Scottish landslides blamed on global warminggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
GLOBAL warming has been blamed for the recent spate of landslides causing havoc for rail travellers across Scotland.
In the latest of more than 20 serious landslides north of the border since July, tonnes of soil and rubble collapsed on to the railway line at Carmuirs Tunnel near Falkirk at the weekend.
Yesterday it emerged that the total bill for clearing the track and walling the embankment with concrete is expected to exceed £1m.
The closure of the line, which normally carries about 230 passenger and freight trains every day, will lose the company a considerable amount of revenue.
Travellers are facing at least a fortnight of disruptions and delays, with trains for Inverness, Perth, and Aberdeen re-routed via Polmont, severely affecting the vital Glasgow-to-Edinburgh rail link.
At about midnight on Saturday, a wing wall flanking the tunnel that runs under the Forth and Clyde Canal collapsed under the sheer weight of ground saturated by months of abnormally heavy rainfall.
Engineers were working yesterday to drain nearby land to minimise the risk of further landslides.
A section of the canal has been emptied, and a platform built to allow cranes and diggers access to start clearing the 50ft heap of soil and stones.
The landslide has removed large chunks of masonry from the 154-year-old tunnel, and repairs will take several weeks to complete.
Jim Bellingham, head of investment for Railtrack Scotland, said: "We had a rainy summer, followed by a stormy October, leaving the ground heavily saturated and less able to absorb winter rains.
"There has been a build-up of water behind the wing wall on one side of the tunnel, and the earth behind the wall was saturated.
"This hydrostatic pressure built up and caused the wall to collapse, depositing tonnes of earth and mud."
Mr Bellingham said that heavy rainfall had led to a threefold increase in landslips in Scotland.
"We have obviously been aware of the climatic change over the past few years, and we have put a significant investment programme in place to deal with structures and drainage problems."
Railtrack plans to invest £53m in its structures programme, including work on embankments and cuttings, and a further £30m on drainage work in the next three years.
A new system is also being developed using satellite technology, which will provide imaging of weather patterns, including rainfall.
An extreme weather action team is already engaged in a study examining the relationship between rainfall and landslips, and works closely with the Met Office in forecasting weather patterns through a live satellite link.
However, David Evans, a lecturer in geography at Glasgow University, said that climate change was often used as a convenient scapegoat blamed for flooding and landslides.
"Landslides are not necessarily caused by extra rainfall," said Dr Evans. "If you steepen a slope artificially, the slope is going to be unstable, as the land tries to return to its natural form. Engineers attempt to restrain the slope, but their solutions are sometimes
"There are more people than ever before, and we are digging and creating more structures than ever before, so that our engineering solutions need to be modified - otherwise, if the climate continues to become warmer and wetter, we are going to see an increase in landslides and other problems. Other countries have heavy rainfall, yet do not suffer the same problems."
British Waterways has denied any connection between the Forth and Clyde Canal or the nearby Falkirk Wheel.
Jim Stirling, director Scotland at British Waterways, said: "We do not believe, and there is no evidence to suggest, that the landslip is in any way connected with the Forth and Clyde Canal or the Falkirk Wheel.
"We have drained a section of the waterway to facilitate repairs by Railtrack to the rail structure." Revised timetable Delays are expected to last for at least two weeks.
Journeys between Glasgow Queen Street and Dunblane, Stirling, Perth, Aberdeen, and Inverness will take approximately 30 minutes longer than usual.
Services between Glasgow and Edinburgh will run normally between 5.55am and 7.45am, and then reduce to half-hourly until 6.30pm.
Glasgow to Falkirk Grahamston service will start and end at Cumbernauld, with a bus service operating between Cumbernauld and Falkirk Grahamston, and Falkirk Grahamston to Falkirk High.
A half-hourly shuttle will run between Queen St, Bishopbriggs, Lenzie, and Croy.
Revised timetables on ScotRail website (www.scotrail.co.uk) and the national rail website (www.nationalrail.co.uk), or by calling 08457 484950.
-- Anonymous, November 12, 2002
Monday, November 11, 2002 Posted: 1440 GMT
Tropical future for UK gardens as climate changes
LONDON (Reuters) -- Green-fingered Britons could soon be growing bananas and avocados instead of lupins and rhododendrons as a result of climate change, according to leading horticulturists.
Long-term forecasts on climate change suggest British gardeners could face Mediterranean weather with hotter summers, droughts and warm, wet winters with the risk of flooding, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.
Lush lawns, often the pride of suburban gardens, will also come under threat, according to a new report to be published this week from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the National Trust.
The report's author, Richard Bisgrove from Reading University, said the climate changes over the next 80 years could threaten some native plants, but would also give fresh opportunities to gardeners.
"Southern England will become like Bordeaux...in domestic gardens we will see more exotic plants -- things like palms, olives and peaches."
The report is based on trends set out in the government's UK Climate Impacts Program.
-- Anonymous, November 12, 2002