Cyclone Nisarga Menaces Mumbai, Forcing 100,000 to Evacuate in Pandemic
At least 100,000 people were evacuated along India's west coast as the country's financial capital of Mumbai awaits its first cyclone in more than 70 years.
"Everything we didn't want to happen right now is happening," one city official said on TV, as The Guardian reported.
Severe Cyclonic Storm "NISARGA" Visible Imagery from INSAT-3D (12:30-1257 IST of 03.06.2020) https://t.co/M9l0W3QBVV— India Met. Dept. (@India Met. Dept.)1591171025.0
The storm made landfall around 1 p.m. local time with wind speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said, as CNN reported. Before making landfall, it strengthened over the Arabian Sea into to a Severe Cyclonic Storm in the West Pacific, the equivalent of slightly less than a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane. The biggest threat from the storm is likely to be flooding. It is projected to rain heavily and could produce a storm surge of up to 3.3 to 6.6 feet that could swamp parts of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts.
The storm made landfall in Alibag town, south of Mumbai. Alibag is "Mumbai's answer to Martha's Vineyard," a beach-side town where many of Mumbai's wealthy have vacation homes, The Guardian pointed out.
The storm is the first cyclone to hit Mumbai since 1948, when a storm killed 12 and injured more than 100.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the Arabian Sea's surface temperature was rising. Tropical cyclones tend to form over waters 30 to 33 degrees Celsius, and that was around the surface temperature of the Arabian Sea when Nisarga consolidated.
IMD also noted that the sea spawned more storms than normal in 2019.
"During 2019, 8 cyclonic storms formed over the Indian seas. Arabian Sea contributed 5 out of these 8 cyclones against the normal of 1 per year, which equals the previous record of 1902 for the highest frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea. This year also witnessed development of more intense cyclones over the Arabian Sea," IMD wrote.
These changes are now likely to have real consequences for Mumbai and the surrounding region. BBC correspondent Janhavee Moole said it had been raining in the city since Tuesday.
"I can see the trees shaking violently," Moole said. "All beaches in the city are closed to the public and a police patrol van is making announcements, asking people to stay indoors. All safety precautions possible are being taken, but I do feel worried because the city is also in the grip of a pandemic."
(3/n) 🌀 #CycloneNisarga A ship caught in the cyclonic storm. https://t.co/A7hMgdqWQg— The Indian Express (@The Indian Express)1591171371.0
Coronavirus patients were among those evacuated ahead of the storm. Around 150 were moved from a newly-built field hospital to a place with a concrete roof that could better withstand high wind speeds, The Guardian reported.
In addition to Mumbai, the storm also threatens people living in shacks or shanties near the coast of the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located. More than 21,000 villagers were evacuated in the state's Palghar district.
The entire state is also the hardest hit in India by the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported, with more than 72,300 cases and more than 2,400 deaths.
The storm also threatens the state of Gujarat, the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In Gujarat, more than 50,000 people living along the coast have been evacuated.
"In wake of the coronavirus outbreak all standard operating procedures are being followed at the temporary shelters which have been sanitised and instructions have been issued on following safe distancing," Arpit Sagar, an official in Valsad, Gujarat said, according to The Guardian.Cyclone Nisarga strikes about two weeks after Cyclone Amphan walloped part of India's east coast, as well as neighboring Bangladesh, killing more than 100, BBC News reported. Cyclone Amphan also intensified over warm ocean surface waters.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:email@example.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
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