BANGKOK, August 21 -- The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on Wednesday warned of flash floods and landslides in 21 provinces in the North, the Northeast, Central Plains and eastern regions until Thursday.
Of the 21 provinces listed as possible affected areas, certain districts in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Nan, Tak, Uttaradit are particularly at risk from flash floods and landslides as a result of prolonged heavy rain, said department director-general Chayaphon Thitisak. The rain is the result of a monsoon trough in the Northern region and the impact from a southwest monsoon in the Andaman Sea and the upper Gulf of Thailand, according to the department. Emergency response teams have been put on round the clock standby in flood-prone localities in mountainous areas sucn as Nan province, according to Mr Chayaphon. Those living in low-lying areas are being advised to closely monitor weather updates throughout this period, he said.
In the South, however, rice growers in Nakhon Si Thammarat are calling on the government to declare a new drought-hit zone, with about 10,000 rai of paddy fields having been totally destroyed by drought over the past few months. Chetsada Banchongsut, their leader, said he and other rice farmers in Chalerm Prakiat district had tried to fight the drought themselves and lost about 130,000 baht pumping water into rice fields to save their crops, but the drought lasted so long that they could not cope anymore. The farmers now want the government to help by declaring their damaged rice fields a drought-hit zone so they will be entitled to compensation, he said. Sa Kaeo governor Wichit Chatphaisit said the province is assisting about 12,300 families, who own 79,950 rai of paddy fields in five tambon in Ta Phraya district which have already been damaged by drought. Two large water pumps were sent to affected areas to draw water and supply the communities, said the governor. As of Tuesday, Sa Kaeo's irrigation project had about 76.43 million cubic metres of water, which is enough to supply tap water for the entire province for the next 160 days, he said.
TOKYO, August 14 -- Japan's weather agency said Wednesday that powerful Typhoon Krosa is set to make landfall in the west of the country the following day, warning of potential record rainfall, mudslides and floods.
Airlines and railway operators announced reduced services in regions near the storm's path, possibly disrupting millions of travelers returning to major cities following Bon holidays visits to their hometowns. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the typhoon, traveling at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour, had weakened from the day before but could still dump around 1,200 millimeters of rain on some eastern and western areas facing the Pacific. Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. have decided to cancel a total of more than 300 domestic and international flights on Thursday. Low-cost carrier Peach Aviation Ltd. canceled 35 domestic flights on Thursday, as well as 13 international flights departing from and arriving at Tokyo's Haneda airport and Kansai International Airport. West Japan Railway Co. will suspend almost all of its shinkansen bullet train services. Services between Shin-Osaka and Kokura will be canceled, while those between Kokura and Hakata in Kyushu will be significantly reduced, the company said.
Central Japan Railway Co., an operator of shinkansen services between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, and Kyushu Railway Co. said they will also cut their bullet train services. Shikoku Railway Co. said it plans to entirely suspend services in its area on the western main island. The season's 10th typhoon with an atmospheric pressure of 965 hectopascals at its center was packing winds of up to 144 kph as of 9 p.m. Wednesday, the agency said. In a valley in Kusu, Oita Prefecture, a group of 18 people including children were stranded following the rise of a river, local officials said. Rescuers headed to the scene where the group was apparently at a barbecue, the officials said, adding there were no reports of injuries. The typhoon is approaching as Japan on Thursday will mark the 74th anniversary of its surrender in World War II, with memorial services including those in Ehime, Fukuoka, Kumamoto and Oita prefectures already canceled. The government will hold an annual ceremony at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, but many relatives of the war dead from the Kyushu and Shikoku regions will be unable to attend the event. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon earlier than scheduled from his hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture and attended a meeting on the typhoon with ministers at his office.
BEIJING, August 11 -- Typhoon Lekima has left 28 people dead and 20 missing as it swept across China's eastern coastal cities, Zhejiang Radio reported on its official micro-blog account.
More than one million people in Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang province have been evacuated due to the storm, which has damaged more than 3,000 homes, China Central Television reported. Lekima, which made landfall in Zhejiang early Saturday morning, has weakened to a strong tropical storm, according to the National Meteorological Center. The center has downgraded Lekima to yellow from orange, and has an orange rainstorm alert. China has a four-tier color-coded system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue. Lekima forced Shanghai to suspend services on several metro lines, according to the local government's official WeChat account. Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines were among those that announced flight cancellations, and high-speed rail services were affected in multiple cities, according to local media. Shanghai and Hangzhou airports are restoring operations gradually, according to Ctrip's flight tracking data and the local government. Taiwanese airlines cancelled about 520 international and domestic flights, according to local aviation authorities. Emergency units are working to repair roads, water and electricity, Global Times, a tabloid published by the Communist Party's People's Daily, reported on its Weibo account.
Mainland China's main financial hub had braced for Lekima after the typhoon ravaged Taiwan and affected Japan. Government offices, schools and businesses, including financial markets, were shut across northern Taiwan last Friday. More than 50,000 homes lost power overnight last Thursday, though electricity was mostly restored by last Friday morning. Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Centre reported at least one death and four injuries in the wake of the storm. At least four people were hurt in Okinawa, while flights and ferries across the southern Japanese islands experienced widespread disruptions, according to a report by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said Lekima had sustained wind speeds of 184km per hour, with gusts of 227km an hour last Friday morning. Mr Scott Hsieh, a senior meteorologist at CWB, said it was the strongest typhoon in the western Pacific so far this year.
KRASNOYARSK, August 9 -- Forest fires have swelled to 963,000 hectares in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk Region, the regional Forest Fire Response Center issued a statement on Friday.
The natural element's peak was registered last week when over 1.1 mln hectares were burning. "According to recent data, 118 forest fires engulfing 963,000 hectares are active in the region….. They pose no threat to residential areas," the statement reads. Most wildfires are reported in hard-to-reach areas where firefighting activities are launched upon the regional Emergency Management Commission’s decision. These fires have scorched 940,000 hectares. Firefighting activities in the region involve more than 1,300 personnel and over 100 pieces of equipment, as well as aircraft and helicopters. Forest fires in the Krasnoyarsk Region reached a peak last week, engulfing over 1.1 mln hectares. Ten of the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft were deployed to combat the blazes last Thursday. A state of emergency is still in effect. According to the regional Forestry Ministry, hot and dry weather, gusts and dry thunderstorms are the main causes of the wildfires.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Humanity faces increasingly painful trade-offs between food security and rising temperatures within decades unless it curbs emissions and stops unsustainable farming and deforestation, a landmark climate assessment said Thursday.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that efforts to limit global warming while feeding a booming population could be wrecked without swift and sweeping changes to how we use the land we live off. Its report on land use and climate change highlighted the need to protect remaining tropical forests as a bulkhead against future warming. But in a stark warning to those who may hope that vast reforestation and biofuel schemes alone can offset mankind's environmental damage, the report cautioned that these mega-projects could endanger food security, underlining that reducing emissions will be central to averting disaster. "This is a perfect storm. Limited land, an expanding human population, and all wrapped in a suffocating blanket of climate emergency," said Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh. Land is intimately linked to climate. With its forests, plants and soil it sucks up and stores around a third of all man-made emissions.
Intensive exploitation of these resources also produces huge amounts of planet-warming CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, while agriculture guzzles up 70 percent of Earth's freshwater supply. As the global population balloons towards 10 billion by mid-century, how land is managed by governments, industry and farmers will play a key role in limiting or accelerating the worst excesses of climate change.
LAND USE TO BE PART OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE EFFORTThe report says Earth's land surface area is a key part of the solution to reducing the risks from climate change. The land, from tropical forests and peatlands to desert grasslands, soak up large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. It is part of a natural cycle in which carbon is produced and recycled by plants on land and organisms in the oceans as a way to regulate the climate.
But large-scale burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, as well as clearing and burning forests, has distrupted the natural order, leading to ever greater amounts of CO2 that nature can no longer absorb, fuelling a warming world.
The IPCC said the land should be part of any global effort to keep the world from overheating.
"But keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food," the IPCC says.
The report finds that there are many solutions to reduce the impacts on farmlands, including switching to less intensive cropping practices, ecosystem conservation and land restoration, reduced deforestation, cutting food waste and switching to climate-friendly diets.
It says coordinated action to address climate change can simultaneously improve land, food security and nutrition, and help to end hunger.
FOOD SECURITY"Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines -especially in the tropics - increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions," said author Priyadarshi Shukla from India. "We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean," he said in a statement.
The report also highlights the changes in diets in recent decades, where the supply of meat and vegetable oils has more than doubled since 1961 as well as the disparity between those with access to food and those who don't.
There are about 2 billion adults who are overweight or obese, while an estimated 821 million people are still undernourished.
"The conclusion that we reached from the report is that the land that we are already using could feed the world in a changing climate and even provide biomass for renewable energy and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But it takes early and far-reaching action on several fronts," said Dr Andy Reisinger, an IPCC vice-chair and Deputy Director (International) for the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
That included much better land management and careful planning on where to grow energy crops for renewable energy in a way that does not harm nature or threaten food security.
"Land can't help us get out of climate change problems on its own. It has to be part of a broader mix. There are ways in which we could really make mistakes by focusing too much on land as a way to address climate change," he told The Straits Times.
At present, between 25 and 30 per cent of total food produced is lost or wasted, the report says.
LAS VEGAS, July 28 -- Although the insects that invaded Las Vegas this week are technically not locusts, the plague has still spawned terrifying Biblical references on social media.
‘Fear and Locusts in Las Vegas’ may have made a great headline for this article, but the winged loiterers that have flocked to the bright lights in Las Vegas are pallid-winged grasshoppers. Social media have been inundated with videos of the grasshoppers chirping around in the night skies above Las Vegas casinos. In one particularly fascinating clip, they were filmed flying above the Luxor Hotel's pyramid. “It was crazy. We didn’t even want to walk through there. Everybody was going crazy,” tourist Diana Rodriquez told a local TV station. The plague has been dubbed on social media the Great Grasshopper Invasion of 2019, while some people say it looks like something out of the Book of Exodus.
According to entomologists, wet weather in the past several months is to blame for the scale of the invasion. "It appears through history that when we have a wet winter or spring, these things build up often down below Laughlin and even into Arizona," said Jeff Knight from the Nevada Department of Agriculture. "We'll have flights about this time of the year, migrations, and they'll move northward."
He explained that such migrations are rare but not unprecedented, and that the insects don’t cause any harm to humans. The grasshoppers are expected to be gone in several weeks as they will continue to move to the north.
ROTTERDAM, July 27 -- On Friday, more temperature records are falling in parts of Europe as the historic heat wave that brought the hottest weather ever recorded in Paris, London, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany shifts northward.
In a few days, the weather system responsible for the heat wave will stretch all the way across the top of the globe. It's what this system, characterized by a strong area of high pressure aloft — often referred to as a heat dome — will do to the Arctic that has some scientists increasingly concerned. First, Norway, Sweden, and Finland will be the focus of unusually high temperatures through the weekend, as a potentially record strong area of high pressure in the mid-levels of the atmosphere sets up over the region, blocking any cold fronts or other storm systems from moving into the area, like a traffic light in the sky. Temperatures in parts of Scandinavia will reach into the 90s or higher, on the heels of an intense heat wave in 2018 that led to an outbreak of damaging wildfires on parts of the region. Bergen, Norway, already set an all-time record high on Friday with a temperature of 91 degrees (32.8 Celsius). So far this year, Arctic sea ice extent has hovered at record lows during the melt season. Weather patterns favorable for increased melt have predominated in this region, and an unusually mild summer has also increased melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Unlike with sea ice melt, runoff from the Greenland Ice Sheet increases sea levels, since it adds new water to the oceans. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, it would raise global average sea levels by 23 feet. Ruth Mottram, a researcher with the Danish Meteorological Institute, tells The Washington Post that as the high-pressure area, also referred to as a "blocking ridge," sets up over Greenland, it could promote a widespread and significant melt event last seen in 2012. During that summer, nearly all of the ice sheet experienced melting, including the highest elevations that rarely exceed 32 degrees.
"... Assuming this comes off (and it seems likely) we would expect a very large melt event over the ice sheet," Mottram said via email. "This was a very similar situation to 2012 where melt reached all the way up to Summit station. As you have probably seen the Arctic sea ice is already at record low for the time of year so clearly we may be looking at a situation where both Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheet have record losses even over and above 2012 — though we won't know for sure until after the event."
Zack Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine who focuses on Arctic climate change, said the upcoming Arctic heat wave could have major ramifications and may push sea ice to another record low at the end of the melt season. "This appears to be a very significant event for the Arctic," he said of the upcoming weather pattern. "A massive upper-level ridge will position itself across the North Atlantic and eventually Greenland in the next few days. This negative North Atlantic Oscillation-like pattern will be associated with well above average temperatures in Greenland. In fact, simulations from the MARv3.9 model suggest this may be the largest surface melt event of the summer," Labe said, referring to a computer model projection of surface ice melt in Greenland. "Whether or not we set a new record low this year, the timing and extent of open water on the Pacific side of the Arctic has been unprecedented in our satellite record. This is already having significant impacts to coastal communities in Alaska and marine ecosystems," Labe said.
Elsewhere in the Arctic, this summer has been similarly extreme. Alaska had its warmest June on record, and more than 2 million acres have gone up in flames across the state as a result of a long stretch of above-average temperatures. Arcticwide, an unusual spate of wildfires is burning, affecting vast stretches of Siberia as well. Smoke from these fires is circling the globe, tracked via satellite imagery. These fires are a positive feedback in the climate system, since they are emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
PARIS, July 24 -- The French capital is going through its driest period in almost 150 years and temperatures across Europe continue to reach extreme levels, leaving scorched fields and farmers frustrated by another spell of bad weather.
In the east German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Christa-Maria Wendig is worried these once-rare droughts are becoming common. She plans to give up planting rapeseed in the coming months because of the dry weather and the heatwave stunted her ripening corn crop. 'Our ponds are empty and the meadows withered,' she said. As temperatures keep climbing across Europe this week, peaking on Thursday in Paris and London, the effects of extreme weather are becoming clearer. This summer has already seen raging wildfires in Portugal and Spain, falling water levels on Germany’s Rhine River and irrigation restrictions in France. Day-ahead electricity prices in France hit a five-month high Tuesday. In Paris, temperatures are forecast to hit 42°C.
Electricite de France SA plans to halt two nuclear reactors at Golfech this week, as the Garonne river becomes too warm for cooling the plant. The company, which produces about three-quarters of France’s power, has said it will prepare nuclear plants to operate in more severe heatwaves in the coming decades amid a changing climate. In agriculture, the heatwave is having the biggest impact on corn fields, which are in a key growth stage. Yields will drop sharply if beneficial rains don’t arrive soon, said German grains handler Agravis Raiffeisen AG. Winter wheat and barley are already being collected and escaped most of the bad weather. Some farmers in France and Germany may harvest corn early as silage to build up their animal-feed supplies for the winter, rather than collecting the crops as grain to sell on the market, said Laurine Simon, an analyst at consultant Strategie Grains. Forage stocks are already low after last year’s drought, and Paris corn futures are up about 10% since late May.
BANGKOK, July 22 -- The section of the Yom River that runs through the Sam Ngam district has run dry following months without rain, local officials said.
The river has been reduced into a narrow and shallow waterway in the middle with sand dunes clearly visible along both banks. The remaining water is so shallow that the locals can walk across. Sam Ngam is located in the upper part of the province in an area that has suffered from drought for several months.