Friday, 31 January 2014

Neither El Niño nor La Niña and other news and views for Friday 31 January

Previous ministers are responsible. This week  the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approved a project to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine park as part of a project to create one of the world’s biggest coal ports at Abbot Point south of Townsville. The approved disposal site for the dredged sediment is located approximately 25km (16 miles) east-north-east of the port, GBRMPA said in a statement. The disposal operation would be “subject to strict environmental conditions”, it said.
Also this week the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, commissioned commission an independent review into the leaking bund wall at the Port of Gladstone.
The independent panel will:
  • examine and report on information relevant to the design and construction and functioning of the outer bund wall of the western basin reclamation area that has become available since the Independent Review reported on its findings;
  • provide advice as required to assist with the department’s current review of the outer bund wall leak incidents in 2011 and 2012;
  • consider the adequacy of monitoring requirements and operations; and
  • seek submissions from relevant stakeholders on the design, construction and other matters relating to the subsequent leaking of the bund wall.
The highlight of the Hunt statement was the deft way he pointed out that the Port of Gladstone Western Basin Dredging Project was approved under national environment law on 22 October 2010 by the previous government. No mention that the public servants who advised the previous minister are the same ones who have given the go-ahead for Abbot Point.
Neither El Niño nor La Niña. It might be hot over much of Australia but this time we cannot blame El Niño. The latest World Meteorological Organisation El Niño/La Niña Update issued this week says that the tropical Pacific continues to be ENSO-neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña).
“Model forecasts and expert opinion suggest that neutral conditions are likely to continue into the second quarter of 2014. Current model outlooks further suggest an enhanced possibility of the development of a weak El Niño around the middle of 2014, with approximately equal chances for neutral or weak El Niño. However, models tend to have reduced skill when forecasting through the March-May period. National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other agencies will continue to monitor the conditions over the Pacific and assess the most likely state of the climate through the first half of 2014.
Since the second quarter of 2012 El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) indicators in the tropical Pacific (e.g., tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures, sea level pressure, cloudiness and trade winds) have generally been at neutral levels, indicating that neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions have been present.
The latest outlooks from climate models and expert opinion suggest that oceanic conditions and atmospheric anomalies associated with El Niño or La Niña are most likely to remain neutral into the second quarter of 2014, with virtually all models maintaining average conditions. However, by around the middle of 2014, model forecasts generally indicate the chance of El Niño increasing to a similar level as that for ENSO-neutral. For the June to August period, nearly one-half of the models surveyed predict a weak El Niño situation to develop, while the other one-half predict a continuation of neutral conditions. It must be noted that model outlooks that span March-May period tend to have particularly lower skill than those made at other times of year. Hence some caution should be exercised when using long range outlooks made at this time for the middle of the year and beyond. Of the one or two models that predict the development of La Niña, such conditions are reached only briefly during the next couple of months.
Overall, while there is a very slight chance for La Niña development in the next one to two months, ENSO-neutral is considered the most likely scenario into to the April to June period, followed by roughly equal chances for neutral or weak El Niño during the third quarter of 2014.”
An international view. News coverage from outside Australia seems to be getting less and less so if you are interested in an international view may I recommend my regular daily features on this blog – Asian newspaper front pagesEuropean front pages and American (north and south) front pages? Not tht I can’t be parochil too – there’s always my morning coverage of the Australian papers
Some other news and views noted along the way.
  • Beer Drone Can Buzz The Skies No More, FAA Says – “Lakemaid Beer is brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., and distributed to several states in the region. But it was a very local delivery that put the company out of favor with the Federal Aviation Administration. The Minnesota-based company is receiving a flood of support and condolences after the FAA ruled that its beer delivery drone, which had only recently taken flight, had to be shut down. Lakemaid calls itself the fishermen’s lager. It had hoped to use drones to deliver its beer to anglers in thousands of ice shacks, from the frozen northern lakes’ combination bait and beer shops. But the government says the brewer’s next test — which Lakemaid managing partner Jack Supple says was tentatively set for Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs and the Twin Pines resort — cannot proceed.’We were a little surprised at the FAA interest in this since we thought we were operating under the 400-foot limit,’ Supple says via email. He adds that the beer-makers ‘figured a vast frozen lake was a lot safer place than [what] Amazon was showing on 60 Minutes’.”
  • UK floods: January rain breaks records in parts of England
  • Amazon wants to send stuff before you order it. Are other retailers doomed? A couple weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal happened upon a 27-page patent for what calls “anticipatory” or “speculative” shipping, which sounds insane. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell: The company crunches its streams of data to forecast generally where a certain item might be wanted, sends it on its way, and remotely directs it to the right address as soon as someone actually orders it. On the off chance that the item doesn’t actually get ordered, Amazon might discount it to the person at the place it arrived, or even give it away for free. It’s all based on probabilities: What people are likely to want at what time, based on user signals like wish lists and past purchases, and the cost/benefit calculus of time saved vs. packages erroneously delivered.
  • Thai polling stations might have to close if trouble on election day
And from the Owl’s review of the Asian newspapers -

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