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World water crisis and climate change

edited April 2015 in Azimuth Forum

Step 1: Summary of recent news on water shortages in the United States, China, and India

News item #1: California, April 1, 2015

"The governor of California has ordered unprecedented and mandatory water restrictions in the state as officials conducted a regular measurement of the Sierra Nevada snowpack and found “no snow whatsoever” amid the state’s ongoing drought.

“This was the first time in 75 years of early-April measurements at the Phillips snow course that no snow was found there,” the California Department of Water Resources said in a statement on Wednesday at the conclusion of a survey attended by the Governor Jerry Brown. It said readings from Wednesday put the state’s level of water content at just 5% of the historical average for the date."

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/01/california-governor-orders-mandatory-water-restrictions-drought

More to follow.

Comments

  • 1.
    edited April 2015

    News Item #2: Las Vegas and Nevada, June 28, 2014

    Lake Meda and Las Vegas: reference http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10932785/The-race-to-stop-Las-Vegas-from-running-dry.html

    " 14 years into a devastating drought, it is on the verge of losing it all.

    “The situation is as bad as you can imagine,” said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.”

    The crisis stems from the Las Vegas’s complete reliance on Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, which was created by the Hoover Dam in 1936 - after which it took six years to fill completely. "But over the last decade, as Las Vegas’s population has grown by 400,000 to two million, Lake Mead has slowly been drained of four trillion gallons of water and is now well under half full. Mr Barnett predicts it may be a “dead pool” that provides no water by about 2036. "

    Comment Source:News Item #2: Las Vegas and Nevada, June 28, 2014 Lake Meda and Las Vegas: reference http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10932785/The-race-to-stop-Las-Vegas-from-running-dry.html " 14 years into a devastating drought, it is on the verge of losing it all. “The situation is as bad as you can imagine,” said Tim Barnett, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “It’s just going to be screwed. And relatively quickly. Unless it can find a way to get more water from somewhere Las Vegas is out of business. Yet they’re still building, which is stupid.” The crisis stems from the Las Vegas’s complete reliance on Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir, which was created by the Hoover Dam in 1936 - after which it took six years to fill completely. "But over the last decade, as Las Vegas’s population has grown by 400,000 to two million, Lake Mead has slowly been drained of four trillion gallons of water and is now well under half full. Mr Barnett predicts it may be a “dead pool” that provides no water by about 2036. "
  • 2.
    edited April 2015

    News Item #3: China, February 25, 2014

    "In a report by the Chinese News Service, Jiao Yong, Vice Minister of Water Resources, said, "China has more than 400 cities short of water, some 110 of which are facing serious scarcity.

    A study by the China's Ministry of Water Resources found that approximately 55% of China's 50,000 rivers that existed in the 1990s have ... disappeared."" http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2291208/chinas_looming_water_crisis.html

    Comment Source:News Item #3: China, February 25, 2014 "In a report by the Chinese News Service, Jiao Yong, Vice Minister of Water Resources, said, "China has more than 400 cities short of water, some 110 of which are facing serious scarcity. A study by the China's Ministry of Water Resources found that approximately 55% of China's 50,000 rivers that existed in the 1990s have ... disappeared."" http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2291208/chinas_looming_water_crisis.html
  • 3.
    edited April 2015

    News Item #4: India, March 3, 2015

    "The report states that with more than half of India’s total area is facing high to extremely high stress, almost 600 million people are at higher risk of surface-water supply disruptions. Shrinking supply might have serious ramifications for the country’s agriculture sector which uses 90% of the available water (pdf).

    While the current situation looks quite grim, there is a possibility that it can get worse. Water supply is expected to fall 50% below demand by 2030."

    http://qz.com/353707/india-is-already-facing-a-water-crisis-and-it-is-only-going-to-get-worse/

    Comment Source:News Item #4: India, March 3, 2015 "The report states that with more than half of India’s total area is facing high to extremely high stress, almost 600 million people are at higher risk of surface-water supply disruptions. Shrinking supply might have serious ramifications for the country’s agriculture sector which uses 90% of the available water (pdf). While the current situation looks quite grim, there is a possibility that it can get worse. Water supply is expected to fall 50% below demand by 2030." http://qz.com/353707/india-is-already-facing-a-water-crisis-and-it-is-only-going-to-get-worse/
  • 4.
    edited April 2015

    News Item #5: UN on World Water crisis: April 5, 2015

    "If current trends of water usage continue, the world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water supply by 2030, just 15 years down the line, the United Nations warned in its World Water Development Report released Friday. The report also predicts that the global water demand would increase by 55 percent by 2050, resulting in potentially catastrophic consequences."

    http://www.ibtimes.com/catastrophic-global-water-crisis-looming-large-un-warns-1854622

    Comment Source:News Item #5: UN on World Water crisis: April 5, 2015 "If current trends of water usage continue, the world could suffer a 40 percent shortfall in water supply by 2030, just 15 years down the line, the United Nations warned in its World Water Development Report released Friday. The report also predicts that the global water demand would increase by 55 percent by 2050, resulting in potentially catastrophic consequences." http://www.ibtimes.com/catastrophic-global-water-crisis-looming-large-un-warns-1854622
  • 5.

    Problems with using desalination plants: they emit greenhouse gases:

    "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that desalination plants are dependent on fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. Paradoxically global warming increases droughts and water shortages, the very problem that desalination plants are trying to address. Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper estimated that a plant that produces 53 million gallons per day will cause nearly double the emissions of treating and reusing the same amount of water."

    http://globalwarmingisreal.com/2011/03/23/are-desalination-technologies-the-answer-to-the-world-water-crisis/

    Comment Source:Problems with using desalination plants: they emit greenhouse gases: "Perhaps most troubling is the fact that desalination plants are dependent on fossil fuels which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming. Paradoxically global warming increases droughts and water shortages, the very problem that desalination plants are trying to address. Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper estimated that a plant that produces 53 million gallons per day will cause nearly double the emissions of treating and reusing the same amount of water." http://globalwarmingisreal.com/2011/03/23/are-desalination-technologies-the-answer-to-the-world-water-crisis/
  • 6.

    Historical example #1: Maya

    "Repeated droughts unseated the Maya kings, their cities collapsing starting around A.D. 800 throughout Central America.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150127-maya-water-temple-drought-archaeology-science/

    Comment Source:Historical example #1: Maya "Repeated droughts unseated the Maya kings, their cities collapsing starting around A.D. 800 throughout Central America. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150127-maya-water-temple-drought-archaeology-science/
  • 7.

    New paper:

    Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances, 12 February 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400082

    "The research says the drying would surpass in severity any of the decades-long "megadroughts" that occurred much earlier during the past 1,000 years -- one of which has been tied by some researchers to the decline of the Anasazi or Ancient Pueblo Peoples in the Colorado Plateau in the late 13th century. Many studies have already predicted that the Southwest could dry due to global warming, but this is the first to say that such drying could exceed the worst conditions of the distant past. The impacts today would be devastating, given the region's much larger population and use of resources."

    Comment Source:New paper: Benjamin I. Cook, Toby R. Ault, Jason E. Smerdon. Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances, 12 February 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400082 "The research says the drying would surpass in severity any of the decades-long "megadroughts" that occurred much earlier during the past 1,000 years -- one of which has been tied by some researchers to the decline of the Anasazi or Ancient Pueblo Peoples in the Colorado Plateau in the late 13th century. Many studies have already predicted that the Southwest could dry due to global warming, but this is the first to say that such drying could exceed the worst conditions of the distant past. The impacts today would be devastating, given the region's much larger population and use of resources."
  • 8.

    Hi Justin, Great that somebody's been able to take up this issue. I've just added a post on statistics collected by the UK charity Water Aid on +Azimuth.

    https://plus.google.com/104603011082997519952/posts/NdMT3AJUBnx

    Comment Source:Hi Justin, Great that somebody's been able to take up this issue. I've just added a post on statistics collected by the UK charity Water Aid on +Azimuth. https://plus.google.com/104603011082997519952/posts/NdMT3AJUBnx
  • 9.

    Justin, The California drought situation is partly related to the characteristics of long-term El Nino and ENSO behavior. For Cali, an El Nino usually brings lots of rain and since there has been a paucity of "official" El Nino events recently, this is likely contributing to the drought.

    I have always thought that we shouldn't treat El Nino conditions as a binary On-Off situation but more as a continuum of behaviors. Take a look at the recent modeling efforts on ENSO that have been discussed on this forum. As we continue to work it, perhaps eventually we will be able to get some insight into what has been happening. The continuum behavior of ENSO has appeared relatively stationary over the years, but that doesn't preclude that a climate shift from occurring which would cause a more rapid change.

    One Pacific ocean climate shift occurred around 1980, which is very easy to infer by a time-series analysis of the El Nino Southern Ocean Index. The prevailing conditions may be a continuation of this shift, or it may be that another shift is occurring. As far as I can tell, no one knows if global warming lead to the last shift.

    Whatever water that California is not getting, someone else is getting dumped on. Water will continue to evaporate and precipitate, but just not where we are used to.

    Comment Source:Justin, The California drought situation is partly related to the characteristics of long-term El Nino and ENSO behavior. For Cali, an El Nino usually brings lots of rain and since there has been a paucity of "official" El Nino events recently, this is likely contributing to the drought. I have always thought that we shouldn't treat El Nino conditions as a binary On-Off situation but more as a continuum of behaviors. Take a look at the recent modeling efforts on ENSO that have been discussed on this forum. As we continue to work it, perhaps eventually we will be able to get some insight into what has been happening. The continuum behavior of ENSO has appeared relatively stationary over the years, but that doesn't preclude that a climate shift from occurring which would cause a more rapid change. One Pacific ocean climate shift occurred around 1980, which is very easy to infer by a time-series analysis of the El Nino Southern Ocean Index. The prevailing conditions may be a continuation of this shift, or it may be that another shift is occurring. As far as I can tell, no one knows if global warming lead to the last shift. Whatever water that California is not getting, someone else is getting dumped on. Water will continue to evaporate and precipitate, but just not where we are used to.
  • 10.
    edited April 2015

    There was some recent work at Stanford that suggests that global warming contributed:

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132709

    "We've demonstrated with high statistical confidence that large-scale atmospheric conditions similar to those of the Triple R are far more likely to occur now than in the climate before we emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases," Rajaratnam says.

    Comment Source:There was some recent work at Stanford that suggests that global warming contributed: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132709 "We've demonstrated with high statistical confidence that large-scale atmospheric conditions similar to those of the Triple R are far more likely to occur now than in the climate before we emitted large amounts of greenhouse gases," Rajaratnam says.
  • 11.

    Justin, The fundamental question is why those guys from Stanford can assert what contributes to this drought transition, yet they can't (nor anyone else for that matter) actually predict what causes the El Nino behavior, and actually be able to model it to any degree of fidelity.

    But can we do it ? https://forum.azimuthproject.org/discussion/1608/enso-revisit#latest

    My goal is to establish a foundation built on stripped down models that when simulated can potentially predict future behavior from past data. That is essentially the goal of the El Nino project on the Azimuth forum as well.

    paul

    Comment Source:Justin, The fundamental question is why those guys from Stanford can assert what contributes to this drought transition, yet they can't (nor anyone else for that matter) actually predict what causes the El Nino behavior, and actually be able to model it to any degree of fidelity. But can we do it ? https://forum.azimuthproject.org/discussion/1608/enso-revisit#latest My goal is to establish a foundation built on stripped down models that when simulated can potentially predict future behavior from past data. That is essentially the goal of the El Nino project on the Azimuth forum as well. paul
  • 12.
    edited April 2015

    Hi, Justin! If you'd like to write a blog article on water shortages, that would be nice. It could be just quotes from articles—or better, something more.

    I wrote a very short post on the situation in California, where I live:

    Comment Source:Hi, Justin! If you'd like to write a blog article on water shortages, that would be nice. It could be just quotes from articles—or better, something more. I wrote a very short post on the situation in California, where I live: * [Drought in California - my home](https://plus.google.com/u/0/117663015413546257905/posts/UMQpKktgMRu), Google+, 3 April 2015.
  • 13.

    Jason Davison has made a hydrographic model of the Californian water cycle which might be of interest.

    Comment Source:Jason Davison has made a hydrographic model of the [Californian water cycle](JasonDavison.com) which might be of interest.
  • 14.
    edited April 2015

    Hello John,

    At the moment, I have some intensive tasks that have come up related to my biotech project. What I would like to do is focus on the water crisis in the US West and see if I can also bring in some of the work related to the recent Stanford paper: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132709.

    What I'd like to do is do a brief review of some items and then set that up so that if someone wants to tackle it in more detail they can draw on those references.

    Comment Source:Hello John, At the moment, I have some intensive tasks that have come up related to my biotech project. What I would like to do is focus on the water crisis in the US West and see if I can also bring in some of the work related to the recent Stanford paper: http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=132709. What I'd like to do is do a brief review of some items and then set that up so that if someone wants to tackle it in more detail they can draw on those references.
  • 15.

    If you want to collect some information on drought in the US West, that would be great. Please put it not here but in the Azimuth Wiki, since conversations here tend to get lost in the shuffle.

    I created a page for this purpose:

    and you can edit it as you like. Some tips on writing wiki pages on Azimuth can be found here.

    Comment Source:If you want to collect some information on drought in the US West, that would be great. Please put it not here but in the Azimuth Wiki, since conversations here tend to get lost in the shuffle. I created a page for this purpose: * [Drought in the USA](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Drought+in+the+USA) and you can edit it as you like. Some tips on writing wiki pages on Azimuth can be found [here](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/How+to).
  • 16.

    Hello everyone,

    My project has remained time-consuming. However, another recent item in the news provides more evidence for the water crisis. Note this applies primarily to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/climate-change-water-shortage-middle-east-asia-africa-world-bank

    Salient quote: "Water shortages could strip off 14% of GDP in the Middle East and nearly 12% of GDP in the Sahel – without a radical shift in management, according to the bank’s projections.

    Central Asia could lose close to 11% of GDP and east Asia about 7% under business-as-usual water management policies, according to a new report."

    Incredibly, nearly 2/3 of water is already being lost in some of these cities simply because of poor water infrastructure and leaky pipes. The added GDP losses are projected based upon climate change.

    Comment Source:Hello everyone, My project has remained time-consuming. However, another recent item in the news provides more evidence for the water crisis. Note this applies primarily to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/03/climate-change-water-shortage-middle-east-asia-africa-world-bank Salient quote: "Water shortages could strip off 14% of GDP in the Middle East and nearly 12% of GDP in the Sahel – without a radical shift in management, according to the bank’s projections. Central Asia could lose close to 11% of GDP and east Asia about 7% under business-as-usual water management policies, according to a new report." Incredibly, nearly 2/3 of water is already being lost in some of these cities simply because of poor water infrastructure and leaky pipes. The added GDP losses are projected based upon climate change.
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