Posts Tagged ‘drought’


The Temple of Quechula was built in 1564 but later abandoned and ultimately submerged by a dam. Now drought conditions in Chiapas have seen it rise again.

The ruins of a 16th century church have emerged from the waters of a reservoir in Mexico.

The water level in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas state has dropped by 25m (82ft) because of a drought in the area. The church, known as the Temple of Santiago or the Temple of Quechula, has been under nearly 100ft of water since 1966.

The church, which is believed to have been built by Spanish colonists, is 183ft long and 42ft wide, with a bell tower that rises 48ft above the ground.

It was built in 1564, the Associated Press reported, because of an expected surge in population, but abandoned after plague hit the area between 1773 and 1776.

“It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that,” architect Carlos Navarretes said. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatán.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/19/drought-mexican-church-reservoir

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The rice industry in the Sacramento Valley is taking a hard hit with the drought. Some farmers are skipping out on their fields this year, because they are cashing in on their water rights.

Many fields will stay dry because farmers will be doing what was once considered unthinkable: selling their water to Southern California.

“In the long term, if we don’t make it available we’re afraid they’ll just take it,” said Charlie Mathews, a fourth generation rice farmer with senior rights to Yuba River water.

He and his fellow growers have agreed to sell 20 percent of their allotment to Los Angeles’s Metropolitan Water District as it desperately searches to add to its dwindling supply.

It’s not really surprising that Southern California is looking for a place to buy water. But what is making news is how much they’ve agreed to pay for it: $700 per acre foot of water.

Just last year, rice farmers were amazed when they were offered $500 per acre foot. This new price means growers will earn a lot more money on the fields they don’t plant, making water itself the real cash crop in California.

“It’s much more than we ever expected to get. But at the same time, that just shows the desperation of the people that need it,” Mathews said.

The ripple effect of this will be felt around the entire state. If a Bay Area water district needs to buy more water, it will now be competing with Los Angeles to do it.

“They have to pay whatever the last price, the highest price, people will pay,” Mathews said.

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/03/17/drought-some-northern-california-farmers-not-planting-sell-water-rights-los-angeles/

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

There is no precedent in contemporary weather records for the kinds of droughts the country’s West will face, if greenhouse gas emissions stay on course, a NASA study said.

No precedent even in the past 1,000 years.

The feared droughts would cover most of the western half of the United States — the Central Plains and the Southwest.

Those regions have suffered severe drought in recent years. But it doesn’t compare in the slightest to the ‘megadroughts’ likely to hit them before the century is over due to global warming.
These will be epochal, worthy of a chapter in Earth’s natural history.

Even if emissions drop moderately, droughts in those regions will get much worse than they are now, NASA said.

The space agency’s study conjures visions of the sun scorching cracked earth that is baked dry of moisture for feet below the surface, across vast landscapes, for decades. Great lake reservoirs could dwindle to ponds, leaving cities to ration water to residents who haven’t fled east.

“Our projections for what we are seeing is that, with climate change, many of these types of droughts will likely last for 20, 30, even 40 years,” said NASA climate scientist Ben Cook.

That’s worse and longer than the historic Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when “black blizzards” — towering, blustery dust walls — buried Southern Plains homes, buggies and barns in dirt dunes.

It lasted about 10 years. Though long, it was within the framework of a contemporary natural drought.

To find something almost as extreme as what looms, one must go back to Medieval times.

Nestled in the shade of Southwestern mountain rock, earthen Ancestral Pueblo housing offers a foreshadowing. The tight, lively villages emptied out in the 13th century’s Great Drought that lasted more than 30 years.

No water. No crops. Starvation drove populations out to the east and south.

If NASA’s worst case scenario plays out, what’s to come could be worse.

Its computations are based on greenhouse gas emissions continuing on their current course. And they produce an 80% chance of at least one drought that could last for decades.

One “even exceeding the duration of the long term intense ‘megadroughts’ that characterized the really arid time period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly,” Cook said.

That was a period of heightened global temperatures that lasted from about 1100 to 1300 — when those Ancestral Pueblos dispersed. Global average temperatures are already higher now than they were then, the study said.

The NASA team’s study was very data heavy.

It examined past wet and dry periods using tree rings going back 1,000 years and compared them with soil moisture from 17 climate models, NASA said in the study published in Science Advances.

Scientists used super computers to calculate the models forward along the lines of human induced global warming scenarios. The models all showed a much drier planet.

Some Southwestern areas that are currently drought-stricken are filling up with more people, creating more demand for water while reservoirs are already strained.

The predicted megadroughts will wrack water supplies much harder, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said.

“These droughts really represent events that nobody in the history of the United States has ever had to deal with,” Cook said.

Compared with the last millennium, the dryness will be unprecedented. Adapting to it will be tough.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/14/us/nasa-study-western-megadrought/index.html