The Color of Water Policy

What’s your favorite color – blue, or green? Water policy has focused traditionally on blue water (ground or surface water released into the atmosphere by evaporation), but there’s more to the water-use equation. To understand water use and availability more broadly, researchers are now considering the value and availability of green water (that which is released back to the atmosphere by plants). In this paper, green-water use and availability is investigated at a global scale, leading the authors to advocate for inclusion of green water into water policy considerations.

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Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products Alter Lake Food Webs

The pharmaceutical and personal care products we use daily enter aquatic environments. Phytoplankton, or microscopic algae, are important pieces of the aquatic food chain. Phytoplankton exposed to pharmaceutical and personal care products in two Norwegian lakes responded quickly and dramatically – altering their community structure. The effects of these compounds on phytoplankton suggest these compounds have the potential to alter the food webs of entire aquatic ecosystems.

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Microplastics take flight—how mosquitoes move microscopic pollutants from water to land

Discarded plastics aren’t only disrupting the ocean, they accumulate in freshwaters too. And the impacts may not end there. Aquatic insects eat microplastics and, when they become adults, carry the polluting particles from water onto land and potentially into the stomachs of their predators.

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White water in the swamp: The success of the Bonnet Carré in controlling the Mississippi River

“Why are there rapids in the cypress swamp?”, I ask myself. It is a weird scene. White water is tumbling through the cypress forest out towards Lake Pontchartrain from the southwest, traversing a completely flat landscape. A strong current tears out under the bridge into the lake. “That would be a fun kayak,” I think. I am cruising down Interstate 10 right where it touches the edge of the lake just upriver from New Orleans. I quickly remember that the Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway. Again.

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How the Driest Regions on the Planet Add to Sea Level Rise

Terrestrial water loss is a major contributor to water stress around the world. Areas that are hydrologically isolated tend to lose water twice as fast as other regions. But where does that water go? New evidence is showing that water from the driest regions on the planet may have a consequential impact on global sea level rise.

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Down the drain: What man-made products are in our waterways?

Humans use thousands of pharmaceutical and personal care products in any given day. What happens to these products after we use them? The unfortunate answer is that many of them end up in our waterways. Population size and land use may help us predict what products we can see in a waterbody. If we know what products are out there, we could better understand what effects these products can have on aquatic ecosystems and human health.

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How Pre-Industrial Charcoal Changed the Soils Under Our Feet

Tragically, when some people look at the soil beneath our feet, they only see ‘dirt’. They are missing the fact that soils contribute so much to nature and our lives. But, what happens when humans alter soils from their natural state? Researchers from Cottbus, Germany, aimed to find out how charcoal production in the Northeastern US during the mid 1800s impacted the soils and ecology of the forests that we see today. Surprisingly, the answer is a little bit below the surface.

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