The High Plains (also known as Ogallala) aquifer underlies more than 170,000 square miles of the United States. Aquifers are water storage areas that are made up of bodies of permeable rock that contain and transmit groundwater. The High Plains aquifer serves as the principal source of water for irrigation and drinking in the Great Plains, serving over two million people. However, substantial pumping of the aquifer for irrigation since the 1940s has resulted in large water-table declines.
Depleting aquifers of groundwater can lead to serious consequences as pumping water out of the ground faster than it can be replenished can permanently dry up wells, reduce water in lakes and streams, and deteriorate water quality.
Yet, since 2000, depletion of the High Plains aquifer appears to be continuing at a high rate, with no plans of slowing down. The depletion during the last 8 years of record (2001—2008, inclusive) is about 32 percent of the cumulative depletion in this aquifer during the entire 20th century.
The High Plains aquifer depletion is just one example in a new U.S. Geological Survey study that reveals most of the Nation’s aquifers are being depleted at an accelerating rate.
The study, Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008) comprehensively evaluates long-term depletion volumes in 40 separate US aquifers.
“Groundwater is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources. It provides drinking water in both rural and urban communities. It supports irrigation and industry, sustains the flow of streams and rivers, and maintains ecosystems,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “Because groundwater systems typically respond slowly to human actions, a long-term perspective is vital to manage this valuable resource in sustainable ways.”
The study reports that from 1900 to 2008, the Nation’s aquifers, decreased by more than twice the volume of water found in Lake Erie. Also, groundwater depletion in the U.S. in the years 2000-2008 can explain more than 2 percent of the observed global sea-level rise during that period.
While the rate of groundwater depletion across the country has increased markedly since about 1950, the maximum rates have occurred during the most recent period of the study (2000—2008), when the depletion rate averaged almost 25 cubic kilometers per year. For comparison, 9.2 cubic kilometers per year is the historical average calculated over the 1900—2008 timespan of the study.
See more at the USGS Newsroom.
- Times: High Plains Aquifer Drying Up Fast (boiseweekly.com)
- Drop in U.S. underground water levels has accelerated: USGS (reuters.com)
Today is Mother’s Day in the US and is a chance to honor and give thanks to mothers, both human and those of the animal variety!
In nature, mothers come in all shapes and sizes and are equipped with a wide range of different parenting styles. We’ve selected a handful of moms with unique and fascinating methods for raising their babies from keeping little ones close for years to kicking them right out of the nest before they can even fly!
Furry and ginormous, American bison mothers live with their young in hierarchical herds led by one dominant female. Within three hours of being born, the newborn calves are able to run about but are guarded closely by many of the herds’ mothers who will charge any intruders. Talk about safety in numbers!
Our fine, feather mom, the long-eared owl, takes on the more ‘distant’ parenting approach. In a behavior known as ‘branching’, chicks leave the nest before they are able to fly and reside in surrounding vegetation, roosting separately, and thereby potentially reducing predation. While the young are capable of flight at around 35 days, both parents continue to provide food for several weeks after fledging.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, ARKive.
The annual tradition of celebrating public gardens on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day weekend will continue this year on May 10, 2013 as communities throughout the United States celebrate National Public Gardens Day. ENN reports
Presented in partnership between the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and irrigation product and service provider, Rain Bird, the annual day of awareness invites communities nationwide to explore the diverse beauty of their local green spaces and to take advantage of the conservation, education and environmental preservation resources public gardens provide.
The 2013 National Public Gardens Day will be celebrated by more than 500 North American botanic gardens, arboreta, museums, zoos and entertainment gardens with special events, tours and activities.
“Public gardens are treasures of the communities they serve,” said Casey Sclar, Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association. “Whether the gardens are in urban centers or in rural communities, they not only provide recreation and beauty, but are also indispensable resources in education, the environment and culture. It is important to take time at least once a year and pay tribute to these pillars of the community and educate the public about the importance of plant and water conservation.”
National Public Gardens Day is supported by a national awareness campaign that utilizes broadcast public service announcements, media partnerships, national spokespeople, media tours and contests to drive local and national exposure to the importance of building sustainable environments through plant and water conservation, education and community engagement.
“The impact that public gardens and green spaces have on our communities cannot be understated, and as a presenting partner and co-founder of National Public Gardens Day, Rain Bird recognizes the need to bring awareness to how public gardens serve as invaluable resources for water conservation,” said Dave Johnson, Rain Bird’s director of corporate marketing. “National Public Gardens Day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate public gardens and underscore how they ideally support our company’s Intelligent Use of Water philosophy by demonstrating how green spaces can educate and inspire us while contributing to the health of our environment and the conservation of the world’s most precious resource.”
In celebration of botanical gardens, arboreta, conservatories, educational gardens and historical landscapes, many of the APGA’s 500 member institutions will mark the day with special events and activities for schools, families, garden enthusiasts and other visitors. Many of the activities will continue through Mother’s Day weekend, offering visitors time to enjoy the beauty of the gardens while learning about each garden’s commitment to education, research and environmental stewardship.
For more information on National Public Gardens Day, visit www.NationalPublicGardensDay.org.
- PHS Celebrates National Public Gardens Day (philadelphiagreen.wordpress.com)
- This Friday! National Public Gardens Day (anaturemom.com)
- Guest Voices: Join Us for Smithsonian Gardens’ Garden Fest 2013! (earthmatters2013.wordpress.com)
If you were to travel from the United States of America to Japan, you would most likely encounter what could be described as the world’s largest waste dump: a 100,000 tonne expanse of debris floating around a large region of the Pacific Ocean. ENN reports
The total area of this phenomenon has been said to equal the size of continental U.S., but the truth about its true size remains unknown.
Captain Charles Moore first discovered the ‘Pacific garbage patch‘ in 1997. The area in which rubbish gets caught up is known as a gyre, which can be described as a large-scale circular feature made up of ocean currents that ultimately traps waste and moves it around the region.
Plastics constitute 90 percent of all trash in the world’s oceans with 20 percent of this waste being dumped from ships and oil platforms. The rest comes from land.
Plastic is of course, a very useful product; durable and stable, yet it is these very properties that deem it troublesome in marine environments.
“The polypropylene and the polyethylene that make up the majority of floater plastics and consumer plastics are just a little bit lighter than water. So if it’s rough they get pushed down under. When it’s really calm, all these bits and pieces can float to the surface,” Charles Moore told the Earth Island Journal.
To Moore, it is clearly a land-based problem and he believes that what drives the market and what subsequently runs off the streets into our oceans is all part of the same problem.
A one-liter plastic bottle, when in seawater, can reduce to so many small pieces that it is possible a single fragment could be found on every beach in the world. The entire marine food-web is suffering as a result. The breakdown of plastics into small pieces allows them to mimic the prey of all marine animals, from zooplankton to whales. When plastic is so prevalent that it fills up a creature’s stomach, it turns off the desire to feed. If an organism doesn’t put on fat stores for reproduction and migration, its population will crash. Floating plastic will even act as transport for some organisms, introducing them to areas where they could be problematic to resident species.
Seventy percent of the plastic waste sinks to the ocean floor and this mass of waste causes considerable damage to bed-dwelling organisms. In the worst case scenario—suffocation.
Plastics are also very good sponges, as such they are often used in oil clean-ups. But Moore explains that “petroleum-derivative toxins are sticking to these plastics, delivering these toxicants to marine creatures from the very base of the food-web to the top, in addition to killing millions by entanglement”.
- 19-Year-Old Develops Ocean Cleanup Array That Could Remove 7,250,000 Tons Of Plastic From the World’s Oceans (inhabitat.com)
- What Is The Plastic Soup? – 6 May 2013 (lucas2012infos.wordpress.com)
- Garbage Patch, the newest country (thestar.blogs.com)
The theme of Earth Day 2013 is The Face of Climate Change. This campaign seeks to harness the power of Earth Day to personalize the massive challenge that climate change presents, while uniting people around the globe into a powerful call to action.
Earth Day Network is collecting images of people, animals and places affected by climate change, as well as images of people doing their part in the fight against climate change. On Earth Day itself, an interactive digital display of all the images will be shown at thousands of events around the world. The display is also available online to anyone who wants to view it, show it or read the stories.
Although climate change still seems a remote problem to some people, the reality is quite different. This past year marked many climate-change milestones. Arctic sea-ice cover reached a record low in September. The United States experienced its hottest year ever; this after the World Meteorological Organization announced that the first decade of this century was the hottest on record for the entire planet. Public perception of extreme weather events as “the new normal” grew, as unusual super storms rocked the Caribbean, the Philippines and the northeast United States; droughts plagued northern Brazil, Russia, China and two-thirds of United States; exceptional floods inundated Nigeria, Pakistan and parts of China; and more. Meanwhile, international climate change talks stagnated.
But as these Faces of Climate Change begin to multiply, others are multiplying, too: people stepping up to do something about it.
“The goal is to depict the very real impact that climate change is having on people’s lives and to unite thousands of Earth Day events around the world into one call for climate action,” said Franklin Russell, director of Earth Day at Earth Day Network. “The more people who participate, the more of an impact it will have.”
Earth Day Network is encouraged by the level of participation in this year’s activities.
Examples of stories collected so far include a mountaineer in New Zealand who reported on receding glaciers and an organization in Thailand who installed solar panels at a refugee camp on the Myanmar border. With more than 1 billion people across 192 countries participating in Earth Day-related activities each year, the potential is enormous.
People can also post photos to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #FaceOfClimate for inclusion in the mosaic. To view The Face of Climate Change photo display, go to www.earthday.org/faces. To learn more about Earth Day 2013 and The Face of Climate Change, go to www.earthday.org/2013.
· Kathleen Rogers, president
· Franklin Russell, director of Earth Day
If you are interested in specific stories from The Face of Climate Change or in scheduling an interview with an Earth Day Network spokesperson, contact Bryan Buchanan, communications director: firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-518-0044 x 14
- Counting down to Earth Day; April 22nd (scrink.com)
- Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change, What Can You do to Make a Difference? (Video) (scienceworldreport.com)
- Add Your Face to Climate Change (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Digital mosaic shows human face of climate change (treehugger.com)
- Earth Day 2013 themed The Face of Climate Change (caribbean360.com)
- Earth Day Channels Power (pacificsolarcompany.wordpress.com)