Megadrought and ‘Bad Ant’

August 30, 2014

135037688798109797_k1I1eOSF_bFoggy and chilly this early Saturday on California’s north coast — an ordinary start to this three-day Labor Day weekend.
But who’s counting?

Always kind of moist here on the rim of the Pacific Ocean, but a few feet inland and heat takes a turn for the worse. In the dry-midst of a continuing drought, California might be on the cusp of something even worse than a more-waterless society. Three years of an average, run-of-the-mill drought has sucked up 63 trillion gallons of the precious liquid: As of last week Lake Oroville, one of California’s largest reservoirs, was at only 32 percent of its capacity. That’s pretty close to a record low.
Drinking water, of course, is a major-major health issue — one can go without food for a good-stretch of time, but staying hydrated, well…

(Illustration found here).

Up here on the North Coast, however, we don’t got no stinkin’ drought as our water source is way-good:

Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District business manager John Friedenbach said the Ruth Lake Reservoir has been at full capacity since the storms from a few weeks ago.
“As far as drinking water is concerned, we’re out of the drought for the districts and municipalities we serve,” Friedenbach said.
“Once the reservoir is full, we have over a year’s worth of drinking water. So we’re in good standing, thanks to Mother Nature.”

Of course, that’s now and it’s not tomorrow — which from all indications the water issue will get worse, and eventually us behind the Redwood Curtain will also suffer. The state, and the entire US Southwest for that matter, could be in the leading edge of what’s called a megadrought.
Yesterday, via Climate Central:

The research, published Thursday in the Journal of Climate, puts the chances of a megadrought lasting 35 years or longer at up to 50 percent in the region.
It would be a drought of epic proportions that would wreak havoc on the region’s already tenuous water supply for its growing population.
“It’s been recognized for awhile now that during climate change, because of rising temperatures, a lot of the Southwest dries out, gets less average precipitation,” said Toby Ault, the study’s lead author and Cornell-based climate researcher.
“The novelty of this research was to just try and use those predictions of the future to estimate the risk of prolonged drought, to translate what those predictions of long term drying meant for megadrought.”

If current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, the odds of a megadrought hitting some parts of the Southwest is a 50-50 proposition.
And the odds of a decade-long drought — like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s or Southwest drought of the 1950s — are around 90 percent, meaning it’s near certain parts of the Southwest will deal with substantial drought impacts at some point in the next century due to climate change.
There’s also a 5-10 percent chance that parts of the region could see a state of “permanent” megadrought lasting 50 years or longer under the highest-warming scenario, a greenhouse gas emissions path we’re currently on.
“Even without climate change, there would be some risk of megadrought even if we weren’t warming up the planet.
“But because of climate change and drying predicted from climate change, that weights the dice toward making these things more likely,” Ault said.

And the big-huge set of words from above, ‘greenhouse gas emissions trends continue,’ is the defining marker — the latest UN IPCC report, leaked last week, pretty-much warns climate change is near-about ‘irreversible.’
A word which translates into understandable language as, ‘We Be Fucked.’

And if all that ain’t bad enough — creatures of the big warming — ant invasion!
From the the San Francisco Chronicle:

Argentine ants, Linepithema humile, are on the march in drought-stricken California, and they’re invading Bay Area homes in droves. It’s considered one of the most invasive species on the planet.
“The Argentine ant is a species introduced to our environment — and it has invaded our ant fauna,” said Brian Fisher, curator of entomology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
“They do bite from time to time and if they move into your house, they will attempt to defend their home — and you’re considered a threat.
“It’s a bad ant.”
And, it’s not easy to get rid of them.
The ants in our homes across the state are part of a single super colony that extends from Oregon to Mexico, Fisher says.
Furthermore, you can have the cleanest house on the block and still find an ant invasion because they’re largely driven by weather.
With groundwater and green vegetation in short supply, the Argentine army is entering Bay Area homes through minuscule spaces in walls and floors.
They are entering through plumbing pipes — just about any small portal imaginable.
It’s what they do when it rains too much or not enough, Fisher said.

Most counties have between 50 and 75 species.
In Alameda County, 27 species have been tagged, but Fisher says the numbers reflect a lack of data collected.
Around the world, there are more than 30,000 species of ants.
“We’re so removed from nature that I think it’s great that they come to see you,” Fisher said.
“There are no diseases carried by ant populations, and there is so much to observe and watch.
“They always manage to find that piece of pizza left on the table. How do they do it?”

Back in the day, my son was the grab-boy of that last pizza slice — in magadroughts and ant invasions, all bets are off.

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