Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Texas - Hottest Ever Summer, Drought Worse Than 1930's Dust Bowl

Texas is now in its worst-ever one-year drought, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

Texas is the second-largest agricultural state in the United States, accounting for about 7 percent of the total U.S. agricultural income, with an economic impact of about $100 billion on the Texas economy.

Agriculture is the second-largest resource-based industry in Texas employing one out of every seven working Texans and producing about 9 percent of the state's gross product.

But in 2011 the record breaking heat wave and lack of rainfall is baking Texas dry, leaving the nation’s second largest agricultural producer with catastrophically reduced crop and livestock yields.

This will further impact the state's already struggling economy, likely increasing unemployment in the coming months and further reducing revenue the state needs to fund government and public education. The drought is also damaging Texas' infrastructure, which could cost billions of dollars the state does not have to repair.

The records set for Texas tell the story of a polluted climate killing the state:

  • July was the hottest ever month
  • Hottest July ever - average temperature 87.2°F (previous record 86.5°F in 1998)
  • Hottest June ever (fifth hottest month ever), average temperature 85.2°F
  • Least year-to-date precipitation - 6.53 inches (historical average 16.03 inches; previous record 9.36 inches in 1917)
  • Driest consecutive 8, 9, and 10 months - 7.25 inches 8.35 inches, and 9.17 inches respectively
  • Driest 12 months ending in July - 15.16 inches (previous record 16.46 inches in 1925)
  • 99.93 percent of the state is in some level of drought
  • 73.49 percent of the state is in exceptional drought

“These statistics rank the current drought as the most severe one-year drought ever for Texas,” Nielsen-Gammon explains. “Never before has so little rain been recorded prior to and during the primary growing season for crops, plants and warm-season grasses.”

Central Texas is changing from arid grassland to uninhabitable desert. Unsustainable practices, such as over pumping of groundwater, unregulated urban sprawl, and poor conservation practices are accelerating the desertification. The region has been in a drought since 1995-1996, with brief respites in 2007 and 2010 from catastrophic, flooding rains.

2011 is just a taste of Texas’ future. In coming years, the climate is expected to worsen for Texas “Triple-digit temperatures will be the norm in Texas within a few decades, and 115-degree heat won’t be surprising,” according to the state climatologist.

According to The Washington Post, trends suggest that "man-made factors are almost certainly playing a role in the heat wave's intensity." The article cites scientists who blame the heat on urbanization and a higher concentration of greenhouse gas emissions.

Interactive drought map

by on Jul 22, 2011
Guests: Andrew Dessler, Ph.D, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University and David Bieler, Ph.D Chair & Associate Professor Geology, Centenary College of Louisiana
Our climate is changing -- no doubt about it. Heat waves are sweeping the continent, drought is devastating the south, yet floods have destroyed much of the Mississippi River Valley... and across the globe tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes are racking up billions of dollars in damage and costing thousands of lives.

So we ask, what is causing the planet to experience such drastic weather patterns -- is it just the normal cycle of nature or is man at the root of these changes? broadcast date, July 22, 2011

July was so hot “that just by plotting the location of each daily heat record that was broken, a nearly complete image of the contiguous United States is visible,” reports NOAA. “Almost 9,000 daily records were broken or tied last month, including 2,755 highest maximum temperatures and 6,171 highest minimum temperatures (i.e., nighttime records).” “Some cities reached daily high temperatures 19 out of the 31 days in the month.” The data is incomplete, as they include “only include weather stations with real-time electronic reporting, which accounts for about two-thirds of the locations.”

The Truth About Texas Air Quality

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