The Stream, March 27: Germany Establishes a Drought Early Warning System

The Global Rundown

Germany sets up a drought early warning system after an abnormally dry year. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer orders the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to establish PFAS safety standards. More than a million people in northwestern Kenya are going hungry in the midst of a lengthy dry spell. Westland, New Zealand, declares a state of emergency after an intense rainstorm washes away a bridge. Tree deaths in drought-stricken New Mexico jumped by 50 percent in 2018. Flamingos flock to Mumbai, India, to feed on flourishing blue-green algae in the city’s waterways.

“It is a well-studied phenomenon in nature that one species’ waste is food for the other. The sewage in the creek promotes biological growth of blue-green algae, which is food for the flamingo.” –Debi Goenka, honorary secretary of the Bombay Natural History Society, in reference to the booming flamingo population in Mumbai, India. The city counted 120,000 flamingos in January, the highest number in decades. Researchers believe the birds are drawn by the city’s waterways, which are blooming with blue-green algae due to nitrate and phosphate pollution. The Guardian

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By The Numbers

186 miles Length of road on New Zealand’s South Island that is closed due to flooding. The mayor of Westland declared a state of emergency amid the severe flooding, which knocked out a bridge. Reuters

50 percent Increase in forest mortality in New Mexico in 2018, according to an annual forest health report. Experts say heat, drought, and forest insects were responsible for the increased tree deaths. Santa Fe New Mexican

Science, Studies, And Reports

In the wake of a brutally dry 2018, Germany’s meteorological department is setting up a drought early warning system. The system utilizes a tool that can forecast soil moisture up to six weeks in advance, which could help pinpoint oncoming droughts. Developers say that the tool can do little to alleviate future drought, but can at least help farmers be better prepared. Deutsche Welle

On The Radar

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to begin the process of establishing safety standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. Whitmer hopes to have the process open for public comment by October 1st. Some lawmakers and industry groups have criticized the move, which they say subverts federal efforts to set a standard. Bridge

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A prolonged dry spell is causing food insecurity in the northwestern Kenya counties of Turkana and West Pokot. The government has begun sending food supplies to the area, where over a million people are affected, but residents are calling for a broader and more permanent solution. Al Jazeera

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