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Famine, Cholera, Opium, Romanticism and the Volcano That Binds Them

On 10 April 1815, Tambora produced the largest eruption known on the planet during the past 10,000 years. As described in Gillen D'Arcy Wood's new book, the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora's destructive power. In terms of its enduring presence in folklore, as well as its status in the scientific literature, 1816’s cold summer was the most significant meteorological event of the nineteenth century. After the tsunami and famine came cholera, opium, and failed Arctic expeditions. [more inside]
posted by shoesfullofdust on Apr 13, 2014 - 14 comments

 

Hidden treasures, in drying lakes and rivers, and in NYC street cracks

The drought in California has brought about a number of things, from exposing part of Mormon Island, an old mining town that has partially emerged from Folsom Lake (news coverage clip; aerial view of a re-emerged bridge with overly dramatic music; a tour of the exposed ruins), to being good news for gold prospectors. But if there's too much of a crowd in the Sierra Nevada foothills, you can always dig for gold in New York City (alt: YouTube), in the cracks of Midtown's Diamond District with Raffi Stepanian.
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 1, 2014 - 6 comments

The California Drought: Water and Power

"During the medieval period, there was over a century of drought in the Southwest and California. The past repeats itself." After three consecutive years of below-normal rainfall, California faces its most severe drought emergency in decades. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the deserts of Southern California have been turned into livable spaces only by huge feats of engineering that divert massive amounts of water from other parts of the state and the country. Marc Reisner's 1986 book Cadillac Desert documents the history of acquiring and diverting water to the American Southwest. A four-part documentary based on the book was released in 1997. Part 1: Mulholland's Dream // Part 2: An American Nile // Part 3: The Mercy of Nature // Part 4: Last Oasis
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Feb 16, 2014 - 124 comments

A draft of the National Climate Assessment report has been released

...and the news ain't good: "Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. This evidence has been compiled by scientists and engineers from around the world, using satellites, weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. The sum total of this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming." Overview letter is here, Executive Summary is here, and the full download is here. [WARNING: Full download runs to 147MB).
posted by BillW on Jan 13, 2013 - 195 comments

The greatest sandy disaster of our time

October 2012 is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. State of the Climate: Global Analysis October 2012 (NOAA). While $50 billion Sandy has had the spotlight, the biggest natural disaster of 2012 (in the US) has been the Great Drought still ongoing which is expected to cut America's GDP by 0.5 to 1% for the year. The death toll from the heat waves that accompanied this year's drought will exceed that of Sandy. This Sunday and Monday, Ken Burns premiers his new documentary "The Dust Bowl", on PBS. (via)
posted by stbalbach on Nov 16, 2012 - 42 comments

Out of the frying pan

The tragedy of climate change: the UK Pig Association is warning that due to droughts causing high pig food prices, a global bacon shortage is now unavoidable.
posted by unSane on Sep 25, 2012 - 108 comments

Corn and Drought

July 2012 was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental United States. 70% of Iowa - the nation's largest corn producer - is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rates 50% of the nation's corn crop as poor or very poor. Today U.S. corn prices reached an all-time high. The impact will be global. Wired looks at "Why King Corn Wasn't Ready For The Drought".
posted by Egg Shen on Aug 9, 2012 - 149 comments

Texas Parks & Wildlife Suffer From Drought

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department maintains a Flickr account with a wide range of pictures from the state. Two of the more recently posted sets show the extent of the drought Texas is currently suffering: Bastrop Fire and 2011 Texas Drought.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Sep 22, 2011 - 24 comments

New "Normal" temperatures released by NOAA, increased extreme weather events

When a TV meteorologist says "temperatures will be ten degrees above normal", the word "normal" has a specific meaning. Every 10 years NOAA re-calculates the "normal" temps for the USA based on the prior 30-year averages. The new normals have just been released, based on the 30 year period 1980-2010. Hotter is the new normal. With hotter weather comes more extreme weather. Extreme Weather and Climate Change, 3-part series from Scientific America .. and map of extreme weather events 1995-present.
posted by stbalbach on Jun 30, 2011 - 35 comments

Google Trees + Amazon Drought

We've discussed the "once in a century" Amazon Drought of 2005-06. Five years later and we are seeing another once in a century drought in the Amazon. How serious are the effects of these droughts for global climate? The science appears to be mixed. Helping monitor is the newly released Google Earth 6.0, which can track individual trees within a section of the Amazonian forest, and 80 million other trees in 7 cities around the world (video).
posted by stbalbach on Nov 30, 2010 - 10 comments

Queen of Sheeba's town house abandoned.

Dating back to 6 Centuries before Common Era; Sana'a ( some photo links borked ) in Yemen will become the World's First modern Capital City to Run Out of Water. Apart from drought Yemen's lack of water is a direct result of growing the stimulant Qat. (wiki ). Yemen is well on its way to becoming the world's next failed state.
( History and Qat related.
posted by adamvasco on Feb 28, 2010 - 31 comments

10 years is just a blink of the ever-watching galactic eye

Inspired by its 10th anniversary, the Earth Observatory has pulled together a special series of NASA satellite images documenting how the world has changed. From these images, Wired Science has made 5 videos, presenting convenient time-lapse views of the world changing (mainly) because of human actions. Watch the urbanization of Dubai, specifically the growth of Palm Jumeirah. See the Aral Sea dry up - once the fourth largest lake, down to 10 percent of its original size (marked by the thin black line in the video) by 2007. View the clearing the Amazon, as observed from above the state of Rondônia in western Brazil. Behold the return of Mesopotamia's Wetlands, now in the process of being restored from near total destruction under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Witness the impact of drought on Southern Utah's Lake Powell, where water level dropped from 20 million to 8 million acre-feet from 2000 to 2005.
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 4, 2009 - 12 comments

The South will Rise

Tennesse and Georgia's war over water There are about five million residents in north Georgia affected by the drought. The phrase "if its brown flush it down, if its yellow let it mellow" has become part of the local jargon in an attempt to encourage water conservation. [more inside]
posted by meeshell on Feb 22, 2008 - 34 comments

Water, water everywh—Oh dear.

So you've all heard about how global warming will lead to rising sea-levels, but what about falling freshwater levels? [more inside]
posted by Weebot on Oct 26, 2007 - 43 comments

The drought went down to Georgia, it was lookin' for some crops to steal...

Georgia's going dry -- and we're not talking liquor stores. Record temperatures in Georgia and a long drought have left many Georgia cities wondering when the taps will run dry. Some towns have only a few weeks of water left, while rivers near Athens have nearly dried up. A broken water main hasn't helped the problem, and some fear that the University of Georgia campus there may shut down for lack of water. What's more, Atlanta itself is already feeling the pressure, as Lake Lanier, a water source for 3 million residents, falls by 1.5 feet per week and has only a three month supply remaining. While there have been more severe (pdf) droughts in Georgia's history, rising population numbers have increased demand to now unsustainable levels.
posted by InnocentBystander on Oct 13, 2007 - 75 comments

Green Grass

Record heat. Extreme drought. But the grass must stay green!
posted by neat-o on Oct 3, 2007 - 124 comments

California has been delta tough situation

"California has a decision to make. We either brace ourselves for long-term [water] cuts that threaten our economy and our very way of way of life, or we invest in a solution to fix the [San Francisco Bay] Delta and expand our water toolbox so we can meet future challenges head-on.” [more inside]
posted by salvia on Sep 16, 2007 - 41 comments

My Humps, My Humps, My Feral Population Jumps

From far away they came to toil under the scorching Outback sun, and their hardy dispositions and tireless labor helped to create the central Australian railway and telegraph systems. They are the Camels [NPR story w/ audio], and today they are free (well, okay, feral), and they are many (700,000 strong, at least.) While they're no cane toads, they're becoming a bit of a pest. What to do with all those dromedaries? Well, you can race 'em, or you can eat 'em, or maybe you can even try milking 'em. Just get 'em before they get you, mate.
posted by maryh on Dec 9, 2006 - 18 comments

amazon drought nearing climate tipping point

The Amazon rainforest becomes "a desert" after three consecutive years without rain - the trees die. Next year would be the third year of an ongoing drought. The forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon (or about 45 years of stored human emmisions at current rates) - 3/4's of the carbon is released within a year of dieing. The Amazon is "headed in a terrible direction".
posted by stbalbach on Jul 25, 2006 - 80 comments

National Drought Mitigation Center

Ever think about drought? The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) "helps people and institutions develop and implement measures to reduce societal vulnerability to drought. The NDMC, based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, stresses preparation and risk management rather than crisis management." Lots of interesting things in here, like the drought maps that stretch back to 1895, and the Standardized Precipitation Index Maps. You can also check the Drought Monitor to see how dry things are as of last Thursday. [via the excellent j-walk blog]
posted by Irontom on Jan 31, 2006 - 7 comments

Countdown to global catastrophe

Global warming approaching point of no return...
Climate change: report warns point of no return may be reached in 10 years, leading to droughts, agricultural failure and water shortages. The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea level more than 10 metres over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planet's forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon. Countdown to global catastrophe
posted by y2karl on Jan 24, 2005 - 80 comments

Firestorm 2003

Santa Ana Speeds the Spread of So Cal Fires
Five separate fires are burning in San Diego County, including several densely populated suburban areas. Dozens of homes have been burned. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar has been affected, including an FAA air traffic control installation. 16,000 people in the South Bay lost electricity when a major distribution line went down. Many San Diego firefighters went up to Camp Pendelton yesterday. (1, 2)
posted by rschram on Oct 26, 2003 - 42 comments

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