Grounding Middle East Water?

Is climate change important for Middle East water? Answering that question is complex. Several sources have identified a climate role in the massive drought that caused widespread grain failures (and rapid food cost rises) that coincided with the onset of the Syrian conflict — the Center for American Progress produced an early report on the subject, and Peter Gleick has touched on the issue more recently. However, many of the most important sources of water in the Middle East are groundwater — deep aquifers, with a lot of straws sucking hard. The climate role in groundwater is important, but probably over long timescales, and certainly overwhelmed by existing management and usage decisions. Read More...
Comments

Fishing for change in the desert

Imagine you are a fisheries manager. Lake Warner in eastern Oregon is your charge — a broad, deep lake in a mountainous terrain. Your lake swells in spring with the melting snowpack and then gradually declines until the fall rains begin. Although only fed by small streams, the Lake Warner empties to the northwest, flowing to the Deschutes River and from there to the Columbia and into the Pacific Ocean. Like most sizable bodies of water in this region, Lake Warner has a sizable salmon population that migrates between the ocean and the lake. You came to the lake as a child with your parents, and now you have a family. You love the lake as an ecosystem, and as a place of beauty. You fish there. Your family is literally nourished by the lake. Your children’s first Christmas is there. They learn to fish and hunt along the shores.
Read More...
Comments

Three business trends for climate adaptation

In the last two weeks, the business of climate change came up several times. Is there a clear role for the private sector in adjusting to climate impacts? This is an exploratory topic — I would be eager for reflections and experiences from others.

I've noted three trends:
Read More...
Comments

Max Finlayson: New guide to resilient catchment management

cover
Max Finlayson is an Australian wetland ecologist with Charles Sturt University and intimately involved in the development of new ways of thinking about and responding sustainably to climate shifts. He provides a short overview of a new report he and some of his colleagues have prepared on climate adaptive catchment management.

Read More...
Comments

Infrastructure of Conflict? Mitigation-Adaptation War

Right now in Bonn, Germany, the UN climate change policy meetings are starting — a kind of pre-meeting for the big cheeses this December in Paris. And right now, we are sowing the seeds of climate conflict. Read More...
Comments

The AGWA Approach: A Video Summary

For some years, I have struggled with how best to explain and describe what we do in the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) — why we need a synthetic, multidisciplinary approach to long-term water management. Why infrastructure is important and has such long-term implications. How we need to think broadly, across institutions and silos. With some colleagues, I have made a short video on AGWA’s decision support work. Hopefully it is a beginning, visual introduction to those questions. Premiering here, on CCW.

The AGWA Approach from John Matthews on Vimeo.

Read More...
Comments

Energizing Water, Aquifying Energy

Energy and water are intimately interconnected. Water is required for nearly all energy generation processes. In turn, energy is required to extract, transport, and treat water. Climate change is placing even greater pressure on both of these sensitive sectors; understanding linkages between them and incorporating cross-sector planning is essential for their sustainable management and development. Read More...
Comments

US policy perspectives: climate change risks, science, responses

An event last month co-sponsored by the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and Environmental Change and Security Program and George Mason University brought together speakers who discussed science of climate change, the assessment of impacts, risks and the current state of international negotiations. The event was targeted for the general public and most of the information presented by the speakers could be a review for professionals working in the field, nevertheless parts of the discussion would be interesting even for the acquainted experts.
Read More...
Comments

How dammed are we? Conservation and dams

Guest blog by Alex Mauroner
Why does the conservation community spend so much time talking about dams — or, more properly, water infrastructure?
The simple reason is that we cannot talk about conservation or sustainable development without also talking about where to locate, how to build and how to operate dams. As part of my internship with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), I have been spending many hours researching dams. It came as no surprise to find that the answers to the questions above are quite complex.

Read More...
Comments

Which is worse for water: climate change, or our overreaction?

Recently, I had a great discussion with some colleagues in Europe. All of them have been working on freshwater conservation and sustainable development issues for many years, and at least three of have led or been a part of often quite large climate adaptation programs around water management. None of us are new to the issue. While writing a paper together (on a tight deadline), one of them said in response to a draft I had written: “We need to discuss the impacts of climate change on aquatic systems in more detail when we have more time. You argue here that the direct impacts of climate change are more important. My hunch is that our “overcompensation” (such as building new water storage facilities) will be more important.” This is a tough issue.
Read More...
Comments

Environmental flows: where have we been, where are we going?

Is it possible to sustain aquatic ecosystems amid the forest of water infrastructure — irrigation, water supply and sanitation, hydropower, and so on? Can we balance needs and competing demands? Does the ecosystem always have to lose? The environmental flows (eflows) movement dates back to the mid-20th century as an attempt to solve precisely this problem. The movement has spread from the developed world to active programs in many dozens of countries. However, the strong scientific basis for thinking about how to systematically include a “fair share” of water for species and ecosystems in aquatic systems is still pretty new — dating back only to the early to mid 1990s. I like to point out how all of the key contributors from this scientific synthesis are not only still alive but very engaged in research, implementation, and learning. Indeed, the sophistication of eflows has increased substantially since then at the same time that the audiences and stakeholders engaging on eflows have broadened. Written by myself and LeRoy Poff, a colleague at Colorado State University, a new paper in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability describes some of the trends of the past 25 years of eflows and suggests some of the emerging directions and challenges for the next 25 years.
Read More...
Comments

Sustainable water for Wyoming?

Recently, the Western Resource Advocates and Trout Unlimited published the third “Filling the Gap” report on “Meeting Future Urban Water Needs in the Platte Basin, Wyoming.” The report discusses strategies for meeting growing water needs in the sub-basins around the cities of Cheyenne, Casper, Laramie, Douglas, Rawlins, and Torrington. According to the report, four strategies — conservation, smart structural projects, reuse, and agriculture-urban sharing — should be sufficient to meet or exceed projected water demand in the region by 2035. This is very good news given that yearly water demand in 2035 is projected to actually increase by 15,000 acre-feet compared to water demand in 2010.
Read More...
Comments