Forecasters said numerous thunderstorms could develop on Saturday in an area stretching from south of San Antonio to central Kansas, a day after storms brought torrential rain, possible tornadoes, flooding, hail and lightning to parts of Texas.
<p>The growing season is one to two weeks behind schedule after a winter that lacked the usual mid-season thaw and kept the snow piling up.</p>
10:33AM ET 04.18.15 The severe threat that for the Midwest and South moves to the East Coast to start the week.
<p>Nepal on Saturday marked the anniversary of Mount Everest's deadliest avalanche with a memorial and a government announcement that it will set up a welfare fund for mountaineering and trekking workers in the Himalayan nation.</p>
People evacuated a performance of the Carson & Barnes circus in Angelton after a severe thunderstorm swept over the Texas town on April 17.
The Dead Sea is disappearing at an alarming rate, leaving behind thousands of sinkholes that are chipping away at the coastline's vibrant and touristy...
REPORTING FROM POPLAR-COTTON CENTER, Calif. -- It was done. Over. No more waiting for rain, hoping for snow. The 32-year-old farmer in the barber's chair said his well wouldn't make it to summer. "I held...
A weather pattern favoring waves of progressively cooler air will set up across much of the Midwest and Northeast next week and could continue into early...
08:52PM ET 04.17.15 Dr. Forbes tells us the latest on tornado watches and reports.
The first three months of 2015 set new global heat records, government officials announced today (April 17). January, February and March set new...
The wreckage of a fishing boat that appears to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami was carrying some unexpected passengers â fish from Japanese waters â when it was spotted off the Oregon coast.Scientists say 21 yellowtail jacks and one Asian striped knifejaw hitched a cross-Pacific...
Haitian officials are reporting a spike in cholera cases late last year and carrying over into the first three months of 2015 as an early start to the rainy season has public health workers worried.
A group of Dutch citizens headed to court this week in a bold effort to hold their government accountable for its inaction over climate change.
<p>With 2,340 games scheduled from early spring to late summer every year, Major League Baseball is not unfamiliar with encountering challenging weather during its season.</p>
A tornado touched down near Allison, Texas, on Thursday, April 16. The tornado came as severe thunderstorms swept through the Texas Panhandle region, also bringing heavy rain and large hail. The National Weather Service warned of damaging winds of 60mph in the area.This video shows the tornado near Briscoe. Credit: Facebook/Dustin Pool
<p>Thunderstorms with the risk of damaging winds, hail, isolated tornadoes and torrential downpours will begin to shift eastward over the central United States this weekend.</p>
Being struck by lightning is a rare event, and it can have some equally unusual medical effects. For one 77-year-old woman who survived being hit...
At least six people were critically injured Thursday after a 45-vehicle pile-up on a snowy Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Speeds...
07:10AM ET 04.17.15 Meteorologist Danielle Banks has the latest on the heavy rain and flash flood threat for parts of the South.
Apr 17, 2015; 7:51 AM ET A tornado touched down near Allison, Texas, on Thursday, April 16. The tornado came as severe thunderstorms swept through the Texas Panhandle region, also bringing heavy rain and large hail.
<p>Rising temperatures across the planet have set another new record, as the US government announced Friday that the globe experienced its hottest month of March since record-keeping began in 1880.</p>
Rule No. 1 for surviving Beijing's often-brutal living conditions: Develop a sense of humor. Smog. Frigid winters. Smog. Scorching summers. Smog. Gridlocked traffic. And oh, have you heard about the smog? The latest air assault came Wednesday afternoon, when a mighty wind transported several tons of Gobi Desert sand straight into China's capital.
Think you're safe from ticks because the harsh winter froze them or because you haven't been trekking through the woods?Think again. Researchers focused on ticks and the debilitating diseases they spread say the heavy snow that blanketed the Northeast this winter was like a cozy quilt for baby blacklegged ticks that are now questing for blood as the weather warms up. And a researcher at New York's Binghamton University...
Brian Smith, and American student in Ireland was visiting the coast when he shot some amazing video.
Billowing smoke and furious animals combine in these "terror haze" illustrations.
After two years of decline, total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere because of human activity increased 2 percent in 2013 over the previous year. That surge was fueled, in large part, because of a growing economy, falling coal prices and a cold winter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday in its annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Emissions across nearly all sectors grew in 2013, with increased GHG emissions from electricity generation, more vehicle miles traveled on the nationâs roadways and greater industrial production, according to the EPA. Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. Credit: EPA The news of the increase in U.S. human-caused GHG emissions comes at a critical moment in the global battle against climate change, particularly after the International Energy Agency announced last month that global carbon emissions related to energy consumption have stabilized for the first time in a growing economy. Ahead of international climate negotiations in Paris at the end of this year, the Obama administration announced a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions each year by 26 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. The EPAâs Clean Power Plan may also bring about CO2 cuts if it is finalized later this year. Last year, electric power plants accounted for 31 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, followed by transportation at 27 percent and industrial and manufacturing activity at 21 percent. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions peaked in 2007. That year the U.S. released 7.40 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a measure of the global warming potential of any greenhouse gas in terms of the amount of warming generated by CO2. The U.S. released 6.67 billion metric tons of CO2e in 2013, up from 6.54 billion tons in 2012. The Great Recession had a major effect on U.S. GHG emissions as the economy stumbled. âThe big drop occurred from 2007 to 2009, and some of this was the recession,â Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said. âBut there has been good progress on reducing coal consumption, often at (the) expense of more natural gas, but also renewables have done better than expected.â But the downward trend in emissions can only continue if more renewables and nuclear power are used in the U.S., he said. Coal-fired power plants like this one in Craig, Colo., are responsible for an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 in the U.S. Credit: WildEarth Guardians/flickr âOver the past few years, weâve seen increased economic growth and coal has become a bit more competitive with natural gas (which has lower CO2 emissions) over the past year or two,â Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann said. He said he is optimistic that efforts among some states, including California and some northeastern states, to place a price on carbon may eventually help to reduce overall GHG emissions nationwide. âIt will take a bit of patience to see that in the numbers, but there is evidence we are already seeing that in the global carbon emissions numbers, which, for the first time in decades, remained flat while economic activity showed substantial growth,â Mann said. More important than 2013âs increase in emissions is the Obama administrationâs commitment to reduce them through the Clean Power Plan, incentives for clean energy and the pact between the U.S. and China, he said. âI think that sets a cautiously optimistic tone going into the COP21 in Paris later this year,â Mann said, referring to the climate negotiations in December.
Dry conditions and high winds is causing fire dangers in much of the West.
Two out of three judges on a federal appeals court panel expressed doubts Thursday about a legal challenge to the Obama administration's far-reaching plan to address climate change.The comments came during nearly two hours of argument before a U.S. Court of Appeals in two cases challenging the Environmental...
While plenty of people found humor in the recent news that officials in Florida and Wisconsin are censoring state workers' ability to talk about, much less work on, climate change, other states are not necessarily laughing. In fact, several political and environmental experts told InsideClimate News they could use it as a model to imitate. Florida Gov. Rick Scott became the leader of this potential trend last month when news emerged that he had ordered environmental staffers not to use the...
Apr 16, 2015; 2:16 PM ET Peruâs active Ubinas volcano, situated in the Andes, emitted ash and gas on multiple occasions between April 13-15, triggering huge mudslides on the side of the mountain.
50 million Americans are affect4ed by allergies in one way or another but here are a few things you might not know about what impacts your nose.
Cities set to feel the brunt of California's mandated cutbacks in water use pushed back on Wednesday, calling a plan by regulators to demand reductions of as much as 35 percent in some communities unfair.
Over the next few months, the globe might see an uptick in tropical cyclone activity thanks to an El Niño that is showing signs of asserting itself around the globe. During an El Niño, a domino of atmospheric effects causes a large area of stable, subsiding air to form over the tropical Atlantic. Exactly the opposite of what a fledgling tropical cyclone, which thrives on instability, needs to grow and strengthen. El Niño also tends to bring more wind shear to the region, meaning the speed and direction of the wind changes more between different altitudes, putting the kibosh on a burgeoning storm. In the Pacific, itâs a different story: There, tropical cyclone activity ramps up during El Niño events. That doesnât necessarily mean more storms, said Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University; instead, it might just mean storms form in areas that leave them with plenty of ocean to traverse before they peter out (and can shift the areas more likely to be hit by storms). Such longer-lasting storms are something frequently seen in the Pacific during an El Niño, Klotzbach said. Areas that see more (orange and red) or less (green) tropical cyclone activity during an El Nino. Credit: KNMI Forecasters combine the strength of a storm and its duration into a measure called Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE, which can be used to gauge the impact of a single storm or a seasonâs worth of them. Stronger, longer-lasting storms have higher ACE values. In an El Niño year, fewer Atlantic storms mean a lower ACE for that basin, while in the eastern and northwest Pacific, longer-lasting storms raise the ACE value. But the changes arenât equal: The increase in Pacific activity is larger than the decrease in the Atlantic, so âyour global activity actually increases in El Niño years,â Klotzbach said. In particular, activity in the northwest Pacific is a big determinant of global ACE for a given year. There, the tropical cyclone (or typhoon, to use the regional term) season lasts virtually all year, and so there is more opportunity for storms to form. âThe northwestern Pacific drives the bus,â as Klotzbach put it. Through April 6 of this year, the northwest Pacificâs ACE value was the second highest ACE to date on record, Klotzbach said. Even though the El Niño didnât fully emerge until February (by the reckoning of U.S. government forecasters), it is playing a part in this amped-up early season activity, which saw the formation of Category-5 Super Typhoon Maysak, one of only three storms of similar strength to form prior to April 1 in the records. The most recent observations of sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean (top) and how different those temperatures are from normal (bottom). Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA The tendency towards El Niño-like conditions last year still boosted Pacific activity and tamped down on the Atlantic. Several storms reached Hawaii, while Japan saw several landfalls â other signatures of El Niño-year activity. The global ACE value was also higher than in the previous two years, when neutral conditions were in place. The most recent El Niño observations and climate model projections suggest the current event is looking a little more textbook and could last through summer, possibly even strengthening. Because of this, Klotzbach thinks that ACE âshould actually be high this year,â though he expects only seven tropical storms to form in the Atlantic, compared to the average of about 12. Of those, his forecast calls for only three to become hurricanes, compared to an average of six. Of course, El Niño activity is notoriously difficult to predict in the springtime, and signs around this time last year of a strong El Niño in the works didnât pan out. So forecasters are cautious. Even if activity is below normal in the Atlantic, forecasters are quick to caution, there is still potential for a pocket to open up and bring the right ingredients together to form a devastating storm. The best example of this is Hurricane Andrew, which barreled into Florida as a Category 5 storm in 1992, during what was otherwise a remarkably quiet year in the Atlantic. The considerable damage from that storm marked it as the costliest Atlantic hurricane on record until Katrina.
Seismologists in Greece say a magnitude 6.1 earthquake has struck near the island of Crete, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage.The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the undersea quake occurred...
The past week has delivered some of the warmest weather to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast since early last autumn, sending trees and flowers into bloom.
The Weather Channel correspondent Rick Adams looks how some in California are shaming their neighbors who are wasting water.
With 7 million bulbs in bloom this spring, and a total of 800 varieties of tulips, this Dutch flower garden is one of the largest in the world.
Climate scientists don't just rely on computer models and contemporary observations to understand the intimate relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and environmental conditions on Earth. They also look to the ancient past â and two reports in recent days have made it clear how intimate that relationship is. One chronicles an episode 2.4 billion years in the past, when the entire planet was covered in a layer of ice hundreds of feet thick, oceans and all, while global average temperatures hovered around 40° F below zero. A massive infusion of heat-trapping CO2 from powerful volcanoes â more CO2 than we're likely to emit in many hundreds of years, to be sure â saved the planet from this so-called Snowball Earth environment. The second report covers an event that happened about 250 million years ago, and this time the effects weren't so benign. Another set of gigantic eruptions poured enough CO2 into the air not only to warm the planet drastically, but also to acidify the oceans so profoundly that some 90 percent of all ocean species died off, followed by two-thirds of land species. It's the worst mass extinction, as far as we know, in history. A fictional image of Snowball Earth. Credit: celestiamotherlode.net These monumental episodes of climate change, both linked intimately to levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, are a testament to the dramatic effects this greenhouse gas has on the entire planet. So it's no surprise that the smaller amounts we're emitting could have a significant effect as well. The first of the new papers was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the second in Science. During the older episode, continental drift had brought most of the continents near the equator, where CO2, washed out of the atmosphere by rain, reacted chemically with exposed rock and was no longer available to trap heat from the Sun. The global cooling that resulted let sea ice expand until it reached well into what would are now the planetâs temperate zones. At that point, the dazzlingly white surface of the ice would have reflected enough sunlight back into space to accelerate the cooling â just the opposite of the so-called ice-albedo feedback in which diminishing Arctic ice coverage is speeding warming in the region. Eventually, said Paul Hoffman, an emeritus Harvard geologist who helped develop this concept in the 1990s, âthe ice expanding in the Northern and Southern hemispheres would meet at the equator.â The evidence that this actually happened comes largely from glacial deposits, found on several continents, that date back to that time. In the early days, he said, âmost geologists were antithetical to this idea. But most now accept it.â What the new paper adds is a good estimate of where temperatures stood at the time. âNowadays,â said lead author Daniel Hewartz, a geologist with the University of Göttingen, âyou can measure past temperatures by looking at ice coresâ â that is, samples of ancient ice drilled from the ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Bubbles trapped in the ice allow scientists to measure past atmospheric levels of CO2, while the ice itself holds clues to temperatures. Unfortunately, scientists only have ice reaching back about 800,000 years. âFor the Snowball Earth period, all the ice is long gone,â Hewartz said. So he and his colleagues looked instead at volcanic rocks from the period that cooled in the presence of water â the same process thatâs happening in geysers in Yellowstone National Park and in Iceland today. The rocks incorporated oxygen from that water, which must have come from the ice from the long-vanished glaciers. So by looking at the different weights of oxygen atoms in the rocks, Hewartz and his colleagues teased out where temperature must have stood at the time. âWe suggested this idea back in 2010, 2011, and now theyâve proven what we predicted. This is a very good effort. I wish I had done this analysis myself,â said geologist Ilya Bindeman, of the University of Oregon, who was not involved with the research. Hoffman was equally enthusiastic. âWhatâs new here is the ability to quantify temperatures,â he said. The main drawback is that the water incorporated into the rocks comes from single, isolated points in the ancient ice sheets. âItâs not clear whether weâll ever be able to get a more extensive geographical picture,â he said. An artist's depiction of the greatest mass extinction known to science: the Permo-Triassic or End-Permian extinction event. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute One argument against the original Snowball Earth idea is that once the planet froze over, it would be extremely difficult to unfreeze. Clearly, it eventually did, and here again, CO2 almost certainly played a role. The planet has been rocked many times in the past by titanic volcanic eruptions, far more violent and long-lasting than anything humans have ever seen. Heat-trapping carbon dioxide was among the gases spewed out by these eruptions. Geologists know this because acidification of the oceans is a hallmark of excess CO2 in the atmosphere, and they have evidence that the oceans became strongly acidic at the time snowball phase ended. With the new paper in Science, they now have evidence that the oceans acidified dramatically about 252 million years ago as well, at just the time that the planet underwent the greatest mass extinction of species known to science. Known as the Permo-Triassic or End-Permian extinction event, it wiped out vast numbers of species, especially in the oceans, and set the evolutionary stage for the rise of the dinosaurs. âItâs always been thought that a cascade of events happened at this time,â said Rachel Wood, of the University of Edinburgh, a co-author of the Science paper. Scientists know, for example, that the oceans became depleted in oxygen. They know that Earth warmed significantly, in part, perhaps, due to a massive release of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. âNow weâre adding another piece to the jigsaw puzzle, another kill mechanism,â Wood said. The evidence for acidification comes from ancient limestone, which incorporates the element boron in different ways depending on how acidic conditions were when the rock originally formed. Based on the differences in boron they found in limestone deposits of slightly different ages, Wood and her colleagues scientists posit that the ocean was acidified by carbon dioxide emitted during a known series of eruptions that laid down a vast expanse of lava in what is now Siberia. Acidification during this extinction event, Wood said, âis something that has been long suspected, but never proven until now.â The acidification took about 10,000 years to play out, the authors write â a period over which carbon emissions per year were probably less than the emissions humans are pumping into the atmosphere today, but which added up over time to help turn the oceans into a toxic acid bath. This 10,000-year timespan might seem to be good news for those who worry about the phenomenon of ocean acidification today. Not to Wood, however. âWhat worries me is that we can already see the effects of acidification,â she said, citing the fact that some shellfish are struggling to build their shells. âIt looks like the oceansâ response to increased CO2 is going to be complex, and we donât know where the tipping point for mass extinctions lies.â No one knows, in other words, whether most of the species in that earlier period went extinct at the end of the 10,000 years or much earlier. Both of these reports on ancient CO2 and climate will need confirmation from future studies, since both involve difficult measurements at the edge of whatâs technically possible. But both are entirely consistent with the picture climate scientists have been putting together for more than a century. Carbon dioxide was a key driver of the climate system billions of years ago, and it still is. The difference is that humans have some control over the CO2 entering the atmosphere today.
California is entering its fourth year of a severe drought.
Mosquito Feeding USDA/Flickr CC by 2.0 The only bad thing about the frigid chill of winter getting lifted off the northern hemisphere is that the long warm days herald the arrival of blood-sucking demons sent straight from hell to torment us all. Or mosquitoes. They go by that name too. The National Pest Managment Association recently issued their predictions for which types of pestilence will visit the United States this spring and summer. Their Bug Barometer predicts the state of the bugs, rodents and other irritants for five regions across the country. Bug Barometer National Pest Management Association It turns out this winter's split personality will lead to some strong divergences in pests. Out on the West Coast, a warm winter and spring is likely going to result in pests emerging earlier, with large amounts of ticks and ants predicted. The drought, which remains a huge issue in California, means fewer places for mosquitos to breed, but because of that, dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you hate mosquitoes, take heart. Even as summer approaches, winter is always coming.
Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari talks about how far behind California is on rainfall, and how much it will take to come back.
Apr 15, 2015; 10:27 AM ET High winds kicked up a huge dust storm that whipped across the Las Vegas area.Visibility on the famed 'Strip' was minimal as the dust storm blew into town.
With its lush shrubs and manicured lawns, posh Beverly Hills is being shoved somewhere it's never been -- pinched by deepening drought, mandatory cuts and now potential fines. Even its mega-rich have had to shut the spigot, under fire for over-watering."The lady of the house now has come to terms. She is going to let the garden die," Mexican-born long-time gardener Gilberto, who declined to give his family name, told AFP, outside an elegant two-story home of an octogenarian surrounded by a wall of shrubbery."She says that the important thing now is to cut back. Because this has become reallly serious," he added, adjusting his big straw hat to keep the scorching sun out of his eyes.California is now in its worst drought since records began, now in its fourth year. Reservoirs are nearing empty, agriculture has been hard hit. For the inhabitants of this enclave of extreme wealth, a water shortage usually has meant they simply paid more for the water they used -- which might be more, instead of less.But in the crisis -- in this state which has a climate ranging from Mediterranean to desert -- has turned so harsh that Governor Jerry Brown has ordered 25-percent cuts in water use to try to put a dent in the crisis.- Cutting back -On average wealthier neighborhoods like Beverly Hills consume three times more water than less affluent ones, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)."With income and water use so tightly bound together, further incentive must be given to higher water users -- and thus higher-income customers -- to conserve more," the study said.Brown's 25 percent reductions would be achieved by ramping up enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, while investing in technologies designed to make California more drought-resilient.The order also set out new measures to reduce water use, including the replacement of 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.It can be a tough sell for people with plenty to spend. And many Americans who developed California came from the wetter US East, used to rolling lawns, hedges and flower beds.But "really, everyone here has got the message on what is happening" in terms of drought, said Onesimo Jauregui, another gardener from Mexico, hose in hand, carefully watering plants in front of another mansion."For some weeks now, the people who live around here have been watering less. A lot of them are putting gravel everywhere the green used to be," he said.- Fines or fine-tuning? -As he said, many Beverly Hills residents have started giving some thought to the crisis. And some have reduced the time irrigation systems are run. Others have opted to replace some of their plantings with others that have deeper roots and look fine with less frequent watering.But getting out of the typical American mindset of homes needing big lawns and gardens remains a challenge. "It is a huge culture change -- and a way of thinking," said Trish Ray, with the city's of Beverly Hills' public works office."What we have to work on with our citizens is how do we redefine what a garden city means," she said. With some changes made, "it may look a little different, but it's just as beautiful."The move to fining hasn't started yet, but could soon if the situation does not change.Governor Brown's order also set out new measures to reduce water use, including the replacement of 50 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping.
One person is dead and 25 are injured after a massive pileup on i-80. KSL reporter Andrew Adams tells how those same winds are fueling fire threats today.
For one industry vital to California's booming tourism, the growing drought problems and looming state-issued water restrictions may have stations to scheduled waterings to reducing sprinklers from full-circle to part-circle, various resolutions have already been put into operation.
Giant storms on Saturn known as "Great White Spots" may be caused by moisture in the planet's atmosphere, researchers say.
Thousands of people living along the U.S. Pacific coastline from Northern California to Washington state could survive a powerful tsunami, as long as they are prepared to walk briskly to higher ground, a researcher said on Tuesday.
Unlike its golden-brown neighbor further south, Washington state was blessed with relatively generous storms over winter. But, as was the case in drought-stricken California, the naturally wild whims of Pacific Ocean winds conspired with a touch of global warming to bask the Evergreen State in unusual wintertime warmth. Instead of snowfall, Washington residents huddled under winter rains, and what little snowpack accumulated has been quickly wasting away. The view from Seattle last month didn't resemble a drought, but scientists say there was too much rain and not enough snow over winter. Credit: C.M. Keiner/flickr Without those snowpacks, Washington is staring down a brutal summertime drought â despite the productive lashings of wintertime storms. Unlike the freakish situation in California, where several years of low snowfall and rainfall are serving as a reminder of the tremendous natural variability in Pacific-influenced weather, and the need to always be vigilant when it comes to managing water supplies, the situation in Washington resembles the parched climate-changed normal for swaths of the West in the decades ahead. âThe usual climate here is that we come out of winter with a pretty good snowpack, and then that slowly melts over spring into summer,â State Climatologist Nick Bond said. âThis is a test case for how itâs going to be in the future.â The current Washington drought could help the West learn to adapt to one of the most profound effects that climate change is projected to bring to the region. Scientists warn that climate change could deliver âmegadroughtsâ to the West, the likes of which havenât been experienced in more than a millenium. âIâm seeing this year as a dress rehearsal for the future,â Amy Snover, director of the University of Washingtonâs Climate Impacts Group, said. Snover divides the potential adaptation strategies into three categories â increasing water supply, decreasing water demand, and increasing flexibility. Increasing Water Supply Water managers are looking to replace the projected losses of snowpacks, which serve as natural reservoirs, with new and expanded ways of storing water. The most obvious solution, however, may also be the least feasible â building new reservoirs and expanding existing ones. Reservoirs release climate-changing methane, inundate ecosystems and obstruct rivers that salmon and other wildlife use for migration and hunting, leading to public opposition and environmental clearance hurdles that many regard as insurmountable. But that doesnât mean there arenât solutions to storing more water. ââStorageâ encompasses a lot of measures beyond new reservoirs, many of which are likely to be far more cost-effective,â Natural Resources Defense Council water expert Kate Poole said. âWe have a lot of opportunity to increase storage at the household and business level, by expanding use of rain barrels, cisterns, and swales to capture runoff more effectively.â Recycled water, including treated sewage, can be used on gardens and in industrial processes instead of being flushed into rivers and oceans, alleviating pressure on potable water supplies. Poole and others also note that tremendous water storage potential lies beneath the feet of Westerners. Underground aquifers are being pumped at unsustainable rates, largely for use on farms. During a recent decade, enough groundwater to fill Lake Mead and Lake Powell combined was pumped out of the Colorado River Basin. Replenishing those aquifers during wet times could provide storage and improve the sustainability of groundwater pumping. âThe best option for new storage is not surface storage, but groundwater storage,â Peter Gleick, a water expert and president of the California-based nonprofit Pacific Institute, said. âItâs sort of like surface reservoirs â youâre storing water, but you donât have to build a dam, you donât have to destroy another river, and you donât have to worry about evaporative losses.â Such an approach is being tested southwest of the city of Bakersfield, Calif., where the Kern Water Bank is capturing surplus water supplies beneath the ground. Decreasing Demand Wasteful irrigation practices in California. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr The drought in California has become so dire that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently announced the first mandatory water restrictions affecting cities and towns in the stateâs history. Farms had already seen their water supplies from state and federal reservoirs severely curtailed. Such regulations can help reduce demand for water â but there are other ways. Pacific Institute research suggests that farms, which consume most of the water used in California, could reduce their water use in the state by a fifth just by modernizing their irrigation practices. A report published last year by the Pacific Institute and NRDC showed that businesses and homes could reduce their water use by more than half by installing efficient bathroom and kitchen fittings, fixing leaks and replacing lawns with hardy native plants. Increasing Flexibility Water in the West is governed through archaic systems of rights, in which senior rights holders get first dibs on water supplies, which they lose to junior rights holders if they donât use them all up. Under these âuse it or lose itâ systems, senior water rights holders canât trade their water rights to, say, a junior rights holder growing more economically productive crops. And that can encourage profligate waste. âThereâs a lot of rigidity in the way we manage our water systems,â the University of Washingtonâs Snover said. Changing such systems would involve changing entire legal frameworks in place in Western states. Brown recently hinted that California might attempt such reforms, and Idaho has already instituted some such changes. Idahoâs water resources board describes its Water Supply Bank as a âwater exchange marketâ designed to âencourage the highest beneficial use of waterâ while raising new sources of revenue. Idahoâs system is âonly possible with new institutional flexibility,â Snover said â flexibility that other states may also need to adopt as they stare down water futures that are very different from their pasts.
Apr 14, 2015; 12:22 PM ET A video from the Canadian Coast Guard captured on April 7th shows a number of commercial vessels in need of icebreaking assistance after they became stuck on the lake.
The Netherlands is being taken to the Hague by a 900-person class action lawsuit, suing the government for inaction on climate change.
About 25 years before she died, Geri Schultz got her picture taken with her husband, Clem.
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