5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

Ecology, Threats

5 things to know as wildfire season heats up

New research sheds light on how increasing wildfires are affecting ecosystems and communities. In early May scientists discovered a plume of smoke wafting from a smoldering sequoia that ignited during 2020’s Castle fire, which set California’s Sequoia National Forest alight last August.

The fiery remnant is the result of another too-dry winter in California and an ominous marker for the beginning of the 2021 fire season, which experts say looks “grim” for California and across much of the West. March and April were the driest in more than 126 years for Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, and the third and fourth driest for California and Colorado. Oregon, meanwhile, had its driest April ever. Things are predicted to continue to be both hotter and drier than normal across the West and Plains, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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Inside the Dirty, Dangerous World of Carbon Flooding

Ecology, Threats

Inside the Dirty, Dangerous World of Carbon Flooding

Around the world, scientists and advocates call for keeping carbon in the ground as a means of staving off climate change. But in the Southwestern United States – mainly in Colorado and New Mexico – a mainstay of obtaining more oil is facilitated by doing the exact opposite: drilling pure reserves of carbon dioxide out of the ground.

After it’s extracted from these natural-source underground fields, the gas then gets piped to the Permian Basin, the nation’s top-producing oil fields of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. There, oil companies use the CO2 to flood their wells, forcing the last dregs of crude to the surface in a process also known as enhanced oil recovery, or EOR.

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Study exposes global ripple effects of regional water scarcity

Ecology, Threats

Study exposes global ripple effects of regional water scarcity

Water scarcity is often understood as a problem for regions experiencing drought, but a new study led by Tufts University researchers finds that not only can localized water shortages impact the global economy, but changes in global demand can have positive and negative ripple effects in river basins across the globe.

In addition to Tufts engineers, the team included experts from the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Cornell University.

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Make it rain: US states embrace ‘cloud seeding’ to try to conquer drought

Ecology, Threats

Make it rain: US states embrace ‘cloud seeding’ to try to conquer drought

Cloud seeding involves adding small particles of silver iodide to clouds to spur rainfall – but will it work?

With three-quarters of the US west gripped by a seemingly ceaseless drought, several states are increasingly embracing a drastic intervention – the modification of the weather to spur more rainfall.

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