Water

If the continental United States represented the entire surface of the earth, water would cover as much as every state west of the Mississippi River, with enough left over to cover the state of New York. Of the total volume of water on earth, about 97% is saltwater, and only about 3% is fresh. 98% of the freshwater is locked away in groundwater, ice caps, and glaciers, meaning only 2% of the world’s freshwater is available for human use. That’s about 148 gallons per person on Earth. In comparison, a 10-minute shower can take between 20 and 50 gallons of water.

The Earth typically does not gain or lose water in substantial amounts, so the water you use likely existed, in some form, before the first living creature evolved. While the amount of water on the planet does not change significantly, the amount of water in parts of Earth’s system can fluctuate wildly. In addition, water is not distributed evenly across the land surface. The result is that some areas are climatically wetter or drier than others, which shapes local agriculture and restricts which crops and livestock can prosper in a given region.

In the United States, some areas are expected to become drier as the climate, including average temperature and average precipitation, changes. Conversely, other areas are predicted to become wetter. The frequency of extreme weather events--severe floods, persistent drought, and severe storms--is also expected to change in some regions. The effect of climate change on water availability and wet and dry seasons has numerous potential implications for agriculture, especially in areas where the climate is expected to become less suitable to sustained agricultural production.

Nutrient leaching is a process by which percolating rainwater carries dissolved nutrients down through the soil profile. Leached nutrients that reach shallow groundwater may then move towards surface water features like drainage ditches and streams. Nitrogen and phosphorus are…

At least 95% of resource managers want to hear from peers about lessons learned during drought. A recent survey administered by the Drought Learning Network (DLN) indicated that 66% of resource managers were ‘very interested’ and another 30% were ‘somewhat interested’ in…

Case Study Background Siembra Tres Vidas is a farm on the southern side of the central mountains of Puerto Rico in the town of Aibonito where Daniella Rodriguez grows a variety of vegetables and lettuce, edible flowers, and aromátic herbs. The farm is situated at 2000 asl on…

Investing in K-12 climate change education can provide valuable returns in the form of both long-term and short-term mitigation. In addition to the influence that education can have on students’ actions as future stakeholders, research shows that children can be effective…

Climate change is a global challenge. It has the potential to impact environmental, animal, and human health, as well as the economy. The food production sector is particularly susceptible to changes in the climate. These changes have far-reaching societal impacts such as…

Outdoor recreation is an essential way that people engage with their natural and cultural heritage. In the United States, federal lands are host to over 938 million recreational visits per year and are an important contributor to the economy. Climate change will alter the…

Non-forested wetlands are important habitats that can also help reduce climate change impacts within watersheds. The USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science has partnered with the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts to…

Nurseries and greenhouses are intensive production spaces where careful water management is critical to business. As the climate changes, there will be more periods of hot and dry weather in the region. Efficiently managing water resources will be essential to maintaining…

The USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) have partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a series of brochures that describe options landowners and land managers have to adapt…