Sunday, October 24, 2010

Global Warming?

It's really a good thing that with our previous experience with powerful cyclones, the Philippine Government was able to adopt it self to the situation and was able to make the necessary precautionary measures, and was, at least with the latest typhoon "Juan" able to prepare ahead of time and warned it's people in advance averting a similar situation with typhoon "Undoy".

Although Typhoon Signal number four was raised prior to "Juan" making a landfall at the Pacific Coastal Region of the country, the people who were living in the coastal area were properly warned with most of them evacuated before the typhoon hits.  Aside from this, although there were still a great amount of damage, specially to farming, some farmers with the early warning, were able to harvest their crops averting a repeat of last years experience that caused a heavy tool on crops.

The difference between a Typhoon and Hurricane

But before I continue, allow me to share to you an answer to, most probably a similar question that I had regarding the difference between a typhoon, cyclone and a hurricane. 

As I do my browsing and research I chanced upon this article publish by the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML) as contribute by Chris Landsea, in their "Frequently Asked Questions" page.
The terms "hurricane" and "typhoon" are regionally specific names for a strong "tropical cyclone". A tropical cyclone is the generic term for a non-frontal synoptic scale low-pressure system over tropical or sub-tropical waters with organized convection (i.e. thunderstorm activity) and definite cyclonic surface wind circulation (Holland 1993).
Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 17 m/s (34 kt, 39 mph) are called "tropical depressions" (This is not to be confused with the condition mid-latitude people get during a long, cold and grey winter wishing they could be closer to the equator ;-)). Once the tropical cyclone reaches winds of at least 17 m/s (34 kt, 39 mph) they are typically called a "tropical storm" and assigned a name. If winds reach 33 m/s (64 kt, 74 mph)), then they are called:
  • "hurricane" (the North Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Pacific Ocean east of the dateline, or the South Pacific Ocean east of 160E)
  • "typhoon" (the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline)
  • "severe tropical cyclone" (the Southwest Pacific Ocean west of 160E or Southeast Indian Ocean east of 90E)
  • "severe cyclonic storm" (the North Indian Ocean)
  • "tropical cyclone" (the Southwest Indian Ocean)
(Neumann 1993).

From this information, I guess the only difference between the two is the terminology that is being used to describe a strong tropical cyclone, and from the looks of it what we refer in the Philippines as a "Typhoon Signal" is referred to as "Categories" in other countries.

Thus, typhoon signal number four (4) in the Philippines is the same as Category four (4) Hurricane in the US.

Effects of Global Warming?

In my lifetime, seldom does a typhoon having a disastrous power of above 185kms per hour ever hits our country. 

Is the Philippines now suffering the effects of "global warming"?  It's a question that will be very hard to answer,  specially when it is not taken as a priority by our government.

A few months ago Former Vice President Al Gore  of the United States visited our country and held a conference  about global warming with Students of the University of the Philippines, and I believe some of our government officials attended too.

Whatever the outcome of that conference in the future is still something for us  Filipinos to see, I'm just hopeful that instead of our government focusing and spending more money on contraceptives, that they instead start addressing and start studying the possible effect of global warming. 

One can always debate whether global warming is a fact or a mere fiction, what I do know however, in a layman's point of view, is that in my 40 years of existence, I had never experienced the kind of weather  that I am experiencing right now.

The sign of the times? or is it the sign of "nature miss management" in a global proportion?

I'm hopeful  that our government starts "asking the questions, and start telling the people."

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