Earth Changes
Map


Better Earth

Grey-sky thinking: Nine extraordinary clouds

Clouds turn the sky into a big art gallery, complete with icy jellyfish and clouds that look like breaking waves. Two new books explore the varieties, and our gallery illustrates some of the most intriguing types

© The cloud collector's handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney


Fallstreak holes

These are crisp gaps in mid or high-level cloud layers, below which dangle trails of ice-crystals. To form a fallstreak hole, the cloud layer must consist of supercooled droplets - that is, water is in liquid form - even though temperatures at cloud level are well below 0° celsius. A fallstreak hole forms when one region of the cloud finally starts to freeze, starting a chain reaction.

All the moisture from the supercooled droplets in the area rushes to join the ice crystals, which quickly grow big enough to fall below. A form of "virga", the trail of ice crystals doesn't tend to reach the ground, but evaporates away before doing so.
Bizarro Earth

Australia Wheat Will Be Subject To Drought If El Niño Develops

www.stormx.com/agriculture
Australia wheat production
© USDA and Climate Prediction Center

The Climate Prediction Center June 4th issued an El Niño alert indicating that "Conditions are favorable for a transition from ENSO-neutral to El Niño conditions during June − August 2009."

El Niño occurs when sea surface temperatures warm up in the central equatorial Pacific Ocean, but this is only one aspect of a broad scale shift in wind, air pressure and rainfall patterns that alters the climate in the tropics and sub-tropics. A classic symptom of El Niño is drought in Australia wheat states New South Wales and Victoria.

Below is a look at Australia wheat production in years when El Niño was in effect. Production was low in 11 out of 14 cases and seemed worst in the second year of a 2-season episode (1976-77 and 1986-87). Really severe damage occurred in recent El Niño cases 2002 and 2006 when less than half a normal wheat crop was gathered.
Bizarro Earth

Dryness Lowers Ukraine Winter Wheat Production Estimates

www.stormx.com/agriculture

Ukraine precip
© StormX

Over the past 30 days, rainfall in western Ukraine has been at or above normal, in stark contrast to areas to the east, where precipitation has been less than 40% of average.

The wetness in the west has proved beneficial for recently planted spring wheat and soon-to-be harvested winter wheat. Spring wheat is primarily grown in the northern and western portion of the country, so moisture has been sufficient during the bulk of the planting season. However, winter wheat, which accounts for nearly 95% of Ukraine's total wheat production, is grown mainly in the southern half of the country as shown below.
Ukraine Winter Wheat 2009
© StormX
Frog

Meet the amphibian only its mother could love

A bug-eyed salamander that looks like ET and a see-through frog are among the weirder species that were discovered by conservation biologists in a far-flung corner of Ecuador.

Bizarro Earth

Argentina Wheat Production Prospects Continue Poor With Drought

www.stormx.com/agriculture

Argentine 45 day precip
© StormX

The USDA kept a low production estimate for Argentina wheat on the June Supply-Demand report. Drought is preventing growers from planting, driving the crop area to the lowest level in 30 years. Production may be only 11 million metric tons and 30-35% below average. If poor wheat growing weather continues with drought, it would be the second year in a row of low production and exports.

Argentina's largest wheat province Buenos Aires has received 2.5-3.5 inches of rainfall in recent weeks, allowing planting to proceed but other wheat provinces are dry. Drought is severe in Cordoba and Santa Fe, and moderate in La Pampa.
Bizarro Earth

US: Arkansas Soybean Planting Slowed by Persistent Wetness

www.stormx.com/agriculture

45 day precip Arkansas
© StromX

Since soybean planting began in Arkansas in mid-April, rainfall has been over 200% of normal in major growing areas in the state.

Accounting for 4% of US soybean production, Arkansas has just 55% of the crop planted, compared to the 5-year average of 82%.
Bizarro Earth

Poor South America Soybean Production Tied Directly To Drought

www.stormx.com/agriculture

60 day precip Brazil
© StormX

Soybeans in Parana, Brazil, and Paraguay were irreversibly damaged by an intense drought in November-December. Hardly any rainfall was received for 60 days, stunting plants that failed to recover when rainfall improved January. The Rio Grande do Sul soybean planting was delayed by dryness, but there was no damage from spring-early summer drought.

Conditions improved for a time in January and February prompting Argentina growers to plant extra soybeans. But drought returned with a vengeance in March affecting all of Argentina, Paraguay and Rio Grande do Sul in South Brazil.
Bizarro Earth

Poor Spring Weather Lowers Canadian Canola Production Estimate

www.stormx.com/agriculture

90 day precip
© StormX

The Canadian Wheat Board's annual crop outlook issued Thursday featured a significant reduction in expected canola production. Last year, 12.6 million metric tons of canola was harvested across the Canadian Prairies. This year, however, canola production is estimated to be just 10.2MMT, nearly 20% less than 2008. The yield is expected to be 29.3 bushels per acre.

For Alberta and Saskatchewan, the main culprit in the low canola production expectations is a combination of drought and below normal temperatures since March. In southern Manitoba, however, spring flooding has worked in concert with cool temperatures to negatively impact the canola crop.

Bruce Burnett of the Canadian Wheat Board states that most farmland in the Canadian Prairies has received just half of the heat needed to grow a crop this year. In fact, many canola farmers have reported that frost last week is forcing them to reseed a portion of the crop. In the drought-stricken regions, poor soil moisture is making the reseeding process very difficult leading farmers to consider abandoning their fields. In Manitoba, the flooding has also slowed the planting process. With planting extending into June, the canola crop runs the risk of a late harvest with similar frost and disease impacts to that of North Dakota spring wheat.
Bizarro Earth

Canada Canola Production Threatened By Western Prairie Drought

www.stormx.com/agriculture

Canada Canola Production 06162009
© StormX

The USDA plugged in a low production estimate for the Canada 2009 canola crop on the June Supply-Demand report predicting the harvest would shrink 18% below last year -- a record setting season for both production and exports. The USDA estimate may not be low enough, considering how crop development has been delayed by severe cold and drought is threatening Alberta and western Saskatchewan.

The top canola province Alberta is experiencing the driest conditions since 2001. Subsoil moisture in the province had deteriorated to 38% poor, 42% fair, 19% good and 1% excellent, as of June 4th, according to the Alberta crop lettter. Key canola crop districts in central Alberta have not received any significant rainfall in the last 2-3 weeks.
Canada Canola Production 2001-2005
© StormX
Phoenix

Alberta fights 22 out-of-control wildfires

Edmonton -- Some 480 firefighters in the western Canadian province of Alberta were battling at least 22 out-of-control wildfires Tuesday, officials said.

Dry weather conditions, lightning strikes and sparks from campfires were among the causes of the fires, the largest of which was burning near Fort McMurray, 270 miles northeast of Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal reported.

That fire had consumed more than 5,600 acres by Tuesday morning, officials said.

Various highways were closed throughout the province as flames approached or smoke reduced visibility to zero, the report said.
Top