Sunday reading

A few interesting nuggets about air travel gleaned from a number of sources.

  • You are asked to pull up the window shades when you land or take off. Why? Most passengers looking out of windows often spot emergency issues as they occur. Also, should the unlikely event take place, an opened window shade allows both rescuer and rescued to look in/out of the cabin.
  • Dimming of lights for landing or takeoff – again this has to do with safety, but believe it or not, it has more to do with getting passengers’ to be able to focus to darkness better than if the lights were all on. Similar to having the shades up to allow natural light in, the idea is to let the passengers in the cabin have less “acclimatization” to light conditions in the unlikely event of an emergency.
    Window shades
    The 787 Dreamliner has no shades

    So this means no need to be hassled to pull your shades up.

  • What about that little hole at the bottom of the seat window? As the windows are doubled paned, the hole is a “breather” to facilitate pressure differentials between the outer pane and the inner one. It is also there is help prevent the window from fogging up.

An interesting term in an article today at the Singapore Straits times – speed grazing.

While that in itself sound provocative, what caught my attention was the fact that Western Australia has a history of making wines for more than 180 years! Specifically Swan valley though. We’ve been to these parts (not technically Swan valley but very close) and it is hot. Sun baked is a more appropriate word to describe the summers here. And it is dry, so much in fact that our skin was itching and flaking off if not for the moisturizers that Suan brought along.

One thing did wonder through my mind. Where do the wineries obtain the vast quantities of water to feed these cash crops? Aside from grapes, there is apparently an abundance of agricultural produce here.

Imagine the burden on the water table, the Margaret and Swan rivers. In recent years you might have heard of the drought that has afflicted Australia, and abnormal weather had wrecked havoc in various parts of the continent at different times. The last I was in Australia was October 2014 to the northern end of Queensland for a military exercise. It’s a miracle to find trees and “savannah” surviving so well in the outback where is seemingly never rains! So this appears to be in many parts of the driest continent on earth.Australia rainfall

This island continent is affected by four main drivers:

  • Cold ocean currents off the west coast (where Perth is located), coming from the Great southern ocean, which means less evaporation from the seas and thus less humidity building up – ie rising to form clouds.
  • Low elevation of landforms which does not “draw” in a lot of nimbus clouds – ie those low altitude heavy clouds that leads to rain. And the fact that despite being higher in elevation, the western part is a plateau.
  • Dominance of high-pressure systems – this one’s a difficult one to understand and requires a little in-depth research as to the reasons the zone around latitude 30°S is subject to more intense pressure.
  • Shape of the landmass – which is interesting, because meteorological studies suggest very little moist air penetrate inland. Perhaps that’s why the great interior of the continent is a mix of desert and savannah vegetation.

In fact it is a an on-going problem in Australia with soil salinity, as irrigation and the depletion of riverine sources of water has led to increased accumulation of salt in the top soils.

Australia landmass
See how the greens hug the coastal fringes of the island

Western Australia is no exception to this and the threat it has on industries such as wine making can be catastrophic. Conflicts could become more prevalent, and like the water wars in California or between states in the Southwest (US), lead to acrimony between people, industry and government.

Great stuff this article worked up an appetite to look into geology and geography, my other “love” aside from history and antiquities.

Author: Mel & Suan

Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!

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