About 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western U.S., enough to blanket the region with four inches of water, according to a study.
Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, arrived at the conclusion by measuring the level of the earth’s crust with a network of GPS stations that is normally used to predict earthquakes.
Many Considerations Needed for Water Conservation Strategy
In April, California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order asking residents to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent. That hasn’t happened. Since then, the state’s dry conditions have worsened, with more than 80 percent of California now in an extreme drought according to the National Weather Service.
As a result, officials are getting tough on water wasters: The State Water Resources Control Board recently adopted regulations giving local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day. But efforts to hit Brown’s target might have unintended, and potentially harmful, consequences for the health of Californians and their communities.
In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.
Now, scientists at Stanford Univ. have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.
California has allocated five times more surface water than the state actually has, making it hard for regulators to tell whose supplies should be cut during a drought, UC Davis researchers have reported.
The scientists said California’s water-rights regulator, the State Water Resources Control Board, needs a systematic overhaul of policies and procedures to bridge the gaping disparity, but lacks the legislative authority and funding to do so.
Model Predicts Water Scarcity, Climate Change in 2095
What will a global water scarcity map look like in 2095? Radically different, according to scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, depending on the type and the stringency of the climate mitigation policies chosen to reduce carbon pollution.
In a first of its kind comprehensive analysis, the researchers, working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, used a unique modeling capability that links economic, energy, land-use and climate systems to show the effects of global change on water scarcity. When they incorporated water use and availability in this powerful engine and ran scenarios of possible climate mitigation policy targets, they found that without any climate policy to curb carbon emissions, half the world will be living under extreme water scarcity. Some climate mitigation policies, such as increasing growth of water-hungry biofuels, may exacerbate water scarcity.
Physicists at The Australian National Univ. (ANU) have created a tractor beam on water, providing a radical new technique that could confine oil spills, manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach.
The team, led by Horst Punzmann, discovered they can control water flow patterns with simple wave generators, enabling them to move floating objects at will. The team also experimented with different shaped plungers to generate different swirling flow patterns.
A new laboratory at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township aims to speed and improve the process of testing water at beaches in Michigan.
The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens and The Detroit News report the lab opened this week in Harrison Township following years of work to improve testing. The lab is part of a pilot project designed to help state officials plan for future water monitoring.
Scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first structural observations of liquid water at temperatures down to -51 F, within an elusive “no man’s land” where water’s strange properties are super-amplified.
The research, made possible by SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser and reported in Nature, opens a new window for exploring liquid water in these exotic conditions, and promises to improve our understanding of its unique properties at the more natural temperatures and states that are relevant to global ocean currents, climate and biology.
Ban on Pavement Sealant Significantly Impacted Lake
In 2006, Austin, Texas, became the first city in the country to ban a commonly used pavement sealant over concerns that it was a major source of cancer-causing compounds in the environment. Eight years later, the city’s action seems to have made a big dent in the targeted compounds’ levels — researchers now report that the concentrations have dropped significantly. They published their study, which could have broad implications for other jurisdictions and public health, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Peter Van Metre and Barbara Mahler from the U.S. Geological Survey point out that in 2005, researchers figured out that pavement sealants made from coal tar were contributing high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to the environment. This is a serious public concern because studies have shown that PAHs cause cancer in animals, and they likely impact human health as well.
Water is thought to be embedded in the moon’s rocks or, if cold enough, “stuck” on their surfaces. It’s predominantly found at the poles. But scientists probably won’t find it intact on the sunlit side.
New research at the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that ultraviolet photons emitted by the sun likely cause H2O molecules to either quickly desorb or break apart. The fragments of water may remain on the lunar surface, but the presence of useful amounts of water on the sunward side is not likely.
Feathers have long been recognized as a classic example of efficient water-shedding — as in the well-known expression “like water off a duck’s back.” A combination of modeling and laboratory tests has now determined how both chemistry — the preening oil that birds use — and the microstructure of feathers, with their barbs and barbules, allow birds to stay dry even after emerging from amazingly deep dives.
The new research, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, studied how cormorants and other diving birds are able to reach depths of some 30 meters without having water permanently wet their protective feathers. The research was carried out by MIT professors Robert Cohen, Michael Rubner and Gareth McKinley; graduate students Siddarth Srinivasan and Shreerang Chhatre; Andrew Parker of London’s Natural History Museum; and two others.
Scientists are using a pioneering method of “caging” and cooling water molecules to study the change in orientation of the magnetic nuclei at the center of each hydrogen atom — a process that transforms the molecule from one form of water to another.
By trapping water molecules in carbon spheres and cooling them, scientists at the universities of Southampton, Nottingham and Columbia Univ., have been able to follow the change in form (or isomer) of the molecules. The results of this work may one day help to enhance the diagnostic power of MRI scans.
If you don’t want to die of thirst in the desert, be like the beetle. Or have a nanotube cup handy. New research by scientists at Rice Univ. demonstrated that forests of carbon nanotubes can be made to harvest water molecules from arid desert air and store them for future use.
The invention they call a “hygroscopic scaffold” is detailed in a new paper in ACS’ Applied Materials and Interfaces. Researchers in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan found a way to mimic the Stenocara beetle, which survives in the desert by stretching its wings to capture and drink water molecules from the early morning fog.
Researchers from Northwestern Univ. and the Univ. of New Mexico have reported evidence for potentially oceans worth of water deep beneath the U.S. Though not in the familiar liquid form — the ingredients for water are bound up in rock deep in the Earth’s mantle — the discovery may represent the planet’s largest water reservoir.
The presence of liquid water on the surface is what makes our “blue planet” habitable, and scientists have long been trying to figure out just how much water may be cycling between Earth’s surface and interior reservoirs through plate tectonics.
The Supreme Court ruled today, June 9, that a group of homeowners in North Carolina can’t sue a company that contaminated their drinking water decades ago because a state deadline has lapsed, a decision that could prevent thousands of other property owners in similar cases from recovering damages after being exposed to toxic waste.
In a seven to two decision, the justices said state law strictly bars any lawsuit brought more than 10 years after the contamination occurred — even if residents did not realize their water was polluted until years later.