Saturday, April 2


April 1, 2016:

1. Chinese dams blamed for exacerbating Southeast Asian drought; 
Associated Press: Much of Southeast Asia is suffering its worst drought in 20 or more years. Tens of millions of people in the region are affected by the low level of the Mekong, a rice bowl-sustaining river system that flows into Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. ... Fingers are mainly pointed at the El Nino climate phenomenon, which produces drier and hotter-than-usual weather globally. But environmentalists and some officials say the situation is worsened by the 10 dams on the Mekong’s mainstream built over the past two decades, at least partly because they reduce rainy-season flooding and trap sediments, making the downstream delta more vulnerable to seawater intrusion.

2. Philippines drought protest leaves at least two farmers deadThe Guardian: The farmers, who have been demanding financial aid and rice during a drought which has lasted for months, said the police fired at them. Police said some of the protesters were armed and fired first.

3. California drought patterns becoming more common; National Science Foundation: The epic drought is far from over. These scientists show that the frequency of atmospheric circulation patterns that worsen drought conditions has increased over the long-term. ... The study focused on the northeastern Pacific Ocean and far western North America.

4. Prolonged drought leads to severe malnutrition in southern Madagascar; AFP: Scavenging for wild fruits has become the norm as hunger continues to bite for most of the population in the southern part of the country. ... The government of Madagascar declared a state of emergency in the region. The UN has drafted a contingency response plan with a budget of $70 million, of which only 9% has been secured so far.

5. In fact: There is a drought in many parts of India. Why hasn’t it been noticed?; The Indian Express: Because this time it's only rural producers feeling the heat, not urban consumers.

6. El Niño is behind a life-threatening drought in the islands of the West Pacific; The Washington Post (March 31): The Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau have all declared states of emergency. NOAA predicts that drought conditions will only worsen, with below average rainfall forecast for the next two to three months.  

7.  AFDB pledges half a billion dollars for African drought relief; Reuters: 
The African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday pledged half a billion dollar relief package to 14 Southern and Eastern African countries most affected by an El Nino-propelled drought. The $549 million package will help an estimated 36 million people needing food assistance as abnormally high temperatures and the worst drought the region has seen in decades scorches staple crops from South Africa to Zimbabwe.

8. Many Central Valley farmers face severe water shortages despite easing drought; The Sacramento Bee:  
  • North state growers to receive 100 percent of federal allocation
  • Many farmers south of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to get 5 percent
  • Drought’s effects will hit agriculture hard in much of San Joaquin Valley
The huge disparities in water allocations reflect California’s hodgepodge water rights system, which generally favors farmers north of the Delta. They also reflect the uneven performance of El Niño, which delivered a lot of rain and snow in the Sacramento Valley and northern Sierra but relatively little south of the Delta.

9. From drought, seeds of discontent; The New Mexican: Time and again, drought was the final straw that disrupted complex ancestral Puebloan societies in the Southwest and shifted the cultures, according to a new study. “Those societies took a long time to build and a very short time to collapse,” said Washington State University anthropologist R. Kyle Bocinsky, one of the study’s lead authors. “We think those collapses were tied to slightly worse-than-normal climate challenges that undermined leadership and social consensus.”

Read more here:

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10. Rivers turn to dust as drought bites Somalia; Phys.Org (March 31): Somalia's bread basket has become a dust bowl as the life-giving waters of the mighty Shabelle river run dry amid intense drought in the war-torn country. ..."All the villages in the regions rely on water from the river to survive, there are very few wells here and I don't think life is possible without the flow of water of the Shabelle River" ...

11. Drought Conditions Expand in the Plains; Big Country (March 31):
After a record dry start to 2016, rainfall during the month of March has been above average in the Big Country. Abilene is now just 1.09 inches below average for the year, with 3.03" so far in 2016. More rain is expected to arrive to the Big Country on Friday.
The Panhandle of Texas hasn't been so lucky. Amarillo has only seen 0.96" so far this year and Lubbock has recorded even less, just 0.59".

Because of the dry start to the year, drought conditions now cover nearly 25% of the state of Texas, according to the US Drought Monitor. Right now, these drought conditions are mainly in the Panhandle and far western portion of the state. This number was at just 5% at the start of 2016.

Texas isn't the only state impacted by the growing drought conditions. Oklahoma was 100% drought free at the begin of 2016 but now is faced with drought conditions covering nearly 60% of the state.

Kansas also was nearly 100% drought free at the beginning of 2016, but now 74% of the state is facing drought conditions.

Dry brush and very high winds are being blamed for the historic Anderson Creek fire in Oklahoma and Kansas that spread explosively last week. That fire has burned over 367,000 acres and is now 95 percent contained.
12. Current Conditions; Global Drought Information System (February 2016 report):
At the end of February 2016, El Nino continues to exert its influence across the earth and is expected to continue at least through spring of 2016. February was the warmest February on record (137 year history) for the earth, according to NOAA and NASA. In Europe, drought conditions further intensified around the Mediterranean Sea this month.
In Asia, drought remains entrenched across the Indian sub-continent, around Mongolia, and in the West.
Tree ring research in the Middle East indicate the present drought, beginning in 1998, is likely the most severe in the last 900 years, according to NASA.
In Vietnam, the Mekong River is at its lowest level since 1926.
In Africa, short-term drought intensified again this month in the northern portion of the continent, around the Mediterranean, and remains intense in the South. In Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls are being affected by the Zambezi River flowing at a 30-year low. If the drought continues, downstream hydroelectric power is expected to be reduced or stopped in the next six months.
In Morocco, drought has reduced the wheat harvest by half
In North America, drought remains entrenched in the higher latitudes, while the Southwestern U.S. experienced some drying. In the US Pacific Northwest, an ample snowpack has improved, and is expected to further improve, drought conditions there. I
In South America, drought remains in the northern part of the continent while the South saw much-needed rain again this month. In Colombia, farmers from the Bolivar Province have abandoned their land after drought ruined their crops.
In Oceana, drought continues in Southern Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australian beef sales to the U.S. have increased over the past three years, while drought in the U.S. Southwest reduced livestock there.


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