Colorado and the West news August 2017

Thanks to the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization! Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline is intended by the Audubon Society to be the first comprehensive assessment of the complex and vital relationships that exist among birds, water management, and climate change in the Southwest, focused on two of the most imperiled and irreplaceable western ecosystems: the Colorado …

Increasing droughts, lower crop yields (just 40% already in Utah and forecast to go to 10%), and increased stress and conflict

A new study by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The most adversely affected region, according to the researchers, will be the Southwest. Already a water-stressed part of the country, this region is projected to experience …

Thermoelectric energy at high risk of blackouts with droughts: Water shortages cost India enough energy to power Sri Lanka

By  Tianyi Luo – WRI  July 26, 2017   A power plant in India. Flickr/Vikramdeep Singh India is making great strides to aggressively expand its renewable energy capacity. But the country’s power sector remains highly reliant on thermoelectric plants, with high demand for water for cooling. That means that droughts, like the one caused last year by weak monsoons, can shut off the power, hampering …

428 planned Amazon dams present major disturbances to Amazon floodplains, rainforests, the northeast coast of South America and the regional climate

Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico. These findings, published in Nature, emerge from a multidisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers from 10 universities, led by scientists at The University of Texas at …

Grid-connected water heaters offer storage capabilities at a fraction of the cost of batteries. The challenge is getting everyone a piece of the returns.

By Herman Trabish, Utility Dive, 20 June 2017 Utilities have always tried to stay out of hot water with their customers. But now, they’re itching to get into it. A wave of interest is building in grid-integrated water heating (GIWH) as a path to system flexibility at a fraction of the cost of battery energy storage. At last count, 53.6 …

Utilities are taking risks when they know of dangers related to fuels and emissions and continue anyway; insurers are resisting

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, June 15, 2017 More than two dozen insurance companies who previously insured Duke Energy’s coal ash disposal operations say they are not on the hook for cleanup costs because any property damage was “caused intentionally, by or at Duke’s direction.” The 30 insurance companies say they have no liability in the matter because Duke stored …

Deep trouble: how to improve the health of the ocean

The ocean sustains humanity. Humanity treats it with contempt 27 May 2017, The Economist May 27th 2017 EARTH is poorly named. The ocean covers almost three-quarters of the planet. It is divided into five basins: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Arctic and the Southern oceans. Were all the planet’s water placed over the United States, it would form …

Identifying water contamination from fossil fuel development using geochemical and isotopic fingerprints

Duke University Thesis Fossil fuels continue to be a major component of the energy economies in North America, accounting for 60% of electricity generation in the U.S. Recent incidences (i.e. spills) and limited regulation of the fossil fuel industry has generated public concern about the risks fossil fuel development pose to water resources. Previous studies have identified negative impacts on …

Water is getting much, much more expensive in these 30 cities.

By sarah.frostenson@vox.com May 19, 2017 Water utility prices in the US continue to march upward, and now as many as a third of Americans may be unable to pay their monthly water bill. In the past seven years, water rates in the US have climbed more than 50 percent on average, according to a new survey of water rates in 30 …

Declining precipitation in Colorado River Basin worsened by rising temperatures

Scientists found that another factor affected the runoff ratio: temperature. Over the last few centuries, the runoff ratio was reduced when temperatures were warmer. And the influence of temperature strengthened during drier years: When the snowpack was shallow, warm temperatures reduced the runoff ratio more than when the snowpack was deep, further exacerbating drought conditions. The low runoff ratios seen …