“Climate Change and the New Generation” – 13th V G Kulkarni Memorial Lecture
Speaker: Prof R R Kelkar
Venue: Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mankhurd, Mumbai
Date: 18 September 2014
Time: 4:30 pm
September 14, 2014
August 30, 2014
Sturla Gunnarsson’s documentary “Monsoon” is about how the immense weather system affects India’s one billion residents. It is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, with screenings on 7 and 9 September 2014. The prolific Canadian filmmaker says that the film is his “love letter to India”.
Read more about the movie at http://www.bramptonguardian.com/whatson-story/4806469-sturla-gunnarsson-s-love-letter-to-india-/
Picture shows R R Kelkar and Sturla Gunnarsson sitting under the banyan tree at Alipore Observatory, Kolkata, during the film’s shooting on 6 July 2013.
August 20, 2014
I will be delivering a lecture in Marathi on “Spirituality and Science” (Adhyatma ani Vidnyan) on Saturday 23 August 2014 at 5:30 pm at S. P. College, Pune.
It is a part of a lecture series organized by Sant Dnyandev Adhyasan, University of Pune, Shukla Yajurvediya Madhyandin Maharashtriya Brahman Madhyavarti Mandal, and other organizations.
Those interested are welcome.
August 11, 2014
The movie “Into the Storm” was released worldwide on 6 August 2014 and I just saw it, more out of curiosity than anything else. It is a disaster movie, in the genre of “Twister” (1996) and “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004). The film is full of thunder, rain, hail, wind and fire, as one twister after another keeps appearing on the screen and disappearing. There are of course some good shots, to be fair. But besides showing the destruction that the storms cause, the film gives us little insight into the meteorological processes that go into the formation of a tornado.
Whenever a weather- or environment-related disaster occurs in India, it is fashionable to ask critical questions, for example, is obsolete technology being used, whether people were warned in advance, or whether our disaster management efforts fell short. Usually, media and environmental activists cite the U.S. as a role model in these respects and tell how backward India is in comparison.
“Into the Storm” is a movie that these critics should watch. Although it is a work of fiction, it shows TV viewers in the U.S. receiving only general information that a tornado watch is in effect. A school goes ahead with its graduation ceremony as scheduled. The function is arranged in the open, and the storm catches everybody unawares. People are led into a storm shelter, which is woefully inadequate for the purpose. So they are taken out of the shelter in violent weather in school buses hopefully to a safer area.
The storm chasers are themselves caught in the fury of the storm. The only safe place they can find is through a manhole of a water drain.
Most of the time, and in most places, the mobile network is shown to be functioning erratically or not at all.
Airplanes parked at airports are shown tossed up into the sky (like a ‘rumali roti’). Apparently they had not been moored properly.
The meteorologist, a mother of a 5-year old girl, is travelling in a van equipped with all kinds of gadgets including a Doppler radar and she can gather all kinds of data. But she is shown to be relying more on her instinct than the data.
Is this fiction or does it happen this way in the U.S.?
August 7, 2014
August 4, 2014
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, New York, which is the world’s El Nino watchdog, has in an astonishingly candid article dated 30 June 2014, cleared eight misconceptions about El Nino and La Nina. (http://iri.columbia.edu/news/eight-misconceptions-about-el-nino/)
“For years, people have been pointing to El Niño as the culprit behind floods, droughts, famines, economic failures, and record-breaking global heat. Can a single climate phenomenon really cause all these events? Is the world just a step away from disaster when El Niño conditions develop? What exactly is this important climate phenomenon and why should society care about it?” The IRI post begins with these questions and then goes on to provide clear and honest answers.
The plain truth that emerges from the IRI discussion can be summarized as follows:
* El Nino does not spell doom for the whole world.
* It is not true that during an El Nino event, there are more disasters than usual, at least on a worldwide basis.
* El Nino and La Nina do not affect the entire global climate. Only 25% of the world’s land surface gets affected during any particular season, and less than 50% of land surface during the entire time that ENSO conditions persist.
* Since media coverage tends to focus on disasters, there is a feeling that El Nino has only adverse effects. This is not so. El Nino has positive impacts as well, for example, reduced frequency of Atlantic hurricanes and plentiful spring/summer rainfall in south America leading to higher crop yields.
* There is no reason to press the panic button the moment the first El Nino signal appears. Effects may take several months to show, and they may not even last for the entire period.
* La Nina may be good for rainfall over tropical land areas, but it is associated with increased risk of drought throughout much of the mid-latitudes.
* Strong El Nino/La Nina, events do not necessarily imply stronger impacts. There have been strong El Ninos (1997-98) with weak impacts and weak El Ninos (2002) with high impacts.
* The relation between El Nino/La Nina with global warming is yet to be established.