(TMU) — Relief is finally on the way to Australia in the form of heavy rainfall expected this week.
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting “widespread rainfall,” according to ABC. The rain is expected to start sometime on Wednesday and last through the weekend with rainfall totals reaching 30-80 mm (1.8-3.15 inches) in the east.
Sarah Scully, BOM’s extreme weather forecaster, said that the monsoon trough in the tropical north is bringing humidity and moisture to the island nation. While the news is welcome, the rain is not expected to be enough to end the bushfire threat.
“As well as that, over eastern Australia we’ve had a high-pressure system that’s been sitting in the Tasman Sea.
That’s been directing a moist onshore flow over the eastern part of Australia over the last few days.”
Those unfamiliar with Australia may be likewise unfamiliar with the country’s size and usual weather patterns. While bushfires are ravaging certain areas of the island, other areas have been greeted with record-breaking rainfall after a dry 2019.
On Friday, the island of Dum In Mirrie broke records with 562 mm (22 inches) in just 24 hours and Wagait Beach received 515 mm (20.2 inches) of rain in 24-hour period as well. Residents of Wagait Beach and other areas said the deluge was “like nothing they’d seen in years.”
According to Scully, the rain from the north is expected to collide with a low-pressure trough that will develop over parts of fire-ravaged New South Wales (NWS) and will extend down to Victoria as it develops. Thankfully, the trough is currently expected to move slowly, providing ample opportunity for showers and storms to drench the area.
“So with the instability that’s created by this trough, plus the increased humidity, all those ingredients go together to create a really unstable environment with increased showers and thunderstorms,” Scully said.
While the storms won’t be enough to completely extinguish the current bushfires, some of them may be contained following the rainfall and new fires may be prevented.
“The best-case scenario, with the ongoing showers and storms from Wednesday onwards, is that they can really impact and help to extinguish some of the fires,” Scully said.
“At least with this heavy rainfall the ground will be more moist and it’ll be harder to ignite.”
Even the Rural Fire Service is getting excited.
If this @BOM_NSW rainfall forecast comes to fruition then this will be all of our Christmas, birthday, engagement, anniversary, wedding and graduation presents rolled into one. Fingers crossed. #NSWRFS #nswfires pic.twitter.com/R9VfD0bqu2
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) January 12, 2020
The excitement sure is warranted. According to the forecast, it is clear that there will be increase in shows and thunderstorms. However, Scully says that due to the nature of such storms it is “difficult to say is the exact location where the heaviest totals are going to be accumulated.”
Due to the increased moisture expected, any lightening associated with the storms is not expected to light new fires. There are, however, other risks to keep in mind.
The saturated ground can be an additional hazard for those fighting fires and rescuing animals. In addition to surfaces simply being more slippery than normal, saturated grounds can become unstable and especially hazardous when dealing with large equipment used for firefighting. And strong winds that often come with thunderstorms may further damage trees and structures damaged by the bushfires.
“There’s a risk of flash flooding and landslips with any heavy bursts of rainfall, particularly over the dry and burnt out areas of NSW and eastern Victoria,” Scully said.
Flash floods wreaked havoc across California’s fire-ravaged areas during the deadly, record-breaking wildfire season of 2018. The floodwaters were blackened by ash and carried debris from the fires.
Unfortunately South Australia and southern Western Australia will missing out on the forecasted precipitation but all hope is not lost Tropical Cyclone Claudia is currently spinning off the the coast of West Australia and may bring additional rain to the country.
“It’s still a number of days away, but it does look like some of the moisture from Tropical Cyclone Claudia may be picked up by the passage of a frontal system,” Scully said.
As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists
The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.
However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.
While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.
The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.
The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes – but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.
“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.
To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.
However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.
These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.
The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.
Japan Says Dumping Fukushima Radioactive Water in Pacific Ocean is Now “Unavoidable”
While Japan last month marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami with solemn ceremonies, the government has also been stressing the successes of its recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.
In truth, however, the country is still coping with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, which has already cost Japan trillions of yen and whose exclusion zone will require up to 40 more years to fully rehabilitate.
And with contaminated water continuing to build up at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says that the government must finally begin dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.
With nuclear waste and fuel rods still contaminating the area, over one million tons of radioactive waste water continue to seep from the facility, according to The Japan Times, forcing authorities into what Suga describes as the “unavoidable” position of having to dump the water.
Officials claim that the water would be purified to the maximum extent possible, but environmentalist groups like Greenpeace warn that the water contains hazardous material that could damage human DNA and the health of marine life.
Fishers also fear that consumers will refuse to buy fish caught in contaminated waters, worsening their plight amid a restriction of imports from Fukushima prefecture imposed by 15 countries and regions.
Regardless, authorities argue they must deal with the cards that have been dealt.
“What to do with the [treated] water is a task that the government can no longer put off without setting a policy,” Japanese trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said on Wednesday.
Suga is expected to formally decide on the course of action by next Tuesday. If he proceeds, authorities will dilute tritium to 2.5 percent of the maximum concentration allowed by the country before it is dumped.
But while Japanese officials say that the water will be safe, it remains an open question whether people will trust their word.
Crowds Flock to Lava-Spewing Volcanoes in Italy, Iceland and Guatemala to Get Closer View
The year 2021 has so far been a particularly active time for volcanic eruptions. In February and March, three spectacular volcanic eruptions have occurred: the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, Mount Etna in Italy and Pacaya in Guatemala.
In each case, the eruptions have drawn large crowds of curious onlookers and sightseers.
In vivid video captured at Fagradalsfjall volcano on April 1, lava can be seen being spewed as amazed onlookers can be heard in the background. According to local reports, tens of thousands of people have been drawn to the area to view the eruption.
Iceland’s authorities are not anticipating evacuations due to the mile-and-a-half distance from the nearest road.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” said Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”
Italy and Guatemala have also experienced a few volcanic eruptions this year.
On March 7, Sicilian villages were showered with ash and lava stone following the eruption of Mount Etna, which began its highly active phase in February.
The Pacaya volcano lying 30 miles south of the Guatemalan capital has also been extremely active since February.
Pacaya’s peak typically attracts tourists, but hikes are temporarily on hold due to the uptick in activity. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, whose lava flows in a 2018 eruption killed at least 110 people and left rougly 200 missing.
While volcano tourism provides a steady source of income for villages like nearby San Francisco de Sales, locals must balance this with the need to ensure their long-term safety.
So far, however, Pacaya has not yet injured locals.
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