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Archive for February 21st, 2010

New method for water purification?

Posted by feww on February 21, 2010

Public Release: Uppsala University

Seeds from the Moringa tree can be used for water purification

Pure water is a key requirement for good health and alternative cheap, safe methods are required in many countries. In a paper that has just been published in the leading American Chemical Society journal on interfaces, Langmuir, researchers from Uppsala University in co-operation with The University of Botswana describe how extracts from seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree can be used for water purification.


Moringa oleifera (kalamungay, drumstick tree). Pods and seeds on ground at Dairy Rd Kahului, Maui.  Source: Plants of Hawaii. February 07, 2007. For more images CLICK HERE.

Flocculation of particulate impurities is a common first stage in purification of water. This often uses addition of either aluminium or iron salts. Aluminium, particularly, has undesirable health implications. An alternative procedure that uses a natural extract from seeds of the Moringa oleifera tree is used in Africa.

Research in a paper that has just appeared in the leading American Chemical Society journal on interfaces, Langmuir, describes how very small amounts of the protein from these seeds can bind strongly to surfaces and thus would cause contaminant particles to aggregate. The Scattering Centre at Ångström Laboratory and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University is a centre of expertise in exploiting a powerful technique known as neutron reflection to measure structure and composition of layers of just a few nanometres (millionths of a millimetre) at the interface between a solid and a liquid.

A co-operation with the University of Botswana where there is a long interest in exploiting natural products has led to a research project that provides important insight in to the way that protein molecules from the Moringa oleifera seeds interact, binding stongly both to each other and surfaces so as to cause aggregation in to large lumps that are readily removed from the water.

“It is nice to see how the basic interactions of molecules can play a role in solving practical problems,” says Adrian Rennie, Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University. “Understanding of the process may lead to further development in water purification with materials that are locally available and environmentally friendly.”

Contact: Adrian Rennie
adrian.rennie@fysik.uu.se
Uppsala University

Posted in Drought, iron salts, potable water, Uppsala University, water scarcity | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Floods Kill 32 on Portuguese Island of Madeira

Posted by feww on February 21, 2010

Storm, Floods, Mudslides Target another Popular Tourist Destination

Heavy Storm, Extreme Rain, Torrential Floods and Massive Mudslides Bring Disaster to Portugal’s Atlantic Island of Madeira

At least 32 people were killed and up to a 100 others injured on the island of Madeira after heavy storms brought a violent downpour to the Atlantic island, flooding the popular tourist destination the local government reported Saturday.

“The areas of Funchal and Ribeira Brava suffered from major floods and mudslides, and that’s where we have most of the 32 dead. Some people are also unaccounted for,” said Pedro Barbosa, deputy chief of the regional civil protection service in Madeira.

“Now the weather conditions have improved and we are starting to evaluate the damage,” he said, Reuters reported.

The rains caused large-scale flooding and massive mudslides throughout the island, blocking roads and forcing airports on the island to shut down.

The 120km-per-hour winds and floods uprooted trees, washed away bridges and roads, damaged or destroyed many homes and smashed dozens of cars on the island.

Funchal, the island’s capital (about 1,000km south of Portuguese capital, Lisbon), was probably the worst affected areas by the floods and mudslides in an unusually rainy February.


Cars are washed down a hillside by floodwaters near Funchal, the Madeira Island’s capital, Saturday, February 20, 2010. Photo: AP. image may be subject to copyright.

Saturday’s disaster was reportedly the deadliest on Madeira since October 1993, when storms and floods killed eight people.


NO GAS SOLD AT THIS STATION UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! [Original caption: A man looks on with a camera while floodwaters flow through a gas station and the streets of downtown Funchal, Madeira February 20, 2010.  Credit: REUTERS/Duarte Sa. Image may be subject to copyright.

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Posted in extreme rain, flood, Madeira, mudslide, storm, Tourist Destination | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Tropical Storm GELANE – UPDATE 4 (Feb 21)

Posted by feww on February 21, 2010

GELANE Out of Steam Much Sooner than Expected

Tropical Storm GELANE weakened rapidly and is now expected to dissipate as a significant storm up to 36 hours sooner than previously forecast (within the next 48 hours).


Tropical Storm GELANE
Visible/IR Satellite Image.
Source: UW-CIMSS. Click image to enlarge.

Tropical Cyclone GELANE (TC 16S) Details

  • Date/Time: 20 February 2010 –  03:00 UTC
  • Position:  Near 21.5ºS, 61.5ºE
  • Sustained Movement: 190  degrees
  • Forward speed:  13 km/hr ( 7 kt)
  • The system has been tracking  SSW.

Current Wind Distribution:

  • Maximum Sustained winds: 113 km/hr (61.0 kt)
  • Maximum Gusts:  ~ 140 km/hr (~ 75kt)
  • GELANE is currently a Tropical Storm on FEWW New Hurricane Scale

Wave Height and Location:

  • Maximum significant wave height: ~ 7m (21 ft)
  • Location: TC GELANE was located about ~ 625 km EAST (97 degrees) of  Saint-Denis, Réunion, and about 435 km EAST (110 degrees) of  Port Louis, Mauritius.
  • Sources: CIMSS, JTWC and Others

See also: UW- CIMSS Cyclone Portal

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Posted in cyclone, GELANE, hurricane, storm, TC 16S | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Great Southern California ShakeOut

Posted by feww on February 21, 2010

Facilitating Corporate War Against Nature

‘Scientific Mandate’ Helps Corporment* Technicians Alienate Scared Audiences from Nature

In the same way “BERT DUCKS and Covers” helped to fan the flames of Cold War, the “Great Southern California Shakeout”  and its  “drop, cover and hold on” one-liner are engineering public alienation from nature on behalf of the Corporment.

The enemy has changed, from the old Cold war Adversary, Soviet Union, to Mother Nature, but the tried and tested mantra has remained the same: “Our lifestyle is not negotiable [sic.]”

The Corporment can’t afford having large numbers of people going around worrying about how to protect nature against their usual business.

*[Corporment = Government ruled by corporate interests]

Ever Heard of ‘Duck and Cover’?

Now, it’s:  “drop, cover and hold on”

And be sure to recite a prayer for the earthquake dead …

The following is a public information notice:

Great Southern California Shakeout results provide new communication strategies

Researchers who devised the largest earthquake preparedness event ever undertaken in the United States say one of the biggest challenges was translating devastation projections from a hypothetical magnitude 7.8 San Andreas Fault temblor into timely, usable information to the more than 5 million California participants in 2008.

Known as the Great Southern California Shakeout, the event was designed by more than 300 experts in fields including earth sciences, engineering, policy, economics and public health, said University of Colorado at Boulder Research Professor Keith Porter, who coordinated estimates of physical damages in the scenario. He said the interests of the scientists — including high-tech research and state-of-the-art projections — did not always coincide with concerns of the general public and emergency preparedness planners looking for timely, simple information on issues.

“One of the biggest challenges of the ShakeOut was to get scientists to speak the language of citizens,” said Porter of CU-Boulder’s civil, environmental and architectural engineering department. “While many researchers were concerned about advancing the state of science through different modeling scenarios and debate, the citizens made it clear to us they needed the big picture.”

Porter gave a presentation on the subject at the 2010 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held Feb. 18-22 in San Diego. Porter’s talk was part of a session titled “Earthquake Science and Advocacy: Helping Californians Live Along the San Andreas Fault.” The Great Southern California ShakeOut event was led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Pushing the limits of science, including efforts like the ShakeOut, almost invariably creates a lack of consensus among scientists that can cause confusion in the public sector leading to “ambiguity aversion” — a preference by people to deal with known risks and to avoid dealing with risks where there is significant disagreement about the level of uncertainty, said Porter. “We found these people needed a single, discreet, story, which led us to explore and present what we thought was a single, realistic outcome of the hypothetical earthquake, as opposed to a discussion of possible outcomes.”

The 2008 ShakeOut scenario and a follow-up 2009 ShakeOut exercise involving more than 5 million Californians participating in “drop, cover and hold on” earthquake drills and other family, school and organizational emergency plans were huge successes, causing the USGS and collaborators to make the ShakeOut an annual event, Porter said. “Our hope is the activities undertaken by participants will become second nature,” he said. “In a sense it is similar to people taking CPR courses annually to keep up to speed.”

The USGS team that created the ShakeOut is now creating an emergency preparedness scenario known as ARkStorm to simulate the outcome of a series of massive West Coast storms similar to those that pounded California in 1861 and 1862. Those storms lasted for 45 days, flooded vast areas of northern and southern California, submerged a swath of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys 300 miles long and up to 60 miles wide and inundated large areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Such storms draw heat and moisture from the tropical Pacific Ocean, forming “atmospheric rivers” that cause damage on the same scale of earthquakes and are projected to become more intense as a result of climate change, said Porter. Porter is leading the ARkStorm team that is assessing the potential outcome from such a storm in terms of physical damages, repair costs and the restoration time for buildings, dams, levees, harbors, bridges, roads, water supply systems and electric power.

Contact: Keith Porter
Keith.Porter@Colorado.edu
303-492-2732
University of Colorado at Boulder

YOU can be smart like Bert, but you need a shelter on your back, too!

Skeptics could order their own personal earthquake-proof shelter from the nearest branch of [name and address withheld :)]


Brewster Body Armor offers some protection, but is more mobile than the mobile shelter! Source: Flickr


Mobile Shelter. Be sure to duck your head down and under the shelter when the earthquake strikes! Source: Flickr


And there’s protection for your pooch, too … Source: Flickr

Related Links:

Posted in earthquake drill, Sacramento, San Andreas Fault, San Joaquin, U.S. Geological Survey | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »