Thursday, June 28, 2007

Strange world weather round-up

In the UK the "popular" media is now touching on the rather "odd" weather that the UK has experienced so far this year. Hottest April on record (where were the April showers) and now the wettest June on record with floods causing billions of pounds worth of damage and 4 deaths (and counting).

Is it all the fault of the dreaded "climate change"? Here is just a selection of "weather related" stories from today's PlanetArk news round-up.

Why Britain is Likely to Experience More Flooding
LONDON - Monsoon summers, with short but heavy downpours, are predicted by scientists to become a feature of British weather, bringing floods that could cause around one billion pounds worth of extra damage a year.

The flash flooding that has affected Sheffield and Hull in particular this week, as well as a large swathe of land across the north of England and the Midlands, is a growing phenomenon and follows floods in Carlisle in 2005 and Boscastle in 2004.

The Environment Agency expects the risks of flooding to rise significantly during this century.

Climate change is being blamed, as well as poor maintenance of the flood prevention system and dabbling in nature, such as concreting over the countryside which acts as a natural drainage system and trying to re-route rivers.

Wildlife, Crops Hit by Southeast Europe Heatwave

ATHENS - A heatwave that has killed more than 30 people in parts of southeast Europe has hit wildlife and crops, from the humble toad in Greek lagoons to grain across the region, while fruit is ripening weeks early in Italy.

Greece is experiencing its worst heatwave in 110 years that has already killed seven people, with temperatures reaching 46 Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) during a scorcher that has lasted five days and showed no signs on Wednesday of letting up.

In southern Italy, after the hottest spring in nearly two centuries, this year's harvest of grapes and other fruit and vegetables is expected to be as much as a month earlier than usual, at the beginning of August.

Drought Develops in China's Corn, Soybean Areas

BEIJING - Drought in China's northeast, the country's top corn and soybean region, is likely to last for another week at least and could seriously undermine grains production, agricultural officials said on Wednesday.

The province of Jilin, the country's top corn producer, has received almost no rain for more than two months, an official in the Jilin agricultural department said.

"We got no rain since crops were planted in mid-April. High temperatures, particularly in June, have worsened the situation. If it continues, crops will be damaged," the official said.

South Africa Dusted by Rare Snow Storm
JOHANNESBURG - A rare winter snowstorm dusted South Africa's commercial capital Johannesburg early on Wednesday as a winter weather front moved across the country, closing mountain passes and claiming at least one life.

"SNOWBURG" trumpeted the headline of Johannesburg's Star newspaper.

To end this "weather" round-up we finish on a cheery note that desertification is a threat to global security. It never rains, it pours.

Desertification Threat to Global Stability - UN Study
OSLO - Desertification could drive tens of millions of people from their homes, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia, a UN study warned on Thursday.

People displaced by desertification put new strains on natural resources and on other societies nearby and threaten international instability, the 46-page study by the UN University showed.

"There is a chain reaction. It leads to social turmoil," Zafaar Adeel, the study's lead author and head of the UN University's International Network on Water, Environment and Health, said.

The study urged governments to work out ways to slow the advance of deserts, from the Sahara to the Gobi, caused by factors such as climate change and land over-use. Better plantings of crops and forests in nearby drylands were simple measures to help.

"Desertification has emerged as an environmental crisis of global proportions, currently affecting an estimated 100 to 200 million people, and threatening the lives and livelihoods of a much larger number," the study said.

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