Our warming climate has affected water on earth in profoundly interconnected ways — as the oceans heat and the glaciers and ice shelves melt, they all contribute to sea level rise. Global warming also increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which leads to more frequent heavy rain and snowstorms — all of which leads to heavier flooding. Additionally, a warmer and more moist atmosphere over the oceans makes it likely that the strongest hurricanes will be more intense, produce more rainfall, and possibly be larger.

Since tracking began in 1980, the top four most economically costly US weather and climate disasters are water-related:

  • tropical cyclones (hurricanes) at $997.3 billion
  • droughts at $258.9 billion
  • severe storms at $286.3 billion
  • inland flooding at $151.0 billion

There are also the threats to groundwater as critical reservoirs and aquifers are emptied at a rate far outpacing their natural replenishment, in part due to agriculture (about 70%), but cities play their part as well.

Maybe time to visit these 10 incredible places before they vanish — all due to climate change-related water issues.

More to learn about water here.



Circle of Blue

Award-winning nonprofit journalism from the frontlines of water, food, and energy in the changing climate.

How we drained California dry

The wind finally blew the other way last night and kicked out the smoke from the burning Sierra. Down here in the flatland of California, we used to regard the granite mountain as a place…

State Of The Beach Report

Greta is known for her famous speeches before world leaders. She recently spoke at COP 26 where delegates from around the world are charged with fulfilling goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework…

Where in the World is the Water?

Water is the defining feature of this planet and fundamental to life as we know it. Most everyone knows that. Of course my special focus is the rise of sea level, primarily as a result of…

Science Empowering Communities In The Face Of Flooding

Surging Waters: Science Empowering Communities in the Face of Flooding is a report produced by AGU, a global not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity.

Water: A human and business priority

Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at…

How Is Climate Change Impacting The Water Cycle?

Find out how rising global temperatures affect the water cycle in our latest infographic.

Acid rain, explained

Acid rain describes any form of precipitation that contains high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. It can also occur in the form of snow, fog, and tiny bits of dry material that settle to…

Water for People or Nature is a False Choice

When the first photo of Earth was taken from Apollo 17 in 1972, few could understand the cultural impact it would have. The Blue Marble, this singular sphere floating in deep space, was the perfect…


There’s so much to know about our H2O! Where does it come from and how does it get into our homes? How is it cleaned before we drink it? Which laws protect it? What other…

Ocean Facts

Get the facts about our ocean and coasts.

EWG’s Tap Water Data Base

Since 2012, water utilities' testing has found pollutants in Americans' tap water, according to an EWG drinking water quality analysis of 32 million state water records.


Megadrought causes perilously low water levels at Lake Mead

The megadrought currently choking the western United States is the worst drought in the region in more than 1,000 years. It's having an enormous impact across many states and on several major reservoirs including Lake…

EPA Releases New Memo Outlining Strategy to Equitably Deliver Clean Water Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memorandum to guide collaborative implementation with state, local, and Tribal partners of $43 billion in water infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. President Biden, with…

The Top Water Takeaways From the IPCC Report

By Kate Zerrenner  Photo: Fabio Santaniello Bruun and Nathan Dumlao   03/04/22  
Climate and water are inextricably linked. Yet conversations and reporting about the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability tend to hide it in the findings. A closer…

US west ‘megadrought’ is worst in at least 1,200 years, new study says

By Gabrielle Canon  Photo: Patrick T Fallon/Getty Images   02/15/22  
The American west has spent the last two decades in what scientists are now saying is the most extreme megadrought in at least 1,200 years. In a new study, published on Monday, researchers also noted…

Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years

By Nathan Rott  Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR   02/14/22  
Shrunk reservoirs. Depleted aquifers. Low rivers. Raging wildfires. It's no secret that the Western U.S. is in a severe drought. New research published Monday shows just how extreme the situation has become...

Why climate change talk must focus on water, not just carbon

By Mridula Ramesh  Photo: Shutterstock   02/13/22  
Nothing works like clarity in getting things done. And the world needs to get down its carbon emissions to keep it habitable for most of us in the not-too-distant future. Naturally, then, most climate conversations…

A bitter feud centers on source of Arrowhead bottled water

By Ian James  Photo: Allen J. Schaben   01/20/22  
High in the San Bernardino Mountains, water seeps from the ground and trickles down the mountainside among granite boulders and bay laurel trees.Near this dribbling spring, water gushes through a system of tunnels and boreholes,…

A frenzy of well drilling by California farmers leaves taps running dry

By Maria L. La Ganga, Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee and Ian James  Photo: Irfan Khan   12/16/21  
Vicki McDowell woke up on a Saturday morning in May, thinking about what she would make her son for breakfast. He was visiting from Hayward, and she wanted to whip up something special. Biscuits and…

Up to 1 million gallons of water … a night? That’s par for some desert golf courses

By Steve Lopez  Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times   10/09/21  
Doug Thompson couldn’t believe what he’d just been told. His wife, a botanist, was advising a Coachella Valley country club on drought-resistant landscaping, and Thompson, who got to talking with the groundskeeper, asked how much…

Water Shortages Threaten the Economy and Our Food Supply

By Fiona Burlig, Louis Preonas, Matt Woerman  Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images   10/04/21  
This summer, around the world, we didn’t just read about climate change; we lived it. Extreme heat baked the usually temperate Pacific Northwest. Wildfires raged in the Western United States, Canada, the Mediterranean, and Siberia.…

Desalination can make saltwater drinkable — but it won’t solve the U.S. water crisis

By Michael Birnbaum  Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images   09/28/21  
Anybody with a 5-year-old’s knowledge of geography might come up against this conundrum: There’s a water shortage in the Western United States. Right next door, there’s the Pacific Ocean. Why can’t we take some of…

Water Crisis In The West, v5.0 — The Colorado River Story

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Ricardo Frantz   08/25/21  
Well, folks, it happened, but it comes as no surprise. The Federal Government has officially declared a water shortage on the Colorado River for the first time in history.

How nature-based infrastructure builds climate resiliency

By Susan Asam and others   08/25/21  
Here's how to use nature-based solutions to build climate resiliency into infrastructure, and take advantage of anticipated new funding sources. In recognition of the worsening climate crisis, President Biden and Congress are negotiating a deal…

Tennessee floods show a pressing climate danger across America: ‘Walls of water’

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP   08/23/21  
Then the weekend happened. More than 17 inches of rain fell in a single day on Saturday, overtopping the region’s many rivers and submerging places not previously considered floodplains within a matter of hours. Rice’s…

With drought worsening, should California have much tougher water restrictions?

By Ari Plachta  Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times   07/15/21  
When Gov. Gavin Newsom asked Californians to voluntarily conserve water last week as he stood in front of the retreating shoreline at Lopez Lake in San Luis Obispo County, some must have had déjà vu. It was…

Another ‘red tide’ left 15 tons of dead fish on Tampa Bay’s shore, and experts warn of more destruction

By Julian Mark  Photo: Martha Asencio-Rhine   07/12/21  
The dead fish have been washing up on the shores of Tampa Bay in West Central Florida since at least early June, thanks to a natural phenomenon known as “red tide” — large “blooms” of…

Panama Canal Tackles Climate-Change Puzzle: Too Little Rainwater or Too Much

By Santiago Perez   06/28/21  
The Panama Canal faces a creeping threat from climate change, including droughts so intense that ships sometimes reduce their cargo so as not to run aground, and giant storms that almost overwhelm its dams and…

Explosive Growth of Toxic Algae Threatens Water Supplies Across US

By Leanna First-Arai  Photo: Zbigniew Bzdak   06/28/21  
With a vast portion of the United States coping with exceptional drought this summer, conditions are ripe in many places for harmful algal blooms, bringing additional threats to already-stressed water systems and increased health risks…

The American West: Long on People, Short on Water

By Arthur Keith  Photo: Arthur Keith   06/26/21  
Have you ever been in the midst of writing (or reading) a story where the context changes so fast you constantly have to revise or question the data? Climate change is one of those topics.…

Wildfires Threaten Urban Water Supplies, Long After the Flames Are Out

By Henry Fountain  Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen   06/25/21  
Wrangling a 25-foot-long tube of straw up a steep hillside studded with charred pine trees, three volunteer workers placed it in a shallow trench that had been dug along the slope. Locked in place with…

Satellites capture startling images of depleting reservoirs that serve nearly 75 million Americans

By Stacy Liberatore  Photo: Getty Images   06/14/21  
New satellite images reveal how badly western US reservoirs have been depleted as a result of the mega-drought plaguing much of that region, impacting millions. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite captured alarming images…

Our Love of Living Near Water Persists Despite the Dangers

By Mark Ellwood  Photo: Christopher Capozziello   06/09/21  
When Jaqui Lividini saw the house, she was instantly smitten: A cottage built in 1901, it was one of just three on the peninsula of Haycock Point on Long Island Sound in Connecticut, just east…

International Cutting-Edge SWOT Satellite to Survey the World’s Water

How much water sloshes around in Earth’s lakes, rivers, and oceans? And how does that figure change over time? The upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission plans to find out. Targeting a late-2022…

Crisis in Jackson Shows Why Water Investments Are Needed Now

By Kate Zerrenner   03/22/21  
Last week, more than a month after storms crippled the water system in the city, Jackson, Mississippi lifted its boil water notice. What on the surface appear to be a precautionary measure takes on a…

Known For Its Floods, Louisiana Is Running Dangerously Short Of Groundwater

By Tegan Wendland and Austin R. Ramsey  Photo: Austin R. Ramsey   03/19/21  
Louisiana is known for its losing battle against rising seas and increasingly frequent floods. It can sometimes seem like the state has too much water. But the aquifers deep beneath its swampy landscape face a…

Climate Change is Worsening Water Scarcity: How Business Can Help

By Kate Zerrenner   03/18/21  
About 4 billion people live in water-stressed areas and face severe water scarcity during at least one month each year. Over a billion more — including 1 in 4 children — will live in areas…

Scientists see stronger evidence of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation, an ‘Achilles’ heel’ of the climate

By Chris Mooney and Andrew Freedman  Photo by Maja Hitij   02/25/21  
A growing body of evidence suggests that a massive change is underway in the sensitive circulation system of the Atlantic Ocean, a group of scientists said Thursday. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), a system…

How this proposed constitutional amendment — Amendment D — protects water users

By Brian Maffly  Photo by Rick Bowme   10/22/20  
For decades, some of Utah’s larger cities have been in the retail water delivery business, building service areas that stretch far outside their municipal boundaries.

Ohio’s Beaches Get ‘F’ Grade On New Report

By Chris Mosby  Photo by Rick Uldricks   10/21/20  
Ohio's stretch of Great Lakes beaches received an "F" grade in a new report. The Surfrider Foundation's annual State of the Beach report issues letter grades (like a school report card) to beaches across the…

Deadly bacteria lurk in coastal waters. Climate change increases the risks

Illustration: Joanna Eberts   10/20/20  
Health workers see Vibrio as a rare danger, if they’ve heard of it at all. But it’s already causing more cases of flesh-eating disease. And it’s poised to get worse.

‘This Is a War’: Cross-Border Fight Over Water Erupts in Mexico

By Natalie Kitroeff   10/14/20  
Farmers in Mexico ambushed soldiers and seized a dam to stop water payments to the United States, in a sign of growing conflict over increasingly scarce resources.

Trump Just Lost the ‘Clean Water Case of the Century’

By Olivia Rosane  Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images   04/24/20  
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration Thursday in a case Earthjustice called "the clean water case of the century." The case concerned a...

Trump Admin’s Clean Water Rollback Will Hit Some States Hard

By Tara Lohan   02/22/20  
By Tara LohanThe Santa Fe River starts high in the forests of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains and flows 46 miles to the Rio Grande....

Edwards Aquifer Protection

TNC has helped protect nearly 120,000 acres of land above the Edwards Aquifer, which is one of the most important water resources in Texas.

U.S. Food Trade Increasingly Leans On Unsustainable Groundwater

By Bret Walton  Photo by Brett Walton   01/23/20  
American agriculture is a behemoth, a world-leading industry that, while meeting extensive domestic demands, still exports around $140 billion in farm products each year. Soybeans go to China. Cherries to Japan. Baskets of goods to…

Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands

By Coral Davenport  Photo by Jim Brandenburg   01/22/20  
The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and groundwater, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had…

The Water Crisis In Cities Everywhere Is Worsening Already Terrible Inequality

By Maanvi Singh   12/14/19  
While the rich can drill wells and keep swimming pools filled, poorer residents line up for water and struggle to survive. ...

20% of Global Population at Risk From Climate Chaos, Rising Demand of Mountain Water, Study Says

By Olivia Rosane   12/10/19  
The drinking water of 1.9 billion people is at risk from the climate crisis and the demand for water is rising, a study published Monday in...

New Hampshire wants to test all bottled water for PFAS contaminants

As state and local officials adapt to new guidelines for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, bottled water is getting more attention....

Climate change could double greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater lakes

By University of Cambridge   11/18/19  
Every drop of fresh water contains thousands of different organic molecules that have previously gone unnoticed. By measuring the diversity of these molecules and how they interact with the environment around them, research has revealed…

The Clean Water Case of the Century

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to review Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui. The fate of the nation’s clean water hangs in the balance.

Giant Water Battery Cuts University’s Energy Costs by $100 Million

A giant water battery that stands three-stories high will help The University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia reach its goal to be carbon neutral by...

As Climate Warms, Plants May Demand More Water, Cutting Supplies for People

New study challenges many climate scientists' expectations that plants will make much of the world wetter in the future. ...

A new report ranks the cleanliness of airline water. It’s not great

Next time you're on a plane, you may want to pass on the coffee or tea....

What desert cities can teach us about water

By Rudri Patel   10/09/19  
A rise in temperatures coupled with population growth calls into question the long-term sustainability of desert cities...

In the Mountains, Climate Change Is Disrupting Everything, from How Water Flows to When Plants Flower

By Bob Berwyn  Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images   10/07/19  
With ominous orange-gray smoke clouds seething on the western horizon, it's easy to understand how Colorado's highest city and other mountain communities are directly threatened by global warming.

Successful Ocean-Monitoring Satellite Mission Ends

The Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), the third in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions designed to measure sea surface height, successfully ended its science mission on Oct. 1.

River Flows All Across the Globe Are Dropping

By Eric Roston   10/02/19  
Groundwater pumping in some of the world’s critical watersheds exceeds safe levels. It’s causing surface waters to fall at an alarming rate.

‘No state in the country is spared’ from f‘No state in the country is spared’ from flooding risks, new report sayslooding risks, new report says

By Nina Pullano  Photo by National Geographic   09/25/19  
The United States is getting wetter, and people across the country, from local government officials to scientists, all need to help communities prepare for an uptick in flooding, a new report says.

Two Months in the Southern Ocean, for Science

Under the leadership of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientists, two different expeditions sailed to the stormy Southern Ocean to learn more about Earth’s climate history. ...