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Interesting Geography stuff for InterHigh

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Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

Climate change will be good for Britain’s growers says Met Office but not for everyone else

Posted by Lindy on December 5, 2011

From an article by Louise Gray

05 Dec 2011

The report, which brings together for the first time climate change projections for 24 different countries, found that farmers in the UK, Germany and Canada could all benefit from global warming.  In these temperate climates, the increase in temperature will not kill plants but can make it easier to grow crops like wheat. The UK could benefit the most with an estimated 96 per cent of agricultural land becoming more suitable for crops by 2100.

However Australia, Spain and South Africa will all see their crop production fall as the plants die in the hotter climate. More than 90 per cent of the land in these countries will become less suitable for agriculture. The report estimated that the production of staple food crops will decrease in parts of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India Russia, Turkey and the USA. A recent Oxfam have warned that food prices are already rising as a result of reduced crop yield around the world due to climate change and warned the problem could drive malnutrition in future.

The report also estimated the likelihood of water shortages and floods in different countries across the world. In the UK the number of households under ‘water stress’ will increase to almost a quarter of the population as the average temperature rises by up to 3C in the south. This means that by 2100 18 million people will be at risk of ‘not having enough water to meet their daily needs’.

Water stress will be worse in South and South East, where there is already a problem providing the growing population with enough water. This winter water companies in Anglia, South East Water and Severn Trent have declared themselves in drought and are asking consumers to limit water use. It is expected the South East and Midlands will face a hosepipe ban next summer following the driest 12 months on record in some areas.

At the other end of the scale the risk of costal and river flooding will also increase because of rising sea levels and more heavy bursts of rainfall. The Met Office estimated that there will be a “general increase in flood risk for the UK”, although this will not apply everywhere. The projections ranged from a three and a half times greater risk of flooding to a decrease in flooding by a fifth.

Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said that overall the impact of climate change could be extremely damaging for the UK and the world.

“This report highlights some of the very real dangers we face if we don’t limit emissions to combat the rise in global temperature. Life for millions of people could change forever, with water and food supplies being placed in jeopardy and homes and livelihoods under threat. This makes the challenge of reducing emissions even more urgent,” he said.

The report warned that if the world does not limit temperature rise to 2C by cutting carbon emissions then the majority of countries are projected to see an increase in river and coastal flooding, putting 49 million more people in danger by 2100.

The Lib Dem minister arrived at the United Nations talks in Durban yesterday (Monday) to try and persuade the rest of the world to sign up to ambitious carbon emissions, despite the fact that his own Government is being criticised for rowing back from climate change back home.

Mr Huhne wants the world to agree to work towards a legally binding deal by 2015 that would commit all countries to cutting emissions. But at the moment the US, China and India are refusing to sign up, raising fears that the talks could collapse.

“The UK wants a legally binding global agreement to keep the global temperature rise below 2C,” he said. “If this is achieved this study shows that some of the most significant impacts from climate change could be reduced significantly. By the end of the week we need to see progress to move towards this goal.”


Posted in Climate change, Food supply, Water, Weather | Leave a Comment »

FRW Malawi Farmers combat climate change with mulch

Posted by Lindy on October 20, 2011 Date Posted: October 17th, 2011

Anthony Kapesa has stopped tilling his land. But this farmer from Zombwe village in Malawi still expects a good harvest of maize this year. Faced with worsening dry spells, Mr. Kapesa now spreads moisture-preserving mulch over the surface of his untilled field. Lack of rainfall during the growing season is an increasing concern for farmers in Malawi. Many people believe this problem is due to climate change. In the past, Mr. Kapesa’s crops wilted whenever there was a dry spell. He hoed his fields every season. He made ridges on which he planted his maize. But he learned that soil loosened by tilling is more easily dried by the sun. Now, Mr. Kapesa uses wild grass to mulch his fields. He cuts the grass and leaves it to dry before spreading it. To plant his seeds, he pulls aside a little mulch, digs a small hole, drops in a seed, and buries it. Mulch protects the soil against the impact of raindrops. It allows rain to soak slowly into the ground. When the rains don’t come, the mulch keeps the soil cool and reduces the rate of moisture loss.

Mr. Kapesa points to a granary full of harvested maize. He says, “Since I started using this system, my crop no longer wilts … as a result, my yields have been more than what they used to be when I planted my crops on ridges.” Before he began mulching, Mr. Kapesa harvested 16 50-kilogram bags of maize. Now the same land produces 43 bags, nearly triple the yield.

Tilling the soil and making planting ridges are traditional farming techniques in Malawi. Chakalipa Kanyenda is program manager for Find Your Feet, a UK-based non-governmental organization. Find Your Feet teaches farmers how to adapt to the effects of climate change. According to Mr. Kanyenda, tilling and ridging can increase moisture loss from the soil. He says that mulching has successfully cushioned farmers against the increasingly erratic rainfall in Malawi. Farmers have eagerly adopted the practice.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Climate change, Food supply, Fragile environments, Solution to problems, Water | Leave a Comment »

Bangladesh communities show how they adapt to climate change

Posted by Lindy on April 6, 2011

As part of  the 5th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change, in Dhaka in Bangladesh at the end of March 2011, international delegates visited different parts kf Bangladesh to see what they were doing locally

1. Coastal area: Problem: seas are contaminating drinking water and the decreasing flow of freshwater from the Ganges river is insufficient

Solution: The NGO Caritas is working with local people to capture rainwater and store it to drink when regular supplies decline

2.Inland north-west: problem: increasingly prone to drought during winter

Solution: The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the NGO ActionAid have helped farmers to use simple irrigation technologies that provide drips of water exactly where they are needed.

3. The floodplains of central Bangladesh: Problem: facing up to floods

Solution: There, the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies helps farmers to grow vegetables on meshes of bamboo filled with soil that can float when flood strikes.

For more details about what else went on go to

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Fragile environments, Global warming, Hazards, IGCSE, Solution to problems, Water | Leave a Comment »

Queensland rebuilding ‘huge task’

Posted by alec8c on January 13, 2011 amazing pictures before and after shots of a back garden map of the flooding the very sad story of the boy who showed amazing bravery by telling rescuers to save his younger brother first

The Australian state of Queensland is facing a reconstruction task of “post-war proportions”, as floods left swathes of it under water.

State Premier Anna Bligh said the state was reeling from the worst natural disaster in its history. Powerful flood waters have surged through the state capital, Brisbane, leaving thousands of homes submerged. The floods peaked at a lower level than expected but more than 30 suburbs are under water. Huge amounts of debris – cars, boats and jetties – have been floating downstream, some smashing into bridges. One man died when he was sucked into a storm drain and two more deaths elsewhere were reported by Australian broadcaster ABC, bringing the toll from this week’s flooding to 15, with dozens more missing.

The Brisbane River is now receding and was expected to fall to around 3.2m by early on Friday. It peaked at 4.46m (14.6ft) just before 0530 (1930 GMT Wednesday), short of the 5.4m (17.7ft) in the 1974 floods. West of Brisbane, the small town of Goondiwindi is on high alert, with fears the flooding Macintyre River could swamp the town. Police are continuing to search areas of the Lockyer Valley for those missing after a torrent of water swept through the area on Monday.

“Queensland is reeling this morning from the worst natural disaster in our history and possibly in the history of our nation,” Ms Bligh told reporters.

“We’ve seen three-quarters of our state having experienced the devastation of raging flood waters and we now face a reconstruction task of post-war proportions.”

In Brisbane, the worst-hit suburbs included Brisbane City, St Lucia, West End, Rocklea and Graceville.

“There will be some people that will go into their homes that will find them to be never habitable again,” Ms Bligh said.

Brisbane Mayor Campbell Newman said 11,900 homes and 2,500 businesses had been completely flooded, with 14,700 houses and 2,500 businesses partially submerged.  

Milton resident Brenton Ward reached his home in the suburbs by rowing boat.

“We have water to the waist in the living room. We have to check the amount of damage – probably (the) electricity has to be all rebuilt,” he said.

Other residents said they felt lucky.

“I can handle this,” said Lisa Sully, who had some flood damage to her home in the suburb of Sherwood. “Mentally, I was prepared for worse.”

Many supermarkets in the city have been stripped of supplies, while a number of rubbish collections and bus services have halted. More than 100,000 properties had their power cut to reduce the risk of electrocution. Where waters had receded in the city centre, sticky mud remained. Officials said the clean-up could take months.

Brisbane airport survived the swell and remains open, with almost all flights unaffected. However, passengers are advised to check before travel. Public transport to the airport is severely limited. Extra police have been brought in to patrol the city.

The man who died was a 24-year-old who had gone to check on his father’s property and was sucked into a storm drain.

The bodies of two victims of floods earlier this week were also found, one in the Lockyer Valley and the other in Dalby, ABC said. Sixty-one people are still missing, with police very concerned about 12 people in the Lockyer Valley not seen since their homes were destroyed by a wall of water on Monday.

More rain caused by a cyclone off the Queensland coast is forecast for the next two days. The weeks of rain have been blamed on a La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific.

At the scene

Nick Bryant BBC News, Brisbane

Things are still very bad here – there is widespread devastation. Some 25,000 homes are either partially or totally flooded, but the key thing is the river levels didn’t peak at the high point feared.

The big commercial area will win a reprieve but more than 30 suburbs have been hit and people will be under water for days to come. There will have to be a huge recovery operation throughout the state, so this crisis is far from over.

The floods have devastated much of the agriculture sector and the mining sector. I was speaking to the state treasurer on Wednesday and he said the cost would have a “b” after it – for billions – rather than an “m”.

Eyewitness account:

Brisbane resident Rob Minshull tells the BBC’s World Today programme what life is like camped out on the roof of his home, waiting for the murky floodwaters to subside.

“My house is at least 15m (50ft) high so I’ve got the top deck of my home still free from the water but the rest of my house has gone under. I live opposite a park which is 5m under water – all I can see are the roofs of houses and the tops of trees.

There is one person left in the street along with me. I can see him on his roof; he’s about four houses down and we both have our mattresses on the roof.

We decided to stay, we told the emergency services we were staying, but everybody else has evacuated either by dinghy or several people climbed over the top of my roof. I’ve got the highest house in the street, and people were using my roof to get to houses on higher ground at the back.

That was several hours ago. Since then there have been lots of helicopters flying overhead. I’ve lost power and we’ve got no running water.

‘Ghost town’

The flooding has reached the bottom tier of my house, it’s about chest height. I’ve got brown waves going through the house – I’ve got snakes in the house. My cars are locked in the garage, I can’t get them out – they’re floating around, and banging in the garage.

We’re still expecting the waters to rise. Personally I’m fine; I’ve got a supply of fresh water, I’ve got my camping equipment and my camping stove. I want to stay to see what damage has been done to my own home. I’ve got my own dinghy so I’m quite safe.

I live about 200m from the river, so I do live in a flood-prone area. This is a big city, Brisbane – Australia’s third largest, and the city centre from what I last saw on TV looked like a ghost town. There were no buses, no ferries and they were talking about smashing up the river walkways.

Right now I’m looking at a car floating past my house; I can see fridges, furniture, sofas – there’s even been a report of a shark sighted.

It was a bull shark and it was spotted in a local suburban street. We do have sharks in the Brisbane River; they have obviously come over the flood barriers and come looking for food.”

 What’s causing it?

La Niña is having a disruptive impact on the eastern coast of Australia and parts of South East Asia.

The recent flooding in Queensland and the Philippines has been caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the western Pacific associated with a La Niña weather episode.

BBC Meteorologist, Laura Tobin, says the flooding in the south east of Brazil is unlikely to be linked to La Niña. She says La Niña is a cyclical weather phenomenon which effects mostly Pacific equatorial regions.

La Niña occurs when surface temperatures are cooler than normal in the eastern Pacific and warmer than normal in the western Pacific.

During La Niña, the cold water that pools near the coast of South America surges across the Pacific due to strengthening easterly winds. This causes a greater build up of warmer water along the eastern coast of Australia and in the South East Asia region.

The contrast in sea surface temperatures across the Pacific, as well as the contrast in air pressure, produces more rainfall in the western Pacific region.

Heavy rainfall in Sri Lanka

It is not typical that La Niña would effect the weather so far west. However BBC Meteorologist, Nina Ridge, says there is also some evidence La Niña may have had an effect on the recent rainfall in Sri Lanka.

This is because La Niña causes strong easterly winds, that could prevail across to Sri Lanka and interact with the normal north east monsoon.

Widespread impact

The World Meteorological Organization says La Niña conditions can have a widespread impact, usually associated with stronger monsoons in most parts of Asia and Australia.

The weather phenomenon has also been associated with an active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Posted in Hazards, IGCSE, Physical Geography, Water, Weather | 1 Comment »

Hydro-power – a new dawn?

Posted by Lindy on October 21, 2010

Small hydro-plants are very expensive because each plant has to be custom designed to the geology of the site, fish routes have to be designed in and further more they are large ugly and concrete that are visible to all. This has put a number of schemes on hold, just due to the cost and difficulty.

But there are plenty of rivers which could generate power, if only the set up costs were not so high.

However Prof. Peter Rutschmann and Dipl.-Ing. Albert Sepp at the Oskar von Miller-Institut, the TUM research institution for hydraulic and water resources engineering, have come up with a solution that is cheaper and creates less of an impact to the surroundings.

The ‘kit’ will be the same for all, so no custom designing. The idea is a box is placed in the river, into which the water flows and the generators are underwater – unlike those previously housed in concrete on the bank  – and the water, having done its job, flows out of the base of the box.

The beauty of this scheme is that it could end up costing only 50% of the previous amount.

For those of curious disposition can look into this more deeply

Posted in Appropriate technology, Global warming, IGCSE, Renewable, Solution to problems, Sustainability, Water | Leave a Comment »

Sahel: Fighting malnutrition with local food security and water management initiatives

Posted by Lindy on August 22, 2010

Hurricane Wilma was the twenty-first named storm, twelfth hurricane, and sixth major hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 Atl

Date Posted: August 2nd, 2010

(a great new discovery is Farm Radio – transcripts from all over sub-Saharan Africa radio stations)

New ways to gain food security:

1. Use local food to add important nutrients to counteract malnutrition – in Burkina Faso porridge is being fortified with tamarind, soumbala (a local bean), fish and baobab fruit.

2. Helen Keller International, or HKI, is an NGO will distribute household drip irrigation kits to 300 families in eastern Burkina Faso. These families are planting gardens to grow nutritious vegetables. Drip irrigation is not widely used in individual gardens, but is common in commercial ventures. It uses 40 litres of water per day to irrigate a garden of 20 square metres while atercans for the same area would use 240 litres.

3. Smallholders in Senegal have had success with drip irrigation kits. “With the watering cans, we couldn’t do more than one harvest per year. With this innovation, we can do as many as three, so our earnings are multiplied by three.”

4. In Niger, the International Crops Research recommends fertilizer micro-dosing to improve yields during droughts. They apply a good pinch of fertilizer directly to the plant roots. Since using the method, the harvests have almost tripled.

Posted in Appropriate technology, Food supply, Fragile environments, IGCSE, Sahel, Solution to problems, Water | Leave a Comment »

Can you?

Posted by Lindy on July 16, 2010

These 2 videos got stuck in  edit and were not published – not sure how? But I have published them now – they do explain it really well don’t they?

and this one?

Posted in Water, Y9 | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Making the most of what you have

Posted by Lindy on May 20, 2010

While this is not strictly a method of managing soil erosion, by growing crops 12 months of the year, without the problems of salination and soil degradation, it is one way to cope. It is also a good example of of water management, Unit A1

Beside a busy main road leading out of the city of Ouagadougou, close to the Boulmiougou dam, a patchwork of small plots provide leafy vegetables to the city markets. Tiendrebeogo Hamado, previously a carpenter and builder who grew vegetables for only seven months of the year, now grows lettuces and cabbages year round. Whilst he retains his original trade, vegetable production has become his main economic activity. The secret of his success lies in a low-pressure drip irrigation system that greatly reduces the drudgery of hand-carrying water, whilst increasing water efficiency. And, like him, an increasing number of farmers across West Africa are adopting the system, known as the African Market Garden.

A healthy business

In the dry areas of Africa, market gardens are commonly the only form of irrigated agriculture. And with the rapid increase in urban populations, a rising number of consumers are demanding a greater variety of fresh vegetables and fruit. Supplying perishable produce to urban areas, these gardens can be the basis of a productive and profitable business.

Most gardens are irrigated by hand. In some areas surface irrigation is practised, but resulting salinisation of the soil is common. Poor water and nutrient management in these systems also results in low yields and poor quality of produce, and the expense of buying and fuelling motorised water pumps is prohibitive for many farmers.

In ten countries across the region, however, the rising popularity of African Market Gardens is evident by the number of farmers who have received training in the drip-irrigation system, and have subsequently invested in it. Hamado trained at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Niger and is now a pilot farmer, training others in his home country of Burkina Faso. The key benefits, he says, are the reduction in energy required to irrigate his crops and the control he now has over the level of fertigation (adding fertiliser to the irrigated water).

A measured approach

To irrigate his plot, the water in the low-pressure system flows under gravity from a simple tank standing one metre above the level of the field. Fitted with a filter and a tap, the tank capacity is sufficient to cover a vegetable plot of 500 square metres. The exact quantity of water that the crop loses through evapotranspiration is delivered via a series of pipes laid on the soil along the crop rows. Small drip emitters in the pipes provide a constant drip of water, and the flow is controlled to prevent leaching of nutrients from the soil. Urea is added to the reservoir to allow delivery of water and fertiliser directly to the roots of the crop.

USAID has funded the irrigation equipment for projects in Burkina Faso and Ghana, although as a prerequisite for this support farmers must have sufficient land as well as the financial resources – approximately US$200 – to build the concrete reservoir tank. Despite this constraint, more than 250 systems have been put in place in three areas in Burkina Faso and Ghana and over 400 farmers trained. The project is due to end in September 2007 and the aim is to have 450 operative systems in Burkina Faso and Ghana, with further systems established across eight other West African countries: Cape Verde, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger and Chad.

Growing without seasons

With improved water and soil management, crop yields are increased and production is extended even into the hottest, most arid Sahelian months (March to June). Provision of heat tolerant varieties of vegetable seed has also boosted farmers’ yields. Noga, for example, is a variety of lettuce selected by ICRISAT that does not flower during high temperatures and is now grown by Hamado and other trained farmers in Burkina Faso. As a result, input use has decreased by almost a third, his yields have increased, and his profits have more than doubled. With increasing demand from his customers, Hamado plans to invest in a second reservoir to double the cultivated area under drip irrigation.

But Hamado does not own his land. As Iddal Sidi Mohammed, regional co-ordinator for the African Market Garden sub-regional programme explains, most of the land in the areas of Ouagadougou and Ouahigouya belongs to large landowners who divide it into small plots of 500 square metres, which they lease for 25,000 CFA a year (US $50). So despite Hamado’s ambitions to expand his production, the only plot of land he can find is some distance away from the first, forcing him to build a second concrete tank. Yet even with this constraint, Hamado’s experience and that of the other trained farmers suggests that through judicious use of water and fertilisers, African market gardens can support more people and provide a better income than before

Posted in Appropriate technology, Food supply, Fragile environments, IGCSE, Sahel, Water | Leave a Comment »

Did you wonder why training was mentioned in Kibera?

Posted by Lindy on April 23, 2010

Do read this article. It explains exactly why training on hand- washing is needed! I guess that when your situation is bad and you can do nothing about it, then it gives you more peace of mind to deny the problem exists. But this really takes the biscuit .

But it also shows how little the Kenyan government is trying to improve things. No fresh water and no electricity in a government health clinic 7km from the centre of the capital? I mean, get your act together guys!

Posted in Development, IGCSE, Kibera, Water | 1 Comment » – Oceans Reveal Further Impacts of Climate Change

Posted by fariday on February 8, 2010

Here is something I found on on polluted oceans. It seems, based on recent reasearches, the oceans are getting more acidic with pH levels rising due to harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, polluting the sea water as well as the air through global warming. This is endangering marine life as well as cutting off dozens of their food chains which, if care is not taken, might rapidly lead to extinction.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2010) — The increasing acidity of the world’s oceans — and that acidity’s growing threat to marine species — are definitive proof that the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is causing climate change is also negatively affecting the marine environment, says Antarctic marine biologist Jim McClintock, Ph.D., professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Biology.”The oceans are a sink for the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere,” says McClintock, who has spent more than two decades researching the marine species off the coast of Antarctica. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by oceans, and through a chemical process hydrogen ions are released to make seawater more acidic.

I also found an entertaining geography quiz that might prove rather interesting. Enjoy!

Posted in Antarctic, Fragile environments, Global warming, Hazards, Student contribution, Water | 1 Comment »