Mexico – U.S. deal a hopeful sign for the Colorado River

This icy trickle of water in North Tenmile Creek has a better chance of making it to the Gulf of California, thanks to a new agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on Colorado River flows.

Temporary treaty amendment includes innovative water banking

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A landmark  water agreement between the U.S. and Mexico on Colorado River flows is winning acclaim as a true win-win — a rarity in an era of perpetual water shortages and rising concerns over allocation of the Southwest’s great river.

But even though the deal is getting good reviews, it’s important to remember that the Colorado River is not healthy.

Massive diversions and storage projects have choked off native flows that helped maintain riparian habitat. Those same projects have pushed four native fish species to the brink of extinction. The agreement will help resolve some long-standing issues in the lower Colorado Basin, but doesn’t do anything to alleviate the extreme pressure on the river’s upper reaches. Continue reading

Hurricane Miriam headed toward Baja

Major Pacific storm with winds of 120 mph expected to weaken before reaching Baja coast

Hurricane Miriam is generating winds of 120 mph off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Photo courtesy NOAA.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the strongest hurricanes of the year has formed in the eastern Pacific and could affect the weather in the southwestern U.S. late in the week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Miriam, southwest of the Baja Peninsula, is generating sustained winds of 120 mph and could strengthen a bit more in the next couple of days before weakening as it encounters strong winds from the west.

The storm is forecast to track northward, and even northeastward, which would put the system on track for a landfall along the Baja coast next weekend or early next week, potentially with tropical storm force winds.

Miriam’s outflow is already streaming over the southern tip of Baja. No coastal watches or warning have  been issued for the storm, but the system will likely soon pump up the surf along the Baja Coast.

Maya may have intensified drought by clearing forests

The Tikal temple represents one of the pinnacles of Maya civilization. Photo courtesy Raymond Ostertag via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

Clear-cutting may have reduced rainfall by as much as 15 percent

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The decline of Maya civilization has often been linked with drought by climate researchers and archaeologists. Now, a new study suggests the Maya may have hastened their own demise by clearing forests.

Based on climate modeling, Mayan land-clearing may have reduced rainfall by as much as 15 percent in the heavily logged Yucatan Peninsula, and by up to 5 percent in other parts of southern Mexico. Overall, the researchers said as much as 60 percent of the regional drying may have been caused by deforestation.

“We’re not saying deforestation explains the entire drought, but it does explain a substantial portion of the overall drying that is thought to have occurred,” said the study’s lead author Benjamin Cook, a climate modeler at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Continue reading

Watchdog group says border wall plans are flawed

Flooding a concern along the Rio Grande

Along the Rio Grande …

By Summit Voice

It appears that the U.S. has not learned from recent Eastern European history that walls and fences just don’t work when it comes to trying to keep people in or out of a country.

Pushed mostly by politicians with a xenophobic agenda and pandering to a xenophobic constituency, plans for a massive border wall along the Rio Grande continue, and now, it appears as though the new 14-mile section of wall could  block flood water from draining into the Rio Grande, bottling it up in towns and farm land and significantly worsening damage inflicted, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The three border wall sections will consist of concrete bollards spaced four inches apart and topped by as much as 15 feet of steel fencing. If the bollards become choked with storm debris, the structures will function as dams, deflecting water out of the river channel and perhaps even changing the channel of the River itself (and thus our border).  The wall sections are slated to be placed in the Rio Grande floodplain adjacent to the communities of Roma, Rio Grande City and Los Ebanos. Continue reading

Hurricane Carlotta nears Mexico coast with 80 mph winds

Storm surge, mountain floods and mudslides expected

Hurricane Carlotta, far left, is growing and strengthening rapidly near the southern coast of Mexico.

Hurricane Carlotta forecast track map

Hurricane Carlotta could move along the coast of southern Mexico the next few days.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Hurricane  warnings are in effect for several hundred miles along the Pacific coast of Mexico including Acapulco, as Hurricane Carlotta approaches the area with winds that could reach 100 mph early in the weekend.

The biggest concerns are for a dangerous storm surge that will produce significant coastal flooding, along with powerful and destructive waves. Rainfall totals are forecast to reach 3 to 5 inches in Chiapas and northern Oaxaca, with higher amounts up 10 15 inches in the mountains of southern Oaxaca, where mudslides and flash flooding are possible.

The latest forecast track nudges Carlotta a bit farther north before the hurricane turns west again, which means the storm could weaken and even fall apart if it runs into the high mountains of southern Mexico, but the exact track has been hard to pinpoint. Carlotta could rake a large part of Mexico’s southern coast with high winds and heavy rains.

Officially, wind speeds are forecast to reach 90 mph by Friday evening and 100 mph by Saturday morning as the center nears the coast.

Tropical Storm Carlotta a potential threat to Mexico

Storm could make landfall Saturday with 80 mph winds

A NOAA satellite image shows Tropical Storm Carlotta gathering strength over the southeastern Pacific.

Tropical Storm Carlotta track, hurricane carlotta

Tropical Storm Carlotta is likely to reach hurricane strength by Friday and poses a threat to the southern coast of Mexico.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Carlotta, the season’s third tropical storm of the season has formed over the far southeastern Pacific and is strengthening rapidly, with sustained winds of 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Carlotta is forecast to reach hurricane strength and become a threat to the southern coast of Mexico by Friday. A hurricane watch is already in effect for the Mexican coast between Barra de Tonala and Punta Maldonado, and hurricane warmings are likely in the region soon.

It’s not exactly clear how far north the storm will move before heading back out to sea due to a ridge of high pressure building to the north. The NHC says the storm could stall in the general vicinity of Acapulco during the weekend.

Hurricanes: New tropical storm forming in Pacific

Tropical Depression Two-E could become hurricane by Wednesday

TD Two-E is visible as a cluster of clouds in the bottom right corner.

A tropical storm is forming in the eastern Pacific.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The early part of the 2012 hurricane season is shaping up as an active one, with yet a third storm forming in the warm tropical Pacific south of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Depression Two-E is already generating sustained winds of 35 mph and is moving slowly westward. But forecasts suggest the track will turn more northward in the next 24 hours, bringing the storm over warmer waters and allowing for strengthening as vertical wind shear decreases.

The storm could reach hurricane strength by Wednesday, and by Thursday, it could be generating winds of 100 mph as it approaches the Mexico coast somewhere south of Cabo Corrientes.

Biodiversity: Monarch butterflies in steep decline

Monarch butterflies during migration. PHOTO COURTESY GENE NEIMINEN/USFWS.

GMO crops blamed for significant 10-year drop in population numbers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —A decades-long downward trend in Monarch butterfly numbers is expected to continue this year, with reports from the World Wildlife Fund and other sources indicating there may be almost one-third fewer butterflies making the northward flight from Mexico this spring and summer.

This year’s steep decline may, in part, be due to last summer’s severe drought in Texas, which resulted in less food for the showy insects as they traveled south. But year-to-year fluctuations don’t hide the overall long-term trend of population decline.

“The latest information shows that Monarchs will be down from 25 to 30 percent this year, and that has been part of a disturbing trend the last few years,” said Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a long-time butterfly enthusiast.

This year, according to the Texas Monarch Watch, Monarchs covered about 7.14 acres of forest in their Mexican breeding grounds compared to 9.9 acres last year, and it shows a continued long-term downward trend in Monarch population since official surveys began in 1994. Continue reading

New tree ring study pinpoints ancient mega-droughts

A 1,100-year old Montezuma tree from Barranca de Amealco, Mexico, used in the rainfall chronology. This tree species is called "ahuehuete" in the indigenous language Nahuatl, meaning 'old man of the water'.

Dry spells may be linked to decline of pre-Hispanic civilizations in Mexico and Central America

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new tree ring study spanning more than 1,200 years is helping archaeologists pinpoint the exact dates of ancient mega-droughts that may have been key factors in the decline of major pre-Hispanic cultures in Mexico and Central America.

The new data supports other evidence that droughts played a big role in the rise and fall of the Toltecs and Maya, but the record had many gaps, leaving researchers guessing as to the exact dates geographic extent of the dry spells.

The new, 1,238-year-long tree-ring chronology is the longest and most accurate of its kind for Mesoamerica, and the first to reconstruct the climate of pre-colonial Mexico on an annual basis for more than a millennium, pinning down four ancient mega-droughts to their exact years. Continue reading

Climate Leaks: EarthUp covers COP 16 in Cancun

"How do we sleep while the beds are burning?" ~ Midnight Oil

Mexico President Felipe Calderón opens COP 16

Editor’s note: Jon Harrington, renewable energy advocate and owner of Silverthorne’s Alpine Earth Center, is traveling to Cancun this week and will be offering his perspectives on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Harrington will post updates regularly at Summit Voice on the proceedings at COP16.

“There are 194 nations that have signed the Kyoto Accord,” Harrington said. “With the U.S. not being one of them, I will be traveling to Cancun this week to understand what the world is doing to combat climate change, and why the U.S. is on the sidelines.”

The following are the remarks by the President of the United Mexican States, Felipe Calderón during the Inauguration of the 16th International Conference on Climate Change, COP16/CMP6, which is taking place in Cancun, Mexico. Continue reading

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