Scientists develop new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado river — ScienceDaily

A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory. The group’s paper, “Colorado River water supply is predictable on multi-year timescales owning to long-term ocean memory” was published October 9 by Communications Earth and Environment, an open-access journal from Nature Research.

The Colorado River is the most important water resource in the semi-arid western United States and faces growing demand from users in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Because water shortages in the Colorado River impact energy production, food and drinking water security, forestry and tourism, tools to predict drought and low water levels could inform management

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Most of Mass. under severe or extreme drought conditions, National Drought Monitor says

Most of Massachusetts is currently under “severe” or “extreme” drought conditions, the National Drought Monitor said Thursday.

An updated map released by the monitor Thursday said southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands were in the extreme drought category, as was a stretch of the northern part of Middlesex County.

The monitor describes extreme drought as a level that can bring significant crop and pasture losses, as well as “water shortages or restrictions,” according to its website.

Among the Massachusetts communities enacting restrictions Thursday was Cohasset.

Town officials said Thursday in a statement that a drought warning was “currently in effect for all residents,” and that the warning carries “stricter mandatory outdoor water restrictions” than those previously imposed on Sept. 1 due to “abnormally dry conditions.”

The stricter measures that took effect Thursday, the statement said, include a prohibition on using irrigation systems. In addition, officials said, a “handheld hose

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New Drought Monitor map shows extreme dry conditions growing in Calif.

The new federal Drought Monitor map shows that localized drought conditions are increasing in Northern California.

The Sept. 22 map had 3% of the state in extreme drought while the Sept. 29 map released Thursday shows 13%.

In the Bay Area, the map reveals that drought conditions range from moderate to severe.

The Drought Monitor, a mechanism to measure drought that’s mainly used in agriculture, is a joint effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A map is released each week with drought conditions across the country, indexing everything from groundwater storage to river levels. The factors California state water managers watch most closely are precipitation totals and reservoir and snowpack levels.

The presence of drought on the map is no surprise — especially in Northern California. While Southern California saw above-average rainfall

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Redefining drought in the US corn belt — ScienceDaily

As the climate trends warmer and drier, global food security increasingly hinges on crops’ ability to withstand drought. But are scientists and producers focusing on the right metric when measuring crop-relevant drought? Not exactly, according to new research from University of Illinois scientists, who urge the scientific community to redefine the term.

“Plants have to balance water supply and demand. Both are extremely critical, but people overlook the demand side of the equation, especially in the U.S. Corn Belt,” says Kaiyu Guan, principal investigator on two new studies, Blue Waters professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois.

The demand Guan refers to is atmospheric dryness, often expressed as vapor pressure deficit (VPD). The drier the air, the more moisture is sucked out of pores, or stomata, in plant leaves. Plants have to open stomata to take in carbon

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