Extreme 'Flash Drought' in Southeast Means Big Trouble for U.S. Farmers
By Dan Nosowitz
While the northern reaches of the continental U.S. are finally starting to feel a little chill, the Southeast is dealing with something very different.
The United States Drought Monitor releases an update once a week with a map of the drought situation across the country. Its report this week echoes what farmers in the Southeast have been saying: We have a problem.
#DroughtMonitor 10/1: @NWSCPC’s Oct. outlook shows more #drought development likely over much of Southeast as… https://t.co/4OlH1WXHUm— NOAA (@NOAA)1570112511.0
According to the Drought Monitor, the Southeast is enduring temperatures between nine and twelve degrees above normal. From Virginia through Northern Florida, and especially in states such as Kentucky and Georgia, temperatures are reaching record highs. Chattanooga, Tennessee hit its highest temperature ever for this week, breaking 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the same story for Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina: 100 degrees in October, something the area has never before recorded.
Thursday’s 100-degree mark sets 2 new records: It’s the hottest October day at RDU. https://t.co/KJuWO4lCKf— Madhusudan Katti ☕️🦉 #RedForKashmir (@Madhusudan Katti ☕️🦉 #RedForKashmir)1570145258.0
For much of the region, the Drought Monitor says the conditions are a moderate drought at minimum. Large chunks are much worse than that, rating as a "severe" drought, with some pockets even hitting a bright-red "extreme" drought level. "Outside of coastal areas impacted by recent tropical weather, almost the entire region is abnormally dry or worse," reads this week's report.
Agriculture, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, is struggling in the Southeast as well. At the "severe" drought level, corn pretty much shrivels and dies. Rivers are shriveled, which makes it difficult to transport agricultural goods via barge. Grass is essentially dead, which means that those with grazing livestock have to spend money on hay, as well as, of course, water. And, as WFPL notes, even if farmers can get in to harvest their corn or soy crops, the weather stress makes them fetch lower prices than usual.
There will, according to weather predictions from the Drought Monitor, hopefully be some precipitation soon, at least in the parts of the Southeast that border the Midwest. But there's no guarantee, and it may be too late at a crucial time of the year for farmers.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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