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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

What Can Be Done to Slow Climate Change?

Posted by Lindy on January 15, 2012


For the full article go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120112193442.htm

This is a very interesting article, but if you are tempted to include in your GSCE exam, make sure you mention Shindell (of NASA) as it is so new, that many exam markers will not have come across it, and may think you have got confused.

The main idea behind what they are saying is that while CO2 has the main long term impact on climate change, it we want to have some effective short term impacts ( i.e. within 40 years) these are the best ways to go, as they don’t just reduce climate change but reduce the impacts on health and agriculture as well.

The 2 key elements are methane and black carbon.

Black carbon are specs that come from burning fossil fuels and wood, and are implicated in respiratory illness and climate change. If these specs are inhaled (e.g. by burning wood for cooking as happens in large parts of the LICs) then many get sick and/or die from it – in particular women and young children. Also black carbon absorb radiation form the sun and so raise the air temperature, darken the ice caps so increasing the heat they absorb and contribute to melting and also to changes in rainfall patterns.

Methane as we know is 20-30 times worse than CO2.

What are the specific actions Shindell thinks we should take?

For black carbon, reduce the emissions from cars by filtering, and even removing the worst offenders from the road, upgrading the cookers using wood, especially in LICs, and banning agricultural stubble burning.

For methane, change methods of production of rice so the paddies do not omit methane, capturing methane from landfill sites,making sure methane do not escape from oil and gas wells and managing animal/human manure more effectively.

Who will benefit?

Russia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan who have a lot of ice will be the prime winners.   Iran, Pakistan and Jordan would experience the most improvement in agricultural production. Southern Asia and the Sahel region of Africa would see the most beneficial changes to precipitation patterns.  The south Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Nepal would see the biggest reductions in premature deaths as a result of chest infections.

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Energy sources, Fragile environments, Global warming, management, Solution to problems, Weather | Leave a Comment »

Hurricanes might trigger big tropical earthquakes

Posted by Lindy on December 12, 2011


This is a very interesting idea but read it carefully to see what they are saying but also appreciate what they are not.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45605013/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.TuaLwHLatoo

A new study by Professor Shimon Wdowinski may help scientists identify regions at high risk for earthquakes. By dumping rain and causing landslides, these storms can change the weight of the Earth in tectonically-stressed regions, releasing loads that had been keeping the faults locked in tight. The result is that faults already under pressure seem more likely to break in the years after very wet tropical cyclones.

Earthquakes including Haiti’s 2010 magnitude-7.0 temblor and a 6.4-magnitude quake that struck Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the same year, fit this pattern.  These quakes were preceded by drenching storms that wreaked other kinds of havoc. “The cyclone itself is a disaster, there is a lot of flooding, then there are landslides and then the earthquakes come,” Wdowinski said.

Disaster chain reaction

Widowinski became interested in whether tropical cyclones interact with earthquakes after noticing that both the 2010 Taiwan earthquake and the 2010 Haiti quake were preceded relatively closely by big storms. In the case of Taiwan, 2008’s Typhoon Morakot had dumped 115 inches (292 centimeters) of rain in just five days. In the case of the Haiti quake, the 2008 hurricane season had been brutal, with named storms (hurricanes and tropical storms) Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike tearing into the island. The researchers decided to see if the timing was a coincidence or whether it meant something more. They turned to Taiwan, which has good records of the past 50 years of quakes and storms.

Focusing only on very wet typhoons with the capacity to cause of a lot of erosion, and removing aftershocks that would bias the analysis, the researchers found that 85 percent of magnitude-6-and-above quakes occurred within the first four years after a very wet storm. That was five times what would have been expected from background quake rates. Even smaller quakes followed the same pattern, with 35 percent of magnitude-5-and-above quakes occurring within the first four years after wet storms — twice the expected number.

Timing is everything

Previous researchers have suggested that extremely low pressure from storms can trigger quakes in already-strained areas in the very short term but these longer-term linkages are likely caused by a different mechanism. These areas are already tectonically active, with faults building up strain as landmasses creep against one another. These strained faults are destined to rupture and eventually cause quakes.

But when a very wet typhoon or hurricane dumps lots of rain, it often causes large landslides in mountainous areas. Extra rain over the following months further erodes mountains and hills scarred by these landslides. This shifting of sediment lifts the weight that keeps faults locked. The burden lifted, the fault suddenly slips, causing a quake. These quakes are likely not any larger or smaller than they otherwise would have been, but the presence of very wet storms may give a hint that a quake-prone region is at higher risk of rupturing in the following years.

“The main engine that’s actually responsible for the earthquake is not the wet typhoon,” Wdowinski said. “The wet typhoon just determines the timing.”

Posted in Hazards, Physical Geography, Tectonics, Weather | Leave a Comment »

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

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8935793/Climate-change-will-be-good-for-Britains-growers-says-Met-Office.html

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 »

How is this for a one-liner?

Posted by Lindy on November 19, 2011


The new IPCC report on extreme weather disasters and climate change highlights that 95% of deaths from such disasters occur in the developing world, while most of the economic losses occur in the developed world. We lose stuff, they lose their lives.

Posted in Climate change, Weather | Leave a Comment »

I know we are not meant to be using Sidr as a management example …

Posted by Lindy on January 29, 2011


But we already know a bit about how warnings were given , using mobile phones and police in speed boats with loud hailers , and I just found something that has happened since that backs this up.

It comes from  http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/publications/impacts.pdf

In Bangladesh, the Cyclone Preparedness Program has been set up over 11 coastal area districts by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, and is partly funded by the government. Volunteers have been trained to help in cyclone warning, evacuation, rescue, first aid emergency relief and the use of radio communication equipment.

[This came from a search about impacts of climate change on Bangladesh]

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, IGCSE, Weather | Leave a Comment »

Queensland rebuilding ‘huge task’

Posted by alec8c on January 13, 2011


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12169311 amazing pictures

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12176283 before and after shots of a back garden

http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/hi/news/newsid_9359000/9359913.stm map of the flooding

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12182092 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 »

Cancun hopes to serve “oven-ready” REDD deal

Posted by Lindy on November 27, 2010


http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1906674/cancun-hopes-serve-oven-ready-redd-deal

According to BusinessGreen (a green information service for businesses would you believe?) UK businesses should prepare for international climate change negotiators to strike a deal on how rich nations will pay to help reduce emissions from deforestation at Cancun.

Adam Gibbon from Rainforest Alliance said there was “great hope” negotiators will agree on the UN’s proposed reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation mechanism, known as REDD+. While some voluntary projects already exist, an international deal on REDD would boost investor confidence and scale up existing activities. He described the REDD element of negotiations as “oven ready”, citing comments made recently by the former head of the UN climate change secretariat, Yvo de Boer.

James Cameron, executive director of Climate Change Capital, said he too was optimistic a deal could be reached on forestry in Cancun, while the British delegation for Cancun is known to be similarly confident that progress on forestry protection can be delivered over the next two weeks.

Any agreement would throw up a range of commercial opportunities for UK businesses which could support rainforest projects by collaborating with local partners as project developers or offering technical services, such as accounting, satellite image analysis, and legal advice.

But there are still a number of issues that need resolving, including protection of indigenous peoples, and the need NOT to have deal through governments but to act directly with those who will be implementing the projects.

Posted in Amazon, Fragile environments, Global warming, IGCSE, Solution to problems, Weather | Leave a Comment »

Decision Points: Katrina response was ‘flawed’, but I wasn’t to blame – Bush

Posted by Lindy on November 9, 2010


Guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 November 2010 22.01 GMT

I have printed this in full  (unlike the usual summary) as each new line was more …… – I will let you fill in a suitable adjective – ….than the last one!

There is plenty of blame to go around for the failures before and after Katrina hit New Orleans and Louisiana, killing more than 1,800 and making hundreds of thousands homeless.

But Bush points the finger firmly at the city’s leaders and the state governor for failing to act quickly enough on his advice to evacuate in the run-up to the hurricane, and then hesitating over letting him take charge afterwards.

That’s not how many in the stricken city see it, and the former president acknowledges that the response to the disaster was “flawed and unacceptable”. But almost everyone else is to blame. The one area where Bush accepts culpability is that he “should have recognised the deficiencies [of others] sooner and intervened faster”.

“I prided myself on my ability to make crisp and effective decisions. Yet in the days after Katrina, that didn’t happen. The problem was not that I made the wrong decisions. It was that I took too long to decide,” he writes.

That interpretation is likely to be strongly challenged by many inhabitants of New Orleans who regarded Bush as indifferent to the point of recklessness in his initial response to the disaster, only acting when it became a severe embarrassment.

“In my 13 visits to New Orleans after the storm, I conveyed my sincere sympathy for the suffering, and my determination to help residents rebuild. Yet many of our citizens, particularly in the African American community, came away convinced their president didn’t care about them,” he says. “Just as Katrina was more than a hurricane, its impact was more than physical destruction. It eroded citizens’ trust in their government. It exacerbated divisions in our society and politics. And it cast a cloud over my second term.”

Bush says that one of the problems for the government was that it “never knew quite what was happening” because of poor communications.

He points to media reports of “sadistic behaviour, including rape and murder” in the Superdome which proved to be unfounded.

“It took us several days to learn that thousands of other people had gathered with no food or water at the New Orleans Convention Centre.”

Bush describes his horror at TV scenes of people on their rooftops and the looting, even by some police officers. “I was enraged to see footage of police officers walking out of a store carrying big screen TVs. I felt like I was watching a reverse of what had happened four years earlier in Manhattan [during 9/11]. Instead of charging into burning buildings to save lives, some first responders in New Orleans were breaking into stores,” Bush writes.

He was in a dilemma. Louisiana’s governor did not want to give up control but he wanted to send troops. “That left me in a tough position. If I invoked the Insurrection Act against her wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states’ rights tensions, could unleash holy hell,” writes Bush.

A compromise was reached and the troops went in. But through all this suffering, Bush is most upset at criticism of him. There was rapper Kanye West who told TV viewers: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Jesse Jackson compared the plight of some survivors with being trapped in the “hull of a slave ship”.

“Five years later, I can barely write these words without feeling disgusted. I am deeply insulted by the suggestion that we allowed American citizens to suffer because they were black… The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. I was raised to believe that racism was one of the greatest evils in society,” Bush writes. “I faced a lot of criticism as president. I didn’t like hearing people claim I had lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was a racist, because of the response to Katrina, represented an all-time low. I told Laura at the time that it was the worst moment of my presidency. I feel the same way today.”

Posted in Hazards, IGCSE, Katrina, Weather | Leave a Comment »

El Niño Melting Antarctic Ice

Posted by Lindy on November 9, 2010


November 5, 2010

The melting of Antarctica’s ice field is contributing to the rise of global sea level.

A change in precipitation patterns caused by the El Niño ocean-warming in the tropical Pacific appears to be the driving force behind the disappearance of ice in parts of Antarctica, according to a new study.

Researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences said satellite observations show that year-by-year changes in the ice mass on the frozen continent correspond to El Niño episodes.

They found that the ice thickness in some glaciers is decreasing rapidly and ice streams are retreating back into the interior.

The findings from the GRACE gravity field satellite mission reveal that the significant changes unfolding in ice covering Antarctica are critical factors in global climate change.

The German scientists also found that La Niña, the opposite ocean-cooling phenomenon from El Niño, favours heavier precipitation and briefly causes an increase in ice thickening.

http://www.earthweek.com/2010/ew101105/ew101105a.html

Posted in Antarctic, Fragile environments, Weather, Y9 | Leave a Comment »

‘Legacy of Katrina’ Report Details Impact of Stalled Recovery on Mental Health Status of Children

Posted by alec8c on November 1, 2010


ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — Five years ago Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans caused the evacuation of 1.5 million Gulf Coast residents. After a year, 500,000 people remained displaced, many residing in highly transitional shelters, including the notorious FEMA trailer parks.

Now at the five-year mark, substantial consequences from this prolonged displacement have resulted in widespread mental health issues in children living in the region, according to a new study by the National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a related white paper from the Children’s Health Fund (CHF).

Together, these documents indicate that although considerable progress has been made in rebuilding the local economy and infrastructure, there is still an alarming level of psychological distress and housing instability. Investigators believe that housing and community instability and the uncertainty of recovery undermine family resilience and the emotional health of children. These factors characterize what researchers are calling a failed recovery for the Gulf region’s most vulnerable population: economically disadvantaged children whose families remain displaced.

The CHF report, “Legacy of Katrina: The Impact of a Flawed Recovery on Vulnerable Children of the Gulf Coast,” expands upon on a study by NCDP researchers, who have followed a cohort of more than 1,000 families affected by Katrina and the ensuing disruption.

According to the Gulf Coast Child & Family Health Study, funded by the Children’s Health Fund and published in the current issue of American Medical Association’s Journal of Disaster Management and Public Health Preparedness, the widespread mental health problems still experience by Gulf Coast children serve as a barometer for the failed recovery of their families and their communities. Over one-third of the children in displaced families have been clinically diagnosed with at least one mental health problem since Katrina — with behavioral and conduct disorders the most common of these problems. Yet fewer than 50% of parents seeking needed mental health counseling for their children were able to access professional services. Furthermore, nearly half of the households in the study were still living in unstable conditions and, five years later, 60% of respondents still report their situation as being unstable or worse than it was before Katrina.

“This study points to a major crisis facing the children of the post-Katrina Gulf Region,” says Irwin Redlener, M.D., director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and president of the Children’s Health Fund. “From the perspective of the Gulf’s most vulnerable children and families, the recovery from Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans has been a dismal failure.”

“Previous studies have demonstrated a significant increase in the prevalence of anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder following Hurricane Katrina, as well as a rise in violence and suicide,” said Italo Subbarao D.O., MBA, deputy editor of AMA’s Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal. “This study adds further credence to widely accepted views that adults and children affected by catastrophic emergencies can experience up to a 40 percent increased in mental and behavioral illness.”

According to David M. Abramson, Ph.D., MPH, director of research at the NCDP and senior author of the study which looked at the roles of parents and communities in children’s recovery, “Children are completely dependent upon others in their lives to provide the security and stability that will help them recover. This suggests that the many support systems in children’s lives — their parents, their communities, and their schools — are not yet functioning properly. The slow recovery of children’s mental health in Gulf Coast populations is a bellwether indicator of how well the region is recovering.”

Additional key findings:

  • Even as long as four and a half years after the event, about 45% of parents report that their children are experiencing emotional or psychological problems that they hadn’t experienced prior to Katrina.
  • Children post-Katrina are 4.5 times more likely to have serious emotional disturbance than pre-Katrina. For the purposes of this study, such disturbances were defined as emotional issues, hyperactivity, conduct and problems relating to peers.
  • Nearly half of people who had been displaced for over a year by Katrina are still living in unstable conditions.

The study findings are supported by clinical data from the Children’s Health Fund, which provides mobile clinics that travel to underserved areas in the Gulf Coast to provide care for families and children. In the period of June 2009 through June 2010, despite improvement in housing conditions in Louisiana, psychiatric, developmental or learning-related disorders in children were diagnosed as frequently as respiratory illness. And in New Orleans alone, approximately 30,000 school children were not able to return to public school. However, data also shows that children who were relocated sooner did better in school than students with longer periods of displacement and those who were enrolled in higher performing schools did the best, thus highlighting the importance of social systems in a child’s post-disaster recovery.

Both the study and the clinical reports from the Children’s Health Fund’s Gulf Coast pediatric programs paint a clear picture of how insufficient government response and recovery efforts continue to take a toll on children’s welfare, especially those who are the most underserved. Dr.Redlener, a pediatrician and professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, outlined a number of implications for policymakers and others: “Affected families need urgent assistance to return to a state of ‘normalcy’ characterized by safe communities and stable housing. Nearly two out of three children affected by Katrina continue to experience serious mental and behavioral problems or the stress of unstable housing or both, with children living in poverty over two times as susceptible to serious emotional disorders. We believe that this represents at least 20,000 children affected by Katrina — and perhaps considerably more. Immediate action needs to be taken to increase mental health services in the region.”

Dr. Redlener continues, “And it’s not just clinical services that are needed by these marginalized families. Every effort must be made to rapidly bring back a ‘state of normalcy’, that is, stable safe housing for every family in communities with appropriate access to essential services and economic stability.”

The Gulf Coast Child & Family Health Study has collected mental health data in the Gulf Coast since January 2006 and covers a random sample of 1,079 households in Louisiana and Mississippi, including 427 children. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by trained interviewers, and the key outcome variable was Serious Emotional Disturbance, based upon the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), a widely validated diagnostic screener. The data were collected in four waves over the course of four years with the majority of data for this analysis drawn from the fourth round of data, collected through March 2010.

Posted in Hazards, IGCSE, Katrina, Weather | Leave a Comment »