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Archive for the ‘water shortages’ Category

Killer Drought in Africa

Posted by feww on July 15, 2009

Drought is the biggest environmental catastrophe facing Africa

A weak rainy season lead to water food shortages in most parts of Africa, especially Kenya, which entered a state of emergency with about a third of the country’s 32 million population requiring food aid.

The drought also meant low water levels in reservoirs, water rationing and power cuts. The Masinga hydroelectric dam was closed down after low water levels in the reservoir could not sustain power generation.

The following images show how plants responded to the poor rainfall during the rainy season in 2009.

Drought in Africa

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Rainfall Anomaly (2009 season)



Cumulative Rainfall, Masinga Dam, Kenya

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Africa’s Sahel region,
a belt of fertile grassland, thrives or fails depending on seasonal rainfall. In dry years, little grows, and those who depend on rain to grow crops in the Sahel may face hunger.

Above images show rainfall during the long rainy season in 2009.  The top image, made from data collected by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) flying on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite NOAA-17, shows the condition of plants in June 2009 compared to previous Junes. In areas that are brown, plants were growing less then the  2003 and 2008 average. Green areas indicate better-than-average growth, while cream-colored areas indicate about average growth.

The poor growth in June 2009 is a result of the weak rainy season. Low seasonal rains, which usually come between March and June, resulted in drought this year. Made from a combination of satellite and rain gauge measurements, the middle image shows the extent of the rainfall deficit between March and June. Areas in brown received less rain than average, while blue areas received more rain. The average was calculated from rainfall observed between March and June from 1995 through 2008. The northern Sahel and East Africa were drier than normal throughout the 2009 rainy season.

The graph illustrates why water levels were so low at Masinga Dam in 2009 compared to the long-term average and other recent years. Each line shows how the rainy season developed between March and June. 1997 was an unusually wet year, with about 75 millimeters more rain than average by the end of June. The last year when rainfall reached normal levels was 2006. In 2009, the rainy season didn’t start until late March and less rain fell throughout the season. By the end of June, Masinga Dam had only received about 100 millimeters of rain, about 125 mm less than average and 200 mm less than in 1997. If conditions improve, Kenya’s next rainy season will likely begin in September or October and will last through November or December.

Images created by Jesse Allen, using GIMMS NOAA-17 AVHRR and Africa Rainfall Estimate data provided by Ed Pak, Jennifer Small and Assaf Anyamba, NASA GIMMS Group at Goddard Space Flight Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek with information from Assaf Anyamba. Images acquired March 1, 2009 – June 30, 2009. [Caption edited for brevity by FEWW. ]

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Posted in Climate Change, hydroelectric power, Rainfall Anomaly, rainy season, water shortages | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Could California Turn to Desert by 2011?

Posted by feww on June 5, 2008

Bets are on!

Schwarzenegger declares statewide drought

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought in California after two years of below-average rainfall. “We have a serious drought,” said Governor Schwarzenegger on Wednesday.

“For the areas in Northern California that supply most of our water, this March, April and May have been the driest ever in our recorded history,” Schwarzenegger said. “As a result, some local governments are rationing water, developments can’t proceed and agricultural fields are sitting idle.”

“We must recognize the severity of the crisis we face, so I am signing an executive order proclaiming a statewide drought and directing my Department of Water Resources and other entities to take immediate action to address the situation.”

The executive order enables water officials transfer water around California swiftly dealing with unusually dry conditions that are destroying crops, affecting water quality and creating extreme fire hazards across the state, one of the nation’s top farming regions.

To enlarge, right click on the image and select View Image

“Mr Schwarzenegger warned that conditions could be even worse next year if there was another dry winter. The governor wants voters to approve a $12 billion bond to fund delta, river and groundwater improvements, conservation and recycling efforts, and reservoirs. But legislators have not agreed to the plan despite ongoing negotiations with the administration.” USA today reported.

“This drought is an urgent reminder of the immediate need to upgrade California’s water infrastructure,” Schwarzenegger said. “There is no more time to waste because nothing is more vital to protect our economy, our environment and our quality-of-life.”

[Note: Gov Schwarzenegger’s statement is fundamentally flawed and factually incorrect because “to protect our economy,” i.e., business as usual, results in the destruction of “our environment” and therefore harms “our quality of life.”]

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[Nothing short of a catastrophic ecosystem collapse would make humans change their unsustainable lifestyles!]

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