Posted on March 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New waterway could take a huge environmental toll
Preparations have started for construction of a new canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean across Nicaragua. Map courtesy Pedro Alvarez Grou.
FRISCO — Expediting construction of a planned transoceanic canal in Nicaragua raises a host of environmental and social issues, according to a panel of scientists who recently met at a conference to discuss the potential impacts of the project.
The scientists urged caution and international collaboration, saying that sediment discharges during construction will threaten aquatic species, Nicaragua’s lucrative ecotourism and the supply of fresh water for drinking, irrigation and power generation.
The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal will cut through Lake Cocibolca , Central America’s main freshwater reservoir and the largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas. The plan will force the relocation of indigenous populations and impact a fragile ecosystem, including species at risk of extinction, according to Rice University environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez and other members of the consortium. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: Central America, Environment, Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 27, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Will the world get it together on water?
Upfront spending would avoid the huge costs of escalating conflicts
FRISCO — Big investments in water infrastructure are needed around the world to avert future conflicts over the world’s most essential resource. Looming shortages of water could trigger conflicts and mass migrations, contributing to social and political instability, the report warns.
“The consequence of unmet water goals will be widespread insecurity creating more international tension and conflict,” said lead author Bob Sandford. “The positive message is that if we can keep moving now on water-related sustainable development goals we can still have the future we want,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: drought, Environment, sustainable development, War, water | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 19, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Map of the northern US Atlantic margin showing the locations of newly-discovered methane seeps mapped by researchers from Mississippi State University, the US Geological Survey, and other partners.
Detailed mapping can help plan climate change adaptation
FRISCO — Huge wildfires have driven the conversion of Alaska forests to grass- and shrublands, and the state’s perennial ice and snow fields, as well as its vast wetlands are also shrinking, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The changing face of Alaska is revealed in a new land-cover data set, which provides detailed information useful to land use planners and decision-makers. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Alaska, climate change, global warming, land cover maps, water, wetlands | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The Colorado River Delta in May, 2014. Photo courtesy NASA.
Science team tracks effects of historic pulse flow
FRISCO — Last May’s pulse flow in the Colorado River helped revive vegetation along a huge swath of the river’s edge, triggering new plant growth and raising the water table in the delta. After comparing satellite images taken August 2013 with new images from this year, scientists calculated a 23 percent increase in the greenness of riparian zone vegetation. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: climate, Colorado River, Colorado River Delta, Colorado River pulse flow, water | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
An Arctic grayling in the Gulkana River, Paxson, Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.
Conservation groups say the river fish needs endangered species protection
FRISCO — Wrangling over the fate Montana’s Arctic grayling will continue in court, as conservation groups this week challenged a federal finding that the fish don’t need Endangered Species Act protection.
Graylings are part of the salmon family, native to cold freshwater streams and rivers across Canada and Alaska, with a genetically distinct population in Montana that was nearly wiped out by the 1970s. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Arctic grayling, endangered species, Environment, Montana, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can critical habitat help recover vanishing western yellow-billed cuckoos?
Proposed protections not popular with western water users
FRISCO — Threatened yellow-billed cuckoos will have to hang on just a bit longer before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalizes a critical habitat proposal. The agency this week announced it is extending a public comment period on the plan for another 60 days, through Jan. 12, 2015.
The agency announced its original critical habitat plan back in August, proposing to designate 546,335 acres of critical habitat in 80 separate units in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Now, federal biologists say they want more input on the birds’ biology and habitat and justification for exclusions from critical habitat. The agency also seeks information on the incremental economic effects of the proposed critical habitat designation. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Colorado River, endangered species, Environment, water, yellow-billed cuckoo | 1 Comment »