.4°C in northern China.

In some areas — northeastern China, eastern Inner Mongolia, and the northern part of far-western Xinjiang province — the low has hit -40° C.

The state-run, English-language China Daily reported on Friday that about 1,000 ships were stuck in ice in Laizhou Bay in eastern China’s Bohai Sea.

The cold spell has killed about 180,000 head of livestock, affecting some 770,000 people across Inner Mongolia since late December.

Environment

Jakarta sinking as water supplies dry up

Experts in Indonesia are preparing to build a huge wall to stop the ocean from swamping parts of Jakarta. Some suburbs in the capital already go underwater when there is a big tide but the problem is expected to get even worse.

Jakarta is sinking by up to 10 centimetres a year and Indonesia’s national disaster centre says with oceans rising, large parts of the city, including the airport, will be inundated by 2030. Flooding and high tides are already causing problems for some residents in the city of 10 million people.

Environment

Antarctic Ice Melt

West Antarctica is warming almost twice as fast as previously believed, adding to concerns that this warming can lead to more melting and have direct and indirect effects on global sea levels. The direct impacts are the run-off of melting waters into the sea. But the scientists say this is unlikely to happen for several decades because much of the water is likely to percolate down the ice sheet and refreeze.

Annual average temperatures at the Byrd research station in West Antarctica has risen 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3F) since the 1958, one of the fastest gains on the planet and three times the global average in a changing climate. The western part of the Antarctic ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

The unexpectedly big increase adds to fears the ice sheet is vulnerable to thawing. West Antarctica holds enough ice to raise world sea levels by at least 3.3 metres (11 feet) if it ever all melted, a process that would take centuries.

 

Byrd Station