Wednesday, November 16, 2011

THE GREAT DELUGE: Bangkok Warned Floods May Last Until New Year - 564 People Have Been Killed So Far In Thailand Since July This Year!

Floodwater in parts of Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is receding after weeks of inundation but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and water experts said residents in some western districts could still be suffering into next year.

However, Yingluck reassured investors at a news conference with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday that Thailand would get back on track quickly and had a long-term strategy for redesigning its water management system. "We'll recover soon," Yingluck said, adding that restoring some infrastructure could be completed within 45-90 days. She said the east of Bangkok, where two industrial estates are still surrounded by water, should be flood-free before the end of the year but draining water from western districts was more difficult.

Thailand's worst flooding in at least five decades has claimed 564 lives since July, with water flowing slowly down from the north, inundating agricultural and industrial areas in the centre before swamping parts of Bangkok from late October. Anond Snidvongs, executive director of the government's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, said residents living in certain low-lying areas in the west would have to live with water for a while longer. "In the western area, the capacity of the drainage system was limited from the start," Anond told Reuters, adding there were also fewer canals than in the east. "What we're trying to do is add more water pumps and control the opening and closing of sluice gates in line with the high and the low river tides, as much as possible," added Anond, who is acting as an adviser to the government. He said some districts in western Bangkok could still escape flooding completely, and it should take only two or three weeks for main roads to dry out. Floodwater has reached part of the low-lying Rama II Road, a main highway through west of Bangkok to the rubber-growing south of Thailand, which has not been affected by the floods. - Reuters.
WATCH: Flood victims mourned in Bangkok.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: MASS SUICIDE - 65 Whales Die In New Zealand!

New Zealand
conservation officials euthanized 18 beached pilot whales in a bid to end their suffering Wednesday after a mass stranding on a remote South Island beach that left a total of 65 whales dead.

After 31 died on Farewell Spit, at the top of the island, officials hoped the survivors would refloat themselves on the high tides. "But they're-stranded each time and more whales died," Department of Conservation local manager John Mason said in a statement. "The whales seem to have come in a little further inshore in each re-stranding," he said. "The tides are reducing so it became very unlikely the remaining whales would get out to sea and that they would survive.

"Rather than prolong the whales' suffering we decided to take the humane course of euthanizing the remaining 18 whales this morning." He said it was too dangerous for rescuers to attempt to refloat the whales because they were stranded on sandbanks 1-2 miles from the shore in a remote place where tides came in rapidly over shallow tidal flats. "It would be arduous and unsafe for people to walk back to shore after refloating the whales in chest-deep water," he said. - McClatchy.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mt. Etna's 18th Violent Paroxysm of SE Crater!

Mount Etna
in Sicily, one of Italy's most famous volcanoes, started erupting once again.

A new eruptive episode is in progress at the New SE crater of Etna today. Starting this morning, tremor has been rising steeply and at the time of writing, the first strombolian explosions, or even small lava fountains, and perhaps already a small lava flow can be seen emerging from the SE-trending fissure cutting through the cone. All signs point towards that this is going to be the long-awaited 18th paroxysm of the New SE crater in 2011, following the previous one on 23 Oct after 23 days, the longest-so-far interval since July. - Volcano Discovery.
WATCH: Etna's spectacular eruption in October.

GEOENGINEERING: Ice Shield Experiment - Mongolia Aims to Store "Winter Temperatures" in Gigantic Block of Ice to Combat Heat?!

is to launch one of the world's biggest ice-making experiments later this month in an attempt to combat the adverse affects of global warming and the urban heat island effect.

The geoengineering trial, that is being funded by the Ulan Bator government, aims to "store" freezing winter temperatures in a giant block of ice that will help to cool and water the city as it slowly melts during the summer. The scientists behind the 1bn tugrik (£460,000) project hope the process will reduce energy demand from air conditioners and regulate drinking water and irrigation supplies. If successful, the model could be applied to other cities in the far north. The project aims to artificially create "naleds" - ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night. Unlike regular ice formation on lakes - which only gets to a metre in thickness before it insulates the water below - naleds continue expanding for as long as there is enough water pressure to penetrate the surface. Many are more than seven metres thick, which means they melt much later than regular ice.

A Mongolian engineering firm ECOS & EMI will try to recreate this process by drilling bore holes into the ice that has started to form on the Tuul river. The water will be discharged across the surface, where it will freeze. This process - effectively adding layers of ice rinks - will be repeated at regular intervals throughout the winter. The qualities of naleds (also known as Aufeis, German for "ice on top") have been known for hundreds of years. The North Korean military used them to build river crossings for tanks during the winter and Russia has used them as drilling platforms. But engineers usually see them in negative terms as a threat to railways and bridges. The Anglo-Mongolian company believe their proposed use in Ulan Bator could set a positive example that allows northern cities around the world to save on summer air conditioning costs, regulate drinking supplies, and create cool microclimates. "Everyone is panicking about melting glaciers and icecaps, but nobody has yet found a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative," said Robin Grayson, a Mongolian-based geologist. "If you know how to manipulate them, naled ice shields can repair permafrost and building cool parks in cities." He said the process will work in cities where the summer is intolerably hot and winters have at least a couple of months with temperatures of -5C to -20C. - The Guardian.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: California Sinkhole Swallows Up A Two-Lane Road With It - Landsliding The Coastal Bluff Into The Pacific Ocean!

"Officials fear that the entire area could end up in the ocean."

A sink hole in San Pedro is getting worse and more steps are being taken to keep the public safe. Hunks of a coastal bluff near Paseo del Mar between Western and Weymouth avenues are falling into the Pacific Ocean as the integrity of the hillside weakens.

What has residents so alarmed is the speed at which the road deteriorated. It started off as a small crack in the road. "To see how dramatically it's just given way, just really reminds you Mother Nature is in charge," said one resident. Fences have been set up to keep the public at a safe distance away from the danger. No homes are being threatened by the landslide, but engineers are monitoring the slide while Los Angeles County crews rush to move water and sewer lines along with storm drains before the next major rain storm hits.

Officials fear that the entire area could end up in the ocean. "We're hoping they know what they are doing," said resident Bob Simpson. "Otherwise we are in trouble." "It's just that the road has always been here," said resident Tina Valdez. "I've lived in San Pedro most of my life and it's just such a beautiful area- losing our gorgeous coastline here." Some residents are doing their own preparations, bringing a camera to preserve memories of the road. "It's going to be one of those, 'remember the time when we used to walk along Paseo in the morning and that landslide occurred? This is what it used to look like,'" said resident Veronica Smith. A geological survey is being done to figure out the cause of the slide and determine if other homes in the area are in danger. The survey is expected to be completed in about two months. It is also monitoring areas surrounding Paseo del Mar to make sure they aren't in danger. - ABC7.
WATCH: San Pedro coastal landslide worsens.

A slow-moving landslide has left part of California Road looking like an earthquake hit. A cliff in San Pedro is falling into the Pacific Ocean, taking a two-lane road with it. Chunks of concrete and asphalt are crumbling, leaving large gashes in the road. Police have blocked off the area to both cars and gawkers. The first cracks appeared last spring. Right now, there is no threat to homes. - 9NEWS.
WATCH: California sinkhole takes 2-lane road with it.