Upmanu Lall is director of the Columbia Water Center, and the lead author of the new U.S. National Climate Assessment’s chapter on water resources. The report paints a dire picture of the nation’s climate future. We spoke with Lall about the outlook for water supplies, quality and infrastructure.
Water Scarcity Archives - State of the Planet
Two new papers find that the line that divides the moist East and arid West is edging eastward due to climate change—and the implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.
Thousands of years before Biblical times, during a period when temperatures were unusually high, the lands around the Dead Sea now occupied by Israel, Jordan and surrounding nations suffered megadroughts far worse than any recorded by humans. Warming climate now threatens to return such conditions to this already hard-pressed region.
California’s wet and snowy winter brings welcome relief from a years-long drought that has challenged the state’s water supply and agricultural system. But climate scientist Richard Seager of Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory offers words of caution: Remember what happened, because it will happen again.
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.
If U.S. sulfur dioxide emissions are cut to zero by 2100, as some researchers have projected they will be, rainfall over Africa’s Sahel region could increase up to 10 percent from 2000 levels, computer simulations suggest.
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.
Michelle Ho grew up in Australia, the driest inhabited continent, with an appreciation for the value of having a clean glass of water to drink. Now, she conducts research for the Columbia Water Center on America’s water systems.
Yael Kiro, an associate research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, has received the 2017 Professor Rafi Freund Award from the Israel Geological Society for work published on the ancient climate history of the Dead Sea.
Water reuse is a proven technology that can produce a drought-proof sustainable water supply. Yet historically, there has been some reluctance to adopt it here in the United States. Xylem commissioned a poll to try to better understand perceptions about recycled water in drought-stricken California. And the findings were eye-opening.