Tag Archive for: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Warming Causes More Extreme Rain, Not Snow, Over Mountains. Scientists Say That’s a Problem

warming world is transforming some major snowfalls into extreme rain over mountains instead, somehow worsening both dangerous flooding like the type that devastated Pakistan last year as well as long-term water shortages, a new study found.

Using rain and snow measurements since 1950 and computer simulations for future climate, scientists calculated that for every degree Fahrenheit the world warms, extreme rainfall at higher elevation increases by 8.3% (15% for every degree Celsius), according to a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature.

Heavy rain in mountains causes a lot more problems than big snow, including flooding, landslides and erosion, scientists said. And the rain isn’t conveniently stored away like snowpack that can recharge reservoirs in spring and summer.

Data Centers, Backbone of the Digital Economy, Face Water Scarcity and Climate Risk

Data centers are springing up around the world to handle the torrent of information from the expanding web of devices ingrained in people’s lives and the economy. Managing that digital information gusher is big business. It also comes with hidden environmental costs.

For years, companies that operate data centers have faced scrutiny for the huge amounts of electricity they use storing and moving digital information like emails and videos. Now, the U.S. public is beginning to take notice of the water many facilities require to keep from overheating. Like cooling systems in large office buildings, water often is evaporated in data center cooling towers, leaving behind salty wastewater known as blowdown that has to be treated by local utilities.

Bigger ‘Bomb Cyclones’ Could Deluge Bay Area in Coming Decades, Climate Study Finds

Extreme storms like the massive bomb cyclone that drenched the San Francisco Bay Area last October are likely to become more powerful in the coming decades as climate change alters atmospheric conditions.

The Bay Area could see between 26% and 37% more water from these mega-storms by the end of the century, according to a new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory commissioned by the city.

The Western U.S. Might Be Seeing its Last Snowy Winters

When a fire started spreading quickly in Boulder County, Colorado, on December 30, destroying nearly 1,000 homes as residents fled, the ground was dry. This was unusual: Boulder typically gets around 30 inches of snow between September and December. But last year, it had only a total of 1.7 inches over the same period before heavier snow finally started falling on December 31—too late to save the neighborhoods that burned.

What If It’s Too Warm to Snow? Water Managers Across the West Need to Adapt, Report Says

Arizona and the West could see their water supplies drop by as much as 30% by the middle of the century as warmer temperatures lead to less snowfall, reducing runoff into rivers and reservoirs, changing vegetation cover and altering wildlife habitat.

Those are the findings of a team of researchers led by Erica R. Siirila-Woodburn and Alan M. Rhoades at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who published a paper looking at the likelihood of a “low-to-no snow” future. Their analysis, published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, also estimates when and where to expect the effects of a low-to-no snow climate disaster.

Scientists Launch Effort to Collect Water Data in US West

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced a new kind of climate observatory near the headwaters of the Colorado River that will help scientists better predict rain and snowfall in the U.S. West and determine how much of it will flow through the region.

The multimillion-dollar effort led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory launches next week. The team has set up radar systems, balloons, cameras and other equipment in an area of Colorado where much of the water in the river originates as snow. More than 40 million people depend on the Colorado River.