Climate Scientists In Race To Predict Where Natural Disaster Will Strike Next

The world’s leading climate scientists will gather this week in the United States to hammer out plans to set up an early warning system that would predict future meteorological disasters caused by global warming.

The meeting, in Boulder, Colorado, has been arranged at diplomatic level amid fears that storms, hurricanes, droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events now threaten to trigger widespread devastation in coming decades. A series of meteorological catastrophes have dominated headlines in recent weeks, while scientists have warned that figures so far for this year suggest 2010 will be the hottest on record.

Recent events include a record-breaking heatwave that has seen Moscow blanketed with smog from burning peatlands, the splintering of a giant island of ice from the Greenland ice cap, and floods in Pakistan that have claimed the lives of at least 1,600 people and left 20 million homeless.

Scientists say events like these will become more severe and more frequent over the rest of the century as rising greenhouse gas emissions trap the sun’s heat in the lower atmosphere and bring change to Earth’s climate and weather systems. However, their ability to pinpoint exactly where and when the worst devastation will occur is still limited. The aim of the Colorado meeting is to develop more precise predictive techniques to help pinpoint the location and severity of droughts, floods, and heatwaves before they happen and so save thousands of lives.

“The events in Moscow and Pakistan are going to focus our minds very carefully when we meet in Colorado,” said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK Met Office. “On both sides of the Atlantic we have been monitoring what has been going on with the aim of understanding their precise causes so that we can provide better warnings of future disasters.”

The meeting in Boulder will be the first full session of Ace, the Attribution of Climate-related Events, which has been set up by scientists from the world’s three leading meteorological organisations: the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the UK Met Office and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The aim, said Stott, would be to develop a modelling package that would allow scientists to forecast the kind of events that the world has been witnessing over the past few weeks – before they struck. The fact that the Foreign Office has been closely involved in setting up Ace reveals how seriously the issue is taken by politicians.

Meteorologists have developed remarkably effective techniques for predicting global climate changes caused by greenhouse gases. One paper, by Stott and Myles Allen of Oxford University, predicted in 1999, using temperature data from 1946 to 1996, that by 2010 global temperatures would rise by 0.8C from their second world war level. This is precisely what has happened.

But although meteorologists have developed powerful techniques for forecasting general climatic trends – which indicate that weather patterns will be warmer and wetter in many areas – their ability to predict specific outcomes remains limited. It is this problem that will be tackled, as a matter of urgency, at the Ace meeting in Boulder.

An example of the complexity that faces meteorologists is provided by the weather system that scorched Moscow, said Stott. “Moscow has a stable high pressure system over it, much like the one that brought a heatwave to Europe in 2003. However, for a while the land around the city acted as a natural air conditioner, keeping the air cool through evaporation of moisture from the ground. But the land eventually dried out and there was no more cooling. Hence the soaring temperatures.”

To forecast an event like that, scientists need to be able to quantify all the variables involved and also develop a very precise model of the land surface, added Stott.

These are the sorts of things we need to understand. We need to be able to forecast events weeks or months ahead of their occurrence so people can mitigate their worst impacts. We also need to consider the longer-term context and see if we need to build better sea defences at a particular location and assess how high dykes or walls need to be. Certainly, one thing is clear: there is no time to waste. The effects of global warming are already upon us.

Three Nests In Finikounda

Three sea turtle nests have been found on the beach of Finikounda this summer. The first one was found on July 10, and the other two on July 22. All three were found after beach visitors saw sea turtle tracks in the morning and notified ARCHELON, the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece.

Volunteers from the project of Koroni, where about 40 nests are protected every summer, could travel to Finikounda with the assistance of individuals who offered to help with their car. Thus all three nests were protected with a special grid against predation by foxes and dogs and marked to avoid accidental damage from humans.

The three nests are located near Camping “Ammos”, where the beach is dark and quiet in the night. So when the hatchlings come out of the nest, they will not be at risk of losing their way to the sea. But the mother turtles are at risk by the many speedboats used in this area.

To learn more about loggerhead sea turtles, what we do to protect them, and how you can help us, come and see us at the information station of Koroni or another information station of ARCHELON.

Inauguration Of Wind Parks

With the attendance of the civil authorities, the operation of two wind parks, with total rated power of 46 MW, of the Greek companies “Arkadika Meltemia S.A.” and “Aiolika Parka Arkadias S.A.”, was inaugurated. The two companies are subsidiaries of Eunice Energy Group and the parks are located in Vlachokerasia area, at an altitude of 1,100 metres, 20 km. south of Tripoli.

The total investment for the development of the Wind Parks is estimated at approximately EUR 50,000,000. The funding was supported by the banks Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank A.G. and Commercial Bank of Greece S.A. and the project was completed within 16 months, where for that period, 60 people were involved. The operation of the wind parks created 14 new employment positions in total, while the compensative benefit of the bordering municipalities will be more than EUR 250,000 per year, for the following twenty years.

Tree Planting At Vlahokerasia, Skyritida

Eunice Energy Group, organised a tree planting event at Vlahokerasia of the Municipality of Skyritida, of Arkadia Prefecture.

This activity was part of the social and environmental initiatives of the group in the areas where it operates. Trees were planted on the edge of the mountain “Asprovouni” where part of the group’s subsidiary “Arcadia Meltemia S.A.” wind farm, is located.

The voluntary tree planting took place with the participation of students and teachers of schools (elementary, high school) of the region as well as the Municipality of Skyritida which actively supported throughout the process providing all the necessary tools and supplies to the volunteers.

In total, 400 acacia trees were planted at a distance of about 2 km.

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