South Africa is the worlds number one maize producer and was hit incredibly hard last year by a horrible drought. The government is considering now trying to create a reserve to secure the future of its people, food and economy of South Africa. There are concerns that there will be yet again another devastating drought so the government wants to find a solution to avoid it as much as possible. A strategic grain reserve would mean the government would have to buy up crops and then taking responsibility for the shortages. This leaves the government overall more responsible and should hopefully be able to help the people of South Africa. The Agricultural Minister explains that if it is a good crop season South Africa can flourish but because of the weather patterns which then caused a horrible drought, it could also severely affect the country. El Niño is the warming of the oceans surface in the eastern and central pacific, which occurs every few years. Because of El Niño, the east gets a huge amount of rain while the southern cone is left with little to no rain, causing a drought.
The Ice Sheet that covers Antarctica has large networks of rivers and lakes, but scientists have only just discovered them. Glaciologist Alison Banwell from The University of Cambridge said the following about the research “A handful of previous studies have documented surface lakes and streams on individual ice shelves over a span of a few years,” she also said “But the authors’ work is the first to extensively map meltwater features and drainage systems on all of Antarctica’s ice shelves, over multiple decades.” Scientists say that all of this flowing water could increase the rate the ice sheet melts. Meltwater destabilizes glaciers and that is what is worrying scientists.
The melting of Antarctica is a massive contributor ti the raising sea levels, which in the future, will have huge effects on coastal communities. The raising sea level will trigger many other natural disasters.
Pictured is one of the almost 700 meltwater rivers. This one shows a 400 foot waterfall.
In Greenland a new crack has been found in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers. This was first captured recently by NASA photography. While completing a mission in the Northwest of Greenland they were able to spot this mysterious rift. This crack is seen to be spreading closer and closer towards the middle of the ice shelf. This ice shelf could potentially end up breaking off into two shelves, but because of the “medial flowline,” it could prevent that from happening.
On April 18th, the Prime Minister came out and decided that they needed funding for better weather forecasting and preparations for natural disasters. While reviewing the natural disasters that occurred the previous years such as: droughts, extreme cold weather, floods and storms, ending up costing up to $1.75 billion in reparations alone. This is clearly a serious problem if it is costing the country so much money in only a one year time frame. Four out of ten of the tropical storms caused severe flooding, which then turned into severe landslides causing destruction. Throughout the year over 350,000 homes were destroyed and tons of people either died or are still missing. Due to all of the destruction of farms, Vietnam has seen an overall decrease in their countries economic growth. Although the Prime Minister recognizes that there are facilities and equipment to help with these natural disasters, they are often limited and the people responsible for rescues don’t act quickly enough and not all rescues are successful. This is obviously a huge problem and the Prime Minister wishes to add in $1.7 billion into better forecasting and having more successful restorations and rescues. That way the country doesn’t have quite the same problems as it currently has with loss of property but also loss of lives. This country has a hard time bouncing back from natural disasters so hopefully with an improved system in place that can change.
Between Bermuda and the Azores, a low pressure system is churning. It has been dubbed Invest 91L by the National Hurricane Center, which uses this type of naming convention for features that look like they could eventually become a tropical depression or storm. The system is currently producing gale force winds which means 39 mph or greater and seas as high as 40 feet have been reported. There are still a number of things acting against the escalation of this system, however. The seas in the area are not particularly warm (upper 60s).
The official hurricane season goes from June 1st to November 30th. A subtropical cyclone like the one this system could create if the right conditions come together is very rare as early as April, the last one occurring 14 years ago in 2003. Before Ana in 2003, there are no official named tropical storms since the beginning of the records in 1851!
Due to increasing global temperatures, one of Canada’s largest glaciers, the Kaskawulsh Glacier, has been thinning and retreating at a rapid pace. Most of the natural melt water from the glacier used to flow into the Yukon river. Things have changed though due to the glacier retreating. The glacier now flows into the Alsek River. Although this has not caused any significant damage yet, I am writing about it because it has the potential to cause massive problems. The Alsek RIver has never before had to hold this much water, which will make the surrounding areas much more susceptible to floods. Areas near the Yukon river that had used it as a water supply are already facing problems with water. Vacation homes on the Yukon are being abandoned, hurting the local economy. These are just the first things in a long line of bad things that could happen.