December 14, 2012

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Drought Could Halt Shipping on Mississippi

Shippers want Missouri water

After a year of record drought, shipping on the Mississippi River could come to a halt in the next few weeks. "All the ingredients for us getting to an all-time record low are certainly in place," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologist Mark Fuchs. "I would be very surprised if we didn't set a record this winter."

Projections suggest that a choke point near Thebes, Missouri, could become impassable before year’s end. Around $7 billion of commodities typically move on the river during the expected low-water period.

At current low levels, transportation has already become difficult: companies have started sending barges with lighter loads, causing more traffic, more delays, and some areas to be turned into one-way routes. Local companies that rely on the river for transporting goods are considering layoffs.

The shipping industry has asked President Obama to release more water from the Missouri River into the Mississippi. But hydrologists say that would devastate upstream agricultural states, like Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota, which are already suffering from widespread drought.

Via The Guardian

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Annapurna Base Camp

Annapurna Base Camp     Photo: magical-world/Flickr

Maurice Herzog Dies

First person to summit Annapurna

Famed French mountaineer Maurice Herzog, who became the first person to scale an 8,000-meter peak in 1950, died of natural causes on Friday. Herzog, 93. climbed 26,545-foot Annapurna with Louis Lachenal, losing all of his fingers and toes in the process. Following news of Herzog's death, President Francois Hollande said that the climb had been "engraved enduringly in our collective memory." Herzog later wrote a best-selling book about the climb, and went on to become a member of the International Olympic Committee and the mayor of Chamonix.

Via NPR

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

IPCC Report on Climate Change Leaked

Posted on climate skeptic website

Early drafts of the next report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were leaked online Thursday by climate skeptic website StopGreenSuicide.com. The site published the first section in a four-part report, due to be completed in October 2014. In a statement released Friday morning, the IPCC said it was investigating the leak. According to the leaked drafts, part of what will be the IPCC’s fifth major climate assessment, there is a 95 percent chance that human activity is directly responsible for “more than half” of the increase of global surface temperatures since the 1950s.

Though climate skeptics have pounced on wording that gives more significance to solar heating, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick called the outrage "mountains from molehill."

While the panel’s Nobel Prize-winning 2007 report already concluded that climate change was both real and man-made, new information has allowed them to confirm this analysis. The new report concludes: "New observations, longer data sets, and more paleoclimate information give further support for this conclusion. Confidence is stronger that many changes, that are observed consistently across components of the climate system, are significant, unusual or unprecedented on time scales of decades to many hundreds of thousands of years."

More than 250 scientists compiled the report, while another 659 scientists contributed comments during the first round of vetting, known as the “expert review.”

Via Scientific American

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lindsey Vonn Crashes Out

Ends five-win streak

Lara Gut won her first World Cup downhill on Friday as Lindsey Vonn crashed out, ending her winning streak in Val d'Isere. Vonn was reportedly uninjured but responded to reporters that she was "not feeling great" after crashing in her strongest discipline. "She made a mistake that every skier [makes] at some point of their skiing career," U.S. women's coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. "A little bit of fall away in that turn. [With] her type of skiing where she's pushing things to the limit ... it was just a touch too much there." Gut managed to overcome a challenging course and finish the downhil in 1 minute, 19.75 seconds.

Via U.S. News and World Report

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