HAMNET Report 30th May 2021

India is in the wars again. They are now experiencing a second Tropical Cylone, Cyclone YAAS-21, this one moving northwards in the Bay of Bengal, and striking India close to the Border with Bangladesh.

It came ashore over the northern coast of Odisha on 26th May, with flooding also in West Bengal, closing airports and forcing cancellation of train services. At least 22000 houses were damaged, 15000 people displaced, some deaths reported, and continuing heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast for all the northeastern states of India. Ten million people were in the path of the storm and its peripheral wind and rain.

YAAS forced the evacuation of more than 1.2 million people in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha.

The Indian Meteorological Department said landfall began around 9:00 am (0330 GMT) and warned that it would generate waves higher than rooftops in some areas. Coastal areas experienced wind gusts up to 155 kilometres an hour and pounding rain.

“We have been experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds since last night,” said Bibhu Prasad Panda, a resident of Balasore district in the storm’s path. “Several trees have been uprooted. The cyclone has also led to snapping of overhead electricity cables.”

A tornado that preceded the storm left two dead electrocuted as it tore through West Bengal’s Hooghly district, authorities said. Kolkata, West Bengal’s main city, ordered its international airport to shut down for most of Wednesday. The airport in Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar, followed suit.

“Every life is precious,” said Odisha’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik as he appealed for people not to “panic” and to move away from the coast.

A record 4,800 disaster workers had been positioned in the two states, equipped with tree and wire cutters, emergency communications, inflatable boats and medical aid, the National Disaster Response Force said.

It just doesn’t stop for the unfortunate Indian nation.

Here’s an interesting bit of research. The website Phys.org reports that adverse encounters between police officers and young men from underrepresented backgrounds garner significant national attention around topics of social justice and have been called a matter of public health by several organizations. Now, with a new, four-year, $2.75 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, an interdisciplinary team of researchers aims to examine transcripts of police radio communications to observe what happens during these encounters and study any patterns of interaction that may lead to unfortunate or tragic outcomes.

“We’re hoping to identify signals in language, such as vocabulary and discourse, that suggest an encounter between a law enforcement officer and a male minority youth will take a turn for the worse,” said Shomir Wilson, assistant professor in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology. “Language conveys a lot of information about a person’s frame of mind, their actions, their mood and their level of comfort.”

Working with experts in human development from the University of Chicago, Wilson will lead a Penn State team to use natural language processing to draw insights from Chicago-area police scanner transcripts at a large scale. His team will also carefully examine the privacy ramifications of police communications by radio in general and the dataset specifically.

“Law enforcement officers frequently use their radios to report what they encounter, and they use a combination of standard jargon and freeform language to quickly describe situations,” said Wilson. “We want to go beyond the literal descriptions and try to infer what police are thinking and assuming during encounters. If we can do that, it’s a step toward identifying strategies that will de-escalate adverse encounters.”

The interdisciplinary project will combine research in natural language processing, computational social science, and privacy. Penn State’s contribution will include developing automated methods to sort through a large volume of transcripts, using supervised and unsupervised machine learning to explore the transcripts, and studying how incidents are structured to be able to identify distinguishing characteristics in language that may predict incident outcomes. The Penn State team will also identify potentially sensitive data and determine the best approach for sharing it with the research community while also protecting the identities of those involved.

I wonder whether it would be possible to extrapolate this kind of research to a country with 11 separate languages. In that it is quite possible that the law enforcement officer’s mother tongue is different from that of the suspected perpetrator of an illegal deed, the likelihood is high that nor the officer nor the civilian will understand nuances in the other’s use of language, and misunderstanding is highly likely. But if it raises awareness in the minds of the trained forces as to what they may be intimating while interacting with their “suspects”, it will be all to the good, and unnecessary violence may be avoided.

The ARRL Letter of May 27th reports that HamSCI is looking for radio amateurs to record time-standard stations during the June 2021 annular solar eclipse across the Arctic Circle as part of a citizen science experiment. Researchers will use the crowd-sourced data to investigate the superimposed effects of auroral particle precipitation and the eclipse on HF Doppler shift.

Participants would collect data using an HF radio connected to a computer running open-source software. A precision frequency standard, such as a GPS-disciplined oscillator, is desirable but not required to participate. Radio amateurs and shortwave listeners around the globe are invited to take part, even stations far from the path of totality. Last year’s eclipse festivals included more than 100 participants from 45 countries.

The experiment will run June 7 – 12. All participants will receive certificates as well as updates as the data is processed. This is a pilot experiment for HamSCI’s Personal Space Weather Station project, which seeks to develop a global network monitoring the geospace environment

This eclipse will be an unusual annular or “ring of fire” eclipse. This occurs when the moon is too far from Earth to fully block the sun, but will fit entirely within it. The eclipse path will cross over the North Pole, so it first will travel north and then south.

The HamSCI convenors encourage anybody from any part of the globe to go to their website, and download the software to use with their HF radio, because eclipse effects on HF don’t only occur in the path of the eclipse, and careful observation may reveal unexpected worldwide effects.

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