Monday, April 25, 2011

Texas drought causes wildfires

The Battalion Online (Texas A&M University): With the dry weather and high winds, Texas residents have reason to be cautious. The weather affects everything from agriculture to wildfires, and there is no change in sight. "The current weather conditions are due to the La Niña weather pattern," said Travis Miller, professor, associate head and extension program leader for the Soil and Crop Sciences Department.

Miller said there is a difference between weather and climate. "This time La Niña turned out really bad," said John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences and climatologist.

Miller said implications of the drought are occurring right now. Wheat crops were destroyed, many farmers are abandoning dry-land crops, and fires burn in the grasslands of West Texas. It is too dry to plant cotton, and it is difficult for cattle to find food.

"Farmers are liquidating herds and selling cattle," Miller said. "Ranchers invest their career in developing a set of genetics right for their ranch and it is like parting with children when you have to sell them."

Miller said agricultural losses added up to more than $18 billion in Texas. "Soon it will start affecting water systems and the use of water in urban areas goes up when it is this dry," Miller said….

A view across the desert landscape of Big Bend National Park, Texas. Shot by Martin Proll

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