Friday, January 4, 2013

Drought set to close Mississippi River trade route

Responding to Climate Change: The Mississippi River is set to close to barge traffic after officials deemed low river levels had made the route unsafe. The US drought in 2012 was second only to that of the dust bowl era of the 1930s. While this single event cannot be attributed solely to climate change, it is widely acknowledged to have made a significant contribution.

The US army engineers have begun clearing rock pinnacles on the river bed and dredging to keep the route passable with queues of barges carrying corn, soya and other commodities to the Gulf coast.

The American Waterways Operators trade association and Waterways Council policy group estimates that January closures will hold up $2.8bn worth of trade, will affect 8000 jobs as well as creating more problems further down the supply chain.

Reservoirs upstream of the affected areas of the Mississippi have been further reduced as water was released to irrigate the local area. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that the river’s level will reach an all time low on January 15....

A coal barge on the Mississippi, shot by Roy Luck, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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