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Weekend Storms... "Earth Gauge": Headwater Streams, Urban Heat, Antarctic Life

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Updated: 7/19/2013 10:32 pm

Right on cue....our afternoon storms returned Fri. & will hang around for the weekend.  Not a washout but rain & storms will roll from southwest to northeast producing very heavy downpours & intense lightning.  A few storms will produce gusty winds as well.  So keep an eye to the sky Sat. & Sun.  Photos below from David Taylor, Clapboard Creek...Sandi Robinson, Hawthrone, Fl....& a friend of Action News anchor Tera Barz in DeLand, Fl. where a lightning strike hit a tree & traveled along the ground to a driveway.

Earth Gauge: What Are Headwater Streams?
Headwater streams are small streams or tributaries that carry water from the upper reaches of a watershed to a river.  They are the beginnings of an interconnected stream network that eventually combine and form bigger streams and rivers downstream.  Many of these headwaters are fed by rainfall, runoff and underground waters, and may not flow year-round.  Even though they often appear insignificant and some are so small you could jump across them, they are very important to downstream river, lake and estuary ecosystems. Among other benefits, headwater streams retain flood waters and reduce the amount of pollutants making their way to waters downstream.
Tip: A stream is a stream, no matter how small it is or how frequently it flows.  A river can be fed by different types of headwater streams: some flow year-round, some flow several months during the year and some flow at the Earth’s surface only periodically.  Just because a stream is small and does not flow year-round doesn’t mean it can’t have a big impact on the health of streams or rivers downstream.  Protecting all kinds of waters upstream will help protect waters downstream.  Learn more about different types of streams and their importance.

(Sources: EPA, “Little Streams, Big Impact,”; Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, “Headwater Streams)

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Climate Fact: Feeling the Heat in Our Cities? 

Do you live in an urban area? If so, you may be living on an “island” – not a tropical island, but an urban heat island. A city of one million people or more can be up to five degrees Fahrenheit hotter than its rural counterparts, and the temperature difference can be even more pronounced at night. Urban heat islands form in cities for several reasons: they have higher amounts of asphalt and concrete that absorb and slowly release heat, a lower ability to reflect the Sun’s radiation, lack surface moisture and fewer green spaces. Heat waves – products of high pressure systems that increase both air and surface temperatures – can increase the amount of moisture returned to the air, slow wind speeds and strengthen secondary air circulations. Heat waves interact with urban heat islands to produce an effect greater than the sum of the background urban heat island effect and heat wave effect. This intensifies the difference between urban and rural temperatures and creates more heat stress in cities. With 50 percent of the world’s population living in cities and heat waves doubling in frequency over the 20th century, cities are at an increased vulnerability to heat waves and climate change.

Learn more about protecting your health during a heat wave.

(Source: Li, D., and E. Bou-Zeid, 2013: Synergistic Interactions between Urban Heat Islands and Heat Waves: the Impact in Cities is Larger than the Sum of its Parts. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol. doi:10.1175/JAMC-D-13-02.1, in press. and Environmental Protection Agency. “Heath Island Effect”. Online Posting, 06 March 2006. Accessed online 10 July 2013)

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Climate in the News: “As Ice Cover Disappears, Life in Frigid Antarctic Moves Fast” – Science Daily, July 11, 2013 - Scientists discovered a surprisingly fast-growing community of glass sponges in an area formerly covered by permanent ice.

Have a great & safe weekend!

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