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The U.S. is facing a slow-rolling crisis over access to clean, safe drinking water but lacks a coordinated response to address the root causes of the problems, many of which are aging infrastructure. That is the view of a draft report released last week by the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) made up of 30 executives from the public and private sector that reports to the president. Among other recommendations, the council proposes creating a federal Department of Water—a Cabinet-level agency to steward water issues.
Credit: Margaret Barse, Alabama Extension/Public Domain
Last week, Hurricane Idalia moved through northern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, leaving significant damage. It was the strongest storm to hit the Big Bend region of Florida in more than a century—made more powerful by warmer waters in its path. The storm damaged thousands of homes and caused several deaths. An analysis by the Washington Post concluded that higher sea levels in the Gulf of Mexico worsened the devastating storm, adding nearly nine inches to the surging waters. The rising sea levels have been tracked since 1939, and more than half of the increase has occurred since 2010.
Hurricane Idalia, August 30, 2023 | Credit: NOAA
If you’ve lived in Southern California for the past year, you might feel like it’s been weather whiplash—one minute you’re in the worst drought conditions in a century, and next you’re wading across flooded intersections following record rainfall. While many factors like the El Niño and La Niña climate patterns can contribute to these flip-flops from dearth to downpour, according to new research, global warming is making the massive swings more common.
Fig. 1: Proposed mechanism for explaining the shift from drought to pluvial from the perspective of soil moisture−atmosphere feedbacks | Credit: The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
On this Labor Day weekend, perhaps you were enjoying a cool beverage on your deck or at a picnic—then boom—a fruit fly landed in your chardonnay. Should you drink it?
A fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) feeding off a banana | Credit: Sanjay Acharya/Creative Commons