Archive for October 18, 2019

Water Quality Targeting

Providing guidance on how to better target agricultural conservation in the United States, to cost-effectively achieve measurable improvements in water quality.

The critical services that farmers and farms provide to society—food, fiber, and fuel—also have unintended environmental consequences: water pollution, wildlife habitat destruction, and climate-changing gases.

In the U.S., and globally, most policy solutions employ a voluntary programs approach by providing financial incentives and technical assistance to agricultural producers to adopt conservation practices. These federal conservation programs do solve environmental problems on farms. However, after three decades of such approaches, only a few landscape-scale environmental outcomes have been documented. Moreover, funds for conservation are limited, and these programs have not maximized the cost effectiveness of their efforts. Read more

7 Reasons We’re Facing a Global Water Crisis

Droughts in Somalia. Water rationing in Rome. Flooding in Jakarta and Harvey-battered Houston. It doesn’t take a hydrologist to realize that there is a growing global water crisis.

Each August, water experts, industry innovators, and researchers gather in Stockholm for World Water Week to tackle the planet’s most pressing water issues. Read more

Water Stress Threatens Nearly Half the World’s Thermal Power Plant Capacity

Many people point to renewable energy as the greatest threat facing fossil fuel power plants. New WRI research finds that the real threat may be water.

When we overlaid areas of current water scarcity with existing power plant infrastructure, we found that 47 percent of the world’s thermal power plant capacity—mostly coal, natural gas and nuclear—and 11 percent of hydroelectric capacity are located in highly water-stressed areas. That’s a problem because both thermal and hydroelectric power are highly dependent on water to produce electricity. Read more

Scientists Discover a Vast Reservoir of Freshwater Hidden Beneath The Ocean

Underneath the salty waters of the North Atlantic ocean, geologists have discovered a giant aquifer of freshwater, hidden from view just off the US coast.

While the vast size of this massive cache is surprising, it’s not entirely unexpected. Signals of the water first showed up in the 1970s, but until now, nobody suspected that this huge reservoir trapped in porous rock might run almost the entire length of the US Northeast.

“We knew there was freshwater down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry,” says marine geologist Chloe Gustafson from Columbia University.

In 2015, some of Gustafson’s fellow researchers conducted a pilot study off the coast of New Jersey and the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard. Read more

After Centuries, Scientists Have Finally Figured Out How Water Conducts Electricity

It’s a textbook moment centuries in the making: more than 200 years after scientists started investigating how water molecules conduct electricity, a team has finally witnessed it happening first-hand.

It’s no surprise that most naturally ocurring water conducts electricity incredibly well – that’s a fact most of us have been taught since primary school. But despite how fundamental the process is, no one had been able to figure out how it actually happens on the atomic level.

“This fundamental process in chemistry and biology has eluded a firm explanation,” said one of the team, Anne McCoy from the University of Washington. “And now we have the missing piece that gives us the bigger picture: how protons essentially ‘move’ through water.” Read more