Sunday, June 3, 2012

US Drought So Severe It Can Be Seen From Space

Photo courtesy: NASA (Public Domain)

If Corn Flakes is your breakfast cereal of choice - you may want to learn to embrace oatmeal or bran flakes or.... In fact, anything and everything that uses corn in any way, shape or form will rocket in price.

Some of the more common uses of corn are:

* Food products -- Cereals, snack foods, salad dressings, soft drink sweeteners, chewing gum, peanut butter, hominy grits, taco shells and other flour products, specialty corn including white corn, blue corn and popcorn .

* Animal feeds -- Distiller's dried grain, gluten feed and meal, high-oil feed corn for cattle, swine, poultry and fish (expect a rise in the price of meat).

* Industrial products -- Soaps, paints, corks, linoleum, polish, adhesives, rubber substitutes, wallboard, dry-cell batteries, textile finishings, cosmetic powders, candles, dyes, pharmaceuticals, lubricants, insulation, wallpaper and other starch products.

* Fermentation products and byproducts -- industrial alcohols, fuel ethanol, recyclable plastics, industrial enzymes, fuel octane enhancers, fuel oxygenates and solvents.

Aaaggh! The situation is looking rather grim, price wise. However, the following images show an even more disturbing picture.

While in 2011 the Mississippi river reached historic levels and rose out of its banks, this year the story is completely different because of the extended drought that has hit the US. It's so bad that it can even be seen from space, as NASA shows us.

The image above (taken August 8, 2012) shows the effects of the drought, and the one below (taken August 14, 2011) is the comparison pic of "before" at a time when the river's level was much higher. The best way to see it is to go to NASA's site and click on the "image comparison" button that shows you how the two images overlap. Well worth the look. This allows you to really see the difference in the level of the Mississippi river and in the color of the fields that surround it.

Photo courtesy: NASA (Public Domain)

"As of August 17, 2012, river gauges in the Memphis region recorded levels at -2.4 to -8.3 feet (below historic normal stage). At the time of the August 2011 image, the river stage was 11.7 feet. (In May 2011, the river peaked at 56.6 feet in the same location.)"

The low water levels followed record-setting temperatures and dry weather. By the end of July, 63% of the contiguous United States was in drought, affecting both crops and water supplies.

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