Saturday, March 27, 2010

Severe Drought Hit Southwest China

Impacts: The dry spell has ravaged southwest China for months, affecting 61.3 million residents and 5 million hectares (12 million acres) of crops in Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Chongqing, and Guangxi. The drought has left 18 million residents and 11.7 million heads of livestock in the region with drinking water shortages and caused direct economic losses of 23.7 billion yuan (3.5 billion U.S. dollars).

Emergency responses: 30-thousand soldiers and 200-thousand reservists are busy with the relief work. They delivered 44-thousand tons (12 million U.S. gallons) of fresh water and dug nearly 1-thousand wells in the drought-plagued region; An effort is also being made to induce artificial rain; etc.

Causes: Less than a half of normal rainfall and continuous high temperature, resulting from the El Nino weather pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean since last Summer; Karst topography in some areas where the surface water is leaked to the almost intractable subterranean drainage system; Contamination of some source waters by human activities; Lack of drought-defense engineering measures; People farming and living sparsely in remote mountainous villages making them difficult to reach during the emergency response; etc. Identifying the causes would hopefully lead to proper long-term solutions.

Photo: Rice paddy fields in the mountainous area, from

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Jersey Flooded, Again, by March 2010 Nor'easter

Five to eight inches of rain hit New Jersey causing serious flooding, again. Strong winds also uprooted trees and downed power lines. The severe flooding has again triggered debates on conquer (engineering projects) vs. retreat (home buyouts). The debates tend to go on forever, but we probably can not afford to wait much longer.

Photo: Flooding along Passaic River, from