A very beneficial rain fell in many parts of the area last night and this morning, and that should help improve the drought situation here in Wisconsin. The official US Drought Monitor map released this week does not show any improvement but last night’s rain was not factored into this week’s report. It will not show up until next week. Many people reported 1 to 2 inches of rain in areas around Clark, Wood, Portage, and Waupaca counties, so these areas stand to gain the most in the official report for next week.
For the rest of the country, the most improvement in the drought was in the east, but in most of those areas, things are not too bad.
Where there drought is the worst, in the middle of the nation, it got slightly worse in areal coverage last week, even though there has been some rain in the drought-stricken areas. There are now 8 states with extreme to exceptional drought covering 68% or more of the acreage.
The drought and the heat go hand-in-hand of course, and there isn’t a whole lot one can do about it outside of truly massive irrigation. In order to accomplish such a feat, we would have to rely upon a lot more than reservoirs and well-water (aquifers). It would take massive desalination and piping of ocean water to blunt such a widespread event. And then, one would have to wonder if it would be worth the expense to build such infrastructure when such droughts only occur about once every other decade. If AGW theorists (or even historical drought analysis) are correct and more frequent drought is in the offing in the future, then such geo-engineering is not out of the realm of economic rationale. It is a good thing then that de-salination of ocean water could possibly become much more efficient. As far as geo-engineering goes, it might be a win-win. Lower the ocean levels while at the same time preventing drought and heat waves. Maybe more widespread desalination would head-off regional water wars of the present and future as well. Maybe we could even store some of the excess underground, as is being proposed in Australia.
Another suggestion offered recently was to block out some of the sunshine in areas where a drought is enhancing a heat wave. This would be a small scale version of something I have covered in the blog in the past – which is shading the entire earth from a small percentage of sunshine.
Suggestions have been made to fill the upper atmosphere with sulfur dioxide or set-up huge mirrors in space to reflect the light away. These ideas have gotten more air-time now during the recent heat wave. If such an attempt to cool the earth was ever made, I think it would be better to place energy capturing solar panels up there instead. Not to capture energy and beam it back down to earth (which environmentalists will never allow to happen) but to help fuel space exploration.
These are of course some of the bigger ideas on how manipulate a changing climate, of which I support, not because I am extremely worried about AGW, but because I think it is our human destiny to harness the weather and climate. We already manipulate the climate in almost all of our buildings large and small. Speaking of buildings, one of the smaller ideas to change the climate is to paint more roofs white in warmer areas of the world. Although there is no consensus on how well this would work, it at least makes common sense. Also, painting roofs black in very cold climates would help save energy. Even better would be shingles that change color with the seasons which I have blogged about before. Such shingles do exist but are only in the testing phase right now.
Another geo-engineering idea that made some press recently is fertilizing the oceans with iron to sequester more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. One recent study proved that it works in certain circumstances, but I still wonder about un-anticipated negative side effects. The one idea that doesn’t get too much play, that would have the most immediate effect on pollution and theoretical future AGW, that I have blogged about recently: stop having so many kids!
Have a fine Thursday! Meteorologist Justin Loew
This post was written by jloew on August 9, 2012