Phoenix’s notoriously unrelenting heat will soon get even worse.

Phoenix’s notoriously unrelenting heat will soon get even worse.

SOURCE: Vice DATE: September 18, 2017 SNIP: The historical average number of days per year in Phoenix that hit 100 degrees is a mind-bending 92. But that number is rapidly rising as climate change bears down on America’s fifth-largest city. “It’s currently the fastest warming big city in the US,” meteorologist and former Arizonan Eric Holthaus told me in an email. A study from Climate Central last year projects that Phoenix’s summer weather will be on average three to five degrees hotter by 2050. Meanwhile, that average number of 100-degree days will have skyrocketed by almost 40, to 132, according to another 2016 Climate Central study. (For reference, over a comparable period, New York City is expected to go from two to 15 100-degree days.) As bad as the deadly heat is getting, there’s another potential horror coming: drought. “As much as 20 percent of the [Colorado] River could dry up by 2050,” Holthaus told...
The unprecedented drought that’s crippling Montana and North Dakota

The unprecedented drought that’s crippling Montana and North Dakota

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 7, 2017 SNIP: When Rick Kirn planted his 1,000 acres of spring wheat in May, there were no signs of a weather calamity on the horizon. Three months later, when he should have been harvesting and getting ready to sell his wheat, Kirn was staring out across vast cracked, gray, empty fields dotted with weeds and little patches of stunted wheat. “It’s a total loss for me,” said Kirn, who operates a small family wheat farm on the Fort Peck Reservation, an area of north-eastern Montana that lies right in the heart of the extreme climactic episode. “There’s nothing to harvest.” Kirn’s story is typical across the high plains in Montana and the Dakotas this summer, where one of the country’s most important wheat growing regions is in the grips of a crippling drought that came on with hardly any warning and, experts say, is without precedent. “This is unprecedented,” says Tanja Fransen of the National Weather Service in Glasgow, a larger city just up the road from Fort Peck. “This is as dry as it’s been in recorded history and some of our recording stations have 100 years of data. A lot of people try to compare this to previous years, but really, you just...
‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

SOURCE: Grist DATE: Aug 1, 2017 SNIP: It’s peak hurricane season, but the nation’s worst weather disaster right now is raging on the High Plains. An intense drought has quickly gripped much of the Dakotas and parts of Montana this summer, catching farmers and ranchers off-guard. The multi-agency U.S. Drought Monitor recently upgraded the drought to “exceptional,” its highest severity level, matching the intensity of the California drought at its peak. The Associated Press says the dry conditions are “laying waste to crops and searing pasture and hay land” in America’s new wheat belt, with some longtime farmers and ranchers calling it the worst of their lifetimes. Unfortunately, this kind of came-out-of-nowhere drought could become a lot less rare in the future. Farmers in the region are also worried because the Trump administration has targeted a key federal crop insurance program for hefty cuts. The governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana have all declared states of emergency to speed aid and open some normally protected areas for livestock grazing. The frequency of these rapid-onset droughts is expected to increase as the planet warms. A recent study focusing on China found that flash droughts more than doubled in frequency there between 1979 and...
102 million dead California trees ‘unprecedented in our modern history,’ officials say

102 million dead California trees ‘unprecedented in our modern history,’ officials say

SOURCE: LA Times DATE: November 18, 2016 SNIP: The number of dead trees in California’s drought-stricken forests has risen dramatically to more than 102 million in what officials described as an unparalleled ecological disaster that heightens the danger of massive wildfires and damaging erosion. “The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history,” said Randy Moore, the forester for the region of the U.S. Forest Service that includes California. Trees are dying “at a rate much quicker than we thought.” Scientists say five years of drought are to blame for much of the...
California Sinking Faster Than Thought, Aquifers Could Permanently Shrink

California Sinking Faster Than Thought, Aquifers Could Permanently Shrink

SOURCE: Yahoo News DATE: August 22, 2015 AUTHOR: Tia Ghose SNIP: California is sinking even faster than scientists had thought, new NASA satellite imagery shows. Some areas of the Golden State are sinking more than 2 inches (5.1 centimeters) per month, the imagery reveals. Though the sinking, called subsidence, has long been a problem in California, the rate is accelerating because the state’s extreme drought is fueling voracious groundwater pumping. “Because of increased pumping, groundwater levels are reaching record lows — up to 100 feet (30 meters) lower than previous records,” Mark Cowin, director of California’s Department of Water Resources, said in a statement. “As extensive groundwater pumping continues, the land is sinking more rapidly, and this puts nearby infrastructure at greater risk of costly damage.” What’s more, this furious groundwater pumping could have long-term consequences. If the land shrinks too much, and for too long, it can permanently lose its ability to store groundwater, the researchers said. MORE:...