Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Dry We Are

It's an El Nino year, which means a variation from "normal" weather conditions, whatever normal means these days, with global warming.  El Nino is the name for the thermal pattern of the Pacific ocean (on 5 to 7 year cycles) that result in a wetter than normal weather on the eastern side of the Pacific (Yep--  Southern California got some really strange rainfall this year) and drier weather on the western side.  La Nina is the name applied to the opposite phase of the cycle.
The news reports that it has been extremely dry here in Singapore from its normal (See Driest February on Record), which has resulted in a number of range/forest fires occurring here, and in Malaysia and Indonesia.  The fires have caused some air quality issues--  Elaine and I went for a walk one evening around sunset last week, and noticed an extremely orange, hazy sky.  The fires are not a big headline in the news, so I suspect they are a slow smoldering burn, rather than the blazing infernos that we have seen in the western U.S. forests and range land in recent years.  (In 2007 Idaho experienced a burn of 5% of its total land area).  Apparently I cannot escape bad air quality that follows me around the planet.

Sunset from Mount Faber Park in sourthern Singapore.  Not greatly apparent from this photo, but there is considerable smoke and haze in the air, from fires in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Dry is apparently a relative term--  the humidity level has maintained 65% to 70% each day, which is pretty wet by my reference.  I wonder what La Nina  conditions are like?

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