Your Ad Here

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drowning Globe

Brisbane, Australia

The news wires were full of reports over the last two weeks of horrendous flooding across Sri Lanka, Brazil and Australia. All three nations have suffered greatly at the hands of our increasingly tumultuous weather conditions.

The Australian treasurer has stated the the floods in his country will be the biggest National Disaster in the State's history, in economic terms. The waters inundated the country's third largest city Brisbane and 45 other townships across four states have been effected. So far the death toll has reached 22, however, this has expected to rise in heavily battered Queensland. The floods are expected to cut 1% off of the rate of economic growth equal to $6bn according to the central bank. The Greens, the smaller partner in Julia Gillard's minority Government have agreed somewht controversially that it should be the oil companies who should pay for the costs, as they have been blamed for causing the global warming which the Australian Government states has directly caused the floods.

Flooding in Brazil has also been extremely severe with a months rain fall falling in just one day last Tuesday. At least 500 people have died already and 13,500 have been left homeless in what has become one of the country's worst national disasters. Most of those displaced however, have been victims of poverty.  A lack of appropriate council housing in the country means that many are forced to build poor quality housing in any place they can find. This is usually in vulnerable places which are more susceptible to flooding. While mudslides of this sort are common in Brazil during the rainy season, the scale of this disaster is somewhat unprecedented and presents a considerable challenge to the country's new President Dilm Rouseff two weeks after taking office.

Flood waters in Sri Lanka have reached up to one metre in some places as Monsoon Rains have forced over one million people from their homes. The death toll from the flooding stands at 18. The water has damaged 160,000 hectares of paddy fields and this will have a catastrophic effect on the economy of the nation. The rains have also lead to considerable mudslides in Sri Lanka which have cut off towns and damaged livelihoods. In schools temples and churches 500 temporary  camps have been set up to provide relief for the those affected.

Sri Lanka
So what can we point to as the root cause for all of this climatic turmoil? The answer may lie in the La Nina phenomenon, at least in the case of Australia. La Nina is the name given to the cooling of the waters off of the coast of Peru and Ecuador which has allowed for a warming of the waters off of the east coast of Australia. Warmer waters contain more potential for extreme rainfall. Indeed the La Nina phenomenon tends to last for a bout a year. Australia has been experiencing heavy rainfall since November.  There is suggestions that the stronger easterly Pacific trade winds have been made stronger by the La Nina effect and their interaction with the northeasterly monsoon winds have aided convective storms in Sri Lanka. However, more research is required to prove this is in fact the case. As for Brazil the jury is still out.

Perhaps it is often too easy for people to blame irregular storms on global warming or perhaps there is no other worthwhile explanation, feel free to leave your comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment