HAMNET Report 27th March 2022

Our HAMNET National Director, Grant Southey, has passed on a message received on Thursday from Carlos Nora CT1END, who holds a similar post in Portugal, referring to a large amount of seismic activity on the island of Sao Jorge, in the Azores, where a group of radio amateurs are working to prevent damage and support emergency communications in the towns of Vela and Calheta. Carlos asks us all in Region One of the IARU to be aware of, and keep clear, the frequencies they will be using, namely:

80m – 3.750 – 3.760MHz. LSB (Overnight)
40m – 7.100 – 7.110MHz. LSB (During the day)
20m – 14.300MHz. USB (For outside the region)

The mid-Atlantic island has been rattled by thousands of small earthquakes in recent days, and there are fears that the more than 10,000 tremors recorded since last Saturday could trigger a volcanic eruption or a powerful quake. About 200 of the recorded earthquakes, with a magnitude of up to 3.3, have been felt by the population.

The region’s CIVISA seismo-volcanic surveillance centre raised the volcanic alert to Level 4 on Wednesday, meaning there is a “real possibility” the volcano could erupt for the first time since 1808.

Meanwhile, the chief of the United Nations announced a project on Wednesday to put every person on Earth in range of early weather-warning systems within five years as natural disasters have grown more powerful and frequent due to climate change.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the project with the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization aims to make the alert systems already used by many rich countries available to the developing world.

“Today, one-third of the world’s people, mainly in least-developed countries and small-island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems,” Guterres said. “In Africa, it is even worse: 60% of people lack coverage.”

“This is unacceptable, particularly with climate impacts sure to get even worse,” he said. “We must boost the power of prediction for everyone and build their capacity to act.”

Early warning systems allow for the monitoring of real-time atmospheric conditions at sea and on land as a way of predicting upcoming weather events — whether in cities, rural areas, mountain or coastal regions, and arid or polar locations.

Expanding their use has taken on urgency because more lead time allows people to prepare for potentially deadly disasters such as heat waves, forest fires, flooding and tropical storms that can result from climate change.

A World Meteorological Organization report on disaster statistics released last year showed that over the last half-century or so, a climate or water-related disaster has occurred daily on average, resulting in an average of 115 deaths and R2 Billion in losses a day.

The U.N., its partners and many governments are striving to reach an increasingly evasive target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Guterres has instructed WMO, the U.N. weather agency, to push forward an “action plan” on the early warning system by the next U.N. climate conference, which is scheduled to take place in Egypt in November.

WMO plans to build on some of its existing programs like a multi-hazard alert system for hazards such as tropical cyclones, flooding and coastal inundation, as well as an early warning system that helps inform people most at risk of some kinds of disasters, the U.N. said.

Here’s a bit of history of how time zones came to be established. Did you know that it was the study of Auroras that started the search for a worldwide time system?

Astronomers and meteorologists of the 1800s worked for years to understand the auroras, wondering if they were a feature of Earth’s atmospheric weather, of outer space, or, perhaps, something that straddled the boundary in-between. In the 1870s, the man leading the quest to understand the aurora borealis was Cleveland Abbe. As a meteorologist and astronomer, he was also involved in geophysics research, and a powerful solar storm in April 1874 presented him with a unique opportunity to study the northern lights.

On April 7, 1874, one of these storms caused a particularly memorable display and Abbe jumped at the opportunity to study the aurora, hoping to learn, if possible, its altitude above the Earth, and compare it to concurrent weather phenomena and magnetic observations.

To carry out this task, Abbe needed multiple data points – in other words, he needed observations from multiple sites across the country. Luckily, due to his position as a weather prediction guru, Abbe already maintained a network of contacts across the USA who helped him gather meteorological data for his weather reports. That night, Abbe put them to work observing the northern lights instead. This team was made up of about 80 public volunteers and 20 expert observers, making this project an early example of a “citizen science collaboration”.

The project didn’t all go as planned, however. The problem, Abbe discovered, was that these volunteers, scattered as they were across the country, took their observations using their own local time systems. As a result, comparing the observations to each other in order to draw useful conclusions was frightfully difficult.

A few years later, Abbe received a letter from a Canadian railroad engineer, Sandford Fleming, who was also trying to find a way to standardize time, in his case to keep cross-continental railroads running in sync. Together, Abbe and Fleming (among others) took their idea to Congress, petitioning them to legally establish time zones in the United States. The railways adopted them first, in November 1883. A year later, an international conference held in Washington D.C. established a global prime meridian for timekeeping at Greenwich. Over the next few decades, countries around the world began adopting time zones, in some form or other, based on this meridian.

Today, time zones are ubiquitous. Their origin is often attributed to the railroads, and that’s partially true, but it’s worth remembering that time zones also grew out of the needs of curious people attempting to understand our world and its place in the Universe. Cleveland Abbe and his small group of citizen scientists, who just wanted a better way to keep time while they watched the northern lights dance overhead, literally changed the world we live in. It’s a cheerful thought, and speaks to the power of curiosity and collaboration to make a difference.

Thank you to Universetoday.com for these excerpts from their article.

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