Much warmer temps. this weekend but beware of high pollen counts & an increasing wildfire risk. We should see a few showers by later Mon. into Tue. but rainfall for most places will not likely be much. A stalled front near the area late in the week could focus more significant rain across or near the First Coast.
Earth Gauge: Guard Your Groundwater
When rain falls, some of the water ends up in lakes and rivers, some is used by plants, some evaporates back into the atmosphere, and some seeps through the ground into aquifers – large, natural underground water storage areas. This groundwater provides more than 40 percent of the U.S. population with drinking water. Not only does groundwater quench our thirst, but it is also important in protecting water quality and quantity in surface rivers and streams – during drier times, these waters are derived almost completely from groundwater supplies. In coastal areas, pumping too much water from aquifers can increase the amount of salt water entering groundwater supplies, sometimes making it undrinkable.
Viewer Tip: March 10-16 is National Groundwater Awareness Week. One of the easiest ways to protect groundwater supplies is to save water at home. Try these simple tips to save 30 gallons in one day:
• Save 5 gallons: Shorten your shower by just two minutes.
• Save 5 gallons: Turn water off between rinsing dishes, rather than running water continuously.
• Save at least 20 gallons: Water your lawn and garden in the early morning or evening hours, when the weather is cooler and water is less likely to evaporate.
(Source: National Groundwater Association. “National Groundwater Awareness Week.”; The 40 Gallon Challenge)
Climate Fact: The Fate of Groundwater
Globally, humans draw nearly one-third of our fresh water from underground sources, supplying 36 percent of domestic water, 42 percent of agricultural water and 27 percent of industrial water. However, our water demands are beginning to alter this critical resource in profound ways. Until now, scientists have struggled to understand how increased demand coupled with and a changing climate impacts ground water supplies, but a new team of international water wizards has begun to unlock some of our planet’s subterranean secrets. Here’s what they’ve found so far:
• Some of our most important groundwater storage areas, called aquifers, haven’t received substantial deposits of water for thousands of years. This is mostly because the rate of new soil water accumulation only represents a small fraction of Earth’s total ground water storage. However, we’re extracting this “fossil water” from the earth much more quickly than nature can restore it, essentially making these aquifers non-renewable resources.
• Even though the speed of ground water restoration is complicated by many factors like land cover and local geology, its “recharge” rate generally varies with the global distribution of precipitation – a principle component of any location’s climate.
• Current research points to less snow accumulation, earlier snow melts, more winter rainfall events, and more rain-on-snow events in a warmer world. Preliminary ground water research shows that changing snowmelt patterns usually reduce the seasonal variation and amount of ground water deposits.
• Droughts cause irrigation systems to shift from using renewable surface waters to non-renewable fossil water. California’s 2006-2009 Central Valley drought forced farmers to pump enough groundwater to fill Lake Mead, the largest surface reservoir in the United States.
(Source: Taylor, Richard G. et al., 2012. “Ground water and climate change.” Nature Climate Change, doi:10.1038/nclimate1744)
Climate in the News: “Cattle Herds Shrinking as Plains Storms Fail to End U.S. Drought” – March 10, 2013, Bloomberg BusinessWeek - Cattlemen in the Midwest continue to struggle with drought conditions, even after late-February storms. Without improvement over the next three months, they may have to further reduce herd size.
Have a great & safe weekend!