Geography Inquiry - Myanmar (Burma)

By Wendy Ou 720

My Question:

I will be focusing on storms and cyclones for my inquiry on Myanmar.


My question is:

How do both nature and humans affect the frequency and damage of storms and cyclones in Myanmar? Who is worse and how?

December 28

Below are 2 graphs I found (from: http://www.preventionweb.net/countries/mmr/data/ and they are screenshots), showing the natural disaster causes of deaths and economic issues. Storms are not the most common disaster in Myanmar (floods are), but have the biggest impact.
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January 1

Here are some of my jot notes on cyclones and the climate of Myanmar:


-storms/cyclones cause most damage of all disasters

-myanmar is “most at risk“ country in southern asia

-since 1947 36 cyclones happened

-worst one: cyclone nargis 2008

-highest risk during may

-formed by warm oceans, should be above 26.5 degrees

-must have proper winds

-myanmar near bay of bengal+indian ocean

-human greenhouse gases warm air, cause cyclones too

-nov.-feb.:warm during days, dry air

-march-may:hottest time

-unlikely to have rain during hot/cool seasons

-june-oct.:monsoon season, heavy rain, mostly in bay of bengal, yangon, irrawady delta

-less rain/more sunshine during sept.-oct.

-less humid during cool season

-feb.-beginning of rainy season, dusty air

January 5

More research:


-population growing, not developed well

-very vulnerable to climate change

-being near bay of bengal has bigger risk

-cyclone season from april-dec.

-cyclones go west from bay of bengal then curve to the east

-air/oceans warmed by sun creates cyclones (so stronger sun=higher risk. Could humans be affecting the heat of the sun?) how do humans warm oceans vs nature?

-ocean temperature risen by 0.1°C over last century (700 m deep)

-already seen by experts that global warming=stronger/more frequent cyclones

-humans released enough CO2 to stay in air for decades even if emissions stop completely

Still January 5

Today I contacted the CFE DMHA. I read a cyclone disaster plan they wrote, so they must know some useful information. This is what I asked them:


How do cyclones form and travel?

What affect the path of their travel?

Do you know any patterns of the cyclones of the past in Myanmar?

Is it true that human activity (global warming/climate change, air pollution) has created stronger cyclones? If so, how has the climate and the pollution levels in Myanmar changed over time?

How are the citizens of Myanmar affecting the cyclones in other ways?



I am now waiting for a reply

Still^

This is a graph I found (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/images/science/models-observed-human-natural.png). This was a while before some of the strongest cyclones to hit Myanmar, but I would only think that climate change is getting worse. If it was getting warmer in the past, it probably is still going. Climate change can impact the strength and frequency of cyclones, so that is why I wanted to show this. The graph shows the really fat lines for Natural and Human factors and Natural Factors only for climate change, each moving pretty far apart. It is a bit difficult to tell how much worse one is, but in the website (http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html), it says that humans are most likely the main cause for this. I will be researching more about climate change since it is a cause of cyclones, so this graph will help my inquiry a lot.
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January 6

Some of my research on climate change (can cause cyclones):


factors of climate change:

-changes in greenhouse effect

-changing energy of sun

-changing of earth's reflectivity

-wide climate range

-natural changes before industrial revolution (changes in solar energy, volcanic eruptions, natural greenhouse gas changes)

-since mid-1900's, climate change not only because of nature

-human carbon dioxide emissions concentrated the greenhouse gases

-countries on coast of bay of bengal have the highest record of disasters

^ Still

These are pictures of Myanmar's deadliest cyclone, Cyclone Nargis. The first 2 are satellite images. The third is showing the path of the cyclone. It also shows the categories it enters as it travels. The red circles are a category 4, the big orange ones are a 3, the smaller orange ones are a 2, the yellow circles are a 1, and the green circles are just tropical storms.

January 7

My inquiry is due tomorrow, so I guess this is all of my research unless I decide to do more today.


-about 8/10 deadliest storms believed to be from bay of bengal

-bay of bengal does not form the most cyclones, but most destructive ones

geography is part of why bay of bengal cyclones are so bad:

-semi closed bay, likely to hit land if surrounded

-coast is low and highly populated

-risen from 0.01 emissions per capita to 0.21 metric tons per person of pollution in 2004

-a lot compared to other countries

-83% comes from fossil fuels

January 7 Still

This is the paragraph to conclude my inquiry research:


In conclusion, from my research, I would say that nature has been responsible for cyclones, but humans are making it worse. Myanmar pollutes a lot, so the citizens are probably “helping” make stronger cyclones. Cyclones have obviously been happening for a long time but it has been proven that climate change/global warming and CO2 emissions from humans have created more and worse cyclones.


My question: How do both nature and humans affect the frequency and damage of storms and cyclones in Myanmar? Who is worse and how?


Cyclones (they are just hurricanes but called different names when formed over different bodies of water) are created when warm, moist air rises, creating low air pressure below. Then more air moves in, warms up, rises, and keeps going like that as the air swirls around the centre “eye”. The water below must be at least 26.5 °C to fuel a cyclone. A cyclone to hit Myanmar would spin counterclockwise because it is in the northern hemisphere.


I research about cyclones, the climate of Myanmar, climate change, factors of climate change, and the place where Myanmar's cyclones form, the Bay of Bengal.


Cyclones forming over the Bay of Bengal are unusually destructive compared to the rest. About 8 out of 10 of the world's deadliest cyclones are believed to have been from the Bay of Bengal. It may not create the most, but the cyclones are some of the most powerful.


One big thing that causes cyclones is heat. Cyclones usually form near the equator for this reason, and also is why oceans must be a certain temperature to form a cyclone. Heat is created by humans in many ways, and as many people know, global warming is getting bad and the Earth is becoming warmer and warmer. Many say that this is one of the leading causes of stronger and more frequent cyclones, so I focused on climate change for some of my research.


Humans create a lot of global warming, so much that even if we completely cut off all CO2 emissions right now, it would remain for decades. Also, the area around Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal is vulnerable to climate change. The whole coast is, probably, because they are all at a high risk of disaster. Not only that, Myanmar pollutes a lot compared to other countries. In 2004, the level of CO2 emissions rose by a lot more and was greater than the amount of many other countries for a short time.


The location of Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal is also a reason. The Bay of Bengal is semi-closed, and the coast is low, and highly populated. This means a cyclone would strike many people. Though they are very devastating, they would appear worse if they come close to the coast.


Nature is what causes cyclones, but humans make it worse by warming the planet. Cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons everywhere could happen less if CO2 emissions were decreased.

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