Five maps of America’s drought conditions

Half of the mainland United States is facing drier-than-usual conditions, with 15 percent of the country experiencing “extreme” to “exceptional” drought. That in itself is far from unprecedented (it happened in 2012 and 2013, for starters) but it’s a significant event.

The real problem, though, is in California, which is facing one of its worst dry spells on record — every single part of the state is now facing “severe” drought or worse. Dry conditions may be one reason why large wildfires are breaking out in California a few weeks earlier than usual. The drought is also hurting the state’s crucial agricultural sector.

Droughts are hardly new in US history, and they’ve been a regular feature of the West for many, many years. But the current drought in California is serious even by historical standards.

RTFA for illustrations and description of the national turn to the worse our land has taken. Yes, special emphasis is on the source of much of our food in California – appropriately. But, the whole nation faces potential disaster.

That this happens within the context of rightwing nutballs in charge of half of Congress – and obstructing the whole – makes life and the cost of living more likely to face a death spiral of thumb-twiddling.

The point of maximum intensity of tropical cyclones is moving toward the poles

Click to enlarge — Typhoons Francisco and Lekima swirl toward Japan — NOAA/Olander & Kohrs

Over the past 30 years, the location where tropical cyclones reach maximum intensity has been shifting toward the poles in both the northern and southern hemispheres at a rate of about 35 miles, or one-half a degree of latitude, per decade according to a new study…published in Nature.

As tropical cyclones move into higher latitudes, some regions closer to the equator may experience reduced risk, while coastal populations and infrastructure poleward of the tropics may experience increased risk. With their devastating winds and flooding, tropical cyclones can especially endanger coastal cities not adequately prepared for them. Additionally, regions in the tropics that depend on cyclones’ rainfall to help replenish water resources may be at risk for lower water availability as the storms migrate away from them.

The amount of poleward migration varies by region. The greatest migration is found in the northern and southern Pacific and South Indian Oceans, but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years.

By using the locations where tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity, the scientists have high confidence in their results…

Consistent with this poleward shift, many other studies are showing an expansion of the tropics over the same period since 1980…

The expansion of the tropics has been observed independently from the poleward migration of tropical cyclones, but both phenomena show similar variability and trends, strengthening the idea that the two phenomena are linked. Scientists have attributed the expansion of the tropics in part to human-caused increases of greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone depletion, and increases in atmospheric pollution.

However, determining whether the poleward shift of tropical cyclone maximum intensity can be linked to human activity will require more and longer-term investigations.

The essential conservatism of real science – as opposed to the crap foisted on the public by fossil fuel profiteers and their flunkies is as clear as ever. This group of researchers record at least three apparent contributing causes in their study – and note that research continues.

Slugs like the Koch Bros. would rather research be halted and climate change be ignored.

Thanks, Mike

The future of breakfast printing technology

Breakfast lovers prepare to be amazed- everyone’s favorite breakfast food the pancake just got a technological upgrade. It’s called the PancakeBot, but it might as well be called the food printer we never knew we wanted so badly.

The Pancakebot works much like a 3D printer, drawing intricately designed pancakes out onto the skillet and making your dream of eating pancakes shaped like stuff come true!

This mealtime marvel was created by designer Miguel Valenzuela, who used LEGO blocks to create his initial prototype, which was subsequently replaced by “an acrylic body, an Arduino Mega, and two Adafruit Motor Shields as well as a few odds and ends like a vacuum pump for batter control.”

Coming soon to an IHOP near you [in your dreams].

Thanks, Ursarodinia