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Oakland, CA, United States

Gleick P.H.,Pacific Institute
Weather, Climate, and Society | Year: 2014

The devastating civil war that began in Syria in March 2011 is the result of complex interrelated factors. The focus of the conflict is regime change, but the triggers include a broad set of religious and sociopolitical factors, the erosion of the economic health of the country, a wave of political reform sweeping over the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Levant region, and challenges associated with climate variability and change and the availability and use of freshwater. As described here, water and climatic conditions have played a direct role in the deterioration of Syria's economic conditions. There is a long history of conflicts over water in these regions because of the natural water scarcity, the early development of irrigated agriculture, and complex religious and ethnic diversity. In recent years, there has been an increase in incidences of water-related violence around the world at the subnational level attributable to the role that water plays in development disputes and economic activities. Because conflicts are rarely, if ever, attributable to single causes, conflict analysis and concomitant efforts at reducing the risks of conflict must consider a multitude of complex relationships and contributing factors. This paper assesses the complicated connections between water and conflict in Syria, looks more broadly at future climate-related risks for water systems, and offers some water management strategies for reducing those risks. © 2014 American Meteorological Society. Source

Gleick P.H.,Pacific Institute
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2015

Because of the critical role that freshwater plays in maintaining ecosystem health and supporting human development through agricultural and industrial production there have been numerous efforts over the past few decades to develop indicators and indices of water vulnerability. Each of these efforts has tried to identify key factors that both offer insights into water-related risks and strategies that might be useful for reducing those risks. These kinds of assessments have serious limitations associated with data, the complexity of water challenges, and the changing nature of climatic and hydrologic variables. This new letter by Padowski et al (2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 104014) adds to the field by broadening the kinds of measures that should be integrated into such tools, especially in the area of institutional characteristics, and analyzing them in a way that provides new insights into the similarities and differences in water risks facing different countries, but much more can and should be done with new data and methods to improve our understanding of water challenges. © 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd. Source

Liu J.,Michigan State University | Mooney H.,Stanford University | Hull V.,Michigan State University | Davis S.J.,University of California at Irvine | And 7 more authors.
Science | Year: 2015

Global sustainability challenges, from maintaining biodiversity to providing clean air and water, are closely interconnected yet often separately studied and managed. Systems integration-holistic approaches to integrating various components of coupled human and natural systems-is critical to understand socioeconomic and environmental interconnections and to create sustainability solutions. Recent advances include the development and quantification of integrated frameworks that incorporate ecosystem services, environmental footprints, planetary boundaries, human-nature nexuses, and telecoupling. Although systems integration has led to fundamental discoveries and practical applications, further efforts are needed to incorporate more human and natural components simultaneously, quantify spillover systems and feedbacks, integrate multiple spatial and temporal scales, develop new tools, and translate findings into policy and practice. Such efforts can help address important knowledge gaps, link seemingly unconnected challenges, and inform policy and management decisions. Source

Gleick P.H.,Pacific Institute
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2010

The management of water resources in arid and semiarid areas has long been a challenge, from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern southwestern United States. As our understanding of the hydrological and climatological cycles has improved, and our ability to manipulate the hydrologic cycle has increased, so too have the challenges associated with managing a limited natural resource for a growing population. Modern civilization has made remarkable progress in water management in the past few centuries. Burgeoning cities now survive in desert regions, relying on a mix of simple and complex technologies and management systems to bring adequate water and remove wastewater. These systems have permitted agricultural production and urban concentrations to expand in regions previously thought to have inadequate moisture. However, evidence is also mounting that our current management and use of water is unsustainable. Physical, economic, and ecological limits constrain the development of new supplies and additional water withdrawals, even in regions not previously thought vulnerable to water constraints. New kinds of limits are forcing water managers and policy makers to rethink previous assumptions about population, technology, regional planning, and forms of development. In addition, new threats, especially the challenges posed by climatic changes, are now apparent. Sustainably managing and using water in arid and semiarid regions such as the southwestern United States will require new thinking about water in an interdisciplinary and integrated way. The good news is that a wide range of options suggest a roadmap for sustainable water management and use in the coming decades. Source

News Article | January 27, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

Drones are more than just toys with cameras that people are into nowadays. California residents have started using them to track the effects of El Niño, providing experts with a first-hand look at the changes coasts are undergoing as a result of the El Niño phenomenon. Nature Conservancy, an American charitable environmental organization based in Virginia, has asked the participation of citizens to capture photos of coastal erosion and flooding brought by the irregular climate and weather pattern. It is characterized by a complex series of climate changes that causes California to have a very wet winter. Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used to take high-resolution 3D photos, which are useful in helping scientists identify the extent of coastal flooding. Scientists use these photos to tell if their predictive models are accurate. "We use these projected models and they don't quite look right, but we're lacking any empirical evidence," Matt Merrifield, the organization's chief technology officer, said. In a way, the project determines if the models are true. California faces climate change problems that add to the possibility that many of its beaches could disappear. In a study conducted by the Pacific Institute in 2009, the researchers stated that about 500,000 people and about $100 billion worth of properties such as schools, roadways and power plants are at risk of devastation as sea levels continue to rise every year. "When you get [a] big winter storm surge like they want to document, you tend to lose a lot of beach," William Patzert, a climatologist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. He added that the project looks like a documentary on what the future holds and will show how beaches will look like in a century. Organizers of the project have not given specific instructions to participants, but they might ask for specific requests. If the users can send photos of about 10 to 15 percent of the coastlines, the project can be dubbed a success. In the meantime, they partnered with a start-up company, DroneDeploy, which will issue a free app to participating drone owners across California.

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