Day: August 11, 2022

USA: Record Death Valley flooding ‘a once-in-1,000-year event’.

Record Death Valley flooding ‘a once-in-1,000-year event’

Hundreds were marooned in the downpour as the climate crisis increases the likelihood of extreme weather

Recent severe rains in Death Valley that flushed debris across roadways, damaged infrastructure and carried away cars are being described by meteorologists and park officials as a once-in 1,000-year event.

The arid valley was pelted with roughly an inch and a half of rain on Friday, near the park’s rainfall record for a single day.

The storm poured an amount of water equal to roughly 75% of the average annual total in just three hours, according to experts at Nasa’s Earth observatory. Hundreds visiting and working in Death Valley national park were marooned and all roads continue to be impassable, according to park officials.

The waters have receded, leaving behind thick layers of mud and gravel, but those who were stranded were able to exit the park earlier this week, aided by park service personnel.

Daniel Berc, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Las Vegas, described the deluge as a historic “1,000-year event”, with a 0.1% likelihood during a given year.

But events like this one, once thought to be exceedingly rare, are on the rise. Scientists are finding that weather extremes, fuelled by the climate crisis, are becoming more likely in the American west, which continues to be mired in drought. Periods of dryness are expected to be broken with strong, destructive storms as the world continues to warm.

Described as “a land of extremes”, the desert basin is the driest place in North America and is known for temperatures that have climbed higher than any other place on Earth.

No injuries have been reported but aerial searches are being conducted by the California highway patrol and naval aircraft, the National Park Service said in a statement, to confirm that vehicles are not still stranded in remote areas of the park.

In a statement, the park superintendent, Mike Reynolds, said it would “take time to rebuild” and noted that officials were still working to assess destruction from the storm across the roughly 3.4m acres and more than 1,000 miles of roads in the park.

While the storm did not break Death Valley’s all-time record for daily rainfall, it did break records for this time of year, as August generally produces just a tenth of an inch of rain.

Nasa satellites were able to capture the storm’s effects, showing a belt of blue across the typically brown terrain.

“This week’s 1,000-year flood is another example of this extreme environment,” Reynolds said. “With climate change models predicting more frequent and more intense storms, this is a place where you can see climate change in action.”

Record Death Valley flooding ‘a once-in-1,000-year event’ | California | The Guardian

Regards Mark

England: What Is More Important – Stopping the Spread of Avian Flu, Or Giving Hunting Parties Their Fun ? – It Seems The Latter !

Pheasant – Getty Images.

‘Immediate ban’ needed on annual release of 50 million pheasants amid bird flu outbreak, says RSPB (

‘Immediate ban’ needed on annual release of 50 million pheasants amid bird flu outbreak, says RSPB

An immediate moratorium on the release of tens of millions of birds for shooting is needed to limit the “catastrophic spread” of bird flu, the RSPB has said.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has devastated seabird populations around the UK’s coast this year, leaving hundreds of thousands of birds dead since it arrived last winter in the Solway Firth in the north west.

The RSPB has now said the annual release of around 55 million pheasants and red-legged partridges, and 2.6 million mallard ducks, all of which are reared in captivity to be shot for sport, represents a serious risk to wildlife.

The organisation said large numbers of these gamebirds are imported from across Europe, then held in pens to mature prior to release.

The volume of birds released into the UK each year now represents more than the total biomass of all UK native birds.

Pheasants in the UK have previously tested positive for HPAI – first in Lincolnshire in 2018 and a further 13 times since, on three premises with commercial breeding game for release.

In a statement the RSPB said it believed “that to limit the catastrophic impacts of this outbreak on our wild birds, the deliberate release of captive birds into the countryside must be stopped for this year”.

Jeff Knott, the RSPB’s director of policy, said: “In recent months we have witnessed an unfolding catastrophe taking place on our wild birds.

“It has been emotionally tough to witness, but we are not helpless and there are many positive actions that we can take to help them weather this storm and reduce the risk of exacerbating this crisis.

“This disease originated in poultry in Asia before passing into wild birds. It is another human pressure on beleaguered wildlife across the world and in the UK specifically. We must all now take responsibility and do everything we can to limit the impact in the immediate term, and to implement and fund species conservation programmes to build resilience in our wildlife for the future.”

The RSPB said that although spread from pheasants to wild birds has not yet been confirmed scientifically, this route of transmission has not yet been fully investigated.

“Given the current scale of the outbreak in wild birds, ongoing losses of wildlife from other human pressures and the context of the wider nature and climate emergency, it is necessary to employ a precautionary approach to all possible vectors of this deadly new virus to our wildlife populations,” the organisation said.

The disease has already taken a heavy toll on great skuas, gannets and terns, but numerous other species are also affected, including puffins, white-tailed eagles, red kites, guillemots and black-headed gulls.

The RSPB said last week it was calling on Defra to put together a task force of experts including vets, virologists, ecologists and policy makers, just as occurred in 2005 when the first spike in bird flu occurred.

This would allow appropriate testing to understand what is happening and inform how to deal with it.

The RSPB’s Martin Fowlie told The Independent: “Over the last five months we’ve just seen an escalation in terms of the numbers and in terms of the geographic spread. Initially it was all concentrated up in north east Scotland and then we’ve seen cases spread south.”

The disease has now reached south west Wales, home to globally important populations of seabirds such as gannets and puffins.

Regards Mark