Weather unwise

Weather conditions to disrupt transport systems throughout the world

Published: Thursday 31 August 2000

imageGlobal warming is all set to play havoc with the world’s transport systems. In the coming years, it will lead to traffic jams and delay train services, says Anthony Astbury, a scientist at Britain’s meteorological office. According to him, the atmospheric temperature will rise by a further 3Þ c in 2100, resulting in extreme weather conditions.

“In Britain, snow falls, such as the one that closed the M6 motorway for 36 hours in December 1990, will become more common,” says Astbury. But the disruption may not last long. There will be fewer dry, frosty winter mornings, but more cold nights, hence, rain and melted snow will freeze more often on the railway tracks. Heavy rain will also cause problems. The met office expects drizzles to be replaced by downpours and the number of days with more than 25 millimetres of rain to be increase by 250 per cent, causing flooding and landslides.

“Landslides could badly affect railways,” says Astbury. He further adds that lightning will become common throughout the year in Britain. “In 1999, trains were delayed four times more as compared to previous years,” says a spokesperson for Railtrack, a company which maintains Britain’s rail infrastructure. In the snow belts of the us and Russia, warmer weather will melt and freeze the snow several times during the winter, replacing compact snow with unsafe black ice, Astbury adds. This will again lead to disruption of traffic, as with proper equipment, such as snow chains, it is easy to drive on compact snow ( New Scientist , Vol 167, No 2254).

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