The worst drought in a long time, which is a result of anthropogenic global warming, has caused barges to run aground in Arkansas and Wisconsin shutting down barge traffic at those two points along the enormous inland waterway.

As reported:

It was unclear when the key shipping waterway might be reopened to commercial traffic…

Low water has restricted barge drafts to a lighter-than-normal nine feet and limited barge tows to fewer barges on numerous sections of the Mississippi River.

But even as vessels have lightened their cargo loads, numerous boats have run aground in recent weeks, forcing temporary river closures and snarling north- and southbound freight traffic. The river is a major shipping lane for grains, oilseeds, fertilizer, salt, coal, and other cargo.

Comments

  1. #1 Jim Thomerson
    August 2, 2012

    Will a side effect of global warming be a go ahead for the Corps of Engineers to create and maintain a 12 ft channel?

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2012

    Actually, the best approach may be a whole bunch of dams and locks.

  3. #3 EricJuve
    August 2, 2012

    Dams and locks like we have on the Columbia, you get a side benefit of electricity…..

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2012

    And it takes longer for invasive species to go up the river.

  5. #5 Drivebyposter
    August 2, 2012

    And you’ll probably start seeing reports of lock monsters. Which is the best side effect of anything ever.

  6. #6 lyle
    August 2, 2012

    Of course one could cite this as a reversion to the mean issue, given the record floods on the Mississippi last year. Now there are some studies at least on putting generation on the dams and locks of the Ohio. BTW the Mississippi at Wisconsin is already damned and locked. It is controlled this way to Saint Louis. It is really the river below Cairo that is not controlled right now.

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2012

    The Wisconsin segment that is closed is above the locks and dams, but that does not mean much since the dams only affect a certain distance upstream. Could be RTTM but given the trend that this drought is part of, I don’t think that is a useful way to look at it.

  8. #8 Jim Thomerson
    August 2, 2012

    i was involved in a Corps study of Hydropower on Lock & Dam 26R, the most recently constructed lock and dam, a replacement for the aging Lock and Dam 26. It was a really slick project, and would have been constructed in conjunction with the lock and dam construction. It sailed through review almost all the way. Then, one day the Colonel held district meeting, and told us President Regan had taken the Corps out of the hydropower business. I don’t think the hydropower plant will ever be built. Termination of the project resulted in the firing of 19 of us, mostly part timers like myself.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    August 2, 2012

    That sucks. You and the air traffic controllers. And look where we are now!

  10. #10 MadScientist
    August 3, 2012

    Weirs and locks perhaps rather than dams and locks. They have many benefits and a few downsides (aside from the cost).

  11. #11 Jim Thomerson
    August 3, 2012

    Lock and Dam 26R at Wood River, IL, is the last regulation structure on the Mississippi. Lock and Dam 27 is on the Chain of Rocks Canal which bypasses the Chain of Rocks rapids on the north side of St. Louis.

  12. #12 Art
    August 3, 2012

    The Corp of Engineers will, as they always do, want to dredge, dam and lock their way back to reliable barge traffic. A major problem with this is that it massively screws with the water dependent ecosystem. It always means dumping more water downstream when the ecosystem needs less flow and less water downstream when it needs more.

    A more environmentally responsible and cost effective solution is to shift from barges toward railroads.

  13. #13 steve
    Vermont
    August 4, 2012

    I am a strong believer in man caused global warming, as science has conclusively shown us. But, a blanket statement that the current drought in the Midwest is specifically due to this global warming, or other similar claims for certain individual weather events, is possibly misleading. Do you have citations to back this claim for this specific event? It seems these days that any unusual meteorological event is automatically concluded to be caused by man induced warming, cause and effect, instead perhaps that only a correlation exists.

  14. [...] Drought Closes Mississippi River Traffic in Two Locations [...]

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