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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

UK Snow - an OCR A2 Case Study example

The recent bad weather can make an excellent case study for the climatic hazards section of the OCR A2 Global issues Paper:

The syllabus looks for:

"The study of high and low pressure systems and air masses to illustrate the formation of hazards, ie heavy snowfall and frost, and how they represent hazards to people through blizzards and cold spells. They then look for the impacts associated with these weather features for named areas at the local, regional and global scale, including impacts on: 
– transport; 
– agriculture and forestry; 
– health; 
– economic activity. "

So lets take a look...

A number of issues looked at around the Isle of Arran, W.Scotland

The Jetstream has fixed in a position south of the UK drawing in colder air masses from the North. Explanation Here. A blocking anticyclone is sitting to the North of the UK which is drawing in predominantly North Easterly air masses due to its clockwise rotation. This has brought the cold and its blocking nature is the reason why the original cold weather has become a Cold Spell.Video The reason it snowed a lot at first was down to warm moist air from our regular prevailing South Westerly winds meeting cold air masses. This forced the warmer air to rise but also cool and condense. The extreme cold means that it fell as snow rather than rain. ie Heavy Snowfall. This has very much been a national scale hazard with most parts of the UK experiencing both heavy snow and the cold spell. The scale is caused by the movement of the jetstream which draws weather down from the North for the whole of the UK and also affected parts of Western Europe. The area covered by the anticyclone is large but the winds rotating around it can easily cover an area the size of the UK.


A school group from Calder High school in Arran were trapped at a fieldtrip centre in Yorkshire since driving conditions became too treacherous.
Extreme rural areas have been cut off for a number of days in the Peak District, Cumbria and Wales. Link.

In South West Scotland, drivers on the A75 in Dumfries and Galloway were trapped overnight in their cars.
Road, rail, ferries and flights were all disrupted in Northern Ireland.
All flights at Humberside airport were briefly stopped.

The conditions came in at lambing season threatening the lives of sheep stuck in drifts and therefore nthe livelihoods of pastoral farmers. This has especially been true in rural parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland.

 A small number of people were killed as a result of exposure by getting trapped in poor conditions int he snow. Some of these were as a result of taking part in riskier activities such as hillwalking in the Scottish Highlands.
One example can be seen here

Economic Activity
Many sporting fixtures were lost which bring revenue in at both a local and regionals cale depending on their significance. The transport disruption meant many people lost working days.

The first section of this paper will also look for

Regional Scale
Teams of engineers have been dispatched to areas of Arran without power. This has taken longer in rural communities. This could be appropriate because of Government assistance in emergency funding and the UK having a well trained workforce in this area.

National Scale
Multiple agencies in Northern Ireland have coordinated rescue efforts together. This is possible due to mixtures of public and private funding. High levels of training and effective communication and transport infrastructure.

At a smaller scale, farmers on the Isle of man have coordinated at the community level to assist in rescuing liovestock and to find extra shelter and food from other farmers and locals for them.

In the UK, a number of key agencies transmit important safety information widely via the internet and social media sites such as twitter. the include the BBC, the Met Office, The Environment Agency and National Rail. This allows people to maximise the time they have to prepare for a hazard or plan their personal responses to it, such as travel routes.

Specially trained rescue teams resued drivers stuck on roads. Link


Monday, 18 March 2013

(The Only) Solution to Desertification?

The issue of desertification is one of the prime issues of our present and our future. Alan Savory gives an excellent TED Talk below analysing what he sees as the only viable solution.

Questions to Consider:
How big an issue is Desertification?
Could there be other solutions?
Is it too late to solve this problem?

Evaluation of Coastal Management at Swanage

J.Hutchings (Y9) has written an evaluation of coastal management at Swanage. Click on the image to enlarge it, then read the evaluation underneath.

Do you agree with his assesment of the current strategies?
Would you manage it differently?
Would you manage it at all?

(Comment Below or tweet @bsgeography)

Judging by the fact that the officials in charge of the area (described on annotated map) have a main focus of ensuring a sustainable future for the coastal area of Swanage, I think that there is little to be done regarding changes.  It is said that plans dealing with the future of the coast are currently being reviewed, processed and produced, but in the meantime they are continuing to allow the defences already set up to prevent erosion getting out of hand.
Regarding the defences themselves, however, I think that a different approach would have been more adequate.  Having a long system of groynes stretching across some of the coast is good, as it helps to stabilise the beach and keep it in one piece.  The sea walls do their job, but it doesn’t quite meet the needs of a sustainable balance.  They are particularly expensive (one of the most expensive coastal defence concepts) and are also unappealing to the public.  While it may meet the needs of the environment, it fails to do the same socially and economically.
There are no ideal options when it comes to social sustainability, as even though there may be more suitable solutions in terms of appearance, none contribute significantly enough to make it worthwhile.  However, perhaps a series of rip-raps or gabions could have been used, as these are less expensive than sea walls and still manage to absorb the waves’ energy relatively successfully.

Lost Continent Discovered

·         21st February 2013: Scientists have discovered huge pieces of a continent from millions of years ago in the Indian Ocean.

According to the “National Geoscience”: scientists from England, South Africa, Norway and Germany have discovered land which is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and has a width of 25- 30 km from 50-80 million years ago from a continent called Rodinia.
Scientists think that thisland was removed as a result of volcanic explosions which broke the land off from the main continent. Then gigantic waves caused by earth quakes sent the island to the bottom of the Indian Ocean. Scientists named this piece “Mauritia”.

Scientists say that the continents today are all detached from Rodinia and made today’s world in the last 1 billion years.

It is 2 thousand km away from Africa’s southeast, in the 115 islands of the Seychelles and the island of Maritius. While scientists were investigating the sand pieces there, they discovered that the pieces belonged to a volcanic explosion which had happened 9 million years ago.

According to the Norwegian scientists, the pieces of the sand which they took the sample from Seychelles include Zirconium. They thought the Zirconium in the sand came from another piece which had met the bottom of the Indian Ocean as a result of the volcano and the waves.

With sonar and seismic submarines, it has been proved that there was this land with a width of 25- 30 km under the Indian Ocean.
By N. Aslanoba (y9)