2012 was a year of extreme weather events, with record heat waves, significant drought across the Southern and Western States, and major wildfires. A map posted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) allows users to watch the events on the national map over the course of the year.
The map also allows user to look at a summary of extreme weather events at the state level.
According to the NRDC, in 2012 California experienced:
- Record-breaking heat in 15 counties
- Record-breaking snow in 5 counties
- Record-breaking precipitation in 18 counties
- 102 large wildfires
The website lets users see the specific records set (for example, the records for monthly highest maximum temperature below) and the previous record.
For those (like me) who like to know the source of the data, the map was based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations’s National Climatic Data Center.
Image from the report appendix
The Union of Concerned Scientists just released a new report on the effect of power plants on freshwater systems. “One plant had to curtail nighttime operations because the drought had reduced the amount of cool water available to bring down the temperature of water discharged from the plant,” the report says. It quotes Kent Saathoff, a vice president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, who said last month, “If we don’t get any rain between now and next summer, there could be several thousand megawatts of generators that won’t have sufficient cooling water to operate next summer” (New York Times Green Blog). You can read the entire report here. Sewage overflow is the No. 1 source of pollution for New York’s waterways, says Leif Percifield, a graduate student at the School of Art, Media, and Technology at the Parsons New School of Design… Percifield’s dream is to place simple sensors at each of New York City’s 490 “combined sewer overflow” points. The sensors will be primed to send out text-message notifications every time the city’s drainage maxes out (Grist). UC Berkeley has begun work in its quest to significantly taper its campuswide water use. The campus is aiming to cut its water usage by over 65 million gallons by 2020 (The Daily Californian).
Las Vegas, Nevada (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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24/7 Wall St. evaluated a couple recent studies (from Ceres and the NRDC) and also conducted some of its own analysis, focusing on the 30 largest American cities, to come up with the following list of 10 large American cities at the greatest risk of running out of water:
10. Orlando, FL
9. Atlanta, GA
8. Tucson, AZ
7. Las Vegas, NV
6. Fort Worth, TX
5. San Francisco Bay Area, CA
4. San Antonio, TX
3. Phoenix, AZ
2. Houston, TX
1. Los Angeles, CA
You can read more about their analysis and reasons for inclusion of each city here.
A note from Anna – I do not know much about 24/7 Wall St. or their track record on this sort of analysis. I think this sort of list is good for raising awareness that it is not just cities in the dry Southwest that are facing future water shortages. However, there are a few items in this article that gave me pause – first is the consistent misspelling of San Francisco as “San Fransisco”, second is the consistent listing of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) as the “National Resources Defense Council.”
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