Water

From the earliest life forms to life on earth as we know it today, water has been the one essential constant . Covering roughly seventy percent of the earth’s surface, only a mere fraction is available as freshwater and of that, an even smaller proportion is available for human use and we are only just beginning to truly understand the nature of this most precious and limited resource. In addition to its life sustaining role, water is also one of the most destructive forces on earth, carving breath taking gorges and valleys, yet disasters related to water are responsible for large scale loss of life as well. In its different forms water supports ocean life, retains precious atmospheric samples dating back thousands of years, is a muse for writers, artists, and sculptors, as it tenuously supports a human population of six billion and growing.

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  • Hydrologic cycle Featured Article Hydrologic cycle Hydrologic cycle

    The hydrologic cycle is a conceptual model that describes the storage and movement of water between the biosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and the hydrosphere (see Figure 1).... More »

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  • Agriculture II Featured Photo Gallery Agriculture II Agriculture II

    Humans began to cultivate food crops about 10,000 years ago. Prior to that time, hunter-gatherers secured their food as they traveled in the nearby environment. When they... More »

  • Infiltration and soil water storage Featured Article Infiltration and soil water storage Infiltration and soil water storage

    Infiltration refers to the movement of water into the soil layer. The rate of this movement is called the infiltration rate. If rainfall intensity is greater than the... More »

  • Arctic Ocean Featured Article Arctic Ocean Arctic Ocean

    Ice is the dominant feature of Arctic marine ecosystems. It continuously sculpts the coastal landscape and acts as a major limiting factor to all biological activity. Two... More »

  • Ice sheet Featured Article Ice sheet Ice sheet

    An ice sheet is the contiguous assemblage of glaciers of sizeable extent; there are presently a number of well defined ice sheets, the two largest being the Antarctic Ice Sheet... More »

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Recently Updated
Freshwater Last Updated on 2014-09-06 18:32:23 The definition of freshwater is water containing less than 1000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids, most often salt. The global distribution of freshwater resources varies greatly from region to region (see Figure 1). An 'inventory' of Earth's waters shows that approximately 97% of the global water supply is found in the oceans, which are saline. A very small amount of salty water is also located in saline lakes (e.g., the Caspian Sea). The remaining water inventory (3%) is 'freshwater'. Permanent ice (e.g., continental and mountain glaciers) is the largest freshwater storage on Earth, accounting for about 2% of the total global supply - or nearly 69% of the total freshwater supply. Freshwater is also found beneath the Earth's surface as groundwater (approximately 30% of the total freshwater supply) and in surface water storages such as lakes, streams,... More »
Lubbock Lake Landmark Last Updated on 2014-08-21 20:56:24 The Lubbock Lake National Historic and State Archeological Park, known locally as the Lubbock Lake Landmark, is an archeological and natural history preserve located in Lubbock, Texas, USA. The 300 acre preserve is located in Yellowhouse Draw, an intermittent tributary of the Brazos River. This reserve, which is managed by the Museum of Texas Tech University, is important because it contains evidence of nearly 12,000 years of use by humans as well as records of now extinct species that formerly lived in this area. It is one of the few places in North America known to have a complete record of human existence from the Paleo-Indian culture all the way through the Archaic, ceramic, and Prehistoric cultures. Lubbock Lake Landmark received its name from a reservoir that was created in the 1930s. This area housed a natural spring fed lake until the spring began to... More »
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Last Updated on 2014-06-30 19:00:15 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency within the United States Department of Commerce.  As a science-based operational agency tasked with monitoring climate and changes in the environment, NOAA is responsible for the study of the atmosphere and the oceans.  The agency issues daily weather forecasts and storm warnings, restores coastline, aids the flow of marine commerce, and manages fisheries.  NOAA's activities facilitate weather- and climate-sensitive economic activity that account for roughly one-third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)[1]. The agency also responds to natural and man-made maritime disasters, operates a complex network of oceanographic, meteorological and atmospheric data-collecting products and services, and manages marine mammals, marine endangered... More »
Pollution Last Updated on 2014-06-28 18:51:13 Pollution is environmental contamination that results in harm or death to living organisms. Most pollution is in the form of chemical additions to air, water or soil; however, in modern times starting in the mid-twentieth century noise and light have been considered as pollution sources. Most pollution is man-made, with natural fluctuations in atmospheric composition, surface water bodies and soil considered temporal gyrations in the Earth's natural history. The chief driver of pollution is the massive growth in human population, which induces the proximate causes of intensive agriculture and extraordinary industrial output. The United Nations and the Blacksmith Institute[1] are two prominent organisations that tabulate locales of the greatest pollution intensity; while their listings do not correspond precisely, the overlap countries that both entities agree are the worst polluted... More »
Tug of water: an economic perspective on water and the environment Last Updated on 2014-06-28 17:29:44 As economies expand globally, the strain on the earth’s natural resources becomes increasingly apparent, and perhaps one of the most pertinent issues facing us today is that of water scarcity. Hitherto widely perceived as a free good, the demand for water now outstrips supply over much of the earth’s surface. Indeed, the International Water Management Institute estimates that one third of the world’s population face some form of water scarcity, either due to lack of investment in water supply (or inequitable distribution) or due to physical scarcity, where there is not enough water to meet demands. It is the latter situation that is most pertinent in terms of impacts on our natural capital. In these areas, increasing demand for water means that aquatic and other water-dependent ecosystems are threatened by the abstraction or pollution of the flows that are required to... More »