04 December 2013

This Week in Water

It's been a bit slow around the ole' H2O cooler the last couple of weeks. An abbreviated aggravating aggregation follows.

"IceCube", an instrument consisting of some 5160 optical sensors carved into a cubic kilometer of Antarctic ice (not the actor/rapper), has detected the first evidence of extraterrestrial neutrinos: "Neutrinos are subatomic particles with essentially no mass and no electric charge. As such, their interactions with matter are very weak. ... they can travel unscathed from the edge of the universe, from the inner neighborhoods of black holes, and from the nuclear furnaces where cosmic rays are thought to be created." Billions of these high-energy particles pass through our bodies every second.

A 4.4 billion year old meteorite the size of a fist—dubbed "Black Beauty"—that managed to find its way from inside a Martian volcano to the Saharan desert is revealing clues to the origins of our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago, the formation of Mars, and the presence of chemicals and even water on the Red Planet.

A volcanic eruption off the coast of Japan has given rise to a new island.

Methane gas escaping from underneath melting Arctic ice, especially the Siberian shelf, could catastrophically increase global warming and could stimulate another mass global extinction event.

For the first time, scientists are able to measure the amount of charcoal entering the oceans through runoff. It appears to be massive.

CO2 is increasing ocean acidification at alarming rates. "When CO2 dissolves into the ocean, it creates carbonic acid. Carbonic acid leads to higher water acidity, especially near the surface. As levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere rise due to human activity like burning fossil fuels, acidity levels in the oceans also rise. 'As ocean acidity increases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere decreases. This decreases the ocean’s role in moderating climate change...'"

TEPCO, the Japanese power company, is planning to dump the radioactive waste water from its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

Plastics, breaking down in the oceans, are beginning to show up in the digestive tracts of lugworms which are low on the food chain.

An iceberg the size of Singapore has broken off from Antartica.

Scientists are trying to model the complex set of processes that lead to a rise in sea level and are beginning to make some reasonable predictions.

Canada wants to claim the North Pole. Denmark, Norway, Russian, and the U.S. say "not so fast."

Canada is also attempting to build a series of toxic lakes to deal with the environmental devastation caused by extracting oil from its Alberta tar sands. Environmental concerns abound.

Is your city threatened by the stresses on U.S. aquifers? Does it stand to run out of water perhaps even by mid-century? Mine does. According to Columbia University's Water Center and NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Atlanta joins Salt Lake City, Lincoln, Cleveland, Miami, Washington, El Paso, San Antonio, San Francisco, Houston, and LA among large cities that could be deeply effected by water shortages in the not-too-distant future.

Water restrictions may soon become necessary in South Florida.

A brief sampling of regional 'water wars' taking shape in the U.S.

Israelis are pioneering 'drip irrigation' techniques to increase agricultural productivity efficiently. Meanwhile, the sewage system in Gaza has collapsed and raw sewage is running through the streets.

Environmentalists and social justice activists are urging the World Trade Organization to resist the privatization and commodification of water (and sanitation) as a market-based resource in the on-going TPP talks and free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the E.U.

The Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Corporation has been waging a long-standing covert campaign to discourage and stigmatize the use of tap water for drinking in its marketing efforts for its bottled water products.

On a positive note, water levels are beginning to rebound in the U.S. Great Lakes, home to 1/5 of the world's fresh water.

Satellites have mapped Australia's Great Barrier Reef for the first time.

Rip currents claim more lives in Australia than bushfires, floods, cyclones, and sharks COMBINED. If you are swimming at the beach and feel yourself being pulled out away from shore, do NOT fight the current. Float and signal for help. If no help is available, drift with the current until you feel you can swim parallel to shore and swim out of the rip and along the shoreline until you are out of the rip. Then the waves should help you swim back into shore. You can get exhausted swimming against a rip current and drown.

A submersible off the coast of Oahu located a WWII Japanese submarine scuttled in 1946.

Divers searching for bodies at the site of a three-day-old shipwreck off the coast of Nigeria found the ship's cook alive and breathing in an air pocket of the upturned ship. That may be the coolest thing ever!


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

"It hasn't resulted in better services even while it has led to higher rates and, often, worse service. Local, public provision is the most responsible way to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable water."

Where's the profit in that???

- Mr. Boo-urns

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

tap water - we used to drink bottled water at our house sometimes and then we saw an article about how costly it is environment-wise (plastic for bottles, fuel to cart it around, etc)

now we use the tap water but let it sit in a pitcher for a bit - some of the chlorine evaporates and the taste is better

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

from the comments of one of the stories above at realclimate

Dan Bloom says:
23 Nov 2013 at 5:57 PM

Post Sandy and now post Haiyan, this is perfect storm of evidence for a cli fi novel to use as theme. CLI FI? a new genre of sci fi called climate fiction aka CLI FI for short, and stands for novels and movies which have climate themes. see CLI FI CENTRAL blog for media stories about the new genre, with Margaret Atwood tweeting the meme