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Water Issues Ripple Through Obama Climate Change Speech

President Obama’s climate change speech on Tuesday from Georgetown University was full of references to climate change impacts on water availability, flooding, and drought.  He dealt head on with key issues of changing water cycle intensity, and in particular, with the increasing frequency of hydrologic extremes.  From the outset, the President invoked the Blue Marble…

IEA Says Policies Could Keep 2 Degrees Celsius Goal Alive

Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), warns global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions set an all-time high in 2012, throwing the world off its path to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2020. These emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to 31.6 billion tons—though the U.S. posted its lowest emissions (down 200 million…

8,000 Years After its Advent, Agriculture is Withering in Southern Iraq

As temperatures in Southern Iraq approached 52 degrees Celsius (126°F) last July, Habib Salman, a 52-year-old farmer in the Al-Islah township, shot himself in the head, leaving behind an eleven-member family. The stream on which their farm relied had recently dried up, jeopardizing his family’s survival.

In Cradle of Civilization, Shrinking Rivers Endanger Unique Marsh Arab Culture

NG Young Explorer Julia Harte documents the culture of the Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq through text and photos, as well as a video shot and edited by team member Anna Ozbek.

Enki’s Gift: How Civilization Bubbled From the Waters of Mesopotamia

NG Young Explorer Julia Harte examines the historical importance of water in Mesopotamia’s cultures and religions through text and photos, as well as a video shot and edited by team member Anna Ozbek.

Drought and Dams in Biblical Garden of Eden

NG Young Explorer Julia Harte begins her expedition northward along the Tigris River, where she will examine the impacts of Turkey’s Ilısu Dam, with initial glimpses at water issues in Southern Iraq and an introduction to the heated controversy surround the dam.

As Climate Change Reduces Colorado River Communities Must Prepare

Now that a red flag has been raised by the Colorado River Basin Study – a federal and state cooperative analysis published in late 2012 – that there will be water shortages across much of the U.S. Southwest, the handwringing has started. Our cities, farms, and rivers face a slow-motion disaster; what are we going…

Low Lake Levels: Don’t Fight Nature, Plan for It

The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s available surface freshwater–enough to cover the continental United States with 10 feet of water if you turned them upside down. In many places along the lakes, you can stand on one side without seeing the shoreline on the other because they are so huge. It’s difficult…

As Drought Persists in the West, Time to Prepare for Summer Shortages

Drought, drought, and more drought seems to be what’s in store for most river basins in the West, including the Colorado, the lifeline for 30 million people. Back in late November, I wrote about how NOAA’s seasonal drought outlook for mid-November to late February indicated the persistence of dryness in most of the Colorado River…

Drought Fuels Water War Between Texas and New Mexico

As climate change alters rainfall patterns and river flows, tensions are bound to rise between states and countries that share rivers that cross their borders. In the Rio Grande Basin of the American Southwest, that future inevitability has arrived. Last week Texas, suffering through a devastating drought, filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court…

Geography in the News: Australian Fires Out of Control

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Appalachian State University Raging Australian Wildfires Australia is under siege by raging out-of-control wildfires. The fires are being blamed on the continent’s long droughts. Most of its climates are relatively dry ones anyway, but Australia’s long series of droughts has created dry conditions even in its humid climatic…

A Groundbreaking Agreement to Save Australia’s Ailing Murray River

After years of debate, fiery protests and intense negotiations, Australia has adopted a historic plan to restore flows to the suffering Murray-Darling River Basin. It is one of the boldest water pacts to restore nature on the books, and if successful, could offer a roadmap for overtapped river basins in other arid lands. The plan…

With Drought Looming, Colorado River Basin Needs Solutions

If early forecasts pan out, the Colorado River Basin could be in for yet another year of intense drought. On NOAA’s seasonal drought outlook map for mid-November to late February, the entire basin is shaded in dark brown, signaling the anticipated persistence of drought conditions through most of the winter.  That could again wreak havoc…

Romney, Obama Make History with Failure to Mention Climate Change in Last Debate

The final foreign-policy-focused presidential debate made history Monday when candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama failed to mention climate change. Despite historic drought and record melting of Arctic sea ice, failure to visit the topic marked the first time since the 1980s climate change hasn’t come up in a presidential debate. Some argued the climate should have come up, as almost every major international issue—food prices, military operations and…

How the Yampa River, and its Dependents, Survived the Drought of 2012

As this year’s drought deepened and spread across the United States, many cities and farms took steps to cope.  Bans on landscape irrigation conserved municipal supplies.  Farmers pumped more groundwater for their crops to make up for the lack of rain. But what’s a river to do? Most rivers are last in line for help…