water matters

Water Matters, the blog of the Columbia Water Center, focuses on the assessment, understanding and resolution of the potentially global crisis of freshwater scarcity.

Aboard a vessel run by the environmental group Riverkeeper, oceanographer Joaquim Goes of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (left) and PhD. student Ye Li filter water from New York harbor. They were on a mission to study the prevalence of plastic microbeads.  (Photos: Kevin Krajick, unless otherwise credited.)

New York’s Waterways Are Swimming in Plastic Microbeads

Plastic microbeads, common in soap, toothpaste and other consumer products, are flooding waters. A team from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is doing the first large-scale assessment of their impact on New York’s waterways.

by |August 16, 2017
Grasberg mine in Indonesia  (Photo credit: Paul Q. Warren)

Challenges for Governments Seeking to Get Most Out of Natural Resources

On March 2, 2017, Tanzania banned all exports of unprocessed gold and copper concentrates. The measure was taken in order to force companies to set up in-country processing of raw materials, with hopes of fostering the development of a smelter in the country.

by |June 29, 2017
CCL Water

How Will Climate Change Impact Water Resources?

Richard Seager and Park Williams, climate scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, discuss how water will be affected by warmer temperatures, and how their research increases understanding of these issues.

by |June 6, 2017
MS in Sustainability Management alum Alan Burchell, along the The Routeburn Track in the South Island of New Zealand.

Getting the Tools to Get Hired

Alan Burchell is the founder and principal of Urbanstrong, which he started shortly after graduating from Columbia’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management program in 2014. When choosing courses, Alan encourages MSSM students to fill up their tool belts. In his experience, “Knowledge is great, but tools get you hired.” Alan recommends to take classes that will teach you a transferable skill.

by |June 1, 2017
Oroville_Dam_spillway_damage_February_27_2017

America’s Dam Crisis: Was Oroville Just a Drop in the Bucket?

Columbia Water Center experts argue that dam infrastructure issues must be connected to a broader conversation about America’s water resources.

by |May 31, 2017
The Amazon River basin as seen by a NASA satellite, showing the impact of surface moisture and rivers on shallow clouds. (NASA)

Vegetation Can Strongly Alter Climate and Weather, Study Finds

A new analysis of global satellite observations shows that vegetation can powerfully alter atmospheric patterns that influence climate and weather.

by |May 30, 2017
Dobhas are small ponds that can help store water for use during the dry season.

In Jharkhand, Using an Old Technique for Sustainable Water

The Indian state of Jharkhand has plentiful rainfall, but most of that water runs off before it can be put to use by farmers, who struggle to make a living. To help improve irrigation and crop productivity, the Centers for International Projects Trust and Ranchi’s Birsa Agricultural University turned to a simple traditional technology, “dobhas,” small ponds that can store rainwater for months at a time.

by |May 24, 2017
Severe flooding occurred during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand, resulting in more than 800 deaths and 14 million people affected, mostly in the northern region and the greater Bangkok metro area.

Project Uses Satellites for Rapid Assessment of Flood Response Costs

Overall global losses from natural disasters such as floods, landslides or earthquakes amount to about $300 billion annually. A rapid and early response is key to immediately address the loss of human life, property, infrastructure and business activity.

by |May 22, 2017
The Waggonwaybreen glacier in Svalbard. Photo: Andreas Weith

The Glaciers Are Going

Glaciers around the world have retreated at unprecedented rates and some have disappeared altogether. The melting of glaciers will affect drinking water supplies, water needed to grow food and supply energy, as well as global sea levels.

by |May 5, 2017
With 9 million residents, Mexico City has a huge water demand but many problems providing enough for all of its citizens. Photo: tourist-destinations.com

To Ease Mexico City’s Water Woes, Look up, Study Suggests

For Mexico City’s biggest businesses and its poorest neighborhoods, rainwater harvesting could help address an enormous water crisis plaguing the city, a recent Columbia Water Center study found.

by |May 1, 2017