US 'extreme drought' zones triple in size

Jul 27, 2012 by Andrew Gully
A field of dead corn sits next to an ethanol plant July 25, in Palestine, Illinois. The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, experts warned, driving concern food prices could soar if crops in the world's key producer are decimated.

The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, experts warned, driving concern food prices could soar if crops in the world's key producer are decimated.

The US Monitor reported a nearly threefold increase in areas of extreme drought over the past week in the nine Midwestern states where three quarters of the country's corn and are produced.

"That expansion of D3 or extreme conditions intensified quite rapidly and we went from 11.9 percent to 28.9 percent in just one week," Brian Fuchs, a and Drought Monitor author, told AFP.

"For myself, studying drought, that's rapid. We've seen a lot of things developing with this drought that were unprecedented, especially the speed."

Almost two thirds of the continental United States are now suffering , the largest area recorded since the Drought Monitor project started in 1999.

"If you are following the here in the US, they are reflecting the anticipated shortages with a price increase," Fuchs said.

A farmer moves an irrigation system into a cornfield near Whiteland, Indiana. The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, experts warned, driving concern food prices could soar if crops in the world's key producer are decimated.

"In turn, you're going to see those price increases trickle into the other areas that use those : , and then food stuffs."

In some rural areas, municipal water suppliers are talking about mandatory restrictions because they have seen such a dramatic drop in the water table that they fear being unable to fulfill deliveries to customers, Fuchs said.

"Things have really developed over the last two months and conditions have worsened just that quick and that is really unprecedented," he added.

"Definitely exports are going to suffer because there is going to be less available and the markets are already reflecting that.

"It's anticipated that this drought is going to persist through the next couple of months at least and conditions are not overly favorable to see any widespread improvement."

President 's administration has opened up protected US land to help farmers and ranchers hit by the drought and encouraged crop insurance companies to forgo charging interest for a month.

Officials have said the drought will drive up food prices since 78 percent of US corn and 11 percent of soybean crops have been hit and the United States is the world's biggest producer of those crops.

The current drought has been compared to a 1988 crisis that cut production by 20 percent and cost the economy tens of billions of dollars.

A farmer talks with an official from the US Department of Agriculture while veiwing drought damage to his farm, near Goreville, Illinois. The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate, experts warned, driving concern food prices could soar if crops in the world's key producer are decimated.

The US Department of Agriculture issued retail price forecasts Wednesday for 2013 and they already showed an impact from the drought, with consumers expected to pay between three and four percent more for their groceries.

"The 2013 numbers reflect higher-than-average inflation which is partly a function of the drought and the higher crop prices," said Ephraim Leibtag of the USDA's Economic Research Service.

"The drought effects are starting now at the farm and agricultural level.

"Those things take two to 12 months to work through the system. So you'll see some effects as early as the fall (autumn) in terms of the grocery stores and restaurants, certainly later in the year and into 2013."

The full impact of the drought on won't be known for months.

"It's too early to tell as we don't know how much of the crop is going to be lost and how much higher corn and soybean prices will go," Leibtag said.

"We are not forecasting major impacts on retail food at this point. If the drought gets worse or corn and soybean prices rise even more, that would start to have a bigger impact."

Even before the last week, farmers were telling AFP they may have to cut their losses -- chopping down fields of half-mature, earless corn to feed the stalks to cattle.

Weather forecasters predicted no respite.

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Lurker2358
2.6 / 5 (9) Jul 27, 2012
Blame on failure of imagination regarding water mitigation infrastructure from top to bottom and bottom to top in this country.

We could build the Alaska pipeline, for God's sake, there's no damned excuse for not having nation-wide water lines for drought mitigation. Take water from the Great Lakes or from rivers that are over budget, and pump it to lands and reservoirs that are below budget. You don't even need as much high tech or materials costs as an oil pipeline, since it's just water.

You can't stop regional drought with this sort of system, but what you can do is create an extended star network of pumping systems capable of going both ways, which would allow farmers and ranchers access to far more water resources than they currently have available. For economic purposes, you only care about the crop lands and grazing lands, and obviously need not water the entire environment.

It would only take mitigation of one or two events for the entire system to pay for itself.
Lurker2358
3.6 / 5 (9) Jul 27, 2012
Now I know what you're thinking, "but that requires 'socialist' programs and bipartisanship at all levels of government. There's no way the republicans will go along with this."

I beg to differ. The Texan republicans at least will be hypocritical and certainly go along with this plan, as they have no problem with federal spending, just so long as it's in their own state.

The cost of this entire system would be far lower than the ISS and probably lower than the James Webb Telescope, which compared to the existing U.S. budget is peanuts anyway.

The end user benefits to the farmers and consumers will be many times greater than the cost of design and install of this proposal.
R2Bacca
3 / 5 (9) Jul 27, 2012
The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate


The current drought has been compared to a 1988 crisis ...


Unprecedented, eh?
Scottingham
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 27, 2012
I think lurker is onto something. Though one thing he/she is missing is the cross-contamination from different water sources.

I propose instead the source of this huge pipeline network be desalinated ocean water. The massive energy load is peanuts to a modern (!) fission reactor.

This would also save the whole southwest who are draining natural water supplies waay faster than they can be replenished.

Not to mention, jobs, more stable economy, etc etc etc.
Lurker2358
5 / 5 (1) Jul 27, 2012
The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate


The current drought has been compared to a 1988 crisis ...


Unprecedented, eh?


"Unpresedented rate" is referring back to the word "intensifying".

Because of the way the food industry works, particularly in canned goods which are often a year or two old before they are consumed anyway, the real economic and social consequences of this drought won't be felt until at least next year in many cases, if not the following year. Although the farmers and ranchers themselves are certainly feeling it, and the meats department at super markets will have a larger immediate impact than the produce or canned goods section.

The 1988 drought is reportedly responsible for 10,000 cumulative deaths in the U.s. through malnutrition and starvation.

This drought is already worse than the 1988 drought, and "intensifying" means it's getting worse.
Lurker2358
not rated yet Jul 27, 2012
This drought is ranked number 2 nationwide in recorded history as measured by total drought coverage.

It is ranked number 4 nationwide in recorded history as measured by the coverage of "exceptional drought".

Therefore worse than 1988 in some metrics, but not all.

We have a generally higher standard of living in the U.S. than in 1988 because food prices have gone up below the baseline inflation rate, so I expect that nations over seas will suffer more because of this in terms of nutrition than U.S. citizens, at last as long as it doesn't get out of hand or go on for several years. Some nations who are themselves experiencing drought and famine conditions may be hurt severely by these events due to a decrease in material food assets for trade or foreign aid programs.

Scottingham:

I've proposed wind or solar powered Desalination in the past, after all, plenty of sunshine and wind during a drought, not so much water though...
Vendicar_Decarian
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 27, 2012
RyggTard can't seem to comprehend the difference between rate and extent.

"The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate.' = Article

"Unprecedented, eh?" - R2Bacca/RyggTard

A rate, Tard Boy, is the first order rate of change of a magnitude.

As to the magnitude of the current drought...

The following graphic shows extents for previous years.

https://docs.goog...vOExtVXc
SteveL
5 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2012
I wonder how much corn will be left for human consumption after the legally mandated ethanol demand is met. This is really going to be tough on those who raise livestock as the cost of grain is going to go through the roof. After a short decrease in costs due to meat being dumped onto the market we should expect significant price increases in farm-provided foodstuffs. Ranchers will dump their stock for what they can get as they know they won't be able to feed the same size herds without grain feeds.
chocoman
5 / 5 (2) Jul 27, 2012
Lurker2358 is right. But it does not matter. Many of the states suffering drought now have already passed laws preventing their water from being shared fearing dry states making a grab for that precious resource. They saw what LA did to the Owens Valley and it scared them.
I live in Southern California. It is a desert that has been transformed by taking water from other parts of the state. That has been blocked. OK, then let's make it by desalination. Environmentalists have blocked it. We have mandated utilities to get their power from renewable sources. When the utility companies try to site solar or wind farms they get blocked.

Man has staved off the inevitable shortages caused by overpopulation by the use of technology. We, in the US have grown to fear technology or just have developed NIMBYism to its absurd conclusion. If we fear what will save us then we have little hope.
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 27, 2012
Corn intended for human consumption isn't used for methanol production.

"I wonder how much corn will be left for human consumption after the legally mandated ethanol demand is met." - SteveL

Just a couple of years ago Denialists were insiting to me that there would never be an increase in food prices as a result of Global Warming.
ubavontuba
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2012
Just a couple of years ago Denialists were insiting to me that there would never be an increase in food prices as a result of Global Warming.
Since when has a periodic drought been proven to be caused by "global warming?"

This drought was caused by a double whammy La Nina.

http://www.drough...sion.pdf
Vendicar_Decarian
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2012
The pacific ocean is currently in a El-Nino phase.

https://docs.goog...RVzRiTlE

Note the orange along the equator on the left of South America.

That orange is the depiction of the warmer water of an El-Nino.

"This drought was caused by a double whammy La Nina." - UbVonTard

Poor UbvonTard. He claims that a cool pacific ocean (La Nina) is the cause of the current U.S. drought, when in fact the Pacific Ocean is in a warm (El Nino) phase..

And here is the weekly anomaly for last week.

http://www.esrl.n...anom.gif

Here is an animation showing the development of the current El-Nino

http://www.esrl.n...ear.html

However, positive equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies have grown, exceeding +0.5°C across the eastern Pacific Ocean by the end of June.
ubavontuba
2.9 / 5 (7) Jul 28, 2012
The pacific ocean is currently in a El-Nino phase.
No it's not. And your docs.google.com references never work and it isn't an official source anyway. Use official sources.

According to the NOAA, as of 7/23/12:

"ENSO-neutral conditions continue."

http://www.cpc.nc...-web.pdf

Note the orange along the equator on the left of South America.

That orange is the depiction of the warmer water of an El-Nino.
You're probably talking about the sea surface temperature (SST) graphic. This is normal. You need to look at the SST anomalies graphic. Both can be found here:

http://www.cpc.nc...im.shtml

Here's historical and current data:

http://www.cpc.nc...rs.shtml

continued...
ubavontuba
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 28, 2012
He claims that a cool pacific ocean (La Nina) is the cause of the current U.S. drought, when in fact the Pacific Ocean is in a warm (El Nino) phase..
Moron. It's only just switching.

And here is the weekly anomaly for last week.

Here is an animation showing the development of the current El-Nino
You're an idiot. This is a currently changing condition. It isn't what caused the drought. It's the almost two years of "double-dip" La Nina which preceded it.

"the La Niña ...contributed to the ...U.S. drought"

http://www.usatod...031848/1

If it switches to a full-on an El Nino, that'll likely mean rain, and lots of it (ending the U.S. drought).

However, positive equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies have grown, exceeding +0.5°C across the eastern Pacific Ocean by the end of June.
Right. They're predicting a change to El Nino, not saying we've been in one for the last two years.

Get a clue.
alfie_null
3 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2012
Lurker2358 suggests using the Great Lakes to irrigate presumably large portions of the Midwest. Lead me to a bunch of questions:

How much land would be irrigated? What part of the drought afflicted area would be covered? To what extent will this system remediate the effects of droughts?

How much water would be required? What would be the effect on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence?

How much pumping would be required (over elevation and distance)? How much power?

How long would it take to build (consider that the Alaska pipeline didn't have to cross developed land)?

Discounting building cost, how expensive will this be to maintain and operate, and how often will it be used?

Are the Great Lakes a national resource, or a regional resource, or an international resource (i.e. who is allowed to determine their use)?
Lurker2358
5 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2012
The pacific ocean is currently in a El-Nino phase.


The El Nino phase just started, in fact it is only still borderline between neutral and El Nino.

Some aspects of the the drought were actually caused 8 or 9 months ago due to exceptionally warm fall leading into an exceptionally warm winter with pathetic snow packs, and lakes and rivers thawing two months ahead of time during spring, also under La Nina conditions.

The northern states are suffering droughts because their snowpacks and water bodies melted out so early, and drained off way ahead of time, again back during the La Nina phase.

The atmosphere has not yet fully responded to the El Nino-like conditions in the water temperatures in the E. Pac, and when it does, it is actually expected to break the drought in some regions by enhancing certain monsoonal flows.

Also, technically, it must be El Nino conditions for five consecutive months before it even counts as an "El Nino year".
Lurker2358
5 / 5 (2) Jul 28, 2012
And UBA is definitely correct.

There was a "double dip" La Nina over the past few years, even when the models thought El Nino was coming last year, the atmosphere simply would not allow it, and returned to a full La Nina.

In many parts of Texas, unusually dry conditions have existed for two years now.

Hay for cattle in Texas was selling for something like 5 times the average Louisiana rate, but a Louisianian couldn't make a profit off it anyway, because the price of gasoline or diesel was so high it would cost you that much money to make a trip with a trailer loaded down with the hay. That was during this previous winter, which was La Nina, following an entire previous 12 months of La Nina.

Extreme and exceptional droughts are caused by months or years of persistent dry patterns and heat waves, not a few weeks of above or below average SST in one or two regions...
PhotonX
not rated yet Jul 28, 2012
Iowa corn and soybean prices are already doubled from just five years ago. Hard to imagine this helping any.

http://www.extens...2-11.pdf
http://www.extens...-11.html
Egleton
3 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2012
I guess this is what an Ice Age looks like.
kochevnik
4 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
Yet wheat was $3.20 in 1990 and only 9.40 in 2012. A meager inflation adjustment would yield a cost over $13/bushel. Farming is a crap business.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2012
Yet wheat was $3.20 in 1990 and only 9.40 in 2012. A meager inflation adjustment would yield a cost over $13/bushel. Farming is a crap business.
LOL. It can be a crap small business (a.k.a. family farm). But on large economies of scale, it's quite profitable.

But this depends on a lot of factors. Where I live, family farms do very well.
R2Bacca
3 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2012
RyggTard


Wow.

Let's compare the rate at which you shot off of your rocker over my comment to the rate of intensification of this drought.

I believe both are unprecedented, sort of. Seeing as you have a propensity for calling people names for no good reason (probably because you has a very limited imagination), it seems unprecedented to me that the moderators of these comment sections have allowed you to continue with your endless diatribes and tirades in which your lack of a shred of decency allows you to come up with names such as "RyggTard".

Attack the argument, not the arguer. Unless you're five years old. Then you have an excuse.

R2Bacca
1 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2012
"Unpresedented rate" is referring back to the word "intensifying".


You may be correct. I really don't like seeing the legalese word "unprecedented" in science literature.

Satene
1.5 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2012
The droughts and spreading of deserts may be the consequence of (at least) two factors: the release of aerosols with human activity and by global warming itself, which switches the atmospheric circulation from horizontal into vertical one. But I'm not so sure, the people are responsible for main portion of global warming.
SteveL
5 / 5 (1) Jul 30, 2012
Corn intended for human consumption isn't used for methanol production.

"I wonder how much corn will be left for human consumption after the legally mandated ethanol demand is met." - SteveL
I realize this, but food production is not legally mandated, ethanol production is. Ethanol intended corn crops are grown about 3 to 4 times denser than human intended corn crops. However, if there isn't enough production from the ethanol intended crops, will the legal mandate have the effect of raiding the human intended crops? Laws don't care about people and history hasn't proven that rich lawmakers can think beyond the moment when crafting them.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
Lurker's initial comments have a bit of merit. And the use of nuclear is a really good idea. Lots of folks say use solar for this, and that thas some merit as well. Energy is energy, from an engineering stand point of view. I care little, really, if the calorie comes from whatever source, just so the source is had cheap! Nuclear can be made a lot cheaper...simply pass some laws that effectively put nimbies and protesters and crackpot critics and legal saboteurs in prison for long terms; and legislate a dumping ground for the small amount of long lived waste these plants produce. Declare martial law if necessary to get this done and dispose of endless legal economic sabotage and/or outright hooliganism. Solar has its troubles too. We in California have a couple of lizards that cost over 200,000 bucks per lizard to find and relocate to some dry riverbed less than a mile from their original digs. One of the lizards interviewed for the "Press Enterprise" said: "I'll be baaaack!".
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
With solar power, the problems are the acquisition of land for the project, and with avaricious local governmental units, and graft. Take southern California as a case in point. Inyo, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties here have enormous potential solar energy resources in the deserts that abound within those counties. Those deserts are largely empty due to the interactive practices of real estate and environmental interests to lock 'homeowners' (victims) into postage stamp lots concentrated in areas so small that the population densities of their cities rivals Japan. Homes built in these places are too close together and are firetraps, now a bibical firestorm tragedy waiting to happen. This leaves most of the usable land in the hands of a few crooked speculatin front companies for real estate/enviro crooks. Buyin this will cost prohibitive and bribe productive. And the same folks sit on plannin comms, hands out for $$$ every step o the way.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
Concerning the Great Lakes, the states and provinces bordering the lakes are: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec. These have formed a regional compact that amounts to a treaty between Canada and the United States. It has been said that the Chinese are buying this water through front organizations operating in Canada, and maybe huge amounts of this water is already being diverted through a 'shipping canal' south of Chicago. The state of Illinois is making money on this, and a present controversy over the threat of big head carp invading the Great Lakes water system is being suppressed by Illinois legislators and President Obama who is from Illinois. The cover story is to 'help the barge operators' but the real reason is diversion of so tremendous an amount of water that the lakes are losing depth almost a foot per year. Most of that water is probably to help corporate farms in Mexico, but much goes to China.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
RyggTard can't seem to comprehend the difference between rate and extent.

"The drought in America's breadbasket is intensifying at an unprecedented rate.' = Article

"Unprecedented, eh?" - R2Bacca/RyggTard

A rate, Tard Boy, is the first order rate of change of a magnitude.

As to the magnitude of the current drought... The following graphic shows extents for previous years.

https://docs.goog...Xc/edit#
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2012
Osiris has clearly never seen Niagra Falls.

http://www.youtub...HiWtRQ3E

This video shows Lake Erie draining into Lake Ontario.

Flow rate = 1000 barges a second? 10,000?

"The cover story is to 'help the barge operators' but the real reason is diversion of so tremendous an amount of water that the lakes are losing depth almost a foot per year. Most of that water is probably to help corporate farms in Mexico, but much goes to China." - Osirus
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Aug 01, 2012
Projected drought conditions 2050.

http://www.wired....2050.jpg
SteveL
not rated yet Aug 05, 2012
Just a couple of years ago Denialists were insiting to me that there would never be an increase in food prices as a result of Global Warming.
But, they were "denialists". Did you actually value their opinion? Any global or even regional weather changes effect food prices. How could global warming not?
ryggesogn2
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2012
"Corn prices soared 34 percent after USDA slashed its yield projection 12 percent over a previous estimate. According to the Chicago Board of Trade, they have recently reached a near-record level of $8.28 per bushel for spot delivery. Some traders believe prices may soon rise further."
"the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) which forces refiners to sell larger amounts of corn ethanol and other biofuels each year, continuesregardless of weather, supply demand, or cost influences. These volumetric targets increase from 4.0 billion gallons in 2006, to 36 billion gallons in 2022. "
"Corn price volatility has more than doubled since RPS was enacted in 2007."
http://www.forbes...quences/
So let's end the federal govt mandates for corn based ethanol.

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