Posted on February 27, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Shift in balance between precipitation and rainfall was enough to reduce sources of accessible water
Ruins of the Maya city of Altun Ha, in present-day Belize. PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA AND THE CREATIVE COMMONS.
As the summer rains, failed, Maya priests sacrificed humans in an effort appease Chaac, the god of rain. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN, AKTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL CAVE.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Relatively minor changes in summer rainfall patterns may have been a big factor in the collapse of the Central American Maya civilization.
The new study relied on sediment data in shallow lakes and moisture records in cave formations reconstruct past climate in the region, finding that the drop in rainfall occurred around the same time the Maya abandoned their cities.
The results serve as a warning for other regions that exist in a delicate balance of climate and water availability, the researchers said.
“Our results show rather modest rainfall reductions between times when the Classic Maya Civilization flourished and its collapse – between AD 800-950,” said Professor Martín Medina-Elizalde, of the Yucatan Center for Scientific Research, one of the primary researchers. (more…)
Filed under: Archaeology, climate and weather | Tagged: Altun Ha, Chaac, drought, Maya civilization, Yucatán Peninsula | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Could forest-clearing in beetle-killed stands tilt regional climate toward dry conditions?
New research tracks rainfall patterns in Central America
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — As if the pine beetle outbreak weren’t bad enough, there’s new evidence to suggest that widespread forest clearing can change precipitation patterns on regional scale, tilting climate toward drought conditions.
The findings by NASA climatologist Ben Cook suggest ancient Meso-American civilizations of the Mayans and Aztecs likely amplified droughts in the Yucatán Peninsula and southern and central Mexico by clearing rainforests to make room for pastures and farmland.
Converting forest to farmland can increase the reflectivity, or albedo, of the land surface in ways that affect precipitation patterns. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, Snow and weather, Summit County news | Tagged: deforestation, drought, Forest health, forests, Mayan civilization, Medieval Warm Period, Yucatán Peninsula | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 27, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Dangerous storm conditions expected in coastal areas
Tropical Storm Rina is very close to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in this NOAA satellite image. The storm is expected to weaken further during the next 48 hours.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Tourists and locals along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula are facing tropical storm conditions Thursday morning as Rina brushes the area with sustained winds of 70 mph and some higher gusts.
Though Rina has been downgraded to a tropical storm, the system will produce 3 to 6 inches of rain across the area, including the popular resort of Cozumel, with isolated rainfall totals of up to 10 inches possible. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.
National Hurricane Center forecasters say the storm will produce a dangerous surge of 1 to 3 feet near and to the right of the track of the center, with large and destructive waves in some areas. The slow-moving system will continue to affect the area through Friday.
The storm could weaken to a tropical depression in about 72 hours as it turns southward over the northwestern Caribbean Sea.
Tropical Storm Rina will meander along the coast of the Yucatan before turning southward later this week.
Filed under: climate and weather, Hurricanes | Tagged: Belize huuricane Rina, Cozumel, Hurricane Rina, National Hurricane Center, Rina Belize, Rina downgraded to tropical storm, Tropical Storm Rina, Yucatán Peninsula | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 20, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Harvey could be brewing up hurricane force winds before reaching Belize.
Winds could peak at 75 mph, with heavy rains, flash floods and mudslides expected
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Tropical Storm Harvey could reach hurricane strength by the time it reaches the coast of Belize Saturday afternoon or evening.
An Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter flight Friday evening showed that Harvey is expected to linger over warm waters, with little wind shear aloft, for a while longer before making landfall.
That means sustained winds could reach as high as 75 mph before the storm hits the Caribbean shoreline. Harvey’s winds strengthened from 45 mph Friday morning to 60 mph by Friday evening.
Tropical storm watches have been upgraded to warnings along the coast from Honduras through Belize and to the southeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula
Filed under: climate and weather | Tagged: Atlantic hurricanes 2011, Belize, Caribbean, Honduras, National Hurricane Center, Tropical cyclone warnings and watches, Tropical Storm Harvey, Yucatán Peninsula | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 26, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Whale sharks gather by the hundreds to feed in nutrient-rich coastal waters off Mexico. PHOTO BY OSCAR REYES.
Largest-ever aggregation of giant fish discovered off the Yucatán Peninsula
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Far from being solitary behemoths of the sea, whale sharks sometimes gather in large schools to feed on fish eggs or tiny shrimp, according to recently published research by the Smithsonian Institution.
Whale sharks are the largest fish species, but they’ve been less studied than many other types of fish. Until recently, biologists had only seen them gather in groups of a few dozen, but in the past few years, researchers have learned that they can be gregarious, gathering by the hundreds to feed of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, marine biology, Smithsonian Institution, Summit County News, whale sharks, Yucatán Peninsula | 1 Comment »