Saturday, May 30, 2009
original from:: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/29/1
Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.
It projects that increasingly severeheatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.
Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year - more than all the present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.
Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: "Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters ... bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability".
If emissions are not brought under control, within 25 years, the report states:
• 310m more people will suffer adverse health consequences related to temperature increases
• 20m more people will fall into poverty
• 75m extra people will be displaced by climate change.
Climate change is expected to have the most severe impact on water supplies . "Shortages in future are likely to threaten food production, reduce sanitation, hinder economic development and damage ecosystems. It causes more violent swings between floods and droughts. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to become water stressed by climate change by the 2030. ".
The study says it is impossible to be certain who will be displaced by 2030, but that tens of millions of people "will be driven from their homelands by weather disasters or gradual environmental degradation. The problem is most severe in Africa, Bangladesh, Egypt, coastal zones and forest areas. ."
The study compares for the first time the number of people affected by climate change in rich and poor countries. Nearly 98% of the people seriously affected, 99% of all deaths from weather-related disasters and 90% of the total economic losses are now borne by developing countries. The populations most at risk it says, are in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, south Asia and the small island states of the Pacific.
But of the 12 countries considered least at risk, including Britain, all but one are industrially developed. Together they have made nearly $72bn available to adapt themselves to climate change but have pledged only $400m to help poor countries. "This is less than one state in Germany is spending on improving its flood defences," says the report.
The study comes as diplomats from 192 countries prepare to meet in Bonn next week for UN climate change talks aimed at reaching a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in December in Copenhagen. "The world is at a crossroads. We can no longer afford to ignore the human impact of climate change. This is a call to the negotiators to come to the most ambitious agreement ever negotiated or to continue to accept mass starvartion, mass sickness and mass migration on an ever growing scale," said Kofi Annan, who launched the report today in London.
Annan blamed politians for the current impasse in the negotiations and widespread ignorance in many countries. "Weak leadership, as evident today, is alarming. If leaders cannot assume responsibility they will fail humanity. Agreement is in the interests of every human being."
Barabra Stocking, head of Oxfam said: "Adaptation efforts need to be scaled up dramatically.The world's poorest are the hardest hit, but they have done the least to cause it.
Nobel peace prizewinner Wangari Maathai, said: "Climate change is life or death. It is the new global battlefield. It is being presented as if it is the problem of the developed world. But it's the developed world that has precipitated global warming."
Calculations for the report are based on data provided by the World Bank, the World Health organisation, the UN, the Potsdam Insitute For Climate Impact Research, and others, including leading insurance companies and Oxfam. However, the authors accept that the estimates are uncertain and could be higher or lower. The paper was reviewed by 10 of the world's leading experts incluing Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Jeffrey Sachs, of Columbia University and Margareta Wahlström, assistant UN secretary general for disaster risk reduction.
India's annual monsoon rains are expected to remain stagnant for up to five days, the weather department said on its website on Friday afternoon.
The department revised its earlier forecast on Friday morning that the monsoon was not likely to advance in coming 3-4 days. "Numerical weather prediction models indicate that further advance of monsoon is not likely during next 4-5 days," the weather department said in an updated note on its website.
Monsoon rains, which hit the country's mainland on Saturday ahead of normal schedule of June 1, had lost pace after May 25 and there has been no advancement for the previous three days.
India's June-September monsoon rains are a major influence on the farm-dependent economy as two-thirds of Indians dependant on agriculture and related businesses for a living.
Cyclone Ailia was not a strong storm, but its heavy rains and storm surges were enough to swamp the Mouths of the Ganges River in Bangladesh and India. Some islands in the Bay of Bengal and the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans region were inundated and still cut off from relief and rescue workers as of May 29, 2009. Clean drinking water was an acute problem: tidal surges continued to wash salty water inland over damaged levees, and salt water cannot be decontaminated with regular water purification tablets, according to reports from BBC news.
This pair of images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite shows the flooding on May 28, 2009 (top), compared to the conditions on May 11, prior to the storm. Made from a combination of visible, shortwave-, and near-infrared light, the image highlights standing water, which appears blue. Vegetation is neon green, and bare ground is tan. Clouds are light blue or white.
Even prior to the storm, pockets of standing water appear in the Sundarbans and other low-lying areas; the first storms of the rainy season (generally June-September) may have already begun. But a dramatic increase in flooded areas is obvious in the post-storm image, despite the patchy clouds. Distributaries in the Sundarbans are wider and coastal areas of Orissa state (lower left) and West Bengal state (northeast of Orissa) in India were pale blue, rather than the light tan they were in the pre-storm image.
The large images provided above are at MODIS' maximum spatial resolution (level of detail) of 250 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides twice-daily images of the area in a variety of resolutions and formats, including photo-like natural color.
Friday, May 29, 2009
As the khatri veyyil' ends, Chennaiites can heave a sigh of relief. May, traditionally the hottest month, has been comparatively pleasant.
Reason? The sea breeze blew in early enough to contain the heat radiation. Unlike in the previous two years, the mercury touched 40 degrees Celsius only on four days this year. In 2007, it climbed over 40 C on 12 days, and last year it touched 40 and above on 16 days. The pleasanter weather
has come in a year when summer showers have been deficient. According to the Met department, Nungambakkam recorded 17 mm of rain between March and May while Meenambakkam was deficient by 42 mm, as against the normal 79 mm.
"The timely onset of the sea breeze has kept the temperature under control, since clear skies and sea breeze control heat radiation," said Y E A Raj, deputy director-general of meteorology, Regional Meteorological
Centre (RMC). "When the sea breeze sets in, the day temperature will drop by two or three degrees in one hour, and since they blow for 12 hours a day in May, the weather will be pleasanter," he added. According to him, strong westerly winds will impede the onset of sea breeze, and make the temperature warmer. Barring on May 13, 14, 23, and 25, the arrival of sea breeze has been close to normal. In May 1910 and in May 2003, Chennai recorded 45 degrees Celsius.
According to RMC director S R Ramanan, "A low pressure blocked a good part of the solar radiation and aided in maintaining comfortable levels this May."
A Ramachandran, director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, Anna University, pointed to a 0.2 degree rise in the mean value of day temperatures during the khatri over the last two decades. According to him, man-made causes are likely to impact radiation levels in future
May 28 Weather conditions seem to have reverted to pre-monsoon coordinates with a signature north-south trough (or wind discontinuity) reappearing along 'the trunk' of mainland India.
The northern limit of monsoon as on Monday passed through Mangalore, Dharmapuri, Chennai, Paradip, Balasore, Bankura and Gangtok. No further progress has been made ever since.
Opposing wind streams from the northwest and the southeast of the peninsula merge along the formation and cause instability. The IMD has forecast rain or thundershowers in the region over the next three days.
Residual moisture from erstwhile cyclone Aila is available over east and northeast of the country. Rain or thundershowers are possible at a few places over the Indo-Gangetic plains until Sunday. This would also bring down maximum temperatures by 2-4 deg Celsius over the region.
Meanwhile, isolated heavy rainfall has been warned of over Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the next two days. The Canadian Meteorological Centre saw a circulation spinning up here and heading north-northeast to drive rains into southern Myanmar by Sunday.
The Thailand Met Department observed that 'rather strong' monsoon prevailed over the Andaman Sea and the Thai Gulf on Thursday. Torrential rainfall has been warned of in the region with isolated heavy spells. Ships have been advised to proceed with cation until Sunday. A 24-hour forecast spoke of 'very cloudy' conditions with fairly widespread thundershowers and isolated heavy rain. Southwesterly winds may reach speeds of up to 35 km/hr. Fresh activity would be triggered in the Arabian Sea also during the next three days, an IMD outlook said.
The Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) of the US National Weather Services said enhanced rainfall is likely over the Arabian Sea, southern India to Southeast Asia during the week ending June 1.
It attributed this to the prevailing Indian and Southeast Asian monsoon, above-normal sea-surface temperatures in some areas and interaction with an extra-tropical circulation (westerly system to the north of Himalayas but mainly impacting south-east Asia).
In what is being seen as prejudicial to monsoon over mainland India, the CPC sees the threat of tropical cyclone development for parts of South China Sea (just east of the Bay of Bengal) and adjoining west Pacific.
A tropical cyclone spinning up could do to the monsoon what Tropical Cyclone Aila has already managed to disrupt wind flows and appropriate incoming moisture to itself.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Millions of people have been left homeless after large tidal waves struck the two countries
Cyclone Aila is causing widespread damage along the coast. Rising flood waters there are forcing thousands of residents from their homes.
Floods ravaged coastal parts of Bangladesh Monday the 25th, leaving thousands of families homeless.
Those fortunate enough to escape the rising flood waters walked to temporary shelters, while others were left stranded.
"The water from the sea entered our village and flooded our homes. All our houses were flooded. No dry place remains."
The storm surge from Aila washed away dozens of shrimp farms and flooded rice fields.
With Aila tracking towards the coast the Bangladesh Weather Bureau has kept storm warning in place for the ports at Chittagong, Mongla and Cox's Bazar.
Almost 40 have perished in Bangladesh.
This poor south Asian country is battered by storms every year.
A cyclone in November 2007 ravaged a large part of the country's coast, killing nearly 3,500 people and displacing around two million.
India's annual monsoon rains, which hit the country's mainland on Saturday, has lost pace and there has been no advancement for the last two days, the weather deparment said on its website on Wednesday.
Till May 25, the southwest monsoon advanced over entire Kerala and Tamil Nadu, parts of coastal Karnataka, entire northeastern states, and most parts of West Bengal, the Indian Meteorological Department said.
"There is no further advance of monsoon till today, i.e. 27th May 2009," the department said.
Monsoon reached the south-western state of Kerala on May 23, ahead of the scheduled June 1.
Here's the northern limit of monsoon..
The northern limit of monsoon as on 25th May 2009, passed through Lat. 13.0ºN/Long 60.0ºE, Lat. 13.0ºN/Long 70.0ºE, Mangalore, Dharmapuri, Chennai, Lat. 15.0ºN/Long 83.0ºE, Lat. 17.0ºN/Long 85.0ºE, Paradip, Balasore, Bankura and Gangtok.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The death toll was expected to rise through the night as rescuers reached rural villages cut off by floodwaters.
The Food and Disaster Management Ministry said Cyclone Aila had killed 100 people in Bangladesh, and a government official in West Bengal state in India put the number of dead at 68, according to The Associated Press.
Storm surges in coastal areas of Bangladesh were particularly deadly, disaster officials said, as nearly half a million people sought refuge in temporary shelters. Fishing boats also were damaged and vast areas of rice paddies and cropland were flooded with salty seawater.
Nijhum Dwip, a low-lying coastal island with 25,000 residents, was reportedly submerged.
"We're quite worried about this island, because reports are coming in that houses and fields have been totally washed away," said Nick Southern, the Bangladesh country director for the aid agency Care. "We are trying to get there today by boat, but the cyclone has made travel almost impossible."
In India, video reports from the city of Calcutta showed snapped power lines, uprooted trees and roofs being torn from houses and commercial buildings. The heavy rains also caused massive mudslides in the Darjeeling tea district, where more than 20 people had died, the A. P. reported.
The cyclone also lashed the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and a Unesco World Heritage Site that straddles the India-Bangladesh border. The area is an important home to the Royal Bengal tiger, and the A.P. reported that at least one tiger retreated from the rising waters into a home. Game wardens tranquilized the tiger and planned to release it after the flooding subsided.
The same area was struck in 2007 by Cyclone Sidr. More than 3,500 people died in that storm and 2 million more were displaced.
It's not just residents of Kolkata who bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila. Forest wardens fear that as the cyclone tore through the Sunderbans
flooding the mangrove forests, it may have killed more than a dozen of the highly endangered Bengal tigers
As the human toll from Monday's cyclone rose to 64, beat officers and range officials in the Sunderbans feared hundreds of herbivores and at least a dozen tigers might have been swept away by the giant waves that lashed the forests. While a tiger had sneaked into the Jamespur village wading through the flood waters and was tranquillised early on Tuesday morning, 20 crocodiles and two spotted deer were found dead.
The full extent of the damage will be known only after an assessment by forest teams. As per the last census, the Sunderbans had 265 tigers.
Pintu Mirdha of Jamespur got the shock of his life when he spotted a male tiger crouching in his waterlogged cowshed. Mirdha managed to shut the cowshed door and informed the forest department. But forest guards had to wait for the water to recede to get close to the animal. Neighbours were asked to evacuate as the animal paced up and down the locked cowshed. At around 1pm, when the water level went down during low tide, the male tiger was tranquillised.
"It swam into the village that was left flooded after the cyclone. Since most villagers weren't present at the submerged huts, no one noticed the animal," said Subrat Mukherjee, field director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve.
"A storm like this has never hit the Sunderbans in the last three decades. Going by the extent of damage to the villages, the state of the forest could be terrible. Forests remained under eight feet of water till late Tuesday afternoon. Immediately after Aila hit, it had gone up to 20 feet," said Mrinal Chattopadhyay of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers.
"Even if tigers manage to swim to higher grounds, deer and wild boars must have been swept away," he said. Wardens fear that even if tigers survived the giant waves, the lack of prey will certainly kill them.
But some forest officials were cautious. "We shall study the damage once the water level goes down," said Subhendu Bandopadhyay, divisional forest officer, South 24-Parganas. Beat wardens, however, said no assessment would be possible until the waters recede and that could take weeks. By that time many of the carcasses would have disintegrated to nothing.
Normal life was thrown out of gear in Kanyakumari district following heavy rain in various places on Tuesday.
Students who had passed SSLC and higher secondary examinations were put to hardship when they went to the employment office or special camps set up by the district administration to register their names. Office-goers also found it difficult to reach their destinations.
Fishermen did not venture into sea owing to rough weather.
Movement of vehicles was restricted as rainwater flooded roads in Kottar, Putheri, Vadaserry, Thuckalay and Colachel.
Natarajan of Therperambuvilai near Marthandam sustained grievous injuries when a coconut tree fell on his house. He was admitted to a hospital for treatment. Banana plantations were damaged at Boothapandi, Kadukkarai, Anjugramam, Kulasekaram, Thuckalay, Ethavilai and surrounding areas by rain and gale.
The maximum rainfall of 104 mm was recorded at Chittar I followed by 96 Chittar II, 77.2 in Perunchani, 76 in Pechipparai, 71.7 in Surulode, 57.2 in Kottaram, 56.2 mm in Boothapandi, 38.5 in Kannimar, 27 in Myladi and 25.6 in Aralvoimozhi.
Owing to heavy rainfall, salt production was affected in Anjugramam, Palkulam, Swamithoppu and surrounding areas.
Water level in Pechipparai dam stood at 36.80 feet and the inflow was 478 cusecs. Water level in Perunchani stood at 34 feet and the inflow was 101 cusecs.
Original from:: http://www.hindu.com/2009/05/27/stories/2009052752880300.htm
More than 90 people have been killed by a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh and eastern India, officials and local media said.
At least 62 people died in Bangladesh and 29 in India's West Bengal state, with millions still marooned or living in shelters.
"The death toll rose to 62 following recovery of 47 more bodies from different cyclone-battered coastal districts," Bangladesh's private ATN television reported.
Cyclone Aila slammed into parts of Bangladesh and eastern India on Monday (local time), triggering tidal surges and flooding that forced half a million people from their homes.
Officials in coastal Bangladesh moved about 500,000 people to temporary shelters after they left their homes to escape huge tidal waves churned by winds up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Heavy rain triggered by the storm also raised river levels and burst mud embankments in the Sundarbans delta in the neighbouring eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The affected area is home to hundreds of thousands of people as well as the world's biggest tiger reserve.
In Bangladesh, the worst affected area was the Satkhira district, near the port of Mongla, where a local official said 17 bodies were found in one village.
"The situation here is alarming, and the confirmed death toll so far in the district is 22. But it may go up," Mohammad Abdus Samad, deputy commissioner of Satkhira, said by telephone.
Aila swept many areas still recovering from Cyclone Sidr in November 2007, which killed 3,500 people in Bangladesh and made at least a million homeless.
Bangladesh officials said at least 100 people were missing after the cyclone.
A low-pressure weather system over the heart of South America developed into an unusual cyclonic storm in mid-May 2009. According to MetSul meteorologist Luiz Fernando Nachtigall (who tipped The Earth Observatory with this story), the storm "remained quasi-stationary for 48 hours and was incredibly symmetric, resembling a tropical cyclone in the middle of the continent.
This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite shows the unusual storm on May 22. With clear skies all around, the ball of clouds hung over the border between Argentina and Paraguay. Near the top center of the storm, the clouds have a boiling appearance that is often associated with towering thunderstorms. Near the bottom of the storm, a few wispy streamers of clouds suggest the clockwise inward spiral of the storm.
Nachtigall wrote that any kind of cyclonic formation is very rare in the Chaco region of northern Argentina and Paraguay. This system...unleashed heavy rain (over 200 mm) in Paraguay and displaced 500 people, according to local media reports.
The weatherman is at it all the time.
Mild showers or high noon, all want to know what the weather will be like tomorrow, or maybe the day after. The real weatherman who silently observes the cloud formation, the dip in the temperature or the direction of the wind, is an unknown face to all. He is A Muthuchami, the head of the meteorological department. While studying the weather, he has also fallen in love. With Bangalore's salubrious climate.
This 53-year-old weatherman starts off with some fundas about the weather. "If the weather is challenging, it makes people active, like in European countries. Though we feel easily exhausted due to high temperature during summer in Chennai, people work hard to complete their work faster. Here, the low temperature of Bangalore makes me feel lazy."
Starting out as a private school teacher, the state's top weatherman, who aspired to be an IPS officer, landed up as the research assistant at the Cyclone Warning Research Centre (CWRC) in Chennai where he spent the next decade.
Born in Vedepatti, a village 80 km away from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and educated in a government school, he is the first to get a post-graduate degree in his village.
After completing his Masters in mathematics from PSG College of Arts and Science and MPhil from Ramanujam Institute of Advance Studies in Mathematics from Chennai, Muthuchami worked for three years as a lecturer in a government college in Tamil Nadu. On passing the UPSC exam, he was appointed as the Assistant Meteorologist Grade-2 in 1985.
Muthuchami remembers his year of joining the Met department as the year of the launch of INSAT-1B and installation of 100 disaster warning instruments in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Moving from a researcher at CWCR, he served at the agro-meteorological advisory unit and as meteorologist at Chennai airport. Last January, he was posted as the director of the Met department in Karnataka.
Coming from a farming community, Muthuchami was well aware of the significance of the weather even before he joined the department. "Life depends on weather. World history has changed due to weather conditions. The Germans were defeated due to bad weather that prevailed during the Second World War," Muthuchami says.
Married to Dheivani -- his pillar of strength -- they have two kids. Daughter Uma Maheshwari, a bio-pharmaceutical engineer, works in Chennai while son Arun Mahesh, has just written the PUC exam and is interested in a career in Electronics.
For this disciplinarian coming from a research background, the role of administrator has been challenging. A year and a half later as the state's Met chief, the biggest challenge for Muthuchami and his family has been in learning the local language. "Everyone here speaks or understands Tamil. So, the need to learn the local language has never arisen. But, I have learnt to recognize the Kannada alphabet and am also making an attempt to learn the language," he says.
With all his siblings involved in agricultural activity, Muthuchami plans to return to farming after his retirement and continue with his research work. If there's one thing he is not too happy with, it is the reach of agro-meteorology forecasting to farmers.
The weatherman has some good things to say about the climatic conditions in Karnataka -- the geographic position of the state makes it disaster-free. So, weather forecasts in the state do not have critical significance and public awareness about weather conditions is yet to catch up.
But, there's a cautionary note -- in places which are not hit by disasters, even a sudden heavy rainfall causes chaos as people are not prepared to accept the change.
He recalls some of the disappointing and challenging moments as a meteorologist. In 1989, there was an intense cyclone that crossed Kavali between Nellore and Ongole causing extensive damage to the area. "We had forecast a cyclone and people were warned, but when it actually occurred, it wasn't noticed by the weather observatory. Next day, when we saw the damage the cyclone had caused, it was shocking as we had not expected that scale of damage. Until then, it was believed that cyclone had a uniform pattern, but Kavali was a good learning experience."
And, of course, the tsunami. "When it occurred, I was watching television at home. As the news was flashed, I guessed it was a tsunami. At that time, not many were even aware of this type of cyclone or have the instruments to detect it. I knew as I had a chapter in my tenth standard (aliparalagal -- huge waves in the sea) on the tsunami.''
Most disappointing for him was the Orissa cyclone which was mistaken for a routine cyclone and with nowhere to run, people were trapped in a water-locked area. "Though the damage caused was unpreventable, several lives could have been saved. As meteorologist, I regret this the most."
Commenting on the advances in weather forecasting, he says science has not developed much in this area because of which weather is still unpredictable!
Sunday's deep depression in the Bay of Bengal basin intensified two rounds to become severe cyclone Aila which crossed the West Bengal coast on Monday afternoon.
The system was later traced to Gangetic West Bengal close to Diamond Harbour, and is expected to keep moving north weakening gradually in the process.
'Aila' set off gale-force winds and triggered torrential rainfall while hitting the home stretch causing loss of life and severe damage to property.
The landfall also heralded the onset of southwest monsoon over north-east India. The northern limit of monsoon was heaved as a whole to the north in the process.
The northward movement of monsoon had been tied with the fortunes of 'Aila' that posed a while before making the last-mile run towards Kolkata.
'Aila's picking up system strength and speed in lateral movement meant that the northern limit of monsoon would also get yanked to the north.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the northern limit aligned itself along Mangalore, Dharmapuri, Chennai, Paradip, Balasore, Bankura and Gangtok on Monday after the cross-over.
The monsoon has thus advanced further into north Kerala, parts of coastal Karnataka and south interior Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu. The IMD has warned of heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (above 25 cm) over Gangetic West Bengal and north coastal Orissa over the next two days.
Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over the north-eastern States, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
Forecast said that rain or thundershowers are likely at most places over Kerala and Lakshadweep, many places over coastal and south interior Karnataka and at a few places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and north interior Karnataka.
International weather models continued to suggest renewed but a comparably weaker but rain-friendly Madden-Julian Oscillation wave activity over south Arabian Sea and adjoining equatorial Indian Ocean around June 5.
This would have a rub-off effect on the circulatory pattern in the peninsular seas also as evidenced in multiple model forecast for re-convergence of the flows and revival of rains over the southwest coast.
In the first instance, residual convection available in the southwest and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal is shown to accentuate and burst out in rains south of Myanmar. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts tends to posit the activity over central Bay and later along the Andhra Pradesh coast.
As for the Arabian Sea, the Climate Prediction Centre (CPC) of the US National Weather Services sees cross-equatorial flows strengthening off the Horn of Africa and throwing up a 'low' over extreme west Arabian Sea.
It is later predicted to move east-northeast towards India's west coast but weakening in the process. It is ultimately shown to drift into the Mumbai-south Gujarat coast around June 8 even as rains build along the coast from south.
This could possibly herald the arrival of monsoon into the Konkan-Mumbai belt slightly ahead of schedule. The Roundy-Albany model for 'cyclogenesis' (birth of cyclone systems) also has pointed towards a flare-up along the Mumbai-south Gujarat region around this time.
A fisherman, who was part of a group which ventured into the seas in 25 boats from Vizhinjam near here, drowned while six others were reported missing off the Colachel coast of Kanyakumari district today.
The body of the fisherman has been recovered, Coast Guard sources said. According to state Fisheries Minister S Sharma, the Coast Guard and the Marine Enforcement has already launched search operations and the government has sought the Navy's help to trace the missing fishermen.Coast Guard sources said some of the missing boats had been traced and was being brought back to shore.
The missing fishermen were part of 100-strong group who ventured into the sea in 25 country boats last evening. The incident came to light as two fishermen, who formed part of the group, returned home this morning and informed the authorities of the danger faced by others.
According to them, the boats might have lost their direction in the sea which had turned turbulent due to heavy rains last night.
Cyclone Aila formed in the Bay of Bengal on May 24 and made a quick landfall the next day in eastern India. The storm killed up to 120 people in eastern India and neighboring Bangladesh combined. Aila has now dissipated inland over eastern India.
Cyclone 02B, later named Aila when it became a tropical storm, formed in the early morning hours of May 24 about 240 miles south of Kolkata, India. Aila strengthened quickly into a tropical storm later that day, then made landfall near Calcutta, India on Sunday, May 25 at 0900 Zulu Time (5 a.m. EDT) as a Category One Cyclone. It had sustained winds near 65 knots (74 mph) at the time of landfall. The threshold for a Category One Cyclone (or hurricane) starts at 74 mph and goes to 95 mph. Aila has since dissipated inland over eastern India.
According to a Reuters news report, Bangladesh's Daily Star newspaper reported at least 89 deaths as the search continues for others there. Meanwhile, 29 people were reported dead in the West Bengal State of eastern India. Aila's heavy rains caused agricultural damage to rice crops that were about to be harvested. The rains also raised river levels and broke through mud embankments. Winds downed trees, power lines and even collapsed houses. Hundreds of thousands of people fled into shelters.
The last warning from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center was issued on May 25 at 0900 Zulu Time (5 a.m. EDT), when Aila had sustained winds near 40 knots (46 mph). At that time, the center of circulation was located about 105 miles north-northwest of Kolkata, India, near 24.2 north and 88.5 east.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of cyclone Aila at 2:13 a.m. EDT (7:13 Zulu Time) on Monday, May 26, 2009. The storm was already dissipating at that time, and this image confirmed that, because the storm wasn't circular anymore.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Here's the latest satellite pic
and JTWC warning text and projected path.
250300Z POSITION NEAR 20.8N 88.2E.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 02B (AILA), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 130 NM SOUTH
OF KOLKATA, INDIA, HAS ACCELERATED NORTHWARD AT 12 KNOTS OVER THE
PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED WATER VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS RADIAL OUTFLOW
HAS IMPROVED AND CONVECTIVE BANDS HAVE CONSOLIDATED AROUND A MORE
SYMMETRICAL LOW LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER. THE CURRENT INTENSITY IS
BASED ON DVORAK ESTIMATES FROM PGTW, KNES, AND DEMS. THE CURRENT
POSITION IS BASED ON SEVERAL MICROWAVE SATELLITE IMAGES INCLUDING A
242023Z 85H TRMM PASS WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE. TC 02B IS
BEING STEERED UNDER THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE AXIS BY A MID-LEVEL ANTI-
CYCLONE TO THE EAST-SOUTHEAST. ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS INDICATES LOW
VERTICAL WIND SHEAR VALUES OF 10 KNOTS ALOFT AND ALONG-TRACK SEA
SURFACE TEMPERATURES IN EXCESS OF 28 CELSIUS. BOTH OF THESE FACTORS
WILL SUSTAIN THE SYSTEM BEFORE IT MAKES LANDFALL SOUTH OF KOLKATA
BEFORE TAU 12. THE MAJORITY OF MODEL GUIDANCE IS IN AGREEMENT WITH
THIS FORECAST. MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 250000Z IS 20
South west monsoon is moving into area upto northern Kerala.
Nagercoil - Is very windy with sprinkles of rain over night. Now 7:40am, it's very windy with high cloud cover.
Latest GFS predicts more rain for southern Kerala.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Now it has gathered a huge cloud mass.
Here's the latest satellite pic and JTWC warning.
JTWC warning text:
240300Z POSITION NEAR 18.3N 88.5E.
TROPICAL CYCLONE (TC) 02B (TWO), LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 260 NM SOUTH
OF KOLKATA, INDIA, HAS TRACKED NORTH-NORTHWESTWARD AT 03 KNOTS OVER
THE PAST SIX HOURS. ANIMATED WATER VAPOR SATELLITE IMAGERY INDICATES
A CONSOLIDATING SYSTEM WITH DEEP AND EXPANSIVE CONVECTIVE BANDING TO
THE SOUTH AND FORMATIVE BANDING TO THE NORTHEAST OF A VERY BROAD
LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION CENTER (LLCC). THE CURRENT INTENSITY IS BASED
ON DVORAK ESTIMATES FROM PGTW AND KNES OF 35 KNOTS. THE CURRENT
POSITION IS BASED ON ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY AND A
232119Z TRMM MICROWAVE PASS. ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS INDICATES
FAVORABLE CONDITIONS FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT WITH WEAK VERTICAL WIND
SHEAR AND EXCELLENT POLEWARD OUTFLOW ALOFT. ADDITIONALLY, THE
CYCLONE IS DRIFTING OVER WARM SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES IN EXCESS OF
28 CELSIUS. THE SYSTEM, WHICH DEVELOPED WITHIN THE SOUTHWEST MONSOON
SURGE IN THE BAY OF BENGAL, IS DIRECTLY UNDER A SUBTROPICAL RIDGE
AXIS AND IS BEING STEERED BY A MID-LEVEL ANTICYCLONE TO THE EAST
OVER NORTHWESTERN MYANMAR. TC 02B IS EXPECTED TO FURTHER CONSOLIDATE
AND TRACK NORTHWARD THEN MAKE LANDFALL BY TAU 42 ALONG THE INDIA-
BANGLADESH BORDER. THE MAJORITY OF AVAILABLE NUMERIC TRACK GUIDANCE
SUPPORTS THIS SCENARIO. THIS WARNING SUPERSEDES AND CANCELS REF A,
NAVMARFCSTCEN 230521Z MAY 09 TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION ALERT
(WTIO21 PGTW 230530). MAXIMUM SIGNIFICANT WAVE HEIGHT AT 240000Z IS
meanwhile the south-west monsoon over the southern tip will gain strength in another 24 hrs.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
One day after the earlier predicted date of 21-May-09, the monsoon air current picked up strength at around midnight of 22-May-09.
Rain picked up at around 1 AM of 23-May-09.
Take a look at the latest (23-May-09, 6:30 am)
Thanks to the potential circulation "98B" over the central bay and it's north ward movement, the southern tip of mainland has got the Monsoon air current.
Latest GFS also suggests a Deep low over the central bay and the southern tip is in for more heavy rains.
Monday, May 18, 2009
This circulation is not predicted to become big... this will move in a north direction.
Here is the latest satellite pic
and the latest MM5 forecast model also suggests a circulation.
If this system develops into a depression and moves in a Northerly direction then the Monsoon will set in over the Southern Mainland.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
IMD is predicting that monsoon for mainland will arrive on 26-May-09.
We have predicted the date as 20/21-may-09. Here's a GFS that still supports our prediction.
It's another 4 days for that!... we'll keep it updated.
Meanwhile the Andaman wing of monsoon is just 24 hrs away.
Take a look at the latest water vapor shot, shows a lot of activity over the 5th parallel South of Bay.
Rainfall occurred at many places over Tamilnadu and at a few places over South interior Karnataka. Isolated rainfall occurred over Telangana, Rayalaseema, Kerala and North interior Karnataka. Mainly dry weather prevailed over Coastal Andhrapradesh and dry weather prevailed over Lakshadweep and Coastal Karnataka.
The following stations recorded heavy rainfall in Centimeters.
Tirupattur 9, Gowribidanur (Kolar dt) and Dharapuram (Erode dt) 8 each and Erode and Chintamani (Kolar dt) 7 each.
The other chief amounts of rainfall in Centimeters are:
Yercaud, Bhavani (Erode dt) and Kanjirapally (Kottayam dt) 6 each, Kumarapalayam (Namakkal dt, Kulithalai and Mayanur (both Karur dt), Sathur (Virudhunagar dt), Kollegal (Chamrajnagar dt) 5 each, Cholavaram (Thiruvallur dt), Virudhachalam (Cuddalore dt), Nagapattinam, Thali (Krishnagiri dt), Perundurai (Erode dt), Chittampatti (Madurai dt) and Bijapur 4 each, Chennai Airport, Korattur (Thiruvallur dt), Karaikal, Sirkali (Nagapattinam dt), Sendamangalam and Rasipuram (both Namakkal dt), Kangeyam (Erode dt),Bangarpet (Kolar dt),Mudhol (Bagalkote dt) and Huliyurdurga (Tumkur dt) 3 each, Grand Anaicut (Thanjavur dt), Anchetty, Denkanikottai and Uthangarai (all Krishnagiri dt), Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Mangalapuram, Paramathi Velur and Tiruchengode (all Namakkal dt), Namakkal, Annur (Coimbatore dt), Aravakurichi and Panchapatti (both Karur dt), Karur, Karur Paramathi and Melur (Madurai dt), Kallakurichi (Villupuram dt), Perambalur and Palani (Dindigul dt), Hiriyur (Chitradurga dt) and Channapatna (Bangalore Rural dt) 2 each and Chennai, Kattumanarkoil (Cuddalore dt), Madukkur and Pattukottai (both Thanjavur dt), Kollidam (Nagapattinam dt), Pamban, Vellore, Vaniyambadi (Vellore dt), Barur and Hosur (both Krishnagiri dt), Bhavanisagar and Gobichettipalayam (both Erode dt), Ketti and Kundha Bridge (both Nilgiris dt), Uthagamandalam, Kadavur (Karur dt), Tiruchirapalli Airport, Madurai, Madurai Airport, Sholavandhan and Vadipatti (both Madurai dt), Sivaganga and Natham (Dindigul dt),Kollengode (Palakkad dt), Enamackal (Thrissur dt), Arogyavaram, Khammam, Yelburga (Koppal dt), Holenarasipura (Hassan dt), Srirangapatna and Basaralu (Both Mandya dt), Nelamangala (Bangalore Rural dt) 1 each.
On Friday, the maximum temperature fell appreciably to markedly at a few places over North Coastal Andhrapradesh, fell appreciably at one or two places over Rayalaseema, Interior Karnataka, North Tamilnadu, fell at one or two places over rest North Tamilnadu, and changed little elsewhere over the region.
They were appreciably above normal at many places over Tamilnadu, at one or two places over Coastal and North interior Karnataka, above normal at one or two places over rest Tamilnadu, Telangana, South interior Karnataka, Kerala, appreciably below normal at one or two places over South Coastal Andhrapradesh South interior Karnataka and were generally normal over rest of the region.
Rentachintala, Hanamakonda and Adilabad recorded the highest maximum temperature of 45 degree Celsius in the region.
US Navy has started tracking the system which lies over south-south Bay.
South-east of Srilanka.
Take a look at the latest sat pic...
This potential circulation system has been marked as "95B" and this is a perfect Monsoon puller for Andaman and Southern mainland.
Conditions are becoming favourable for advance of southwest monsoon into south Andaman Sea and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal during the next two to three days.
Rain-bearing southwesterly winds are forecast to head increasingly into the region powered by a compliment of relatively stronger southerlies from the southern hemisphere.
This is expected to precipitate the onset in the Andamans where prevailing southwesterly winds were weak on Friday. On the other side of the peninsula, India Meteorological Department (IMD) expects an increase in rainfall over peninsular India from Monday.
According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, weather conditions would take a decisive turn after May 20 when wind speeds and moisture carry are forecast to scale up dramatically.
This phase could also throw up the expected low-pressure area in the southeast Arabian Sea and the adjoining equatorial Indian Ocean-southwest Bay of Bengal. The Head Bay may also be readying to host a separate circulation.
Three-hour forecasts being made available by an international model suggests that the flows would become southwesterly over Sri Lanka by Monday and the monsoon get established over the island nation.
But Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, the monsoon gateway for India, would still feature predominantly west-northwesterlies around the same time. A series of thundershowers is forecast to unravel over the region as a prelude to monsoon onset.
The US National Centres for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) has said that the week ending May 22 would see Kerala awash with rain or thundershowers, which may spill into neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The rains would have simultaneously become well established over southwest and central Bay of Bengal, east and northeast India where a westerly trough is shown to combine with the monsoon current to trigger widespread rainfall through the following week (May 23 to 31).
On Friday, the 'heat low' over west Rajasthan and adjoining east Pakistan held relatively strong aided by prevailing heat wave conditions. The 'heat low' must sustain to be able to provide the ideal pressure differential for monsoon to drive up from the relative 'high' over the south peninsula.
Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of the possibility of thunder squall and hail flaring up over the seasonally 'vulnerable' West Bengal, Sikkim, the Northeastern states, Jharkhand, Orissa and coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next two days.
In a major development, the weather-maker trough/wind discontinuity from Orissa to south Tamil Nadu has become less marked on Friday. A counterpart trough in westerlies from Assam and Meghalaya to northeast Bay of Bengal too has become less marked.
This is a major enabling condition for the southwest monsoon to set in over the Bay of Bengal. The unsettled weather triggered by the Nor'westers (winds associated with a prevailing western disturbance) has to shut out for the monsoon to set in.
Hailstorms were big news this week. Fierce thunderstorms unleashed barrages of giant hailstones across northern India and killed 27 people. The storms were stoked by temperatures reaching up to 49C (121F) that clashed with colder air higher up. Hailstorms often strike before the arrival of India's monsoon. On April 30, 1888, the deadliest hailstorm on record killed 246 people in Moradabad, east of Delhi, with hailstones reported as large as cricket balls
Friday, May 15, 2009
INDIA METEOROLOGICAL DEPARTMENT
Forecast for the 2009 Monsoon Onset over Kerala
Since 2005, India Meteorological Department (IMD) has been issuing operational forecasts for the monsoon onset over Kerala using statistical techniques. During all the four years (2005 to 2008), the operational forecasts were correct. In 2008, IMD predicted 29th May as the date of monsoon onset over Kerala and the actual monsoon onset took place on 31st May just one day prior to the normal date of monsoon onset, i.e., 1st June. IMD has now prepared the forecast for the 2009 monsoon onset over Kerala.
2. Advance of monsoon over Andaman Sea
The normal date of advance of monsoon over Andaman Sea is 20th May. It is expected that within 2-3 days, monsoon flow will start appearing over Andaman Sea and monsoon is likely to cover the Andaman Sea close to its normal date. Past data suggest absence of any one to one association between the date of monsoon advance over Andaman Sea and the date of monsoon onset over Kerala.
3. Forecast for the 2009 Monsoon Onset over Kerala
For predicting the 2009 monsoon onset over Kerala, IMD used an indigenously developed statistical model, based on the following six predictors:
i) Minimum Temperature over North-west India ii) Pre-monsoon rainfall peak over south Peninsula, iii) Outgoing Long wave Radiation (OLR) over south China Sea (iv) Lower tropospheric zonal wind over southeast Indian ocean, (v) upper tropospheric zonal wind over the east equatorial Indian Ocean and (vi) Outgoing Long wave (OLR) over south-west Pacific region.
The statistical forecast model has a model error of ± 4 days. The mean monsoon onset date over Kerala is 1 June.
The onset forecast model suggests that the monsoon onset over Kerala in 2009 is likely to be on 26th May with a model error of ± 4 days.
original from: http://imd.gov.in/section/nhac/dynamic/pressrelease.htm
Most parts of northern India on Thursday experienced high temperature with Churu and Kota in Rajasthan recording 46.5°C each as death toll in Orissa rose to 130 with two more people succumbing to blistering heat wave.
Casualties due to suspected sun-stroke were reported from Jagatsinghpur and Keonghar in Orissa where Titlagarh sizzled at 44°C though some places in the state were lashed by rains.
Normal life and public transport were badly affected in Rajasthan as scorching heat continued to sweep the State with mercury soaring at almost all places.
Churu and Kota remained the hottest with 46.5°C each followed by Bikaner which recorded a maximum of 46.4°C.
Heat wave conditions intensified in some parts of Punjab and Haryana with Hisar touching 44.4°C, which was hottest place in the region.
Chandigarh recorded a two degrees below normal temperature at 35.8°C while Amritsar in Punjab experienced a hot day at 40.2°C.
Mercury rose marginally in Himachal Pradesh in the absence of rain and snowfall. Occasional cool breeze, however, kept weather in capital Shimla relatively pleasant that registered 17°C.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
India's monsoon could arrive a few days earlier than usual, sped up by a low pressure area around Lakshadweep from mid-May, a weather official said on Wednesday.
"We are expecting some low pressure area around Lakshadweep from 18th May...If the low pressure area becomes a cyclone, the monsoon will arrive faster," a director-level official of the Indian Meteorological Department told Reuters.
The monsoon normally arrives around June 1 in Kerala. Lakshadweep is an adjoining island and a part of Indian territory.
Earlier, the government predicted India's annual monsoon at 96 percent of the long-term average, which would make it the worst season in five years, although the near normal forecast raised hope for economic support and bumper crops.
The weather office regards rainfall to be nearly normal if it ranges from 96 percent to 104 percent of the long-term average.
A weather official based in Pune in western India echoed similar hopes on the back of a low pressure formation.
"The monsoon may come a few days earlier...formation of low pressure area may influence the monsoon flow," D.Sivananda Pai, director of government-run National Climate Center at Pune, said on Wednesday.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) at a press conference on Tuesday stated that efforts were on to get the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) operational by mid week of July, for better prediction of rains in the city. However, the DWR is not the sole tool that IMD depends on to predict monsoon - it is just one of the several paraphernalia used to collect information on cloud formation, advancement and wind direction - the Met Department clarified.
Updating the status of the installation, Dr R V Sharma, deputy director general of IMD, Mumbai, said, "The DWR equipment has arrived at the Mumbai port on April 27 and IMD office on May 7. Now, we are conducting terrace modification work at Archana building in Navy Colony so that the antenna could be installed before the monsoon."
He said the Navy had assured to complete the work by May 31. Depending on the progress, plans are on to hand over the equipment to the suppliers, Indian Firm of Radar, on May 20.
He pointed out that there could be several road blocks and that heavy rains and strong winds may create difficulties during installation.
The Met department of Mumbai was so far using a conventional radar which would relay the cloud movement, cloud formation and moisture precipitation every half-an-hour. DWR is a more advanced equipment which would relay the same factors every 15 minutes.
At least 27 people were killed in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh in heavy rainstorms that uprooted trees and caused several houses to collapse, news reports and officials said Tuesday.
The PTI news agency, quoting police sources, reported 27 people had died in seven districts including Hardoi, Mathura, Lucknow, Mainpuri, Aligarh, Etawah and Kannauj.
According to the report, the highest number of deaths was reported from Hardoi and Mathura districts where 13 locals lost their lives.
'Most of the deaths were caused in incidents of house collapses or trees and electrical poles falling down on locals or their dwellings,' revenue official Manvendra Gupta said by telephone from the state capital of Lucknow.
Winds up to 110 kilometres per hour also disrupted power supplies in the affected districts. The movement of trains at several places in the state was hampered by the weather, officials said.
The storms were typical of the pre-monsoon period and were caused by an 'upper-air cyclonic pressure formed over the northern regions of the country,' Gupta said. India's monsoon season usually lasts from June to October.
WEATHER conditions in Bahrain over the last two days are highly unusual for this time of the year, according to meteorology officials. The high-velocity north-westerly, "40-day winds" normally begin in early June and continue till the middle of July, said Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) Meteorology assistant under-secretary Abdul Majeed Isa.
"We are experiencing these conditions because of a low pressure area over India and Pakistan," he told the GDN.
"They begin as soon as the monsoon season begins to set in in the Indian sub-continent."
Mr Isa said it was also unusual for the monsoons to set in so early.
"This is very unusual and experts all over the region have nothing else to blame than global warming and climate change," he said.
The official said it was not, however, a matter of concern.
"It is unusual now, but if it happens over and over again, it will affect the weather patterns in this part of the world," said Mr Isa.
Strong surface winds, with average speeds of between 24 and 25 knots have been reported in Bahrain since Monday night with gushes of wind sometimes reaching between 34 and 36 knots.
"This is expected to continue over the next few days and should subside by Friday," said Mr Isa.
He said people should take care in the high velocity winds and warned fishermen not to venture out into the sea unless necessary.
"Care should be taken to prevent any mishaps," said Mr Isa.
He said the winds were leading to rising sands in several places, which was causing discomfort to workers and motorists.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
May 11 (PTI) Several places in North India today received rains which kept the mercury well below 40 degree celsius even as eastern parts, especially Orisssa, continued to reel under scorching heat.
One more heat-related death was reported in Khurda district of Orissa, raising the toll to 125 in the state this summer.
Talcher was the hottest place in the state, recording a maximum temperature of 46 degree Celsius followed by Angul (45.7), Sambalpur (45.4) and Balangir (45.2).
However, people in northern region got respite from the heat for the second day today as rains and squalls kept mercury below 40 degree Celsius at many places.
Delhiites too enjoyed relatively pleasant weather, with the maximum temperature recorded at 37.5 degree Celsius, almost three degrees lower than yesterday's maximum of 40.2, while the minimum was 20.6 degree Celsius.
Monsoon predicted date (20-May-09) may change due to the present moisture from the north-west called the western disturbance.
Going by the latest water vapor shot...
One can clearly view the push of moisture from the north-west. A DRY ridge can be seen between the two moisture systems. Comparing with previous (5 days back) water vapor images, one would have noticed a clear push of moisture from South-Arabian sea. Now as per today that moist air current from South-west has died down.
Even the cloud formations over the south-Arabian sea around 5th parallel has also disintegrated.
This may suggest a delay in monsoon. It may not set in over southern India as predicted before on 20-May-09.
"COLA/NCEP" predictions say that the monsoon will set in between 20-May-09 and 27-May-09.
Anyway we'll keep monitoring the various factors and keep the viewers updated.
Monday, May 11, 2009
South-west monsoon has tentatively settled over northern parts of Maldives island group. Maldives is very near to Indian mainland and it's around 400 km south-west from Cape camorin (Kanyakumari).
As you can see from the LIVE webcam shot from "Kuredu Island Resort".
Heavy rain clouds can be seen over the horizon.
You can view LIVE webcam shot from "Kuredu Resort".. here...
Government has shelved plans to launch the country&aposs first ever dedicated weather channel, a top official said.Plans to launch the weather channel, tentatively named&aposMausam&apos, were called off following differences over content sharing, the official said.Five private channels had evinced interest to partner with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to launch a weather channel, which was supposed to be on air this month.The channel was to provide information on oceanic movements, temperature and rainfall, as well as warnings about natural disasters.According to the basic plan, six-hour programming was being planned everyday for the channel which was to be upgraded as a 24-hour channel by 2010 before the Commonwealth Games.As per the plan the IMD was to provide weather related data for a fee while the private partner was to bring in funds and manage the channel on a day-to-day basis.The channel was part of the UPA Government&aposs plan to modernise and upgrade the observatory stations and communication, forecast and public information systems.