Extreme Weather introduction
Extreme weather includes a range of phenomena that involve extremes of temperature, precipitation, wind and atmospheric pressure. They in turn develop from a variety of meteorological conditions. This topic looks at how extreme weather events lead to immediate, subsequent and longer term hazards. Storms, river floods and drought clearly illustrate the environmental, social and economic impacts of extreme weather – impacts that are closely related to the type of hazard involved and the economic situation of those affected. Risks from extreme weather, such as flooding, are increasing and much of this is our fault. If extreme weather conditions are becoming more frequent and more severe, then tougher, fairer and more intelligent decisions will need to be taken in both the short and longer term.
Fieldwork and Research for extreme weather
Fieldwork opportunities include a weather log, flood impacts survey, flood/drought risk assessments and flood management assessments.
Research work could relate to weather records, satellite images, hurricane data, and use of statistics for flood/drought events as well as evaluations of various management strategies.
Use case study for Henley on Thames
- questionnaires, business surveys, land use, secondary data from enivronmental agency and henley flood and river museum e.g. henley times news (E.A> local information investigation), newspaper archive search from the henley standard , practical modelling of landuse change and flood defences, G.I.S produced an impact and risk map and virtual fieldwork to show planning, stakeholder questionnaires, oral history from the lock keeper and museum flood expert, management survey and evaluation.
Flood case study: Carlisle, Cumbria
8th January 2005, there were hours of heavy rainfall and the River eden flooded.
- three people died
- 3000 people made homeless for up to a year and thousands of personal possessions damaged
- children lost out on education as four schools were severly flooded
- increase in stress related illnesses
- cost over £100 million to repair damage
- 350 businesses shut down
- At Eden Bridge, flood waters rose over a metre higher than previous highest waterline
Management of droughts: Australia
- Perth has a desalination plant that supplies 17% of its water
- Many regions use water restrictions e.g. the Murray-Darling Basin region. This includes banning people from watering lawns, refilling swimming pools and cleaning windows. This is a sustainable stategy
- over 500 sewage treatment plants in Australia now recycle some of their treated wastewater and sewage. Households have a drinking water supply and a recycled water supply.
- The Australian Government has introduced rules, guidelines and educational programmes e.g. labelling schemes that highlight their water efficiency.
- The Government provides economic assistance to farmers, communities and small business that are dependent on agriculture. Over $1000 million was provided in drought assistance in 2007
- Government offers exit grants of up to $170 000 to help farmers leave their land and relocate and retrain.
- The government funds research into cloud seeding and drought-resistant crops.
Management of droughts: South-East England
- South East of England is prone to dry weather and water shortages. There was a drought from 2004-2006.
- Water companies fix leaking pipes; over 900 million litres of water every day is lost
- A desalination plant in East London will provide drinking water to 1 million people a day. Costing £250 million to build
- When water levels are low, water companies restrict public water use (e.g. hosepipe bans).
- Environmental agency restricts water being used in agriculture
- the Governemnt encourages water conservation through campaigns and education.
- Using water metering means that people are charged for the exact amount of water they use.
The great storm of 1987
- Was a depression, on the 15-16 of October, 1987
- winds up to 100mph. 18 people were killed. 15 million trees were blown down.
- mainly affected greater London and the home counties
- The Met Office was severely criticised by most of the national press for failing to forecast the storm correctly mainly because of Michael Fish who said the storm would hit Spain and France.
- The Met Office set up a National Severe Weather Warning System following the event to effectively warn the British Public
- observational coverage of the atmosphere over the ocean to the south and west of the UK was improved by increasing the quality and quantity of observations from ships, aircraft, buoys and satellites, while refinements were made to the computer models used in forecasting.
- This was caused by sharp temperature contrasts often provide a focal point for severe weather developing, as the warm, moist air is forced upwards over cold air.