Belize's Famous 'Blue Hole' Reveal Clues to the Maya's Demise

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SAN FRANCISCO — The ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to a century-long drought, new research suggests.

Minerals taken from Belize’s famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north — but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance occurred at the same time as another dry spell, the sediments reveal.

Although the findings aren’t the first to tie a drought to the Mayan culture’s demise, the new results strengthen the case that dry periods were indeed the culprit. That’s because the data come from several spots in a region central to the Mayan heartland, said study co-author André Droxler, an Earth scientist at Rice University. Read more.

If you love avocado, you may want to start stocking up now 

Bad news, avocado lovers. Your favorite fleshy, fatty fruit might soon be harder to come by.

The avocado has fallen on some hard times recently due to a confluence of factors from cartel violence to climate change. And while the delicious fruit won’t entirely disappear from the grocery aisle any time soon, you can certainly expect the prices to jump up in the next few months.

The California drought strikes again

NASA: California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons of Water to End Drought | NBC

Eleven trillion gallons — that’s the amount of water that NASA scientists say would be needed to replenish key California river basins in what they’re calling the first-ever estimate of the water necessary to end an episode of drought. That 11 trillion gallons is the deficit in normal seasonal levels that NASA said a team found earlier this year in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins, using Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. The GRACE data, presented Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, showed those river basins losing about 4 trillion gallons per year — more than state residents use annually, NASA said.

In another finding, NASA said airborne measuring indicates the Sierra Nevada range snowpack was half previous estimates. “The 2014 snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977, when California’s population was half what it is now,” Airborne Snow Observatory principal investigator Tom Painter of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in the NASA release.

California has been blasted by autumn storms dumping inches of much-needed rain - but that’s still not enough to get the Golden State out of its drought. “Recent rains are no reason to let up on our conservation efforts,” Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, said recently.

Drought and Ancient Maya Practices Spelled Collapse of Tikal, Says Study

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An international team of researchers argue that the reason for the collapse of the great ancient Maya city of Tikal during the 9th century CE was likely due to a lethal combination of persistent recurring episodes of drought and some of the very practices the Maya employed to create a successful and, for a time, sustainable system for supporting its massive and growing urban population.

Through forest surveys, satellite imagery, excavations, coring, and examinations of wood, plant, and soil samples collected from the Tikal zone inhabited during the Maya Late Classic period (LCP, 600 – 850 CE), David L. Lentz of the University of Cincinnati and colleagues from other institutions studied the agro-forestry and agricultural land use practices of the Maya, as well as the evidence for environmental change, to build what they consider to be a likely scenario for the famous collapse of the great Tikal polity. Read more.