Earth ChangesS

Red Flag

Cyprus: Water Crisis Worsens

dry dam
©Margo Aldridge
Dry: The Arminou Dam

Cypriots have been warned that the island is running dry and that careful conservation of water is now even more important, as it will take two more months before additional sources are available.

Life Preserver

Ireland: Bees rescue plan pledged as apple industry suffers

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew has pledged to draw up a strategy to rescue Northern Ireland's vanishing bee populations.

bee rescue
Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew is to draw up a plan to rescue bees

Bizarro Earth

Cyprus: Farmers warn of end of agriculture

If farmers don't see state aid or rain by the winter, Cyprus will cease to have a farming sector, one farmer warned parliament yesterday. Speaking before the House Agriculture Committee, general secretary of the National Agricultural Organisation of Cyprus, Michalis Lytras told deputies that the last time Cyprus suffered as bad a drought was in 1973. "But at least back then we had plenty of ground water. Now, we don't. If we don't see rain this season, you are looking at the end of agriculture," he said.


Why Ike Could Be Texas' Worst Nightmare

As Hurricane Ike revs up again over the Gulf of Mexico, residents of coastal Texas, especially Houston and Galveston, are preparing for the arrival of the monstrous storm, which could be the most devastating that the Lone Star State has seen Hurricane Alicia came ashore in 1983, causing nearly $6 billion in damage and 21 fatalities.

Ike is huge. Hurricane-force winds extend out 120 miles (195 kilometers) from the storm's center, and tropical storm-force winds reach out 275 miles (445 km), both measurements exceeding what's seen with many storms. Ike could reach major hurricane status as a Category 3 before it makes landfall late Friday or early Saturday morning somewhere along the Texas coast.

Galveston, Texas after 1900 hurricane
The unnamed Category 4 hurricane that slammed into Galveston, Texas Sept. 8, 1900 remains the deadliest ever to hit the United States, having killed at least 8,000 people (estimates vary) and leveling virtually the entire town.

And right now it looks like that somewhere will be the Houston/Galveston area.

Cloud Lightning

Airlines curtail flights to Texas cities in path of hurricane Ike

Airlines prepared to curtail service Friday to Texas cities in the path of hurricane Ike and offered to waive ticket-changing fees for passengers whose flights were scrubbed.

Aviation officials in Houston said flights at George Bush Intercontinental Airport would be suspended at 2 p.m. CT on Friday and 3:30 p.m. CT at the smaller Hobby Airport.

Houston-based Continental Airlines Inc., whose largest hub is at Bush Intercontinental, said it might also stop flights early Friday afternoon at other airports along the Gulf. It said service in Houston and any other affected cities was likely to resume Sunday.

Cloud Lightning

Ike strands freighter in Gulf; Houston braces for nightmare scenario

A sprawling and strengthening Hurricane Ike steamed through the Gulf of Mexico on Friday on a track toward the nation's fourth-largest city, where authorities told residents to brace rather than flee.

Hurricane Ike as viewed from International Space Station.


Dire Warning as Hurricane Ike Nears Texas - People Face "Certain Death" If They Stay Behind

As Hurricane Ike bore down on the Houston area on Friday morning, the National Weather Service issued a stern warning to people living in small houses on Galveston Island that they faced "certain death" from flooding if they remained in their homes.

©Carlos Barria/Reuters
A resident took pictures next to the ocean as Hurricane Ike approached the coast of Galveston, Tex., on Friday.

Life Preserver

'Extreme waves' driven by climate change batter Australia's coastline

Australia's coastline is increasingly being battered by extreme waves that are driven in part by climate change, government scientists say.

Research has shown that bigger waves are bearing down on the coastline as severe storms become more frequent.

Scientists say coastal areas will see more and more extreme waves

Red Flag

Earth's windiest region, Greenland's Cape Farewell, confirmed by crewed flight

For the first time, research planes have flown in the windiest region on Earth. The location - the appropriately named Cape Farewell in Greenland - generated the winds likely to have carried Viking explorers from Iceland and Greenland to North America, making them the first Europeans to discover the continent.


UK recent bad weather blamed on southerly position of jet stream; wettest August for Northern Ireland

Monthly summary

Unsettled weather is expected to continue into the beginning of October with the best hope of any drier brighter weather in the south and east.

August was an average month in only one respect, temperatures hovered around the seasonal average.

It was a very wet month for most of us with widespread flooding in Northern Ireland and parts of eastern Scotland. Northern Ireland had its wettest August since records began back in 1914.

The reason for the above average wind and rain is down to the southerly position of our jet stream. These are strong winds in the upper atmosphere, which act like a road steering low pressure systems across the Atlantic to our shores.
And is there any particular reason for the jet stream being out of position? Any implications for the global climate system?

Consider this article, which reads:
Global importance

Climatologists have suggested that the winds, known as the Greenland tip jet, could be a key force in driving the world's climate and the global ocean circulation by pushing cold, dense water to the ocean floor and triggering the thermohaline circulation.

This massive "conveyor belt" carries seawater around the world's oceans. The North Atlantic is a critical point, where warm surface water coming from the tropics on the Gulf Stream is cooled and becomes denser. In doing so, it sinks to the ocean bed and pushes the deep segment of the conveyor belt forward.

Robert Pickart of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, US, and colleagues have suggested that the exceptional winds at Cape Farewell trigger this overturning (Nature vol 424, p 152).

"They cool and evaporate the surface water making it more salty, and therefore more dense, just south of Greenland," explains Renfrew.

If this is true, then the Cape Farewell winds help drive the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe warm, despite their high latitude.
And what happens if the "conveyor belt" shifts position, or even worse, stops its motion?