Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tornados, Flooding May Warn Of Climate Change

Tornados, Flooding May Warn Of Climate Change

ScienceDaily (Jun. 4, 2008) Record-keeping meteorologists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration say this year’s tornado season is one of the deadliest in a decade and may be on pace to set a record for the most tornadoes. And flooding in the Midwest has been at 100-year levels this spring.

“There is considerable concern that climate change due to greenhouse gases species increasing will lead to the enhancement of strong, large storms occurrences, such as hurricanes that also spawn tornadoes when they occur. Increased storm strengths also bring flooding events,” he said.

Gaffney and co-researcher Nancy A. Marley are currently involved in a three-year investigation of aerosols – tiny particles suspended in the air – and their role in climate change.*

Tornadoes are short-lived events and, until recently, scientists had to depend on limited ground observations to study them. Satellites and radar systems are now enhancing researchers’ ability to see their number and strength in detail. But short lived tornadoes are hard to tie directly to climate change due to the limited climatology of tornadoes.

Weather forecasters have examined El Niño and La Niña, important temperature fluctuations in surface waters of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, as a potential for past tornado activities in the U.S.

“The data available from NOAA do not support a strong statistical significance to data for direct effects of El Niño or La Niña on frequency or strength of tornadoes,” Gaffney said. “Although, there is considerable concern that climate change due to greenhouse species will lead to significant changes in weather patterns, these currently available data are not conclusive.”

He said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report on severe weather events discusses the topics backed up by NOAA data.

“Basic thought is there’s more energy in the atmosphere, more water vapor evaporating and greater likelihood for stronger heating events that lead to stronger thunderstorms - super cells, that can lead to tornado production,” Gaffney said.

He said tornadoes are complex phenomena that are linked to the number of super cells and their storm strengths. Flooding events are more wide spread than tornadoes, and are more readily tied to climate predictions than tornadoes.

“What we are looking to see, in current and future research and data acquisition, is whether the frequency and strength of tornadoes change as we continue to increase the energy distribution in the atmosphere,” he said. “Currently, this year is looking to be significantly larger in the number of tornadoes seen than in the past few years. That and the record floods that are associated with these strong storm systems, may be a warning of things to come. But more data gathering is needed.”

Gaffney points to the improved Doppler radar systems that have allowed tornado warning times to be advanced as the main tool for gathering this tornado climatology that will be needed to evaluate links between climate change and severe weather events.

*The $625,000 study is funded by the Department of Energy Atmospheric Science Program. He and Marley will discuss severe weather and links to climate during their annual orientation for the DOE Global Change Education Program.


Storm Reports-June 4th/5th

Severe Storm Reports: June 4th-5th


RMS Launches New U.S. Hurricane Loss Index

Catastrophe risk modeling firm Risk Management Solutions (RMS) has launched a new index for assessing insured industry losses from U.S. hurricanes.

Named the Paradex U.S. Hurricane, it combines actual wind speeds at multiple locations with proprietary industry exposure data, according to RMS. Its insured loss estimates can be used by the insurance industry and capital markets to structure catastrophe bonds, industry loss warranties, and derivative contracts.

Paradex U.S. Hurricane offers industry loss estimates by region and line of business in nine identified hurricane-prone zones throughout Florida, the East Coast, and the Gulf Coast. In the event of a hurricane, wind speeds are obtained from a network of hurricane-hardened weather stations constructed by WeatherFlow, a leading provider of weather data. This data is then referenced against RMS insurance industry exposure and vulnerability curves to calculate final index values.

"Historically, the main difficulty in transferring catastrophe risk to the capital markets has been meeting investors' need for standardization, objectivity, and transparency while simultaneously providing issuers with indices tailored to their specific risks," stated Peter Nakada, managing director of RMS Consulting. "Paradex U.S. Hurricane is unique in that it is transparent enough to please investors, flexible enough to minimize basis risk for issuers, and efficient enough to satisfy both parties' desire for a rapid settlement."

In contrast to loss indices that poll insurers and reinsurers and take many months to settle while initial estimates are updated, the Paradex U.S. Hurricane index settles no later than 40 business days following the event.

Source: RMS

Floridians Urged To Prepare For Hurricanes

When skies are clear and air is dry, it is difficult for civilians to worry about severe weather. However, with active storm predictions hovering around the impending hurricane season, the one true enemy can be complacency.Authorities are warning residents to take the time to develop a hurricane plan before the a storm approaches, and forecasters said a busy season is predicted.

"Twelve to 16 named storms, six to nine hurricanes, and two to five major hurricanes (are predicted)." forecaster Gerry Bell said.At MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, forecasters also predicted a 90 percent chance for an above-normal season. They said they've noticed warmer than normal temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean since 1995, and that can lead to more powerful storms."The attitude of thinking it won't happen to you will not keep you safe," Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher Jr. said.Being prepared can be the key to survival, and while the Federal Emergency Management Agency aims to help in a storm's aftermath, government officials emphasize the need for self-preparedness. READ>



Remember PANBO and
"Where is the Meat"? Panbo tell us that there is not enough marine electronics on the market to establish either a failure rate or false alarm rate... Bob Ellison continues his spin taking his clue from industry sources.

Now Panbo writes "
While evidence of unusual EPIRB failure activity remains scarce", knowing how difficult it is for the USCG to study these so-called scarce events under the current program as designed.. The fact is that we don't know what the failure rate looks like in realty, neither does NOAA and the USCG with any confidence at this point and that is a fact. Yes it could be small and then again it also could be very note worthy just like the false alarm rate is.

Yes proving failure is difficult at this point and that is partly because of the way the system records signals and events, the way potential failures are reported or rather not reported or even better yet reported as "recodings" when in fact they just might be failures and the way investigations are presently done and how the USCG is handicapped at the moment by its new mission requirements, lack of MSO funding, expertise, politics and special interest groups.

Though I will note that the NOAA/USCG/IMO industry working group is trying to resolve many of the outstanding issues.

So Mr. Ellison let us help you out a little here at least on the false alarm issue...This is a new (United States Coast Guard Report) (pdf format), for you and your readers as well as our reader to review.... This report was very difficult to compile for the reasons we noted previously and our compliments to Captain Larry Yarbrough (USCG ret) for his diligence in not just taking the lead and preparing this report but recently briefing it to both his peers as well as the industry. It took seven months with three people in a painstaking process along with investigating the archives and interviewing folk to obtain this data. No small feat to say the least and in our opinion it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Yes we have a long way to go, much to do and learn to improve on a alert system that has proven itself extremely valuable to all mariners. Again this system has saved thousands of lives over the years and continues to play a critical life safety role and will for the foreseeable future, especially with the next generation of GPIRBs. But if we can reduce just part of these false alarms and understand what the failure rate truly is, why it occurs and even reduce those gaps ultimately saving additional lives. Then like we said, its a good fight to undertake. Regardless of the naysayers blowing smoke rather than assist to get to the root cause. We will continue this endeavor to bring to you all the facts no matter where they fall.

This is about improving an important life safety system, closing gaps in the system and saving more lives. Not defending or attacking manufacturers without cause and certainly not self promotions and duckspeak....

But lets not kid ourselves either, $3.6 Million dollars worth of taxpayers money as well as wasted Coast Guard resources went into chasing those false alarms as noted. This is not the way to do business in any ones book. It' should also not be he cost of doing business, in a business that is suppose to save lives. While we will never completely eliminate false alarms we can reduce them and that Mr. Ellison is a FACT! . This report raises many question that we believe need to be answered.

We will continue to update our readers not just as our EPIRB investigation continues.... But now as the NOAA/USCG/Sean Seamour II investigation gets underway.

Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), 84th session: 7-16 May 2008

IMO adopted a mandatory casualty investigation code and moved forward with the implementation of long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) of ships, when the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) met in London, for its 84th session from 7 to 16 May.

New casualty investigation Code adopted
The MSC adopted a new Code of International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident (Casualty Investigation Code). Relevant amendments to SOLAS Chapter XI 1 were also adopted, to make parts I and II of the Code mandatory. Part III of the Code contains related guidance and explanatory material.

The Code will require a marine safety investigation to be conducted into every "very serious marine casualty", defined as a marine casualty involving the total loss of the ship or a death or severe damage to the environment.

The Code will also recommend an investigation into other marine casualties and incidents, by the flag State of a ship involved, if it is considered likely that it would provide information that could be used to prevent future accidents.

The new regulations expand on SOLAS Regulation I/21, which requires Administrations to undertake to conduct an investigation of any casualty occurring to any of its ships "when it judges that such an investigation may assist in determining what changes in the present regulations might be desirable".

Long Range Identification and Tracking
The MSC made a number of decisions to ensure the timely implementation of the LRIT system. SOLAS regulation V/19-1 on LRIT entered into force on 1 January 2008 and will apply to ships constructed on or after 31 December 2008 with a phased implementation schedule for ships constructed before 31 December 2008. The LRIT system is intended to be operational with respect to the transmission of LRIT information by ships from 30 December 2008.

The MSC adopted a resolution on the Establishment of the International LRIT Data Exchange on an interim basis, confirming that the International LRIT Data Exchange will be provided temporarily by the United States at their own expense and that a permanent solution should be found as soon as possible.

The MSC endorsed a financial model based on the "user pays" principle, agreeing that charges for the provision of LRIT information for the search and rescue of persons in distress at sea should, in all cases, be free of charge to the search and rescue service of the Contracting Government requesting such information.

The Committee adopted revised Performance Standards and functional requirements for the long-range identification and tracking of ships, to update previous versions, and agreed MSC.1 Circulars giving Guidance on the survey and certification of compliance of ships with the requirement to transmit LRIT information; Guidance on Search and Rescue Services in relation to requesting and receiving LRIT information; Guidance on the implementation of the LRIT system; and Interim revised Technical Specifications for the LRIT system.

The International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO), acting as LRIT Co-ordinator, will authorize the integration, on an interim basis, of the Data Centres that have undergone and satisfactorily completed developmental testing, into the production LRIT system.

Meanwhile, the ad hoc LRIT Group was authorized to consider and adopt amendments to technical specifications for the LRIT system on behalf of the Committee, during the period between MSC 84 and MSC 85 (meeting November-December 2008), and to develop, agree and adopt, the documentation for the testing and integration of the LRIT system. The Committee also instructed the ad hoc LRIT Group to consider and report to MSC 85 on all matters relating to the development of a plan for the continuity of service of the LRIT system and, if possible, to develop such a plan.

Amendments to SOLAS
The MSC adopted the following amendments to SOLAS chapters II 1, II 2, III, IV and XI 1. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2010:

· amendments to SOLAS chapter II-2, regarding drainage of special category and ro-ro spaces to prevent accumulation of water on the vehicle deck of ro-ro ships;

· amendments to SOLAS Chapter XI 1 to add a new Regulation 6 (Additional requirements for the investigation of marine casualties and incidents) to make mandatory parts I and II of the new Casualty Investigation Code;

· a new SOLAS regulation II-1/3-9 (Means of embarkation on and disembarkation from ships), to require ships built after its adoption and entry into force to be provided with means of embarkation and disembarkation, such as gangways and accommodation ladders;

· A new SOLAS regulation and amendments to SOLAS regulation II-1/3-4 (Emergency towing arrangements on tankers), to extend the regulation to ships other than tankers. The MSC also approved Guidelines for owners/operators on preparing emergency towing procedures; and

· Amendments to regulations III/6, III/26 and IV/7 to replace requirements for "radar transponders" with a requirement for a "search and rescue locating device".

Amendments to 1988 SOLAS Protocol
The MSC adopted amendments to the 1988 SOLAS Protocol, to replace the reference to "radar transponders" with a reference to "search and rescue locating devices", in the form of safety certificate for passenger ships and forms of safety certificate for cargo ships.

Amendments to Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers
The MSC adopted amendments to the Guidelines on the enhanced programme of inspections during surveys of bulk carriers and oil tankers (resolution A.744(18)) (ESP Guidelines), including a new part B on Survey guidelines for double skin bulk carriers applicable to bulk carriers of 500 gross tonnage and over having double-side skin construction.

Amendments to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code
The MSC adopted Amendment 34-08 to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The amendment includes changes to provisions for certain substances, including changes to requirements for documentation for dangerous goods in limited quantities. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2010, but may be applied in whole or in part voluntarily from 1 January 2009.

Amendments to HSC Codes
Amendments to the International Codes of Safety for High-Speed Craft (1994 and 2000 HSC Codes) were adopted to bring them in line with SOLAS chapter III amendments on search and rescue locating devices.

Code of Safety for Special Purpose ships adopted
The MSC adopted a revised and updated Code of Safety for Special Purpose Ships (SPS Code), such as sail training ships, cable laying ships and research vessels. The original SPS Code was adopted in 1983. The 2008 version provides an international standard of safety for new special purpose ships that will result in a level of safety for the ships and their personnel equivalent to that required by SOLAS.

Piracy and armed robbery against ships
The MSC discussed the continued concern about increased incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia and IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos requested Members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to support a resolution currently being considered by the UNSC to address the issue and urged all other members to promote, through the United Nations General Assembly, action to prevent piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Meanwhile, the MSC noted that a two-stage, sub regional meeting on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean was held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania from 14 to 18 April 2008. The meeting, attended by 13 States from the region, developed and agreed a draft Memorandum of Understanding concerning the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, for onward transmission to national authorities and the Council of IMO, with a view to concluding the agreement later this year.

Review of guidelines for prevention and suppression of piracy and armed robbery
The MSC established a correspondence group to review MSC/Circ.622/Rev.1, Recommendations to Governments for preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery against ships; MSC/Circ.623/Rev.3 Guidance to shipowners and ship operators, shipmasters and crews on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships; and resolution A.922(22), Code of Practice for the Investigation of the Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships. An interim report is expected to be submitted to MSC 85, with a final report being submitted to MSC 86 in 2009.

Goal-based new ship construction standards
The MSC re-established the Working Group on Goal-based Standards (GBS) for New Ship Construction to progress the work on the issue, taking into account the reports of the Working Group on Goal-Based Standards at MSC 83; the interim progress report of the Pilot Panel; and the report of the Correspondence Group on Goal-Based Standards.

A work plan for the continued development of GBS was agreed, which would see MSC 85 finalizing and approving Tiers I to III of GBS for bulk carriers and oil tankers and finalizing and approving associated SOLAS amendments; and MSC 86, in 2009, finalizing generic guidelines for developing goal-based standards.

In the longer term, the work plan would include assessing the experience gained from the application of GBS; application of GBS to other ship types on an incremental basis; and expansion of GBS to cover every aspect of the design and construction of new ships.

Review of STCW Convention and Code
The Committee noted the progress of work relating to the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and the STCW Code by the Sub-Committee on Standards of Training (STW) and agreed to invite the Council to endorse, in principle, the holding of a Diplomatic Conference in 2010 to adopt amendments emanating from the comprehensive review.

This, the first major review since the 1995 STCW Conference, is intended to ensure that the Convention, as it may be revised, meets and responds adequately to the present and future needs of the shipping industry.

Implementation of the revised STCW Convention
The list of Parties deemed to be giving full and complete effect to the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, as amended, was updated when the Secretary-General submitted his report on those countries which had communicated information pursuant to STCW regulation I/7, or reports pursuant to STCW regulation I/8, and whose evaluations had been completed since the previous MSC meeting.

The MSC approved the revised list of confirmed Parties to the STCW convention, which now includes 119 Parties.

Amendments to International Safety Management (ISM) Code approved
Following consideration by the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Human Element, the MSC approved draft amendments to the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, to harmonize the requirement for the extension of the validity of the Safety Management Certificate (SMC) with those of SOLAS certificates and the International Ship Security Certificate (ISSC). The amendments will be submitted for adoption at the next session.

The MSC also prepared a preliminary draft text of amendments to the Revised Guidelines on Implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by Administrations.

Near-miss reporting
Following consideration by the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Group on Human Element, the MSC approved a draft MSC MEPC.7/Circular on Guidance on near-miss reporting, subject to a concurrent decision by MEPC 58 (meeting in October 2008).

The circular encourages reporting of near-misses so that remedial measures can be taken to avoid recurrences; and gives guidance on the implementation of near-miss reporting. The circular notes that companies should investigate near-misses as a regulatory requirement under the "Hazardous Occurrences" part of the ISM Code.

Work programmes of the sub-committees
The Committee took a series of decisions regarding the work programmes of the Sub Committees and, in particular, the inclusion of an item on the development of an agreement on the implementation of the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol in the work programme of the SLF Sub Committee and an item on the development of a Code for recognized organizations in the work programme of the FSI Sub Committee.