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Aussie Data Centres Brace For Dust Storm Barrage 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the sand-gets-in-your-tubes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Data centers and telcos in the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane have shut off external ventilation systems, restricted loading dock access and attended false alarms after a major dust storm choked the cities today. The storm is said to be the worst of its type ever recorded in Australia. Macquarie Telecom disengaged automatic deployment of fire-prevention gas from the fire alarm to prevent gas being released on a false alarm. Other major data center operators reported clogged air filters and heat exchangers and said they would be performing cleaning and maintenance operations this week."
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Aussie Data Centres Brace For Dust Storm Barrage

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  • Might I recommend (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Kudzu? Hey, it worked eighty years ago. You've got at least fifty years before you have to worry about it choking out your native wildlife!

  • In Brisbane (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PigIronBob (885337) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:11AM (#29525571)
    You could taste it by about 11am (still can). Water restrictions will be lifted for a few days to allow people to hose things down. Latest reports suggest there is a lesser dust storm due here by Saturday. Damn Kiwis are stealing our country by stealth!
    • While New Zealand got the same storm system, it had sucked up the frigid waters of the Tasman Sea on its journey. So while it was a dust storm in Sydney, it was snow in NZ.
      • So we should pump dust into the atmosphere over the west coast of .au and hope it nucleates precipitation before leaving the country?

        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Don't wish too hard, lest your wish be granted.

          I'm old enough to have clear memories of Melbourne's '83 dust storm, and the "rain" that came with it. It's one thing when the skies turn red, but when it rains as well, that's something else altogether. If you thought the images of Sydney yesterday were somewhat apocalyptic, imagine red mud falling from the sky. That's right folks - it was like it was raining blood! Seriously weird.

          • I was there too. I don't recall the rain that time but I know that rain is always dirty because of the dust it contains.

          • Glad that didn't happen Conroy would have considered it a sign from god that he push on with the filter. :P

  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:20AM (#29525607) Journal

    That's certainly how it felt. I was up at the crack of dawn and what an eerie red dawn it was. Never seen anything like it. It was interesting that earlier in the morning near dawn it was easier to capture the dust as it was stronger where I was.

    Mind you it's nice and Sunny in Sydney today, so as usual this story's a little late.

    • by MaizeMan (1076255)
      Wow. I just can't imagine waking up to that. Now I'm off to try to track down pictures of it on flickr.
    • by linnaen (743985)
      The story isn't that late. The dust has moved North, and while it isn't as bad as you guys had it yesterday, Cairns is covered in the stuff today. I'm amazed it has moved 2500km (over 1500 miles) in such a short time and is still so noticeable, although for some reason it is not the red colour that Sydney had yesterday.
    • The submission form should have a field for "don't bother with this article after [date]"

    • For me it brought back memories of the sky during the Canberra bushfires [wikipedia.org] in 2003... Similar effect, but a shed load less worrisome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760) *
      Lived here nearly 50yrs and the climate certainly has been fucked up for the last 10 of those. In particular I now consistently get a layer of dust on my car in Melbourne in winter time. That "Mars feeling" is a good description of what it was like in Melbourne a couple of summers ago, except it was smoke from bushfires that shrouded the city for almost a month, we've had smoke/dust in the past that lasted for a day or two but not every day for 4 weeks.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        I wouldn't be so sure it is "climate" change.
        Weather does have cycles and anytime anything bad happens they blame climate change.
        I live in South Florida and we got hit by three hurricanes in two years. It had been many years since we had gotten hit. Those years where really bad years for storms and everybody screamed it was Global Warming.
        Well since then we have had below average seasons and no storms. Is global warming over?
        Actually good meteorologists said that it was part of the natural cycle and had not

        • "Those years where really bad years for storms and everybody screamed it was Global Warming. Well since then we have had below average seasons and no storms."

          The "extreme" weather predicted by models is statistically similar to the extreme highs and lows I have highlighted in the quote from your post above.

          "Is global warming over?"

          Yes, go back to sleep.
  • Sureal Images (Score:5, Informative)

    by Techman83 (949264) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:27AM (#29525651)
    This [flickr.com] was posted on one of the Aussie mailing lists I'm a member of, absolutely sureal. Wish I could have seen it, bit of a drive from the West coast and I believe they were grounding planes at one point.
    • Yup, those pix are exactly what it was like. I too was up at the crack and wondered what that weird orange light was outside. it was only when i when upstairs to look out the windows (the downstairs window faces our neighbours wall (about 3m away) that i was totally amazed.

      i ride a motorbike into the city each day from the hills district (about 30kms) and it was horrible, there was red dust everywhere. still tho' at about 0645 the traffic wasnt so bad, but my bike looked like i took it to the outback wh

    • Wow. So, Sydney looks like Blade Runner!

    • Here's a few I took on my way to work...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesswift/sets/72157622435317234/ [flickr.com]

  • The reporter who wrote the news article [itnews.com.au] says, "But all reported they had come out largely unscathed from the storm, one of the worst on record."

    These worst-on-record, high-energy climatic phenomena -- hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, dust storms, etc. -- tell the real story of global warming. Burning fossil fuels emits energy into the atmosphere. Over a long period of time, that energy dissipates into the "cold" of outer space.

    Over the past century, this injection of energy into the atmosphere was

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:46AM (#29525731)
      A) it is not the worst on record at all, it is the worst in 20 years. There have been significantly worse dust storms in Australia over the past 200 years. B) it is was NOT a high energy climatic phenomena, it is was the results of strong (but not excessive) winds over central Australia picking up the red dust, the prevailing winds happened to coincide nicely with this REGULAR outback phenomena to blow the cloud over major cities. This has about as much to do with global warming as a penguin farting in antarctica.
    • by khallow (566160)

      These worst-on-record, high-energy climatic phenomena -- hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, dust storms, etc. -- tell the real story of global warming. Burning fossil fuels emits energy into the atmosphere. Over a long period of time, that energy dissipates into the "cold" of outer space.

      The energy of all human activity including burning fossil fuels is negligible. We can't measure its global effect on temperature. Carbon dioxide is a "greenhouse gas". That is, higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere cause the atmosphere to be more reflective to some degree to infra-red radiation (more accurately, it plugs some of the "holes" leftover from water vapor) in the frequency range that is emitted by both the surface and the lower atmosphere. As I understand it, that reduces the heat radiat

      • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:39AM (#29526675) Journal
        "As I understand it, that reduces the heat radiated to space and raises the temperature at ground level by a small amount."

        Roughly one in every four CO2 molecules in the atmosphere has been put there by humans since the start of the industrial revolution, most of it in the last 50yrs.

        CO2 absorbs IR radiated from the Earth and converts it into kinetic energy, after a certain time it will remit the energy as a phioton and slow down again.

        This means that in the stratosphere where molecules are widely spaced the CO2 has a high chance of either escaping to space or remmiting a photon that escapes to space. Models (Hansen late 80's) predicted this would cause a cooling stratosphere and indeed sattelite mesurements have confirmed the predictions.

        However in the bottom 5Km of atmosphere, where our weather takes place, the molecules are packed tighter and the CO2 is more likely to lose the kinetic energy by transfering it in a random collision with another molecule.

        It's common for psuedo-skeptics such as Bob Carter to conflate the startosphere measurements with ground measurements in order to dishonestly push their adgenda.

        "I haven't heard that the temperature increase over the past few centuries is sufficient enough to cause dramatically more energetic weather. Natural variation is instead probably responsible for these extremes. Well that and the media's sudden interest in extreme weather phenomena."

        The jury is still out on observations of more severe weather but fundementally more heat means more turbulence. I don't think anyone knows how significant that extra turbulence might turn out to be but natural variation on top of the AGW trend is almost certainly feeding the seemingly constant rewriting of record books.
        • by khallow (566160)

          This means that in the stratosphere where molecules are widely spaced the CO2 has a high chance of either escaping to space or remmiting a photon that escapes to space. Models (Hansen late 80's) predicted this would cause a cooling stratosphere and indeed sattelite mesurements have confirmed the predictions.

          Sorry, but I didn't get why the stratosphere would cool since a) CO2 is absorbing more energy than otherwise would be absorbed, making the layer more energetic, and b) that energy eventually escapes to space anyway. Perhaps the problem is that I'm just thinking of the stratosphere in strictly distance terms. After all, the stratosphere is a phase change in the atmosphere not a particular height above sea level.

          This means that in the stratosphere where molecules are widely spaced the CO2 has a high chance of either escaping to space or remmiting a photon that escapes to space. Models (Hansen late 80's) predicted this would cause a cooling stratosphere and indeed sattelite mesurements have confirmed the predictions.

          The thing is the record books would be constantly rewritten anyway. Most places have at most a cen

          • "Sorry, but I didn't get why the stratosphere would cool"

            I think you answered your own question with b), as I understand it if the molecule/atom leaves earth it not only takes the aborbed IR with it but also the larger initial kinectic energy the atom/molecule had before it absorbed the IR.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rtb61 (674572)

      The dust/topsoil has nothing to do with global warming, it is all about farmers ploughing up their fields without keeping a close eye on weather forecasts (can be tricky), or failing to shift to more modern farming techniques http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-till_farming [wikipedia.org]. Sticking them with a fine, especially the large globally owned corporate farms might put an end to these man made storms.

      Oddly enough when it comes to green house impact these topsoil storms reduce global warming as they add necessary tr

      • by shplorb (24647)

        I'd say the more plausible explanation for this one is that extensive rains earlier in the year over the Lake Eyre basin resulted in fine silt being deposited over the thousands of square kilometres of floodplains as the water made its way over months towards the lake. The floods have gone and the silt has dried up then been picked up by an unusually big gust of wind that has carried it further than it normally would.

        Anyone who's spent some time out bush would have encountered at least one dust storm before

    • by cheekyboy (598084)

      All you need is another 10-20 million car owners and oil will again spike to 150-300 and more.

      Reserves of current fields are diving.

    • by ultranova (717540)

      Burning fossil fuels emits energy into the atmosphere. Over a long period of time, that energy dissipates into the "cold" of outer space.

      Burning fossil fuels emits an insignificant amount of energy in the atmosphere. However, it also puts greenhouse gasses there amongst the exhaust, which then trap Sun's heat.

      And outer space is just a few degrees above absolute zero, which is cold and not "cold" by any reasonable standard.

      Will the "cold" of outer space absorb enough surplus heat from the atmosphere at a su

  • Brisbane pics (Score:3, Informative)

    by PigIronBob (885337) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:46AM (#29525729)
    Link to Brisbane pics [brisbanetimes.com.au]
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:53AM (#29525773)

    There are some great pictures floating around, but this video [youtube.com] shows what it looks like to come on the wall of dust...

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @12:53AM (#29525775) Homepage

    If you know this is coming, get extra air filters, use the absolute kind (like 3M Filtrete [3m.com]), and be prepared to change them frequently. With absolute filters, the filters will gradually stop letting air through as they clog, so you must inspect them regularly or have clogged-filter sensors. The usual fibreglas filters don't even try to stop 100% of the particles above the filter's size limit, but they tend to still pass air even when clogged, so neglecting them doesn't stop airflow.

    And use duct tape to fix any leaks around the filters.

    Now that the US has been operating in the sandbox for years now, keeping gear going during sandstorms is well understood.

  • Oblig. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @01:56AM (#29526013)

    In Soviet Australia, outback visits you!

  • Where's the sandworms?
  • Is there anyone... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...in this thread who understands that this is not a product of global warming but that global warming does exist?

    Sheeesh.

  • While it would be inconvenient, until you have years of endless dust storms the size of states that reach nearly from coast to coast, don't act like it was the end of the world.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      A dust storm that covers blows through close to a third of a continent isn't of trivial size. How big is "the size of states", we only have 7 and for the most part they are pretty large.

  • /.'ers you disappoint me.

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