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Ramesh Sujanani: Global warming and water supplies

Published:Thursday | September 3, 2015 | 9:00 AMRamesh Sujanani

Approximately two years ago, former president of the National Water Commission (NWC) E.G. Hunter made a comment on enlargement of the reservoir and dams in Jamaica, Hermitage and Mona. He mentioned that the cost of any rehabilitation of existing storage was not worth the cost; and that the rest of the island is generally self-sustaining in water. Moving the water from source to usage areas was what was necessary to alleviate problems (matching supply to consumption).

At the present time, NWC relies on its water trucks to fill the need, and I would add to the solution - piping water from St Ann and St James to the nearest points on the system, which can be accommodated.

This is expensive, no doubt, but not as costly as say 20 new mobile reservoirs, or constant dredging of Hermitage. I would hope that the National Works Agency would take current rainfall sessions seriously and not hinge on better rainfall next year to meet the country's needs. Saving water, better transfers between sources, improved storage; all have to be considered priority; otherwise next year we may be drinking seawater (hopefully, treated).

(I note that a significant amount of bottled water is available in the supermarket and stores in Jamaica, and I have no problems if the source is Jamaican water. If not, it is a waste of money with and imports of water should be ceased; any savings passed on to water projects).

This year has been one of the most uncomfortable with heat, and last August, it appears from worldwide data, has been the hottest month in 130 years. Clearly, major effort has to be made in restricting carbon by-products into the atmosphere, which seems to be a reason. The carbon is attributed to burnt fossil fuel, oil, gas, coal and similar products, and has been largely ignored by various nations. But the carbon dioxide (and monoxides) so produced is a requirement for the growth of vegetation; this way, nature maintains a balance, which is upset by more CO2 that cannot be handled. This is one of the anomalies of global warming, because, in my opinion, nature will take as much as we produce, including excesses.

There is one other major reason: Weather scientists working with global warming have theorised in the past, and predict in future years to come, the warming and cooling phenomenon of 'El NiÒo' and 'La NiÒa'. This contributes more to warming than previously thought, equivalent to several hundred million atomic bombs released at Hiroshima in the Second World War.

Though the Pacific Ocean covers one-third of the Earth's surface, its condition affects the climate of the whole Earth. The Pacific periodically goes through El NiÒo to stage La NiÒa and vice versa, creating energies which will motivate and manage hurricanes. In an 'El NiÒo', warm waters cover a sizable percentage of the Pacific's area, and this heats the atmosphere. (J.C. Curry, Donald Rapp, Climate, etc). This has correlated the global warming and CO2 concentration in the past hundred years. Here is what these mean:


El Niño


El Niño  means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño , was originally recognised by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm-water events tended to occur.

The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.

Typical El Niño effects are likely to develop over North America during the upcoming winter season. Those include warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, and over the western and northern United States. Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the US Gulf Coast and Florida while drier-than-average conditions can be expected in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The presence of El Niño can significantly influence weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the globe for an extended period of time.


La Niña


La Niña means The Little Girl in Spanish. La Niña is also sometimes called El Viejo, anti-El Niño , or simply "a cold event".

La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea-surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. Global climate La Niña impacts tend to be opposite those of El Niño  impacts.

In the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be opposite those of El Niño .

During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.