Archive | Drought

Love, Els Share Palmer Lead

ORLANDO, Fla., March 26 (UPI) — Davis Love III, despite faltering late in his round, grabbed a share of the lead Friday midway through the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.

Phil Mickelson moved into serious contention for the first time this year and Sam Sanuders, grandson of the tournament’s namesake, survived the 36-hole cut.

Love, seeking his first title in two years, birdied six of his first eight holes Friday and took the lead at 10-under par. He then struggled during his back nine at the Bay Hill course and settled for a 1-under 71 that gave him a two-day total of 7-under 137.

He shared first place with D.J. Trahan, former British Open champion Ben Curtis and Ernie Els, who ended his own two-year drought two weeks ago with a victory at the WGC-CA Championship.

Curtis, who has won just twice since capturing the 2003 British Open, shot a 67. Trahan fired a 68 and Els had a 69.

Mickelson turned in a typically up-and-down round that included two shots in the water and an eagle at the par-4 eighth. He needed just 23 putts to shoot a 67 and stood at 138, tied for fifth with Kevin Na and two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen.

Mickelson’s best finish in five events this year has been a tie for eighth at Pebble Beach.

Those at 140, tied for eighth, included Mike Weir, K.J. Choi and Steve Stricker.

Saunders played the first 36 holes in 1-under 143. It took a score of 145 to make the halfway cut. Among those missing the cut were Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, David Toms, David Duval and Camilo Villegas.

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Wells Dry in Record Drought in S. China

BEIJING, March 26 (UPI) — The drought in South China has become so severe that wells have dried up, leaving 18 million people without drinking water, officials say.

In one village, Xiazha in Guangxi province, records show the three wells have been reliable since at least the early 16th century, The Daily Telegraph reports. Now, all are dry.

“I’m 83 years old, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Yang Kuanren, a resident of the village. “Not a single drop of water can be seen in our wells. For hundreds of years, we have relied on those wells for irrigation and drinking water and we do not know what to do. It is time to start planting the fields, but the earth is so dry we cannot even plough it.”

Some villages in the region have tried digging new wells. But even those sunk hundreds of feet are coming up dry.

In Yunnan, at least 5,000 villagers have left their homes and moved into temporary camps in the Himalayan foothills, taking advantage of the flowing streams there.

The government has also sent thousands of water trucks to the region and mobilized the army to deliver more than 1 million tons of food.

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Posted in Drinking Water, Drought, Other0 Comments

Southwest China Struggles Through Drought

BEIJING, March 25 (UPI) — A drought gripping southwest China for months has affected 62 million people and more than 12 million acres of crops, authorities said.

The provinces hit by the drought since last autumn include Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guangxi, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Wednesday, China Daily reported. In Guizhou, cloud-seeding helped produce rains the past two days, easing the situation somewhat in some areas of the province.

The report said about 18 million residents and more than 11 million head of livestock in the five provinces also are facing drinking water shortages.

The ministry estimated the direct economic losses so far from the drought at nearly $3.5 billion.

The drought also has caused prices of goods to soar, affecting much of the food chain, including tea, herbs, fruit and grain.

The China Daily report said most farmers in the five provinces must depend on nature as the region has few water irrigation facilities. Since the start of the drought, the provinces have received only half their annual average rainfall.

Separately, sandstorms swept across the country for the past two weeks.

Experts blamed the sandstorms on strong and frequent cold spells, China Daily reported.

The cold spells could produce another six to nine sandstorms in northern China in April and May, the experts said.

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Posted in Drinking Water, Drought0 Comments

Thais Want China Info on Mekong Dams

BANGKOK, March 20 (UPI) — Senior Thai officials plan to meet with Chinese officials in the first high-level bilateral talks on the drought along the Mekong River, authorities say.

The Bangkok Post reported Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to attend the proposed talks, which would be held on the sidelines of the Mekong River Commission meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand, from April 2-5, Kasemsun Chinnavaso, chief of the Thai Water Resources Department, said.

But China has yet to say whether its prime minister or a deputy will attend the meeting, he said. China, which is not a member of the MRC, is set to join the summit as a dialogue partner.

The water department chief said Bangkok would ask China about the operation of Chinese dams on the Mekong.

Downstream countries have been affected by changes in the river’s flow since China started operating three dams two years ago, Kasemsun said.

Local residents and activists say China’s dams are the major cause of the severe water shortages along the river, the Post reported.

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Severe Drought Grips Southwestern China

SHIYANZI, China, March 17 (UPI) — Southwestern China’s drought is so severe the government in some areas is rationing just enough water to keep people alive, officials said Wednesday.

The drought, the worst in memory, has left more than 20 million people short of drinking water in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.

“The horsebean and rape (crops) has withered in the field and we’re running out of grain in the house,” said Shiyanzi resident Li Shaorong, adding he uses “only a few drops of water every other day” to rinse his eyes.

The drought has devastated crops of fruit, tea, rubber, coffee, flowers and other crops key to the local economy.

The region has seen no rain in six months and some communities since January have been rationing just enough water to keep people alive, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

While China’s southwestern region is experiencing severe drought, the nation’s northern and central provinces have had excessive snow, a change some scientists attribute to climate change.

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Posted in Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Drinking Water, Drought0 Comments

Study Debunks Amazon Rain Forest Theory

BOSTON, March 16 (UPI) — A NASA-funded study contradicts a previous U.N. report that the Amazon rain forests thrive during long droughts.

The Boston University study, using NASA satellite data, concluded Amazon rain forests were remarkably unaffected by a once-in-a-century drought in 2005, neither dying nor thriving, contrary to a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We found no big differences in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years, which suggests that these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought,” said Arindam Samanta, the study’s lead author.

The U.N. panel’s report, published in 2007 by the journal Science, claimed the rain forests actually thrive from drought because of more sunshine under cloudless skies, the scientists said. The latest report said that study was flawed and not reproducible.

“This new study brings some clarity to our muddled understanding of how these forests, with their rich source of biodiversity, would fare in the future in the face of twin pressures from logging and changing climate,” said Boston University Professor Ranga Myneni.

The research that included Sangram Ganguly of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute in Sonoma, Calif., appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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Posted in Biodiversity, Drought, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Study: Fog Declines Along California Coast

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 16 (UPI) — A University of California-Berkeley study suggests foggy conditions have declined during the past century along California’s redwood coast.

The scientists, led by postdoctoral scholar James Johnstone, said the decline in fog potentially endangers coastal redwood trees that are dependent on cool, humid summers. The researchers said it is unclear whether the diminished foggy conditions are part of a natural cycle or the result of human activity.

“Since 1901, the average number of hours of fog along the coast in summer has dropped from 56 percent to 42 percent, which is a loss of about three hours per day,” Johnstone said. “A cool coast and warm interior is one of the defining characteristics of California’s coastal climate, but the temperature difference between the coast and interior has declined substantially in the last century, in step with the decline in summer fog.”

Professor Todd Dawson, the study’s co-author, said coastal redwoods and other ecosystems along the U.S. West Coast might be increasingly drought-stressed, with a summer climate of reduced fog frequency and greater evaporative demand.

“Fog prevents water loss from redwoods in summer, and is really important for both the tree and the forest,” said Dawson. “If the fog is gone, we might not have the redwood forests we do now.”

The study appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Posted in Atmospheric Science, Drought0 Comments

Sydney's $1.7 Billion Desalination Plant

SYDNEY, Feb. 1 (UPI) — A $1.7 billion desalination plant has opened in Sydney, expected to supply up to 15 percent of the area’s water needs.

The seawater reverse-osmosis facility in the southern suburb of Kurnell has been driven by concerns about climate change, Sydney’s inconsistent rainfall patterns and a rapidly growing metropolitan area that attracts some 50,000 new residents each year.

“This is about preparing for Sydney’s expanding population. In the face of climate change, in the face of increasing drought, it is important we are securing Sydney’s water supply,” Kristina Keneally, premier of New South Wales, said during the plant’s opening ceremony Thursday.

The desalination plant is now producing 55 million liters per day of water, which will gradually increase to full capacity, 250 million liters a day. Water from the Kurnell facility will be distributed to 1.5 million people as part or all of their water supply throughout Sydney.

The plant is 100 percent offset by wind energy, and a new wind farm with 67 turbines is now up and running nearby at Bungendore.

Officials say coastal ecosystems will not be adversely affected by the salty discharge deposited back into the sea.

But John Kaye, a Greens MP in the New South Wales state Parliament, said the construction in Botany Bay had stirred up heavy metals that could harm migrating whales. Other sea life, he said, could also be affected by the dumping of saline waste back into the Tasman Sea.

“Sydney’s desalination plant was a huge mistake,” Kaye told the BBC.

“The historical records show we did not need it. The government says it is all powered by green energy, but that could have been used to offset coal generation elsewhere,” he said.

To achieve desalination at Kurnell, seawater is drawn into the system via a large 2.5-kilometer underwater tunnel. After gravel, sand, silt, seaweed and other debris have been removed, high pressure pushes the water through membranes small enough to capture the salt in a process known as reverse osmosis.

The desalinated reserves are then re-mineralized and slightly carbonated, while chlorine and fluoride are added, before being pumped directly into the city’s main supply.

Keneally said the project would add about $100 a year to the average person’s water bill, which would allow the plant to be fully paid off in four years.

“By 2025, global demand for water is predicted to grow by over 40 percent,” she said. “Along with dams, recycling and water efficiency, desalination is one of four key ways to ensure Sydney has enough water in the future.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Drinking Water, Drought, Recycling, Water Efficiency0 Comments

California Water Managers Rejoice in Snowpack

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 30 (UPI) — A snowy winter has been good news for California water managers, although they warn the snow pack in the Sierras has not solved the state’s problems.

The most recent measurements, released Friday, put the snow pack at 115 percent of normal for this time of year, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Saturday. A year ago it was at 69 percent.

Sue Sims, chief deputy director for the state Department of Water Resources, said she felt “cautious optimism” at the news. But with most reservoirs well below normal for mid-winter, managers say the state needs a lot more precipitation.

In 2008, the Sierras had their driest spring on record.

“In years past, we have seen the storm tracks change and the rainfall drops off the end of the table,” said Keith Lewinger, general manager of the Fallbrook Public Utility District near San Diego. “We are never more than a year away from drought and restrictions.”

The state is also struggling with court orders requiring water diversions to keep ecosystems healthy and a network of aqueducts, reservoirs and canals that needs work. One of the biggest problems is in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a vital node in the California water delivery system.

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Bushfire Raging in Australian Park

MELBOURNE, Jan. 22 (UPI) — A bushfire in Victoria, Australia, has consumed nearly 3,000 acres and is threatening a national park, the Country Fire Authority said Friday.

The Country Fire Authority said the bushfire in Grampians National Park is approaching residential areas in the Australian state such as Dadswells Bridge, Heatherlie and Ledcourt, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Area residents have been urged to implement their fire plans.

ABC said a number of spot fires have been caused by the major blaze, which was triggered hours earlier by lightning.

Department of Sustainability and Environment incident controller Geoff Evans confirmed five lightning strikes took place in the national park.

“Four of those resulted in nothing. One resulted in a fire,” Evans told the Melbourne Herald Sun of the lightning strikes around 6:40 p.m., local time.

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