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Thu, 07 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

4.4 Earthquake Jolts Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Again

An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook Yogyakarta late Saturday morning, the second quake to hit the province in a week.

Yogyakarta Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency recorded that the quake hit at around 11:35 a.m. The quake's epicenter was located 10 kilometer beneath the earth surface in Temu Ireng, Panggang, about 13 kilometers southeast af Bantul regency in southern Yogyakarta.

Bambang Subadio, head of observation division at the agency, said that Saturday's quake was not related to the earlier quake.

Bizarro Earth

NASA Sees Some Strong Thunderstorms in Bill's Center as He Drenches Eastern Canada

© NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
This infrared satellite image from the AIRS Instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite shows Bill's clouds (depicted in purple and blue) on Aug. 23 at 1:53 a.m. EDT indicating high, cold powerful thunderstorms still around the eye. Bill was a Category One Hurricane with sustained winds near 85 mph at this time.
Bill is still holding onto hurricane status near Nova Scotia, and will be bringing a lot of rain and heavy surf to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Today, Sunday, August 23, NASA infrared satellite imagery revealed cold high thunderstorm clouds around Bill's eye, indicating there is still some powerful convection and strong thunderstorms happening in the storm.

At 800 a.m. EDT, on August 23, Bill still had maximum sustained winds near 85 mph, making him a Category One hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Minimum central pressure was 965 millibars. He was located 175 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, near 42.4 north and 65.4 west, and was racing to the northeast near 31 mph, bringing the center of Bill near or over southeastern Newfoundland tonight or early Monday.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over Hurricane Bill and the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard captured this infrared image from this morning at 1:53 a.m. EDT (05:53 UTC). The National Hurricane Center noted in their discussion, "Infrared satellite imagery shows cold convective cloud tops continue to surround the cloud-filled eye of Bill." The AIRS image from early this morning did show a very small eye in Bill, despite being filled with clouds. The National Hurricane Center noted that "Recent aircraft fixes have been to the west and southwest of the eye-feature seen in satellite imagery suggesting some vertical tilt to the hurricane."

Alarm Clock

Australia Needs Rain Urgently to Meet Crop Forecast

Australia, the world's fourth- largest wheat exporter, "urgently" needs rain in eastern grain regions as dry weather damages the chance of meeting a government forecast for the biggest crop in four years.

"Extremely hot conditions in northern New South Wales and Queensland over the weekend will have cut yield prospects," Luke Mathews, agri-commodity strategist with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said today in an e-mailed report. "Widespread rain is urgently needed in those regions but no relief is in sight."

Farmers need rain now to reach yield potential in crops ahead of the harvest, which starts from about November. Should drought-causing El Nino weather conditions develop this year, wheat production in Australia's eastern states may drop by as much as 25 percent, Standard Chartered Plc said last month.

The two states planted the biggest area to winter crops in at least 14 years in autumn, putting the nation in line for the largest output since 2005-06, according to a June report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Rain in New South Wales, usually the nation's second- largest grain grower, in the next 10-14 days is "critical," that state's government said yesterday. Without rain within two weeks some farmers will put livestock onto crops and won't harvest paddocks, the state's Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said yesterday in a statement.

Life Preserver

Argentina: Farming crisis batters world food provider

The worst drought in 50 years, combined with a drop in soybean prices and unpopular tax policies, imperils a traditional beef exporter.

San miguel del Monte - If any place encapsulates Argentine pride it is the pampas, the plains that have yielded endless fields of corn and wheat and nourished cattle that produce some of the world's finest beef.

But these days, the pastures are brown. The wheat won't grow. And the cows are dying.

Argentina is facing its worst farming crisis since becoming one of the most prolific food providers in the world. A devastating drought, the most severe in more than 50 years, has dried up grassland and left cattle with nothing to graze.


Argentine farmers face ruin as drought kills cattle, crops

Dying cattle from drought

Argentine farmers profited in years past from selling beef to the world, but some now struggle to feed their cattle

San Miguel Del Monte -- In a small farming town 105 kilometers (65 miles) southwest of Buenos Aires, farmers are struggling to nourish their crops and feed their animals. The worst drought in half a century has turned Argentina's once-fertile soil to dust and pushed the country into a state of emergency.

Cow carcasses litter the prairie fields and sun-scorched soy plants wither under the South American summer sun. Farmers are concerned about their livelihoods.

"I'm losing money. I can't afford to lose money all the time," said Juan Cahen D'Anvers, whose family has been farming in Argentina since the late 1700s. He owns 700 hectares (1,730 acres) in San Miguel del Monte, where he grows sunflowers and barley.

He says this year is one of the hardest he's ever had.

"Production is going to go down a minimum of 50 percent, maybe more. I don't know yet," he said.


Kenya drought worsens hunger risk

More than one million Kenyans risk facing hunger because of a prolonged drought, the UN has warned.
Kenya drought
© Agence France-Presse
People are saying it is the worst drought for years.

The lack of rains has caused crops to fail and cattle-herders are also struggling to keep their animals alive.

The worst affected areas are in the country's semi-arid south-east regions as well as some parts of central Kenya.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has described the crisis as a "very difficult situation" and appealed to donor countries to offer funds.

Currently some 2.5 million people are receiving emergency food aid in the country but the effect of the drought has meant that a further 1.3 million now also need help.

Bizarro Earth

Africa trapped in mega-drought cycle

© Timothy Shanahan
Boys practice traditional fishing methods on Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana. Submerged trees provide evidence on long-lasting drought just a few centuries ago
The infamous 1970s drought of the African Sahel region, which lasted several decades and killed more than 100,000 people, was actually a "minor" event, say researchers who have uncovered evidence that such droughts occur cyclically in the region and can be much more severe.

Timothy Shanahan and colleagues at the University of Texas, Austin, analysed the first rainfall dataset that spans several millennia. "What's disconcerting about this record is that it suggests the most recent drought was relatively minor in the context of the West African drought history," he told New Scientist.

The researchers analysed a sediment core pulled from the bottom of Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana's only natural lake. The lake is an ancient meteorite impact crater, making its levels very dependent on rainfall.

By studying the relative amounts of different oxygen isotopes in the sediment core, the team could reconstruct rainfall dating back 3000 years. Higher concentrations of the slightly heavier - and therefore harder to evaporate - 18O indicate periods of drought.

Cloud Lightning

Upwards lightning caught on film

Scientists have photographed "upwards lightning", a rarely-seen phenomenon where electricity from storms flows into the upper atmosphere.

upwards lightning

Gigantic jets can travel more than 60km (40 miles) into the ionosphere
During last year's Tropical Storm Cristobal, lightning reached more than 60km (40 miles) up.

Also known as "gigantic jets", these events are just as powerful as cloud-to-ground lightning bolts.

The US team of researchers also took radio measurements of the electrical charge.

Bizarro Earth

Half of India affected by drought

India Drought
© Associated Press

Sharad Pawar said 246 districts in 10 states had been declared as drought affected. India has some 600 districts.

Separately, authorities in southern Andhra Pradesh state say they are probing whether the suicides of 20 farmers are linked to the drought.

This monsoon season has brought 29% less rainfall than normal.

Rice production in the country could decline by 10 million tonnes this year because of the drought, Mr Pawar said.

India produced nearly 100 million tonnes of rice during 2008-2009, according to official figures.

"Due to the expected reduced production of rice, there could be pressure on availability and market price," he added.


India to tackle drought shortfalls 'with imports'

India Drought
© Agence France-Presse
The annual monsoon is running at 26% below average.

New Delhi - India will import lentils, edible oil and other staples to cope with any shortfalls caused by a widespread drought that has badly hurt crops, the finance minister said Friday.

The statement by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee came as the country of nearly 1.2 billion people faces its weakest monsoon in at least seven years.

"We shall go for imports" of "whichever commodity will be in short supply," Mukherjee told a state farm ministers' meeting in the Indian capital.

He noted supplies of pulses and edible oil were already running short. India is the world's largest consumer and importer of pulses.

But Mukherjee said India has enough grain stocks to tide it through for the moment.

"We are starting the drought year with good buffer stocks," Mukherjee said.

"The government has the experience to deal with such situations and we need not lose confidence in ourselves," he added.

The government would not announce the timing of any imports so as to avoid market prices being automatically jacked up, he said.