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Rainwater Harvesting systems in South Africa .

Sea water getting saltier

The water cycle is the worldwide phenomenon of rainwater falling to the surface, evaporating back into the air and falling again as rain.

Fresh water is getting fresher and saltwater saltier

The wetter parts of the world are getting wetter and the drier parts drier. The researchers know this because the saltier parts of the ocean are getting saltier and the fresher parts, fresher.

Records showed that the saltier parts of the ocean increased salinity — or their salt content — by 4 percent in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000. If the climate warms by an additional 2 or 3 degrees, the researchers project that the water cycle will turn over more quickly, intensifying by almost 25 percent.

Reporting in Science magazine, the researchers said the results of the change in climate would affect agriculture and the ability of drier areas to capture and use fresh water from rain, creating serious problems, including droughts and floods. But they had to look offshore to find their data.

“The oceans are really where the action is happening,” said Paul Durack, the lead author.

The study uses 50 years of data — from 1950-2000 — gathered by instruments, some adrift on the ocean currents, some tethered in place. Some of the instruments are tiers of bottles that open at various depths as they are lowered into the sea, and they take measurements as far down as 9,000 feet. Continue reading Sea water getting saltier

Forests are essential to water cycle

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 March 2011

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity and two-thirds of the world’s population may experience water-stress conditions. Forests capture and store water and can play an important role in providing drinking water for millions of people in the world’s mega-cities. Given this fact, the members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), international organizations involved in forests, call upon countries to pay more attention to forest protection and management for the provision of clean water.

One third of the world's biggest cities draw a portion of their drinking-water from forested areas.

“Forests are part of the natural infrastructure of any country and are essential to the water cycle”, said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director General of the FAO Forestry Department.

“They reduce the effects of floods, prevent soil erosion, regulate the water table and assure a high quality water supply for people, industry and agriculture.”  He was speaking prior to the UN World Water Day which will be celebrated this year on 22 March.

Forests are in most cases an optimal land cover for catchments supplying drinking water. Forest watersheds supply a high proportion of water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.

“The management of water and forests are closely linked and require innovative policy solutions which take into account the cross-cutting nature of these vital resources”, said Jan McAlpine, Director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat.  “The International Year of Forests, 2011 provides a unique platform to raise awareness of issues such as the water-soil-forests nexus, which directly affect the quality of people’s lives, their livelihoods and their food security.”

Moreover, forests and trees contribute to the reduction of water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization. Continue reading Forests are essential to water cycle

Plants release less water as CO2 increases

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 04 March 2011

As carbon dioxide levels have risen during the last 150 years, the density of pores that allow plants to breathe has dwindled by 34 percent, restricting the amount of water vapor the plants release to the atmosphere, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and Utrecht University in the Netherlands in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].

The shade of an oak tree may not be as cool of a respite as it used to be

In a separate paper, also to be published by PNAS, many of the same scientists describe a model they devised that predicts doubling today’s carbon dioxide levels will dramatically reduce the amount of water released by plants.

The scientists gathered their data from a diversity of plant species in Florida, including living individuals as well as samples extracted from herbarium collections and peat formations 100 to 150 years old.

“The increase in carbon dioxide by about 100 parts per million has had a profound effect on the number of stomata and, to a lesser extent, the size of the stomata,” said Research Scientist in Biology and Professor Emeritus in Geology David Dilcher, the two papers’ sole American coauthor. “Our analysis of that structural change shows there’s been a huge reduction in the release of water to the atmosphere.” Continue reading Plants release less water as CO2 increases

Moon has water cycle

Posted by: Yes Solar Cape (Cape Town, South Africa) – 25 October 2010

Nearly a year after announcing the discovery of water molecules on the moon, scientists revealed new data uncovered by NASA’s Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.

The Moons Cabeus Crater. Credit: NASA

The missions found evidence that the lunar soil within shadowy craters is rich in useful materials, and the moon is chemically active and has a water cycle. Scientists also confirmed that the water was in the form of mostly pure ice crystals in some places. The results are featured in six papers published in the Oct issue of Science.

Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington said that NASA has convincingly confirmed the presence of water ice and characterized its patchy distribution in permanently shadowed regions of the moon, this major undertaking is the one of many steps NASA has taken to better understand our solar system, its resources, its origin, evolution, and future.”

In a media release NASA explains that the twin impacts of LCROSS and a companion rocket stage in the moon’s Cabeus crater in October last year lifted a plume of material that might not have seen direct sunlight for billions of years. As the plume traveled nearly 10 miles above the rim of Cabeus, instruments aboard LCROSS and LRO made observations of the crater and debris and vapor clouds. After the impacts, grains of mostly pure water ice were lofted into the sunlight in the vacuum of space.

Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center said “Seeing mostly pure water ice grains in the plume means water ice was somehow delivered to the moon in the past, or chemical processes have been causing ice to accumulate in large quantities, also, the diversity and abundance of certain materials called volatiles in the plume, suggest a variety of sources, like comets and asteroids, and an active water cycle within the lunar shadows.” Continue reading Moon has water cycle