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America’s Corn Belt is making its own weather
The Great Plains of the central United States—America’s Corn Belt—is one of the most fertile regions on Earth, producing more than 10 billion bushels of corn each year. It’s also home to some mysterious weather: While the rest of the world has warmed, the region’s summer temperatures have dropped a full degree Celsius, and rainfall has increased by 35%, the largest spike anywhere in the world. The culprit, according to a new study, isn’t greenhouse gas emissions or sea surface temperature—it’s the corn itself.
This is the first time anyone has examined regional climate change in the central United States by directly comparing the influence of greenhouse gas emissions to agriculture, says Nathan Mueller, an earth systems scientist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved with this study. It’s important to understand how agricultural activity can have “surprisingly strong” impacts on climate change, he says.
The Corn Belt stretches from the panhandle of Texas up to North Dakota and east to Ohio. The amount of corn harvested in this region annually has increased by 400% since 1950, from 2 billion to 10 billion bushels. Iowa leads the country for the most corn…
Mexico is in the worst possible place for earthquakes — here’s why it keeps getting hit
If giants were playing a game of Jenga with countries as their table-tops, Mexico would be one of the last locations to get picked.
The country sits atop three of the Earth’s largest tectonic plates – the North American plate, the Cocos Plate, and the Pacific Plate. Whenever these chunks of crust grind or butt up against one another, earthquakes happen. As a former lakebed, Mexico City is also home to soft soil that essentially acts as an amplifier for tremors, often making smaller earthquakes feel much larger.
On Friday, a 7.2-magnitude quake struck Oaxaca, according to the US Geological Survey. The epicentre hit the town of Santiago Ixtayutla, but tremors were reportedly felt as far as 350 miles away in Mexico City.
The temblor comes just five months after a 7.1-magnitude quake hit Mexico City, nearly on the anniversary of a deadly magnitude 8.1 earthquake 33 years ago which killed more than 9,500 people. That repeat quake reverberated along the boundary between the Cocos and the North American plate as the southern-most plate slid beneath its northern neighbour…