Understanding the ancient climate history of Mono Lake will help scientists project what might happen in the future as the world warms up. This is no esoteric question for Los Angeles, whose nearly 4 million people depend in part on Mono Lake’s watershed for drinking water, green lawns, agriculture and industry.
Americans are paying more for water than they did a decade ago, even as water utilities fall into debt and water infrastructure deteriorates, according to a Columbia Water Center report.
“One of the ways that climate change is going to manifest is through warmer temperatures. … What we are seeing, in line with our projections, is that even if you assume constant precipitation, the temperature effects are so large that it is going to dry things out. This is going to have really big impacts on soil moisture, reservoirs and stream flow for irrigation and drinking water. The availability of water is going to decline into the future, and the challenge is adjusting for that, and what that means for agriculture and development.”
A new report by the Columbia Water Center, produced with Veolia Water and Growing Blue, could help expose the real nature of water risk–even in places that most people think of as having plenty of water.
“This is a mess, and it is a mess that we have not attended to yet,” Earth Institute Director Jeffrey Sachs said at a conference on water security held today at Columbia University. “Humanity is the driver, but we don’t have our hands on the steering wheel very much.”
So far, tensiometers have been tested in four central districts of Punjab, initially with more than 500 farmers the first year, and then peaking with an additional 4,500 farmers in 2011 before testing was scaled back. Data showed, on average, a 30 percent reduction in the water used in the test plots when compared with the standard practices employed in the control plots.
Extreme weather and climate-related events already have cost the United States billions of dollars. A recent symposium focused on what we know about the causes and how changing climate affects agriculture, water supplies, wildlife and our economy.
The water documentary “A Thirsty World” combines French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s aerial photography with down-to-earth messages, a mélange that calls attention to problems of water security on a global scale.
I am staying with a friend’s family in Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, and tomorrow will meet up with my climbing partner, Pablo Puruncajas, to prepare for our expedition. I am here to collect tree ring samples and put up a weather station on Chimborazo, Ecuador’s tallest peak, to provide climate data about this region, which relies heavily on Chimborazo’s glaciers for water.