Monday, January 15, 2007

Singapore. Global warming ideas not from an expert.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am only a humble lawyer. Not a climatologist. I am writing this as a layman. I might be wrong, and I stand corrected.

What you are seeing in Singapore now is the effect of global warming. The state controlled press of Singapore conveniently leaves out any mention of this not to cause alarm. Or rather not to affect their dictatorial control.Well you should be alarmed.

Heavy rain is one of the consequences of global warming. The state controlled press tries to skim over it, by saying it is just unusually heavy rain. The truth is , unusually heavy rain will no longer be unusual. It will be the norm. Flooding will become an everyday occurrence. Not just once in a while.

The reason for flooding is this. It is not because of bad drainage. The canals and drains there are deep and sufficient enough since a long time ago. The government has done everything they can to improve drainage. There is nothing more they can do. The problem is not drainage. It is global warming.

The sea level is rising at an unprecedented rate. When the suns rays hit the surface of the sea, the heat causing sea water temperature to rise. When the rays become hotter with global warming, the hotter the water gets. When water temperature rises, it expands. Simple physics. And when it expands the sea level rises.

Tides are caused by gravitational pull of the moon. Each day, the moon circles the earth twice. Therefore you have 2 highs and 2 low tides each day. The tides high and low water mark differences increase when the water is thinner due to expansion. This tends to increase the high tides making them even higher. When the moon is above the surface of the water, it tends to cause gravitational pull resulting in high tides. These high tides, as stated become higher when sea water temperature rises.

This is what is causing the flooding in Singapore. It is not the heavy rain. It is the heavy rain coupled with the rising tide. At high tides, the water from the sea encroaches into land through the canals and rivers. Therefore ground water cannot escape into the sea. In fact, it is the sea coming onto the land at high tides. With heavy rain, and with rising tides, the water cannot discharge into the sea no matter what the sophistication of your drainage system.

And since heavy rain is part of the consequence of global warming, flooding is now a regular feature of Singapore.

This damage is compounded by the heat at the latitudes where Singapore is. Singapore is inherently hot with or without global warming. Now with global warming the heat gets magnified even more. Water temperature in the waters of Singapore naturally, at normal time, is several degrees higher than in other places. Now this heat will rise even further causing the sea water volume to expand even further. Flooding is now normal for Singapore. Whether you like it or not, and whether the state controlled press will say it or not.

How does this effect the infra structure, the buildings and roads? Especially the older HBD flats and the very high rise buildings in downtown city will begin to find infrastructure damage. The reason is this. Heavy rain, the consequence of global warming has a 2 fold effect. First, it increases growth of plants and vegetation. This is good. This vegetation with their roots, will tend to bind and strenghten the soil providing support and prevents landslides. The downside is that the water clogged soil can only take this much soaking. The water clogged soil underneath the buildings become weak. Subterranean water begins to flow underneath the tall buildings causing the foundation to weaken. At the same time, because of the constant changes in weather from rain to heat, the water clogged subterranean soil begin to solidify when hot. In so doing it becomes brittle and weakens even further. The end result is the general weakening of foundations of tall buildings. They will eventually tilt and suffer structural damage.

Last time I was in Singapore was in July 2006. I went to Boat Quay. At high water, the water level is nearly at the top step of the river. One more step and the road will be flooded. I was at Changi Beach. At high tide, the water creeps up nearly to the Road. Changi Airport's northern end of runway 02Right and runway 20Left, 2 main runways for takeoffs and landing face the sea. I do not think the architects of Changi Airport 40 years ago had global warming in mind. In due course the runways will be flooded. They are only a few feet above water. Perhaps they may want to adapt Changi airport also to receive sea planes when the runways are flooded. I am being flippant but dire prospect is not altogether impossible.

In torrential downpour, landings and takeoffs become tricky. In heavy rain, there is almost a thick layer of water on runway surface, especially in Singapore tropical storms. Aircraft making the final approach for landing, with flaps fully extended, reduce power to slower glide speed. Slower than cruising speed but still very fast on the ground. Moments before touchdown of the rear landing gear at the "flare" stage, the power is reduced even further to idle. The pilot has very little control of the aircraft at this point until the nose wheel also touches ground by the aircraft's own momentum and gravity, as the slower airspeed moving over the aircraft surface reduces performance for turns. Any rudder movement also does not translate at these slower speeds for direction change. Just as in cars and boats, the aircraft is liable to "plane" over the water surface at high speeds. This is the phenomenon when the boat at high speeds raises above the water and slides on the surface. The same with cars on the road. If the aircraft once on the gounnd develops planing, the pilot has difficulty controlling the aircraft. This causes tremendous danger of skidding of the aircraft. The problem is compounded when it is a cross wind landing or takeoff (winds abeam of runway instead of headwind). If the aircraft begins to plane, the ability of the pilot of keeping the aircraft roll on the center line becomes difficult. The aircraft may skid completely off the runway. These are all contributed to heavy rains due to global warming.

The islands of Java and Sumatra are in active volcanic and earthquake belts, having repeatedly suffered both earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes in rapid succession in recent months. The tremors in those islands, merely a few hundred meters from Singapore are regularly felt. High rise buildings have repeatedly reported rattling and swaying as a result. This further weakens the foundation of these buildings already ravaged by regular flooding. The press repeatedly report that the buildings have not suffered any structural damage. As to what extent you can believe this, coming from a state controlled newspaper, is left up to you.

Another instance of an arrogant government thinking they know best on everything. If only they had consulted with the people.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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