Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
voa

A buoy once used to warn of a submerged rock lies on the ground next to the water line near a closed boat ramp on Lake Mead

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced a new kind of climate observatory near the headwaters of the Colorado River that will help scientists better predict rain and snowfall in the U.S. West and determine how much of it will flow through the region.

The multimillion-dollar effort led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory launches next week. The team has set up radar systems, balloons, cameras and other equipment in an area of Colorado where much of the water in the river originates as snow. More than 40 million people depend on the Colorado River.


Alejandro Flores, an associate professor of hydrology at Boise State University, said the weather in mountainous areas is notoriously difficult to model and the observatory will be a "game changer."

"We have to think about the land and the atmosphere as a linked system that interact with each other," he said in a call with reporters. "Up until now, there have been a lack of observations that help us understand this critical interface."

The West is in the midst of a more than 20-year megadrought that studies link to human-caused climate change. That, along with increased demand on the Colorado River led to the first-ever shortage declaration in August, and there is an increasing threat of deeper, more widespread water cuts. Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will not get their full allocations of river water next year.

Scientists will use the observatory to gather data on precipitation, wind, clouds, tiny particles, humidity, soil moisture and other things. Along with a better understanding of the hydrology, they hope to learn more about how wildfires, forest management, drought and tree-killing bugs, for example, play a part in water availability.

A big issue in predicting water supply in the West centers on soil moisture and content, said Ken Williams, the lead on-site researcher and Berkeley Lab scientist. The monsoon season largely was a dud across the Southwest for the past two years, which means more melting snow soaks into the ground before reaching streams and rivers when it does rain, he said.

Climate experts said during a separate briefing Tuesday that southern Arizona and parts of New Mexico have seen impressive rainfall totals so far this monsoon season, with Tucson marking its wettest July on record. Mike Crimmins, a professor at the University of Arizona, called it an "amazing reversal" for the desert city.

Some parts of the Southwest have seen as much as four times their normal precipitation levels. But Crimmins noted other spots like Albuquerque, New Mexico, are either at average levels or still lagging.

"We have both really wet conditions for the short term, but we also have longer-term drought still hanging out there because we have these longer-term deficits that we cannot solve with just one or two or even three months of precipitation," he said.

To reverse the longer-term trends, the region would need to see back-to-back wet winters and summers that are hard to come by, Crimmins said.

The new climate observatory, called the Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory, brings together federal scientists, university researchers and others to build on a previous effort to study part of the upper Gunnison River basin in Colorado that shares characteristics with the Rocky Mountains.

For the Rio Grande basin, the data could help water managers as they juggle longstanding water sharing agreements among Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, Williams said. It also could help improve weather forecasting and experiments to modify the weather, such as cloud seeding to produce more precipitation.

The data will be available to other researchers and provide a benchmark for any collection beyond the two-year project, scientists said. (VOA/RN)


Keywords: Climate, Precipitation, US West, Water Collection, Science


Popular

As per the man, his wife had developed an illicit relationship with a man, living nearby their house. | Unsplash

High drama was witnessed in Kanpur Dehat for over an hour when a man, upset over his wife's alleged affair with a local man, climbed the tower with his children and threatened to commit suicide. The incident took place on Monday near Gandhi Nagar in Akbarpur, when the man threatened to commit suicide after throwing his kids down from a height of nearly 40-feet. Chaos prevailed around the area and the locals informed the police that rushed to the spot.

After about half-an-hour of convincing, the police managed to bring him and his children down. The man told the police that his wife's affair was going on with his neighbor. He had complained to the police, but no action was taken. Police said that as per the man, his wife had developed an illicit relationship with a man, living nearby their house. "As per the man, in his absence, his neighbor visited his house often. He said that he had reprimanded his neighbor many times, but to no avail," said the police.

Keep Reading Show less
File

The US forces continued their bombardment of buildings and institutions in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province.

The US forces continued their bombardment of buildings and institutions in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, as part of their alleged manhunt of Islamic State (IS) fugitives, state news agency SANA reported. The US forces are shelling buildings and public institutions on Tuesday in the vicinity of the Sina'a prison in the Gweiran neighborhood in Hasakah "on the pretext of hunting down IS militants who fled the prison," said SANA.

Syria The Syrian Foreign Ministry has slammed the US airstrikes as civilian casualties have been reported. | Wikimedia Commons

Keep Reading Show less

Multiple avian influenza outbreaks have occurred in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Israel. | Unsplash

The circulating avian influenza outbreaks, including in India, do not seem to pose the 'high' risk but surveillance and biosecurity measures are necessary to reduce spillover risk between poultry and wild birds, a UN-backed scientific task force said. Throughout the past autumn and current winter in the northern hemisphere, multiple avian influenza outbreaks, caused predominantly by the H5N1 HPAI virus, plus other subtypes, including H5N8, have occurred in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Israel with the ever recorded mortality of the Svalbard barnacle geese in Solway Coast.

Also Read : Avian Influenza is Heat liable and gets killed when subjected to heat

Keep reading... Show less