Abnormally dry conditions in the Palmetto State increased slightly this week, from 8.27% to 8.70%. In addition to two areas in the midlands and the low country, a very small area in Oconee and Anderson Counties along the Georgia border is now reporting abnormally dry conditions. South Carolina was drought free as recently as late May, but areas of the of the midlands and low country have been reporting abnormally dry conditions consistently through the summer.
1) Abnormally Dry Conditions in the Tar Heel State Stable
In the latest drought monitor released by USDA on Thursday for precipitation events through Monday, August 25th, North Carolina’s abnormally dry conditions decreased slightly…from 9.44% last week to 8.74% this week. Three areas of the state continue with persistent abnormally dry conditions; the northwest corner of the state along the Tennessee border has been reporting abnormally dry conditions for several month, the upper central Piedmont, and the lower eastern Piedmont.
Duke University Researchers Identify Drought Tolerance Gene
Duke University researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly.
The findings, which appeared in the Aug. 28th edition of the journal Nature, could make it easier to feed the world’s growing population in the face of climate change.
Water shortages are expected to become more frequent and severe if climate change makes rainfall patterns increasingly unreliable and farmland in some regions continues to dry up. Coupled with a world population that is expected to increase by two billion to three billion by 2050, researchers worldwide are looking for ways to produce more food with less water. Drought is the major cause of crop losses worldwide.
EPA Released WOTUS Proposal Maps
The Environmental Protection Agency released maps detailing the extent of the Waters of the U.S. proposal earlier this week. The maps were handed over to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Similar maps were made by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the American Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations. NCBA alleges the maps show individual states facing upwards of 100,000 additional stream miles that could be regulated under the proposed regulation. NCBA’s Ashley McDonald called the maps “the smoking gun” for agriculture. She stated “These maps show that EPA knew exactly what they were doing and knew exactly how expansive their proposal was before they published it.”