Environment

Somalia Famine

The U.N. issued a special alert as the specter of famine rose in Somalia due to the failure of last fall’s rainy season as well as the one this spring.

More than 2 million people are threatened with severe hunger later this year, along with the many head of livestock the population depends upon for food and livelihood.

“Herders in the worst drought-affected areas, such as central Galgaduud and in northern Bari and Sanaag regions, have been forced to slaughter the offspring of their goats and sheep,” said U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Somalia representative Serge Tissot.

Plastic Houses

A Mexican engineer says he has an easy and useful way to recycle the untold tons of plastic pollution that now litter virtually every corner of the planet.

Ramón Espinosa says his company, Ecoplástico Ambiental, can convert the ubiquitous debris into strong sheets of “plastic wood,” which can be used to build homes, furniture and a variety of other objects.

He says the formed plastic not only insulates, it also doesn’t crack or degrade, meaning that homes made of it could last for 150 years.

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Drought

Drought – North Korea

North Korea is currently experiencing a challenging food insecurity situation. Unusually little precipitation during the winter and spring so far is posing a serious threat to the spring harvest, at a time when the harvest in 2018 was the worst in a decade. Entering 2019, North Korea has experienced unusually erratic weather conditions with little precipitation, limiting the soil moisture for growth of winter and planting of spring crops as well as replenishment of water reservoirs for irrigation. North Korea is already suffering from a protracted food crisis, making the population vulnerable to any further losses of harvest or food. Food production in 2018 in DPRK was the lowest over the past decade.

According to Joint Rapid Food Security Assessment, following the worst harvest in 10 years, due to dry spells, heatwaves and flooding, it is estimated that 10.1 million people (40 percent of the population) are food insecure and in urgent need of food assistance. The situation could further deteriorate during the lean season from May to September, if no proper and urgent humanitarian actions are taken.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the Southern Hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 22s (Joaninha), located approximately 748 nm east-southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius, is tracking south-southeastward at 10 knots.

Drought – Philippines

Recent PAGASA’s climate monitoring and analyses indicate that the unusually warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (CEEP) which started since November 2018 is expected to become a full-blown El Nino. During the past three months, rainfall analyses showed that impacts of below normal rainfall conditions in provinces of Western Mindanao and Ilocos Norte were already experienced and are expected to continue. Drought conditions are being reported in the MIMAROPA Region, Region IX, and Region XII, BARMM and Metro Manila, where ten provinces have declared a State of Calamity according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

There are no current tropical storms.

NewsBytes:

New York, USA – Buffalo Creek in West Seneca floods after ice jam. West Seneca Police said residents should take “necessary precaution” following an ice jam downstream in the Buffalo Creek. The water had not yet crested.

Queensland, Australia – Devastating flooding in northeast Australia has forced thousands of people from their homes and brought snakes and crocodiles onto the streets as authorities warn of strong winds and more rain on the way. Much of the city of Townsville in Queensland state is flooded, with residents left without power and some compelled to seek safety on the roofs of their homes. Intense rain on Sunday forced authorities to open the floodgates on the Ross River Dam to relieve pressure, releasing around 1,900 cubic meters of water per second downriver. Hundreds of homes in Townsville have already been inundated, 7 News reported, and there are fears between 10,000 and 20,000 properties could be at risk from the coming bad weather. To make matters worse for the terrified residents fleeing their homes, there have been numerous sightings of crocodiles and snakes being swept along with the floodwaters

Drought in Southern Africa

Affected countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Since the start of the 2018/19 cropping season in October, anomalous dry conditions have developed across parts of Southern Africa, with more intense moisture deficits registered in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, in addition to the western parts of Madagascar. Although there are a few months remaining in the cropping season, with the main harvest period usually commencing in April, the impact of the reduced rains is expected to have caused a contraction in the area planted and lowered yield prospects, particularly in the aforementioned areas. Heavier rainfall since mid‑December provided some respite and helped to alleviate moisture deficits, but concurrently resulted in localized flooding in parts of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Approximately 10.8 million people were facing severe food insecurity in Southern Africa as 2018 came to an end. In Eswatini, the estimated number of people facing Crisis (IPC phase 3) or worse food insecurity more than doubled from 120,000 in October to nearly 250,000 in December. In Zimbabwe, where 2.4 million people in rural areas were severely food insecure, the deteriorating economic situation caused sharp price increases and hampered access to food and agricultural inputs. Shortages of basic food commodities in formal markets, including cooking oil, sugar and bread, were reported, especially in remote areas. In Mozambique, more than 1.78 million people were in IPC phase 3 or above across the country, of whom 814,000 people in five provinces were prioritized for urgent humanitarian assistance. Further attacks by non-state armed actors were reported in Cabo Delgado province in November, increasing food security and malnutrition concerns. Meanwhile, in Madagascar, a Flash Appeal was launched to galvanize funding for rapid response in the Grand Sud region, where 890,000 people are severely food insecure.

Environment

Iran’s Capital City Is Being Devoured by Sinkholes

Sinkholes and fissures are opening up the earth around Tehran, Iran’s capital city. And they threaten people’s homes and the local infrastructure.

The ground is cracking open, thanks to a water crisis that has deepened as Tehran’s population has ballooned. The region is in the midst of a three-decade-long drought and ongoing desertification. The problem has been compounded as the city’s population has grown to close to 8.5 million.

Water pumped from underground aquifers has gotten saltier every year as the city has increasingly relied on these underground water sources as opposed to rainwater. At the same time, a great deal of the dwindling water supply gets diverted to thirsty and inefficient agriculture.

As a result, land in the area is physically slumping in on itself. The ground around Tehran, sitting 3,900 feet (1,200 meters) above sea level, has subsided an average of 8.6 inches (22 centimeters) per year based on satellite measurements.

All that subsidence has cracked buildings and water pipes, opened holes in the drying earth, and caused miles-long fissures. Residents fear their buildings collapsing, Nature reported. The airport, oil refinery, highways and railroads in the area are all threatened.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the Western Pacific: Tropical depression 35w (Thirty-five), located approximately 728 nm east-southeast of Manila, Philippines, is tracking westward at 06 knots.

NewsBytes:

Drought, Somalia – Parts of the Horn of Africa nation have not received rain for three consecutive years and, as a result, crops and livestock have perished. Many fear a repeat of the 2011 famine in which nearly 260,000 people died.

Global Warming

Germany – Drought

In Germany, a hot, dry summer has left water levels at near historic lows, and that problem is rippling across the entire economy. Scientists are blaming the effects of climate change for the extreme weather events causing the drought.

Declining shellfish – East Coast USA

Valuable species of shellfish have become harder to find on the East Coast because of degraded habitats caused by a warming environment, according to a pair of scientists that sought to find out whether environmental factors or overfishing was the source of the decline.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean: The remnants of Tara are located about 105 mi…170 km nw of Manzanillo Mexico with maximum sustained winds…35 mph…55 km/h. Present movement…nw or 325 degrees at 6 mph…9 km/h.

NewsBytes:

North Korea – Large-scale flooding and landslides hit southwestern parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with more than 70 people killed whilst close to 600 000 people were affected. 3 200 houses were destroyed leaving more than 10 000 people displaced. The European Union has assisted with humanitarian aid.

Drought – Utah, USA – The Governor of Utah has declared a drought emergency throughout the State.

Environment

Drought in Germany

In Germany, record temperatures and no rainfall since early April have led to a drought and thousands of farms are facing bankruptcy because of crop failure.

This week, the government pledged $390 million in federal and state aid, but for many farmers, it’s not enough. Many of the country’s farmers are starting to question whether they can cope with climate change. More than 10,000 farms are facing financial ruin, dairy farmers are slaughtering cows because there’s not enough feed for them and while the national average grain shortfall this year is 26 percent, in some areas arable farmers have lost up to 70 percent of their grain crops.

Breweries are worried about a poor barley yield and have warned that the shortfall will be reflected in the price of that other German staple, beer.

Environment

Drought in Madagascar

Severe drought conditions during southern Madagascar’s rainy season from November 2017 to April 2018 has led to nearly dry dams in many parts of the south. This dryness has affected livestock’s access to water and pastureland, which has led to poor livestock body conditions as many are subsisting on burnt cactus leaves in the absence of viable pastureland. This has similarly affected crop development, with many areas experiencing failed or near failed harvests.

Poor and very poor households in MG23 (the Mahafaly plains) in the southwest of Madagascar are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity because of poor or failed agricultural production.

Wildlife

Drought Refugees

Australia’s worst dry spell in a generation is sending flocks of emus into Outback towns in search of food and water.

The large, flightless birds have even taken refuge in the streets of Broken Hill, where residents are providing them with food and water.

While emus have been sighted in the mining town before (about 580 miles west of Sydney), they have never been seen in such great numbers.

“Now they’re actually walking down our main street. We’re seeing mobs of them,” said animal rescue spokeswoman Emma Singleton.

Environment

Drought in El Salvador

In El Salvador, there will be a meeting of the United Nations country team tomorrow [27 July] to develop a plan of action following the declaration by the Government of a red alert emergency due to the severe drought affecting some 77,000 corn farmers. Lack of rain led to losses of over 90,000 metric tons of corn, one of the main staple foods in the country. The eastern part of the country has reported 33 consecutive days without rain and record temperatures reaching 41°C.

Environment

Drought in Mauritania

Mauritania is currently facing a very serious food and nutrition insecurity situation, the worst that the country has seen in the last five years. According to the results of the latest Harmonized Framework (HF) of March 2018, 350,600 people are currently in severe food insecurity (phase 3, 4) and these figures could reach 538,446 people for the projected period of June to August 2018. These projections for the period of June-August correspond to 14 percent of the population, raising fears of a major food crisis.

Global Warming

Climate change is shrinking the Colorado River

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Lake Powell, photographed April 12, 2017. The white ‘bathtub ring’ at the cliff base indicates how much higher the lake reached at its peak, nearly 100 feet above the current level.

The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered.

This ongoing, unprecedented event threatens water supplies to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and some of the most productive agricultural lands anywhere in the world. It is critical to understand what is causing it so water managers can make realistic water use and conservation plans.

While overuse has played a part, a significant portion of the reservoir decline is due to an ongoing drought, which started in 2000 and has led to substantial reductions in river flows. Most droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation. However, research shows that about one-third of the flow decline was likely due to higher temperatures in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which result from climate change.

This distinction matters because climate change is causing long-term warming that will continue for centuries.

In the study, researchers found the period from 2000 to 2014 is the worst 15-year drought since 1906, when official flow measurements began. During these years, annual flows in the Colorado River averaged 19 percent below the 20th-century average.

During a similar 15-year drought in the 1950s, annual flows declined by 18 percent. But during that drought, the region was drier: rainfall decreased by about 6 percent, compared to 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2014. Why, then, is the recent drought the most severe on record?

The answer is simple: higher temperatures. From 2000 to 2014, temperatures in the Upper Basin, where most of the runoff that feeds the Colorado River is produced, were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th-century average. This is why we call this event a hot drought. High temperatures continued in 2015 and 2016, as did less-than-average flows. Runoff in 2017 is expected to be above average, but this will only modestly improve reservoir volumes.

High temperatures affect river levels in many ways. Coupled with earlier snow melt, they lead to a longer growing season, which means more days of water demand from plants. Higher temperatures also increase daily plant water use and evaporation from water bodies and soils. In sum, as it warms, the atmosphere draws more water, up to 4 percent more per degree Fahrenheit from all available sources, so less water flows into the river. These findings also apply to all semi-arid rivers in the American Southwest, especially the Rio Grande.

Wildlife

California tortoises died trying to reproduce during drought

Scientists examining the deaths of female desert tortoises in Southern California said it appears the animals died while exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs during California’s historic drought.

Researchers want to know why female tortoises are dying in greater numbers than males in the Joshua Tree National Park.

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jeffrey Lovich said he believes the tortoises died during a desperate attempt to fight extinction. He called it an “evolutionary gamble” — choosing to try and reproduce despite harsh conditions.

“Females will go out of their way to produce a clutch of four or so eggs,” Lovich told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They’ll do it during a drought, when they can’t find the water they need, to have a chance to win at the game of life.”

Over the past three decades, Joshua Tree’s tortoise population has plummeted from about 30,000 to an all-time low of roughly 3,000.

Desert tortoises are a threatened species that typically have 50-year lifespans in the wild, with some living 80 years.

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Chimp Extinction

Tanzanian experts fear that chimpanzees could join elephants and rhinos as the most threatened wildlife species in the country due to their dwindling populations.

“A hundred years ago, there were probably 2 million, but now only 150,000 to 200,000,” said Anthony Collins, a baboon researcher at Gombe Stream National Park.

He told Tanzania’s The Citizen daily that destruction of habitat, illegal hunting and capture for medical research are the greatest threats to the chimps’ survival.