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Posts Tagged ‘droughts’

The Big Sur Fire Is Just the Latest Sign of Longer Fire Seasons

December 20, 2013 Comments off

motherjones.com

A park ranger directs traffic along Highway 1 as the Big Sur fire burns nearby.A park ranger directs traffic along Highway 1 as fire burns nearby. Aric Crabb/ZUMA

The fire currently burning in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California, isn’t particularly large: As of the latest Forest Service report, it has burned 769 acres and is 20 percent contained.

Nor is it particularly damaging: So far, 22 buildings or structures have been destroyed by the fire. (One was the fire chief’s home.) Compare that with the 2003 Cedar Fire in San Diego county, which destroyed 2,820 structures.

However, it is markedly unseasonal: The California wildfire season was pronounced over on October 31, 2013. But of course, it isn’t over.

In general, western wildfire seasons are getting longer. Thomas Tidwell, chief of the US Forest Service, said so directly in recent congressional testimony, noting that “the length of the fire season has increased by over two months since the 1970s.”

And of course, it doesn’t help that the Big Sur area is currently experiencing drought conditions.

It is also worth pointing out that for the state of California, seven of its 10 largest fires have occurred since the year 2000, including this year’s Rim Fire, the third largest in state history.

Here’s a helpful infographic from the Union of Concerned Scientists, showing just how much fire seasons are lengthening: Read more…

Governments falling short in drought fight: UN

March 7, 2013 Comments off

france24.com

Animal footprints are visible in dry and cracked mud on the bank of the half-full Bewl water reservoir in Kent on April 5, 2012. Governments worldwide are failing to do enough to tackle drought, which lacks the headline-making punch of a hurricane but can have an equally devastating human and economic impact, the UN weather agency warn.

Governments worldwide are failing to do enough to tackle drought, which lacks the headline-making punch of a hurricane but can have an equally devastating human and economic impact, the UN weather agency warned Thursday.

“A flood or hurricane is over within hours or days. A drought can last weeks, months, a season, a year. But droughts can cause as many deaths over time as any other natural disaster,” said Robert Stefanski, head of World Meteorological Organisation?s (WMO) agriculture division.

Droughts in recent years have struck regions ranging from the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, China, India, Mexico and Brazil to the United States, Russia and southeastern Europe.

Droughts are estimated to affect tens of millions of people and cause tens of billions of dollars in economic losses every year.

They are expected to increase in frequency, area and intensity due to climate change, yet Read more…

Wars in prospect as climate change stirs unrest, UN told

February 15, 2013 Comments off
Imagine India in 2033. It has overtaken China as the most populous nation. Yet with 1.5 billion citizens to feed, it’s been three years since the last monsoon. Without rain, crops die and people starve.

The seeds of conflict take root.

This is one of the scenarios Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, presented today to members of the United Nations Security Council in New York to show the connection between climate change and global security challenges.

Either rich nations will find a way to supply needy nations suffering from damaging climate effects “or you will have all kinds of unrest and revolutions, with the export of angry and hungry people to the industrialised countries,” Schellnhuber said in an interview.

In the Marshall Islands — site of US nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s and now being lost to Read more…

Physics professor: Past decade ‘hottest ten years ever recorded’

December 27, 2012 1 comment

rawstory.com

screen grab
 This past year’s seemingly endless stream of catastrophic storms wasn’t just a media narrative, according to Michio Kaku, a physics professor at the City University of New York.

On CBS This Morning on Thursday, Kaku discussed 2012′s “wacky weather” and how global warming, which creates more energy circulating on the planet, exacerbates destructive tornadoes, storms, hurricanes and even forest fires.

“You look at the weather patterns over the last year, and they all seem wild, extreme. What was driving that?” asked anchor Rebecca Jarvis.

“Well, when you look outside you say, ‘The weather’s on steroids,’” Kaku said. “But there’s no single aha moment where you can say, ‘Aha, this is what’s driving the whole thing.’ But what you can say is that the Earth is heating up. Which means more moisture going into Read more…

In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record

September 11, 2012 Comments off

reuters.com

(Reuters) – The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Climate Data Center said on Monday.

Each of the last 15 months has seen above-average temperatures, something that has never happened before in the 117 years of the U.S. record, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the data center.

Winter, spring and summer 2012 have all been among the top-five hottest for their respective seasons, Crouch said by telephone, and that too is unique in the U.S. record. There has never been a warmer September-through-August period than in 2011-2012, he said.

“We’re now, in terms of statistics, in unprecedented territory for how long this warm spell has continued in the contiguous U.S.,” Crouch said.

He did not specify that human-spurred climate change was the cause of the record heat. However, this kind of warmth is typical of what other climate scientists, including those at the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, have suggested would be more likely in a world that is heating up due in part to human activities.

Alyson Kenward of the non-profit research and journalism organization Climate Central said in a statement, “Extreme heat is closely tied to climate change, Read more…

Drought Hits U.S. Midwest Hard

September 6, 2012 Comments off

neiuindependent.com

  This summer, the United States experienced one of the worst droughts in history since the dustbowl. Farms went weeks on end without a drop of rain, particularly in the Midwest and, combined with high temperatures, resulted in a significant drop in harvest-ready plants. The drought affected numerous parts of the nation’s industrial sector as well as countries outside of the U.S. The United States has ample agriculture, if one part of the U.S. is experiencing drought and crop loss problems, then the whole food industry suffers as a result. While droughts are not uncommon, this summer the drought conditions were felt all over the United States, leaving almost all farms affected. As the image shows, the majority of the United States experienced at least an abnormal dryness level. The Midwest and Southwestern parts of the United States were particularly hard-hit, experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions.

The drought conditions were persistent and occurred during the maturing and harvesting periods of the country’s most important crops- corn. The USDA estimated the drought damaged crops enough to lower corn production to by 13 percent when compared to 2011 crop numbers. Corn and its by-products, is used for wheat in food, fertilizer, ethanol, beverages, animal feed and biodegradable plastics. Director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative at the University of Iowa and Agricultural Economist Kevin Kimle explained that “corn matures by about Labor Day, but what happens in dry conditions is it Read more…

China Drought 2012: Three-Year-Long Dry Spell Spreads To Southwest

April 9, 2012 Comments off
Categories: China, Droughts Tags: ,