IPCC — Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)

cherrycreekflood08031933castlewooddamfailure.jpg

Here’s summary from the IPCC. Here’s a list of the specific findings from the fact sheet for the report:

Specific findings of the report

Two metrics are used to communicate the degree of certainty in key findings: qualitative confidence in the validity of a finding based on evaluation of the underlying scientific evidence and agreement; and quantified measures of uncertainty expressed as probabilities. Terms such as “robust evidence,” “medium confidence,” “likely,” or “very likely” have specific meanings that are discussed in the final section of this document.

Changing extreme events

—Observations since 1950 show changes in some extreme events, particularly daily temperature extremes, and heat waves.

—It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation will increase in the 21st century over many regions.

—It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur throughout the 21st century on a global scale. It is very likely—90 per cent to 100 per cent probability—that heat waves will increase in length, frequency, and/or intensity over most land areas.

—It is likely that the average maximum wind speed of tropical cyclones (also known as typhoons or hurricanes) will increase throughout the coming century, although possibly not in every ocean basin. However it is also likely—in other words there is a 66 per cent to 100 per cent probability—that overall there will be either a decrease or essentially no change in the number of tropical cyclones.

—There is evidence, providing a basis for medium confidence, that droughts will intensify over the coming century in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil, and southern Africa. Confidence is limited because of definitional issues regarding how to classify and measure a drought, a lack of observational data, and the inability of models to include all the factors that influence droughts.

—It is very likely that average sea level rise will contribute to upward trends in extreme sea levels in extreme coastal high water levels.

—Projected precipitation and temperature changes imply changes in floods, although overall there is low confidence at the global scale regarding climate-driven changes in magnitude or frequency of river- related flooding, due to limited evidence and because the causes of regional changes are complex.

Trends in disaster losses

—Economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters vary from year to year and place to place, but overall have increased (high confidence).

—Total economic losses from natural disasters are higher in developed countries (high confidence).

—Economic losses expressed as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are higher in developing countries (high confidence).

—Deaths from natural disasters occur much more in developing countries (high confidence). From 1970 to 2008 for example, more than 95% of deaths from natural disasters were in developing countries.

—Economic losses from weather- and climate-related disasters have been heavily influenced by increasing exposure of people and economic assets (high confidence).

Managing the risk

—An iterative process involving monitoring, research, evaluation, learning, and innovation can reduce disaster risk in the context of climate extremes (robust evidence, high agreement).

—Many measures for managing current and future risks have additional benefits, such as improving peoples’ livelihoods, conserving biodiversity, and improving human well-being (medium evidence, high agreement).

—Many measures, when implemented effectively, make sense under a range of future climates (medium evidence, high agreement). These “low regrets” measures include systems that warn people of impending disasters; changes in land use planning; sustainable land management; ecosystem management; improvements in health surveillance, water supplies, and drainage systems; development and enforcement of building codes; and better education and awareness.

—Effective risk management generally involves a portfolio of actions, from improving infrastructure to building individual and institutional capacity, in order to reduce risk and respond to disasters (high confidence).

—Post-disaster recovery and reconstruction provide an opportunity for reducing the risks posed by future weather- and climate-related disasters (robust evidence, high agreement). However, short-term measures to protect people from immediate risks can increase future risks, such as improvements in levees encouraging further development in flood plains (medium evidence, high agreement).

—Risk management works best when tailored to local circumstances. Combining local knowledge with additional scientific and technical expertise helps communities reduce their risk and adapt to climate change (robust evidence, high agreement).

—Actions ranging from incremental improvements in governance and technology to more transformational changes are essential for reducing risk from climate extremes (robust evidence, high agreement).

More climate change coverage here and here.

Illinois utility SCADA system cracked, pump shut down by intruders

cyberattackmaximumpc.jpg

From Reuters via FoxNews.com:

The Nov. 8 incident was described in a one-page report from the Illinois Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, according to Joe Weiss, a prominent expert on protecting infrastructure from cyber attacks. State police investigators believe the hackers broke into the water utility’s network by using credentials stolen from an undisclosed U.S. company that produces software to control industrial systems, said Weiss, who read excerpts from the report to Reuters over the phone. “An information technology services and computer repair company checked the computer logs of the system and determined the computer had been hacked into from a computer located in Russia,” Weiss said, quoting the report.

The Denver Post takes an in-depth look at hydraulic fracturing in Colorado

anadarkohydraulicfracturingapril2011.jpg

Here’s an in-depth look at hydraulic fracturing from Mark Jaffe writing for The Denver Post. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s and excerpt:

It took Anadarko’s contractor, Superior Well Services, about a week to haul in the water, sand, chemicals and equipment for the frack, which would take just one day. As it began, Jon Anderson, a senior completions technologist, sat before 10 computer screens in a trailer on the site. The readouts showed details on things such as slurry rates, downhole pressure and wellhead pressure, and chemical mixing. The first test was to pump in plain water at a pressure higher than would be used in the frack to check the well’s integrity…

Environmental and community groups raised concerns about its safety, the toxicity of ingredients in fracking fluid and its impact on air and water. That has led to a push for better data, disclosure and controls on fracking by state and federal agencies, including:

• An Environmental Protection Agency study looking at the impact of fracking on drinking water resources, from the acquisition of the water to the disposal of frack fluids.
A preliminary report is slated for next year and a final report in 2014.

• An EPA-proposed rule, expected to be adopted next year, limiting air pollution from oil and gas operations, including fracking.

• A Department of Interior-proposed rule for regulating fracking on public lands.

• A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission proposal requiring drillers to file the ingredients of their frack fluids in a database with public access. A public hearing on the rule is scheduled for Dec. 5.

• A joint industry-state program in Colorado to test residential water wells before and after fracking. Companies responsible for 90 percent of the wells drilled this year are participating.

More hydraulic fracturing coverage from Anthony A. Mestas writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Grass roots and environmental groups in the Spanish Peaks area contend fracking — technically, hydraulic fracturing — leads to contaminated water and, possibly, earthquakes. State and federal regulators along with energy companies dismiss the claims. Fracking poses no threat to ground water and does not cause earthquakes, they say…

In the Raton Basin, which stretches from Southern Colorado to Northern New Mexico, fracking occurs in coal beds to release the natural gas coal-bed methane. Water, nitrogen, sand and several additives are pumped under pressure into the coal beds to create fractures used to free the gas…

The average depth of the wells is 1,300 feet, or less than a quarter mile, a much shallower depth than shale gas wells that can extend more than 1 mile below the surface. At that depth, the wells — and fracking zones — also operate far below the depth of most of the area’s water wells, which generally are less than 200 feet down…

To guard against contamination of the region’s water, companies such as Pioneer follow a number of safety steps, as directed by the Environmental Protection Agency and state energy regulators. Among them:

– The drill casing at the surface is surrounded by cement to prevent leaks or spills. Tests are run to confirm that the cement is solid and adequately surrounds the casing.
Water wells in the drill area are tested before and after the drilling operation.
– The “flow back” water from the well is directed to a tank or lined pit for at least 30 to 60 days and then returned to the ground in deep injection wells that extend down 4,000 to 7,000 feet.
– The chemical additives used in the fracking mix are minimal and considered safe.

Additives make up less than 1 percent of Pioneer’s fracking mix. The chemicals are the same found in products such as ice cream, salad dressing, household cleaners and dish washing soap, the firm says. The bulk of the mix is water (55 percent), nitrogen (35 percent) and sand (9.9 percent.)

The Environmental Protection Energy released this report, PAVILLION AREA GROUNDWATER INVESTIGATION Pavillion, Fremont County, Wyoming on August 30, 2011. It shows contamination of groundwater in the area from hydraulic fracturing. Here’s the introduction:

This Analytical Results Report (ARR) for the Expanded Site Inspection (ESI) at the Pavillion Area Groundwater (GW) Investigation site (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System [CERCLIS] ID# WYN000802735) in Fremont County, Wyoming, has been prepared to satisfy the requirements of Technical Direction Document (TDD) No. 0901-01 issued to URS Operating Services, Inc. (UOS) under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team 3 (START 3) Contract No. EP-W-05-050. This report has been prepared in accordance with the EPA “Guidance for Performing Site Inspections under CERCLA,” Interim Final, September 1992, and the “Region 8 Supplement to Guidance for Performing Site Inspections under CERCLA” (EPA 1992; EPA 1993). Field activities were conducted from January 18 to January 22, 2010, in Pavillion, Wyoming. Field activities followed the Site Inspection (SI) format during the ESI, applicable UOS Technical Standard Operating Procedures (TSOPs), and the Generic Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) (UOS 2005b; UOS 2005a). This ARR is intended to be used in conjunction with the Field Sampling Plan (FSP) (UOS 2010).

Contamination from chemicals of concern in the Pavillion area was originally alleged by local residents when visual and odor parameters for several domestic wells changed. Visual changes included yellow color, increased turbidity, oil sheen, and inclusion of small gas bubbles. A hydrocarbon odor was also reported. Prior screening, sampling, and analyses conducted previous to EPA’s investigation indicated chemicals of concern in domestic wells with unknown risks to health and unknown sources. A previous SI performed by EPA narrowed the area of concern to an area in and around 11 wells that possessed detections of methane; volatile petroleum hydrocarbons (VPH), tentatively identified semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs); nitrate; arsenic; phthalates; and caprolactam. These wells are located in Sections 2, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 21, and 27 of T. 3N., R. 2 E. and Section 7 of T. 3 N., R. 3 E. See Section 3.3.2 for a summary of previous work.

Meanwhile, Pitkin County is petitioning the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for full disclosure of the materials used for hydraulic fracturing. Here’s a report from Andrew Travers writing for the Aspen Daily News. From the article:

The commissioners, in a letter drafted this week to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission, are calling for that body to adopt stricter disclosure guidelines than what is currently being considered. “We obviously have fracking activities ready to occur in our county,” County Commission Chair Rachel Richards said Tuesday.

The gas commission is considering adopting a rule that would require companies to disclose the chemical contents of fracking fluid, but allow them to withhold contents they deemed “trade secrets.”

“There are some large loopholes in that rule-making approach,” Richards said, concerned companies could abuse the “trade secret” exemption.

The county leaders bristled at the notion that gas companies could shield their chemical formulas. They stressed potential threats to public health in their letter and discussions of the issue this week. “Unless you are pumping Coca-Cola into the ground, we want to know what is in this thing,” said County Commissioner Michael Owsley.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Two Fountain Creek meetings coming up, dam study progress — November 30, flood control and water rights — December 7

fountaincreek1999floodcwcb.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Progress on a study of dams on Fountain Creek will be presented at 10 a.m. Nov. 30 at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, 15 S. Seventh St., in Colorado Springs. The study is funded in part by $300,000 from the city of Colorado Springs as a condition of its 1041 land use permit from Pueblo County for the Southern Delivery System. It is sponsored by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. The U.S. Geological Survey will look at the hydrological impact of dams at various points along Fountain Creek to measure the impact they would have on flows at various levels…

A second forum is scheduled at 1 p.m. Dec. 7 at Fountain City Hall. It will look at how water rights could be affected by flood control projects on Fountain Creek. The Fountain Creek district’s citizen advisory group and technical advisory committee will attend. Panelists include Kevin Rein, deputy state engineer; Mark Shea, attorney for Colorado Springs Utilities; Carol Baker, Fountain Creek specialist for Colorado Springs Utilities; Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek district; Dan Henrichs, superintendent of the High Line Canal; Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works and a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board; and Gary Barber, who has worked with Fountain Creek communities on water issues and served at the Fountain Creek district’s first executive director.

The panel will be moderated by Chris Woodka, an editor who reports on water issues for The Pueblo Chieftain.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Say hello to ImagesAtChieftain.com

imagesatchieftain.jpg

Say hello to the Chieftain’s online photo gallery. I’ve spent far too much time this morning clicking around. They’re using blogging software so they publish an RSS feed for their posts.

They have a great image of Pikes Peak from the Arkansas River valley that I’m hoping to buy.