Before you do anything else, you must watch this magnificent storytelling of the annual flooding from the Mendenhall Glacier…

Lakes, Rivers, Marshes & Wetlands



Lakes can form in many ways, but most in the Northern Hemisphere fill the impressions left by glaciers 18,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age. The Great Lakes, which form the world’s largest fresh water system, were created this way. They are open lakes, like all other freshwater lakes, meaning that the water leaves the lake by a river or other outlet. Closed lakes become saline like the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake (located in the northern part of Utah and the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere). Only about 0.3% of the Earth’s fresh water is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers, and swamps (with over 68% in ice caps and glaciers and over 30% in ground water).

Lakes and rivers are a vital resource and part of critical ecosystems, but they too are being negatively impacted by climate change. As average temperatures rise globally, so do their temperatures, making them increasingly uninhabitable for cold water species. A warmer upper layer also creates dead zones, because it slows down air exchange and leads to less oxygen in the water. Dead zones can produce toxic algae, foul drinking water, and massive fish kills. Altered streamflow, whether it increases during heavy rains or decreases in drought, is threatening to fish populations, most of which can only survive within a range of conditions.

Many communities will see their food, water, and economic resources destabilized as river flows change dramatically. Globally, river flooding is expected to displace 50 million people a year by 2100. In the US, the average 100-year floodplain is projected to increase 45 percent by the year 2100, while the annual damages from flooding are predicted to increase by $750 million. By reducing stormwater runoff and protecting floodplains, green infrastructure can help manage both localized and riverine floods. In areas impacted by localized flooding, green infrastructure practices absorb rainfall, preventing water from overwhelming pipe networks and pooling in streets or basements. Green infrastructure practices that enhance infiltration include rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavements. In areas impacted by riverine flooding, green infrastructure, open space preservation, and floodplain management can all complement gray infrastructure approaches. These practices reduce the volume of stormwater that flows into streams and rivers, protecting the natural function of floodplains, and reducing the damage to infrastructure and property.

Warmer weather will mean more evaporation from reservoirs and lakes causing increased precipitation in other areas. The Colorado River, for example, already loses 1.8 million acre-feet of water to evaporation every year, which is about 13% of its flow.

Not only are rivers’ flows changing dramatically in volume, their actual routes are shifting as a result of climate change. Scientists have dubbed this phenomenon “river piracy”, which refers to one river capturing and redirecting the flow of another. This process would usually take thousands of years, but it happened to the Yukon River (close to 2,000 miles long) over the course of a few months in 2016. While that event was particularly dramatic, scientists predict that such remapping of river routes will become more common as glaciers continue to melt.

Like all other parts of the natural world, climate change will affect rivers and lakes from the micro to the macro levels, destabilizing the plethora of life forms that rely on their once-consistent patterns.

Climate change could poison Earth's lakes and rivers



Coastal wetlands can’t keep pace with sea-level rise, and infrastructure is leaving them nowhere to go

By Randall W. Parkinson 04/08/24
Wetlands have flourished along the world’s coastlines for thousands of years, playing valuable roles in the lives of people and wildlife. They protect the land from storm surge, stop seawater from contaminating drinking water supplies,…
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California rains resurrect a long-dead lake in dry Death Valley

By Reis Thebault 03/01/24
If it weren’t for all the floating, the paddling, the sloshing around, the lake smack in the middle of this desert might be mistaken for a mirage.
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How ‘reactivating’ floodplains along rivers can be a water solution for California

By Ian James 02/21/24
California has lost most of its natural wetlands as rivers have been cut off from their natural floodplains. And it’s pretty remarkable what can be achieved when rivers are given space to reconnect with floodplains.
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A ‘collapse’ is looming for Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, scientists say

By Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney 02/15/24
Rapidly rising seas are wreaking havoc on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, and could devastate three-quarters of the state’s natural buffer against hurricanes in the coming decades, scientists found in a study published Thursday.
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The unloved L.A. River just prevented a flood disaster. Can more of its water be saved?

By Hayley Smith 02/08/24
As intense atmospheric rivers become more common in a warming world, so too do questions about stormwater capture in Los Angeles. Each year, when rain pours down and the L.A. River roars back to life,…
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Climate Change Has Broad Repercussions

By Joseph Finora 01/25/24
“Climate change is already here and our weather has already changed,” noted Stony Brook University Associate Provost for Climate and Sustainability Kevin Reed when asked what eastern Long Island residents can expect when it comes…
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They Abducted a River in California. And Nobody Stopped Them.

By Raymond Zhong 01/21/24
During California’s most recent drought, officials went to great lengths to safeguard water supplies, issuing emergency regulations to curb use by thousands of farms, utilities and irrigation districts.
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Momentum Gaining on Important Water Work to Benefit Birds and People in the West

By Karyn Stockdale 12/18/23
This year was marked by incredible progress in terms of Audubon’s priorities for water conservation in the West, and yet, we have so much more to do for the birds and people who rely on…
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A salty problem for people near the mouth of the Mississippi is a wakeup call for New Orleans

By Kevin MCGill and Stephen Smith 10/27/23
The heating element removed from Monique Plaisance’s water heater in September was disintegrating, streaked with rust and covered in a dry crust. She blamed the corrosion on the water piped in from the area’s longtime…
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Reprieve for New Orleans as salt water creeping up the Mississippi River slows its push inland

By Kevin MCGill 10/06/23
Salt water inching up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico is progressing more slowly than projected, authorities said Thursday, meaning water systems in the greater New Orleans area that draw drinking water from…
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‘There won’t be anything left’: Florida teens battle county over plan to loosen wetland protections

By Richard Luscombe 10/05/23
Dozens of teenage environmental activists in Florida are battling a county commission over its plan to loosen protections for ecologically fragile wetlands and hasten the pace of development.
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They Dredged the Mississippi River for Trade. Now a Water Crisis Looms

By Laura Bliss and Zahra Hirji 10/05/23
New Orleans is staring down a potential water crisis. A wedge of saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico is moving up the Mississippi River, and is expected to reach the Louisiana city’s main water supply…
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Hidden Water: The Suicide Basin Outburst Flood

On a sunny day in July 2011, the Mendenhall River in Juneau, Alaska began to flood. The water inundated roads, backyards, and a nearby campground, taking the community by surprise.

National Inventory of Dams

91,773Total Dams 61 years Average Dam Age

Van Hollen, Cardin Announce More Than $1.8 Million For Maryland Coastal Bays, Wetlands Restoration

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) announced $1,819,600 in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding for the Maryland Coastal Bays Foundation to help the Atlantic Coast and Eastern Shore become…

Colorado River: Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest”

Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland…

Climate Change Indicators: Great Lakes Water Levels and Temperatures

This indicator measures water levels and surface water temperatures in the Great Lakes

In a First, U.S. Declares Shortage on Colorado River, Forcing Water Cuts

With climate change and long-term drought continuing to take a toll on the Colorado River, the federal government on Monday for the first time declared a water shortage at Lake Mead, one of the river’s…

NOAA Reserve Hosts First-Ever Carbon-Offset Initiative by U.S. Pro Football Team

The Takeaway: The Philadelphia Eagles football team will expand mangrove and seagrass restoration efforts at Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in order to offset travel-related emissions, in a partnership with the Ocean…

Climate Hot Map Global: Warming Effects Around the World

Climate change is already beginning to affect plants and animals that live in freshwater lakes and rivers, altering their habitat and bringing life-threatening stress and disease.

Climate Implications – Lakes, Rivers and Streams

Climate changes such as rising temperatures, more frequent extreme storms and changes in season preciptation rates will impact lakes, rivers and streams.

Humans a more immediate threat to large river systems than climate change

Climate change promises to disrupt a variety of natural systems across the globe, but new research suggests human activities pose a more immediate threat to the planet's largest river systems.

Climate change is slowly drying up the Colorado River

Climate change is threatening to dry up the Colorado River — jeopardizing a water supply that serves some 40 million people from Denver to Phoenix to Las Vegas and irrigates farmlands across the U.S. Southwest.

The Impacts of Climate Change on Rivers

Many communities will see their water supplies shrink as temperatures rise and precipitation patterns shift. A rise in severe storms will degrade water quality and increase the risk of catastrophic floods. Changes in the timing…

Human activity on rivers outpaces, compounds effects of climate change

The livelihoods of millions of people living along the world's biggest river systems are under threat by a range of stressors caused by the daily economic, societal and political activity of humans -- in addition…

When it Comes to Water, You Have to Think Global

While Earth is so wet that it looks blue from space, most of that water is saltwater. Only 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water, and nearly all of that water is frozen—locked up…

Climate Change & Water Use

Water supply disruptions will particularly affect the nation’s agriculture and energy sectors. That’s because these groups account for three-fourths of U.S. water use, according to the USGS National Water Census. Irrigation is the thirstiest sector…

Water and climate change

There is much at stake. The World Economic Forum ranked water crises as number one in its 2015 assessment of global risks, with potential to cause damaging economic and social impacts across entire countries and…

How Climate Change Impacts Our Water

Climate change impacts the world’s water in complex ways. Consider a water cycle diagram, like the one below; global warming is altering nearly every stage in the diagram. These changes will put pressure on drinking…

Water and Climate Change

In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for…

Water and Climate Change

Water in its various forms is always on the move, in a complex process known as the water cycle. Global warming is already having a measurable effect on this cycle, altering the amount, distribution, timing,…

Climate Ready Estuaries

The Climate Ready Estuaries program works with the National Estuary Programs and the coastal management community to:

Carolina Wetlands Association

The Carolina Wetlands Association (CarWA) wants to promote the importance and value of Wetlands through science-based programs, education, and advocacy.


Pepco to pay D.C. more than $57 million for Anacostia River pollution

By Justin Wm. Moyer   10/03/23  
Pepco will pay more than $57 million to the District after the electric utility discharged toxic chemicals in the city for decades, polluting the Anacostia River and other areas.
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NASA Became “Beaver Believers” After Using Satellites To Measure Their Impact On US Rivers

By Andy Corbley   09/15/23  
NASA often brags about how innovation for space travel and exploration has provided the public with all sorts of downstream benefits, but they don’t typically mean that literally.
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EPA bolsters states’ control of water, infrastructure permitting

By E.A. Crunden   09/14/23  
The Biden administration is restoring significant state and tribal authority over water resources and expanding their leverage on infrastructure permitting decisions, including for pipelines.
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Climate Change Hurting Water Quality in Rivers Worldwide, Study Finds

Bouts of intense rainfall and drought are hurting water quality in rivers around the globe, according to a sprawling new analysis.
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New York State law could protect Long Island wetlands after new Clean Water Act restrictions

By Tracy Tullis   09/07/23  
The Main Pond at Hoyt Farm in Commack in September. A Supreme Court ruling in May means the Environmental Protection Agency will no longer regulate smaller bodies of water across the nation
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Biden rule, heeding Supreme Court, could strip over half of U.S wetlands’ protections

By Allyson Chiu   08/29/23  
The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that it has revised a key rule to comply with a sweeping Supreme Court ruling from this year, which could strip federal protections from up to 63 percent of…
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More Than Half Of U.S. Wetlands Could Lose Protections As EPA Rolls Back Federal Rules

By Brian Bushard   08/29/23  
More than half of the country’s wetlands could lose federal protections after the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday rolled back its definition of federal waters to comply with a momentous Supreme Court ruling in May—marking…
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Flesh-Eating Bacteria a Threat in Warm Water

By Christopher Walsh   08/24/23  
As if the extreme heat, exceptionally heavy rainfall events, and out-of-control wildfires that characterize the summer of 2023 were not adequate signals that the climate is changing, in recent weeks a deadly bacterium found in…
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Climate change, water quality and wetlands among key topics at Indiana’s 2023 Water Summit

By Casey Smith   08/18/23  
How are new developments, aging infrastructure and climate change affecting Hoosier water resources?
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Facing The Surge

By Chris Mooney and Others   08/07/23  
Louisiana armed itself against the seas in the years after Hurricane Katrina, working to rebuild a shrinking coastline while factoring in the potential for dire climate change.
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The dam near Montpelier held. As climate change brings stronger storms, experts fear many won’t.

By Sabrina Shankman   07/15/23  
As record rain pounded Montpelier for the second day and rivers raged far beyond their banks early last week, city leaders and first responders were awake deep into the night, huddled around a police station…
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Torrents of rain raise river levels, fears across Vermont and other locations in New England

By Travis Andersen and Kevin Cullen   07/11/23  
As pummeling rains fell Monday afternoon for the second straight day, Kim Crowell stood in the garage of her home, watching the Winooski River rise inch by inch. The river had already overflowed its banks…
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It’s Toxic Slime Time on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

By Dan Egan   07/09/23  
For thousands of years, Lake Okeechobee pumped life into Florida’s swampy interior. Summer rains swelled the shallow inland sea, creating seasonal overflows that sustained the Everglades and its alligators, panthers, spoonbills and snail kites. But…
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Sackett fallout leaves wetlands’ fate to states

By E.A. Crunden   06/28/23  
A landmark Supreme Court decision dealing a blow to EPA’s authority is set to sharply redirect power to the state and local levels, prompting a massive shift in wetlands oversight.
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Tribes seek greater involvement in talks on Colorado River water crisis

By Ian James   06/16/23  
As the federal government starts negotiations on long-term plans for the overtapped Colorado River, leaders of tribes are pushing for more involvement in the talks, saying they want to be at the table in high-level…
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The Grand Canyon, a Cathedral to Time, Is Losing Its River

By Raymond Zhong   06/06/23  
Down beneath the tourist lodges and shops selling keychains and incense, past windswept arroyos and brown valleys speckled with agave, juniper and sagebrush, the rocks of the Grand Canyon seem untethered from time. The oldest…
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Colorado’s wetlands are endangered by climate change and invasive species. New federal money will help protect them

By Carl Bilek and Others   06/03/23  
Look out at some of Colorado's most stunning places and there's a good chance that land is held by the Bureau of Land Management.
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Supreme Court Sharply Limits the EPA’s Ability to Protect Wetlands

By Emma Ricketts   05/26/23  
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect wetlands applied only to those that are indistinguishable from, and have a “continuous surface connection” to, larger lakes, oceans, streams and…
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‘Devastating’ Supreme Court Decision Leaves Wetlands Unprotected

By Andy McGlashen   05/26/23  
The majority of the nation’s wetlands where many birds raise their young, congregate in winter, and rest during migration—and which filter out pollutants and buffer communities from flooding and storm surges—lost legal protections on Thursday…
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Supreme Court weakens EPA power to enforce Clean Water Act

By Robert Barnes and Others   05/25/23  
The Supreme Court on Thursday cut back the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the nation’s wetlands, another setback for the agency’s authority to combat air and water pollution.
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Supreme Court ruling on wetlands

Petitioners Michael and Chantell Sackett purchased property near Priest Lake, Idaho, and began backfilling the lot with dirt to prepare for building a home. The Environmental Protection Agency informed the Sacketts that their property contained…
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How Supreme Court’s EPA ruling will affect U.S. wetlands, clean water

By Timothy Puko and Robert Barnes   05/25/23  
The decision could affect tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, including in the Everglades and the Mississippi River basin. Bogs. Marshes. Swamps. Fens. All are examples of wetlands. But the type of wetland that…
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Supreme Court ruling narrows scope of Clean Water Act’s wetlands jurisdiction

By Nina Totenberg   05/25/23  
The U.S. Supreme Court placed new restrictions on the scope of the jurisdiction the Clean Water Act has over wetlands, ruling in favor of Idaho landowners who had challenged the law...
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Supreme Court delivers blow to wetlands protections in win for Idaho landowners

By Lawrence Hurley   05/25/23  
The Supreme Court on Thursday significantly weakened a landmark water pollution law by ruling that an Idaho couple's property does not include wetlands subject to federal oversight under the law. The ruling, in which all…
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Supreme Court rolls back federal safeguards for wetlands under Clean Water Act

By Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole   05/25/23  
The Supreme Court on Thursday cut back on the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate wetlands under the Clean Water Act, with a 5-4 majority continuing a trend in which the conservative-leaning court has narrowed…
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Philly will have more heat waves, and the Delaware projected to rise more than a foot over the next 25 years

By Frank Kummer   05/25/23  
The Delaware River could rise well more than a foot by midcentury, and temperatures could heat up nearly 6 degrees, accompanied by a rise in extreme heat days, according to a new report that localized…
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Supreme Court Decision Threatens Waterways that Birds (and People) Need

By National Audubon Society   05/25/23  
The Court’s ruling in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency removes crucial protections for wetlands, limiting the Clean Water Act.
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A Powerful Climate Solution Just Below the Ocean’s Surface

By Tatiana Schlossberg   05/24/23  
They can bolster the coastlines, break the force of hurtling waves, provide housing for fish, shellfish, and migrating birds, clean the water, store as much as 5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide, and pump…
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Over Half Of All Lakes Have Seen Water Level Drops, Study Finds

By Arianna Johnson   05/18/23  
According to a new study published in Science on Thursday, over half of the world’s largest lakes have seen a decline in lake water storage due to climate change and unsustainable human consumption, putting the…
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More than half of the world’s largest lakes are drying up

By Nikk Ogasa   05/18/23  
More than half of the world’s largest lakes shrank over the last three decades, researchers report in the May 19 Science. That’s a big problem for the people who depend on those lakes for drinking…
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As the harms of hydropower dams become clearer, some activists ask, ‘is it time to remove them?’

By Kristoffer Tigue   05/15/23  
For most of Joey Owle’s life, the Ela Dam was merely part of the landscape—just another feature of the Oconaluftee River as it runs through Whittier, North Carolina.
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USDA Invests $17 Million in Partnerships to Restore Wetlands, Support Underserved Producers  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $17 million in five Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP) projects, bringing together partners and landowners in a joint effort to return critical wetland functions to agricultural landscapes.
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Will the Chesapeake Bay Become a Dead Zone?

By Duy Linh Tu and Sebastian Tuinder   05/03/23  
The country’s largest estuary is under critical threat from pollution and climate change. The question is: Can it be saved? In the 4,500-square-mile Chesapeake Bay, the country’s largest estuary, nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater treatment…
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Bolinas Lagoon wetlands project gets another $325K in county funding

By Richard Halstead   05/01/23  
A project that will aim to restore wetlands at the north end of Bolinas Lagoon and reduce the chance of flooding on the only road leading to Bolinas has reached its final design stage.
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The Mississippi River Is Flooding Cities Throughout the Midwest

By Angely Mercado   04/25/23  
The Mississippi River is overflowing and flooding riverbanks and roads in states across the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
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Colorado River snaking through Grand Canyon most endangered US waterway – report

By Nina Lakhani   04/18/23  
Unique ecosystem on the brink of collapse due to climate crisis and mismanagement, says conservation group American RiversA 277-mile stretch of the Colorado River that snakes through the iconic Grand Canyon is America’s most endangered…
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Some Coastal Salt Marshes Are Keeping Up With Sea Level Rise: ‘We Were Definitely Excited’

By Good News Network   04/08/23  
The world’s salty, tidal marshes are hotspots of carbon storage and productivity, building up sediments and plant material so they can stay above sea level. Scientists wondering whether it’s possible for wetlands to keep up…
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A lost lake is re-emerging in California, and farms and communities are going underwater

By Kurtis Alexander   03/25/23  
Tulare Lake, once four times the size of Lake Tahoe, had several ports and a ferry before it was converted to farmland decades ago. Now the floodwaters are rushing back.
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Klamath countdown: Researchers hustle before largest dam-removal project begins

By Tara Lohan   02/14/23  
To anticipate the impacts of a historic river restoration, we need to understand how salmon, bats, insects, algae and other parts of the ecosystem are behaving today....
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The “Law of the River” at the heart of the Colorado River crisis

By Hayley Smith and Ian James   02/03/23  
It’s a crisis nearly 100 years in the making: Seven states — all reliant on a single mighty river as a vital source of water — failed to reach an agreement this week on how…
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DNREC, DDA Celebrate World Wetlands Day with Agreement to Manage, Protect Delaware’s Unique Wetland Communities

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the Department of Agriculture (DDA) Forest Service are to celebrate World Wetlands Day today, Thursday, Feb. 2, by signing a cooperative agreement to manage…
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As the Colorado River shrinks, Washington prepares to spread the pain

By Christopher Flavelle   01/27/23  
The seven states that rely on the river for water are not expected to reach a deal on cuts. It appears the Biden administration will have to impose reductions.
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In California’s Imperial Valley, farmers brace for a future with less Colorado River water

By Ian James   01/27/23  
Just north of the California-Mexico border, the All-American Canal cuts across 80 miles of barren, dune-swept desert. Up to 200 feet wide and 20 feet deep, the canal delivers the single largest share of Colorado…
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The Colorado River is overused and shrinking. Inside the crisis transforming the Southwest

By Ian James and Molly Hennessy-Fiske   01/26/23  
The Colorado River begins as melting snow, trickling from forested peaks and coursing in streams that gather in the meadows and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Like arteries, its major tributaries take shape across Colorado,…
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A river guide’s view of Lake Powell’s decline and the depths of the Colorado River crisis

By Ian James   01/26/23  
Muddy water whizzed past as John Weisheit steered a motorboat upstream in the Colorado River. He revved the engine as the boat sped around a bend and up a riffle.
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How Pinal County farmers are dealing with historic cuts to Arizona’s Colorado River water supply

By Whitney Clark   01/18/23  
Farming thousands of acres of alfalfa, Bermuda grass, and more, isn’t just a job for Jace Miller: it’s in his blood. “My great-great-grandfather came and homesteaded in gilbert in 1919 and began farming,” Miller said.…
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Amid drought, Arizona contemplates a fraught idea: Piping in water from Mexico

By Joshua Partlow   12/23/22  
As Arizona's water supply from the Colorado River dwindles, it is studying a $5 billion project to desalinate ocean water in Mexico and pump it 200 miles across the border....
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Disaster scenarios raise the stakes for Colorado River negotiations

By Joshua Partlow   12/17/22  
Those responsible for divvying up the Colorado River's dwindling supply are warning that unprecedented shortages could be coming to farms and cities in the West....
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Eight states, 30 cities team up to reduce flooding threat along the Mississippi River

By YCC Team   12/15/22  
They’ve partnered with Ducks Unlimited to restore more than 60 wetlands that will hold floodwaters during storms. The post Eight states, 30 cities team up to reduce flooding threat along the Mississippi River appeared first…
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In a New Book, Annie Proulx Shows Us How to Fall in Love with Wetlands

By Kiley Bense   12/03/22  
In a quiet corner of the oldest botanic garden in North America grows a tree with long, graceful branches and leaves that curl like rust-colored tongues. When it’s blooming, the tree’s snow-white flowers are said…
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