The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 – overcoming water challenges in agriculture

Intensifying water constraints threaten food security and nutrition. Thus, urgent action is needed to make water use in agriculture more sustainable and equitable. Irrigated agriculture remains by far the largest user of freshwater, but scarcity of freshwater is a growing problem owing to increasing demand and competition for freshwater resources. At the same time, rainfed agriculture is facing increasing precipitation variability driven by climate change. These trends will exacerbate disputes among water users and inequality in access to water, especially for small-scale farmers, the rural poor and other vulnerable populations. A new report by FAO.

Help street children in Lebanon

In Lebanon we help street children and their mothers – mainly Syrian refugees – by accompanying them to the supermarket to buy them food and other basic necessities. They decide what they need; we pay for it. 

Floods, droughts and climate variability – From early warning to early action

The main objective of the PhD thesis by Gabriela Guimarães Nobre is to improve the understanding on links between climate variability and weather-related impacts of both floods and droughts. This relationship is investigated from global to regional scales, and at different lead times, with the purpose of achieving an impact-based forecast that can guide the implementation of early actions effectively before a potential drought or flood materializes. 

Adaptive Strategies for Water Heritage

Since 2012, ICOMOS Netherlands has been exploring what can be learned from water-related heritage rooted in culture and nature. What insights can we derive from ancient water structures such as the dams of the Middle East or the qanats of arid regions; governance arrangements such as the water boards of the Netherlands; or, the ethico-spiritual frameworks of those of the Incas? How can these varied forms of water-related heritage teach and inspire future planners, architects, politicians, design engineers, and others as they address present and future water-related challenges? This is addressed in a new book.

Tritium as an Indicator of Modern, Mixed, and Premodern Groundwater Age

Categorical classification of groundwater age is often used for the assessment and understanding of groundwater resources. This new USGS report presents a tritium-based age classification system for the conterminous United States based on tritium (3H) thresholds that vary in space and time: modern (recharged in 1953 or later), if the measured value is larger than an upper threshold; premodern (recharged prior to 1953) if the measured value is smaller than a lower threshold; or mixed if the measured value is between the two thresholds. Inclusion of spatially varying thresholds, rather than a single threshold, accounts for the observed systematic variation in 3H deposition across the United States. Inclusion of time-varying thresholds, rather than a single threshold, accounts for the date of sampling given the radioactive decay of 3H. 

Strategic use of groundwater-based solutions for drought risk reduction and climate resilience in Asia and beyond

Groundwater is a de-facto source of water during drought and emergencies. In a broader perspective, the traditional short-term strategy of using groundwater to combat water deficits during drought needs revisiting. The objective of a new paper is to examine the relevance and options for developing and adopting such groundwater-based natural infrastructure solutions in DRR strategies. While addressing emergency situations, such solutions may also serve to enhance the sustainable use and management of groundwater as a strategic resource for long-term drought risk reduction as well as enhancing the resilience of farming systems and groundwater dependent cities and natural ecosystems. 

2019 Land Remote Sensing Satellite Compendium

Since about 2012, ever-increasing numbers of remote sensing satellites have been launched. This rapidly growing wave of new systems creates a need for a single reference for land remote sensing satellites that provides basic system specifications and linkage to assessments that may have been completed on existing systems. This volume is the first edition of a compendium, which is planned to be updated and released annually.

US stream flows reduced by groundwater pumping

Groundwater pumping has caused marked aquifer storage declines over the past century. In addition to threatening the viability of groundwater-dependent economic activities, storage losses reshape the hydrologic landscape, shifting groundwater surface water exchanges and surface water availability. A more comprehensive understanding of modern groundwater-depleted systems is needed as we strive for improved simulations and more efficient water resources management. Here, the authors of a new paper in Science begin to address this gap by evaluating the impact of 100 years of groundwater declines across the continental United States on simulated watershed behavior. Subsurface storage losses reverberate throughout hydrologic systems, decreasing streamflow and evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration declines are focused in water-limited periods and shallow groundwater regions. Streamflow losses are widespread and intensify along drainage networks, often occurring far from the point of groundwater abstraction. Their integrated approach illustrates the sensitivity of land surface simulations to groundwater storage levels and a path toward evaluating these connections in large-scale models. 

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