Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Why Pakistan monsoons support evidence of global warming

-Lord Julian Hunt is visiting Professor at Delft University, and former Director-General of the UK Met Office. The opinions expressed are his own.-

The unusually large rainfall from this year’s monsoon has caused the most catastrophic flooding in Pakistan for 80 years, with the U.N. estimating that around one fifth of the country is underwater.  This is thus truly a crisis of the very first order.

Heavy monsoon precipitation has increased in frequency in Pakistan and Western India in recent years.  For instance, in July 2005, Mumbai was deluged by almost 950 mm (37 inches) of rain in just one day, and more than 1,000 people were killed in floods in the state of Maharashtra.  Last year, deadly flash floods hit Northwestern Pakistan, and Karachi was also flooded.

It is my clear view that this trend is being fueled both by global warming (which also means extremes of rainfall are also a growing world-wide trend), and indeed potentially by any intensification of the El-Nino/La-Nino cycle.

To understand the reasons why global warming is playing a role here, one needs to look at the main climatic trends in South Asia.  In addition to more extreme rainfall events, there is also a decreasing thickness of ice over the Tibetan plateau and changing patterns of precipitation, with less snow at higher levels, plus more rapid run off from mountains.

from The Great Debate UK:

“Dutch dialogue” aids New Orleans restoration

USA

-Han Meyer is Professor of Urban Design at Delft University of Technology.  He has been a principal organiser of the ‘Dutch Dialogues’ with New Orleans since 2005 and is Editor of ‘New Orleans-Netherlands:  Common Challenges in Urbanised Deltas’. The opinions expressed are his own.-

In August 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated large swathes of the U.S. Gulf Coast and overwhelmed New Orleans causing what then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff described as “probably the worst catastrophe, or set of catastrophes" in U.S. history.

Katrina’s punishing storm surge, strong winds and massive rainfall weakened flood protection infrastructure which then failed, flooding coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, including 80 percent of New Orleans:

from The Great Debate UK:

How much damage will the BP oil spill cause?

-Kees Willemse is professor of offshore engineering at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Last month’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to result in the leakage of an estimated 200,000 gallons (910,000 litres) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

According to U.S. President Barack Obama, “we are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster”.

from The Great Debate UK:

Impact of the volcano disruption on the airlines

Joris Melkert

- Joris Melkert, MSc BBA, is assistant professor in aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Despite the announcement that air space could begin to re-open in Northern Europe, the Icelandic volcano eruption could prove to be a major turning point for the global airline industry with short- to medium-term questions already being asked by some about its future financial viability.

One of the biggest questions, which engineers will be grappling with right now, is whether there is a cost-efficient way to ‘design out’ the current problems that aircraft experience with dust clouds.

from The Great Debate UK:

Why the Icelandic volcano could herald even more disruption

Andy_Hooper- Dr Andrew Hooper is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and is an expert on monitoring deformation of Icelandic volcanoes. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War.  Thousands of flights have been cancelled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected.

The economic consequence to our ‘just-in-time’ society is incalculable at this stage given the disruption to holidays, business plans and indeed the wider business supply chain.  However, the global cost of the disruption will surely ultimately result in a cost of billions, with the share price of several airlines in particular already taking a hit.

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