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Newsletter
September 8, 2006

Water II
Freshwater Resources



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NEW KF Photography Master Archive

Red Sky at Morning
James Gustave Speth
Threats to Biodiversity and Ecosystems - 5 of 9
Read Threat #1 - Land use conversion
Read Threat #2 - Land degradation
Read Threat #3 - Freshwater shortages
Read Threat #4 - Watercourse modifications

Red Sky at Morning web site

  Read Threat #5 - Invasive species


Science Magazine

The 25 August 2006 issue of Science Magazine included a 23 page "Special Section" titled Freshwater Resources. It addresses issues of fresh water world wide. The following quotations and illustartion are taken from this issue of Science.

A Thirsty World by Jake Yeston, Robert Coontz, Jesse Smith, Caroline Ash
"The search for fresh water--to drink, to bathe in, to irrigate crops--is a problem as old as civilization. Across the ages, cities have thrived where the supply is abundant and collapsed in the face of drought. Remarkably, despite the technological progress characterizing the modern era and the fact that most of Earth's surface is covered by oceans, the availability of fresh water remains a pressing concern throughout the world."

Global Hydrological Cycles and World Water Resources by Taikan Oki1,2,3* and Shinjiro Kanae1,4*
"Water is a naturally circulating resource that is constantly recharged. Therefore, even though the stocks of water in natural and artificial reservoirs are helpful to increase the available water resources for human society, the flow of water should be the main focus in water resources assessments. The climate system puts an upper limit on the circulation rate of available renewable freshwater resources (RFWR). Although current global withdrawals are well below the upper limit, more than two billion people live in highly water-stressed areas because of the uneven distribution of RFWR in time and space. Climate change is expected to accelerate water cycles and thereby increase the available RFWR. This would slow down the increase of people living under water stress; however, changes in seasonal patterns and increasing probability of extreme events may offset this effect. Reducing current vulnerability will be the first step to prepare for such anticipated changes."

Desalination Freshens Up - Robert F. Service
"Cheaper materials, more efficient equipment, and some promising new approaches could make large-scale extraction of clean water a major force in the battle against global thirst.

"Efforts to provide clean, fresh water for the world's inhabitants seem to be moving in the wrong direction. According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion people do not have access to clean, piped water. A World Resources Institute analysis adds that 2.3 billion people--41% of Earth's population--live in water-stressed areas, a number expected to climb to 3.5 billion by 2025. To make matters worse, global population is rising by 80 million a year, and with it the demand for new sources of fresh water.

"Such concerns have made desalination--the process of removing salts and suspended solids from brackish water and seawater--a fast-growing alternative. According to a 2004 report by the U.S. National Research Council, more than 15,000 desalination plants now operate in more than 125 countries, with a total capacity of turning out 32.4 million cubic meters (m3) of water a day, about one-quarter of the amount consumed by U.S. communities each year. With numerous areas around the globe facing long-term severe water shortages, "I don't see [the demand for desalination] slowing down any," says Michelle Chapman, a physical scientist at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Denver, Colorado, and co-chair of a desalination research program funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research."

How Will Water Use Change in the Future?
"The global population will certainly grow, at least for several decades, and water demand will increase as a result. Water demand per person will most likely also increase due to economic growth. For example, an expected growth of meat consumption will increase the water demand for fodder production.

"The ultimate objectives of future-oriented world water resource assessments are to show the international community what will happen if we continue to manage our water resources as we do today and to indicate what actions may be needed to prevent undesirable outcomes. In that sense, studies of future world water resources are successful if their predictions based on business-as-usual are proven wrong."

What Effects Will Climate Change Have on RFWR?
"The effect of global climate change on hydrological cycles is still uncertain, but higher temperatures will turn some part of snowfall into rainfall, the snowmelt season will be earlier, and, as a result, the timing and volume of spring flood will change substantially. Nearly half of the world's population depends on groundwater sources for drinking water supply and for other uses. Sea level rise will cause saline water intrusion into groundwater aquifers near the coasts and will decrease the available groundwater resources. On the water demand side, changes in the seasonal pattern have not been estimated globally, and a comprehensive description of groundwater withdrawal in the world is largely lacking."


Illustration from Science Magazine
Click image to see enlargement

 

Travelogue

Rich Kurczak - 8/20/2006 edition - Falling Trees & the Hopi Reservation
Rich Kurczak - 7/20/2006 edition - Last Days in Cliff, New Mexico
Rich Kurczak - 7/09/2006 edition - SW New Mexico
Rich Kurczak - 6/23/2006 edition - Yampa River, Green River, Grand Staircase Wilderness

   


Photo - 2006
 

Surf I - July 2006

Click here to view the KnowledgeFarm Photography Master Archive



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KnowledgeFarm has issued over 75 newsletters since Bill Katavolos coined the name to reflect his vision of small rural learning centers tucked into the interstitial "left-overs" of circular irrigation fields on the great plains. KF subscribership has remained small and friendly - currently a master list of 33. KnowledgeFarm is a weekly portrait of someone or someplace that seems to be making a difference for the health of the planet mixed with a collection of photographs I take along the way and quotes that I find particularly inspiring. Recently the Travelogue was added as a way to follow Rich Kurczak on his way to Africa and back and this section may grow as others contribute similar adventures.

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Redbud Wind - energy project archive
Updated 5/19/06

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