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 Austin, Tx - once a sleepy college town that bustled for six months every two years when the Texas legislature met for its then brief 3 or 4 month sessions on a biannual basis - was known for the beauty of the rolling hills overlooking spacious, rippling lovely Lake Travis.  Today, this Hill Country gem is dying - under the relentless drought of 2009 that is changing the Texas landscape.

 These pictures are really kind of hard for a long time Texan to take - but here they are:

  More below.

   Across most of the U.S., from what I can tell, there has been an unusually cool and wet summer.  However, the southern half of the state of Texas has been gripped by an epic and historic and worsening drought.  At the end of June it was the worst in 50 years.  At the end of July, it was the worst ever.  Now, a once massive, vibrant lake is literally dying.

   Lake Travis is hardly unique in suffering this historic drop in water level.  Another important Hill Country lake is rapidly becoming unusable as well.

  Is this the result of climate change?  Well, in a tautological sense the answer is - of course.  Apparently something has shifted in the prevailing West to East jet stream that during the late spring to summer months would carry some moisture from the Pacific to normally dry parts of Texas.  Now, as best I can make out - there has been a long enduring northward bend of the upper level steering current allowing a huge dome of high pressure to block almost all rain from reaching the southern half of Texas.  

  How significant a shift has occurred?  Are there any climatological models that suggest a cause or predict the duration of this event?  Do state officials have any clue on how to deal with this?  Good questions all.

  However, there is a weirdness to our local coverage of what is going on.  Houston is - or was - the Oil City.
Down heah - we measure our worth by the massive size of our derricks.  Our "news" outlets know just how their bread is buttered and that is not by reporting on a relationship between climate change and atmospheric carbonization.  So we get this weird reporting - describing epochal shifts in lakes and landscapes without any sense of the gravity of what is occurring.  

  Meanwhile lakes are dying

Originally posted to Boxer7 on Tue Aug 11, 2009 at 09:37 AM PDT.

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