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Fri, 23 Feb 2018
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Drought


Sun

More than half of Kansas in drought emergency

Kansas drought
Drought conditions are continuing to worsen in Kansas despite recent rain, prompting Gov. Sam Brownback to declare half the state in a drought emergency.

All 105 counties are now under some type of drought status.

Brownback issued an updated declaration Wednesday putting 56 counties in the most serious emergency category. Twenty-six have been placed under warning status, and 23 in a watch status.

Comment: See:Parched: A new dust bowl forms in the heartland


Cow Skull

Drought kills 20 thousand animals in Casanare, Colombia.

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© SEMANA
The drought has killed fish, cattle, deer, and other animals. The greatest toll has been capybaras.
To the government, deforestation is in Boyacá reduces the water available, but that would not be the whole truth.

The strong wave of drought in Casanare has caused for four months death by dehydration of about 20,000 animals, mainly capybaras, deer, foxes, fish, turtles, reptiles and cattle.

The impact has been so strong that the Government of that department is considering Friday whether to declare an environmental emergency, especially in the town of Peace Ariporo, the third largest in Casanare. But for this they need legal arguments being collected.

Doing so would mean that the medium-term works as drilling deep wells with pumps would provide water.

But the problem is not lack of enough wells but a forest reserve, as explained to Semana.com Adriana Soto, former deputy environment minister and expert on climate change adaptation.

Sun

Queensland's drought this summer is the worst on record

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Queensland drought map for March 2014
It is official - this drought is Queensland's most widespread on record, with almost 80 per cent of the state now drought-declared.

Queensland's Agriculture Minister has announced the largest drought-stricken area ever for the state, with 15 new shires added to the list.

This takes the number of drought-declared shires to 38, and it is the first time large sections of the Queensland coast have been included.

Shires of Banana, Bundaberg, Cherbourg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Goondiwindi, Gympie, Moreton Bay, Noosa, North Burnett, South Burnett, Southern Downs, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Western Downs have been added to the already long list, effective from March 1.

Minister John McVeigh says the failed wet season is the reason so many shires have been declared at once.

"It's really only that coastal strip of Queensland of roughly Rockhampton through to Cape that is not in drought, bar some other small locations around the state, so that does confirm that this is a more significant drought event than Queensland has ever seen before," he said.

"The wet season in these newly declared shires has been very poor with many areas missing out altogether. February, normally one of the wettest times of the year, has been particularly dry.

Bizarro Earth

Warning sign on the Colorado River

Glen Canyon Dam
© T. Ross Reeve
Red alert - Dropping water levels behind the Glen Canyon Dam will force operators to cut downstream flows for the first time in dam’s 47-year history. Researchers say climate change could make such moves more common in the future.
In an ominous precedent, dam operators on the Colorado River will cut the amount of water released over next year from Lake Powell, a massive reservoir in the Western United States. The river flows through the Grand Canyon, eventually supplying millions of homes in Las Vegas and large farms in Arizona and California.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today it will reduce the flow out of Glen Canyon Dam by 9% starting in October. Homeowners and farmers will still get the same amount as they do now, but the decision highlights the likelihood of future shortages. "I view this as another serious warning to users of the Colorado River that we're headed for big trouble," says water and climate specialist Peter Gleick of the Pacific Water Institute in Oakland, California.

Historically, the untamed Colorado River flooded after the snow melted in the Rocky Mountains and then water levels dropped during the summer. Two massive dams changed that behavior, regulating the river throughout the year and also generating billions of kilowatts of electricity. Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona created the vast Lake Powell in 1966. And more than 575 kilometers downstream, Hoover Dam, completed in 1936, heads up a reservoir called Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bizarro Earth

Namibia drought threatens 400,000 with hunger

Namibia Drought
© Space Daily

A severe drought that sparked a state of emergency in Namibia has left 400,000 people facing hunger, the government said.

The government has been criticised for failing to do enough to provide relief to people during the worst dry spell to hit the country in decades.

But the chairman of the Disaster Risk Management Committee defended the government's performance as he announced the new figure late Tuesday.

"We are trying to do the best we can to make sure that the food goes to the intended people. So far so good," he said.

Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, and only two percent of land receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops.

Cow Skull

Colorado river, High Plains aquifer and entire western half U.S. rapidly drying up

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What is life going to look like as our precious water resources become increasingly strained and the western half of the United States becomes bone dry? Scientists tell us that the 20th century was the wettest century in the western half of the country in 1000 years, and now things appear to be reverting to their normal historical patterns. But we have built teeming cities in the desert such as Phoenix and Las Vegas that support millions of people.

Cities all over the Southwest continue to grow even as the Colorado River, Lake Mead and the High Plains Aquifer system run dry. So what are we going to do when there isn't enough water to irrigate our crops or run through our water systems? Already we are seeing some ominous signs that Dust Bowl conditions are starting to return to the region. In the past couple of years we have seen giant dust storms known as "haboobs" roll through Phoenix, and 6 of the 10 worst years for wildfires ever recorded in the United States have all come since the year 2000. In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, "the average number of fires larger than 1,000 acres in a year has nearly quadrupled in Arizona and Idaho and has doubled in every other Western state" since the 1970s. But scientists are warning that they expect the western United States to become much drier than it is now. What will the western half of the country look like once that happens?