Category: Water

Brian Richter’s ‘Chasing Water’: Smarter Solutions for the Coming Water Scarcity

Many of the world’s cities are ill-prepared to face impending water shortages over the next decades. Conservancy scientist Brian Richter’s new book says the answer lies in people power.

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Giulio Boccaletti: What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?

In hydrology, a concept known as stationarity allows us to define events using time statistics, like the “one in a hundred years flood.” Dr. Giulio Boccaletti argues that it’s time to retire this concept.

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Re-Branding Nature: From Dismal Swamp to Constructed Wetland

Swamps were once considered disease-ridden, alligator-infested places. Now they’re hailed for the ecosystem services they provide–but for that image to stick, constructed wetlands have to be based on the best-available science.

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Is China’s Coastal Aquaculture Production a House of Cards?

No country exports more shrimp than China. Yet how sustainable is shrimp aquaculture production in China? Conservancy senior social scientist Craig Leisher looks to the literature for answers, and what he finds isn’t promising.

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Research: Can Restoring Oyster Reefs Combat Nitrogen Pollution?

Oysters filter nitrogen from water — and nitrogen pollution is a huge and growing problem along many coastlines, not just for the United States, but worldwide. So could restoring oyster reefs combat nitrogen pollution? And if the answer is yes, could that service generate enough funding for broad-scale oyster restoration?

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People of the Salmon: Haida Tribe Defends Salmon with Science in Alaska

The Haida community on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, have long considered themselves “people of the salmon.” They rely on the fish for their food and culture. Now community members are being trained to become scientists. Their assessments could help get their streams protected under Alaska state law.

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Penobscot River Dam Removal: Lessons for a World Demanding Energy

Dam removal on Maine’s Penobscot River means a brighter future for Atlantic salmon and other migratory fish. But an even greater value of the Penobscot may in fact lie in its meaning for countries that are just now beginning to plan and build dams.

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Dead Wood & Migrating Salmon: Restoring a Southeast Alaska Stream

A neat and tidy stream may look bucolic, even scenic. But for salmon it’s a dead end. On Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska, land managers once removed dead wood from streams to “clean” them. That action was based on assumption, not science. Salmon need dead wood. They need diversity. Now a restoration effort is putting the logs back into the stream, creating “fish condos” for salmon.

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Dead Heat and June Gloom: Connecting California’s Disparate Summer Climates

Summertime, and the living is easy? Or are we in the midst of the dog days of summer? It depends. In California, you can go from the hottest place on record to the oft-quoted “coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.” California ecologist Sophie Parker reflects on California’s widely varying summer and what it means for ecosystems and people.

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Book Week: John Graves’ ‘Goodbye to a River’

Next up for book week: Senior freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman reviews John Graves’ canoeing classic, Goodbye to a River.

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Conservation Future: Announcing the 2013 NatureNet Fellows

Nine young scientists — with specialties ranging from energy infrastructure to urban ecology, Kenyan pastoral techniques to nanotechnology — inaugurate a program designed to help kick-start conservation toward addressing the challenges facing people and nature in the 21st century.

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Farming, Adapting to Climate Change & the Limits of Imagination

A new study from Conservancy scientists says irrigation needs are going to increase significantly under future climate change projections. Can farmers be equally radical in how they respond to these drier conditions?

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Quick Study: How Will Climate Change Affect Irrigation of Farm Lands in U.S.?

Quick Study is just what it says — a rapid-fire look at a new conservation science study that might turn some heads.

The Study: McDonald, R. and E. Girvetz. 2013. Two challenges for U.S. irrigation due to climate change: increasing irrigated area in wet states and increasing irrigation rates in dry statesPLoS ONE 8(6): e65589. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065589.

The Questions: Climate change models forecast higher average temperatures that will cause crop-growing seasons in the United States to become hotter and drier. How will this impact the irrigation needs of agriculture in the United States? And how will farmers respond to drier conditions?

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Mekong (Blogging) Odyssey: Jeff Opperman’s New York Times Series

In January, Nature Conservancy Senior Freshwater Scientist Jeff Opperman took a 1,500-mile trip down the Mekong River in January with his wife, son and daughter — to explore one of the most amazing freshwater ecosystems on the planet, one that could be radically changed in the next two decades by hydropower development. But the trip turned out to be straightforward compared with blogging about it afterwards for The New York Times.

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New Study: How Cities Can Finally Get Smart About Water

If the definition of insanity is making the same mistakes over and over, then many cities have taken a certifiable approach to securing their water supplies — and they need some radical therapy before taking the big economic, ecological and human hits that come with a permanent state of thirst.

That’s the conclusion from a new study in the journal Water Policy, whose authors compared the water supply histories of 4 cities — San Diego, Phoenix, San Antonio and Adelaide, Australia. Among the lessons learned? Urban water conservation, recycling and desalination aren’t silver bullets. In fact, the best solution may lie upstream with farmers — saving just 5-10% of agricultural irrigation in upstream watersheds could satisfy a city’s entire water needs.

Brian Richter, a senior freshwater scientist at The Nature Conservancy and the study’s lead author, told me more about what cities need to do to say on the right side of dry.

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Salmon Cam Returns

We’re pleased to return Salmon Cam, a live view of spawning Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead trout.

What is Cool Green Science?

noun 1. Blog where Nature Conservancy scientists, science writers and external experts discuss and debate how conservation can meet the challenges of a 9 billion + planet.

2. Blog with astonishing photos, videos and dispatches of Nature Conservancy science in the field.

3. Home of Weird Nature, The Cooler, Quick Study, Traveling Naturalist and other amazing features.

Cool Green Science is managed by Matt Miller, the Conservancy's deputy director for science communications, and edited by Bob Lalasz, its director of science communications. Email us your feedback.

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