HAMNET Report 15th August 2021


Now it is the turn of the Americas to get their share of the tropical storms. Given the unlikely names of Fred and Kevin, Tropical Depression Fred is currently moving North-west, and likely to be affecting Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and then Florida by now. At the time of writing this, Fred’s wind speeds had not reached 100km/h yet.

And Tropical Depression Kevin, is moving North-west in the Pacific ocean, parallel to the coast of Mexico, currently with wind speeds of about 95km/h. There is no danger to human life yet.

I don’t know about you, but I’m struggling to take a tropical storm named “Fred” seriously!

Flooding, however, is always serious. A report from Phys.org notes the causes, patterns and effects of disastrous river floods.  An international group of researchers led by GFZ hydrologist Bruno Merz has investigated this question in a review article published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment. The short answer: It’s complicated. What is certain, however, is that there is an opposing trend of property damage and personal injury. Since the 1990s, the number of fatalities from river floods has declined worldwide, but the amount of damage has risen sharply. The researchers attribute the decline in casualties to improved flood warning, technical protection measures and heightened hazard awareness.

Asia is the worst hit by floods worldwide: “More than ninety percent of the people affected by flood disasters live in Asia,” says Bruno Merz. The head of GFZ’s Hydrology Section cites a few reasons: “There are huge floodplains of large rivers there, and that’s exactly where many people live together.”

On a long-term average, 125 million people are affected by a disastrous river flood every year. They have to leave their homes, suffer financial losses, are injured, or are even killed. The most dramatic events are those where dams or dikes suddenly break, with flash floods such as the recent ones in Germany and Belgium. The global economic losses from flooding of about 100 billion USD result from both major flood disasters and many smaller, less dramatic events, i.e., as a cumulative effect.

As far as the causes are concerned, the researchers have identified a whole network of factors. These include socioeconomic reasons (poverty, population growth, and higher values in flood-prone regions) as well as natural ones, above all climate change. However, for an extreme weather event to become a disastrous flood, other conditions must be added, such as a lack of awareness of hazards or non-existent or failing protection and warning systems. “The primary focus must therefore be on reducing the vulnerability of communities,” says Bruno Merz. The decline in the number of victims worldwide in recent decades shows that progress is being made here, he adds.


At the other extreme, Algeria is struggling to cope with severe fires. Gregg Mossop G0DUB, reports that he has received a communique, which states that, following the extraordinary meeting of the ARA EC and the ORSEC commission held on Wednesday night by videoconference, an intervention plan came into effect on Thursday in Ouacif (Tizi-Ouzou), where an ARA team was dispatched to the scene of the incident, at which the communication network is very weak.
The role of the piloting station at the ARA headquarters is to communicate emergency needs between the mobile station currently located in Ouacif and the crisis unit in Tamda. The mobile station reports its movement in the areas affected by the fires to communicate the needs of the affected villagers.

Frequencies are 7110 KHz, 3650 KHz and 14300 KHz.
This report was sent by Afif Ben Lagha, 7X2RO ARA president.

Here’s a nice story from the Philippines where 20 dogs are about to begin training as rescue dogs. Enquirer.net reports from Ligao City that the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard are training 20 Belgian Malinois Shepherds and Jack Russell terriers to turn them into searchers and rescuers during disasters.

“We want to be ready at all times when it comes to responding to emergencies particularly during the search, retrieval, and rescue operations,” Senior Superintendent Ricardo Perdigon, BFP Bicol director, said Monday.

He said the Search and Rescue Dog Training Course, which started Friday, Aug. 6, at the BFP training school in Tuburan village here, would make the BFP personnel more competent in disaster risk preparedness.

“These dogs will be very useful in looking for missing persons, things, etc., in preparation for the Big One (a major earthquake) and other disasters that might happen,” he said.

Fire Chief Inspector Glenn Rodriqueza, battalion commander of the BFP special rescue force, said the training of the dogs would last for six months.

“We would like to thank some of the private citizens for donating their dogs, which they considered as heroes,” he said, explaining that most of the dogs were donated.

BFP from Romblon, Zamboanga City, and Bicol region are participating in the event.

I like the idea of training Jack Russells – they can smell and find a discarded pork pie at about 10km!

If you’re in a hurry to get an answer back from an extra-terrestrial intelligence, to one of our broadcasted signals, I have bad news for you. Myrtle Frost, writing in The Cleveland American says that, if an alien technological civilization heard any transmission from Earth, it would take around 3,000 years to get an answer.

It is the calculation of the Harvard astronomers Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb, who addressed the question – in a study published in arXiv , –  following the example of the Copernicus Principle, which establishes that humanity and the Earth are representative of the norm (and not outliers). Loeb recently launched an initiative to search for techno-signatures of civilizations in space.

In this study, Siraj and Loeb focused on a particular aspect of SETI, which they called the Search for Extraterrestrial Response Intelligence (SETRI). By this, they refer to extraterrestrial intelligences that would be motivated to send messages to Earth in response to the detection of technological activity on our planet. This addresses an issue of growing importance to the SETI community.

In short, does humanity ever have the chance to hear of a civilization in another world before ours collapses or is wiped out by a natural disaster?

Put another way: When can we expect our first cosmic conversation to take place?

Your guess is as good as mine!

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