Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Indian anti-cyclone actions slash extreme-weather risks

Gareth Willmer at Developing nations should build resilience to extreme-weather events by learning from previous disasters and introducing technology such as early warning systems, says a report by UK-based scientific academy the Royal Society.  

As an example, the researchers highlight Cyclone Phailin, which hit the east Indian state of Odisha in October 2013. It was the area’s strongest storm since Cyclone 05B struck in 1999, killing almost 9,000 people and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless. Yet just 44 people were killed in Odisha by the 2013 cyclone and related flash floods.  

While last year’s storm still caused significant destruction, the researchers say the vastly reduced human cost shows “the effectiveness of building resilience through preparedness, early warnings, political commitment and technology”. They highlight how Odisha has pumped major investment this millennium into early-warning systems, infrastructure improvements, evacuation planning and shelters.  

And such measures could be key in coming years as developing nations face a “significant and increasing” risk from extreme weather due to their growing populations and climate change, they say. Maps in the report illustrate that the impact of floods, heatwaves and droughts will grow in many areas worldwide, but the risk will be amplified in regions such as South Asia, South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa because of their patterns of population rise and urbanisation....

NASA image of Cyclone Phailin, October 11, 2013

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