News & Events

How Drought and Other Extremes Impact Water Pollution

This Q and A article appeared first on the Berkeley Lab News Center. Previously, the work of the Watershed Function SFA Research team was featured during a podcast for News Deeply. You can hear Bhavna Arora talk about her research here.   One in 10 Americans depends on the Colorado River for bathing and drinking.…

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EESA Develops New Approach to Restock California’s Groundwater via Almond Orchards, Vineyards

Flooding of California almond orchard for groundwater recharge demonstration project

Groundwater—the water stored underneath the Earth’s surface between the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and bedrock—is essential for the California residents and farmers who rely on it for up to 46 percent of their annual water use. Yet during the 2012-2017 drought, the state’s surface water supply was not sufficient to meet demand, resulting in excess groundwater pumping that caused land subsidence of up to 13 inches in some parts of the San Joaquin Valley. Now a team of scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area are working with farmers and partners like the Almond Board of California and UC Davis to test on-farm banking, a new approach that has the potential to manage groundwater more sustainably. It’s an improvement on the age-old method of groundwater recharge, the process of replenishing aquifers by infiltrating water from the surface into shallow aquifers. “On-farm banking has the promise of making the most productive use of the greatest amount of land possible while increasing the reliability and resiliency of California’s groundwater supply,” says EESA scientist Peter Nico, a soil and environmental biogeochemist.

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Berkeley Lab Scientists Brief California Science Advisory Panel for Food and Agriculture

Crops in California's Central Valley

As two-thirds of the fruits and nuts—and over a third of the vegetables—produced in the United States are grown in California, it’s crucial that the Golden State cultivate healthy soils that are resilient to stresses such as climate change, drought, and groundwater overuse. Now scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) and Biosciences Area are contributing to the effort by sharing their expertise with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)’s Science Advisory Panel, a group comprised of farmers, agriculture professionals, and experts in areas such as water, conservation, and resource management. Last week, EESA scientist Peter Nico hosted the panel at the Lab to brief them on research related to developing healthy soils, sustainable groundwater management strategies, and climate-adaptive agriculture.

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How Bacteria Contend with Drought

A team of ESD scientists (headed by Nick Bouskill recently found that ten months of “throughfall exclusion” (i.e., excluding the precipitation falling through a forest canopy) led to a statistically significant decline in soil water potential and bacterial populations clearly adapted to increased osmotic stress.

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