HAMNET Report 4th April 2021

Reliefweb.int reports that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers has endorsed the offer by Mozambique to host the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) which will be responsible for facilitating enhanced regional disaster risks preparedness, response and early recovery to support Member States affected by disasters.

The Council of Ministers held a virtual meeting on 12th March, 2021 to discuss policies, strategies and programmes geared towards consolidating SADC regional integration in fulfilment of Council’s mandate as spelt out in Article 11 of the SADC Treaty. Honourable Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Mozambique, chaired the meeting in her capacity as the Chairperson of the SADC Council of Ministers.

The SADC Council noted that the SHOC will enhance the coordination of support towards Member States affected by disasters.

The SADC Region has over the years stressed the need to strengthen climate resilience as well as general preparedness against natural disasters such as droughts, cyclones and floods. These multiple hazards have highlighted the importance of cooperation and coordinated response, as well as the need to come up with innovative mechanisms to strengthen resilience, preparedness and responsiveness for disasters, including pandemics, epidemics and related hazards.

In the past few decades, the SADC Region has experienced an increasing frequency and severity of droughts, floods, cyclones and locusts that have been attributed to climate change and variability, resulting in food insecurity and other socio-economic impacts.

The Region has faced a number of weather-related phenomena such as tropical cyclones which caused extensive flooding in SADC Member States such as the Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Cyclone Idai, which hit the Region in 2020, was recorded as one of the worst tropical storms ever to affect Africa and the southern hemisphere.

The 2019 annual report of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said 91 percent of all major disasters and 77 percent of economic losses from natural disasters during the year were attributed to extreme weather events.

This percentage is expected to increase as the World Meteorological Organisation has projected that global temperatures would rise by between three and five degrees Celsius by 2100.

In FreeNews, John Kessler has written about the new ionospheric weather prediction capabilities which Russia will have with its Satellite System “Arktica-M”.

He says: “The instruments of the complex installed on the “Arktika-M” will monitor the characteristics of the near-earth environment during solar flares and geomagnetic storms.

“Space weather affects the conditions of radio communications, and the setting of flight restrictions for aircraft pilots. If it is predicted, then it is possible to prepare for incidents on power grids and exclude events when large-scale power outages occur due to strong magnetic storms.” End quote.

Alexey Kovalev, chief designer of the RKS heliogeophysical instrumentation complex, has said:

“GGAK-VE should measure the values of the Earth’s magnetic field in orbit, [and] cosmic fluxes of electrons and protons. Some of the measurements will be carried out for the first time. The complex was created in cooperation with the leading institutes of the industry: the Institute of Applied Geophysics named after academician E.K. Fedorov, the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the D.V. Skobeltsin Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov. The complex has unified instruments that also operate in a continuous mode on the Electro-L geostationary spacecraft.”

John continues: “The space system ‘Arktika-M’ will continuously provide operational information about the state of the atmosphere and surface of the Arctic region of the Earth to the Hydro-Meteorological Centre of Russia.

“This will improve the accuracy of the models when making short-term weather forecasts, help track emergencies and carry out environmental monitoring of the environment.”

Thanks to John Kessler for this report.

Now when last did you drop an expensive radio and feel your heart sink into your boots? Well NASA is quite happy about what they’re going to drop.

Nasa.gov says engineers will drop a 6350kg test version of the Orion spacecraft into the “Hydro Impact Basin” at NASA’s Langley Research Centre’s Landing and Impact Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia at 1:45 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 6. (What is a Hydro Impact Basin, I hear you ask? Well, that means they’re going to drop it into a dammetjie of water!)

The test will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, and will livestream on multiple agency social media platforms, including the Facebook channels for Orion and Langley.

This series of drop tests began March 23 to finalize computer models for loads and structures prior to the Artemis II flight test, NASA’s first mission with crew aboard Orion. Artemis II will carry astronauts around the Moon and back, paving the way to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface and establish a sustainable presence at the Moon under the Artemis programme. The current test series builds on previous tests and uses a configuration of the crew module based on the spacecraft’s final design.

Thank you to Southgate Amateur Radio News for alerting me to that one.

The promotion of electric cars has dramatically increased the demand for lithium-ion batteries. However, cobalt and nickel, the main cathode materials for the batteries, are not abundant. If the consumption continues, it will inevitably elevate the costs in the long run, so scientists have been actively developing alternative materials. A joint research team co-led by a scientist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has developed a much more stable, manganese-based cathode material. The new material has higher capacity and is more durable than the existing cobalt and nickel cathode materials—90% of capacity is retained even when the number of charging-recharging cycles doubled. Their findings shed light on developing low cost and high efficiency manganese-based cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries.

“The capacity of the LiCoO2 cathode material currently applied in electronic products like smartphones is about 165mAh/g, while our LiMnO2 cathode material has already achieved a capacity as high as 254.3mAh/g, which is much higher,” Dr. Liu, head of the research team, and assistant Professor in the Department of Physics (PHY) at CityU elaborated. “It is difficult for commercial LiCoO2 to maintain 90% capacity even at 1,000 cycles. And our material has achieved high capacity retention of 90.4% after 2,000 cycles, demonstrating a long cycle life,” he added.

The net effect would be to allow more recharge cycles of your lithium battery, and reduce the demand for this scarce material. Sounds promising to me..

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.