Saturday, November 17, 2007

Excerpt fromTelegraph (17Nov2007)

Having posted the earlier blog (A narrow escape..) I was browsing thru when I came across this article which coincidentally talks about same topic - category IV cyclone Sidr..
Here it is:-

How Bengal escaped Sidr
- Devastation in Bangladesh, Met officials justify alarm

New Delhi, Nov. 16: Scientists today attributed the shift of Cyclone Sidr towards Bangladesh to factors long known to influence cyclone paths, but asserted that its scale and severity justified the warnings issued to Bengal.

India Meteorological Department officials said they had anticipated an eastward shift which began about three hours before the cyclone hit Bangladesh about 80km east of the initially predicted landfall zone.

The 250kmph winds killed around 600 people in Bangladesh, left thousands injured or missing, flattened houses and unleashed a 15-foot tidal surge that destroyed three coastal towns and forced the evacuation of 32 lakh people. Unofficial reports put the toll above 1,000.

Three factors could have contributed to the shift — Earth’s rotation, the interaction of the cyclone’s outermost winds with land just as they began to graze the coastline and high-altitude winds called the westerlies.

“A (cyclonic) system in the northern hemisphere’s atmosphere is deflected slightly towards the east because of Earth’s rotation,” said H.R. Hathwar, additional director-general of the IMD. “As it neared the coast, the balance of the cyclonic system could have been disturbed and caused the winds to change direction a bit.”

Scientists are yet to fathom the mechanics of these land-wind interactions, but the tendency of cyclones in the northern Bay of Bengal to veer towards Bangladesh indicates that the effects are consistent over time.

The cyclone may also have come under the influence of long-range winds blowing from west to east called the westerlies.

Yesterday, the IMD had initially predicted landfall (the cyclone hitting land) at 89°E longitude on the Bengal-Bangladesh border. But it struck the coast at 89.8°E, about 80km eastwards.

This is within the acceptable error margin when dealing with an event on the scale of a cyclone, a scientist said.

“A cyclone has dimensions of 300km to 500km (Sidr had a 450km diameter), and an 80km shift would still mean severe winds on either side of the border,” said Mrutyunjaya Mahapatra, director, cyclone warning division, IMD.

Scientists used a synthesis of satellite imagery, ground data and a weather radar in Calcutta to track the cyclone and wind speeds. Despite the eastward shift, parts of Bengal experienced 90kmph winds that damaged over 1,000 thatched houses in North and South 24-Parganas.

Predictions that Bengal would be hit had led many tourists to cancel or truncate seaside trips and software companies to arrange guesthouse rooms for staff. Some people suggested the Met office should have issued hourly bulletins instead of a sweeping cyclone forecast.

“The warning was justified because such high-speed winds had the potential to cause extensive damage,” Hathwar said. “In such situations… it’s better to be overcautious.”

The weather radar is mainly used for real-time wind tracking and “nowcasting” — forecasting for the next two to three hours. But a Met warning issued two-three hours before a cyclone strikes would be too late for evacuation or effective public advisories.



Swaroop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swaroop said...

This should be a real wake up call to do even more, not only to save our hills, but also the globe:

"Climate change is one of the most critical global challenges of our time. Recent events have emphatically demonstrated our growing vulnerability to climate change. Climate change impacts will range from affecting agriculture- further endangering food security-, sea-level rise and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones, increasing intensity of natural disasters, species extinction and the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Climate Change Outreach Programme

Responding to the needs of the countries and following the request from the UNFCCC Secretariat, UNEP/DEC has initiated and implemented a major programme on climate change outreach that directly supported the UNFCCC New Delhi Work Programme on Article 6 (Education, Training and Public Awareness) The objectives of this project are to provide to governments additional tools for promoting climate change awareness at the national level. Support efforts by associations and NGOs to provide accurate and accessible messages of IPCC on climate change to their memberships or target audiences, make the youth more aware of the climate change implications and motivated to take relevant climate friendly actions, and raise awareness of general public on climate change problems with easily understandable graphic materials. Project partners include the Governments of Kenya, Ghana , Namibia , Russia , Uzbekistan , Mexico , Albania , Georgia, the UNFCCC and IPCC Secretariats, WWF, TERI, the Government of Norway and other donors.

National Climate Outreach Campaigns

Those campaigns have been implemented in Namibia , Ghana , Kenya , Russia , Uzbekistan , Albania and Georgia . Each campaign identified local needs and priorities for implementing national-level Article 6 activities, promoted collaboration and networking among focal points and key stakeholders, produced popular brochures and booklets in local languages, organized radio and TV presentations on hot climate topics – and much more. In Latin America UNEP/DEC supported publication of a Handbook on Climate Change Communica-tions for local practitioners that was successfully tested at a regional workshop with participants from 10 countries of the region.

Climate Outreach to Youth
UNEP has entered into a partnership with TERI Institute ( India ) to promote environmental education among the school children in India . This programme covered more than 100 schools in 8 states of the country and featured establishing school climate clubs, workshops and seminars for children, arranging climate-related shows and presentations and compiling guide books on climate change for teachers.

Support to UNFCCC Regional Workshops on Article 6

To facilitate successful implementation of New Delhi Work Programme, UNFCCC Secretariat organizes workshops on Article 6 for various geographical regions where representatives of local countries discuss common problems of climate change outreach identify barriers to strengthening Article 6 activities and explore opportunities and strategies for overcoming these barriers. UNEP co-sponsored and co-organized regional workshop for Africa , Latin America and the Caribbean , and for Asia-Pacific, and also organized a similar workshop for countries of the former Soviet Union .

Adapting to Climate Change

UNEP and the Inter-Centre Working Group on Climate Change of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) have proposed a joint project on improving the science-policy link. UNEP is also supporting the development of criteria and indicators for assessing ecological and economic vulnerabilities to climate change and capacities for adapting at the regional level. Many of these criteria and indicators relate to key sectors for biodiversity, agriculture and water. UNEP is also developing a handbook on cost-effective adaptation strategies for agricultural productivity for main-streaming adaptation in agriculture. Through its GEF-funded project on the Assessment of Impacts of and Adaptation to Climate Change in Multiple Regions and Sectors, UNEP is enhancing scientific and technical capacities in over 45 countries, mostly in Africa .

Supporting the IPCC

UNEP together with WMO provides the joint secretariat support to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its bureau and working groups, including facilitating the participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in IPCC.The IPCC has three Working Groups and a Task Force:

Working Group I assesses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.

Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.

Working Group III assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change.

The Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is responsible for the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and supporting materials

Future Perspectives

The eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP-11) and the first Meeting of the Par-ties to the Protocol (COP/MOP-1) Montreal in December 2005, launched two parallel tracks for future global action addressing climate change. First, an open-ended ad-hoc working group, established under the Protocol, and second, a non-negotiating “dialogue on long-term cooperative action” was initiated under the Convention. UNEP will support both tracks agreed in Montreal for the follow-up process. Hopefully the two tracks will eventually (after 2008) converge and lead to a new set of legally binding measures. At this stage, only the Kyoto track is clearly on course for binding targets. The centrality of multilateral framework represented by UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol needs to be fully supported. However, all other initiatives that help in anyway to address this challenge, including those initiatives the USA is involved in, should be encouraged. These new initiatives include the “Gleneagles Plan of Action on clean energy, climate change and sustainable development”, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, and the hydrogen and methane partnerships. UNEP is actively involved in the implementation of response measures to climate change by assisting developing countries in various fields such as capacity-building, adaptation, mitigation and public awareness.