Earth ChangesS


US: Drought sucking life out of northern Wisconsin farms

Bone-dry fields, failing crops, shrinking herds.

Wisconsin farmers are hurting and have been for the past several years as drought conditions continue to get worse across the region.

Douglas County farmer Mark Liebaert says this is the fifth year of below-normal moisture during the growing season.

"This summer has been the worst of the five. We didn't get any rain in May, we didn't get any rain in the early part of June and the sub-moisture is all gone," Liebaert said. "There is nothing left in the soil."

That has led to significant crop damage and economic losses.

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Despair as drought cripples 'Australia's Mississippi'

algal bloom
© Agence France-PresseAlgae is seen along the Murray River at Albury.

Farmer Mazzareno Bisogni fights back tears as he stands among the remains of trees he planted 35 years ago, victims of a drought hitting "Australia's Mississippi".

Bisogni's orchard lies in the heart of the once-mighty Murray-Darling river system which irrigates Australia's food bowl, the vast southeastern corner responsible for 40 percent of agricultural output.

The eight-year 'big dry', the worst drought in a century, has devastated the region, an area covering 1.06 million square kilometres (410,000 square miles) -- the size of France and Spain combined.

Lack of water this year meant the fruit on Bisogni's apple and pear trees in Victoria state literally cooked on their branches under the furious Australian sun, making them suitable only for jam.

Rather than leave the land, like many farmers along the Murray, the tenacious 78-year-old Italian migrant scaled back his operation so he could use limited water resources to cultivate export-quality produce for Asia.


Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing

© unknown

Global warming alarmists have suggested that the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica may collapse, causing disastrous sea level rise. This idea is based on the concept of an ice sheet sliding down an inclined plane on a base lubricated by meltwater, which is itself increasing because of global warming.

In reality the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets occupy deep basins, and cannot slide down a plane. Furthermore glacial flow depends on stress (including the important yield stress) as well as temperature, and much of the ice sheets are well below melting point. The accumulation of kilometres of undisturbed ice in cores in Greenland and Antarctica (the same ones that are sometimes used to fuel ideas of global warming) show hundreds of thousands of years of accumulation with no melting or flow. Except around the edges, ice sheets flow at the base, and depend on geothermal heat, not the climate at the surface.

It is impossible for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to 'collapse'. In these days of alarmist warnings about climate warming, the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have an important role. Many papers have described their melting at the present times, and dire predictions of many metres of sea level rise are common. Christoffersen and Hambrey published a typical paper on the Greenland ice sheet in Geology Today in May, 2006.

Bizarro Earth

4.5 Earthquake Rattles Cyprus

Cypriot authorities say a moderately strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.5 has shaken the eastern Mediterranean island. No damage or injuries have been reported.

The Cyprus Geological Survey Department says the quake occurred at 9:28 a.m. (0628 GMT; 2:28 a.m. EDT) Tuesday, 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) off the southern coastal resort of Limassol.

The Department said in a statement that the quake was felt in Limassol and surrounding villages, as well as by high-rise dwellers in the capital Nicosia, around 37 miles (60 kilometers) to the north.


Firefighters gain upper hand against Greek inferno

Exhausted firefighters contained on Monday wildfires which had been bearing down on Athens and threatened ancient Greek landmarks after a round-the-clock rescue effort.

But the authorities' response to the inferno came under criticism two years after similar wildfires that killed 77 people.

After a weekend of devastation which saw hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes in the suburbs, thousands of hectares of woodland reduced to cinders and fears that Athens would soon be choked by smoke, respite finally came when heavy winds died down.

Bizarro Earth

Mexico water body warns of risk of 'critical' shortage

Mexico's water commission warned Monday of the risk of a "critical" water shortage at the start of 2010 and called on state governments to act now to save water.

"El Nino (seasonal warming), climate change and low rainfall could increase drought in the country, and cause a critical situation in the first quarter of 2010," a Conagua statement said.

Farming and some water supplies across the country have already been hard hit by this year's drought.

Supplies for both public and private use could be affected next year, the statement said, pointing to record low levels at the Cutzamala reservoir which supplies the capital's urban sprawl.

The main problem in and around the city of some 20 million people, which once sat on lakes, was the over-exploitation of aquifers, the statement said.

Bizarro Earth

US: Maine spectators ignored warnings before wave hit

© Associated PressTwo boys watch as heavy surf generated by Hurricane Bill pounds the shore, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
Augusta - Rangers at Acadia National Park insisted Monday that they had done all they could to warn visitors before beauty suddenly turned brutal, launching a hurricane-generated wave over a group of gawkers, dragging three into the roiling Atlantic and killing a 7-year-old girl.

Many visitors didn't heed alerts Sunday to keep back from huge waves that crashed spectacularly and dangerously against the rocky shore as Hurricane Bill passed over open ocean to the east, the park's chief ranger said.

Two people were hospitalized after being pulled into the churning surf by a wave that crashed on the rocks about 150 yards from a popular attraction known as Thunder Hole, where plume-like sprays rise into the air even under less severe conditions. A viewing platform there had already been closed by the park because of the dangerous conditions.

The wave swept over 20 people, 11 of whom were taken to the hospital with injuries including broken bones from being slammed onto the rocks, officials said.

Spectators eager to take in the views of dramatic surf began filling up Acadia, about 75 miles east of Augusta, the state capital, on Sunday morning, Chief Ranger Stuart West said. As the tide rose, generating even bigger waves, 10,000 people eventually parked along the road to view the waves spun off by Bill, West said.


West Nile Virus Found in British Columbia Mosquitoes

The West Nile virus has been found in B.C. for the first time, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Mosquitoes collected in a trap in B.C's south Okanagan have tested positive for the virus, officials said. The centre is also investigating possible cases of the virus in two Kelowna residents who had traveled in the south Okanagan region.

"These cases are unusual. We have had 40 people in B.C. so far who have tested positive for the West Nile virus, but all of them had traveled outside the province, so this is the first time that we have confirmed activity actually in B.C." said Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The people undergoing testing are members of the same family and both are in their 40s. Officials expect final test results early next week.

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 OlsenThis 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."