China says it’s building islands and airstrips in the South China Sea for better weather forecasts


Originally posted on Quartz:

China’s recent island-building spree, the focus of tensions with its neighbors as well as the United States, is all for the sake of better weather forecasting, Chinese officials say.

Over the past two years, China has dredged up over 2,000 acres of land from what was once open sea and constructed brand new islands that will house airstrips and helipads. Critics say the construction, at an estimated seven sites near the disputed Spratly Islands, is an attempt to bolster Beijing’s territorial claims as well as provide a base for potential military operations against its rivals.

“The construction of infrastructure for observation and communication is the first step towards enhancing and improving marine meteorological monitoring, warning, forecasting, prediction and scientific research,” Ding Yihui of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told the People’s Daily over the weekend. The head of China’s Meteorological Administration, Zheng Guoguang, said the facilities were for the benefit of a region…

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Australia: Victoria – Bushfire Crisis


With major bushfires burning around the country – Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria especially – conditions are expected to worsen before they get better. Australia is in the grip of a major heatwave with temperatures well into the forties and approaching the fifty degrees celsius mark in many areas. It has been this way for weeks in Outback Australia and is expected to continue for some time.